Bible Reading

“Nearly forty books of the Bible can be read in an hour or less. Half the books of the Bible can be read in less than thirty minutes. And twenty-six books can be read in fifteen minutes or less. That’s pretty amazing for a book that many people think is too massive to read. When you think about it, time really isn’t the problem when it comes to reading the Bible. It’s a good excuse, but not good enough. How much we read of the only book God ever wrote depends mostly on how much of it we want to read. Reading God’s Word is less dependent on our schedule and more dependent on our desire and discipline.” – From Read Your Bible One Book at a Time by Woodrow Kroll

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Insights from 1 Timothy – chapters 5 & 6

I enjoyed doing this study of 1 Timothy – here are my thoughts on chapters 5 & 6.

Chapter 5:
Older men as fathers
younger men as brothers
older women as mothers
younger women as sisters
in all purity
Family to care for widows
Church for those with no family
Those who persist in sin – rebuke (context is elders) – don’t play favorites
Qualifications for widows:

  • 60 years of age
  • wife of 1 husband
  • reputation of good works
  • brought up children
  • shown hospitality
  • washed feet of saints
  • cared for afflicted
  • devoted herself to every good work
Don’t enroll younger widows
  • desire to marry
  • passions drawn away from Christ
  • abandon former faith
  • learn to be idlers, gossips
Encourage them to marry, bear children, manage households, give adversary no reason to slander
Instructions for how to treat elders
-Worthy of double honor
-Don’t receive accusation except on basis of 2 or 3 witnesses
-If continue in sin – rebuke in presence of all – as example
-Don’t show partiality
-Don’t lay hands hastily
Chapter 6:
Honor masters – way to honor God
Godliness – doctrine/sound words
Teach and urge – respect and service
Anyone doesn’t agree with doctrine (sound words) of Christ and teaching that accords with godliness – these are proud, don’t know anything. Unhealthy desire for conflict (controversy) and quarreling.
   Produces:
  • envy
  • dissension
  • slander
  • evil suspicions
  • constant friction
among people who are depraved – in mind; deprived of the truth. they think godliness is a way to gain (means).
Godliness with contentment = great gain
Content with food and clothing  – “can’t take it with you”
Those desiring riches – fall into temptation
Senseless – harmful desires
Plunge people into ruin and destruction
Love of money – root of other evils
this craving causes some to walk away
Man of God – instructions
-Flee love of riches
-Pursue

  • righteousness
  • godliness
  • faith
  • love
  • steadfastness
  • gentleness
Fight the good fight of faith
Called to eternal life – take hold of it
Keep the commandment – unstained & free of reproach
God alone has immortality – dwells in unapproachable light; no one has ever seen or can see
For the rich – don’t be haughty; don’t set hope on riches but on God
God richly provides with everything to enjoy
-Do good
-Be rich in good works
-Be generous and ready to share
This stores up treasure – foundation for future – in order to take hold of what is really life
Irreverent babble & contradictions – falsely called knowledge (avoid)
by professing above – some have swerved from faith

Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky

Critical Mass (V.I. Warshawski, #16)Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite mystery series is the V.I. Warshawski books by Sara Paretsky. When I found out the latest one, Critical Mass was available for review, I jumped at the chance to review it. I have enjoyed reading Warshawski’s tales of adventure through the years. She ages along with the series and the technology grows and changes with her as well, making the books realistic. V.I. is a private detective who somehow manages to find herself in the thick of life-threatening situations while she is investigating various mysteries. In this book, her close friend, a Holocaust survivor from Austria, gets a call from a childhood friend’s daughter, who is a drug addict and seems to find herself in various predicaments as a result. When V.I.’s friend asks her to check it out, she stumbles upon a dead body, but it isn’t the addict. In the midst of trying to find the missing drug addict, she finds out the addict’s son is also missing. The trail of finding him leads her down a road leading all the way back to World War II and the Holocaust, with scientists and their inventions.
Once again, Paretsky draws us into V.I.’s life, the obstacles she encounters in her investigation and the people who she meets along the way. This was a page-turner, trying to figure out what was going on. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest venture in V.I.’s life!

