My Study Plan for 2017

Last week, I explained WHY I study, and why you should study too.  Today I want to tell you specifically about WHAT I’ll be studying.  I find it helpful to discuss the purpose behind each choice by looking at it from the perspective of how it fits into my life.  I encourage new readers to ask three questions:

1) What am I?  What is is that defines you?  For me, I am a Christian, a husband, a father, a church member, etc.  I may also be an engineer and a teacher but if I changed careers or was no longer asked to teach, I could no longer define myself by those things; but I’d still be a father or husband.

2)  What do I do?  What are the tasks before you in life?  For me, I will teach, I will blog, I will lead ministries, I will run a foster home.  I need to know more about how to do those things well.

3) What interests me?  What are the things you’re fascinated by or delight in doing?  For me, I enjoy traveling, baseball, astronomy, etc.  So I want to spend some time learning about those things.

It should be noted that these questions also help to determine our priorities.  I think the principles of priority and categorization are what’s important here.  What you are you will almost always be.  Your career could change, your interests wane, but you’ll still be a Mom or Dad, a christian, or a church member.  Likewise, what you do will have far more impact and define you to a greater degree than what you enjoy.  That said, their’s nothing wrong with enjoying life and learning about things that interest you; and sometimes those things play an important role in shaping our higher priorities.

So using that formula, I’ll now tell you what I hope to accomplish in 2017.  Think about your own life, tasks, and interests, and see what you come up with for yourself!

I’m a Christian so I MUST read my Bible:

How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. {Psa 119:103-105 NASB}

As Spurgeon said, “Visit many great books, but live in the Bible.”  Sharpening my mind becomes self-aggrandizement if the greatest portion of what I study is not the Scripture.  Typically, it’s my habit to follow a through-the-Bible in a year plan in addition to my own more intense study for the books or subjects that I’ll teach at church.  The plan I’ve found most helpful has been the chronological plan over at Blue Letter Bible which presents the Bible as it unfolded in history.  However, Jimmy has challenged the entire church to read through all of the scriptures together this year and has suggested Robert Murray McCheyne‘s plan.

1) My Bible reading will likely be done through my “MacArthur Study Bible” as well as the Blue Letter Bible and Logos apps.

2) I plan to supplement my devotional time with “Remember and Return” by John MacArthur, which I (and thousands of others) received free from Grace to You.  The back cover description says the 31-day devotional is designed to remind us of Christ’s love and spur on our love for Him.  Sounds worth the time to me.


I will teach Bible classes so I must Sharpen My Skills:

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to teach both children and adults.  My faithful pastor has discipled me over the years (poor guy) teaching a great deal about hermeneutics, theology, and church history.  So what’s next?  The Biblical languages.

3)    First, my friend Chris recommended Samuel Lamerson’s “English Grammar to Ace New Testament Greek“.  It looks like it’ll be a good “pre-class” to the more formal Greek instruction.

4)   I plan to use Bill Mounce‘s “Basics of Biblical Greek” as my main text.  I’ll supplement with his workbook and audio lessons.  I’ll also borrow help from Dr. David Plummer’s Daily Dose of Greek.  Not only will I watch the daily videos (it’s amazing how much you can glean) but I’ll also seek help from his introductory videos.   Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do this without my faithful pastor guiding me the entire way.

5)  I’ll finish up my study by reading David Allen Black’s “Learn to Read New Testament Greek” which I’ll use as a test and to fill in the gaps of what I’ve learned.

No, I don’t expect a single year and these resources will make me proficient in Koine Greek.  These are merely the first steps in a long journey.

I am a husband, father, and foster parent so I should Lead My Family Well:

6)  One area my wife and I wish to improve is our family devotions, so Donald Whitney’s “Family Worship” seems a good fit.  I’m hoping to make family devotions more of a regular and enriching experience for us all.

7)  Speaking of my wife, I need to be a better husband.  Every godly man I know RAVES about Stuart Scott’s “The Exemplary Husband“, and it’s time I read it.

8)  Last Father’s Day, Jimmy encouraged our whole church to get and read “Brave Dad” by John MacArthur.  Almost every MacArthur book I read edifies and helps me.  I look forward to repeating that process.

9)  Finally, our family’s heart continues to ache for orphans.  I’ll write more about this in the coming months, but I plan to feed that desire by reading Russell Moore’s “Adopted for Life“.  I have my issues with Moore, but I’ve always admired his push for the church to do more for orphans.


