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Tag: Bible in 365

Bible in 365, Weeks Four and Five: The Word become flesh

The project that inspired Bible in 365 came to an official end earlier this week when my friend Craig wrote out a verse a day from the 100 days he’d spent reading the Bible, 100 verses on 20 sheets of paper, six feet tall by five week wide when laid out side-by-side. He laminated the sheets and plans to hang them on his wall, he said on Facebook, “both as inspiration and reminders of the project.”

It reminds me of the Christian monks and Jewish sofers, faithfully and systematically reproducing the Scriptures by hand to preserve them, their inspiration and their reminders. Of how before they were a written or printed book, the Scriptures were a recitation. Of conversations about both reproduction and recitation as ritual events and about “embodied live-ness,” the Word become flesh, John 1 and “Fahrenheit 451,” in a Religion and Media course I took while a student at New York University.

I started out my project sharing the verse or two that spoke to me each day on Facebook and Twitter, beyond “Beyond the Written Word” by William A. Graham, one of the texts for that course. That has fallen off a bit over the past two weeks, though, as the weather has gotten hotter and the days, busier, and Exodus, law-ier. Joel and I started listening to the daily readings read aloud in the YouVersion smartphone app, my phone set on a pillow or plugged into our sound system, God’s words the last thing we hear as we drift off to sleep under open windows, finally feeling some relief in the breeze at night. All this, nearly as pleasant as seeing God and eating and drinking, as we read in Exodus.

Weeks Four and Five

Here are the passages that spoke to me in Exodus:

  • So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up?” (Exodus 3:3).
  • The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
  •  “The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said”  (Exodus 8:19).
  • “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
  • “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18).
  • “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).
  • They saw God, and they ate and drank (Exodus 24:11).
  • “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
  • “I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).
  • The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Craig Kanalley.

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Bible in 365, Week Three: Family Bibles

On the Fourth of July, the last day of my family vacation, I pulled down two tattered, leather-bound books from the bookshelves in my parents’ lake cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Both were Bibles: one my grandpa’s; the other, my great-grandpa’s. (Both, evidently, fans of the King James Version.)

My great-grandpa, my mom’s grandpa, had read through his Bible several times, my mom said when she saw me gently lifting its yellow pages. This was the great-grandpa who had written letters to be opened after his death, each describing how his loved ones could reach him at his new address in heaven, by believing on Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

And then I flipped to the back of the Bible that had belonged to my grandpa, my mom’s dad. On one page, there was a handwritten note: “Finished reading the whole Bible. 1-26-87.”

Oh, my mom said, she didn’t know he had, too. She said this with the same awe of the accomplishment I had felt up until about three weeks ago, when I suddenly realized, wait, this really is not all that unusual a thing to do for a person who professes this book as the inerrant Word of God, and why haven’t I?

Now I’m looking forward to writing the same words in the back of my own Bible, tattered and tearing and bookmarked this week in Exodus.

Week Three

Here are the passages that spoke to me each day this week:

  • “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8).
  • But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:19-20).
  • So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up?” (Exodus 3:3).
  • The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
  •  “The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said”  (Exodus 8:19).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Follow me on Instagram.

Bible in 365, Week Two: Reading the Bible with my husband (now pastor-approved!)

Despite the fact we met at a Bible study at a mutual friend’s house, Joel and I had not really studied the Bible and prayed together before we were married. That’s because, depending which Christian dating book messed you up as a teenager, this is a thing that either will lead you to have premarital sex and die or knit you together in spiritual ways you don’t even know until you break up and then you don’t just break up with your boyfriend, you break up with God. And then you die. And go to hell.

(No, really. I read a lot of these books after my friend Claire pointed out in college how badly they had ruined us all for relationships. One I borrowed from a friend even included a time table for when it was appropriate to hold hands, side-hug and spend time alone together. That part I TOTALLY AM NOT MAKING UP–NOT EVEN THE PART ABOUT THE SIDE-HUGS.)

So this was something we asked about during premarital counseling with our pastor, Pastor Aaron Baker of Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago.

Pastor Aaron’s advice to us about reading the Bible and praying together was to read the Bible together. And then to pray together. Just to do it, and not to overthink or overspiritualize the whole thing.

So Joel packed the pocket-size ESV he’d gotten from his college alumni association on our honeymoon, and we started to read. We started. And stopped. And started again. A couple days here, part of what he was reading with his men’s Bible study there. This is where having a plan becomes a good idea.

About three weeks ago, we started again. I thought we’d missed a day last week, when the temperature first hit 100 degrees in Chicago and we both worked late and the exhausting heat in our un-air-conditioned apartment caused me to fall asleep almost as fast as I sat down on the couch. But Joel assured me the next day he’d read, aloud, and I even had commented on the spotted goats and the not spotted goats in Genesis 30, “like blessed Saint Radegund, so pious that she chanted the psalms even in her sleep,” as Lauren F. Winner described her in “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.” This is where reading with my husband becomes a good idea.

Although, if whatever I had to say about spotted goats and not spotted goats is any as illuminating as St. Radegund’s Latin poetry surely was, we’ll never know. Joel ignored me. He knew I was sleep-talking.

