Have Our Children Forgotten How to Play Outdoors?

Albert Mohler

 

Author Richard Louv believes that America’s children are now suffering from a syndrome he identifies as “nature-deficit disorder.” In his recent book, Last Child in the Woods, Louv suggests that the current generation of American children knows the Discovery Channel better than their own backyards–and that this loss of contact with nature leads to impoverished lives and stunted imagination.

Louv begins by recounting an anecdote involving his son, Matthew. When the boy was about ten years of age, he asked his father: “Dad, how come it was more fun when you were a kid?” The boy was honestly reflecting on his knowledge of his father’s boyhood. Richard Louv, like most of us who came of age in his generation, spent most of our playing time outdoors, building forts in the woods, exploring every nook and cranny of our yards, and participating in activities that centered in child-organized outdoor fun. Louv reflects, “Americans around my age, baby boomers or older, enjoyed a kind of free, natural play that seems, in the era of kid pagers, instant messaging, and Nintendo, like a quaint artifact.”

Louv argues that this represents nothing less than a sudden shift in the way Americans live, raise their children, and engage the natural world. “Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment–but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.”

Looking back, Louv remembers holding to a rather simplistic view of his environment. “As a boy, I was unaware that my woods were ecologically connected with any other forest. No one in the 1950s talked about acid rain or holes in the ozone layer or global warming. But I knew my woods and my field; I knew every bend in the creek and dip in the beaten dirt path. I wandered those woods even in my dreams.” The situation is far different now. As Louv reflects, “A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon rainforest–but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move.”

In this book, Richard Louv is articulating what many of us have been thinking. I recognize that my own boyhood is far removed from that of my son. It seems as if the world has been drastically changed. I grew up in neighborhoods that were typically suburban. Nevertheless, the woods were always nearby. For me, the “woods” included untamed tracts of land that were awaiting future suburban development. Nevertheless, this land was filled with trees, swamps, creeks, snakes, crawdads, and all the creeping and crawling things that used to call boys out into the woods.

Louv understands that this transformation of the way we encounter nature extends even to activities that are supposedly focused on nature itself. “Not that long ago, summer camp was a place where you camped, hiked in the woods, learned about plants and animals, or told firelight stories about ghosts or mountain lions,” Louv recalls. “As likely as not today, ’summer camp’ is a weight-loss camp, or a computer camp. For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality. Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear–to ignore.”

In reality, many children have almost no contact with nature. They play indoors, focusing on electronic screens that produce an artificial experience. They are surrounded by creature comforts and watched over by anxious parents who are afraid that violent criminals are lurking behind every green tree. “Our society is teaching young people to avoid direct experience in nature,” Louv observes. “That lesson is delivered in schools, families, even organizations devoted to the outdoors, and codified into the legal and regulatory structures of many of our communities.”

The larger cultural context is part of the problem. Louv notes that the academic world now seems far more interested in theoretical disciplines than in subjects like natural history and zoology. Beyond this, the biotechnology revolution threatens to blur the lines between humans and other animals–and the line between humans and machines.

Is contact with nature necessary for healthy childhood? Louv is absolutely confident that children have a deep need for contact with the natural world and its wonders. “Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it,” Louv insists. In his view, “whatever shape nature takes, it offers each child an older, larger world separate from parents.” The natural world offers children an opportunity to think, dream, touch, and play out fantasies about how he or she imagines the world. Nature brings a capacity for wonder and a connection with something real that is endlessly fascinating and largely outside human control.

Louv tells of interviewing thousands of children in the course of previous research. At one point, he received this candid comment from a fourth-grade boy in San Diego: “I like to play indoors better, ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”

In the experience of all too many children, the electrical outlets are the determining reality. We have allowed our children to be so seduced by entertainment and information technologies that many believe that without electricity, experience is virtually impossible.

