New Reading Plan begins Sunday – Join in and invite a friend

Our new reading plan begins Sunday, May 25th. In only 10 weeks you get an overview of the whole Bible.

While you don’t read from every book, this plan tries to give you a birds-eye view of what God has been up to with his people. You’ll see the promises God makes to Abraham, his faithfulness to Israel and their tumultuous relationship, and the way the promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Since this plan seeks to be an overview, I’m hoping it will also work well as an introduction to the Bible for people who are wanting to know more about God in his word. Maybe this is perfect for someone who has never really read before.

The readings for each week aren’t too extensive, so take your time and reflect on the readings. We have a Bible study at our church on Wednesdays at 6pm, or you can find a reading partner or small group to discuss what you’re reading. Every Sunday there will be a short devotional to guide your study. Posts will also go up to help throughout the weeks.

I’d love to hear that you’re reading along and how it is going, so feel free to email me, leave a comment, or otherwise contact me as we go along. I’d love to hear questions about the passages, comments, or suggestions!

Reading Plan

In need of a resolution?

times square ballDo you have a friend who is in need of a last minute resolution? Well, they can start with not putting things off to the last minute. But if they want another idea, invite them along to finish out Year in the Bible with you. Let them know what it is about, introduce them to the reading plan and website, and you can even meet with from time to time to talk about the readings. I know it can be odd to join in so late in the game, but we’re not reading start to finish like a novel, so it isn’t so bad. They can augment the readings, too, if they’d like.

Or maybe your resolution is to catch up with the readings? Regardless of our readings, the aim of going through God’s Word in a year is to know him better. Resolve to seek God out in the Bible. Resolve to prayerfully approach it. Resolve to give God enough time in devotional reading. Resolve to be humble enough to learn from it and change your life accordingly.

It is good to remember that we are not reading the entirety of the Bible to impress friends or check something off a list. We do it because the Bible is such a gift, one not to be taken for granted. And God has shown us himself in it. Let’s meet him there.

Knowing Our Own Faith

I’m reading a book in preparation for a book club at my church and it is a more narrative take on comparative religion. One thing that has struck me so far are the comments from the three lay people who represent different religions in regards to what they know and do not know about their own faith.

One has been through a religious school, another went to worship services frequently, and they have members of their family who could pass doctrine, practice, and tradition along. Yet these adults have a pretty basic understanding.

I’m not that far along in the book, so there is plenty of time for growth in these characters, but I just wonder what accounts for the limited understanding of one’s own faith, even when there have been years of being among the faith communities?

What we are undertaking with Year in the Bible is by no means a certain way to achieve perfect knowledge of Christianity, but it will certainly continue to be used by God to show us more about him. If we devote ourselves to God’s word, we won’t remain in the dark, rather he’ll shine his light upon us. When we prayerfully approach Scripture, we’re opening ourselves up to the teaching of the Holy Spirit and (I pray) we are learning much. We ought to be able to articulate what we believe and what we believe is there in the text, so let’s continue on in our reading. God wants us to know him, to know Jesus Christ, to understand what we are called to be and do, and to receive maturity in our faith.

Focus Under Fire

We have so much that is thrown at us demanding our attention. This issue is constantly on my mind and it came up today in conversation. And then I saw this article, so I thought I’d pass it along.

This article looks back on a time, a more low-tech time, when just taking the phone off the hook was all that was necessarily to shut out the world. Now we silence phones and turn off computers, but even when we do that, there is a big difference when the technology is turned back on. You put your phone back on the hook and you’re reconnected. No messages, no voice mails. End of story. But now when we reconnect, we are met with a deluge of messages, emails, and all sorts of alerts.

It seems that when we try to silence tech, we can only do so much. It may remain quiet for a time, but it is sitting in wait.

But even if it is a small victory, such quiet time is good for the soul. Do not feel greedy in wanting it. Unplug and find your focus.

Today’s Technology Needs An Off-the-Hook Option – NYTimes

Year in the Bible, Quarter 2, Week 9: Questioning Information Overload

I have read two interesting reports recently, one about the extremely high number of words that we read in a day, and the other about how we’re trying to squeeze more tv into more parts of our day.

The first article is article from the BBC which looks at a study from UC San Diego. It states, “An average US citizen on an average day, it says, consumes 100,500 words, whether that be email, messages on social networks, searching websites or anywhere else digitally.” I’m not sure if you’re aware–but that’s a lot of words. You’re reading a book a day at that clip.

But to where is all that reading being directed? Do we read short 140 character tweets and short one-sentence facebook posts? Is it countless articles from news sites? Do we devote a good portion of our those 100,000 words to God’s Word? It isn’t to say that we shouldn’t read anything else, but where are our priorities?