Week Two

Here are the passages that spoke to me each day this week:

  • “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws” (Genesis 26:4-5).
  • So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20).
  • “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other” (Genesis 31:49).
  • Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28).
  • And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said (Genesis 37:8).
  • Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams” (Genesis 40:8).
  • “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Bible in 365 now is pastor-approved, thanks to this post from Pastor Aaron Baker on The City. Follow me on Instagram.

Bible in 365, Week One: Reading the Bible in its entirety for the first time and the God who sees me

I have a confession to make: I never have read the Bible, from start to finish, cover to cover, in its entirety.

That’s not to say I don’t read the Bible, every day even. I currently am studying the book of Amos every other week with the women’s Bible study at my church and Proverbs 31 every day in my personal devotions. (My obsession with biblical homemaking blogs is a story for another post another time.) It’s been like that my entire Christian life: bit by bit, the same stories over and over in Lutheran school, a book here, a bunch of loosely-related verses in a topical study there. It’s possible I have read the whole Bible that way, but I get the feeling there are some stretches of long books, like Isaiah, I probably have missed, maybe an unpopular Psalm or two.

It never even really occurred to me, hey, I ought to read the whole Bible, maybe even regularly, something really not all that unusual for a Christian to do, come to think of it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I just had this idea this was a huge undertaking, like eating the Old 96’er, something maybe only pastors do, and even then, maybe once in their lives.

Then my friend Craig did it. In 100 days.

He wrote about it in a blog post on the Huffington Post:

I just want to thank God for somehow giving me this idea to read the Bible, cover to cover. It made me reflect a ton, learn a ton and I absolutely feel more spiritual, and more happy. As I’ve said, I also have strived to put myself secondary to the happiness of others, especially now that I’m happy myself.

So I decided to do it, too. In 365 days, though; Let’s not get crazy. And somehow I got my husband Joel on board with it. Unlike me, he actually has read the whole Bible cover to cover. Multiple times.

The fine print

We started last Monday, using the “Canonical” Bible reading plan on YouVersion, which just means we’re reading through the “canon” from start to finish in the order the books appear in the Bible, not chronologically or switching between the old and new testaments or with a Psalm thrown in each day for fun. So far, that’s been two to four chapters a day.

We both already had the YouVersion app on our phones, which makes following a plan easy: Each day, it gives you a checklist of passages to read. You even can have those passages emailed to you or set a reminder to read each day on your phone. (I promise YouVersion is not paying me for this post. Although, I am not above that.)

For those of you to whom it matters, I’m using the New International Version (1984) translation of the Bible, and Joel is using the New American Standard Bible. He has real reasons for this. I just keep coming back to the NIV because it is the one we read through 12 years of Lutheran school, and the rhythm of the language already is in my head.

Are we happy yet?

When Craig started reading the Bible, he wrote, “those trying times, and stormy clouds, quickly evaporated.” He took a vacation, got a front-row seat to a hockey game and met one of his favorite baseball players. He tried sushi for the first time, gave out his phone number online, booked a trip to Ireland and connected with a long-lost relative.

When I started, I marveled on day one that God worked and His work was creative and even He rested; then, several days later, when a tweet by author Donald Miller reminded me again to rest: “The fact we have to sleep is God’s way of saving us from productivity and reminding us He doesn’t run a business.” How a quote from Pastor Mike Breaux of Heartland Community Church reinforced the message I’d taken from the story of the Tower of Babel: “Instead of pursuing ‘impact’ and ‘influence,’ pursue God and he will give you as much impact and influence as he wants you to have.”

And then I woke up Sunday morning.

I was on my way to church when I discovered somebody had smashed in the front driver’s-side window of my car. For the second time. The glove compartment was open, spilling its guts. And this, after our sage bush was dug out of a planter and stolen, another entire planter was stolen and our bike handlebars were stolen, all this summer. Joel also is trying to convince me somebody “borrowed” our grill, but if he or she did, I don’t think he or she plans to return it. We haven’t replaced any of these things. We don’t have a lot of money. So there may be no bike riding and no grilling this summer, the thought of which pretty much is the only thing that keeps one alive through bitter Chicago winters.

When Craig read the Bible, it made him happy. This did not make me happy. This made me cut my hands open trying to scoop the broken glass out of my driver’s seat and skip church so I could have a good, ugly cry by myself, facedown on the couch.

I won’t start the puritanical Lutheran trip, in which I try to figure out why God is punishing me. I will tell you this: Reading the Bible won’t make you happy. God never promises it will. This is what He promises:

“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you” (Psalm 119:89-91).

Instead, reading the Bible will give you perspective.

This week, Joel and I read Genesis, chapters 1 to 24. We read about The Fall, how sin entered the world. Which explains a lot. We also read about Hagar. And I know the same God who saw Hagar in her distress surely sees me in mine. His word is eternal. His faithfulness continues. And I will serve Him, still.

Week One

Here are the passages that spoke to me each day this week:

  • And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:3).
  • The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:4).
  • Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
  • After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
  • She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
  • Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6).
  • Then he prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham” (Genesis 24:12).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: A review of everything that has been stolen from our apartment this summer, via Instagram. (Follow me as mcemilywrites.)