As one mom noted, children now spend much of their time watching. “We’ve become a more sedentary society,” she observes. “When I was a kid growing up in Detroit, we were always outdoors. The kids who stayed indoors were the odd ones. We didn’t have any huge wide-open spaces, but we were always outdoors on the streets–in the vacant lots, jumping rope, or playing baseball or hopscotch. We were out there playing even after we got older.”

Many of today’s children show little inclination to go outdoors at all. Louv describes the environment as experienced by many American children as the “third frontier”–an environment that is characterized by increasing distance from nature, an intellectualized understanding of the animal world, and a disconnection in the human consciousness between food and its origins.

That last point is of particular interest. Louv observes that many children have little knowledge of how food is produced. Lacking any experience with farming, livestock, and the food chain, these children simply assume that food is produced by something like a factory process. Young people may join animal rights groups without knowing anything about the actual animals involved. Louv argues that many college students become vegetarians without understanding that vegetables and vegetable byproducts are not manufactured indoors.

Richard Louv is a keen observer–watching our culture and taking careful note of how nature has become an abstraction for many of us. Why are so many Americans putting television and video screens in their vehicles? Louv observes: “The highway’s edges may not be postcard perfect. But for a century, children’s early understanding of how cities and nature fit together was gained from the backseat: the empty farmhouse at the edge of the subdivision; the variety of architecture, here and there; the woods and fields and water beyond the seamy edges–all that was and still is available to the eye. This was the landscape that we watched as children. It was our drive-by movie.”

These days, many parents allow kids to start the DVD player as soon as the car hits the interstate.

Interestingly, Louv also points to the epidemic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], suggesting that a lack of contact with nature may be, at least in part, a cause for the attention deficit and disconnectedness experienced by many young children–especially young boys. He suggests that a “nature-deficit disorder” may be behind the phenomenon now routinely diagnosed as ADHD. Louv goes so far as to suggest that a dose of real contact with the natural world may be more powerful than Ritalin in helping children to overcome patterns of hyperactivity and distraction. The same prescription would likely help parents as well.

Richard Louv is a champion of nature, and Last Child in the Woods is a powerful call for human beings to reconnect with the natural world. It would do us all a world of good to take a walk in the woods, to play outdoors, and to remember that the world is filled with a variety of flora and fauna that defies the imagination and thrills the senses.

Last Child in the Woods is a fascinating book, though at times, Louv leans toward a form of nature mysticism. Nevertheless, Christians will read this book to great profit, remembering that the biblical worldview presents an affirmation of the goodness of creation. After all, Christians know that every atom and molecule of creation testifies of the glory of God.

This is our Father’s world, and we would do well to receive this world and enjoy it, while giving praise and glory to God for the beauty and bounty it contains. We understand that nature is not an end to itself, and we affirm that the creation exists as the theater of God’s glory for the drama of redemption. All this should help Christians to remember that we honor God most faithfully when we receive His good gifts most gratefully.

Christians should take the lead in reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from machines. Taking the kids for a long walk in the woods would be a great start.

Being the Parent (part 1)

by frgavin

Hattip Matt Kenedy Standfirm

During our last year in seminary Anne and I took a class called the “Theology of Children”. It was an excellent course until mid-semester when the professor turned to the practical topic of discipline. I remember one class period in particular. The professor said something like this:

“A child must be permitted to explore freely, to touch, taste, feel, whatever she wants which means parents and teachers are responsible for child-proofing the environment. And if the child is going to become creative, curious, self-confident, unhindered by self-doubt, then parents and teachers ought never to use the word “no”. No, is the child’s word to you. No is never the parent’s word to the child. She must learn to set her own limits and see the world as an open place where there are no roadblocks to learning and exploring.”(paraphrased)

I don’t remember which theory of child development this professor embraced, but my mom tried a similar one for a week when I was a kid. I believe it was Dr. Spock who emphasized positive reinforcement. No negative words, only positive. No spanking.  Ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior. My mom tells me that lasted about a week—after which I received a very serious spanking.

There are thousands of child development theories out there. Some are, indeed, helpful. But there are two foundational truths about children that just about every secular theory rejects, making most of them incompatible with the biblical model.

