Bible Reading Record

Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, sometimes beginning with the words, “Have you not read . . . ?” He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. And a case can be made that this question implies a familiarity with the entire Word of God.

When Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), surely He intended at the very least for us to read “every word,” for how can we “live . . . by every word that comes from the mouth of God” if we’ve never even read “every word that comes from the mouth of God”?

Since “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), shouldn’t we read it?[1]

Below you’ll find a link to a tool to help you do just that. The Bible Reading Record is formatted for front and back of a 5.5 x 8.5 inch page, which means it can be used as a bulletin insert, or hole-punched to fit into many daily planners, journals, notebooks, etc.

The front page is for the Old Testament, the back is for the New. Each book of the Bible is listed. Beside each is a set of numbers which corresponds to the number of chapters for that book.  For example, since there are fifty chapters in Genesis, beside the word “Genesis” you’ll find “1 2 3 4 5 . . . 50.” As you read each chapter, mark through it on the Bible Reading Record.

Another option is to copy-and-paste the file to your phone (to the “Notes” app, for example), tablet, or computer and delete the numbers representing chapters of the Bible as you read them. So after you read Genesis chapters 1 and 2, you delete the numbers 1 and 2 after the word “Genesis.” On your next reading, the first number you see in Genesis is 3, which tells you that you’re to begin reading at Genesis 3. If you don’t want to delete the numbers, you could italicize them. This will help you keep track of your progress.

I recommend reading through the entire Bible once each year, and perhaps the New Testament a second time. You can read all sixty-six books of God’s Word in twelve months merely by reading three chapters each day and five on the Lord’s Day. You can read the New Testament in less than three months at this pace.

My favorite plan involves reading in five places each day. I begin in Genesis (the Law), Joshua (History), Job (Poetry), Isaiah (the Prophets), and Matthew (the New Testament) and read an equal number of chapters in each section. A variation of this plan is to read in three places daily starting in Genesis, Job, and Matthew, respectively. The three sections are roughly the same in length, so you will finish them all about the same time.

The real advantage of such a design is in its variety. Many who intend to read straight through the Bible become confused in Leviticus, discouraged in Numbers, and give up completely by Deuteronomy. But when you are reading in more than one place each day, it’s easier to keep up the momentum.[2]

Regardless of the plan you use or how long it takes you to read through the Bible, I hope you’ll find this tool helpful for maintaining consistency in daily Scripture reading.

You can download the Bible Reading Record from the Center for Biblical Spirituality here.


[1] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Revised and Updated edition (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 27.

[2] Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 29-30.


10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.

11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question.

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in your phone, day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).


You can download this post as a bulletin insert here.

Christmas Newsletter 2014

The Center for Biblical Spirituality

Christmas Newsletter 2014

from the W​hitney Family


Christmas greetings from the Whitney family!  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!


What a year 2014 has been! But before I update you on the Whitneys and The Center for Biblical Spirituality, I’ll mention the following in hopes that they might serve you and/or your ministry.


Most immediately, these “Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering” may be of service in stimulating conversation in slow or difficult conversational settings in the next couple of days. I’m hopeful they’ll be especially useful in settings where you want to gradually bring the conversation around to the gospel.


Next, here’s a “Bible Reading Record” to assist you in reading through the Bible next year. Regardless of your pace or plan, this tool can keep you on track. Print a paper copy and cross off chapters as you read them, or download it to your smartphone or tablet and delete or italicize the chapters you complete each day.



In terms of family, the big news is that Laurelen is engaged. On March 28 she is to be married to Michael Müller. She met Mike at Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis where both are members. Laurelen graduated with her masters in music from Butler University in 2013, and has just completed a full year of teaching choral music at an inner city high school in Indy.


Caffy spends most of her days teaching private art lessons at her studio in the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville and teaching art & art history at a classical Christian school in town. Ever since we moved to Louisville in 2005 she has really enjoyed teaching a course for student wives one night a week each semester in the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern.


Personally, it was a once-in-a-lifetime year for publishing as providentially a number of projects came together within a few months of each other. Twenty-three years after the original appeared, the “Revised & Updated” edition of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life was released in July, along with the Revised & Updated companion Study Guide. Both are available on iBooks. Kindle editions of both the book and the study guide are also available.


