News Release: Read the Bible in 2015

Read the Bible in 2015 by Reading Only a Few Minutes a Day

ABibleADay.com and Peter DeHaan Unveil Comprehensive Bible Reading Schedules for 2015

Dec. 16, 2014Grand Rapids, Mich. Now in its tenth year, ABibleADay.com has released its Bible reading plans for 2015 to encourage regular Bible reading. In addition to the plan to read the entire Bible in 2015, author Peter DeHaan also has two less ambitious Bible reading schedules to cover just the New Testament or just the Old Testament in one year. All three plans are available by a free download from ABibleADay.com. Readers may freely share the Bible reading plans without restriction, as long as it is for a noncommercial use.

“Every December people email me asking about Bible reading plans for the New Year. Last year we added a plan to read the entire Bible to our perennial plans for the New Testament and the Old Testament,” said Peter DeHaan, PhD. By reading about fifteen minutes a day, an average adult reader can cover the entire Bible in one year, while it takes only twelve minutes a day to read the Old Testament. “It only takes three to four minutes a day, five days a week, to read the New Testament in one year,” added Bible scholar Peter DeHaan, “The New Testament plan is our most popular.” For people who want a less ambitious approach, DeHaan also provides monthly suggestions, which are also available at ABibleADay.com.

DeHaan’s method for all the options is to cover the Bible in sections, reading from only one book each day, completing that book before moving on to the next one. However, the schedule does not make people read the Bible straight through from page one to the end. “It’s too easy to get bogged down by one section of the Bible,” said DeHaan.

In addition to the annual Bible Reading plans, ABibleADay.com also has hundreds of pages of information about the Bible, including Bible FAQs, Bible terms, books of the Bible, and a Bible blog.

Download one of the 2015 Bible reading plans or learn more about the Bible from http://ABibleADay.com – and have a Happy New Year!

Book Review: Heart Speaks to Heart

Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus

By Henri Nouwen (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Heart Speaks to Heart is three prayers to Jesus from Henri Nouwen.

The prayers were written in the days preceding Easter, with an eye towards Jesus’ death and resurrection. As such, the prayers are suitable for the Easter season, but they are also appropriate for any time.

This book is not a discussion on prayer or about the heart of Jesus, but instead it is a prayer from the author’s heart to Jesus’ heart. As Nouwen asserted, “I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.”

The three prayers are preceded by an introduction, explaining the events that led to their creation. They are followed by an epilogue, detailing how they are shared with the person who gently, yet insistently, prodded Henri to pursue this journey of heart to heart prayer.

[Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Gospel Meditations on Jesus, by Henri Nouwen. Published by Ave Maria Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1594711169, 61 pages.]

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Book Review: The Ragamuffin Gospel

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

By Brennan Manning (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

This book was not written for people who have their act together, but instead for the “bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.” It is for me and it is likely for you. A ragamuffin, by the way, is “a shabbily clothed, dirty child.” It may not be an attractive metaphor, but it is revealing.

The Ragamuffin Gospel ask questions — questions you may have thought, but were afraid to voice. It doesn’t provide answers as much as it points the way towards reflection and self-discovering; it is awe-inspiring in the process.

Cleverly thought-provoking, this is not a religious book, but it is highly spiritual. It is a short read, but may not be a quick read as you contemplate the depth, fullness, and richness of the journey on which it takes you.

The “visual edition” of The Ragamuffin Gospel (linked below) is filled with equally stunning and thought-provoking artwork and photos. Let it inspire and encourage you, as you pour over its inviting pages.

[The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning. Published by Multnomah Books, 2005, ISBN: 978-1590525029, 272 pages.]

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Book Review: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

By Phillip Keller (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

The idea of a shepherd overseeing his flock is a powerful metaphor of the relationship between God and his people. Unfortunately, today’s world has largely lost touch with its agrarian roots, missing much of the deeper meaning of a shepherd’s watch and care over his flock.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 takes an interesting and insightful look at the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd, who is also the author. By learning how a good shepherd protects, cares, and provides for his sheep, we can gain a better understanding into how our Good Shepherd cares for us, his sheep.

