Tag Archives: the Bible

Call Me Israel…

Life has gotten busy.  My newborn and three year-old, time for my wife, and then work takes up most of my time.  It is hard to focus long enough on God everyday just in seeking him, let alone finding the time to put thoughts to virtual paper.

I have struggled to read the Bible every day as I had been for nearly a year.  When I do, I just don’t have the time to dig in and spend in it as I had been.  However, I am back on track, most days.

I am on my second time through the Bible.  I am not saying this to boast.  No, quite the opposite.  It is quite humbling.  I did not see the same things when I read before.  And what I am seeing is not good.

I am reading a chronological Bible this time through.  What this means is that this Bible puts everything in a time order of when they happened and/or were written.  Because of this, I am not getting the Old and New Testaments together each day (unless I do a seperate reading).  Spending this much time in the OT (Old Testament) has been eye-opening.

The first time through, I remember thinking, “Man, those Israelites just didn’t get it.  God was constantly taking care of them, providing for them, and protecting them, and all they do is run away from him.  How could they have done that?”

This time through, I am realizing that I am Israel.  Their lives as a nation mirror my life as a Christian.  I constantly run from God and what I know is right…all the while God keeps providing and protecting.  More than that, God gave the ultimate sacrafice of Jesus to pay for my sins (my turning from him) and to give me life with hm forever.  How could I keep turning away from him?

I am Israel.  I don’t trust God, even though he is trustworthy.

I am Israel.  I offer little as I ask for much.  God offers much and asks for little.

I am Israel.  I run away from God, and all he wants me to do is turn to him…even in my sin…so that his faithful love and mercy can change me and bring glory to his name.

Call me Israel.  That is my name.  We are one and the same.  The point is God’s mercy for the glory of his own name.  I just need to trust him, look to him, run to him, and know him as my source for everything.  This is when I will change.

Israel is the name God gave Jacob because of Jacob’s trust and faith in God.  Not the good that Jacob did, but because of faith and trust.  This is the other side of this coin.  The history of Israel is a mirror of my life…but the story of Israel (Jacob) should be the goal of my life.  To trust God and put my faith in him, even though I am clearly not deserving of it.

Call me Israel…I have nothing to trust or put my faith in but God.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please make this message clear to me today.  Please help me to trust you in every moment of the day.  Please help me to look to you.  Please help me to see everything as yours…even my time and energy.  Please use me to show your glory today.  Love, your son, joe.


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September 27th: A Day I Will Never Forget

As of this year, September 27th will always be a memorable day.  The funny thing about it is, this is not about something that happened yesterday.  It is something that came up in August.  I wanted to share it then, but I decided to wait.

I am currently reading through a One-Year Bible.  I have written before about why I am doing (with a follow-up) this and some of what I have been learning.  This is going to be about something awesome that happened while reading one morning last month.

I started my quest to read the Bible through in a year after reading the book Radical by David Platt.  This was one of the challenges given at the end of the book.  My journey with my One Year Bible began in March of this year.

I tried to pace myself and stick to the once-a-day readings and not try to play “catch up” for the sake of getting up-t0-date.  However, after a while I found myself wanting to read more.  Some days I would find extra time and do extra readings.  The more I read, the more I wanted to read.  Eventually I did catch up to where I was supposed to be (as far as the date in the One Year Bible).  I kept on just letting myself be led to read extra when I can.  Eventually I got pretty far ahead of the dates given in the Bible.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with how a One Year Bible works. each day is given a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I believe you actually wind up reading through the Psalms twice.  There is not an attempt to line any of these up, they just break it into passages to read through each book by book (or Pslam/Proverb by Psalm/Proverb).

As I have been reading, I have been blown away by how well the Old and New Testaments (and Psalms) weave together.  It really is one story…the story of God’s relentless love, mercy, and grace.  If you haven’t ever read the Bible cover to cover, I highly recommend you give it a try.  It is completely changing my view of God, others, how I treat others, and myself.

I would like to leave you with a snippet from the One Year Bible.  This completely humbled me before the awesomeness of God.  The daily readings for September 27th (thus the blog post title).  If you had any doubt that the Bible is one story inspired by the Holy Spirit, this will help you clear it up a bit.  This is the end of the Old Testament passage and the beginning of the New Testament passage.  Read through and be amazed.  I am serious.  It is crazy how connected this seems to be!

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul,[e]and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

 Ephesians 5

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

How amazing in the Bible??  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Have you ever come across an almost unbelievable connection like this in the Bible?  Share it with me.

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RT@God: I don’t tweet. #readthebook

Alright.  This one might get some people riled up a bit.  It hasn’t been my “blog style” to jump on a soapbox, but this time I need to.  A lot of this has been on my heart and mind for a long time.  It started in my “older brother days” (for an explanation of what I mean by that, check out my post, My Time Travel Testimony), but it has gotten stronger as I have grown as a Christian…even more now that I am in the process of reading the Bible all the way through.

