Often before the first bird has twitched its wings in readiness for the dawn chorus, in the heart of the West End of London, the fingers of the Revd Dr Paul Blackham are already tapping at his computer keyboard. In the run up to a filming for a series of Book by Book programmes, Paul absorbs himself in whichever book of the Bible he is studying. But the process usually starts a long time before.
Months ahead of a Book by Book series finding its way to the TV screen or Christian bookstore, Paul will be hard at work in prayer and research. And yet the green shoots of study for Paul stretch back many years before that. In conversation with him, you soon find out that his love of the Scriptures and of the Lord tumble out together – going way back as far as he can remember into his childhood days. It only takes a few minutes to look at his stacked bookshelves and computer Bible software to appreciate that this is a man who has taken his Bible study not only seriously but devotedly – and what you see in his Book by Book Study Guide material and on-screen contributions are but the overspill from a vast intake and understanding of Bible knowledge. As the time for filming draws near, co-host Richard Bewes and Paul meet up and discuss the various Bible chapters and the special guest is sent Paul’s draft Study Guide material and draft questions to enable them to prepare as well.
THE GODLY WAY OR THE WORLDLY WAY?…
Bible studies based on the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy make up the latest Book by Book series, to add to the other nine currently available. In conversation about this series Paul said, “As a minister (or church group leader) you are normally faced with two different ways of tackling a problem in the church. To move forward you have a choice of going the worldly way or the Godly way. Initially the Godly way will appear to be more demanding and invariably it will involve some level of self-sacrifice. But actually in the end the Godly way is the best way and the way to real progress – but it will always be the costly way. That is the choice that the Apostle Paul wants to make clear to Timothy in his second letter.”
“Particularly when we may be faced with reports of declining church attendance, a worldly solution to address this might be to buy into some business-speak option like -’get in touch with your user-base’ – but not to look at the heart. If we go the worldly route, we’ve lost our way. If the Apostle Paul were here today, he would be preaching the need for prayer and Bible Study. These are the core things. They require personal commitment. 2 Timothy is such an exciting book to study – and it was so good working with Vaughan Roberts as our guest on these programmes. Vaughan is the Pastor of a church in Oxford which has a large number of students in the congregation. In the on-screen discussions from the chapters of 2 Timothy, it is great to have Vaughan and Richard’s input as two church leaders who choose the Godly way and so speak out of experience of putting it into practice.”