02/3/10

8 Reasons to Subscribe to Tabletalk

2010 TBT 02 Feb jpg 245x308 q85 8 Reasons to Subscribe to <i>Tabletalk</i>It only took one issue to convince me. It was worth subscribing.

I’ve toted the February issue of Tabletalk around in my backpack, slid it into my Bible case, perched it on top of my bedside reading stack, and even woken up pulled it out at 1:30am to skip a little further ahead in the daily devotional readings.

Here’s a summary of the benefits I’ve gotten from my battered copy.

1. Thought provoking articles.

Tabletalk isn’t a namby-pamby devotional booklet that leaves you starving on a diet of superficial junk food. Tabletalk has meat. Each article spurred me to think more deeply by presenting profound truth clearly. The authors don’t have their heads stuck in the clouds. They write with practical insight. And they write to be understood. Tabletalk is a superb supplement for daily Bible reading, study, and meditation.

2. Short and engaging.

You know what it is like to start fighting dropping eyelids on page three of a dense novel. I never had that problem while reading Tabletalk…because there never is a page three. Each article is only two pages long, and the pages are about the size of a typical DVD case. Small.

3. Further study helps.

After packing a punch with a short article, Tabletalk also offers suggestions for further Bible study on the topic. Reminds me of my Boy Scout days when they set us loose with trail maps to roam the mountains of Yosemite for a few days.

4. Exalts Christ and proclaims the gospel.

The articles and daily devotional readings constantly point back to the cross. Great care is taken to proclaim the gospel through the pages. Often, we are tempted to think that the gospel is yesterday’s news. We’ve moved past it to “deeper” things now that we are saved. That isn’t an attitude that you will find in Tabletalk. It leaves the reader gazing at the beauty of the gospel and understanding the critical, daily need for its message.

5. Sit at the table with qualified teachers.

When you read Tabletalk, you are learning from some of the top Christian thinkers of our day.

6. Important people read it.

People like Michael Horton, Al Mohler, and Ravi Zacharias – just to name a few – don’t just write for Tabletalk. They read Tabletalk. And the way I figure it, whatever they are doing probably deserves some consideration. Not sure who those men are? Don’t worry, they make great company.

7. Subscription costs only $23 a year.

At $23 dollars, the 1-year subscription price won’t break the bank. And two years costs only $39, and three is $49…that’s a mere $1.36 per month. C’mon, you spend more than that on Easter candy and Starbucks.

8. Free 3-month trial subscription.

That’s right…give it a try for three months. Take it for a test drive. And if you like it, subscribe. If not, just let your trial expire. It’s that easy. Your trial subscription will not automatically renew.

If you want to check out the content, you can read select articles and columns online for free. But you need to subscribe to see the rest. Don’t miss the rest of the articles and the daily Bible study material.



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01/5/10

“Quiet Time” Is a Misnomer

1473132942 540bdc9056 m Quiet Time Is a MisnomerThe only quiet thing about my quiet time is that I can’t hear anyone or anything else…besides me.

I talk out loud, read out loud, pray out loud…shout, cry, sing, pound the desk, and ruffle pages as if in a Sunday School sword drill.

I don’t see a reason to hold back. God’s Word is alive, and we should engage it as such. We should engage God as a relationship person, not a lifeless book. Not irreverently, but not without emotion either.

Maybe I should start calling it my “morning devotions” since “quiet time” sounds like a misnomer.

What do you call your morning time in God’s Word?



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01/1/10

8 Bible Reading and Memory Plans [Weekend Resource]

Bible Reading and Memory 300x250 8 Bible Reading and Memory Plans [Weekend Resource]Desire Spiritual Growth has two new pages: Bible Reading Plans and Bible Memory Plans under the Resources tab.

Both pages offer a buffet of Bible reading and memory plans, plus some “how-to” heavy artillery. Remember, our hope is not in the methods. But they are tools nonetheless. There’s value in having a plan to follow when reading the Bible. Maybe you want to methodically follow a beaten path by reading the Bible in a year. Or you want to plunge into a 90 day reading plan. Or maybe you’re like me and just want a plan so you can have something to meander back to once you’ve chased the rabbit trails.

Here’s a list for readers of all stripes.

Bible Reading Plans

  1. Tabletalk’s Bible in a Year Plan
  2. Entire Bible in 90 Days
  3. Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan
  4. 5×5×5 Bible Reading Plan
  5. Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
  6. Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System
  7. 6 Ways to Access the ESV Bible Reading Plans

How to Have a Quiet Time

  1. Guide to the Quiet Time
  2. 7 Minutes with God
  3. How to Use Bible Study Methods [Confession From a Recovering Methods Addict]

Here’s everything you wanted to know about Bible memory, and then some.

Bible Memory Plan and Resources

  1. Create Your Own Memory Cards
  2. Fighter Verse Cards

How and Why to Memorize

  1. An Approach to Extended Bible Memory
  2. 18 Tricks To Memorize More Scripture
  3. How John Piper Memorizes Scripture
  4. Why Memorize Scripture?



