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Welcome (Back)!

What was started just as a way to keep me disciplined in my Bible reading and as a vehicle for my expression has turned out to be something others have found useful too, and in a perennial way.  Praise God alone for that!  To use this blog as a guide for your reading, follow these four simple steps:

  1. Find the reading schedule on the “Reading Plan” page in the upper right hand corner.  Construct a plan that works for you.  Use any translation, but try out a new one.  I like to read during the work week and take the weekends off for family and rest.

  2. Read your chapter for the day and then take a look at the short thoughts on the chapter posted here.  You can find those by clicking on the present month in the “Archives” section in the left-hand sidebar.  Then scroll down to the correct chapter.  Sorry, blog posts naturally pile on top of each other.  You will starting from the bottom and work up.

  3. You can find what others are saying this year by looking at the “Recent Comments” section in the left-hand sidebar.  You will be taken to that comment by clicking on the link.

  4. Join in!  Share your reflections as you read.  You will find you are more engaged and have an easier time sticking with it.

May our exercise of communal reading be a blessing to you this year as we all grow into the image of Jesus.

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Final Thoughts & Thanks

We have made it!

One chapter a day, five days a week, every full week of the year.  Really, that is a not a lot of reading.  But I have a whole string of years where I couldn’t even muster the fortitude to be that disciplined.  Maybe you do too.  There seems to be something about reading the Bible that creates a challenge even for the most ardent readers.

Yet we did it.  And we can be thankful for our seemingly small feat.  I know there are big, monumental experiences that shape us in significant ways.  But more often than not I find we are formed as humans by our little habits, small victories, excusable vices, short lines in sand, and tiny changes.

As far as blogging is concerned, I don’t know yet what next year brings.  I will keep my personal, periodic blog going, but this blog comes to an end today, though all posts will stay up and accessible and the comments will stay open.  This is now two consecutive years I have written a blog of this sort — two years ago with the Qur’an and this past year with the New Testament.  I do not have plans to undertake a project like this for this upcoming year.  I have discerned that it is best for me to spend time with physical and domestic health instead.  I am drawn to The Message again, the translation I almost used this year, before N. T. Wright published The Kingdom New Testament, his interesting but not significantly different translation.  I hope to keep reading on the same schedule but without the writing.  Maybe one of you will find value in a writing discipline like this and invite us to join you next year?

As you might expect from a teacher, I would like to end with a question.  Not all of you have wanted to post comments this year and that has been fine.  Do consider posting on this one.

What have you learned from a year spent reading God’s Word to the Church?

 

I share three reflections I have had several times this year.  I look forward to your thoughts as well.

1.  For many of us, there is no better spiritual practice than reading the Bible.  Spiritually, people are wired differently.  Some are shaped strongly my worshipful experiences.  Some have been turned into reading-the-biblewho they are by fervent, honest prayer.  Others become different people through service to those they love and those in need.  For many, though, the regular practice of Bible reading is the number one shaping influence in their spiritual growth.  This is where the Gospel, in its many forms, speaks good news into the vagaries of our life.  This is where we are confronted by words that have been read — spoken, really — and therefore cannot be ignored.  This is where our minds of flesh are turned spiritual.  Almost without exclusion, those I respect the most spiritually all have one thing in common: they read their Bibles.  In a million different ways.  But they read.  And I want to be one of these same people, so I read.  When one truly gives him- or herself to the words of the Bible as we have done this year, we are not left the same person.  Sometimes, like echoes bouncing around in the chasms of our hearts and minds, those words hit us months later, but the word of God is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12).  These words do not “return void” (Isaiah 55:11).

2.  The Bible is always best understood when read and interpreted together.  Blogs have long been cited as tools that have overly-democritized the marketplace of ideas.  Whether you are 8 or 80, you can create a blog and post your ideas.  Then search engines put all search results side by side by topic, not knowledge or research or experience or anything else.  That is why the best blogs always have a robust community of readers and comment-makers so as to raise the discussion past the opinions of the one author.  That is what I was hoping we could produce here.  Likewise, Protestants (as most of us reading this blog are) have always made much-ado about the “priesthood of all believers” and the importance of the Bible.  Put them together and we all feel like we can read the Bible by ourselves and our personal arabs-studying1interpretations have equal authority.  For sure, all should read their Bibles and all perspectives should be considered, but the interpretations that are hammered out in groups of people are almost always better than what individuals come up with themselves.  That is the value of Bible classes in church contexts.  That is why we read other people’s books.  That is why education has (until lately) always been a communal undertaking.  I am extremely thankful to all of you who have taken the time to read my posts.  I am even more thankful to those of you who took time to comment and ask questions and bring up alternate viewpoints (and not all of this was done on this blog; sometimes it was at school or church).  I have learned from you, and where “iron has sharpened iron” our understanding of the Bible has become that much better.  From here on out, I always want to read my Bible with others.

