4 Ways to Grow in 2014

A new year is upon us. In just over two weeks we will be enveloped in all the hustle and bustle of 2014. Now you may think a New Year post like this is a bit early, but do read on. Assuming you plan on making new year’s resolutions, I have a four suggestions here that require a bit of preparation. If you are anything like me you want to begin on time with all the resources you need, so below find four resolution ideas with support material. These are all great ways to grow in the faith so make use of one or more.

bible read1. Read through the Bible in a year

What more beneficial resolution could you have than to spend the year in God’s Word, from cover to cover? Soaked in the Word, picking up the full story line, coming to grips with the redemptive-historical message.

Recommended tools:

–         Bible Eater: This is my favourite Bible reading tool. It is a bible reading plan with a flexible format, has readings from both Testaments each day and highlights the historical-redemptive passages of Scripture

–         M’Cheyne  1-year reading Plan: This is an older well know reading plan. It brings you daily readings from the Old and New Testament as well as the Psalms or Gospels.

–         Chronological Reading Plan: A straight up reading plan, from the beginning to the end of the Bible. Personally I don’t think it’s the easiest or way to read the Bible, but if you are looking for hard way to get through the Bible, this is probably for you :).

–         Still haven’t found what you are looking for? There are a few more plans here

 reformers2. Read widely in Church History

Recommended Tool:

–         Canon of Theologians: Dever has a suggested reading plan that you can use for one year or more. He directs our attention to the most significant authors and works from various points of Church history, ranging from the First Century till the modern era; moving from era to ear from month to month. This is a brilliant reading plan that helps prevent historical ignorance and chronological snobbery. If you have a problem sourcing any of the books, drop me a message in the contact me section and I’ll see how I can help. Make sure you have the books before the month is upon you, otherwise you will end up struggling to keep up with the plan.

267297_213608865343940_172982576073236_565270_7792602_n3. Read Calvin’s Institutes in a year.

Karl Barth, the most influential theologian of the 20th century, once wrote: “I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life just with Calvin.”

Packer explains that Calvin’s magnum opus is one of the great wonders of the world:

“Calvin’s Institutes (5th edition, 1559) is one of the wonders of the literary world—the world, that is, of writers and writing, of digesting and arranging heaps of diverse materials, of skillful proportioning and gripping presentation; the world . . . of the Idea, the Word, and the Power. . . .

The Institutio is also one of the wonders of the spiritual world—the world of doxology and devotion, of discipleship and discipline, of Word-through-Spirit illumination and transformation of individuals, of the Christ-centered mind and the Christ-honoring heart. . . .

Calvin’s Institutio is one of the wonders of the theological world, too—that is, the world of truth, faithfulness, and coherence in the mind regarding God; of combat, regrettable but inescapable, with intellectual insufficiency and error in believers and unbelievers alike; and of vision, valuation, and vindication of God as he presents himself through his Word to our fallen and disordered minds. . .”

Recommended Tools (note that both are based on Battle’s edition):

–         Institutes Reading Plan from Chapel Library: A reading plan that spans five days of the week, leaving one day as a catch up day and the Lord’s Day free.

–         Institutes reading Plan by J.R. Harris: This reading plan allows no days off, but every 14 days gives a day for reflection. This means you will read slightly less every day, but won’t have much margin for error.

catechism4. Memorise a Catechism

The English word “catechize” simply means to teach biblical truth in an orderly way. In his introduction to The Baptist Catechism, John Piper explains the biblical support for a pattern of doctrine: there is a “pattern of teaching” (Romans 6:17), a “pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13). This used to be a normal practise in the church, to learn the catechism, and it will be deeply beneficial and helpful for you to do the same. The two that I am suggesting today are made to be used in a year; they are neatly broken up into 52 weeks. This make it easy to learn one a week.

