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Christian Living

Meditating on God’s Word

Our Actions Are Birthed Through Our Thoughts

It’s essential to read the Bible, but beyond that we should also study Scripture. Even more important, however, is meditating on God’s Word. This is because when we meditate on what the Bible says, it changes what we think about, which affects what we do.

Read the Bible

As followers of Jesus, we learn more about him and how to be his disciples through Scripture. By reading the Bible we get a glimpse into the life of Jesus to see what he said and what he did. Then we can emulate his actions and obey his teachings to become more Christlike.

Study Scripture

Reading the Bible is a great start. I do it every day and encourage everyone to do with as well. Yet beyond reading God’s holy word is to examine it. We should study Scripture.

In the Old Testament we see Ezra devoting himself to studying the law, that is the Jewish Scripture—the Old Testament of the Bible—specifically the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (Ezra 7:10).

In the New Testament, Jesus commends the Jews for their diligent study of the scriptures, which testify about him (John 5:39). Today we have both the Old and New Testaments for us to read and study so we can learn more about Jesus—and about God.

Meditating on God’s Word changes what we think about, which affects what we do. Click To Tweet

Meditate on God’s Word

Studying scripture is a rewarding endeavor, but we must make sure we don’t do it to amass knowledge but to inform our understanding of God. Paul warns the church in Corinth to pursue love over knowledge, saying that knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Though the context of Paul’s instruction is about food sacrificed to idols, his warning to not allow ourselves to become proud over our knowledge is a warning we should all heed. We don’t want to take pride in our knowledge about the Bible, to become puffed up by what we know.

Instead, we should take the next step and meditate on it. We should hide God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). We do this as we read, study, and meditate on the Bible.

Studying Scripture puts the Bible’s words in our minds; meditating on God’s Word puts it in our hearts. This is where it needs to be; this is where it must be if we are to apply what we read in the Bible to what we do and say.

Drive Our Actions

As we meditate on the Bible—as we hide God’s Word in our hearts—the desired outcome is that we won’t sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Though meditating on God’s Word won’t make us sinless, it will help us to sin less.

This is because what we put into our minds influences what comes out of our mouths and what our body does. Meditating on God’s Word changes what we think about, which affects what we do.

The old computer saying is GIGO—garbage in garbage out. What we enter into a computer is what we can expect to get out of it.

The same is true in our lives. If we fill our minds with junk—with the thoughts of the world, evil, and ideas contrary to the Word of God—that’s what we can expect our minds and our bodies to produce.

Yet if we fill our mind with the thoughts of God, by meditating on God’s Word, we can expect a positive and God-honoring result.

May it be so.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Jeremiah Issues 3 Warnings to Misleading Ministers

Beware of Slacking Shepherds, Godless Pastors, and Misleading Ministers

The prophet Jeremiah doesn’t just warn the people about judgment for their sins, he also warns their religious leaders too. The twenty-third chapter of the book of Jeremiah details three leadership failures. Most troublesome is the third item about misleading ministers.

Everyone in leadership should heed Jeremiah’s cautionary words and seek God’s help to avoid repeating these errors.

1. Slacking Shepherds

Jeremiah proclaims woe to the shepherds (a metaphor for religious leaders) because they fail to take care of the sheep (a metaphor for God’s people). The prophet gives three examples to demonstrate the shepherds’ failure.

First, they have scattered the sheep. Second, they have driven the lambs away. Third, they have neglected to care for their flock.

God pledges to punish these failed shepherds. Then he will replace them with good ones (Jeremiah 23:11-12).

2. Godless Pastors

Next, Jeremiah condemns godless prophets and priests. Imagine that. These men should represent God to his people, but they don’t. Even in the temple (the church building), God finds them full of wickedness.

He promises to banish them to the darkness, where they will fall. He proclaims disaster for them (Jeremiah 23:11-12).

3. Misleading Ministers

Jeremiah continues rebuking prophets who proclaim lies. They fill the people with false hope. These religious leaders don’t have the mind of God. They don’t hear what the Lord says. Instead, they make up things to tell the people (Jeremiah 23:16-17).

In short, they fail to speak God’s truth.