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10/12/09

3 Ways to Cultivate Continual Communion with God

iStock 000002930325XSmallB 300x196 3 Ways to Cultivate Continual Communion with GodBy the end of the day, the the morning quiet time is all but forgotten. The spirit of worship and prayer has faded to a dot in the rear-view mirror.

But that is not what we long for.

Our souls crave continual communion with God that does not end when we close our Bible. We want to feel an intimacy that does not diminish during the day.

3 ways to cultivate continual communion with God

1. Take the quiet time off the to-do list
We must break the habit of treating the quiet time as a distinct event that we can check off.

This mindset shatters communion as soon as we complete our allotted 20 minutes with God. We may walk away from the quiet time refreshed, but we do not walk away connected.

Take the quiet time off the to-do list, and in a sense, put it on the to-be list. We don’t want to do communion with God as an event, we want to be in communion with God as a lifestyle.

2. Find ways to keep the Word open all day
David models this point like none other (Psalm 1:2, 63:1-8, 119:15). David also was a man after God’s own heart, like few others (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). We need to take the hint.

We commune with God best in His Word. No surprise there, because the Word is His direct word to us. It’s more than a newspaper, it is a personal, intimate word. 

Constant meditation on the Word is a rich feeding for the soul. If we let the Word of God dwell richly in us through the day, it will draw us into continual communion. We can savor the God of the Word all day by tasting the Word of God all day.

Two ways I have found to do this:

First, memorize a verse from the quiet time that can be used for either soul-feeding or sin-fighting (or both).

Second, write a verse on a note card and pocket it.

Either option is beneficial. Both are easy and effective. Sometimes I have found my pocket more sure than my memory, so I use a mix of both approaches (coincidentally, reading a note card all day often locks it into memory).

A beautiful side effect of keeping the Word open all day: It is combustible tinder for a ceaseless prayer life.

3. Go back for another drink
Only recently have I come to appreciate the value of the model in Daniel 6:10. We often feel drained during the day. Sin is creeping in. We’re wearing down. Things start to fall apart…

The note card may not be enough.

Why not go back before the Lord on our knees?

Using a blend of the three approaches is best. They all have a place. But in the end, I don’t really care what it takes to get close to God. The continual communion is what I am after. I just want to experience intimacy with God. I want you to as well.

What helps you cultivate continual communion during your day?



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08/15/09

Weekend Resource: Guide to the quiet time

Guide to a Quiet Time pic 166x300 Weekend Resource: Guide to the quiet timeResource: Guide to the quiet time (click to download)

Do you struggle with discipline in your quiet time?

Distractions?

Dryness?

Diligence?

This short booklet covers the problems of discipline, distractions, dryness, and diligence, and offers helpful suggestions for overcoming each.

Download it, print a copy or two, and pass the link along to an accountability partner or group of friends.



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05/30/09

Weekend Resource: Never Read a Bible Verse

 Weekend Resource: Never Read a Bible VerseResource: This is a short, easy read by By Gregory Koukl that explains the value of reading more than one verse during quiet time. According to Greg, it is “the most important thing I could ever teach you.”

He goes on: “If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be?  What is the single most important practical skill I’ve ever learned as a Christian?  Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse.  Instead, always read a paragraph (at least) if you want to unlock the meaning of a passage.”

Click to download the resource



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05/19/09

Quiet time: Reading my glorified newspaper

953848 777951081 300x217 Quiet time: Reading my glorified newspaperHave I turned the Bible into a glorified newspaper, approaching it with a heart attitude that has sucked the life out of my quiet time?

Reading or Communing?
I was reading this last night, and it occurred to me that when I approach God’s word, often I am coming to read instead of commune. Psalm 119, as the rest of the Psalms, reveal David’s heart to know, love, and commune with God. In the Psalm, David is not focused on the Law, David is focused on the Law Giver. The word of God serves to facilitate the drawing near to God himself, but is not the object of our longing. Even when David says “Oh how I love Your law!” (v97), David is speaking directly to God in communion with Him. The book itself is loved when in communion with God.

I Sought Knowledge, Not Communion
That has not been how I approached God’s Word. I’ve approached God’s Word as if it was something to read that would just tell me about God. It was about knowledge, not communion. It was about reading, not hearing God speak. This approach sucks the life out of my quiet time and leaves it feeling like a mechanical action to fulfill an obligation.

Escape Lifeless Reading
The positive side to this indictment is that there is a way to aid my often lifeless quiet time. If yours is lifeless, join me. God bids us come into His presence and hear His voice speak to our hearts. I can hear not just random words I think I heard from a vague voice in my head, but His exact words spoken as clearly as if they are the words ringing in our head after a conversation with a friend. That is what the Bible is.

“SPEAK, O LORD, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes, for Your glory.”



