Monthly Archives: December 2011


Beginning Your 2012 Bible Reading Plan

As you consider ways to reading through the Bible in 2012, consider these plans. I want to encourage you to pick a specific plan to help to keep you accountable on track. Any plan will help with your goal. I’m attaching the plan that I did before, and I will start again this weekend. It’s the Book at a Time. I prefer reading through one book at a time rather than reading one chapter from three different books.

Here are several others:

Discipleship Journal by Navigators
This had both the Book at a Time and the 5x5x5 plan which reads through the NT

A blog entry with an overview of plans

ESV Plans (including links to daily podcasts of the selections)

Listening Through the Bible in 75 hours

I hope this helps with whichever goal you set.


JRF’s #52 – William Carey by S. Pearce Carey

Once every few years I read a book that makes a profound imprint on my life, perhaps even changing it.  This is such a book.

I love missionary biographies but more often than not books of that genre are weak in one or more of these categories:  Theological depth and accuracy, writing quality, or biographical honesty.

This book has none of those weaknesses.  In fact, out of all the books I read this year, this book was near the top in all of those areas.

William Carey is known as the man who was used by God to shake the Protestant world out of its apathetic and hyper-calvinist stance towards the ‘heathen’ unreached of the world and became known as the ‘father of modern missions’.   In this 400+ page book S. Pearce Carey, William’s great-grandson, skillfully recounts the journey of this humble shoemaker to India and eventually the most well known and perhaps most effective missionary since the apostle Paul.  His achievements are too many to list here but suffice it to say that his is the sort of story that you could only believe if you knew and loved the God that Carey joyfully gave up everything to serve.

Many times during reading this I cried like a baby with joy at the power of God at work in and around this man.  Other times I wept at the loss this man suffered.  Still other times I found myself shaking with excitement at what our God has, is, and will continue to do with those who lay their lives at His feet for the sake of His glory and the good of those who have yet to hear His name.

William Carey has risen to the foremost of my hero pantheon.  He is my hero not because he in himself was great, but because he knew the God who is Great, and he tenaciously clung to his great God through the painful adventure of bringing the Good News of Christ to the lost that they both loved so dearly.


If we Christians loved men as merchants love money, no fierceness of peoples would keep us from their midst.” – from Carey’s pamphlet An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen


The last days of William Carey were his best.  His sun went down in all the splendour of a glowing faith and a burning self-sacrifice.  Not in the poverty of Hackleton and Moulton, not in the hardships of Calcutta and the Sundarbans, not in the fevers of the Dinajpur swamps, not in the sorrow of all – the sixteen years’ persecution by English brethren after Fuller’s death – had the father of modern missions been so tried as in the years 1830-1833.  Blow succeeded blow, but only that the fine gold of his trust, his humility, and his love might be seen to be the purer.” – Dr. George Smith


The map of the world hung in Carey’s work-room: but it only hung on his wall, because it already hung in his heart.” – F.W. Boreham


A wretched, poor and helpless worm, 

on Thy kind arms I fall

- the only words Carey requested to be put on his tombstone


JRF’s #51 – Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

One of my goals in reading this year was to force myself to read a business/organization/leadership type book. Having a B.A. in history and an M.Div means among other things that I have absolutely no business administration acumen.  This is definitely an area where I need to grow, especially if I want to be a tent-making missionary in the future.

The author, Scott Belsky, is the founder of Behance, a company that seeks to find and foster creative ideas and transform them into real completed projects.  He writes in a style accessible to people like me that hate books like this but need to read them.

The basic premise is that making ideas happen doesn’t require genious.  It requires hard work and determination.  Did I already know that?  Yes.  Where Belsky helps is by giving some bit-sized, realistic ways in which to keep that hard work on track and efficient while not suffocating creativity.  I have already tried some of these suggestions in my work place as well as with my own personal projects and with some tweaking have been greatly helped.

