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Author Archives: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr.

Conspiring Against Yahweh and His Messiah

 

H E A D L I N E :
“The Rise of Xi Coincides with
Crackdown on Christian Worship in China”

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong,
Christian followers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically,
even as the country undergoes a religious revival.

(ASSOCIATED PRESS, IN MIAMI HERALD)

There is a documented hunger for (and a burgeoning of) the Christian faith inside China today. And that has become a most inconvenient truth for the country’s “President for Life” Xi Jinping. His actions against the Chinese Church are moving from harassment, to intimidation, and on to persecution, all in the name of collectivist, statist absolutism.

Chinese Christian funeral procession

(History tells us the Roman Emperors felt and acted the same way as Xi. Here we are, 2000 years later, and the worship of the God of the Bible has swept around the world. And where are the emperors? They remain with us merely as marble busts in museums. Is Xi doomed to repeat?)

Xi understands quite well that he will not be able to eliminate the worship of God, as he might wish. Christianity has, after all, been in China for over 1400 years now, and his “glorious” Revolution isn’t even 70 years old. From his position of power, therefore, his plan appears to be to force Christianity to incorporate and teach his own set of values — “Christianity with Chinese Characteristics,” it has been called.

Xi and the Burning Crosses

Xi Jinping and the Destruction of Crosses

These dubious values include forcing the Church to embrace and teach abject loyalty to the Communist Party and its leaders. As anyone who has even thumbed through a Bible must realize, this type of overt politicization of Christianity is absurd and heretical. “Rendering unto Caesar” [Matthew 22:21] is one thing, and our command to be “in subjection to the governing authorities” [Romans 13:1] is similar to it. But if Xi were successful in his goals, and the Chinese Church became merely a minor Ministry of Jesus with Chinese Characteristics, the resulting new religion would clearly not be Christianity anymore. Nevertheless, Xi’s elevation to “lifetime power” and his jingoistic chauvinism have deluded him into thinking that he and his comrades can successfully “conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One” [Psalms 2:2]

ChinaAid is a highly respected international not-for-profit organization, committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China. Their leaders have called the existing and proposed regulations on religious affairs in China “the harshest and most strict policy on controlling religions and religious affairs since the time of Cultural Revolution.” Here are a few of the persecutions currently being inflicted upon Chinese Christians:

  • Teachers and soldiers are forbidden to become Christians.
  • It is illegal in China to give children a religious education, or in any other way to “indoctrinate minors with superstitious beliefs.”
  • Priests are forbidden to pray for the sick and dying in hospitals, and patients are not allowed to pray or read the Bible.
  • These are all against the law: “organizing citizens to attend religious trainings, conferences and activities abroad”; “preaching, organizing religious activities, and establishing religious institutions or religious sites at schools”; and “providing religious services through the internet.”
  • Christians are banned from traveling abroad for religious purposes, and they are forbidden from taking teaching positions outside the country.
  • Chinese authorities raid a worship service

    Chinese authorities raid a worship service

    There are strict bans against the wave of underground churches which are thriving throughout the country. Raids on these churches have brought hundreds of arrests and imprisonments. Witnesses described one female church official being pushed into the back of a patrol car, being slapped across her face, and being grabbed by the scruff of her neck.
  • Local governments have been given the authority to close down and demolish places of worship, on the flimsiest of charges, with the result of numerous churches being bulldozed and crosses torn down. (See photo at bottom of this article.)

According to ChinaAid, for Christians in China, there is “no legal room for the existence of the house churches and Bible reading as well as prayer meetings without explicitly being approved by the Chinese Communist Party-controlled patriotic associations and religious affairs bureaus.”

And as if all of the above restrictions on people and their activities weren’t enough, a recent order from the Central Government threatened that “if unregistered churches are not willing to be managed by the government or guided by China Christian Council, the government shall guide and transform their thoughts.” This new trend of taking a hard line on “extreme religious thoughts” and “external influences” conjures images of “thought police” and inquisitions.

Our Lady of China painting by Chu Kar Kui

Our Lady of China painting by Chu KarKui

And it’s being sold to the Chinese people and the world in the (seemingly) harmless name of “Christianity with Chinese Characteristics.” Notice the beautiful modern painting (in an ancient style) of the Madonna and Child, dressed in Qing Dynasty robes — “Chinese characteristics” indeed. After all, in our art galleries we see that Western Renaissance artists painted Biblical characters wearing 16th-century clothing. Really, we nod knowingly, how bad can that be?

But, no, that’s not what Xi has in mind.