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04/21/09

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health10 questions to ask yourself

Donald Whitney, in his book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, poses 10 questions.
1.    Do you thirst for God?
2.    Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
3.    Are you more loving?
4.    Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
5.    Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
6.    Do you delight in the Bride of Christ?
7.    Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
8.    Do you still grieve over sin?
9.    Are you a quicker forgiver?
10.     Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?

I’m convicted.
The “increasing” and “more” facet of these questions is conspicuous. Though I might could get away with claiming the presence of spiritual qualities in my life, I am convicted in knowing I often lack progress. There’s a stinging difference that pierces the self-righteousness in my heart.

Time to plan.
Because a convicted heart is practically worthless if it doesn’t motivate us to draw upon the grace and strength of Christ Jesus to live differently, now is the finest opportunity available to implement a change. Start with prayer, and then get specific. What’s the best way to grow in one of these areas? The hungry heart seeks an answer.

What do you think?
Do any of these questions prick your heart, making you evaluate anything on a deeper level? Do you have another question you use to diagnose your heart that is not on the list?

(This book isn’t part of the free resources Weekend Resource, but it is inexpensive and concise read. Worth every penny and minute you’ll invest.)

Here is a link to a fellow blogger and a related post of his: http://www.fallenandflawed.com/true-salvation-test/



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04/4/09

Weekend Resource: Bible reading plans written with grace in mind

 Weekend Resource: Bible reading plans written with grace in mindResource:
The following 3 Bible reading plans, from the Navigators, are great tools to help the reader stay on track progressing through the Bible. The highlight of these plans, from my experience, is that the reader is NOT required to read every single day of the month.  Writing a Bible reading plan with grace in mind makes these plans all the more effective. For those that never skip a day, the pauses allow for time to meditate and return to selected passages of your choice.

1. Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan
“The book-at-a-time Bible reading plan provides two readings for each day. The first reading alternates between Old and New Testament books, giving you three or four chapters a day. The Gospels are spread throughout the year. The second reading takes you through a chapter or so of the wisdom literature and Isaiah. Combined, these readings will take you through the entire Bible in one year. To prevent frustration of falling behind and so provide some reflection time, each month consists of only 20 readings. You’ll have several days each month to meditate more deeply on something that was significant to you in the past week, to catch up on missed readings, or to revisit favorite passages.”

2. 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan
“Through the New Testament in 5 days a week, 5 minutes a day.
- 5 MINUTES A DAY. If you’re not currently reading the Bible, start with 5 minutes a day. This reading plan will take you through all 260 chapters of the New Testament, one chapter per day. The gospels are read throughout the year to keep the story of Jesus fresh.
- 5 DAYS A WEEK. Determine a time and location to spend 5 minutes a day for 5 days a week. It is best to have a consistent time and a quiet place where you can regularly meet with the Lord.
- 5 WAYS TO DIG DEEPER. We must pause in our reading to dig into the Bible. Below are 5 different ways to dig deeper each day. We recommend trying a single idea for a week to find that work best for you. Remember to keep a pen and paper ready to capture God’s insights.
1.    Underline or highlight key words or phrases in the Bible passage. Use a pen or highlighter to mark new discoveries from the text. Periodically review your markings to see what God is teaching you.
2.    Put it into your own words. Read the passage or verse slowly, then rewrite each phrase or sentence using your own words.
3.    Ask and answer some questions. Questions unlock new discoveries and meanings. Ask questions about the passage using these words: who, what, why, when, where, or how. Jot down some thoughts on how you would answer these questions.
4.    Capture the big idea. God’s Word communicates big ideas. Periodically ask, “What’s the big idea in this sentence, paragraph or chapter?”
5.    Personalize the meaning. When God speaks to us through the Scriptures, we must respond. A helpful habit is personalizing the BIble through application. Ask: “How can my life be different today as I respond to what I’m reading?”

3. Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
This reading plan takes you though 4 passages a day, 2 from the New Testament and 2 from the Old Testament. Just as the first reading plan, you are only given readings for 25 days, allowing for catch-up, meditation, etc on the last few days of each month.



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03/22/09

Weekend Resource: 18 tricks to memorize more scripture

 Weekend Resource: 18 tricks to memorize more scriptureResource: 18 Tricks to Memorize More Scripture, by Demian Farnworth. Farnworth gives not only the reasoning behind the importance of Bible memory, but also goes further and gives 18 highly practical tricks for making Bible memory easier and more effective. Recently, I have spent time writing about the importance of the Word in our fight against sin as we seek to taste and see that the Lord is good. Farnworth gives us 18 ways to go further in this area. He also mentions the fact that busyness is often the culprit of memory trouble in all of life, which is interesting to ponder.

Excerpt: “But one of the most compelling reasons for memorizing Scripture I found in John Piper’s sermon If My Words Abide in You: memorizing Scripture shapes the way I view the world by conforming to God’s viewpoint.”

Read the full version here

Here is another interesting idea to aid Bible memory.



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