I’m just back from a visit to Spain and Italy to speak at Porterbrook Network events and launch Total Church in Italian.
It was exciting to hear stories of the way Porterbrook is not only equipping individuals, but changing the culture of whole churches ad lead to church planting initiatives.
But here’s my favourite story. A seamstress in a factory in Bologna used to wish she could leave her job so she had time to evangelise unbelievers. As a result of studying with Porterbrook, she now joyfully goes to work each day to be a missionary in her factory. I guess she sees herself as a kind of chaplain in her factory.
Nothing has changed and everything has changed.
I’ve posted this Bible reading plan before. We use it in The Crowded House Sheffield. If you’ve been using it then you’ll be interested in this postcard-sized version of the plan for 2014. If you’re not reading through the Bible then the approach of the new year is a good time to review your Bible reading habits. Here are a couple of old posts on why that would be a good idea – Hearing God Speak and Must I Read My Bible Every Day?
This plan has a number of differences from other plans.
The plan specifies a number of chapters for each week rather than for each day. This makes it more flexible. You can read a chapter or two each day or you can read it in two or three sittings. Or you can set out reading a chapter a day and then catch up at the weekend. It means it fits more readily around people’s lifestyle.
It is designed to be followed with a partner or among a group of people. There is only one section each week (occasionally two shorter books). So you don’t have to read a section from one book and then a section from another book each day. It means the sections are somewhat uneven, but it makes it easy to discuss what you have been reading when you meet up with other people.
We’ve been using it for a year now and it works very well in this way. I meet up with a friend each week for lunch. It’s easy for us to discuss what we’ve been reading because there is only one Bible book to focus on.
It also means I only need look at the Bible plan once a week – I don’t need to refer to it each day.
Following this plan you read the OT in three years and the NT twice in three years. This works out at about nine chapters a week. It means you are not rushing through what you are reading to ‘get it done’. I’ve found with other plans I tend to read it with my mind disengaged. This plan gives time to meditate on the passage.
There is also a version in the document in which you cover the OT once and the NT twice in two years = about 16 chapters a week.
The plan balances OT history, prophecy, wisdom, Gospel and Epistles throughout the year. You move between genres so you’re never faced with reading OT prophecy continuously for six months.
Here’s the complete three year plan and here’s this postcard-sized version of the plan for 2014.
I’ve updated my Amazon store with some of my more recent books. These include …
Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection - a look at how the cross and resurrection should shape our lives (click here for more info)
Gospel-Centred Work - a workbook looking at how the gospel should shape our approach to the world of work
The Everyday Gospel: A Theology of Washing the Dishes - a theological reflection on doing the dishes as a model of how the gospel impacts everyday life
Who On Earth Is the Holy Spirit? - a short introduction to the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life
My next book, You Can Pray, is also available for advance orders.
Also there is my first ever published book, Awakening to a World of Need, which is available for the first time as an ebook.
All these books are also able in the UK from ThinkIVP.
Here are the details of two conferences in March at which I’m speaking …
I was speaking at a conference recently and said the following. Legalism says, ‘You should not …’ while the gospel says, ‘You need not …’. In other words, the gospel does call us to a certain way of life, but it enables to embrace that life as bigger and better than the false promises of sin. Someone emailed to ask how this applied to reading the Bible every day. Should we stop saying, ‘I must read my Bible everyday.’ Should we say instead something like ‘I want to read my Bible everyday.’ Here’s how I answered.
Consider what is meant by the phrase ‘I must read my Bible every day.’ Is it the equivalent of saying, ‘I must drive within the speed limit’ or is it the equivalent of saying ‘I must eat every day’? The former is legalism. The latter is true godliness. We read the Bible because it nourishes us and because it tastes like honey.