God’s punishment for these misleading ministers is that he will forget them and cast them from his presence (Jeremiah 23:39).

We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation responds. Click To Tweet

Today’s Preachers

This issue of misleading ministers happens today at too many churches, albeit with a modern twist. Preachers speak what the people want to hear and not what the Bible says. They avoid proclaiming the parts of God’s Word that may upset their congregation.

They water down the good news of Jesus by removing what may offend. Instead of speaking biblical truth, they substitute it with nice sounding messages of their own making that delights listeners, avoids confrontation, and minimizes conflict.

God wasn’t pleased in Jeremiah’s day by the leaders who did this. And he is not pleased today.

Our preachers today must listen to God and teach what he and his Word says. We don’t need any more slacking shepherds, godless pastors, or misleading ministers.

We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation reacts.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 23-25 and today’s post is on Jeremiah 23:16-17.]

We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation responds.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Bible Offers Us Hope for the Future

Because of God we can anticipate a better tomorrow

There are many reasons why I love the Bible, in fact I list thirteen. One of those reasons is hope. The Bible is filled with hope. It’s mentioned 180 times in both the Old and New Testaments.

Hope in the Old Testament

The word hope appears ninety-seven times in the Old Testament, in sixteen of the thirty-nine books. Interestingly, the word hope isn’t found in the first seven books of the Bible. Psalms, however, is filled with hope, thirty-four times (such as Psalm 9:18).

Job comes in second place with eighteen mentions (Job 13:15, for example). Much of the hope that appears in the Old Testament occurs in the writings of the prophets, who look forward in hopeful expectation to a better future (consider Isaiah 40:31).

The book of Revelation ends looking at a glorious future with a new heaven and a new earth. Click To Tweet

Hope in the New Testament

Hope appears eighty-three times in the New Testament and pops up in twenty-four of the twenty-seven books (consider Romans 5:2). Interestingly, in the five books written by John—who writes extensively about love—hope only pops up once, in his gospel.

The final book of the Bible, Revelation, doesn’t mention hope directly. However, the book winds down looking at a glorious future with a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). That’s something to hope for.

Hope in Our Present World

Some of the times hope is mentioned in the Bible, it anticipates a better tomorrow in our physical world: a hope for provision, a hope for deliverance, and a hope for protection, to name a few (check out Psalm 37:9).

When we place our trust in God, we can be filled with hope that he will take care of us throughout our life.

Hope in Our Future Reality

In other places when the Bible mentions hope, it’s a perspective that transcends our physical realm (such as Acts 23:6). It’s hope in a spiritual eternity with God. It’s the hope of heaven.

This anticipates an existence with no pain, sorrow, or disappointment. Some might call it paradise and others, Eden reborn. In this future reality, we will commune with God. We will worship him, serve him, and just hang out.

Some people follow God for the hope he gives them for a better tomorrow in this world. And that may be enough. Other people pursue God for the hope he gives them for a better tomorrow in the afterlife. And that is another reward.

The Bible is filled with hope, and it fills us with hope: hope in God for tomorrow and beyond.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 6-10, and today’s post is on Psalm 9:18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

13 Reasons Why I Love the Bible

The Holy Scriptures Are So Much More than a Sacred Icon or Guidebook for Living

I revere the Bible. Every morning I reserve time to read its words and study its meaning. It informs who I am and reforms what I do. It exposes me to God and his ways. This is why I love the Bible.

Yes, I cherish the Bible. Here are thirteen reasons why I love it so much.

Why I Love the Bible

  1. Supplies Us with a Greater Authority
  2. Reveals God the Father to Us
  3. Points Us to Jesus
  4. Shows Us the Holy Spirit
  5. Reminds Us of Our Heritage
  6. Informs Our Understanding of God
  7. Provides Direction for Our Lives
  8. Teaches How to Live With One Another
  9. Offers Us Hope for the Future
  10. Unveils Rich Literature to Us
  11. Gives Us Daily Inspiration
  12. Presents Us with a Narrative to Inform Our Lives
  13. Uncovers the Spiritual Realm for Us

These are some of the reasons why I love the Bible.

