Bible Reading Schedules Now Posted

Every year for the past several years I have posted “Bible Reading Schedules” that will allow you to read the Bible through either once or twice in a given year. The schedules for 2020 are now posted on their separate pages.

If you are familiar with these schedules, they are identical to past years. If you have never seen one of my schedules, a few notes are in order. One, you will notice that there is no reading for Sundays. I assume you will be attending a church service, and for that day I am also making the assumption that you will be provided with a text (or two) in the sermon and/or in your Bible class for you to read and to meditate upon for that day. Alternatively, you can use the lectionary reading(s) for that Sunday – something that I do in my own daily reading. (These are available in a number of sources – either print or on-line. Search for “Common Lectionary Readings.” Note that the liturgical year begins in December with Advent. There are three years of lectionary readings, and you will want to be sure you are reading for the appropriate year, either “A”, “B”, or “C.”

You will also notice that for the “Read the Bible Through Once” schedule, there is only a reading for the Psalms on Saturday. This will allow you to “make up” on Saturday for any days that you missed during that week.

In the “Read the Bible Through Twice” you will see that on Mondays and Saturdays there is only one chapter of the New Testament, and on all other days there are 2. There are always 5 chapters of the Old Testament.

In both schedules the Psalms are read through twice. This allows a constant presence in the praise, lament, and worship literature of the Israelites and the early church.

I guess it should go without saying, but any schedule that keeps you in God’s Word is a good one. Some individuals like to read slowly – taking several years to work through the Bible. Some prefer a chronological approach – attempting to place the books in the order in which they were written (to the best of our knowledge). Some prefer reading schedules such as the Moravian Brethren produce – and I have used those schedules and like them very much. (Search for “Moravian Brethren” on the internet. They have a number of different editions for you to choose from). These schedules posted here are just my attempt to work out a schedule to keep myself (and any others who are interested) in the text. Use them if they are useful, lose them if they are not.

Whatever schedule you prefer, the important thing is that we keep our hearts and minds in the text of God’s Word, and that we seek to apply his guidance in our daily lives.

Blessings on your study in 2020! Let us all ascend by climbing lower.

Churches of Christ Identified by Their Schools (satire)

As most of my posts are pretty serious, I thought I would take a break and try to explain why there are so many different congregations of Churches of Christ to those who have no clue about us or our history. What follows is just how I see things, and may or may not have a grain of truth, and it is certainly written with my tongue firmly in my cheek . . .

How many members of the Churches of Christ does it take to change a light bulb as answered by the leading schools of higher learning associated with the Churches of Christ –

Pepperdine University – “We have chosen not to perpetuate the system of binary thinking that separates light bulbs into “burned out” and “new.” We also do not believe a light bulb should be forced to change against its will. We allow each light bulb to choose how they wish to be viewed, and in the spirit of diversity we welcome each light bulb regardless of its perceived condition.”

Abilene Christian University – “We believe it is important that we welcome the darkness that a burned out bulb symbolizes. We embrace the spiritual implications of the darkness, and together we seek to find the essential meaning to that darkness, and what it signifies for our human journey. As we ponder the eschatological significance of the fractured filament, we also contemplate our fractured souls and the vanity of a vacuous existence.”

David Lipscomb University – “What ACU says, (we think, we’re not sure exactly).”

Harding University – “We have established a committee to seek to ascertain the impact that burned out bulbs have on our campus. In the interest of all concerned, we will continually strive to do the best we can to have a positive impact on all light bulbs, whether we can specifically address the burned out light bulb issue at this time or not.”

Oklahoma Christian University – “Burned out light bulbs? Who cares? What time do the Sooners kick off?

Freed-Hardeman University – “Give us 10 choruses of ‘Just as I am’ and we will have a small army of sanctified light bulb replacers ready to go forth and change every burned out light bulb in the world!”

York College, Ohio Valley College, Lubbock Christian University – “Who has money to replace light bulbs!?”

Schools of Preaching – “Has the replacement bulb ever been in a socket before? Because we cannot replace a burned out bulb with a bulb that has been put into a socket. We have to maintain light bulb purity in this regard.”

Now that I have pretty much offended everyone – y’all have great day!

Goodbye Social Media

I made a radical decision this morning – I am done with social media – for me that means Facebook and Twitter. I’m done. I just can’t take it anymore. I am sorry to lose contact with many friends through Facebook, but my “feed” was becoming so poisonous that I spent most of my time trying to rationalize what I was seeing with my call to a higher standard of living. My Twitter feed was even worse. I cannot even begin to repeat the amount of hatred and repugnant behavior I was asked to read – and that was from “Christians.”

So, I’m done, quitting cold turkey as it were. I plan on replacing the time I waste on social media with playing my guitars, reading healthy books, or just reconnecting with real, live, human beings.

If you only keep up with me through Twitter or Facebook, obviously you are not going to get this message unless you wonder what happened to me and come looking for me.

In a way I hate to say goodbye – there are some things I will miss about FB, and I got some laughs from Twitter. But ultimately I think this is a long over-due and necessary decision for me. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says – there is a time for everything, and for me the time is right to just say goodbye to two time consuming, but otherwise very unproductive, seducers of my time and attention.

Ascending Lower – A Call to the Crucified Life

Things never stay the same. Kittens become cats. Babes in arms eventually march across commencement stages and down wedding aisles. You never step in to the same river twice.

Perhaps some of you will know me from a previous existence in the realm of blogs. You will no doubt hear strains of that old presence – it is still very much a part of me. However, I hope this set of presentations will be much different. That, at least, is my goal.

A word about the title of this new blog. Jesus said those who wish to save their life must lose it. We win by losing. Paul said he was made strong in his weakness. The apostle wanted to live by being crucified. We climb higher by going lower. This image has been used by countless fathers and mothers of the church even down to the present. Henri Nouwen suggested that Christians are to be wounded healers. Richard Rohr (OFM) described it as “falling upward.”

I want to suggest – or to proclaim, rather – that the church of Christ, and individual Christians within it, must ascend by becoming lower. We become more like our Lord when we are given a towel, not a trophy. For too long we have been singing about “stars in our crown” instead of bowing to rub calluses on our knees.

So, I have three major goals for this space. One, I pray I can speak to the church of Christ, and individual members of that universal church, in a manner as to encourage a renewal of spirit, a revival of passion for Christ and his church. Two, I want to present the gospel of Christ as clearly and as powerfully as I can, both in its invitation and in its warning. Finally, to achieve those two related goals I want to promote what I believe is a healthy theology that leads to healthy practices. I must by definition confront what I believe is bad theology, incorrect exegesis, and sick practices (see 1:10 – Jeremiah had to pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow before he could build and plant!)

My goal is to be irenic – to aim for peace – but I will not shrink from honest and forthright engagement with error. With Jesus as my savior, and the apostle Paul as my example, I pray I can ascend lower, and by doing so that I can be lifted into the new heaven and earth.