I’m a busy man, so I want to Have Some Down Time:

10) My sweet son landed his first job soon after his 15th birthday (proud of him) and gave me a telescope for Christmas.  I’ve always been interested in astronomy.  I remember how exhilarating it was to see the rings of Saturn the first time; God’s creation is beautiful and I want to show it to my son.  I’ll read “The Practical Astronomer” by Brian Jones.  It’ll teach me more about how to properly use my scope and see the most in the sky above me.

11) It’s time to re-read a classic.  In college I discovered a favorite author, Fyodor Dostoevsky.  This year I’ll re-read “Crime and Punishment“.  It is simply masterful.

12)  I’ll also read, for the first time (if you can believe it), John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress“.  I’ve read portions but never the entire work.

13)  What’s better than having free time?  More free time!  I don’t feel time management is a weakness -I tend to get a lot done and try to make the most of my day- but I’m hoping the highly recommended “Time Management” by Charles Harvey will help me to be better.

I am a concerned citizen of the United States, therefore I must be Better Informed:

14)  Robb and I are big fans of Hamilton: The Musical, so much to the point that we sometimes incorporate lyrics into our text conversations (we’re nerds).  He read Ron Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton” last year and reported it was well worth his time.  I’m a chapter in and it is clear Chernow has a unique gift for writing.

15)  As our national debt grows and my fellow citizens gravitate to bad ideas like $15/hour minimum wage, it’s clear I need to brush up on economics.  So I’ll read F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom“.

16)  I’ve long said that every citizen would do well to read “The Federalist Papers” every 5 years.  It’s been longer than that for me and I plan to remedy my hypocrisy.




I lead ministries in my church so I must Deepen My Well:

17)  I need a better grasp on the Old Testament.  Jimmy recommended Eugene Merrill’s “Everlasting Dominion“.  “You’ll build hooks on which you’ll hang so much of what you’ll learn”, he said.  I’ll also be watching Dr. Keith Essex’s Old Testament Studies 1 and Dr. William Barrick’s Old Testament Introduction; both from Master’s Seminary.

18)  Another book Jimmy has recommended is “Lectures to My Students” by Charles Spurgeon.

19)  The church is in sorry shape these days.  Sadly, that’s not a new phenomena.  J. Gresham Machen saw that trend in the mid 20th century and wrote “Christianity & Liberalism” in response.

20)  My friend Nate Pickowicz wrote his first book on one of his favorite subjects, “Reviving New England“.  I look forward to hearing from my friend and understanding his passion all the more.

21)  Reformers have given their lives for the doctrines I hold dear.  It’s time I read their stories.  I’ll look forward to “Foxes Book of Martyrs” by John Foxe.

22)  It’s been a while since I read a good biography.  I stumbled across an auto-biography of World War II missionary Darlene Deibler Rose.  Reading “Evidence Not Seen” should be a sobering and enlightening experience.

23)  If I had to choose a book that I probably won’t like, I’ll pick “The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates” by Matthew Trewhella.  Trewhella is a somewhat extreme post-millennial pastor.  He’s also my friend.  It’s good to confront and interact with ideas you disagree with, especially when they come from friends.

I am a slave to Christ so I must Better Understand God:

24) Few books written in my lifetime can honestly be said to have potential to impact the church for centuries.  R.C. Sproul’s “Holiness of God” is one of those books.

25)  Although, A.W. Pink’s “Attributes of God” may also be one of those books.  This is another one I’ve read bits and pieces of and have found helpful.  It’s time to consume it as the author intended.

26)  One book that trusted Christian friends continue to say had an impact on them is A.W. Tozer’s “Pursuit of God“.





I should probably also mention that I am a regular reader of four periodicals:  Imprimis, Answers Magazine, Expositor Magazine, and The Master’s Seminary Journal.  I also read Google News regularly as I find it to be an honest, if impersonal, presentation of a number of sources.  This year, I’ll add “Veritas” from Southern Seminary to my list of periodicals as well.  I also read a number of blogs, but I admit that I don’t read everything that comes across my reader.  I do, however, make podcasts covering a variety of issues a regular part of my day.

Will I accomplish all of my goals for 2017?  By God’s grace, I can, but one never knows what distractions or road blocks can happen.  However, it is important to pursue study and education and I intend to give it my best shot.  I hope this insight can help you to give it your best shot too.  Let’s plan well, and study hard.

P.S.  You can follow my progress (and friend me!) over at Good Reads.

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  1. Inspiring. I’d love to read Pilgrim’s Progess too. But I have listened to the audio book, actually. I like the list! It does appear maybe you read 4 periodicals and not 3, based on your list though. 🙂

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