Paul writes to Timothy that all parts of the Bible have value. It can teach us, rebuke us, correct us, and train us for right living. This prepares us to do good (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

'All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in right living' (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Click To Tweet

Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 1-4, and today’s post is on 2 Timothy 3:16-17.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Can a Man Write about Women in the Bible?

We are One Through Jesus, Neither Male nor Female

When God prompted me to write about the women in the Bible, I was excited and began work on it immediately. Much of my life, it seems, had brought me to the place to explore the amazing women found throughout the pages of Scripture.

In short, God has given me a heart for women.

I want to celebrate who they are, encourage them, and make sure that no one ever treats them as less than simply because of their gender. Remember, God created us in his image, male and female (Genesis 1:27).

In a traditional sense, I am a feminist, wanting men and women to embrace—and treat—each other as equals. In this respect, I see Jesus as the first feminist. I’m also reminded that Paul said we are one in Christ, neither male or female (Galatians 3:28).

Yet I also knew some would question the suitability of a man writing a book about women in the Bible. I briefly considered asking my wife to take on some small aspect of the project so that I could list her as a co-author, and thereby defuse any gender bias. I’m sure others have used this strategy in the past, but I didn’t feel right about it and didn’t want to do so for the sake of expediency.

I moved ahead with the project God called me to do, all while wondering how to respond to people who question me—as a guy—for having the audacity to do so.

With much joy in the process and aided by Holy Spirit inspiration I authored the book and published Women of the Bible in 2018. It covers 135 women in the Bible, with a list of seventy-four more for additional study.

Readers received the book well, and it remains my most popular one. It continues to sell better than any of my other books, which currently number over two dozen.

A Heart for Women

Even so, people will sometimes ask, “How can a man write about women in the Bible?” Though I could launch into a lengthy justification or attempt to discuss it from a theological perspective, I’ve chosen not to do so. I simply tell my well-intentioned questioners, “I believe that God has given me a heart for women.”

Usually this allays their concerns, and they accept it. But if I suspect they need further explanation, I add one more line. I say, “I want to encourage both women and men to celebrate the women in the Bible.”

Yes, I want men to read Women of the Bible too. Sadly, I fear they’re more apt to do so with a male name on the front cover than a female. That’s on them. It’s not right, but it happens.

For my part, I’ll do whatever I can to change those misogynistic perspectives. After all, when it comes to God, gender doesn’t matter.

When it comes to God, gender doesn’t matter. Click To Tweet

Men in the Bible

Interestingly, there’s another question that catches me off guard. I’ve heard it nearly as often as “How can a man write about women in the Bible?”

What is this inquiry? I’ve had multiple people ask me when I was going to write about the men in the Bible. I don’t think we need such a book, but if people keep asking me about it, I may just write it.

Besides, I’ve already written about many men—along with women—in my book The Friends and Foes of Jesus. And I’ll cover many more in my upcoming book Old Testament Saints and Sinners.

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What Does the Word of God Mean?

Discover Four Key Things Scripture Says about the Word of God

The phrase “Word of God” appears forty-five times in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament. The book of Acts leads the way with eleven occurrences, followed by Revelation with six.

But what does the Word of God mean?

1. The Bible

Ask people what the word of God means, and many will say it refers to the Bible. Indeed, Scripture reveals God’s written word to us. Penned over several centuries and preserved for us today, its words reveal God to us.

In this way, the Bible is God’s word.

2. The Holy Spirit

In Paul’s teaching about the armor of God, he talks about the Sword of the Spirit, which he identifies as the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). If we assume he’s talking about the Bible, however, we may be off base. This is because the New Testament of the Bible did not exist when Paul wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus.

Since the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit, we can rightly connect these two phrases to see this as God’s spoken word coming to us from the Holy Spirit.

We can conclude that God’s word is both his written word and his spoken word. But there’s more.

3. Creation

In the account of our beginning in Genesis 1, we see that God spoke creation into existence. Eight times the gospel account records, “God said, let . . . ” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26).

In this instance we see the spoken words of God—that is, the word of God—as the source of creation. He literally spoke our world into existence.

