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Archive for the ‘Bible in a Year 2011-2012’ Category

On September 1, 2011, I began a blogging adventure, which I introduced with these words:

A 2009 movie told the story of Julie Powell’s one-year challenge to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s first book and to blog about the experience. As part of my effort to increase my time in the Bible, I’m attempting a similar feat with this other book.

Yesterday I reached the end of that yearlong process. (I finished one day early because 2012 is a leap year.) In one of the most difficult years of my life, daily engagement with scripture yielded at least seven benefits.

1. It kept me in scripture. I had developed a habit of Bible study over the past few years as I had been teaching that book regularly. My teaching slowed in 2011-2012, and this blogging experience became a way for me to continue reading those life-giving pages.

2. It kept scripture in me. Devotional reading of the Bible is a spiritual discipline, a way to make ourselves available to the transformation God wants to work in us.

3. As such, this adventure continued my spiritual growth. Through a series of months in which I easily could have neglected my spiritual development, this blogging project kept me intentional and focused.

4. It helped me not give up. I often was tempted to abandon my calling to church ministry and easily could have entertained thoughts of leaving the Christian faith, but God used this 12-month experiment to strengthen my commitment.

5. It helped me think through some relational issues that made me a better husband, father, and minister. I’m a better lover and leader now than I would have been without daily reading of scripture. (Of course I’m still not perfect!)

6. It increased my appreciation of my parents and other mentors. Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy, and other mentor-mentee relationships in the Bible spurred my reflections on mentoring relationships in my own life.

7. It nurtured an occasional change in my biblical interpretation, brought about by the birth of my son. Caleb’s life showed me new applications of scripture and grew my appreciation of God’s parental characteristics.

I said that Bible reading is a spiritual discipline; so is journaling. If you haven’t done a year of reading and journaling about scripture, I encourage you to try it and see what blessings you experience. You can blog or use another method; it can be public or private. Just keep your eyes and mind and heart open to what God wants to do in you through your reading and reflecting.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

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I reach the Bible’s last chapter and read that Jesus is coming soon. The words are almost 2,000 years old. When’s he coming? People have incorrectly predicted his return, and I still ask the question.

The answer remains the same: Jesus is coming soon. That “soon” doesn’t mean tomorrow, nor does it point to a time in the distant future. Jesus’ coming is close to us, always. The realm in which we live could at any moment give way to an ever-soon realm that’s more glorious than any we can imagine.

How should I respond to that heavenly encroachment? Worship. Live rightly. Come. I am thirsty.

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

(Day 364: Revelation 22)

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“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev 21:1).

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, “Revelation shows an ancient vision of an ancient understanding of an eternal reality beyond/behind the one we most tangibly experience.” Despite the gaps of time and culture between us and the last book of the Bible, we can rejoice in a belief that God will ultimately bring universal renewal. Sadness and sickness and death and divisiveness and all evil will vanish.

That is God’s mission. That is our mission. God is accomplishing it; we get to participate in it.

(Day 363: Revelation 20-21)

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The book of Revelation has a bunch of strange stuff. Scholars disagree about the details’ meanings, and other readers are even more confused. Frequently, however, the book returns us to a major theme we can grasp. We find one in chapter 19: “Hallelujah!” Praise God.

Revelation shows an ancient vision of an ancient understanding of an eternal reality beyond/behind the one we most tangibly experience. Small glimpses of it may bring fright or faith, and worship is always a proper response.

(Day 362: Revelation 17-19)

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666 spooks and scares many of us. It makes us think of the devil. It causes us to fear that evil is conquering our planet. It initiates conversations about the end of the world.

Let’s ease our stress a little. 666 is “the number of the beast,” but it’s not the devil’s number. It’s a person’s (or humanity’s) number (Rev 13:18). Furthermore, let’s not get too carried away with our 666-related superstitions. Early manuscripts and commentators disagree about whether the number in 13:18 is 666 or 616.

The beasts of Revelation 13 are worldly powers, and the next chapter directs our attention away from the beasts and to the Lamb.

(Day 361: Revelation 13-16)

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“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Rev 13:10).

From Professor Oster’s reflection:

There were a lot of attributes of primitive Christianity that produced consternation and dismay among its onlookers.  This includes the early church’s insistence upon kindness, gentleness, and tenderheartedness.  Those early followers of Christ recognized that these virtues were incontrovertibly part of the message of God’s kingdom, to a degree that has been forgotten in the modern western church.  We modern western Christians, at our very best, would be uncertain if and why they should choose tenderheart over Braveheart.  In our workaday existence we would often prefer the excitement and adventures of a brutal, concupiscent, and deceitful gigolo rather than a tale that promotes kindness or tenderheartedness….

Take a survey of your own life and values and those in the culture surrounding you.  When given the opportunity [and it will be given to you daily] , do you take your stand with the kingdom values of kindness, gentleness, and tenderheartedness or do you prefer their antonyms?

(Day 360: Revelation 9-13)

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Why is Jesus worthy? Reflecting on the book of Revelation, Richard Oster addressed that question on March 21:

It has been easy for a complacent church at times to laud, magnify, and praise Christ for his redemptive work on the cross, but manifest less enthusiastic about a commitment to the style of globalism in missions contained in the words “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9b).  One does not need to have advanced theological training, or even know Greek and Hebrew, to realize the necessary connection in the heart of God between a believer’s embracing the personal benefits of salvation and then showing a commitment to the globalization of those benefits….

John the prophet, in contradistinction to the prevailing regime, saw “every tribe and language and people and nation” as parts of God’s alienated, but beloved, creation, longing for a partial redemption in the present, and a complete restoration and redemption in the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev. 21-22).

Click here for Dr. Oster’s full post.

(Day 359: Revelation 4-8)

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