Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WHAM and the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Programme

* It has been a very long time since I posted in this blog. Hope I can be more consistent this year but it is not a New Year's resolution :-)

For Pastor’s notes 1 Feb 2015 (i.e. my church's Sunday bulletin)

WHAM and the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Programme

This Sunday we start on a journey / challenge as a church that hopefully all of us will undertake together: to read through the Bible in a year. To be more accurate, we will be attempting to read through the whole OT once, and the NT and Psalms twice.

To assist us, we will be using a Bible reading programme created by a Pastor named Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  A little about M’Cheyne might help inspire you. M’Cheyne passed away in 1843 before he even turned 30. Yet as young as he was, he was known throughout Scotland as “the saintly M’Cheyne”.

We know of him because a friend and colleague Andrew Bonar collected his sermons, messages and papers and published them in a book about his life. Here is an excerpt from the book, “Memoirs and remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne” on something he wrote to a young man. His advice is still helpful today especially as the acronym WHAM (Word, Heart and Mind) summarizes our focus for launching this programme / challenge. 

 “You read your Bible regularly, of course; but do try and understand it, and still more, to feel it. Read more parts than one at a time. For example, if you are reading Genesis, read a psalm also; or, if you are reading Matthew, read a small bit of an epistle also. Turn the Bible into prayer. Thus, if you were reading the 1st Psalm, spread the Bible on the chair before you, and kneel, and pray, ‘O Lord, give me the blessedness of the man,’ etc. ‘Let me not stand in the counsel of the ungodly,’ etc. ‘This is the best way of knowing the meaning of the Bible, and of learning to pray. In prayer confess your sins by name—going over those of the past day, one by one. Pray for your friends by name—father, mother, etc. etc. If you love them, surely you will pray for their souls. I know well that there are prayers constantly ascending for you from your own house; and will you not pray for them back again? Do this regularly. If you pray sincerely for others, it will make you pray for yourself”. (p.58)

You will note that his Bible reading programme, which he devised to help himself and his congregation read the Bible, encourages reading 4 different parts of the Bible a day.

Let me encourage you by saying that if you miss a day or two or even a few weeks of readings, DO NOT give up. If you are far behind and find it difficult to catch up, just skip ahead and read along the readings of the week with the rest of the church.  It is often easier to read as a community than as an individual. The point is to read as much as we can and enjoy and grow spiritually from the experience. Better to have read some weeks than not at all.

Also if this is the first time you are attempting to read through the Bible and you find it daunting along the way, focus on reading just the first 2 passages on each day’s list. So for example, you will note that the readings for 1 Feb are: Gen 1, Matt 1, Ezra 1 and Acts 1. Just read Gen 1 and Matt 1. This way you would at least have read the whole NT and Psalms in a year and lots of the OT.  And in 2016, if you read the 3rd and 4th readings you will complete the rest of the OT and would have read again the whole NT and Psalms.

One last tip: If you do not set aside a special time to read you will find it difficult to do so. So block time to read.

Throughout the year I will use my Pastor’s Notes column to focus mainly on short devotions related to a passage or two from the week’s first two readings.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.1 Peter 2:2-3

p/s special thanks to Jin Wan, Shuren Sum, Steven Long, Jessica Boey, Matt Phang, Mabel Wong and Shermaine Au for being part of the WHAM team.

WHAM verse of the week:

 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:3-5)