This means we have the word of God all around us, all the time. All we need to do to see God and hear him is to look at the creation that his words made.

4. Jesus

When it comes to the word of God, there’s one more consideration—the most important one of all. It’s Jesus.

John, in his biography of Jesus, opens with his evocative, poetic introduction. In this he calls Jesus the Word, that is, the word of God (John 1:1, 14). Jesus came to earth to reveal God to us and to save us. Many of the times the New Testament mentions the word of God, it refers to the gospel, the good news about Jesus.

We see Jesus in the Bible, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and through all creation.

And, by the way, Jesus as the Word, was there at creation—the beginning—when God’s words spoke our reality into being (John 1:1). And Jesus will be present at the end of this age (Revelation 19:13).

Jesus confirms that he is Alpha and Omega, First and Last (Revelation 22:13). Our present reality starts with Jesus, and it will end with Jesus, the word of God.

We see the word of God in the Bible, from the Holy Spirit, among creation, and through Jesus. Click To Tweet

Word of God Conclusion

We see the word of God in the Bible, from the Holy Spirit, among creation, and through Jesus. These are all various aspects of God’s word, but it starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus.

Truly, Jesus is the word of God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Much of a Priority Do You Place on What the Bible Says?

Most Christians Don’t Let Scripture Get in the Way of What They Believe

I recently shared with some friends that “Most Christians won’t let the Bible get in the way of what they believe.” It’s a shocking statement—one that no doubt offends some—but the attitudes of many people about what the Bible says prove that I am right.

In truth, most people base their beliefs on multiple sources, such as what others teach them, what society thinks, and what the Bible says—usually in that order. (I’m not including those people who just make up their own religion and do whatever seems right to them. They may be sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong.)

What Others Teach Them

Many people give a lot of credence to what their ministers and spiritual gurus teach. Though often a worthy source, some are in error. They could lead us astray if we don’t scrutinize what they teach with Scripture (consider Acts 17:11).

As a basic example, most children are taught to bow their head, fold their hands, and close their eyes when they pray. Guess what? I’ve not found that in the Bible. Yet we cling to this practice with religious fervor as if a failure to follow these three basic instructions will render our prayers ineffective. Instead, we should pray like Jesus teaches in the Bible (Matthew 6:5-8).

In a much weightier instance, a common instruction is that we must ask Jesus into our hearts to be saved. Yet I’ve not found this in the Bible either. What Scripture says is to believe in Jesus (Acts 16:31 and many other places).

Yet when our preachers tell us something that’s not in Scripture, we accept their words anyway. Even worse is when these words contradict what’s in the Bible. We believe them and dismiss God’s word. Shame on us.

What Society Thinks

Many people believe that if their life is mostly good, or if they do more good things than bad, then God will welcome them into heaven when they die. Not so fast. The Bible says that in this rule-based approach, one mistake condemns us (James 2:10).

Or what about, “God helps them who helps themselves.” Often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and reinforced by pop-culture, the original source is not the Bible. It may sound spiritual, but it lacks a biblical foundation.

Another common view is that God and Satan are equals, battling each other as evenly matched contenders in the fight of good versus evil. Not true. Satan is a fallen angel. God created angels, just as he created us. The creator is greater than the created. Therefore, God is greater than Satan. Consider Romans 16:20. In the end, God wins (Revelation 12:7–10).

When the Bible doesn’t align with our opinion, do we dismiss the Bible or our opinion? Click To Tweet

What the Bible Says

We’ve already covered that the Bible says to believe in Jesus and be saved (Acts 16:31). It’s a perfect place to start. But there’s more.

Consider Jesus’s promise that we will do everything he did and even more (John 14:12). Scripture proclaims it, so I believe it, even though some ministers dismiss it, and society deems it as foolish.

Another promising passage is that when we align our will with his, God hears and answers our prayers. All of them (1 John 5:14-15).

There are hundreds of more examples, of course, but these three are an ideal place to start. Read the Bible to find more.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

A Lifetime of Reading the Bible

Plan to Read Scripture to Feed Your Soul and Inform Your Life

I’ve read the Bible most of my life. It’s been a huge part of my faith journey. To be clear, this started out with my parents reading to me: one Bible story each night before I went to bed. This helped me know God’s Word at an early age and prepared me to read it on my own.

