Contentment in the Midst of Chaos

by Debi Martin of the Sojourner Between Worlds blog.

This is my life right now.

boxes

Boxes, boxes, everywhere! Due to some family needs, we are moving from our home in Michigan to live near family in Pennsylvania. We are in the process of selling our condo, which is stressful, as anyone who has ever bought or sold a home can attest to. At the same time we are also packing up in preparation for movers to come at the end of December and put most of our stuff in storage. We will live with family temporarily while looking for a new place in Pennsylvania. So there are decisions as to what to put in storage, what do we think we’ll need in the meantime, not knowing how long it will take to find and buy a new home.

It’s easy (and probably natural) at times like these to look ahead and think, “Oh, I can’t wait until we have our new place and can be moved in and settled again, with life back to somewhat normal.” Until then life is chaotic and uncertain, living half out of boxes and suitcases. It’s hard to feel relaxed and content in the midst of all that is going on. But we are not meant to live our lives in the “Oh, when such and such happens, then I can relax and all will be well.” We aren’t meant to live in the future “someday”. We are called to live in the here and now, the everyday chaos, the half packed boxes around us. What better picture of this life being temporary? This is not our final destination. A new heaven and earth await us, where there will be no more chaos, no more stress, no more sin. Even when things settle down and there is a new normal, this is still not our final home. We are to hold this life loosely, ever realizing that this is temporary. We are sojourning between worlds, as this blog is called. So as I live in the midst of chaos, God can use this to remind me not to be looking for a future settled home here on this earth, but a future home in the new heaven and earth that awaits me when Christ returns. Until then I must live each day to glorify God and proclaim Jesus Christ.

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“His Wounds Have Paid My Ransom”

Below is a talk on a section of Matthew 26-28 that my wife gave to a ladies’ group a couple months ago at our church. She did a great job!


There is so much in this passage. It encompasses the gospel – Jesus’ death on our behalf, His resurrection, and His command to go and tell everyone this gospel. Where do I even start? I did think it was interesting that a missionary kid was given the passage with the Great Commission in it.

In one sense, this could be summed up pretty quickly: Jesus is Who He said He is – these chapters continually show how He has fulfilled the OT Scriptures that prophesied about the coming Messiah and Savior. He fulfills the reason that He came to earth as a human – to die a sinner’s death on our behalf, for the forgiveness of sins. Then being raised to life again, He has all authority and gives us the great task of proclaiming this gospel to all the world, with the promise of being with us through this daunting endeavor. In a nutshell, that’s what we have.

But I’d like to take a closer look at the crucifixion. Let’s read Matthew 27, starting in verse 24 and going through verse 56.

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

So, let’s stop for a second. This is a familiar story to us. We are told it from the time we are children if we grow up in the church. We learn it as new believers and are reminded of it every Easter, which is coming up shortly. But don’t let the familiarity of the story blind you to what Jesus experienced here. Crucifixion was a horrific way for someone to die. Often beaten before being hung on a wooden beam, their back would have been torn and bloodied, rubbing up against rough wood. In order to breathe, they would have had to put all their weight onto their feet, which had nails going through it into the wood. The pain would have been excruciating. Usually crucifixion would take several days for someone to finally suffocate and die, which is why the other criminals had their legs broken, so they would not have been able to keep pulling themselves up to breathe and would have suffocated quickly.

A medical doctor, C. Truman Davis, writes from a medical perspective about what crucifixion was like. Here are some of his descriptions:

The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement….

The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain – the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.

As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet. At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen…..

Jesus experienced hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins — a terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

This is what Jesus went through. This is what He suffered for me and for you. And yet we so often doubt His love for us. How can I not trust Him if He was willing to go through all of that for me? How can I keep choosing to sin when my sin cost Him so much?

Jesus’ crucifixion was prophesied in the Old Testament and Matthew brings out many of the details to show how Jesus was fulfilling these prophecies.

Let’s read through Psalm 22 and see the many parallels with Jesus’ crucifixion.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

Isn’t that amazing? David, writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, describes so much of what Jesus goes through. Even the mocking phrase of the chief priests, “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;” is seen from Psalm 22.