The “Innocent” Child
The first is: children are “fallen”. What does that mean? Ephesians 2:1-3 provides a good answer:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in other passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

That second to last clause is crucial. Paul doesn’t say, “Hey, everybody makes mistakes.” He says that we are by “nature” children of wrath. That means: we do what provokes God’s wrath – sin, disobedience, self-focus, idolatry, pride, you name it – without trying. It’s who we are. Our hearts and minds are from conception, by nature, oriented self-ward rather than Godward and so as soon as we’re old enough to choose between God’s way and some other way—we want the other way.

God did not originally create human beings this way. Sin nature is the result of sin’s entry into the world through Adam and Eve’s decision to turn from God in the Garden. That turning, that willed reorientation, broke the life-giving, purifying connection between God and humanity. As a result, “in Adam” – as Adam’s children – we don’t learn to sin, we come prepackaged, sin-ready, batteries included.

If you have kids you know this. We have a big family. Most kids learn to say “mama” or “dada” first. Ours learn to say “mine”. It’s survival of the fittest, Lord of the Flies. There is no natural generosity or selflessness. They come prepackaged to lie, cheat, beat and steal in order to get the cookie, toy, stuffed animal they want. We don’t teach them this. You don’t have to teach them these things. They come fully quipped.

And so maybe you can see the problem with purely secular parenting methods. The world assumes that children are by nature good. The parent’s job is just get out of the way and let their natural goodness flourish uncorrupted. But if by nature, we’re “children of wrath”, then “getting out of the way” means standing aside while our children lurch happily down the broad path that leads to destruction.

Made For Joy
The second truth that secular theories ignore or reject is a positive one. All human beings are designed and made to glorify God and enjoy him forever (Rom 11:36; Eph 2:4-10; Rev 21:3-4). Those two things, joy and glorifying God, go together. John Piper says, and it’s true, “God is most glorified when we’re most satisfied in him.”  And we’re most satisfied when we turn from self to God. Our souls and bodies were made for fellowship with Him—and so no passing, dying, earthly pleasure or good will satisfy.

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CANADA: The collapse of the liberal church

By Margaret Wente
The Globe and Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-collapse-of-the-liberal-church/article4443228/
July , 2012

[Dear readers. Substitute the Episcopal Church for the United Church of Canada and you will see the same result.]

Two weeks from now, the United Church of Canada will assemble in Ottawa for its 41st General Council, where it will debate church policy and elect a new moderator. The top item on its agenda is a resolution calling for a boycott of products from Israeli settlements. Fortunately, nobody cares what the United Church thinks about Israeli settlements, or anything else for that matter, because the United Church doesn’t matter any more.

For many years, the United Church was a pillar of Canadian society. Its leaders were respected public figures. It was – and remains – the biggest Protestant denomination in a country that, outside Quebec, has been largely shaped by centuries of Protestant tradition.

But today, the church is literally dying. The average age of its members is 65. They believe in many things, but they do not necessarily believe in God. Some congregations proudly describe themselves as “post-theistic,” which is a good thing because, as one church elder said, it shows the church is not “stuck in the past.” Besides, who needs God when you’ve got Israel to kick around?

The United Church is not alone. All the secular liberal churches are collapsing. The Episcopalians – the American equivalent of the United Church – have lost a quarter of their membership in the past decade. They’re at their lowest point since the 1930s. Not coincidentally, they spent their recent general meeting affirming the right of the transgendered to become priests. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it doesn’t top most people’s lists of pressing spiritual or even social issues.

Back in the 1960s, the liberal churches bet their future on becoming more open, more inclusive, more egalitarian and more progressive. They figured that was the way to reach out to a new generation of worshippers. It was a colossal flop.

“I’ve spent all my ministry in declining congregations,” says David Ewart, a recently retired United Church minister who lives in British Columbia. He is deeply discouraged about the future of his faith. “In my experience, when you put your primary focus on the world, there is a lessening of the importance of worship and turning to God.”