We saw something similar to what Xi has in mind four decades ago. In 1978, leader Deng Xiaoping recognized the need to allow markets to inspire and produce strong economic growth, as had happened universally in Free Market, Free Enterprise, Limited Government, Capitalist economies throughout the world. Unwilling to give up the centralized power and control that China’s brand of Communism afforded, Deng labeled his Western-style reforms “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” The markets worked, the Chinese economy took off, but Socialist-style central planning kept its thumb firmly on the process.

The tyrant’s creed: If you cannot defeat it, change how you name it, and fight heresy as you define it.

God will, of course, dispense His grace and implement His plan anywhere He wills (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15). But you must understand that the current leadership in China fears Christianity, which teaches that God deserves His followers’ highest loyalty and most fervent worship — above and beyond any human or humanistic governmental system. The Central Government will fight (with force) any and every effort for God’s truth to be preached and believed in China. We are seeing the beginning of a very hard and systemic tribulation for our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.

Follow this in the press, discuss it with your pastors, and pray for the Christians’ protection from persecution in China.



Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. (Hebrews 13:3)


Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have affliction for 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)



 
As important in the overall scheme of things as Xi believes himself to be, 3000 years ago a writer of Psalms described people like him and foretold their fate perfectly. Here is Psalm 2, showing on the left side who is speaking in each section.

PSALM 2 (HCSB)

Psalmist: Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against Yahweh and His Anointed One [Christ, the Messiah]:
Kings & Rulers: “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.”
Psalmist: The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath:
God the Father: “I have consecrated My King on Zion, My holy mountain.”
Messiah: I will declare Yahweh’s decree: He said to Me,
God the Father: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; You will shatter them like pottery.”
Psalmist: So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or He will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment. All those who take refuge in Him are happy.

Destruction of Chinese Christian Church


SOURCES:
ChinaAid.org
Mansfield, Katie, “Chinese government shuts down underground churches to ‘transform thoughts’ of Christians”, 28 August 2016
Mansfield, Katie, “China launches ‘religious winter’ in bid to destroy Christianity in fierce crackdown”, 30 September 2016
Mansfield, Katie, “Christians fightback as China wages war to destroy Christianity and wipe out religion”, 8 October 2016
Wang Yanan, “Christian heartland opens window into fight for China’s soul”, 7 August, 2018
 
PHOTO CREDITS:
(PROCESSION) PETER PARKS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
(CROSSES) DAILY AND SUNDAY EXPRESS/GETTY IMAGES
(POLICE RAID) CURRENT NEWS, DAILY CATHOLIC NEWS
(MADONNA AND CHILD) CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR, BEIJING
(CHURCH DESCRUCTION) CHINA-AID

 
 

ARTICLE © 2018, DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

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… With Your Face Toward the Ground

 

Today is America’s annual National Day of Prayer.

 
This year’s theme is “Pray for America — UNITY,” and the National Day of Prayer Task Force has taken a small snippet of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as its motto. (See the “media graphic” below.)

Here is Paul’s entire thought (which is broader and far more profound) from which the short fragment was taken:

“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
— EPHESIANS 4:1-6 (HCSB)

We call on all Americans today to “bow with your face toward the ground” — in humble “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” to the “one God and Father of all.” Here is the promise we have been given:

“If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people,  and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
— 2 CHRONICLES 7:13-14 (HCSB)

In other words: “Be humble, seek God through prayer, and stop sinning as a Nation” is promised to bring personal forgiveness and national blessings. Looking around at the state of our country today, I think it’s about time we took the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob up on that promise.

National Day of Prayer - 2018

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer.
Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.


 

A Prayer for America

 
Our Father and Our God,
         We praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve.
       Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face.
       Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace.
       We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it.
       You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord.
       This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.

— Billy Graham


 

 

COPYRIGHT 2018 DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 
 

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Billy Graham (1918-2018)

The elder Billy GrahamToday we learned of the death of Billy Graham, lauded by many as the greatest Christian preacher of the 20th century. He died at his home in Montreat, located in the beautiful moutains of North Carolina.

During the many decades of his evangelizing around the globe, broadcasting in all media, authoring books, and being the unofficial “Pastor to the Presidents,” his effect on the spiritual life of the entire world was incalculable. Never afraid to hold up a mirror to sin, Graham unabashedly and fiercely called everyone to repentance.

From the church pulpit or the podium inside a 50,000-seat coliseum or in city streets and parks, he had a powerful and polished speaking style, to say the least. He was able to bring emotions up to peaks of joy and expectation of God’s love, and take them down to the burning conviction of our own sins. Tears were common at his revivals, even from seemingly tough, steel-hardened men of the earth and the factories. When Mr. Graham believed that the audience had been fully convicted of their need for repentance and salvation, he would invariably issue an altar call, which usually brought huge numbers of penitents and converts.