When we read the different gospel accounts we can see what each writer included and didn’t include of Jesus’ final hours. Matthew doesn’t record Jesus’ final words. He tells us that Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. He did what He said He came to do – to lay down His life. No one could take it away from Him; He laid it down – He had the authority to do this.

Matthew tells us of the curtain being torn. This was huge – the curtain that separated the Most Holy part of the temple where the ark of the covenant was from the rest of the temple, protecting unholy people from being too close to a holy God. Can you imagine the shock of those who were at the temple and this huge curtain suddenly rips from top to bottom and the Most Holy place of the temple is exposed? Devout priests were probably panicking, thinking they were about to die for seeing what they weren’t supposed to see. Would they have quickly tried to repair it or cover it up?

And then, just as Jesus said He would, He rises from the dead. An angel tells the women who have gone to His tomb that He is going before them to Galilee and the disciples will see Him there. Matthew gives the account of the 11 disciples going to Galilee as Jesus directed. He doesn’t tell us how many days have passed or the other meetings Jesus has had with the disciples. Matthew’s focus is that Jesus has instructed the disciples to go to Galilee and He meets them there, to give them their final command before He goes into Heaven. And this also is familiar to us – “Go and make disciples”. But do we pay attention to what Jesus says right before this command? “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Because of this authority, they are thus to go and make disciples. Jesus concludes with the promise to be with them always. The command is bookended by Jesus’ reminder of His authority and His promise of His presence. Just as we see so often throughout the Bible, what is true (the indicative), Who God is, is given to us so that we are able to then follow the command (the imperative).

So, it may seem like this passage isn’t very practical. Yeah, I know, it’s about Jesus’ death and resurrection. And yeah, I know we’re supposed to go and make disciples, but I need something tangible to hang on to when I’m trying to reason with my 3 year old who keeps hitting his sister. Or how to make it through another day when the pain in my body is more than I can bear. But the reality is, ladies, that this passage is EVERYTHING! God Himself came down to earth in a human body, down amidst this broken and hurting world. He lived the perfect life that we just can’t do. Then he suffered what is probably one of the most horrific ways to die – to pay the penalty for OUR sins! Not His own – OURS! What kind of love is this? How could He do that – Why would He do that? That is a love that surpasses knowledge. And it wasn’t because we are all that. No, it was because of God’s mercy and grace and love. May this reminder of how great God’s love is, love enough to die, be an encouragement to you today.

That last refrain – “Why should I gain from His reward?” Why should we? We shouldn’t. “But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.” And yours, if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ. This was why Jesus came. We were in rebellion against God with no hope of saving ourselves. He came to pay the penalty of that rebellion and to reconcile us to God. He accomplished what He came to do. So, seeing this great sacrificial love that God has for us, how can we not tell everyone about Him? So go and boast of Jesus’ resurrection!

We Start the “Bible in 90 Days” in 2 days

It all starts this Monday. Are you ready? Are you excited? I am; I hope you are, too.

BibleTreesDebi posted in the Facebook group about keeping in mind the Why of your participation in the Bible in 90 Days event. Reading the Bible in 90 days can be a challenge, especially for those who don’t read a lot or who don’t read fast (like me), so remembering why you’re doing it can be a great help in getting through it.

For me, I’m doing it again for some of the same reasons I did it in 2014.

  • For a few years now, I’ve tried to find ways to challenge myself in some area of discipline. I went a whole year without coffee once (that was really hard). I went a couple of months without chocolate (also not so easy). Debi and I are attempting to go 2016 without eating pizza (unless we’re offered it in a fellowship situation).* Reading the Bible in 90 days is a challenge that takes discipline to keep at it, and I want to challenge myself with that.
  • I enjoy studying the Word of God in its details. I love doing a passage-by-passage study with my friend each week. I love doing word studies. If I allow myself, I can easily spend long periods of time on a word or phrase with cross references, quotes, and allusions. But it’s easy to get lost in the trees, as the saying goes. Reading the Bible in 90 days forces me to regain the big-picture, high-level overview of the one story of God in Scripture.
  • I love doing things with my wife. I like that it adds to the camaraderie that we already experience as a married couple. She’s the best partner there is for something like this; I wouldn’t miss this for anything!

So, those are some of my reasons for participating. What are yours?