It seems like this word count is pretty impressive with how busy we seem to be, but even given our tight schedules, this other article was surprising, and you see why just in its title, How We’re Finding More Time to Watch TV. The author, Dorothy Pomerantz, takes a look at how new forms of media, like online videos, aren’t necessarily replacing more traditional television watching, rather they are coming in addition to TV. The author writes, “online video isn’t cannibalizing broadcast TV, it’s cannibalizing our non-screen time.” Traditional TV isn’t as much under attack as dinner time is. Again, it prompts us to ask about our priorities? All this technology at our finger tips along with some of the greatest minds of our day come together to work so that we can watch TV on the bus? Is that what we really hunger for? Maybe we need to go on an information diet.

This week we move along into week 9 of Year in the Bible, and I humbly offer you some words to read as part of your 100,000 per day.* We’ll read all of Hosea and 1 Peter, as well as some Psalms. Those first two fit very nicely together, and I hope that their pairing helps in your appreciation of these texts.

*Sorry, I just took almost 400 of them right now!

What do we do with primetime now that the Olympics are gone?

If you haven’t realized it yet, the olympics are over. It dominated for weeks and then poof, it is gone, leaving many with an olympic sized whole in their evenings. There seemed to be non-stop coverage across the NBC family of networks, morning to night, and as quickly as it came, it has left only to return in four more years.

So what now? If you were one of the millions to be swept up in the whirlwind of sports, personal interest stories, and drama, what will you do with your time now? Can you capitalize on that opening and fill it with something worthy of your evenings? Or will you passively allow anything else to pour into those primetime hours?

London 2012 – Closing Ceremonies/Spectacle

I think it is a great time to recommit to our readings. If you’ve fallen behind, think about the hours spent watching the olympics and how easily you could now catch up if you approached the word with the same commitment many have had following the medal count and watching all the events they could.

I bet many folks could evaluate how many hours were spent watching the olympics and then come to the conclusion, “where did I find the time?” If you fit that description, then that is more support to the idea that we make time for the things we value. So then, let’s value time spent before God and seize this opening. Don’t allow yourself to easily find a new habit and routine that has no space for studying God’s Word. Make primetime a time to read, pray, and grow.

Learning the Story So Well

We’ve been teaching a class at church about learning and telling the story of Jesus in a variety of ways, connecting his life with other stories in Scripture. The goal is to better know Jesus’ story for yourself and to know it better so that you are then prepared to share it. If your child asks you about Jesus or a co-worker says, “What’s the big deal about Jesus?”, I want you to be able to answer. Learning the whole story of God’s love for us is a goal of Year in the Bible. We are seeing the big picture of history and how God remains faithful throughout and how his love is most clearly seen in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of such love.

How better to know this story than to read the book?

From Karalee Reinke, 2012. Click image to go to source.

I found this image and its geared toward children, but I think with a bit of imagination, adults can understand the point, too. This site created the graphic based off a quote from the book, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With The Love Of Jesus, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

We want to know the one good story so well that we can be reminded of it in our daily experiences, but also so that we can discern truth and lies by it. We want to know Jesus so well that we can be easily prompted to share his goodness in conversation. We want to know that story of good news so well that we won’t be so easily satisfied by what the world offers us that appears good.

If you’ve ever felt like you couldn’t quite articulate your faith or express what you believe, let’s read this Good Book together. God will reveal himself to you.

Give TV the Night Off

Last night my wife and I didn’t turn the TV on. It wasn’t some deliberate act on our part, it just happened that way. But it doesn’t happen all that often. We enjoy sitting together on the couch relaxing in the evening watching shows that we both like. The problem with TV, though, is that it is habit forming and it is sneaky in how it causes time to fly by.

More days go by when the tv goes on than when it doesn’t–and we don’t even have cable. It came on all the more when we did, especially since you may feel like you need to watch more in order to justify the high price of cable.

I don’t mention this primarily as some inquisition of television, but to compare its place in our lives compared to reading. Do days go by that you don’t pick up a book? When they do, does it stand out the same way the absence of TV does? Why isn’t reading the go-to activity for more people? For me?

This week, if you don’t already, spend a night away from the TV. Make more room for family, for quiet, for games, for crafts, and for reading. If you’re having a hard time keeping up with the readings, maybe television can be dialed down a bit. It should give us pause If we have a hard time keeping up with the readings but we are able to keep up with all our favorite shows.

I like TV. But I don’t like how much time of my life it takes. At least one night a week, take your time back.