Psalm 34:8

Get a fresh taste!

I read The Social Church yesterday. It was a nice distraction from all of the Superbowl pre-game chatter. I thought I would learn how to use Social Media to promote churches and ministries. I was wrong.

This was not the book I thought it was. Rather than a “how-to”, it was not only a “why to”, but it was a “why to … NOW“. Yes, the author says up front that this is not a how-to. But I somehow missed that.

Being a “why to … NOW” book proved it to be much more insightful than a “how to” would have been. The author, Justin Wise, points out that Social Media is to us today what the printing press was to Martin Luther and what TV was to Billy Graham.

Yes, Social Media is THAT revolutionary.

And churches that do not employ Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Text Messaging, etc. may go the way of the buggy whip manufacturers of the early 20th Century … for the same reason.

Most churches have used print media for the past hundred years to communicate orders of service, calendars, announcements, prayer requests, and invitations for special events like Vacation Bible School. Just like businesses have for the past hundred years.

But today’s businesses have begun dividing their communication budgets between traditional media (Print, TV, Radio, Billboards) and Social Media. And to capture the attention of today’s audiences – that is, to remain relevant in our culture – churches must do the same.

The Social Church is not just about Social Media. It’s about effectively leveraging Social Media to promote a church’s mission and vision – its “Big Idea”. And just as the printing press leveled the playing field for Luther against the monolithic, heavily-financed pre-Reformation Catholic church, Social Media can level the playing field for churches, especially those with limited budgets (but then again, what church doesn’t have a limited budget?).

The competition for a church is not another church across town. Its competition is everything else! And using Social Media can reach out to “digital natives” (those who use computers, smartphones, etc. natively), speaking to them in ways that traditional media can’t.

The Social Church won’t tell you how to do that. But it will tell you why you should. And why you should do it NOW.
#SocialChurchBook
#SocialChurch

Check out the information from The Social Church‘s website or order your copy at Amazon (as soon as it becomes available, since it sold out before 9AM on its launch day!).

 

Last week, I talked about the importance of reading the Bible in 2014. I hope you took to heart my encouragement to get started with a Bible Reading Plan. But as important as it is to read the Bible, it isn’t enough. We must also spend time thinking about what we’re reading. That’s the purpose of memorizing Scripture.

“But I have a bad memory and I can’t memorize things.”

Sure you can! What is your address? What’s your phone number? What’s your social security number? What’s your birth date? What’s your anniversary date? What are the lyrics of your favorite song?

The reason we memorize these things is that we attach a value to remembering them. In other words, we remember those things we deem to be important. At the risk of being blunt, the reason you don’t think you can memorize Scripture is you don’t think it’s important. Ouch!

OK, I’m not talking about memorizing entire chapters or even books of the Bible – though there are many people who have done that! As a matter of fact, the first Bible passage I ever memorized was the 23rd Psalm; we did it in Sunday School when I was eight years old. And I remember it today – all of it. Why? Because our Sunday School teacher told us she would give us a trinket if we would do it; and we valued the trinket. I don’t remember the teacher’s name because it’s been 30-something years since I last saw her. But I do remember the chapter because I often will recall the verses in times of need.

How to Memorize Scripture

Memorizing Scripture is no different than memorizing anything else. Seriously! All you do is find a verse or two that you want to remember such as John 3:16. Read it in several translations and choose one. Begin reading the words slowly. Write the words down on a piece of paper, including the verse reference (think of the chapter and verse numbers as the verse’s “home address”). Write the words and reference on a sticky note or an index card. Post the note on your bathroom mirror where you will see it when you brush and floss your teeth. (You may remember that I compared the importance of dental hygiene and reading the Bible last week). Twice a day, look at the card and read the reference. Then read the verse and read the reference again. Do this the entire time you’re brushing and flossing. If you do this twice a day and include flossing, you will spend about five minutes a day running the verse and reference through your mind. Periodically go back through the verses you have memorized in the past. The result? You will be absolutely amazed at how many verses you can remember over the course of a week, month, year, and a lifetime! Encourage your family and friends to ask you what verse you’re currently memorizing. And ask them the same thing!

So, where are you going to start?

May I suggest a few?
John 3:16-17
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
Romans 5:8
Romans 10:9-10

 

Yesterday I suggested that we approach our Bible reading as a means of growing our relationship with God, rather than looking at it as something we’re supposed to do like eating our veggies and flossing daily. Yesterday, we looked at the right “why” of reading the Bible

Today, I want to look at the “how” of reading the Bible in 2014.

Assuming you have the right approach, knowing that you are eager to hear from your loving Father, how can you go about reading through the Bible in a year? Given the fact that there are about 775,000 words in the Bible and most people read about 200-250 words per minute, you can read the whole Bible in about ten minutes a day. Just saying, “I’m going to read the Bible for ten minutes a day.” may not be enough planning for everybody. So what is one to do?

Which Bible Reading Plan?

There are many ways to read through the Bible and none is the “best”. It comes down to asking what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to read through the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation? Do you want to read the Old and New Testaments together each day? Do you want to read the Bible in a more chronological way? Do you want to just read the New Testament? If you want to read just the New Testament, do you want to include readings from Psalms and Proverbs?

A few years ago, our church read through the Bible using a plan developed by the 19th Century pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne. The plan had four readings from roughly two chapters from the Old Testament and two chapters from the New Testament. M’Cheyne’s plan is tried-and-true, but many of us found it to be a bit disconnected and lacked continuity as we read a little bit from four different Bible books each day. You may want to try this plan; if you do, you might want to check out Donald Carson’s “For the Love of God” blog which adds a devotional commentary to the daily readings.

The next year, I chose the Blue Letter Bible’s reading plan that covered readings from the Old and New Testaments. We found it to be much easier to follow.