In November my PhD thesis was published by Peter Lang international academic publishers. The title is Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry.Because it comes from an academic publisher and thus is printed in small quantities, the cost is prohibitive (the cheapest price is $73 on Amazon!). But if you are a student or work in academia, I would be grateful if you’d ask your library to order it. Libraries are Peter Lang’s primary marketing target anyway. Incidentally, Caffy drew the portrait of Edwards that graces the cover of the book.


I’ve delivered the manuscript to Crossway for Praying the Bible, which is due in July. I’m really excited about this. I love the cover they’ve designed. What do you think?


We re-launched the website in August. If you’ve never visited, give it a look You’ll find hundreds of pages of free materials there designed to help you grow in Christ.


In September I started a blog about biblical spirituality. I try to post twice a week most of the time. Here’s the latest post, a “Tribute to the most prayerful man I’ve known.”


Most of my books are now available digitally for Kindle or on iBooks. Perhaps you are using one in a small group study or as a textbook and would find it handy to have a digital copy, or you just enjoy reading books on your mobile device. Like to listen to books? Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (original edition) is available via iTunes and Family Worship is also ready for listening via


Remember that these digital editions can also be sent as gifts through the source where you buy them.


If you’re active on Twitter and/or Facebook, you can follow my Twitter posts via @DonWhitney and get my Facebook feed by “liking” my page there.



“Finally, brethren, pray for us” (2 Thess. 3:1).

  • Pray for my ministry of teaching as professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. One out of five seminary students in America is in one of the six SBC seminaries, and the oldest and largest of these six is SBTS. We train students from all fifty states and dozens of countries, including more than half of the Master of Divinity students in the SBC seminaries. It is a solemn and joyful responsibility to prepare these students for a lifetime of service to Jesus and His kingdom.


  • Pray for our family. Many of you would not have heard that Caffy’s mom, who had stayed with us for about eighteen months, died in the autumn of 2013. My mother recently began her fifth year with us and is in good health. Caffy and Laurelen are deep into preparations for the March 28 wedding. Please pray for Mike and Laurelen as they prepare to unite and to spend their lives together for Christ and His kingdom.


  • Please pray for my preaching, teaching, and writing. This has taken me to 27 churches (in addition to denominational and pastors’ conferences) in 17 states and 3 countries outside the US via 84 airplanes and more than 61,000 miles in 2014.

At the close of this year, I want to express my thanks to all you who pray for us. Thanks also to those who send financial support to The Center for Biblical Spirituality. These are all gifts from Him “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Most of all, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift,” the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15). May the Lord greatly bless you this Christmas season!


By His grace and for His glory,

Don Whitney

Tribute to the most prayerful man I’ve known

Lepanto is a tiny town of some two thousand people in Poinsett County in northeast Arkansas. In the 1930s it was even smaller. But during the Great Depression, four Lepanto boys grew up together and changed the world.

One of them, James R. Hendrix, was a sharecropper’s son who left school after the third grade to work in the fields and help feed the family. He was drafted by the Army in 1944 and by Christmas of that year found himself in Belgium. Because of his actions at the Battle of the Bulge, Hendrix was awarded an honor granted to fewer than four thousand citizens in our nation’s history–the Medal of Honor. After the war he reenlisted and became a paratrooper, serving his country in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. Master Sergeant Hendrix retired from the Army in 1965 and died in 2002.

Three other boys—all living on the same, short Lepanto street—would grow to fight on battlefields of a spiritual nature.

ChrisLitherlandLepantoLucien Coleman earned a PhD and became a seminary professor who served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky from 1966 to 1983 and was professor of Religious Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas from 1983-1993. Dr. Coleman lives in Texas and is probably best-known for his widely-used book, How to Teach the Bible.

Avery Willis is surely the most-recognizable name of anyone native to Lepanto. He served as a missionary to Indonesia for fourteen years. While there he wrote the MasterLife discipleship series, which was translated into fifty languages and used in more than one hundred countries, making it one of the most influential ministry tools in Southern Baptist history. Willis moved from Indonesia to serve fifteen years in the adult discipleship department of the Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources) of the SBC. He returned to missionary life in 1993 when he became vice-president of the International Mission Board of the SBC. “Mr. MasterLife” died in 2010.

Yesterday I was saddened by the news of the eldest of this Lepanto quartet. T.W. Hunt was taken up to Jesus on December 12, 2014.