The United Church’s high-water mark was 1965, when membership reached nearly 1.1 million. Since then it has shrunk nearly 60 per cent. Congregations have shrunk too – but not the church’s infrastructure or the money needed to maintain it. Today, the church has too many buildings and too few people to pay for their upkeep. Yet its leadership seems remarkably unperturbed. “It’s considered wrong to be concerned about the numbers – too crass, materialistic and business-oriented,” says Mr. Ewart. The church’s leaders are like the last of the Marxist-Leninists: still convinced they’re right despite the fact that the rest of the world has moved on.

Clearly, changes in society have had an enormous impact on church attendance. Volunteerism and other civic institutions are also in decline. Busy two-career families have less discretionary time for everything, including church. Sundays are for chores and shopping now. As for Sunday school, parents would rather take the kids to sports.

But something else began changing in the 1960s, too. The liberal churches decided that traditional notions of worship were out of date, even embarrassing. They preferred to emphasize intellect, rationality and understanding. “When I went to seminary, we never talked about prayer,” says Mr. Ewart. “I had an intellectual relationship with Jesus. But love Jesus? Not so much.”

As the United Church found common cause with auto workers, it became widely known as the NDP at prayer. Social justice was its gospel. Spiritual fulfilment would be achieved through boycotts and recycling. Instead of Youth for Christ, it has a group called Youth for Eco-Justice. Mardi Tindal, the current moderator, recently undertook a spiritual outreach tour across Canada to urge “the healing of soul, community and creation” by reducing our carbon footprint. Which raises the obvious question: If you really, really care about the environment, why not just join Greenpeace?

According to opinion polls, people’s overall belief in God hasn’t declined. What’s declined is people’s participation in religion. With so little spiritual nourishment to offer, it’s no wonder the liberal churches have collapsed.

It’s possible that organized religion in the developed world has had its day. After all, even conservative evangelicals like the Southern Baptists are in decline. Yet not all faiths have succumbed to Mammon. Mosques are popping up all over, and in Canada there are probably more kids in Islamic class than Sunday school. In the United States, Mormonism – which requires obligatory missionary service and a hefty tithe – is going strong, despite widespread ridicule from the mainstream press. Thanks to immigrants, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church also remains vibrant. Most Jews I know still belong to synagogues, send their kids to Hebrew school and have them bar mitzvahed.

Should anybody miss the church? Yes, says Mr. Ewart. The church gave families a way to participate together in a community larger than themselves, for a purpose greater than themselves. Most of us don’t have a way to do that any more. Our kids won’t even have it in their memory bank.

In the past few years, Mr. Ewart has spent time hanging out with evangelicals – people who actually talk about loving Jesus. He admires their personal, emotional connection to God. Lately, he has even started praying. Perhaps he could pray for the church in which he spent his life to stop its self-immolation. But it’s probably too late.

Sermon – Willy Taylor on “Gender Matters”

Willy Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate in London took the opportunity this past Sunday of a break between sermon series to preach on the key issue of gender, authority and sexuality.

45 minutes well worth watching or listening to (audio here)

America’s liberal Christians might be progressive and inclusive, but they are also dying out

By US politics Last updated: July 24th, 2012

 

The Episcopal Church suffers from a staggering fall in church attendance

The marketing mantra of liberal Christianity is “change or die.” Here’s the pitch: society has evolved since the 1960s, shedding its old prejudices and misunderstandings and replacing them with a new consensus based on reason and tolerance. Unless the mainstream churches embrace women priests, socialism and gay marriage, they will lose relevance and die out. Conservatives might protest that the beauty of God is rooted not in relevance but timelessness. But, like any other business, Christianity is a numbers game – so making that argument sounds like saying, “Yes the car might be popular, but the horse and cart is a design classic.” Intellectual momentum, liberals insist, is with love and diversity.