3.  The New Testament is a whole lot simpler than we sometimes let it be.  I saw this repeatedly throughout the year, but especially in our reading of Revelation this last month.  We have tended to make the Bible much more complicated than it really is.  I think this usually comes when we isolate small phrases or passages and neglect the big picture.  I understand why that happens.  We all agree on that big picture, so we focus on the patches of disagreement that we find as we read because those are the things we feel we have to iron out.  Then we make those points of argument reasons for disunity and suspicion.  I completely understand the aggressive desire for truth in all things, but after this year of looking at the big picture of Christian Scripture I am all the more committed to continuing to do so.  With time I have found that small passages of confusion or points of contention work themselves out when we stay focused on the big picture.    I know that one of Jesus’ greatest desires is for Christian unity (John 17:20-21), so I am going forward from here today with the belief that anchoring myself in the Story of God’s good news to the world, not pet doctrines or favorite passages within a denomination, has a better likelihood of creating unity.

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Thank you for being a part of the life of this blog.  I have benefitted from your participation.  Keep reading!  Glory to God our Savior and Teacher!

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Do You Need to Hop Back Onboard?

Have the ins and outs of everyday life overwhelmed your desire to read through the New Testament this year?  Don’t worry if it has.  Now is a great time to jump back onboard for the last quarter of the year.  Monday we will start into the Gospel of John, our last look at the life of Jesus this year.  We have spent some great time in the Letters lately, but I am looking forward to getting back to the “red letters.”  Then we will finish the Letters and spend December in one of the most hope-inspiring books in the Bible — Revelation.  Let’s meet back here on Monday!

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Half-Way There!

Congratulations!  We are half-way there!  

As we wrap up June and head into July, we have completed half of the New Testament!  I am so glad you have been here thus far and let’s press on with determination.  Luke will be a great way to spend July.  Then into the Corinthians letters which are always interesting and full of questions.  After that the Pastoral Epistles, so lots about church life in this quarter of the year.  If you fell off the wagon in June with the beginning of summer, jump back on board.  Any day with the word of God is a blessing!

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Out of Pocket Again

I am not going to be able to respond to comments or questions for the next week again.  The posts will keep coming, so keep dropping by!  Blessings!

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How To Read The Bible Series

Over on my other blog (A Knight’s Miscellany) I am beginning a summertime reading project regarding how best to read and apply the Bible in the twenty-first century.  You might find these periodic posts interesting and applicable to what we do here.  Sign up now on that blog for email updates or follow that blog through wordpress.com.  It’s that easy!

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Take Note

I will be slightly out of pocket for the next week or so.  The regular posts will come, but I won’t be able to respond to comments.  There haven’t been many comments lately unfortunately, so that will not be a great issue I suspect.  Bless you all!

We start the great book of Romans tomorrow.

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One-Third of the Way!

This weekend ends April, and with that we are one-third of the way through the year and the New Testament!  Good job!  May is a busy month if you are connected to schools, so don’t worry about what you miss or if you sometimes have to play catch up or get ahead on a weekend.  Any time spent in the Word is better than nothing.  

We have another two weeks in Matthew, then we are off to the majestic book of Romans. 

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Well Done!

If you have been able to stay on track with your reading, we are one-fourth of the way through the year and the New Testament.  Great job!  We have read five books by five different authors, and read the largest book in the New Testament (Acts).

Three more short chapters in James, then we go back to the life of Jesus by way of Matthew.  I really like the quarterly return to the gospels.  We will also read the majestic book of Romans before the summer gets going too strong, and finish up June with the Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).  This will be a great quarter of reading.

I appreciate the time you take to read these posts and I am especially encouraged and stretched by your comments and questions.  I enjoy knowing I am part of a reading community.

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Not My Doing

I am assuming most of you figured this out already, but those ads that are now showing up at the bottom on my posts are not my doing.  I do not place them, I do not endorse them, and I wish they were not there.  They are a feature that WordPress has added to those of us who are still using the free version of this otherwise great blogging platform.  I can pay $30 per year to go ad-free but I guess I am cheap and I don’t want to.

I would ask that you ignore them and certainly do not click on them.  I don’t want the powers that be to get the idea that my blog is a fruitful place to put ads.  By all means, if you see any ad that is objectionable, lewd and truly contradictory to the spirit of this blog, please let me know (as the ads don’t show up until after I publish a post).  I’ll bit the bullet and cough up the money if they get too out of line.