But any outsiders looking into one of these arenas (or viewing a television broadcast, appropriately titled The Hour of Decision) would be totally in error to conclude that Mr. Graham’s ministry comprised only emotion and fervor. Anyone reading printed transcriptions of his sermons would immediately conclude they were theologically as well as logically sound, based on doctrines straight from Christian orthodoxy. His emphasis was always on examining oneself, the act of repenting, accepting the saving grace of God, and living a life in which one’s relationship with God is the most important thing in the universe.

Mr. Graham was a keen observer of the issues of the day, but his interest in them was solely limited to a Christian perspective. Trying to classify him as Left, Right, Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, or Republican (or any other similar label) was as nonsensical as trying to assign a gender classification to the Sun. Case in point — We would all do well to deeply consider this prayer of Graham’s which summarizes his view of this nation and the world:

Billy GrahamHeavenly Father,
We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done:
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Amen!

Mr. Graham lived the Christ-centered doctrines of love, repentance, and forgiveness that he preached. He told it like it was, even before that became a thing. And he was uncompromising in his Christian views on even the most controversial topics. A prime example was his early stand on issues related to the country’s racial problem.

    Billy Graham & Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • At a 1953 Tennessee rally (think about that date!), he himself physically tore down the ropes that the organizers had put in place to keep the audience racially segregated. When confronted about his actions, Mr. Graham informed the organizers that they were to leave the barriers down “or you can go on and have the revival without me.”
  • He once warned an all-white audience “We have been proud and thought we were better than any other race, any other people. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to stumble into hell because of our pride.”
  • As documented by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. experienced a unique friendship that dates back nearly 60 years. In the summer-long 1957 New York Crusade, the two friends took the stage together in Madison Square Garden and boldly took a stand to help end segregation in the United States. ‘I think both Dr. Graham and my father were trying to make the world a better place,’ said Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

This morning, Mr. Graham joined all of “those who sleep in death” awaiting the Resurrection to eternal life as Paul described it throughout his writings.* Though parted from this life, this great modern evangelist has left a legacy of preaching total submission to God, abject repentance for sins, undeniable certainty of God’s grace and our need for forgiveness, constant service to our brothers and sisters, and the daily calling to mirror God’s love to the world.

We need that today perhaps more than ever.


A Tribute to Billy Graham (5:51)
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

“When we reach the end of our earthly journey, we will have just begun.”
WILLIAM FRANKLIN GRAHAM, JR.
(1918-2018)


NOTES:
*
ROMANS 13; 1 CORINTHIANS 11 & 15; EPHESIANS 5; 1 THESSALONIANS 4 & 10
PHOTO CREDITS: (TOP) CHRISTIANITY TODAY; (MIDDLE) BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOC.; (BOTTOM) BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOC.
VIDEO CREDIT: BILLY GRAHAM EVANGESLTIC ASSOC.

 

COPYRIGHT 2018 DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Today's World, Worship

 

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Jewish Insights, or Why We Shouldn’t Mess with Abraham

 
It is a great spiritual pleasure for me to introduce you to an author (a Jewish believer in Jesus as “the Jewish Christ”) who says the goal of his work is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable in all areas of life.” I don’t know if you agree with me, but I think the first century Christians would most certainly have approved of that approach.
Eli Lizorkin-Eisenberg books
He is Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, and the adjacent photo shows the covers of his two latest books, Jewish Insights Into Scripture (2018) and The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel (2015).

The books were written for both lay-Christians and scholars alike, and they arose out of the author’s observation that, all too often, Christians’ understanding of both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament has been clouded by “centuries of Western tradition and interpretation.” Writing in a precise yet understandable style, “Dr. Eli” (as he is known) pulls back the curtain and helps contemporary Christ-followers understand how the scriptures were understood by their original audience – up to and including the first century Christians.

Released just this month, Jewish Insights Into Scripture is a compact volume comprising 50 short (usually one page) essays designed to deepen our appreciation for familiar Bible passages and enhance our understanding of verses many of us have found difficult to interpret.

Over the last year, Dr. Eli has been emailing versions of these knowledge-rich nuggets to his mailing list, about once a week, and I confess that I search my inbox daily to see if his latest has arrived. I have yet to find one of them that either disappointed me or that did not make me want to research further and know more.