If you’re not clear on what this is all about, you can read this brief blog series about it. If you’d like to join us, you can do so easily by joining the Facebook group or, if you’re not on Facebook, by asking to be added to the email list (you can leave me a comment here or get in touch with me in any other way). I sincerely hope you will—it can change your life.

 

* Do you notice the theme of food in my list of disciplinary exercises above? Food has always been a struggle for me, so while not all of my discipline challenges are related to eating, many of them are. It’s not just that I’m hungry while writing this.

How Does a Slow Reader Accomplish Reading the Bible in Just 90 Days? — Repost

I originally posted this on January 25, 2014 in preparation for my first ever Bible in 90 Days. As with the previous reposts this month, I’m hoping that this will help convince someone that they can read through the Bible in 90 days and that there are several worthwhile benefits of doing so. I also reposted and updated a few tips that I hope will help someone get through it successfully.

In this repost (edited for 2016), I want to give the play by play of how I read through the Bible in 90 days back in 2014 and how I hope to accomplish it again this year. I’m a slow reader, so this is a particularly difficult endeavor. My wife reads a million words per minute (that’s a rough estimate), so while it’s still a challenge, it’s really not too difficult for her. I read only slightly faster than a normal conversational pace, which is pretty slow for reading.

As many of you know, there’s a group of us who intend to read through the entire Bible in 90 days starting February 1st. You can read more about it here, including how you can join us.

Last time, I decided that the best reading plan for me was to just start at “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and read like crazy. This time I’ll be reading straight through books, but I’ll be changing the book order a little bit. I’ll be using the book order that is in The Books of the Bible which I think is an interesting arrangement (click the link to see it on Amazon and see the order of the books there). I will be using my ESV Reader’s Bible on Kindle for the actual reading, but I’ll be reading the books in the order of The Books of the Bible.

For me, using one of the schedules that has dates for each reading will probably be a drag if I find myself getting behind. Also, I don’t want to give myself permission to stop reading if I finish that day’s scheduled chapters, if there’s still time left to read. I know that there will be days when life will get in the way and I won’t read as much as other days, so my plan is to just read and read and read!

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. That means reading an average of 13-14 chapters each day to get through it all in 90 days (1,189 ÷ 90 = 13.2). Of course the chapters are not all the same length—Psalm 117 has only 2 verses, and Psalm 119 has 176 verses. Also, the verses are not all the same length. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” Esther 8:9 says:

The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language.

The official Bible in 90 Days NIV Bible has a straight-through reading of 12 pages per day. So, basically, wherever you are after 12 pages, you’re finished for that day (of course it stops short or long so as not to stop in the middle of a sentence). This eliminates counting chapters or verses which vary so widely in length.

So, how do I intend to plan my days from February 1 through April 30 this year?

My usual reading schedule is:
– I read 2-3 chapters from the Bible to start off my morning—based on whatever plan I’m using at the time (this is followed by my prayer and Bible study time).
– I read from Proverbs and Psalms around 10:30 each morning (that’s my work‘s unofficial coffee break time) or around 12:15 during lunch.
– I read books and articles each evening for an hour or two before going to bed.

Starting Feb 1, this is what I plan to do, all from the Bible:
– Read 2-4 chapters from the Bible to start off my morning (followed by prayer and study time).
– Read a few chapters in the place of Proverbs and Psalms at the unofficial coffee and lunch breaks at work.
– Read as much as possible in the evenings.
– Read whenever I find myself waiting in a drive through or any other time I can.

I do have a couple of things I am obligated to read and I can’t neglect those, but for the most part I’ll be reading the Bible.

Though I’m not willing to guarantee I’ll be able to finish in 90 days, I’m excited to try this again. I also have a high level of confidence that I will complete it in time because I’ve done it once before. But, if April 30 comes and I’m not done, I’ll keep up the same schedule until I am done. The rewards will be the same whether it’s 90 days or 100 days or 110 days. The worst possible thing for me to do is to give us before I’m finished!

I know for a fact that if I, as a slow reader, can read through the Bible in 90 days, so can you. If you’d like to join us, you are more than welcome. I hope you will.

