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Discipleship

In Mark 3:5 (part of today’s Bible reading) we’re told that Jesus was grieved by the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees.

You would think that men who had spent their entire lives studying the Bible and teaching the Bible could grow so hardhearted.

But unfortunately, it still happens all the time. It’s so hard to know so much in your mind, but miss so much in your heart. This is especially true of those of us who have spent many years as a Christian, even attending Bible College or Seminary.

Yes, on this side of eternity, each of us continues to deal with a deceptive and sick heart (Jeremiah 17:9). But when someone is saved, God gives them a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), one that is receptive to the things of God. And yet….

Application

As you continue reading with me through the New Testament this year, let’s remember to keep our heart soft. Part of keeping our heart soft is marking time with the Spiritual Disciplines (Bible Reading/Study, Bible Memory/Meditation, Prayer, Sharing your Faith, Giving to Support God’s Work, etc.). But just “doing the deal”, going through the motions of Spiritual Growth is no guarantee of Spiritual Growth, or even Spiritual life (Matthew 7:21-23). We must guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23) because that’s where our life comes from.

Well … it’s January 2. How’s your Bible reading going for the year? Do you have a plan? If you don’t, why not read along with me through the New Testament this year? It’ll only take about five minutes a day for five days a week. If you don’t think you have time, the Bible App can even read your daily reading while you’re going through your morning routine. Be sure to friend me on the Bible App so we can encourage each other through the year!

If you just have a desire or an “I really should” attitude toward reading the Bible without a plan, believe me, it won’t happen! I’ve been there and done that! (Do you need a couple of my extra T-shirts?) 😉

The plan I’m using goes through one chapter each day through the New Testament. It’s very manageable and you can read the first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel and already be up to date!

It’s never too late to start going through a Bible reading plan, but it’s always too early to give up! So join me! The goal is to get to know God better and to love Him more. So let’s grow to be more like Jesus in 2019.

Read the Bible with me in 2019! Our church is using Discipleship Journal’s 5x5x5 New Testament plan.

I’ll use the YouVersion App to track my progress. If you normally use that App, add me as a friend so we can read the Bible together!

With this reading plan, we’ll go through the entire New Testament in 2019; it’ll only take about Five minutes a day, Five days a week.

Reading through the New Testament is an attainable goal for anyone! If you’re a slow reader, the Bible App can even read to you as you go through your morning routine. By the time you rinse and spit, you’ll be done!

Reading through the Bible has been such an important part of my life for many years and I highly encourage every believer to make it a part of their life, too!

If you have any questions about how to get started, what Bible translation you should use, or anything else, please drop me a line. I’d love to connect you with the life-changing God through His life-changing Word!

I have watched many people give their tribute to “America’s Pastor”, Billy Graham. Tears have welled up in my eyes as I have heard TV News Show hosts tell about how their lives have been affected by Dr. Graham. Some even used their celebrity to preach the Gospel. On TV.

This is my tribute.

During my Junior Year(?) at UNC-Chapel Hill, several student ministries began to meet together to plan for Billy Graham to come deliver a “lecture series” in Carmichael Auditorium (where basketball games were played back in the day). It was during that time that I witnessed a secret key of the success of Dr. Graham’s ministry.

Leighton Ford was Billy Graham’s brother-in-law and was involved in Billy’s ministry. Leighton’s son Sandy (Graham’s nephew) had been a student at UNC-CH. Sandy underwent surgery for a rare heart disease in November, 1981 and died soon after his surgery. He had just turned 21. I heard that Sandy had been involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which probably laid the foundation for the rest of this story.

My timing may be off, but as I remember it, about two years later, a former roommate of mine was asked to spearhead the lecture series. He coordinating with student leaders of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ. I was involved with “Crusade” throughout college, though not the particular event. But even as an outsider to the event, I saw a glimpse of behind-the-scenes picture that few others in America have ever seen, or known of.

This “secret”, “behind-the-scenes” “key to the success of Billy Graham’s ministry was very simple. At the conclusion of each lecture, an altar call would be given and students would begin making their way down to the area in front of the platform. The first students who began to “walk the aisle” were not going down to the floor-level of the auditorium to be saved. Instead, these were the students who were already Believers and had been trained on how to lead another student to Christ. They were the students who would help new converts to complete the information on the “contact cards” and turn them in to other event-coordinated students. Then the magic happened.

Dr. Graham insisted that every student who made a decision and filled out the contact information on the card be contacted in person by a another student who had been trained in follow-up. Within 24 hours. Every day of the event. There were thousands of students in Carmichael Auditorium each night.

This “secret” wasn’t the crowds that made decisions. The secret was that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was about making disciples, not counting decisions. The key isn’t getting someone to pray a prayer, walk an aisle, or be baptized. The key was that the decisions being made weren’t the end of the ministry; they were the beginning of the ministry. The goal was to plug these decision-makers into the ministries sponsoring the event so that the new converts would become disciples.

I have heard that the follow-up plan used on our campus was the same that was used wherever Billy Graham preached.

 

For this, among other things, I thank God for the Biblical wisdom of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

 

 

It’s times like this — when we turn our calendars to a new year — that many of us think about making changes in our lives. Some people join a gym. Some people sign up for weight management. Many make New Year’s Resolutions that are broken as quickly as they were made.

But what if you wanted real change — change that was more real than changing what you eat and how much you weigh? God’s Word is that kind of change agent! Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is living and effectual, and is sharper than a two-edged sword, able to divide to the deepest parts of us … even to our desires and motivations.

This year our church is embarking on reading through one of two Bible Reading Plans. One Reading Plan will take us through the New Testament by reading one chapter a day, five days a week. It’ll take about five minutes each day.

The other Bible Reading Plan will take us through the entire Bible, reading about three to four chapters a day, six days a week, and will take about a half-hour each day.

Why not join us in reading through the Bible in 2018? It just may change your life! Let me know if you’re going to join with us. I’d love to encourage you along the way!