Not so, says Ross Douthat in a New York Times article that has caused quite a stir among the liberal faithful. Douthat charts the strange demise of the US Episcopal Church, which he describes as “flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.” And yet, against the predictions of liberal theologians, the result has been the evolution from a pseudo-national church to a hippie sect. “Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.”

This story is familiar across many mainline Protestant denominations. William Briggs’ work shows that the Methodists and Presbyterians have all but disappeared in the last twenty years. By contrast, the Catholics and Assemblies of God have slightly increased their numbers and the Southern Baptists are “treading water.” This map reveals an astonishing picture of faith in the 21st century. Thanks to immigration and a steady increase in priests and congregations, the closest thing the US has to a national church is now the Roman Catholics. The only bastions of Protestantism are the Baptist South and Methodist West Virginia. The Mormons have a strong presence out West, too.

What is going on? From the Right, Charles Coulombe has a typically witty article in which he notes that the Episcopalians are doing what they always do, which is to imitate the social values of the establishment. The problem is that the establishment no longer directs popular tastes in the way that it used to. Diana Butler Bass offers a more liberal response, writing that Christianity is declining in general, not just liberal Christianity in particular. The problem with Bass’ pessimistic argument is that Pentecostalism bucks the trend. Where it is ultra-orthodox, Christianity is actually flourishing.

The other problem is that Americas’ overall belief in God shows no great evidence of decline. What has really fallen isn’t faith but patterns of communal worship. For millions of folks, it is no longer the default to join a church. In fact, giving up your Sunday morning to sit in a cold temple listening to a kazoo band playing Nearer My God To Thee is, for most people, a perverse thing to choose to do. Ergo, it is not enough to get them into the pews by saying, “We’ve driven out the bigots!” – ministers now how to convince the public that church attendance is in their personal interest. And conservatives are better at doing this than liberals because the product they are selling makes a stronger claim for its value to the individual.

Think of faith as operating within a highly competitive marketplace of ideas. Faith is no longer a product that people presume they need and are looking to buy (soap or shoes). Instead it has become a luxury item, or something that they have to be convinced that they might want (a sports car or a puppy). What kind of luxury is more likely to sell? Liberal Christianity is wracked with doubt, ducks strong conclusions and often seems to apologise for its own existence. Its liturgy is a confusing blend of styles and belief systems – just take a look at this colourful consecration of an Episcopalian bishop in Los Angeles. What do these people believe, and how is it relevant to me?

By contrast, the conservative Christian product is a zinger. It screams loudly that it is the only way to Heaven, its Protestant services tend to be packed and charismatic, and its theology is straight-forward and uncompromising. In case you think all this business talk is crass, take a look at the way that evangelicalism skillfully pitches itself as a lifestyle. It has become a multi-million dollar industry that offers advice on everything from parenting to drug rehabilitation. Tithing is pushed by some preachers as if it was a pyramid scheme – “You gotta give to receive.” This is why conservative congregations grow while liberal ones dwindle. It pays to advertise.

Douthat ends his piece by making an historical case for the value of liberal Christianity through its centuries of good works. It’s a fair point, but it betrays a little of the establishment thinking that is destroying the Episcopal Church. Sadly, no one in the 21st century remembers or cares that the Episcopalians once helped feed the hungry or clothe the poor. What post-modern man is looking for is something that speaks to his desire to find clear, satisfying answers in a sick world of confusion and despair. Ironically, in its search for “social relevance,” liberal Christianity risks making itself irrelevant to many people’s lives.

Infantry combat not for women, says battle-tested female Marine captain

USMC Capt. Katie Petronio

July 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – America’s compulsive feminist impulse has pushed women into ever-more unconventional roles, but if Marine Captain Katie Patronio has her way, one of them will never be infantry combat.

In an article for the Marine Corps Gazette, Captain Petronio advises the military to “Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal,” opining that women’s bodies are not able to take the punishment of long military careers involving infantry operations, and warning that the Marines will experience “a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females” if they are placed in such roles.