You CAN Read the Bible in 90 Days — Repost

This was originally posted on January 18, 2014. Since we’re about to begin our next Bible in 90 Days, I wanted to repost this. I’ve edited it to reflect the current dates.

Bible90DaysStarting in a few weeks, a group of people will begin reading the Bible at a pretty good clip. We will be reading through the entire Bible, either straight through, chronologically, or by using whatever plan each person prefers, in 90 days, and we want you to join us. The schedule is February 1 – April 30, 2016.

I can hear people saying it now: “Jono, I’ve never been able to read the whole Bible in a year! How in the world can I do it in just 90 days?”

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read the Bible straight through in a year either despite several failed attempts. I’m a slow reader and I easily get bogged down in some portions of Scripture. But there are a few reasons why this is different.

  1. First off, 90 days is a much easier commitment than a year. I find it much easier to think about keeping up the pace for 90 days than for an entire year. For a 3-month commitment, the end is in sight as soon as you start.
  2. Doing it with a group helps keep me accountable. We won’t all be at the same place each day, but we can post or email our progress for encouragement and accountability.
  3. Having a set start date that’s not January 1st gives me a sense of mission. This is much more subjective, but I’ll admit that I need that type of motivation.

With these differences in mind, I’m excited to get started. I know I can do it because I succeeded the first time we did this back in 2014 (we’re doing this every even year), so I have high hopes that I’ll be able to accomplish this challenge this time as well. I know you can, too!

But there’s more than that. There are also some great benefits that come from accomplishing this challenge:

  1. My wife, Debi, did this challenge in 2012 and she says it has revolutionized her Bible reading. Not only was it rewarding to see the large scope of Scripture, but it redeveloped the habit in her life of consistently and regularly reading the Bible. “Now,” she says, “I read it much more regularly than I used to, and I’m more consistently in God’s Word and learning what He has to say.”
  2. For me, I like that this forces me to see the whole story of the Bible from a very high altitude. I usually like getting down to the nitty gritty details of words, word origins, how the author intended to use this word in that verse for that circumstance, etc. That’s a very rewarding way of studying the Bible, but I can easily lose sight of the forest for the trees (and branches, and leaves, and spongy mesophyll, and cells, and pieces of cells, and the pieces of those pieces, ad nauseam). Reading the entire Bible in such a short period of time forces me to see that “forest” again.
  3. Others have mentioned how it forced them to grow in discipline. It has done this for me as well.
  4. There are also testimonials of those who say that doing the Bible in 90 Days challenge has forced them to see context they’d never noticed before.
  5. Some have also said that it made the “one story” of the Bible so much more clear.

I’m looking forward to April 30 (hopefully) when I finish reading Revelation 22. I can picture myself tired but satisfied, enjoying these benefits of having accomplished this.

So, are you excited to try it? I hope you see that, though it is a time commitment and it is a challenge, it’s an achievable challenge that comes with many benefits.

You can join us by simply asking to join! We have a Facebook group (click here) if you’re on Facebook, or give me your email address and I’ll send you everything you need. Simple ask me to add you to the group or the email list and I’ll be happy to do so.

The only thing you have to do is read the Word. If you want to join in on the discussions, you are free and welcome to do so, but there are no 2-hour sessions or classes to join, etc. Just read the Bible! I think joining the group will benefit you with encouragement and accountability, but you don’t have to.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend less time in front of the TV or to be more consistent in reading the Bible, this may be a really good step in keeping it. I hope you’ll join us.

posted some tips about how to keep going when the reading pace gets tough, and I’ll be reposting those again soon. I hope you find them helpful.

Inductive Study Methods Being Taught to Our Young People

I sat in on part of our church’s middle school discipleship group last night and I have to brag on them a little bit.

Spurgeon said, “Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error.” Our youth pastor, Joshua Haynes, teaches our young Christians truth. Last night he was teaching these kids about studying the Bible. He was teaching these middle schoolers inductive study methods. How cool is that! And he wasn’t just teaching the basic 3 principles—Observation, Interpretation, and Application—hoping that they’d someday be able to put them into practice, you know, when they got older and more serious about studying Scripture. He was digging deep into what these principles mean, why they’re important, and how to do them. And the kids were really digging it.