Dr. Eli is President of, and a professor at, the Israel Bible Center in Israel, which offers a steadily growing number of online, self-study courses in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, leading to a Certificate in Jewish Studies. Typical responses from students have praised the program’s “passion for the word of God,” calling it “not only engaging but also contagious” – and stating that it “reignited my passion for study of scripture!”

As part of its marketing for the study program, the Bible Center is making available a free unabridged eBook (.pdf) copy of Jewish Insights Into Scripture on their website. If you are interested in purchasing a bound copy, you can find how to do that here. (You may also download an abridged eBook (.pdf) copy of The Jewish Gospel of John – 86 out of the book’s 276 total pages – from them, as well.)

I have reproduced below the first of Jewish Insight‘s essays, to give you the flavor and feel for its content, style, and approach. I think you’ll find it fascinating, and certainly a thoughtful addition to your knowledge and understanding of Scripture. Below that, I have placed a video interview of Dr. Eli, in which he discusses the mission and goals of the Israel Bible Institute in greater detail. Enjoy!


Don’t Mess with Abraham!

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

Genesis 12:3 is a very well-known verse: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” That sounds clear, but a very important nuance is lost in translation.

The Hebrew verb meaning “to bless” is  לְבַרֵךְ  (levarekh), from the root  ב-ר-ך  (B-R-Kh). This root is connected to the concept of a “knee,” and thus implies rendering service to someone (i.e., bending the knee). Hence, one possible meaning of the divine statement could be, “I will serve those who serve you!” To “serve” implies doing good for someone, bringing benefit to a recipient – thus “blessing.”

In the second part of the verse God promised Abraham that “the one who curses you”  מְקַלֶּלְך  (mekalelkha) will in turn “be cursed”  אָאֹר  (aor). Notice that this promise (or threat!) uses two different words that are both translated as “to curse.” The first of these,  מְקַלֶּלְך  (mekalelkha) comes from a root connected to the idea of “lightness” (as opposed to “heaviness”). The second word,  אָאֹר  (aor), derives from a completely different root that means something like “to utterly destroy.”

Taking these Hebrew insights into consideration, an alternative possible translation of this famous verse might be as follows: “I will do good to those who do good to you, and the one who makes light of you I will utterly destroy.”


EXCERPT FROM JEWISH INSIGHTS INTO SCRIPTURE, DR. ELIYAHU LIZORKIN-EYZENBERG,
TEL MOND, ISRAEL: ISRAEL BIBLE CENTER, 2018, P. 6



 

 

COPYRIGHT 2018 DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

 

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Live this Year ‘Wholeheartedly’

 

“He said: Lord God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven or on earth,
keeping His gracious covenant with Your servants who walk before You with their whole heart.”

—2 Chronicles 6:14 (HCSB)

Wholeheartedly by Allison T. Cain 
The calendar has flipped over to the New Year, the time we all of think about beginnings, resolutions, and annual plans. If God and our relationship with Him are not at the top of all our 2018 lists, no doubt you’ll agree that some major re-think is in order.

I suggest in the strongest possible terms that a great way to keep God first — 365 days of the year — is to live the year Wholeheartedly.

Christian author, motivational speaker, Bible teacher, devotionalist, and passionate-yet-humble Ambassador of Christ Allison T. Cain has now given us her seventh book, Wholeheartedly: A Chronological Journey through the Bible in One Year. You may not know it yet, but you will be wanting a copy. Here’s why.

Most of us have, at some time, toyed with the idea of using one of the many “Bible in a Year” volumes to read the Scriptures in 12 months — and no doubt some have successfully done it. But as Allison has discovered, reading it in a way that allows you to follow the exact order of the history of God and humans gives both captivating revelation and motivating theology. As you can see below, she believes this to her very core:


 
Allison T. Cain

Allison T. Cain

“Reading the Bible chronologically has made me want to dance like David in pure abandon, without a care of who is watching and throwing every bit of energy, love and might I have into worshiping our Creator. Not only has it opened my eyes to another incredible and easy way to study scripture, it has given me a deeper understanding of the thread God has woven through history since He created Earth and man. It’s given me an appreciation and eye for Him in my daily life and world events. It’s not that I ever doubted God’s existence, power or attention to detail – it’s just that sometimes I put Him in my “human” box when He is so much more – so much greater. I sometimes simplify the greatness and forget to look at Him with the awe, gratitude, praise and adoration that I should.”


