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.

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 4)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 1)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 2)

Pre-Marriage Counseling (Part 3)

Summer came and went, but circling back to this series on pre-marriage counseling.

In the final pre-marriage counseling section I discuss with the couple practical household duties, e.g., principles for household budgeting and financial wrangling, duties and balance of family life and employment, the labyrinth of all things insurance (car, renter/home, health, life, disability), etc. The number one goal is to highlight biblical wisdom and the couple’s deep need to seek and apply God’s wisdom to the milieu and circumstances of their (married) life.

If the couple is starting off their marriage with debt, I recommend Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or Gary North’s website Deliverance from Debt. If the couple is debt-free, then I recommend something akin to Brady and Woodward’s Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, and Playing Field of Personal FinanceOne of the things I emphasize during this session is that the couple needs to plan accordingly for death, i.e., eliminate personal debt asap, take out life insurance policies on one another, discuss all things future and financial like retirement planning and financial investing . . . the point is to plan and prepare beforehand, so you can bless your spouse with being emotionally and financially prepared for an unexpected and untimely death.

We conclude this session with preliminary discussion on sexual fulfillment and the joys of the marriage bed, and I assign reading from Wheat & Wheat’s Intended for Pleasure. As my marriage counselor said over 12 years ago, you hold this off until the end because it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. There is typically a 5th and final meeting, during which I circle back and give advice and offer instructions regarding sexual fulfillment and the marriage bed, but typically we are down to the wire and finalizing and ironing out details and logistics for the wedding ceremony and reception. My advice is for the ceremony to be sober and short (which typically means traditional service), and the reception to be long and joyous.