Jun 8, 2009

Obligatory Bible in 90 Days Plug

According to a recent poll, 75 million Americans have a lifelong goal of reading the entire Bible. Its a worthy goal for anyone - not just people to go to churches that teach the Bible. After all, its the best selling book of all time, its the most researched document there is, and it is the foundation of western thought.

Did you know that in less than an hour a day, you can read the entire Bible, cover to cover in 90 Days? 12 pages a day. That's it. The whole thing. 3 months and you are done.

I've asked our church to do this with me. Starting yesterday, June 7, by the Labor Day weekend, people who keep up will have read the entire Bible (you can start anytime you want of course.) Not a bad answer to the question "What did you read this summer?"

Too many Christians never bother to read it, which is why they misuse it and fall for the tricks of the TV preachers... and worse. Every person who claims to be a Christian needs to read this book, which shouldn't have to be said, but it has to be said. Christians who do read through the Bible experience amazing life change, sometimes dramatically.

The troubles and errors of the Church in history do not come from the Bible; they come from a misreading and misapplication of the Bible, usually caused by a fruit salad approach to it - pulling verses you like out of context to make a point or defend a bad position. This is also the source of most people's trouble with the Bible who don't believe it. They take a verse here or there out of the greater context and make a falsely informed decision about God. Sometimes they believe a Christian's interpretation that is wrong in the first place. The book is meant to be taken as a whole, not as a collection of glib religious suggestion and gobbledygook.

And for my agnostic friends out there - you can't be a good agnostic and not read the Bible. Don't be a hypocrite agnostic! Read it.

Atheists? Well, a recent Pew Research poll suggests 21% of atheists believe in God. No joke. Guess you better read it too and then decide whether you are an atheist who believes in God or not.

A few years ago, someone gave me a Three Year Bible. I was instantly amused... and somewhat disturbed. The advantage of the 90 day approach is that you can enjoy the story that is told all the way through the Bible, rather than a disconnected bits and pieces you would get in a 3 year approach. When read straight through, its an epic drama, with heroes and villains, sex and violence, fall and redemption, struggle and victory. And in the end, good defeats evil - love wins!

The Bible is a scholarly book, but it isn't written for scholars. Its a collection of stories and history and poems and songs written most often by the worst of sinners. So, while some of it is hard to understand, most of it is easy to understand. Reading quickly, you can just keep moving - the story has its slow moments, but there is a great payoff for each difficult passage.

As well as a good story, this is a book that also makes bold and certain claims about God and our relationship to him, purpose and meaning of life, and eternal destiny. At minimum, its worth an open read, wouldn't you say?

So, this is not intended to start a debate or even to push buttons. Its just to say that this is a great way to read through the Bible, a goal everyone has a good reason to accomplish.

Here are some helps:

A daily reading plan bookmark

My own 3 minute daily podcast with my reading reflections (cheesy music included!) (iTunes required)

You can use any Bible translation you want, however, lots of Bibles have study notes and small fonts and other things that make the task seem much bigger. Additionally, a modern translation will help so you don't feel like you are reading Shakespeare for 90 Days. Please note that "The Message Bible" is not a Bible, its a commentary, so it doesn't count. I recommend the New International Version. (If you are using a Catholic Bible, the "apocrypha" is not included in the 90 Day plan, so you could tack on another month if you really want to.)

There is a Bible published that is specifically designed for the 90 Day plan, reading plan included, as well as some other supplementary material (audio versions, group study materials, etc.) I am setting up a link for these items through our church that will pay a commission that we will donate 100% to a San Diego charity, likely the Rescue Mission. You can find these items here for the time being.

Enjoy your summer reading... let me know if you have any questions.


Jun 6, 2009

D-Day, Eisenhower's Mom, and Tribute

Its always quite moving for me to watch the D-Day memorials and festivities, especially on the special anniversary events that are staged at the memorial in Normandy every 5 years. It was a good show today, 65 years after the invasion.

I love visiting the official Presidential Libraries. They are an incredible way to learn about our history and leadership. President Eisenhower's Library is located in Abilene Kansas.

This statue of Ike is in the middle of the Eisenhower Center, which is in the middle of a wheat field, which is in the middle of Abilene Kansas, which is in the middle of nowhere.

The statue is perched upon a pedestal that has 5 sides, each one boasting official Seals of different offices this man would earn. He would become a 5 Star General, Chief of Staff of the US Army, Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Commander of NATO, and President of the United States. Not a bad resume for a kid who grew up in the middle of nowhere.

The house he grew up in is still there, and it remains furnished mostly the way he would have remembered it. His mom lived there until a few years after the war, and they have kept the house the way she left it. There is something very interesting about seeing the roots of a person who would grow up to do amazing things.

My favorite thing in the house is a rocking chair, perched next to a radio. Its likely that this is exactly the place that Mrs. Eisenhower would sit and listen to news reports of her son's activities. In particular, she would have sat there listening to reports of D-Day, 65 years ago today.

Ike's mom, Ida, had seven sons, with Ike in the middle as the third child. All of them were successful in their own right as leaders in various institutions. Shortly after D-Day, Ida was asked by reporters on the porch of this house about the events of June 6, 1944 and the success of the invasion. When asked "Are you proud of your son?", she gave one of the best mom answers she could give. "Yes, I am very proud of my son. Now which one are you referring to?"

I love that.

Now that I am a parent, I can imagine even more how amazing and surreal it must be to see what your kid actually accomplishes. Few accomplish the things Ike did, but each kid can accomplish great things in his or her world. I am also strangely moved in a new way as I watch the D-Day festivities today and look at my newborn son, and realize that sacrifice of that day was for his freedom as well as my own.

Its a moving day, and I appreciated the ceremony today. But with respect to contemporary speakers, there is still no tribute better than President Reagan's in 1984.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. - President Ronald Reagan, 6.6.84

It is truly a different era that we live in today. Full of doubt and threats greater than any day in the last 65 years in my view. But I believe and pray that rising from our doubt, we will soon have a renewed hope.