They are still on the first principle, Observation. The pastor had my wife, Debi, come in and speak a bit about observation, and to give a demonstration that she has given to the adult ladies at our church a couple of times. She had multiple items on a tray and asked the kids to write down as many observations that they could about what they saw in 2 minutes. She then used the items to show that what they see at first glance might turn out to be different upon further reflection. This ties into good observation skills when studying the Bible.

Pastor Joshua then talked to them about the 5 Ws that we should all be asking of the text: Who, What, When, Where, Why. He broke each one down and gave examples of how they could use each question. Afterward, he broke them into small groups and had them practice this on a passage of Scripture.

I am so excited that our youth group is getting such great training by Pastor Joshua and his volunteers. So often churches will try to dumb down good solid teaching to younger teens, but I think that’s a huge mistake. Kids are smart, and they can grasp these concepts. Some of it may end up being a challenge for them, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.

I feel certain that these kids, under this type of training, will soon be better prepared to properly study Scripture than many adults in many churches today. It would benefit us all to learn the same study techniques and to put them into practice daily as we seek to know God’s Word and glorify him as a result.

By the way… You CAN Read the Bible in 90 Days

Bible90DaysStarting in two weeks from today, a group of people will begin reading the Bible at a pretty good clip. We will be reading through the entire Bible, either straight through or chronologically, in 90 days, and we want you to join us. The schedule is February 1 – May 1, 2014.

I can hear people saying it now: “Jono, I’ve never been able to read the whole Bible in a year! How in the world can I do it in just 90 days?”

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read the Bible straight through in a year either despite several failed attempts. I’m a slow reader and I easily get bogged down in some portions of Scripture. But there are a few reasons why this is different.

  1. First off, 90 days is a much easier commitment than a year. I find it much easier to think about keeping up the pace for 90 days than for an entire year. For a 3-month commitment, the end is in sight as soon as you start.
  2. Doing it with a group helps keep me accountable. We won’t all be at the same place each day, but we can post or email our progress for encouragement and accountability.
  3. Having a set start date that’s not January 1st gives me a sense of mission. This is much more subjective, but I’ll admit that I need that type of motivation.

With these differences in mind, I’m excited to get started, and I have high hopes that I’ll be able to accomplish this challenge.

But there’s more than that. There are also some great benefits that come from accomplishing this challenge:

  1. My wife, Debi, did this challenge in 2012 and she says it has revolutionized her Bible reading. Not only was it rewarding to see the large scope of Scripture, but it redeveloped the habit in her life of consistently and regularly reading the Bible. “Now,” she says, “I read it much more regularly than I used to, and I’m more consistently in God’s Word and learning what He has to say.”
  2. For me, I like that this forces me to see the whole story of the Bible from a very high altitude. I usually like getting down to the nitty gritty details of words, word origins, how the author intended to use this word in that verse for that circumstance, etc. That’s a very rewarding way of studying the Bible, but I can easily lose sight of the forest for the trees (and branches, and leaves, and spongy mesophyll, and cells). Reading the entire Bible in such a short period of time forces me to see that “forest” again.
  3. Others have mentioned how it forced them to grow in discipline.
  4. There are also testimonials of those who say that doing the Bible in 90 Days challenge has forced them to see context they’d never noticed before.
  5. Some have also said that it made the “one story” of the Bible so much more clear.

I’m looking forward to May 1 (hopefully) when I finish reading Revelation 22. I can picture myself tired but satisfied, enjoying these benefits of having accomplished this.

So, are you excited to try it? I hope you see that, though it is a time commitment and it is a challenge, it’s an achievable challenge that comes with many benefits.

You can join us by simply asking to join! We have a Facebook group (click here) if you’re on Facebook, or give me your email address and I’ll send you everything you need. Simple ask me to add you to the group or the email list and I’ll be happy to do so.

The only thing you have to do is read the Word. If you want to join in on the discussions, you are free and welcome to do so, but there are no 2-hour sessions or classes to join, etc. Just read the Bible! I think joining the group will benefit you with encouragement and accountability, but you don’t have to.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend less time in front of the TV or to be more consistent in reading the Bible, this may be a really good step in keeping it. I hope you’ll join us.

I plan to post posted some tips about how to keep going when the reading pace gets tough. I hope you find them helpful.