 

Allison does two major things in Wholeheartedly which, in my view, set this book apart from any other similar volume:

First — Making the Case for Reading the Bible Chronologically
Before turning things over to Allison for her enthusiastic take on this concept, let me set the stage for how this reading Plan differs from others you may have seen. Most “Bible in a Year” Plans give you readings that comprise some chapters in the Old Testament, more from the New Testament, an average of 3 Psalms or so a week, maybe a Proverb or two, and that’s how you proceed. Reading various and scattered parts of Scripture is wonderful, because we know all of the text is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). But the myriad and varied subject matters you are asked to absorb each day in this sort of Plan can be disjointed and hard on the concentration. There is often no logical flow to the daily selections or thematic glue that binds them together.

A Chronological “Bible in a Year” Plan, on the other hand, does just what the name suggests — it selects and arranges the readings in the order they happened — from Genesis (“Let there be light”) to Revelation (“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”). And suddenly, the one entire, linear, and complete Story of the Bible becomes a true page-turner! The warnings God sends through the Prophets emerge logically from their historical context. Seeing how it grew out of the Babylonian captivity and events thereafter, the Judean social and religious backdrop with which Christ had to contend is much more easily understood, when one immediately follows the other.

If this sounds like you are being encouraged to “read the Bible out of order,” then I have not done well explaining the concept. But fortunately, Wholeheartedly‘s author does a great job. Take it away, Allison!


 
       “It’s a story. I know we already know that, but there is something about reading the story in order that makes it so much better! Imagine reading one of your favorite books out-of-order. Things just don’t make as much sense and are more difficult to grasp and understand (i.e. history timeline, descendants, story lines). I’ve been so excited about ‘the story’ at times, I’ve completed a week’s worth of reading in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.”
       “Imagine reading in 1 Chronicles about David, all his struggles, sins, etc. when what comes next is the Psalm he wrote during that time. The Psalms are even more beautiful and full of meaning when they are put into the context of David’s life and trials.
       “When you read the Bible in order you have a fresh glimpse into how God’s hand REALLY is in every detail. It’s not just a saying anymore. It’s real. You see His hand at work as each leader or King gains or loses his power. You see how God raises up the shepherd’s son and understand how it all ties together.”


 

Full disclosure: my wife and I read the Bible chronologically at the time that Allison did, and the three of us eagerly compared notes throughout the year. I can truthfully say that her ebullient description of the experience is right on target.

Second — How to Read the Bible Chronologically
The first help Allison gives you is the invitation to make two choices — (a) which Bible translation you prefer to use and (b) which reading format works best for you. The great thing about the way it is approached here is that, while Allison provides her own suggestions for each of these two choices, Wholeheartedly walks with you, hand-in-hand, regardless of what decisions you make.

When Allison first read the Bible chronologically, she read it in a translation she’d never before read — the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). She found the HCSB to be a superb, highly readable, painstakingly accurate translation into modern 21st-century English. Her suggestion is that you use the HCSB for your Bible reading, and I agree. I use it exclusively, except when I am comparing translations. (More on the HCSB in “Additional Notes” below.) But the versatile strength of Wholeheartedly is that it marries seamlessly with whatever your preferred translation is.

The second choice you have is how you will make your way through 365 days of historical reading of Scripture.

  1. Do you want one single book which contains the entire Bible, published in the order of your daily readings?
  2. Or would you prefer a slimmer volume that lists which chapters are assigned to each day of the year, allowing you then to go to your favorite Bible and read them from there?

Option 1: If you choose the first option, there is a book titled Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible by George H. Guthrie. This one volume contains the complete text of the HCSB Bible, rearranged into the chronological order you are seeking. There’s no skipping around needed; you just read page after page straight through until the year is over. Allison supports this book’s approach: “I pray you will consider purchasing a chronological (HCSB) Bible as you begin this study.” (More on this book in “Additional Notes” below.)

Option 2: This option, which I urge you to strongly consider, is exactly what the book Wholeheartedly is all about. It provides a rich treasure of Allison’s personal commentary and reflections, ample set-aside space for your own note-taking and journaling, as well as the entire chronological listing of your daily readings (divided into each week’s seven daily readings). In this slim 120-page, easily portable volume, you find the readings for that day, go to your own Bible (whichever translation you wish to use), and read.

Regardless of which reading Options you choose, Allison gives you structured and thoughtful places for you to write your own musings, questions, discoveries, journalings, and notes, to be kept for your own future consideration.