To be sure, during my days in elementary school, I read Scripture infrequently. This was because my preteen mind found the language of the King James Bible largely inaccessible and mostly confusing. What little Bible reading I did in my preteen years was more drudgery than anything else. I learned little from it.

Read the New Testament

By the time I hit middle school, however, more accessible translations became available, at least for the New Testament. Mirroring my experience as a preschooler, I set a goal to read the Bible each night before I went to bed. Eventually I worked my way through the New Testament. It took me a couple years because some nights I was too tired to read and other nights I forgot. But eventually I finished.

In case you’re interested, reading a chapter each weekday will get you through the New Testament in a year. It only takes two or three minutes to read one chapter. Surely this is a doable task.

Read the Entire Bible

By the time I reached high school, the Old and New Testaments were available to me in more language-friendly versions. The summer of my fifteenth year, I set the goal to read the entire Bible before school resumed. This was before I got my driver’s license. I was stuck home all day, scrambling to find something worthwhile to consume my time.

Reading an hour most every day, I reached the end of Revelation in mid-August, a couple weeks before it was time to go back to school. Mission accomplished.

I later learned that the average adult reader can read the entire Bible in about 80 hours. I proved that claim to be correct.

Making Time to Read the Bible

If you think an hour a day is unreasonable for anyone except a bored teenager on a mission, let me ask three questions.

  1. How much time do you spend each day watching television?
  2. How much time do you spend each day gaming?
  3. How much time do you spend each day on social media? I suspect one or more of these areas consumes more than an hour of your time each day. Perhaps several.

The solution is simple. Cut back on entertainment and scale up to read the Bible. That doesn’t mean eliminate all television, gaming, and social media. It’s just a nudge to scale back and not let it consume so much time.

In my first reading of the whole Bible, I covered many familiar passages, albeit in more detail than my children’s Bible story book provided. I also discovered the less kid-appropriate passages too.

I assumed reading the entire Bible was a once-and-done effort. Even so, when I finished, I reverted to my nighttime Bible reading effort, albeit at a much slower pace: one chapter a day.

Though I met with better success then when I was in middle school, I still struggled. I found it hard to concentrate on the words in front of me as I fought off sleep. For some reason I could read fiction at bedtime but not the Bible.

Deciding When to Read the Bible

As an adult and a morning person, I switched my Bible reading to the start of each day. This fit me better—much better. I was more consistent in this practice and less fatigued by it. I learned more and better connected with God.

In my mid-twenties I felt the call from God to again read the entire Bible. This time my goal was to do it in a year. It took me twelve to fifteen minutes every day, but I did finish. Relieved to have met my goal, I was also delighted to no longer need to cover so much Scripture every day. I needed a break. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long, however, before I felt God’s nudge to resume intentional Bible reading each day. That year I read through the New Testament. The following year I read through the Old Testament (ten to twelve minutes a day). The third year I again read the Old and New Testaments.

Pick a Version

Though I grew up hearing the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, I never used it when reading through Scripture. Today I mostly read from and study the New International Version (NIV).

Yet in my annual explorations of the Bible, I’ve used other versions or translations and benefited greatly. Each one gave me a fresh perspective on the text.

In addition to the NIV, I’ve also used the New Living Translation (NLV), The Message, Amplified Bible, and The Living Bible (which I wore out as a teenager). I think there have been a few others that I can’t recall.

The point is, don’t feel you must restrict yourself to one version. Mix it up. Variety is good.

Adjust as Needed

Since that time, I’ve had a Bible reading plan every year—except for a season when I didn’t. Here’s what happened: After a couple decades of regular, daily Bible reading, I became stuck. I would read the words but failed to comprehend them.

I persisted Bible reading as a discipline, assuming I would one day emerge from my rut of routine to reclaim the joy of reading the Bible each day. When it didn’t happen, I switched to reading other inspirational books for a time until I felt I could successfully resume my exploration of Scripture.