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Bravo! We are making good progress!

Today we come the beginning of a new month and the end of our second book.  Good job everybody!  In fact, we are finishing the longest book in the New Testament.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the back-to-back narratives of Mark then Acts.  Tomorrow we are on to a new genre entirely — letters — and that ought to be interesting!  These letter sections will go much faster.  By the end of March we will have finished three of them: Hebrews, Galatians, and James.  Three great ones!

Don’t miss today’s post from Acts 28 below.

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Best Practices

Well, we are six weeks into our goal of reading through the New Testament slowly and closely this year.  How is it going?  Comments are drying up a bit, but that is okay.  While they do help create community, the real point of this blog is to create structure and motivation for our own reading.  Please do consider making a comment this weekend, though, with your best practices.  What are you doing that has given you greater success with your reading than you have experienced in the past?  What added techniques do you have in place that keep you on track?  What suggestions do you have for the rest of us?

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One Month Down!

Good job!  We have officially come to the end of one month of regular reading.  How have you done?  Do you need to start strong again in February?  If so, see you in Acts 7 tomorrow.  I am blessed each day as I read the Word closely and as I stay accountable to you.  I hope what is happening here, and more importantly what is happening within you as you read each weekday, is a blessing to you.

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How is it going?

It has been three weeks now and we finish the first of the four gospels tomorrow.  What a great way to start – plugging into the incredible story of Jesus!  Have you had a hard time getting into the groove?  No worries!  We start the book of Acts on Tuesday, and that would be a great place for a restart if you need it.  So much action, and incredible themes to watch unfold.  May your weekend be blessed and restful!

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Islam: My Impressions

As you may know, I have spent the last year reading and blogging through the Qur’an as a way to understand better the often vilified but always significant religion of Islam.  I finished that project today.  If you are interested in reading my final impressions as a Christian, please check out my last blog post.  I know you came to this blog to read the New Testament, but if you have time for a five minute synopsis I believe you will find it interesting and informative.

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I Am Glad You Are Here

For those of you who have chosen to follow this blog, and especially those who are reading along in your own Bibles, I am very glad you are here.  I hope what is happening is positive and helpful, and I am open to suggestions on how to make this little community of readers even more effective.  I am loving starting with Mark.  He gets right down to business.  As a Christian, there is nothing as energizing as looking intently into the life of Christ.  That makes me think of our theme verse from school this year:

And all of us, without any veil on our faces, gaze at the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, and so are being changed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as you’d expect from the Lord, the spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, KNT)

I would love to hear your reflections each day; that is when the greatest sense of community will come.  No pressure, if that is not your thing, but please consider sharing.

May your weekend we restful and recuperative.  Back on Monday.

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Wright’s “Kingdom New Testament”

Translation was the first thing that happened in the early Church of Acts, N. T. Wright reminds us as he starts The Kingdom New Testament.  God has always called for his people to bring the Word — both the Bible and Jesus himself — to people in the language they can best understand.  Just as God brought Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch who did not understand the copy of Isaiah he was reading, Wright has set out to do the same with the New Testament for a generation for whom the Bible sometimes sounds foreign, stuffy and archaic.

Wright emphasizes that The Kingdom New Testament (KNT) is a “translation, not a paraphrase” (Preface, xii).  As his wife and kids encouraged, he has tried to abide by the original Greek text while also refraining “from using long, fuzzy words where short, sharp ones would do instead” (xvii).  Because Wright wants to be immediately relevant and readable to a broad audience (as he tried to be in his For Everyone commentary series, where this translation was first used), he has opted for a “less formal and academic, and a more deliberately energetic, style” (xiv).

Technically, though Wright does not state this, the KNT strives for “dynamic equivalence.”  Therefore, it sounds more like the New International Version than the English Standard Version, and at times even approaches the conversational style of The Message (see Romans 8:1-2 for instance).

What I am especially drawn to in this new translation is the “kingdom” accentuation promised by the title.  Anyone familiar with the work of Wright would expect nothing less.  In a recent little e-book Junia Is Not Alone, Scot McKnight reminds us that even the act of translating the Bible can be “political” or ideological.  That is certainly true.  I am looking forward to the ways Wright will pull out the “kingdom” nuances in unexpected places.

Whether you read Wright’s translation or your favorite or something new entirely, I hope you will join me as we start reading through the New Testament beginning Monday.

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What Do We Have Here?

You have one man’s attempt to stay disciplined as he reads closely the New Testament in 2012.  I am reading N. T. Wright’s translation The Kingdom New Testament, but pick up any version of the New Testament you wish and join the conversation. I’m posting the verses that speak to me most poignantly each day; make a comment and include your favorite verses as well.

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