And perhaps the most important part of the book — second, of course, to Scripture itself — are Allison’s myriad short, enthusiastic, and devotional Bible studies, pulled and expanded from the thoughts she recorded during her own chronological year. Here’s how I see the value of these writings in particular, and the book in general: If Scripture can be thought of as our Teacher and Coach, enabling us to learn truth and to climb higher and closer to God, then surely Allison’s heartfelt, God-centered reflections are like having our BFF-in-Christ sitting next to us, praising God with us, sharing insights and delights, urging us on, and cheering our progress.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find throughout the book in her personal, joyous, God-centered writings. It’s an excerpt from her thoughts about Genesis 2:1-3:


 
       “So, as you begin this adventure through the story of God, please consider that the creator of the Universe, the one who knew you before you were born, the one who knows every hair on your head, loves you and walks with you daily wants to sit down with you. How quickly would you drop everything on your calendar and pull out your credit card to buy a plane ticket if your favorite band, movie star, president or author called to have you over to their home for dinner and conversation?
       “Well, your Heavenly Father created this whole Universe, He’s the top dog, the CEO of Life, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the one who holds your life breath in His hand. He loves you so much that He sent His very own son, His only son, to die so that you could live forever with Him in paradise. AND … He wants to know you better. He wants to sit down with you and hear your heart’s desires. He wants to show you His promises of comfort, peace, love, forgiveness, and grace. He desires for you to seek Him when you need wisdom and direction. He wants to be your Living Well. Your stream in the desert. Your lifeline and your listening ear. He will not judge you, but He will love you. He will not disgrace you, but He will give you comfort. He will not condemn you, but He will forgive you.


 
Wholeheartedly clock
By now, you know how much value I find in this book. So, how can you most quickly purchase a copy of the 120-page Wholeheartedly? Allison’s website links to Amazon.com, and you can buy it directly online there. You can find information on her first six books online as well.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS FROM ALLISON:

Wholehearted(ly) :
fully; truly; sincerely; deeply; energetically; devoted; completely; earnestly; having or showing no doubt or uncertainty about doing something or supporting someone.

 
       “I encourage you to jump into this adventure Wholeheartedly — with an unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, and wild enthusiasm.
       “You will never be more excited about the Bible story, and when you turn that page to find Jesus in the New Testament, you will discover and unravel mysteries you never noticed. You will find treasures on every page and learn more than you ever imagined about your Heavenly Father.
       “Make this yours, but seek God through His word. Pray He multiplies your time and understanding in ways you never imagined to complete this journey.
       “The word of God never grows old or stale. It is always fresh and relevant. I pray you will remain in Him wholeheartedly during the course of this study and revel in His truths and promises He will reveal to your obedient heart.”

 



 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Chronological HCSB
       I mentioned above that Allison gave praise to the Chronological Bible she first read, and which was the inspiration for her current book. It is called Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, and is available from various booksellers, mostly online. For now, at least, it is still available at Amazon.com and CBD.com.
       Allison also strongly recommended the use of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, along with her own book, to do the 365-day journey. The HCSB and Wholeheartedly are a great fit, as you will find that most of the scriptural quotes she pulls in the book are taken from that translation.
       Bad news, however. Holman Bible Publishers has effectively discontinued the HCSB, and issued its “replacement,” the Christian Standard Bible. For reasons too numerous to list here, I find my preference is still strongly for the HSCB. Perhaps I will write another essay here detailing exactly why I feel this way.
       So, we have to qualify any reference to the availability of HCSB or Reading God’s Story because of this publishing decision.
       At the very least, if you do not already own a copy of the HSCB, I would go to Amazon.com or CBD.com to order one — now!

COPYRIGHT 2018 DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Bible Study

 

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‘A Father in the House’

 
For Fathers Day 2017, Christian Educational Ministries has re-released Ronald L. Dart’s 28-minute program “A Father in the House,” which you may listen to by clicking below. This is the 4th program in the 8-part series Marriage and Family, from his nationally syndicated daily radio program Born to Win.

After an introductory discussion of the importance of having a father’s actual and active presence in his family, Dart uses a retelling of the charming and spiritual Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz to finalize his teaching on a man’s broader responsibilities inside his family. In addition, he explains many of the legal imperatives and cultural traditions of the time — without this knowledge, many elements of the story sound strange to modern ears. At the end of the program, a reminder of the identity of Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson provides a strong context and finale.

Click this box to listen to Mr. Dart’s program:
A Father in the House

(If you would like to listen to all 8 programs in the Marriage and Family series,
you may do so at the Christian Educational Ministries site.)


