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Monday, February 29, 2016

"Reading" the Bible from Cover to Cover

I have always been impressed whenever I had met two groups of people. 
The First Group - People who read the same books every year. They say, "O I read the Lord of the Rings every year," or, "Every year I reread Orthodoxy by Chesterton." They read them, I imagine because they get to visit an old friend(s) and get new things out of them.
The Second Group - People who have read the entire Bible. I have been challenged a few times read the Bible from cover to cover, and there is Leviticus. 'sigh'

Then I found Jeff Cavins and the Great Adventure Bible Timeline Program found HERE . Jeff only covers the 14 books that tell the story. He also shows how the other books fit into the context of these 14. For example, many of the Psalms were written by King David yet they are 4 books away from each other, or that you read Ruth in the context of the Judges. It is an excellent program and I can't recommend it enough.

But had I still read ALL the books? - well I was sure that I read most, or at least heard most. Had I? I thought why am I giving this any second thought at all - Dude just read it already! I hate reading. But I LOVE listening. so I forced myself and listened all the way through an audio Bible. Last year it took from the end of December through February. 

THE PAY OFF - Now while some of it I knew immediately I had NEVER listened to, e.g. all the names in Ezra, Nehemiah., other parts kind of surprised me, and other parts were very familiar. 
  • The pay off came when I went to church and heard the readings, I had just read all of them, so they were like, friends ( I would think - I just listened to this). 
  • When someone said - I was just reading Job, or Ezekiel, or whoever - I could say - I just read that too. 
  • I got to hear those Old Testament quotes in context that are quoted in the New Testament. 
  • The worst enemy of the Israelites were themselves, yes they were attacked by others, but if you were trying to live the law of Moses and be faithful. Good Luck, because most of your fellow Israelites are barely interested. 
  • God is not mean, or a jerk, or vengeful. God is a living Father who has to deal with barbarians. I know my ancestors were barbarians - but everyone's ancestors are barbarians, even the Israelites. And as we all know - barbarians are hard to work with, and they only understand a certain type of language. God was speaking to them on their level. Also, most of those "angry" prophetic letters are all written to the same group of people. We only hear them one after another and it feels like it takes forever to get through them.
So I am interested in what YOU have to say -
Do you have a book you reread every year?
Have you read the Bible cover to cover? What were the benefits / drawbacks?
Comment below:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Does the Word Lent Mean and Why Do We Give Up Stuff?

Lent is from the Anglo-Saxon word lengten,  which means - spring. This makes sense because of the season of the year it takes place.

Why 40 Days? The 40 days are in imitation of Jesus who was fasting in the desert for 40 days. But why was Jesus in the desert for 40 days? He did this to imitate the Israelites who were in the desert for 40 years. Why were the Israelites in the desert for 40 years?

Lots of questions huh.

The Israelites had been in bondage and just passed through Red Sea (Which St. Paul says is a type for Baptism 1 Corinthians 10:2) and were traveling through the desert, headed toward the promised land,

Now this signifies our own journey from the bondage of sin (Egypt) through this world (Desert) to heaven (Promised Land).

Their journey through the desert was originally planned to have only taken 1 year. But when it came time for the Israelites to enter, they no longer had faith in God and were afraid of the Cannanites that lived there. For this reason, God had them wander in the desert for 40 years as a punishment. During this time, the generation that didn't want to go in would be killed and a new generation would be raised up that wanted to enter into the Promised Land.

St. Paul talks about this when he says:

  • Romans 6:6  We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 
  • Ephesians 4:22-24  Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,  23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Colossians 3:9-10  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices  10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  
We are to do the same thing, during our time here on earth we are to crucify our old selves and raise up a new - only by the grace of God.

Now Jesus was doing several things in the desert, but one of them was encountering the devil (as Israel did) and vanquish him with the word of God. Not with lasers out of his eyes, no super-powers, no miracles, just plain old faithfulness. Amazing how boring it sounds to defeat the devil. He was also showing us, in part, how to treat this world, this journey. During that time he fasted from the earthly comforts of food, shelter, and companionship to show us that our sole purpose for this world is transitory. We are just passing through. Our consolations should not be in this world, but in our Heavenly Father. THEREFORE Lent is a renewing of our efforts to prepare ourselves for Heaven.

Now Jesus didn't HAVE to die to some old way of living and sin, but he does it because that is what WE need to do, and he calls us to imitate Him.