I first met T.W. after I enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 1976. He was a music professor and I was a student in the School of Theology. Except for one required worship class in my final year, I would never have needed to enter the music building. So it’s likely that I would have never even met T.W. if not for his reputation for prayer. Early in my course of study at Southwestern I was seeking counsel about my spiritual life, but didn’t know where to turn. My pastor was a student only a year older than I, and I hadn’t been able to get to know any of my professors very well. But I kept hearing of the reputation for prayer and holiness of Dr. Hunt “even though” (as if it were unexpected because) he was a music (and not a theology) professor. So I made an appointment to see him.

We hit it off immediately. First, we discovered we were both from northeast Arkansas. When I played junior high and high school football, our first game each season was with Lepanto, which was just twenty-five miles from my hometown of Osceola. T.W. had even taught school for one year in Osceola, and knew many of the same people I knew there. Second, when he talked about prayer and the things of God, my heart burned within me. I wanted to spend time with this man, including time in prayer. And I did. Not as much I would have liked, but whenever I did I knew I wanted the relationship to continue after I finished seminary.

I had many wonderful professors at Southwestern. I believe I had the best, most biblically-sound theological education in a Southern Baptist context I could have received at the time. I can’t imagine what my ministry would have been like without those three terrific years in Fort Worth. A handful of my teachers affected me profoundly. I loved them then and I love them now. But there were two whose influence exceeds all others: Tom Nettles and T.W. Hunt. With both Tom and T.W., their impact extended far beyond the classroom and long after I received my diploma, for both became lifelong mentors, friends, and examples. I hope I don’t live long enough to write about the death of the much-younger of those two men, but today I want to offer my gratitude for the life and ministry of T.W. Hunt.

Dr. Hunt had advanced degrees in musicology and piano, and began his teaching ministry at Southwestern in 1963. But he soon became known on campus as much for his piety as for his particular academic discipline. In early 1970, a team from Asbury College in Kentucky spoke in Southwestern’s chapel about what they’d experienced in a movement of the Spirit on their campus. After chapel, students came to T.W. with a burden to pray together. He invited them to his home for a prayer meeting that night. “We knelt at 7:00,” he later told me, “and when we looked up it was daylight outside.” No one had spoken of an all-night prayer meeting; it just happened. They all went home to shower and get ready for a new day of school and work. That night they gathered again in the home of T.W. and Laverne Hunt for prayer. “We knelt in prayer at 7:00, and when we looked up it was daylight again.”

Because of such stories and many other reasons, when I think of T.W., I think immediately of his prayer life. But many who did not know him personally may think first of a conference he presented, or material he later developed from it into a lengthy study guide which ultimately became a book on The Mind of ChristSometime during my first year at SouthwesternMind of Christ book, Caffy and I went to the recital hall in the music building and heard T.W. present this material in a Friday night/Saturday morning event. My most vivid memory of the event is of T.W., as he was speaking of the cross of Christ, losing his composure and weeping at the treatment Jesus endured at the hands of sinners. Four years later, when I became pastor in the Chicago area, one of the first events I scheduled was a “Mind of Christ” conference with T.W.

I would bring T.W. to our church two more times, once to speak on prayer and once on worship. I wrote about one of those occasions on the opening page of my book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health:

“Lord, I want to know You more,” sang Mike, just before the sermon. One of my seminary professors from years back, who was guest preacher at our church that Sunday morning, sat next to me on the front pew and listened transfixed. As Mike continued to sing, I could hear my older friend sigh occasionally. When the song was over, T.W. sat motionless for so long I thought he had forgotten that he was now supposed to preach. As I turned to remind him I saw his shoulders lift and fall with the slow draw and release of his breath. Finally, he opened his eyes and stepped thoughtfully to the pulpit. He looked down for what seemed to be a full minute before he could speak. And then, “Lord, I do want to know you more.” Departing from his prepared words for awhile, he spoke of his thirst for God, his longings to know Christ more intimately, to obey Him more completely. Here was a man who had followed Christ for more than fifty years still captivated by the sweetness of the quest. In his second half-century as a disciple of Jesus, the grace of growth still flourished in him.

That story is vintage T.W. Hunt.