*this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my review

Insights from 1 Timothy – chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3 of 1 Timothy deals with the qualifications for overseers or elders.

  • it’s a fine work
  • be above reproach
  • husband of 1 wife
  • temperate (not quick-tempered)
  • prudent
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • manages his household
  • keeping children under control – with dignity
  • not new convert
  • must have good reputation with those outside the church
  • not addicted to wine
  • not pugnacious
  • be gentle
  • uncontentious
  • free from love of money

Cross-referencing with the qualifications listed in Titus:

  • having children who believe
  • not accused of rebellion or dissipation
  • God’s steward
  • not self-willed
  • not fond of sordid gain
  • loving what is good
  • sensible
  • just
  • devout
  • self-controlled
  • holding fast the faithful word – in accordance with teaching
  • exhort in sound doctrine
  • refute those who contradict

Also qualifications listed for deacons

  • men of dignity
  • not double-tongued
  • not addicted to much wine
  • not fond of sordid gain
  • hold to mystery of faith with a clean conscience
  • first be tested
  • beyond reproach
  • women are to be dignified, not malicious gossips, temperate, faithful in all things
  • husband of 1 wife
  • good managers of children and own household

So a lot of similar qualities that are needed for those who are in leadership of the church, those entrusted with God’s sheep.

Chapter 4 of 1 Timothy:
-fall away – occupy selves
-pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons
-by the hypocrisy of liars with seared consciences; worldly fables
Everything created by God is good; nothing is rejected if it is received with gratitude: for it is set apart/sanctified by means of God’s Word and prayer.

Point these things out:

  • Have nothing to do with worldly fables
  • Train/Discipline yourself for godliness
  • Fix hope on the living God – the Savior of all, especially believers: Teach these things
  • Public reading of Scripture
  • Exhortation and teaching
  • Use spiritual gift
  • Be absorbed in these things – so that progress is evident

Pay attention to self and teaching – persevere

Instructions given to Timothy

  • Point out these things
  • Have nothing to do with worldly fables
  • Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness
  • Prescribe and teach these things
  • Don’t let others look down on youth
  • Be an example: in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity
  • Give attention to public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching
  • Don’t neglect spiritual gift
  • Take pains and be absorbed in these things
  • Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching
  • Persevere in these things

Reckless Faith by John MacArthur

Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to DiscernReckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern by John MacArthur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would highly recommend this book for Christians to read. Though written in the 90’s it is perhaps even more needed today. The biblical illiteracy among American Christians is appalling and has resulted in a lack of discernment. We need to get back to the Word of God!

Quotes:
“Authentic faith can never bypass the mind.”
“When tolerance is valued over truth, the cause of truth always suffers.”
“The times of decline in the history of the church have always been marked by an undue emphasis on tolerance – which leads inevitably to carelessness, worldliness, doctrinal compromise, and great confusion in the church.”
“The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings…”
“Mystical experiences…are not subject to any form of objective verification.”
“Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith.”
“Evangelical mysticism attacks the objective interpretation of Scripture.”
“Mysticism further nullifies Scripture by pointing people away from the sure Word of God as the only reliable object of faith.”

“Discernment depends on a knowledge of Scripture.”

“Until Christians regain the will to test everything by the rule of Scripture, reject what is false, and hold fast to what is true, the church will struggle and falter, and our testimony to a world in sin will be impaired. But if the church will rise up and stand for the truth of God’s Word against all the lies of this evil world, then we will begin to see the power of truth that sets people free (John 8:32).”

“Modern church leaders seem obsessed with methodology, psychology, pragmatics, attendance figures, felt needs, popularity polls, and the like – all to the detriment of biblical doctrine. And when doctrinal understanding declines, real discernment becomes impossible.”

“Fellowship that ignores or glosses over the crucial doctrines of the faith is not Christian unity; it is ungodly compromise.”

“When doctrine is relegated to secondary status, it is inevitable that discernment will wane.”

“Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world’s favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior.”
“If we can’t trust the preaching of God’s Word to convert the lost and build the church, how can we trust the Bible at all – even as a guide for our daily living?”
“An increase in biblical illiteracy leads inevitably to the rise of reckless faith.”
“The gospel is inherently offensive.”

“This unchanging view of truth is essential for true discernment. When the church loses its commitment to the inflexibility of truth, it loses its will to discern. It forfeits precise theology, precise morals, and precise conduct. Right thinking and right living therefore demand careful discipline and an unyielding commitment to the truth. Discernment does not survive in an atmosphere of doctrinal confusion. It will not survive where relativism is tolerated. And it cannot survive if we compromise with the world.”

“As knowledge of God’s truth ebbs, people follow more popular views, seeking feelings and experiences.”

“There is no valid explanation for why contemporary Christians are so undiscerning – but it reveals a spiritual apathy that is deadly evil.”

“Discernment will come only as we train our minds to be understanding in the truth of God’s Word and learn to apply that truth skillfully to our lives.”

Definition of discernment: “It entails the idea of making distinctions.”
“So discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. The discerning person is the one who draws a clear contrast between truth and error.”
“No one can be truly discerning without developing skill in separating divine truth from error.”

On judging: “What is forbidden is hypocritical judging and judging others’ thoughts and motives. But other forms of judgment are explicitly commanded. Throughout Scripture the people of God are urged to judge between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.”
“…God requires us to be discriminating when it comes to matters of sound doctrine.”

“No human teacher, no personal experience, no strong feeling is exempt from this objective test.”
“Experience and feelings – no matter how powerful – do not determine what is true. Rather, those things themselves must be subjected to the test.”
“If our feelings determine what we believe, we cannot be discerning.”

“Modern evangelicalism, enamored with psychology and self-esteem, has produced a generation of believers so self-absorbed that they cannot be discerning. People aren’t even interested in discernment. All their interest in spiritual things is focused on self. They are interested only in getting their own felt needs met.”

“True discernment requires diligent study of the Scriptures.”

“…if a doctrine is essential for salvation, we can learn it from the Bible. The written Word of God therefore must contain all doctrine that is truly fundamental.”

“…the only merit God accepts for salvation is that of Jesus Christ; nothing we can ever do could earn God’s favor or add anything to the merit of Christ.”

“…truth must never become the slave of sheer emotion or unintelligible experiences.”

“Real love for God is inseparable from love of the truth. The heart that genuinely loves God will be inclined to truth (see 2 Thess. 2:10; 2 John 6). And true theological correctness is found only in an accurate understanding of Scripture (1 Tim. 6:3-4; Titus 1:9). Those determined to cast sound theology aside must also abandon Scripture (2 Tim. 4:2-3). Scripture and sound theology are not antithetical; they are indissolubly bound together. One simply cannot esteem Scripture highly yet scorn sound doctrine. One cannot love God and remain indifferent to His truth. Scripture is how He makes Himself known. So a sound understanding of Scripture is essential to a true knowledge of God.”

“…the truth of Scripture is too often set aside in pursuit of the emotional high of a mystical experience.”

“…a growing movement that is propagating extrabiblical revelations from God as the key to renewal in the church. Thousands of churches worldwide have embraced this new movement. People everywhere are listening for – and believe they can hear – the voice of God.”

“When knowledge of Scripture is at such an ebb, this is the worst possible time for believers to be seeking divine truth in dreams, visions, and subjective impressions.”
“…the extreme subjectivity that is introduced into doctrine and daily life when Christians open the door to private messages from God.”
“Those willing to heed inner voices and mental impressions may be listening to the lies of a deceitful heart, the fantasies of an overactive imagination, or even the voice of a demon. Once objective criteria are cast aside, there is no way to know the difference between truth and falsehood. Those who follow subjective impressions are by definition undiscerning. Mysticism and discernment simply do not mix.”

2 Peter 1 – “Peter is saying that the written Word is an even more reliable source of truth than his own experience.”