Furthermore, as we learn about the sacrifices Keller made for his sheep and the ways in which they benefited — generally oblivious to his loving efforts — we gain insight into God’s sacrifices for us to keep us safe from enemies, healthy from maladies, and content in our existence. Sometimes, though, sheep thwart the shepherd’s efforts; in this regard, Keller again shares from his experience, in which we see the loving patience of the Good Shepherd emerge.

Reading this book will appreciably change the way you read Psalm 23.

[A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller. Published by Zondervan, 2007, ISBN: 978-0310274414, 176 pages.]

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Book Review: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity

By C. S. Lewis (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

C. S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, is based on a series of BBC radio broadcasts in the early 1940s. Initially, published as three separate volumes Broadcast Talks (1942), Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1944), the works were combined in 1952 to result in Mere Christianity, that is to say, merely expounding on Christianity.

Mere Christianity is divided into four sections:  The first is “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe,” which aptly serves as a strong foundation on which the rest of the book – and Christianity – is built. The second section, “What Christians Believe,” shows that we have free will to love God or deny Him, but Satan, our enemy, wants us to think we can be like God (which explains all of history). God sent Jesus into the world; his death puts us right with God, yet it evokes a response: change. “Christian Behavior” is the title for part three, which covers practical behavior issues. Doctrine is addressed in the book’s final section.

Lewis concludes with the encouragement to “look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in,” a fitting conclusion to this intellectual treatise on what is merely Christianity.

[Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. Published by Harper San Francisco, 2009, ISBN: 978-0060652920, 227 pages.]

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Book Review: How People Grow

How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth

By Henry Cloud and John Townsend (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

This book is intended to help people grow and is applicable even when other common approaches have fallen short. The underlying premise is that all growth is spiritual growth, therefore viable growth has a spiritual dimension.

Doctors Cloud and Townsend take the reader down a methodical path towards a deeper understanding of what is required for growth to truly take place. The book is broadly filled with real-life examples and personal anecdotes that help the reader better understand and connect with the authors’ teaching on personal growth.

The book’s nineteen chapters are divided into four progressing sections, with the fourth and final section offering ten practical, yet at times challenging, areas to encourage and facilitate growth.

This book is appropriate for those wishing to fine-tune their lives, as well as those in the midst of crisis.

An optional workbook is available as well as an audio recording.

[How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Published by Zondervan, 2009, ISBN: 978-0310257370, 368 pages.]

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Book Review: Hope for the Flowers

Hope for the Flowers

By Trina Paulus (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Hope for the Flowers is a delightful allegory offering messages on multiple levels and applicable to all age groups. It is a short book that can be read in about fifteen minutes and is simply, yet effectively, illustrated by its author Trina Paulus. As such, it can function nicely as a children’s book, as well as a clever and profound teaching tool for teenagers and adults of all ages.

The story chronicles the life pursuits and relationships of two caterpillars, Stripe and Yellow, searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. It is about struggle, yearnings, single-minded focus, diligence, perseverance, making mistakes, enlightenment, letting go, and ultimately…well, let’s not spoil the ending.

This book is a great addition to anyone’s library. Buy two: one to keep and one to give away!

[Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. Published by Paulist Press, 1973, ISBN: 978-0809117543, 160 pages.]

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Book Review: Crazy Love

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

By Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Francis Chan’s Crazy Love opens by bravely stating what is self-obvious to many Christians, but is seldom voiced: “we all know something’s wrong.” Chan unabashedly writes this book “for those who yearn for more Jesus,” for those “bored with what American Christianity offers,” “for those who don’t want to plateau,” and for “those who would rather die before their convictions do.” If that doesn’t stir your heart, then this book is not for you.