 

Not surprisingly, the story of Ruth and Boaz has inspired artists throughout the ages to produce great works of art to memorialize them. Here are three I found while preparing this post. If you click on each, you will see a larger reproduction of the work. They are presented here in chronological order of their creation:


 
BOAZ MUST SEND RUTH AWAY from The Crusader Bible (ca.1244-1254)

The Crusader Bible


 
RUTH THANKS BOAZ FOR LETTING HER GLEAN by Philips Galle (1585)

Ruth Thanks Boaz


 
RUTH IN BOAZ’S FIELD by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1828)

Ruth and Boaz


 
But Ruth replied:
“Do not persuade me to leave you
or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me,
and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.”
(Ruth 1:16–17 HCSB)

 

 

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‘Behold the Lamb of God’


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen, before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast.
(1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV)

 

 
Today, until sundown, is the 14th day of Abib (or Nisan, as the month is known today), the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Why is this day different from all other days? And why is it significant for Christians? The Lord told Moses, “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the Lord’s [Yahweh’s] Passover is to be held” (Numbers 28:16; also Leviticus 23:5). It was in the early hours of this day (what we would refer to as last night, after sundown) that Jesus observed the last Passover of His earthly ministry with His disciples:

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us, so we can eat it.
“Where do You want us to prepare it? ” they asked Him.
Listen,” He said to them, “when you’ve entered the city, a man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters. Tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large, furnished room upstairs. Make the preparations there.
So they went and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
(Luke 22:8-16)


Passover is the first of seven of what God refers to as the Lord‘s festivals [“appointed times”; Hebrew: moed ], although they are sometimes dismissively referred to as merely and exclusively the “Jewish holy days.” And yes they are, on one level, replete with symbols of Israelite history and culture, and of that ancient nation’s special relationship with God.

But like so many things Biblical, there is a deeper, spiritual, universal level of meaning to the Feasts of God. Those of us Christians who observe them find each of them overflowing with the message of Christ, salvation, grace, and the coming Kingdom of God. God never changes, and His Plan has been unfolding since the words “Let there be light” were spoken. Scripture tells us, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 KJV) and that the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 KJV). And perhaps most important, Christ died on the 14th of Abib. It should hardly be surprising, then, that God would use His 14th of Abib appointed time (and all of His other Festivals) as yet one more way to reveal and teach us His plan.

Every year, from Passover to the Last Great Day, the Gospel is acted out through these festivals, using their inherent drama to reinforce deep underlying messages. Once Israel began to observe them, the symbols of each festival (appointed time) became ingrained into their lives, minds, and spirits — so that when God’s true Passover Lamb appeared on earth and was sacrificed, the message and its significance were clear from centuries of repetition. (If you watch a movie enough times, you’ll eventually be able to recite the entire dialogue from memory. For proof, ask my brother- and sister-in-law’s offspring about The Princess Bride!)

Therefore, when John the Baptist pointed to Christ and called Him “the Lamb of God,” the reference must have been unmistakable to his listeners. Probably only Jesus and John knew, at that time, what this fully and truly meant. But the association of “Lamb of God” with the Passover must have been crystal clear to every lifelong resident of Judea who was present. Three and a half years later, as the “Lamb of God” hung on a stake and died, undoubtedly the tumblers began to fall, and the full meaning was unlocked for His followers.

The “Lamb of God” symbols of Passover did not stop there. Each year, four days before the actual Passover, households were to select a lamb for sacrifice, which was required to be “without blemish,” thus foretelling the perfect nature of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. That this Lamb had come to “take away the sins of the world,” as John said, had been foretold by the sin offerings made throughout the year at the Temple. And, of course, the ultimate fate of the Lamb of God was a sacrificial death, also vividly portrayed in the annual Passover sacrifice.

That all of these Holy Days point directly to Christ is one of many reasons so many Christians — yes, including my wife and me — keep the Lord’s Feasts. They provide appointed times set aside for us to learn and grow in our knowledge of Christ and the grace and salvation He brought. But even this is not the main reason to keep the Feasts. It took a Rabbi friend of mine to cement in my mind the fact that there was a different, wholly transcendent reason.

He was a professor of mine, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi — and you may be surprised to learn that he was the greatest statistics teacher I have ever had or known. Not only did he revolutionize my thinking about how to teach stats (Thank you, Shlomo!), he became a dear friend and great mentor. He was both mystified and bemused when he learned that I kept the “Jewish” Holy Days, and he asked me why I did so. As I remember the conversation, I turned the question back to him and asked, “Well, why do you keep them?” Without a second’s hesitation, he said, “Because I am commanded to.”

And he was absolutely correct. God’s commandments are both necessary and sufficient in all cases.