I’ll include one more anecdote about T.W. from another of my books as it illustrates so much about his life that I’ve not yet mentioned, as well as an important principle of prayer I learned from him. In his discipleship course PrayerLife, T.W. recounts how he learned the difference between mutual prayer and united prayer, and the greater power in the latter:

“My wife and I established our family altar before we were married. Now, in our mid-fifties, Laverne and I were rejoicing that we had seen a lifetime of mutual prayer answered. Our son-in-law [Steve Monroe] was as godly as we had prayed for him to be. Our daughter [Melana] was totally committed to the Lordship of Christ. They were godly, praying Christians. Our grandchildren were already demonstrating the fruit of much prayer. We felt that our family devotions lacked nothing, and we were each growing in the Lord. There was much thanksgiving in our home. Then Laverne was stricken with cancer. Two things began happening immediately. The first was an instinctive turning to God in deeper dimensions. Grief is often a father to new insights. . . . The second thing that happened to us was that we drew closer together. . . .”

At this point Dr. Hunt begins outlining dramatic answers to prayer that they began to see, some that related to Laverne’s condition, and some that did not. And although it had not occurred at the writing of his book, from my relationship with him I know that such answers continued for them, even to the eventual, unexpected removal of all signs of cancer from Laverne for a period now approaching ten years. So his conclusion is even more powerful now than when he wrote it:

“One night as we were marveling over what seemed to be happening in our prayers together, we were able to articulate a new principle for united prayer: The closer the bond, the more powerful the prayer; the higher the unity, the greater the authority in prayer.”

So much to notice there. Those who knew T.W. know how much he loved Laverne and how much they endured together. In separate periods of her life she battled three different cancers, being pronounced cancer-free from the first two before the last one took her life in 2009. Second, notice the establishment of family worship together in Lepanto even before they were married. Third, this mentions the Hunt’s daughter Melana, who coauthored a book with T.W., and her husband Steve, both of whom loved and were loved by T.W. and Laverne.

Another significant part of T.W.’s life that I must leave untouched is the way he merged musicology and missions, adapting indigenous music styles to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this end, T.W. often utilized his seminary sabbaticals and mission trips to teach in missionary contexts overseas. He had a gift for languages, and could speak eight, especially German and Spanish.

In short, T.W. Hunt was a father in the ministry to me, and one of the godliest, most humble, and most Christ-centered men I’ve ever known. No one loved and trusted the Bible more. T.W. wasn’t a systematic theologian or a verse-by-verse expositor. His calling and training were different. Nevertheless, he saturated himself in the Scriptures and believed them to be the inerrant Word of God, desiring to live a life conformed as much as possible to its teaching. He read through the entire Bible dozens of times and once devoted an entire year to reading nothing but the Bible.

But my enduring impression of T.W. will be of his prayer life. I sometimes ask people, “Who’s the most prayerful person you’ve ever known.” It’s surprising how often fellow Christians will thoughtfully pause, then tell me no one comes to mind. I have a quick answer for that question. Last month I completed the manuscript for a little book on Praying the Bible (Crossway, July 2015). The dedication begins with, “For T.W. Hunt, the most prayerful man I’ve ever known.”

It saddens me to lose a man (until Heaven reunites us) who prayed for me daily, he said, for decades. I know that I was only one of many others of “his boys” whose names T.W. quickly recited before the Father each day, but just knowing he did that was an encouragement to me.

I’ll really miss asking, “T.W., what’s the Lord been teaching you?” I remember one occasion that typified them all. One June evening after a session of the Southern Baptist Convention I jumped on a shuttle bus back to my hotel and was delighted to see T.W. and Laverne on the same bus. He was almost seventy and had been weakened by cardiac surgery not long before. But his eyes flashed as he talked for half-an-hour about what he was learning about prayer. Even as his body decayed, his longings for God and his love for Jesus radiated from him, and made my heart burn as it did in his office some thirty-five years before.

But now, as Caffy said when she saw the photo I chose for this blog, “He’s with his Jesus.”

TW Hunt large pic


Those who want to read more about T.W. Hunt might enjoy this August 3, 2004, Baptist Press story: “‘The Mind of Christ’ not T.W. Hunt’s only pursuit.”

Here’s the Baptist Press announcement about Dr. Hunt’s death: Prayer advocate T.W. Hunt dies at age 85