Petronio drew on her own difficult experience in combat conditions, which ended in serious physical damage despite a promising start in the elite military branch.

The Marine captain notes that she “fit the mold” of an ideal female combat soldier when she began her career. “I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007.”  She also “scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests” while undergoing training.

“Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry,” Petronio writes. “I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.”

Petronio’s problems began when she was deployed to where she found herself “participating in numerous combat operations.” Although she began as a “motivated, resilient second lieutenant,” she developed a case of restless leg syndrome, due to the compression of her spine on her lower back. However, her sufferings were negligible in comparison with her experiences in Afghanistan, where she was next deployed into the infantry.

Although in the beginning, even with her back injury, she was “physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations,” the ongoing stress and lack of sleep “ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen,” writes Petronio, explaining that her legs began to atrophy and buckle, and her mobility fell. After seven months, she had lost 17 pounds, stopped producing estrogen, and even developed polycystic ovarian syndrome, which rendered her sterile.

“I went from breaking school records, to being broken, in a matter of a short amount of time,” she told CNN in a subsequent interview.

Although she successfully completed her deployment, she admits that it would be impossible for her to endure such stresses with the male infantryman over the long term, and continuing service in such a role would have required her to leave the military for medical reasons before retiring.

“I understand that everyone is affected differently,” writes Petronio, but adds that she is “confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.”

Patronio states, “There is a drastic shortage of historical data on female attrition or medical ailments of women who have executed sustained combat operations. This said, we need only to review the statistics from our entry-level schools to realize that there is a significant difference in the physical longevity between male and female Marines.”

Petronio also expresses concern over the groups that are pushing for the integration of women into infantry roles.

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Conservative Evangelicals on the Rise in the Church of England

The Venerable Norman RussellBy David W Virtue, Virtueonline

No definitive statistics exist on conservative evangelicals in the Church of England because official church forms do not exist about such things; however, Church statistician Peter Brierley says that 40% of Church of England attendees currently go to evangelical churches – up from 26% in 1989.

He also notes that of the estimated 175 churches with a Sunday attendance of over 350, 83% are evangelical. Writing in the May issue of New Directions, Andrew Presland, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, writes that in the Southern Province of the CofE, there are more conservative evangelicals in pews than traditional catholics.

Conservative evangelical churches are a high proportion of the very large churches and have impressive numbers of committed Christian teenagers, students and young adults. According to the Ven. Norman Russell, Archdeacon of Berkshire, these churches also typically attract an unusually high proportion of men. The results were drawn from 300 churches in the Church of England who were contacted by researchers. Of the 142 that provided information, 38% of congregations were aged under 30; over 425 women were part of the staff team or working for a para-church organization and attending the church.

Some 345 ordinands were sponsored in the last 10 years (an average of three per church). Most churches reported significant growth in those 10 years, with at least 55 new church plants. The average weekly attendance reported was 209 compared with a national average of 53, and an average of 200 electoral roll members compared with a national average of 75, reports Susie Leafe of General Synod. Conservative evangelicals are also active in Anglican relief and development in the Anglican Communion. Anglican International Development and St. Helen’s Bishopsgate (an evangelical parish in London’s financial district) recently held a week of Bible teaching for 50 pastors in Juba cathedral in South Sudan.

Read here

Bible Reading Methodology

 

Augustine of Hippo said that the bible is like the ocean. “The smallest child can wade safely on the beach and yet even the strongest man cannot plumb its depths.” Well, I’m paraphrasing. He said something like that.

What he meant was that the new Christian unfamiliar with the bible will be able to understand and enjoy the essentials of what God communicates – all that is necessary for life and salvation. But even the most brilliant biblical scholar will find grasping the fullness of scripture beyond his reach.

This is part of what makes daily bible study so rewarding. When you study a familiar passage carefully you’ll always find something new and fresh mixed in with the familiar and comfortable.

If you’ve just started reading the bible and you’re confused and discouraged, don’t give up.