Rejuvenated, I jumped back in and persisted for a decade or so. But again, the day-to-day Bible-reading discipline eventually threatened to push me back into a rut. Refusing to allow that to happen, I decided to take one day off each week.

Instead of reading seven days a week, I now read six. In essence, I took a Sabbath rest from reading the Bible. Lest you think this day off happens on Sunday, Saturday works as a better day for me to pause my study of Scripture.

Taking a break one day each week prepares me to better embrace God’s word, study it, and learn from it on the other six.

I can hear someone complaining already: just as you feed your body each day, you must feed your soul each day too. Since you would never skip a meal, you can’t skip the Bible either. Hold on. On most weeks I do take a daily break from food. I do a 24-hour fast. (In case you’re interested, my fast currently falls on Fridays.)

Reading my Bible each day, Sunday through Friday provides a great rhythm for me. I take a break on Saturday, which prepares me to dive back in the next week. The timing is ideal for me. I’ve now done it for years.

What does vary from year to year, however, is how much I read each day. Though usually I’m on a plan to read the entire Bible in the year, other times I slow my pace to cover the New Testament or even to focus intently on just a few books of the Bible.

May God speak to you and bless you as you study Scripture. Click To Tweet

Form a Habit of Reading the Bible

Doing this, I’ve read the New Testament about thirty times, the Old Testament twice, and the entire Bible more than ten times. It’s taken me a lifetime to reach these numbers. I plan to continue this habit for the rest of my life.

But don’t look at my lifetime of Bible reading and let it overwhelm you. Instead start small.

Read the Bible one day. Then read it a second day. Aim for a third. Keep the streak going. Form a habit. Soon daily Bible reading will become a way of life that you can’t do without.

Read through the Bible with me this year. Download the chronological Bible reading plan I will follow. (In case you’re wondering, to make this work for my schedule, I need to do seven days of reading every six, so that I can take Saturday off.)

If reading the entire Bible looms as too big of a task, consider a New Testament plan, Old Testament plan, or monthly Bible reading plans.

Regardless of which option you choose, the goal is to have a plan to read the Bible this year. Then do it.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

Victorious Christian Conference Update

Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God

Earlier this month I took part in the Victorious Christian Conference, hosted by Emily Louis. My session was a “Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God.” We covered that and a lot more.

Though I don’t like seeing myself on video or listening to a recording of my voice, I did enjoy my interaction with Emily and our faith discussion.

I pray you’ll get something useful from our words. Here’s the video of the session.

Here are some of the other speakers at the conference:

  • R. Christian Bohlen: “Letting the Life of Jesus Shape Our Lives”
  • Mimika Cooney: “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things for God”
  • Entrice Rowe: “Relational Prayer”
  • Wendy Snyder: “Relating to God as our Father”
  • Rick Torrison: “Created for More/Our Identity in Christ”
  • Daniel Lancaster: “Shame Is a Liar”
  • Kim Vollendorf: “Who God Says We Are”

If you want to hear their sessions at the Conference, it’s not too late. A backstage pass is available.

Hear a “Fresh Perspective of the Bible and God” from Peter DeHaan. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Seven Transformations of Peter DeHaan

A Personal Story of Growing in Faith and Action

[This personal essay first appeared in The Transformation Project: A West Michigan Word Weavers Anthology.]

A caterpillar turns into a butterfly; a tadpole becomes a frog. People can change too. We call it transformation. Here’s my story.

1. The Bible Matters

We moved between fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t learn much at my new school. I was far ahead in most subjects, especially Math. However, I lagged in English, especially grammar, sending me on a lifelong quest to grasp it. Given that I ended up an author, and not a mathematician as planned, this ironic twist amuses me.

How I managed to earn A’s in English remains a mystery.

Teachers give more attention to students on the fringe, both those who struggle and those who shine. Since I stood out in most areas, my teacher gave me more attention. Although I didn’t learn much academically that year, she gave me something more important, something life changing: an enhanced self-image.

Succinctly, I began fifth grade as an above average student who believed he was average. I ended the year as an above average student, convinced he was exceptional. This single readjustment of my self-perception forever altered my life.