I recommend this book to you if you are seeking to improve your organizational skills, business management, or have just been sitting on that great idea for years but don’t know how to get the ball rolling.


JRF’s #50 – Radical by David Platt

Since this book has already been reviewed multiple times on this site, I originally had wanted to attempt to respond to some of the criticisms the book has received.  Well it’s Dec 31st and I have yet to do so.  Perhaps next year.

For the time being, suffice it to say that I believe that most of the critcism comes from one of two reasons: they don’t like what Platt has to say and try to cover up their conviction with complex theological goobly-gook… or have read it and are knee-jerk reacting not to what Platt actually says but to what they think he says.  Much of the criticism of Radical makes it sound as if Platt is promoting some kind of social gospel or salvation by good works.  Perhaps an undiscerning (and/or intoxicated) reader could come away with this conclusion, but what Platt actually says is the exact opposite.  Radical calls Christians back to the Biblical truth that God not only saves us from the wages of our sin but saves us for God, glorifying good works (Matt 5:16;Eph 2:10;…etc).

My own criticism is brief: I hate the title.  I think the word Radical gets people thinking that this a Shane Claiborne type book from the get go and out come the jerking knees.  But the real reason I don’t like the title is because what David Platt writes about here is not radical Christianity – its’ normative, Biblical Christianity.  True, when compared to normative American christianity it will look radical but I think that just shows that what passes for christianity in much of the US (and any nominal christian subculture) is in fact not Christianity at all.

This is a must read if you can read, have $20 and love Jesus.







JRF’s #49 – Captains Courageous by Ruyard Kipling

I was in the mood for some 19th century seafaring fiction and Kipling’s Captains Courageous was the first book I found in the library that fit the bill.

This was a tough but enjoyable read.  What was tough about it was the language with which Kipling brings his characters to life.  Here’s a sample:  ”‘…Tis a might good thing to have a frind at coort, though.  I’m o’ Manuel’s way o’ thinkin’.  About tin years back I was crew to a Sou’ Boston market-boat.  We was off Minot’s Ledge wid a northeaster, butt first, atop of us, thicker’n burgoo.  The ould man was dhrunk, his chin waggin’ on the tiller, an’ I sez to myself, “If iver I stick my boat-huk into T-wharf agin, I’ll show the saints fwhat manner o’ craft they saved me out av.’”  The book is filled with dialogue like this.

But the reward to those who slog through the difficult vocabulary is a worthy prize for they will find a wonderful story of a boy becoming a man.  The story’s protagonist, 15 year old Harvey Cheyne, is the obnoxious son of a wealthy railroad tycoon.  After falling overboard from a luxury cruiseliner bound for Europe, Harvey is rescued by the crew of the We’re Here, a New England fishing schooner.  Naturally, no one on board believes he is the son of a millionaire and after a good whooping, he quickly learns that there is no such thing as dead weight allowed on this vessel.

The lessons Harvey learns on the way to manhood are ones that our culture desperately needs to rediscover:  the value of hard work, the dignity that comes from earning your keep, the importance and strength in manly fellowship, dependability, respect for authority, and the value of spending lots of time outdoors.

I leave you with perhaps my favorite passage in which Harvey’s father discovers the transformation that his prodigal son has undergone;

The father, well used to judging men, looked at him keenly.  He did not know what enduring harm the boy might have taken.  Indeed, he caught himself thinking that he knew very little whatever of his son; but he distinctly remembered an unsatisfied, dough-faced youth who took delight in ‘calling down the old man,’ and reducing his mother to tears – such a person as adds to the gaiety of public rooms and hotel piazzas, where the ingenious young of the wealthy play with or revile the bell-boys.  But this well set-up fisher-youth did not wriggle, looked at him with eyes steady, clear, and unflinching, and spoke in a tone distinctly, even startlingly, respectful.  There was that in his voice, too, which seemed to promise that the change might be permanent, and that the new Harvey had come to stay.”

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