The key to gaining the most out of your reading, is to read the whole bible through in a systematic way. You don’t want to get into the habit of just reading your favorite familiar passages over and over again because you’ll develop a partial, distorted, and self-shaped perception of God’s will, character, and purpose in the world. Nor should you make a habit of simply opening your bible randomly and reading whatever meets the eye because that will produce a spotty, confused, and disconnected view of God’s purposes in the world and leave you ignorant of the all-important narrative arc of redemption that flows through scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

Instead, work toward reading the entire bible over and over again so that you gain full-orbed view of the entirety of God’s self revelation.

There are many ways of doing this. The best methods provide you with daily readings in the Old and New Testaments together and take you slowly through the entirety of God’s Word.

The method of daily reading that my pastor taught me when I was a new believer is a bit different than the more common methods I’ve seen, usually built around a one year cycle of readings, but it has been invaluable to me. I’ll pass it along to you below. Use it if you find it helpful. If not find something else.

Every day read 2 chapters from the Old Testament, 1 chapter from one of the four Gospels or Acts, and 1 chapter from the remainder of the New Testament beginning in the epistles.

Start with Genesis 1, Matthew 1, and Romans 1 and work your way through to the end of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) and then start over, to the end of Acts (the last book written by one of the Gospel writers – Luke) and then start over and to the end of Revelation and then start over (the last book of the remainder of the New Testament) and then start over.

Using this method you’ll work through the entire Old Testament in about a year and half. In that time you will have read the through the Gospels and Acts about 4 times and the Epistles and Revelation about 3 times. As you do you’ll notice your understanding of the New Testament consistently deepened and broadened by your reading of the Old. You’ll see the the underlying Old Testament themes and concepts modern readers so often and easily miss. And you’ll become more and more aware of just how unified and harmonious God’s Word is; 66 books written by many different authors in vastly different times and contexts and yet united by one Spirit speaking one overarching Word and Truth implicitly and explicitly throughout.

There are many different methods, most of them extremely helpful. The important thing is to find one that fits your needs and personal habits while exposing you to the whole counsel of God regularly, repeatedly, and systematically.

The Rev. Phil Ashey Responds to the “Generous Orthodoxy” of the Episcopal Church

This week, the Rev. Winnie Varghese, an Episcopal priest, wrote about the “generous orthodoxy” of the Episcopal Church. In today’s Anglican PerspectiveCanon Ashey crituques Rev. Varghese’s article and specifically takes issue with the author’s source of “revelation.” Key Scripture: 2 Tim. 3:16

 

Global South Primates Condemn Actions of Episcopal Church’s General Convention. Lambeth silent

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
July 23, 2012

A communiqué from the Global South Primates meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, condemned the Episcopal Church for decisions made at the 77th General Convention to authorize a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. “This action confirms our disappointment that The Episcopal Church has no regard for the concerns and convictions of the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.”

“We stand in solidarity with our brethren in the Communion Partners who have dissented from this action. We uphold them in prayer and support them in fellowship as they continue in their commitment to the evangelical faith and catholic order of the Church, as expressed in their Minority Report known as The Indianapolis Statement.

“We also appreciate and support all the faithful in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as well as those in the Anglican Church in Canada who remain true to our biblical and historic faith.”

To date, Lambeth Palace has not responded to e-mails requesting a reaction to the passage of Resolution A049 (same-sex liturgies). The Anglican Communion Office has also not issued a statement.

Both the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO), London, have attended previous general conventions of the Episcopal Church. They were notably absent from this one.

The primates affirmed their place and role in the Anglican Communion. “We deeply respect and appreciate our historical and spiritual relationship with the See of Canterbury. We have written to the Crown Nominations Commission with concerns from the Global South and important principles for consideration as it nominates candidates for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury.”

The theme of the Primates Conference was calling the Church to “Be Transformed by the Renewing of the mind to Obedience of Faith for Holistic Mission in a Radically Changing Global Landscape, offering our sanctified bodies and renewed minds as living sacrifices for our Lord’s glory.”