Some Christian friends (whom I love for being concerned about me and for caring for me) have asserted that what we are doing is archaic, anachronistic, legalistic, Judaizing, antiChristian, superseded by Easter — or some combination of these. But I ask them (and you) to at least concede this: these are not “Jewish” holy days. The Lord [Yahweh] Himself repeatedly called them “the Lord’s appointed festivals” (Leviticus 23:2,4-6,34,37; Numbers 28:16; Ezra 3:5; Hosea 9:5, etc.). Some have wryly gone further and asked me, “So do you kill a sheep every year?” No, dear friends, the perfect Lamb has already been sacrificed for us. Therefore, we keep the Feast with the New Testament symbols of unleavened bread and wine, as commanded by Christ:

On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.
In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

 
Christ told us to remember Him every time we did “this.” Paul said we are proclaiming the Lord’s death when we eat “this” bread and drink “this” cup. What was the “this” Christ was doing? Which bread and cup were “this” one Paul referred to? Completely beyond question, Christ was celebrating Passover, eating the Passover bread and drinking from the Passover cup.

If there were any Biblical evidence that these festivals were for the nation of Israel only, or if Christ in the New Testament had abrogated them or provided substitutionary feasts, we would of course faithfully and gladly follow. But in our human, imperfect way, we attempt every year to believe and obey Christ literally, by taking the bread and wine at Passover in imitation and remembrance of Him.

These festivals were instituted to proclaim and teach the sacrifice of the true Passover Lamb, and the plan of salvation He made possible. They are therefore no less efficacious for me (and all Christians) today than they were in ancient Israel. Christ Himself kept the Feasts. So did His apostles and all the early church — even the Gentile ones. And prophecies show that in the Kingdom of God, all the nations will keep the Feasts (Zechariah 14:16-19).

We know that God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), that His word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8), and that Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So are not His commands and teachings equally immutable and everlasting?

And truly, that is the “prime directive” reason for those of us who keep Passover and the other Holy Days, using bread and wine, and with Christ-centered learning and worship. To paraphrase my Rabbi professor and friend, it is “because we are commanded to.”

I invite all my Christ-loving brothers and sisters to join us in the discovery of these ancient, God-designed moeds (appointed times). A great place to start is to memorialize the sacrifice of Christ, using the Passover bread and wine. Here are some suggested readings we often use in our Passover observance:
                        ●   Isaiah 53:1-9   the most beautiful and powerful of Messianic prophecies
                        ●   Luke 22:7-20   Christ’s last Passover until His Kingdom is established
                        ●   John 6:47-58   the new covenant of eternal life, symbolized by the bread and wine
                        ●   John 13:1-17   Christ’s lesson about and example of servant leadership
                        ●   1 Corinthians 11:17-32   the symbol of His body and blood in the bread and wine
                        ●   1 Peter 1:18-21   the Lamb without blemish, chosen before the foundation of the world
                        ●   1 Peter 2:19-25   the Perfect Messiah bore our sins, and we are healed

The Feasts of God are treasures and gifts of God beyond price.

“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”

 
POSTSCRIPT

If the idea of the “appointed times of God” has caught your attention, and you would like to learn more, let me point you in the direction of my pastor, the late Ronald L. Dart (1934-2016). He studied and wrote about this extensively, and it was from him that I learned so much. Here are three sources from him.

The Thread by Ronald L. DartFirst, and most complete, is his book The Thread: God’s Appointments with History (see photo, left). In it, he teaches…
“The holy days of the Bible are about Christ.
“Few have understood the thread that runs from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the New Testament. When God acted in history, events commonly took place at appointed times. Once you pick up the thread, all manner of fascinating new connections present themselves. All of these appointed times of God took on names and customs which were related to the important events in history.
“Traditional beliefs say that the festivals came in with the old covenant and went out with the cross. But as you follow The Thread, there is good reason to doubt that. The feasts we find in the Bible are transcendent, and from the very beginning were pointed, not so much at Israel’s history, but at the much overlooked work and ministry of Jesus Christ in history.”
This is a book you will read again and again and give to others. You will gain understanding of how each holy day points to Christ and impacts your life.

 
Second, as part of his nationally syndicated daily radio program, he did a series of 24 half-hour programs on Christian Holidays. Here is a link to the introductory program, a compact, thorough, easily accessible examination of the appointed times.

Finally, at the bottom of this essay is an hour-long sermon he delivered on Why the Holy Days? It is an intelligent and thoughtful summary of the topic, delivered in his inimitably conversational style. I commend it highly.

I send my love in, of, and by Christ to all of you, and I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on these matters.


Why the Holy Days? — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart   (November 9, 1996) 53:08


Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of
Ronald Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.

 

 

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