New Year, New Reading Plan

I like Bible reading plans, they are an encouragement to reading and a good reminder where you left off. I have dabbled in many readings plan over the years and if you have as well, then you know it is a little tricky to find the one that fits just right. I have tried the Bible in 90 Days, Professor Grant Horner’s reading plan, Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s reading plan, and so on. Each plan I have tried has its perks and its drawbacks, none of them seem to fit. One plan tried to cram too much in, another jumped around the Bible too much, another I felt wasn’t covering enough the Bible fast enough, and so on.

So, I decided to make one for meself. With this plan, I read the Bible in 180 days, that’s twice a year-ish, and about 5-7 chapters a day. This is good for my daily reading. My job is to teach the Bible, and so I find myself in the Bible every day. This makes 5-7 chapters a good start to all my other reading and writing. If you want more than that, go with the 90 Day Reading plan.

I have also made the reading plan into a PDF to be printed as a bookmark, or to be tucked into your Bible’s cover. It is a two-page document, so print it double-sided and cut out the bookmark. Each PDF has three bookmarks, so feel free to mark off your readings as you go. You can find the plan here.


Alfred Rex Story Book

A brief review.

Over the course of six years (the age of my oldest child) my wife and I have have purchased and perused many-a-Bible-storybook. We have consistently been let down. Many Bible storybooks alter the text of the Bible by interpreting the story, rather than telling the story. Many Bible storybooks have a baptist bent where each story is a moral lesson and an altar call to your kids. All that is missing is the flannel graph and anxious bench. And many Bible storybooks leave out about 85% of the Bible. Most Bible storybooks usually go like this: God made the world. Adam broke the world. Devil bad. Moses in Egypt. David fights Goliath. Jesus is born. Jesus dies. Jesus rises. The end of the world is tomorrow, repent kid.

However, with the Alfred Rex Story Book we were pleasantly surprised. The story of the text is told, and questions of the text are asked. The Alfred Rex Story Book doesn’t sugar coat much of anything and leaves interpretation up to the parents. Jael crushes Sisera’s head, no apologies. How many Bible storybooks do you own that even include the most blessed of women (Judges 5.24)?

Not only does this storybook include those bits of the righteous overcoming the wicked, it also includes every king in both Kingdoms, north and south. But wait, there’s more! Every single prophet is included and at no extra cost the back of the storybook includes wonderful timelines and charts and extended notes for you parents. My favorite chart being a timeline that incorporates the kings and prophets together. Do you know who was king in Israel and Judah when Ezekiel was active?

This storybook also keeps the attention of children while reading due to the plethora of pictures throughout the book, 270 to be exact. These pictures are accurate in many details. There are no large-headed cartoonish boy-David wrestling a larger-headed hairy Goliath. Nope, not at all. David cuts his wicked head off, and my kids loved it. And, amen.

This book is, by far, the best Bible storybook I have seen. Now let me hand out a couple cautions. I have two concerns with it, and only two! That’s pretty good for a Bible storybook. The first issue I have is that this book depicts God the Father in a handful of pictures. I am not against the depiction of the Son, for He indeed has a physical image to depict. Christians are not monophysites, and an artists’ rendition of Jesus should not trouble our conscience. I know that for some a picture of Jesus does toruble the conscience and that is well and good as far is it goes, but I am unwilling to make that binding on anyone. However, depicting the Father makes me all squirmy on the inside considering the Second Commandment and all that. So, I generally read these stories standing up so the kids don’t see, or as some folks I know of have taken artistic liberty to white wash those images altogether. Or you could just put a sticky note over it.

The second concern I have is the approbation of the Seder meal that comes relatively late in Judaism. The Seder meal and its practices comes after the destruction of the Temple in 70AD and plays absolutely no part in the Bible, let alone the Last Supper. However, this storybook incorporates aspects of the Seder meal into the Lord’s Supper, and I simply edit that out as I read. It is relatively easy to do so, especially if you are familiar with the Last Supper and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

So, with those two remarks, I highly recommend the Alfred Rex Story Book. Buy a copy, and get a few for Christmas gifts.

After A Bigger Gospel

So, there has been the historic church fight between those who say Jesus died for the sins of the elect only and those who say that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. And then each side has a bag of verses and they begin to throw them at each other.

Of course, context matters for each of the verses used, and you can find many a good debate on Youtube about such matters. I am not interested in debating that at the moment, but I would like to put forward a typological argument that incorporates what I think is right from both sides of that debate. Essentially, we need a bigger Gospel. A Gospel that envelopes the forgiveness of sins for the elect, and God’s love for His creation and its renewal.

Jesus is the victorious King, and in His victory was His death for sins the only thing He accomplished? No. It is one of the things He accomplished.

What else did His death accomplish?

Jesus accomplished the greatest exodus in history. When He was on the mount talking with Moses and Elijah, this is what they were discussing, His exodus to come (Luke 9.31). We are accustomed to the Exodus story. God was coming in wrath upon the land of Egypt. He was bringing death upon all people there, the Israelites included. And what they needed was a substitute. God, through Moses, proclaimed that if anyone would spread the blood of a lamb on the posts of the door of their homes they would live. This message went out to the Israelites and the Egyptians.

The lamb is slain, the blood is spilled, and God’s wrath passes over those under the blood. For those who disregarded the word spoken, the firstborn died.  The death of the lamb brought salvation for those who trusted God’s Word, and destruction to those who disregarded it.

And Jesus came to fulfill the greatest exodus in the history of the world.

He is the Lamb that was slain, and it is His blood that delivers us from the old world and from the penalty of our sin. This is typology. The old Adamic world is typified in Egypt, for example.

An exodus has two dimensions Either the death of the lamb, or the death of the first born. Those are the options. Salvation and wrath.

Jesus fulfills Passover in His body and blood, and Christians can generally track with Jesus being the Lamb of God, but is there anything going on with Jesus being the first born? He is the Incarnate Word, the Son of God, the new man born by the Spirit, and He is Mary’s firstborn, after all.

What did the firstborn of Egypt receive on the night of the death of the lamb? Death. The first born receives the death penalty for the unbelief of the household. Jesus as the first born, the new Adam received the sort of death the entire old creation deserved.

What did the Adamic world deserve as the firstborn? Death. But Jesus, the first born of God, took the death of the world upon Himself.

So, perhaps as Lamb, He dies for His people, and as First Born He dies for the world. In this sense, we can say that God so loved the world. All those in Adam have the proclamation made to them, and are called to join the covenant, and all those in the covenant have their sins covered in the blood of the Lamb.

Not only did Jesus take His people out of Egypt (the old world) He is transforming Egypt (the old world) into a city of God, the New Jerusalem. In union with Christ, we are new creations.