Recommended Tools:

–  The New City Catechism: New City Catechism is a wonderful new Catechism based on and adapted from Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, and especially the Heidelberg Catechism. A good next step would be to learn either Westminster Shorter or Heidelberg. It consists of 52 questions and answers so the easiest way to use it is to memorize one question and answer each week of the year. Because it is intended to be dialogical it is best to learn it with others, enabling you to drill one another on the answers not only one at a time but once you have learned 10 of them, then 20 of them, and so on. The Bible verse, written and filmed commentary, and prayer that are attached to each question and answer can be used as your devotion on a chosen day of the week to help you think through and meditate on the issues and applications that arise from the question and answer. Best of all it is available on different platforms. Thus making it very accessible; its on AndroidAppleWeb-browser and Downloadable pdf

–  The Heidelberg Catechism: The Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity in the Palatinate, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well. It is a remarkably warm-hearted and personalized confession of faith, eminently deserving of its popularity among Reformed churches to the present day. Like the New City Catechism above, it fits neatly into 52 weeks, however some week have more than one question, so you will be doing slightly more memorizing if you pick this one.This is also available on various platforms:AndroidAppleWeb-browser and Downloadable pdf.

Accountability Group

Now best of all, I will be providing Accountability Groups, for those of you tech-savy enough to be on Facebook. Join a group and interact with others who are taking part in the same resolution as you. Hold yourself accountable to the group by sharing whether or not you completed the task on a weekly basis. You can also swap tips and discuss how the week’s task went for you. Also share insights you picked up that may be a blessing to others. Sadly I will only make groups to cater for the first options on all the above resolutions (these are the ones I deem to be the best); but don’t despair if you wish to do another one, you can still join as there will be much overlap.

If you plan on doing one of these resolutions and want to join the Facebook group, leave a comment below naming which one you are doing or drop me a mail in the contact me page. (Share this post on social networks so more can join in, the more that join the merrier)

Links to the Groups are:

Read the Bible in a Year

Canon of Theologians

Calvin’s Institutes

Catechism

  11 comments for “4 Ways to Grow in 2014

  1. December 16, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Hi Tyrell, I was curious to see who your canon of theologians included – and rather horrified at how modern they were, although I suppose that you’re entitled to your choices. But it is worth pointing out one factual error: the quote with which you begin which is ascribed to Mark Dever is in fact a well known quote from C.S. Lewis that is found in the introduction that he wrote to a translation of Saint Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word of God. (It’s one of the best English translations and can be found online here, although I’m not sure how legal that is.

    The whole of Lewis’ introduction is well worth reading. And I find it difficult to understand how anyone claiming to be Christian could omit On the Incarnation from their canon. But then, I’d say that about quite a few other people too…

    • tyrellh
      December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Hi Macina. Thanks for your comment. I suppose your horror stems from the gap between Augustine and the Reformers? Having said that January does contain a variety of Church fathers that would be read through the years one uses this reading plan.

      ‘On the Incarnation’ is not omitted, in fact on a larger list that for some reason has escaped my search on the net it is included in the list. What is on the list is just the suggested reading for the first year, the second year will be followed by another reading of Augustine in the February slot, and so and and so forth.

      Thanks for the note on the quote. You are quiet right, it is actually a summation of a far larger document in which Dever quotes Lewis. Just ended up being Lewis’ quote in the end. I shall attend to this.

      • December 16, 2013 at 9:38 am

        Thanks, Tyrell, Actually, the bigger gap for me seemed between the Apostolic Fathers and St Augustine, although there’s clearly a later gap too. But perhaps things have slipped through the net somehow…

      • tyrellh
        December 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

        Yes indeed. I think the difficulty is making a list that can span all of church history without making the reading requirement overloaded. I think the major problem we face is that the majority of Christians are reading nothing of Church history, rather than throw them in the deep end, it is great to get them to read at least this widely. But I do appreciate where you are coming from.

  2. Graham
    December 16, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Great advice – thank you!

  3. GHL
    December 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Most of the works of the theologians listed in the Church history section can be downloaded for free from ccel.org in pdf format. Including the 1000 years the guy skips :-p

    • tyrellh
      December 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Haha. Thanks GHL. Much appreciated. If however you prefer reading in nine digital format I can help

  4. December 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Great Stuff !!

  5. Lydia Van Meter
    December 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Please add me to the “Read through the Bible in a year” accountability group!

  6. Allison
    December 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the link to BibleEater…going to try that plan, seems very well suited to me!

Comments are closed.

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