Friday, September 10, 2010

Reading Your New Testament - Wrap-Up

There have been a lot of conversations and interviews and op/ed pieces and blogs and commentaries about Pastor Terry Jones and his willingness to burn copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam.  Several in the Christian blogosphere have weighed in on why folks weren't more upset when the US Army, at the behest of Afghanis, burned a bunch of servicemen's and other donated Bibles (stories here and here).  But with everything that has come to light, we can say that Pastor Jones is a nutcase in over his head with no judicious way to get out.  Watching his interview on GMA this morning, I actually felt slightly sorry for the wingnut.  Slightly.  My friend Tommy said it well:  there's a difference between legality and propriety.  And while I'm at it, can someone say out loud that violent acts in response to stupid acts are just as stupid?  Why don't we rally in the streets when an American flag is burned in Pakistan?  Enough of that...

What is a holy book?  It's a book full of holy words, right?  That's what separates the Bible from Moby Dick or something of the like.  But it's the message that is holy, not the literal pages or ink or gilding on the page edges.  Some people treat the paper, glue and leather like they themselves are independently holy.

So with that in perspective, I offer the following suggestions for reading the NT in 75 Days Challenge:

1.  Grab a pen and write in your Bible.  I know some take offense at that because it's dishonoring to the holy book (see above, please).  But I think you ought to have pen in hand and write questions, comments, and thoughts that come to you as you read.

2.  Grab a pen and draw in your Bible.  When you look at my personal ESV Bible that I study from, I have circles and lines all around the passages I have studied.  Words that get repeated get circled and often are connected with a line.  That helps me to visually see things that I might not see otherwise and this will certainly be true in the 3-5 chapters that we'll be reading together.  For those familiar with Precept studies, I would suggest you NOT mark every word like you would in your Precept study but instead just the words that pop out of the text to you because of their repetition, etc.

3.  Grab a pen and write on a notecard.  Out of the 3-5 chapters you'll read in a day, take one thing and try to do it.  The difference between the guy whose house crumbled and the guy whose house who stood was whether or not they obeyed what was said (Matthew 7.24-27).  Take that notecard and the one thing you're going to try to obey and stick it in your pocket on the way out the door to work or wherever you're headed.

4.  Read before you feed.  Before you get up and have breakfast or whatever substitutes for breakfast at your house, take the time to read.  I'm guessing it's a 10-15 minute exercise for most folks.  So set your alarm a few minutes earlier, start the coffee earlier, and enjoy the meal set before you in the Scriptures.  If you read before you feed, you won't forget to read and it will probably have greater impact in shaping your day.

5.  Come back to it in the evening with your family or a friend.  Bring it up at dinner or at bedtime.  Talk about it over lunch with your coworker.  If married, let that be the conversation that lulls you into sleep - CSI isn't all that important anyway.  Come back to it often throughout the day.

I can't wait to see how God shapes us all.  We have people from all over the country (quite literally coast to coast) fired up about this and participating with us.  I'm ready for Monday!

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