The first three chapters of Crazy Love, while new to some and review for others, provide a foundation designed to move us to worship God more fully and passionately. Upon this foundation the remaining seven chapters are built, challenging us to re-examine ourselves and our lives in light of who God is.

Francis Chan’s writing runs counter to the prevalent Christian cultural and is provocative in what he advocates. This is exemplified by the chapter titles, such as “Stop praying,” “You might not finish this chapter,” and “Serving leftovers to God.”

Along the way, Francis talks about selfish living, about succeeding at the wrong things, about Christians who play it safe, about being “lukewarm,” and about loving God and loving others. Overall, it’s about love, God’s crazy love for us and that it’s crazy for us not to love him back, completely and unreservedly.

In chapter eight, Francis provides thirteen convicting characteristics of people who are obsessed with God. He then proceeds to share the stories of some who actually lived that way.

Francis Chan wants our lives to match our talk; he wants us to pursue Jesus; he wants us to be filled with and follow the Holy Spirit. He leaves us thinking about what we want to be found doing when Jesus returns.

[Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski. Published by David C. Cook, 2008, ISDN: 978-1-4347-6851-3, 205 pages, $14.99]

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Book Review: Jesus Wants to Save Christians

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile

By Rob Bell and Don Golden (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell’s third book, is consistent with his unique style, first unveiled in Velvet Elvis and later fine-tuned in Sex God. This installment is equally insightful and no less thought-provoking. The subtitle, A Manifesto for the Church in Exile, provides a hint at the theme of this book, which is not readily apparent from the seemingly contradictory title. Fans of Bell’s prior work will not be disappointed – nor, most likely, will be his detractors.

Pulling four significant geographies from the Old Testament story of God’s chosen people, Bell uses them metaphorically to instruct us today: Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon. In which one are you living?

The journey begins in the first introduction and gathers momentum in the second, so don’t race ahead to start at chapter one. Those who do will miss out on evocative truth, such as Bell’s recognition “that many Christians support some of the very things that Jesus came to set people free from.” Now we have a hint at where Bell is headed with Jesus Wants to Save Christians.

Christianity isn’t just a future-focused bliss, but also a here and now reality to which we are called. “Sometimes,” notes Bell, “it takes a little pain to get us to do the right thing.” Soon thereafter, he points out that worship is service, and we are to do both: worship and serve.

After a six-chapter narrative provocation, Bell’s epilogue serves as a fitting call to action, noting that, “Jesus wants to save our church from the exile of irrelevance.” Answering this call will involve risk, discomfort, criticism, and possibly rejection. Nevertheless, it is imperative to do so in “remembrance of him” – so that the world (and we in the process) will be changed; it is a Church manifesto.

[Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto For The Christian Exile, by Rob Bell and Don Golden. Published by Zondervan, 2008, ISDN: 978-0-310-37502-2, 218 pages, $19.95]

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Who Do We Compare Ourselves To?

Yesterday I posted in my Byline blog, “The Risk of Comparing Ourselves to Others.” Although my words focused on writers, the unwise practice of comparison is universal, applying to all people in all professions or pursuits. Succinctly, when we compare ourselves to other people, we either elevate ourselves by degrading them or lessen ourselves by elevating them.

Neither pleases God. Even so, the temptation to compare is enticing.

Some days I feed my ego, looking down on those I deem to have less faith, bare little fruit, struggle more, possess less knowledge, pray or read their Bible less often, or aren’t as close with God. I become proud.

Other days I devalue myself, envying those who seem to have greater faith, produce more fruit, possess greater knowledge, struggle less, pray and read their Bible more, or enjoy greater intimacy with God. I become abased.

Pride and abasement are both sins. Neither honors our creator, who made each of us.

Instead, consider that the Bible provides a standard for us to pursue and Jesus gives an example to follow – and the Holy Spirit offers guidance as we do both.

In this world we’ll never achieve God’s standard, but we need to try – and to do so without comparing ourselves with others.