How do I say this nicely?  I don’t know if there is a way to do that.  Before I just jump in, please know that I know I have three fingers pointing back at me when I point this out…but, to quote Derek Webb, I have already “turned over tables in my own living room.”  I am dealing with this with myself, and I want to get it out there for others to think about to.  With all of that now said, here we go.

As a Christian “culture” it is time to grow up.  We really need to mature.  We need to get past the “milk of God” and really start to “eat like a man.”  I mean, it is time to be done with watered down versions of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.  I know that most people probably go to great churches where they are fed well in the truth and knowlege of God…but what are we all doing outside of that?

Of the four things I mentioned as watered down, I want to focus on the Bible.   The Bible is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.  Through the Holy Spirit, it is the source of our knowledge of God.  It is one of the three pillars that the Spirit uses to grow and disciple us in our faith (the other two being the Spirit speaking to our hearts and speaking to us through other people–i.e. the Church).  Most of us have the chruch and even the personal side of the Spirit down, but are we truly seeking God through the Bible?

I am not talking about a devotional with scripture at the end.  I am not talking about memory verses (though I am not knocking those).  I am not even talking about Christian music that is scripturally-based.  I am talking about the pure, unadulterated Word of God.

God does not really come in Tweet-sized pieces.  I am not downgrading Twitter.  I am just saying that we treat God like he is using Twitter in our approach to the Bible oftentimes in our lives.  We want the little pieces.  Little shots.  But God works as a whole.  He is not Twitter, he is more like a thousand page novel (in comparison).

Through my life I have met a lot of people who are great at quoting verses.  I have heard great sermons based on small pieces of Scripture.  I have read awe-inspiring stories based on clips from the Bible.  But very rarely have I been challenged to read the Bible from cover to cover and learn who my God really is.

When I was in college the first time (long story), I was a Christian Studies major.  I was in mostly religious classes.  The whole time I was there (all four years), I was only pushed to read the Bible through by one person.  Was it my Bible professors?  No.  My fellow pre-seminary religion majors?  Nope.  My Christian friends or the Baptist Student Union?  No and no.  It was my professor from the English classes I took.  Dr. Sepko.  She put out the challenge to all of the Christian Studies majors in a class I took of hers to read the Bible all the way through.  No one in the class had.

Over the years I have tried from time to time to do this.  I have always fallen short.  My motivation was that I need to read it through to say that I have.  That did not help me get through Leviticus and the Kings.  I would always get bored there and eventually give up.  I tried One Year Bibles, and the same thing happened.  It wasn’t until I went through the transformation and awakening early this year (see My Time Travel Testimony) and after reading Radical that I really WANTED to read through the Bible because I wanted to be closer to God.  I wrote my about this in my post called “What’s in a Name? Jesus, Jesus, bo Bes…

My point is this, when we are just reading parts and pieces of the Bible, we are missing the fullness of who he is.  I have been completely amazed by how susinct the Bible actually is.  I will read something in the Old Testament that will tie directly into what I read next in the New Testament.  It is so cool.  There are themes that start coming out that make God’s character so apparent.  You even start to see, through the Old Testament, that Jesus was the plan since the beginning.  God is big.  God is huge.  And he does not fit into twitter-type sound bites.

Let me challenge you like Dr. Sepko challenged me (and later David Platt did through Radical).  Commit to reading the Bible through.  You don’t have to do it in a year.  Just commit to starting and finishing.  It will change you.  I mean really change your entire being and relationship to God.  Pray about doing this.

Let me give you a few pieces of advice that I learned the hard way.

  • Find a translation that is solid but very readable for you.  I am a big fan of the New Living Translation.  It gets high marks as a translation and is very, very easy to read.
  • Get a One Year Bible.  These Bibles break it down into an easy program to follow with tips on how you can read it or take longer than a year to read it.
  • Pray!  Pray through it as you read.  The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, he WILL help you understand it.  I promise.  You just have to trust him.
  • Read the book, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.  This was a game changer for me in how to read the Bible for understanding.
  • When you have questions about something you read, ask somebody.  Also, the internet has been a great tool for me as I read.  There is a lot of information out there that will help things make more sense.
  • Last, if you are willing to put your money where your mouth is to take this sersiously, get an ereader.  Reading the Bible on the ereader has helped me so much.  Everything is in one column like a regular book.  The font is as big as you want it, and it is easy to read and get immersed in what you are reading.

Let me know if you want to take this challenge.  I would love to pray for you in this.

What do you think?  Is this a challenge you would like to take on?  Have you already done this?  How has it affected your life?

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