No longer did I seek to merely get by in school, to take the easy way out. Learning changed from drudgery to delight. I desired to excel.

My newfound interest in education spilled over into religion, as I devoured faith-friendly books—both fiction and nonfiction. Later, I became intentional about reading Scripture. I loved my pursuit of biblical knowledge.

Soon I read the New Testament, and a couple of years later I covered the entire Bible over summer vacation. This sparked a life-long passion of digging for truth in God’s word.

As strange as it sounds, a secular schoolteacher provided the catalyst for my first transformation: an overall desire to learn, which spilled over to an intellectual pursuit of God.

2. The Vast Diversity of Jesus’s Church

I grew up attending two small, mainline denominational churches, where church was a traditional experience: stoic, reserved—and boring. I had trouble connecting faith with church.

What I read in the Bible didn’t much match what I experienced on Sunday. Perhaps changing churches would solve my dilemma.

After high school, I veered evangelical.

At this new church, aside from seeing young adults my age excited about faith and happy to go to church, two other things astounded me: the music and the sermon. Both were fresh and inviting. This sparked a spiritual rejuvenation in me.

My old church had effectively put God in a box. As I migrated to a different doctrine, I had to escape my old theology. This resulted in a newfound freedom to comprehend God afresh. My faith leapt forward when I came to this church, completing a shift in my focus from an intellectual pursuit of God to a personal relationship with Jesus.

My new church, however, also put God in a box, even smaller and more confining.

Their box, fundamental in construction, lacked love and excelled at judgment. Their idea of godly living existed as rules. Theirs was a heavy load and not freeing. Jesus proclaimed the opposite: a light burden and gentle yoke. He offered rest from the religious regulations of the day—not bondage to them.

This church’s doctrine was narrow, dogmatic to an extreme. Pastoral opinion, uttered as fact, allowed for no disagreement. They isolated themselves from most of Christianity, turning up their religious nose at the unity Jesus prayed for.

At first, I didn’t see their error, but when I did, it became an oppressive weight. A spiritual angst welled up inside. I craved escape.

My second transformation occurred not when I joined this church or when I left it, but in the realization that Jesus’s church is more than one gathering, one denomination, or even one faith perspective (be it mainline, evangelical, or charismatic; Protestant or Catholic).

The church of Jesus, with its many branches, is diverse and wonderful. He prayed we would be one (John 17:20-21)—and I began to embrace that too.

Jesus’s church is huge—and I’m glad I’m part of it.

3. Learning to Feed Myself

I wasn’t being fed spiritually, so I switched churches. My reason sounded so spiritual, but my claim revealed immaturity. Unable to feed myself, I expected my pastor to do it for me. I was a baby Christian, only able to drink milk and not eat solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Though I read the Bible daily, prayed most days, and had a relationship with Jesus, I expected my pastor to shovel enough spiritual sustenance into me each Sunday to sustain me for the week. I didn’t know how to do this myself.

Even worse, I didn’t realize I was supposed to. Isn’t that what we pay our ministers to do?

The pastor at this church had a different view. He explained I needed to feed myself—and then showed me how. Soon I learned what to do, no longer relying on him to nourish me.

I discovered how to listen to God, hearing his words and direction. I grew as a person of prayer and faith. My intimacy with God deepened, overwhelming me with peace and joy.

Learning to feed myself spiritually marked my third transformation, establishing the basis for the next one.

4. Holy Spirit

I joined with a group of believers who were diligently seeking more from their faith. We immersed ourselves in learning about the Holy Spirit. I was ecstatic about the new truths we learned.

After a time, with my friends gathered, I asked the Holy Spirit to indwell me, to take over my life, and envelop me. They stretched out their hands and prayed for me—and nothing happened.

What went wrong?

Discouraged over this non-event, only later did I realize I’d already done this.

Decades prior, while still in high school, one of the things I read was a little blue booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. I studied it carefully and eagerly said the prayer they suggested. A few years later came a follow-up booklet that taught about living the spirit-filled life.

I raced through it to reach the end, seeking what I needed to do. With excitement, I invited the Holy Spirit into my life and to fill me. A powerful wave of God’s love engulfed me, a warm supernatural whoosh. Life made sense.