That said, I do think there is a place of duty (otherwise we might end up only doing the right thing when we feel like it). I sometimes distinguish between ‘bad duty’ (i.e. Pharisaic legalism) and ‘good duty’ (which is from faith). Good duty is faith saying, ‘I don’t feel like doing this, but I believe that if I do it then I will find blessing.’ In the case of reading the Bible, faith-based duty might say: ‘I don’t feel a hunger for God’s word at the moment, but I believe that if I read it then it will produce faith, and faith will give me a delight in Christ and hunger for more of him.’ So in practice I read my Bible each day whether I feel like it or not. (But if I miss a day then I don’t make a big effort to catch up because the point is not ticking off a list of chapters, but encouraging faith.)
Another way of looking at this is to encourage people to read their Bibles by highlighting how it is a solution. ‘Do you feel spiritually dry?’ ‘Do you feel anxious?’ ‘Do you feel despondent?’ And so on. The answer to these issues is faith in Christ and embracing the treasures that are in him. And faith comes by hearing (or reading) the word of God (Romans 10:17).
See also this post on Hearing God Speak.
I’ve always thought someone should write a book or blog entitled ‘Missional church – by those who have to clear up afterwards.’ This book is not quite this. It is more ‘Missional church – by those with children in tow’.
It’s a series of reflections on being missional while caring for young children. It’s full of practical wisdom and inspiring stories.
I did find it light on theology. There are some proof texts, but little serious engagement with Scripture. Indeed stories of direct words from God out-number passages expounding Scripture.
Nevertheless I’m sure it would be an encouragement to many missional mums.
Available here from amazon.com and thinkivp.
I have a new book out. My most popular blog post ever was on doing the dishes! Now I’ve expanded it into a small book. The aim is to show how the gospel impacts even the most mundane of activities.
The book is entitled The Everyday Gospel: A Theology of Washing the Dishes and it’s published by 10OfThose.
Available here from amazon.com and thinkivp.
My book You Can Change is now available in Spanish.
Publicaciones Andamio has also translated The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness. Cristianos Superocupados is available in Europe here. They should also be available in due course in the United States through Libros Desafío.
One of the things I stress in my book on busyness is the importance of sleep. We are finite creatures and we need to accept our finitude. One key aspect of this is our need for sleep. It’s very easy for Christians to spin rhetoric about the merits of getting up early to pray or staying up late to study. But to resist our God-given need for sleep is to reject our finitude and think we can be gods. God gave us 24 hours each day and the need for sleep. If you feel the need to cut back on sleep so you can do more then you’re trying to do more than God expects of you. The question is Why?
Here is my favourite kind of article – one that confirms my prejudices! It highlights research that shows that cutting back on sleep is bad for us.
The Busy Christians Guide to Busyness is available here from amazon.com and thinkivp.
On 16 October my book Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection in Everyday Life will be published in the US for the first time from The Good Book Company.
Here’s a three-minute video of me talking about it.
Ordinary Hero is available for pre-order from Amazon.com and The Good Book Company. The Ordinary Hero is also available in the UK (with a slightly different subtitle) from ThinkIVP.
Here’s what some nice people say about it.
Tim Chester is rapidly becoming one of the leading young English- speaking Christian writers. His prolific work has an accessible style which has clarity and is very thought-provoking. This book is no exception. Tim encourages us to live heroic but ordinary lives that are full of the extraordinary hope that comes from believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. –Adrian Warnock, blogger and author of Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everything
Tim Chester brings us to the foot of the cross and challenges us to live our lives from there. In his direct and yet compelling style, Chester writes with real insight and honesty into the struggles of the Christian life and with a vivid hope for its joys. He shows again and again the way in which the cross of Christ not only showers on us the grace of forgiveness but also teaches us how to live. –Dr Michael Jensen, Lecturer in Doctrine, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia
This impressive book emphasizes what really matters that the truth of the cross and resurrection is to be lived as well as believed. Tim writes with a simplicity and directness that demonstrate how the cross and resurrection impact every corner of our lives and set us free to live as we should. If you read each chapter slowly and prayerfully, and determine by God s Spirit to follow what the Bible teaches, you will be on track to live a life of true discipleship. –Jonathan Lamb, Langham Partnership