Everything came into focus. God emerged for me as a vibrant, real presence.

After a few days, however, my supernatural bliss evaporated. My spirit-filled euphoria was gone. Dejected, I returned to my tiny booklet to reclaim that feeling but without success. I tossed it aside and soon forgot it.

Though I failed then to comprehend it, the Holy Spirit had been quietly active in my life ever since but without my awareness. I thought supernatural insights and promptings were normal for all Christians.

Now that I understood the scope of his influence, I became intentional about listening to and following the Holy Spirit’s lead. Nowadays we work together as a team—at least most of the time.

My fourth transformation embraced the person of the oft-forgotten member of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Jesus’s Healing Power

The opportunity for another change came when a group of like-minded Jesus followers launched a healing room. This required a bold step forward, both for our group and for us as individuals.

We went to training and we practiced what we learned, initially on each other and eventually applying it to others, timidly at first and then with greater confidence—not in ourselves but in God’s amazing power. Our faith in action moved forward.

This stretched me spiritually, and I savored my new insights into God and the grandeur of who he is.

Jesus, we learned, came to heal and to save. Two thousand years ago, the masses clamored for his healing power, but most missed his saving power. Today, Christians in the Western world see Jesus as savior but dismiss him as healer. I embrace both—and with unapologetic passion.

Each week our team would gather to worship God and listen for his instructions. Then we’d open our doors to offer prayer and healing. There I experienced firsthand what I’d only read about.

God used us to heal people: emotionally, spiritually, and physically—sometimes gradually and sometimes immediately.

As we worked together, we taught and encouraged one another, learning to rely on the Holy Spirit for direction and power. My fifth transformation had begun, never complete but always moving forward.

6. A Mission to Spread the Word

I started college when I was sixteen. Twenty-seven years later, I finally finished—or so I thought—with a PhD in Business Administration. I never went full time but always fit my classes and homework around a full-time job, usually while working forty-five to fifty-five hours a week.

Along the way, I made many sacrifices. To my dismay, this included giving up time with family. When my last diploma arrived, my wife asked, “Are you finally finished?” I assured her I was.

But God had other plans.

A few years later, he whispered to me, “Go back to school.” He didn’t say when, where, or why. He simply said, “Go.” The rest was up to me. Since God was doing the telling, I figured my studies should have a spiritual focus.

Both dismayed and elated at the prospect of more formal education, I moved forward, but my quest was a long one. It took five years, but I graduated with a second PhD, this one in Pastoral Ministry, of all things.

My dissertation explored church unity. The topic drew me in, with increasing fervor. I could not let go of its persistent grasp. The unity of Jesus’s church became my passion.

Writing my dissertation also sparked something else deep inside my soul. Although I’d been writing most of my life, for the first time my writing intersected with my faith.

Until then, I’d spent decades writing about business and for business. But now, being a wordsmith had a greater purpose. I ceased trying to write quickly for work and began striving to write with quality for God. My words had a higher calling.

My passion to write about godly things exploded into a calling I could not shake. Soon I wondered if my next career would be as a writer. As I studied and practiced and improved, I knew verbalizing my intention was the next step.

At a mere whisper, my words, “I am a writer,” released an inner desire to write for God. Then I spoke, again, this time a little louder, “I am a writer.” Self-doubt retreated. But I needed to make a firm declaration.

“I am a writer!” I bellowed with confidence. And so I was. My sixth transformation, as a writer on a mission for God, was set in motion.

When I die, my spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting. Click To Tweet

7. The Final Transformation

I don’t know what the future holds or if an additional transformation awaits me. There is one, however, I can be sure of: death.

I will one day die, and my ultimate transformation will take place. My body—where my soul and spirit reside—will cease to function. My essence will find release, no longer imprisoned in the physical realm, no longer bound by time.

My spirit, the essential me, will transform into something wonderful, amazing, and everlasting—not for personal glory or self-aggrandizement, but for eternal communion with my Creator, worshiping and experiencing true spiritual intimacy with the King of Transformation.

Then my transformation will be complete. I will finally be home.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.