Last year, I thought it might be better to get a chronological view of the Bible, so we went with Dr. George Guthrie’s plan based on his book, Read The Bible For Life. I used YouVersion’s free Bible App (works with iOS, Android and web) because it keeps track of where I am in my readings. I found the plan to be ideal and will use it again next year, however the Bible Eater Plan looks interesting.

For other thoughts about Bible reading plans, I highly recommend you take a look at Justin Taylor’s very helpful blog post. and you can find even more Bible reading plans at your favorite online Bible resources.

Though I think most people underestimate what they’re capable of, there’s always The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.

Once you have chosen a plan, you need to choose a Bible. Some Bibles come with their own reading plans built in, such as the hugely-popular One Year Bible.

 

Which Bible Translation?

People used to be able to say that they couldn’t understand the Bible because they don’t understand all the thee’s and thou’s. Through its 400-year history, many believers have benefited from the King James translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. I don’t know about you, but I don’t speak Elizabethan English like William Shakespeare did, and I have as many issues trying to understand the King James Bible as the next guy! I have briefly discussed modern Bible translations elsewhere on this blog.

Since you’re reading this on a computer connected to the Internet, you have access to many Bible translations in your native language on numerous websites, including YouVersion, Biblia, and BibleGateway to name a few.

So how do you know which one to use?

That depends on what do you want to get out of it. If you want to get the general “feel” of the message from the Scriptures, you may want to use the New Living Translation or the New International Version. If you want to get more specific about the words used to convey the message, you may want to use the English Standard Version.

 

Now what?

You know that the reason to read the Bible is to grow in a relationship with God. You know that there are many plans and translations to choose from. But please don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the choices. And don’t run out and spend a bunch of money on a fancy Bible. Ask God to guide you and then “get after it!”

This time next year, you’ll be glad you did; you’ll have a better understanding of who God is and how He works to bring people into a relationship with Him.

 

(Note: Some of the links on this page will take you to Amazon where you can purchase products. If you use these affiliate links, I will receive receive a small  commission for the referral.)

 

 

If you’re like most Christians, you rarely pick up your Bible to read it on your own. You know you should read your Bible, just like you know you should be a better steward of your body with diet and exercise, and you should floss your teeth daily. You know you should do these things, but at the end of the day, you’re tired. And the last thing you want to do is head to the gym, get saliva all over your fingers, or read a book that seems a bit outdated. And the thought of reading through the whole Bible is, well, nothing short of impossible.

I have good news! You’re not alone! And it’s not an impossible task!

The first thing is to ask why you should to read the Bible.

Is it because your pastor or Bible study leader says you should? Is it because you read somewhere that you should?

If your reason for reading the Bible is because you think it’s something you should do, then maybe you need to rethink your reason.

Don’t get me wrong! I think you should read the Bible. But the reason isn’t because it’s something you should do. Your reason should be because you want to experience a deeper relationship with God. If you want to experience a deeper relationship with your spouse or a friend, you must spend time with them. The same is true with God. The primary way we experience a deeper relationship with God is by spending time with Him, reading your Bible and praying.

Too often, we approach our relationship with God with the idea of “doing” and “not doing”. But God is a person and we build a relationship with Him just like we build other relationships: by spending time talking and listening.

If you’re a child of God, you need to know that God wants to speak to you! (John 10:27) But unless you read what He has revealed, you can’t hear what He says. Sure, you may occasionally hear a “still, small voice”, but how can you know if that voice is the One Who loves you and wants the best for you, as opposed to the one who hates you and wants to destroy you? (2Corinthians 11:14-15; John 10:10)

Knowing the Bible will empower you to distinguish between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of our enemy. And we will know our Bible as we read it.

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

As long as our approach to reading the Bible is one of obligation or duty, we will continue  a hit-and-miss experience of Bible reading and we’ll continue to walk in shame when we fall – the same shame we feel when we visit our doctor or dentist. However, if our approach to Bible reading is one of wanting to grow closer in a relationship, and one of wanting to eat a much-needed, delicious meal, our desires will be fulfilled. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Those who find their refuge in him are blessed! (Psalm 34:8)

The right reason for reading our Bible is crucial to success in reading it.

 

Application

Take a few minutes to pray about reading the Bible in 2014. Confess your approach of duty and obligation. Ask God for a fresh taste of Himself. Ask Him to give you a fresh perspective of growing your relationship with Him through reading your Bible.

Tomorrow, we’ll take up the “how-to” in reading through our Bible in 2014.

 

 

News of Phil Robertson’s “indefinite suspension” from the A&E Network’s immensely popular Duck Dynasty has exploded across the social media in the past 24 hours. As I am typing this post the three top ten trending terms on Twitter are #Duck Dynasty, A&E and Phil Robertson.

In case you missed it, Phil Robertson made some comments in an interview with GQ Magazine, expressing his personal thoughts on sexual expression outside the confines of monogamous marriage as well as other behaviors spelled out in 1Corinthians  6:9-11. Yes, some of his remarks could be considered “crude”, but that’s the way Phil talks and he has used the exact same anatomical terms on the show when he was explaining the “birds and the bees” to his grandchildren. And for what it’s worth, GQ Magazine is not known as a “family friendly” magazine. GQ’s subscription page has the byline, “It’s how sophisticated gentlemen keep up with style and fashion.” The magazine is not “pornographic” like many other “men’s magazines”, however, it is designed to be read by men; Phil Robertson’s choice of words is not out of line. (Note: Before his suspension, Phil issued a statement regarding his remarks, reiterating his religious beliefs and how they relate to his interaction with those who see things differently than him.)

Many Christians are in an uproar, claiming they will boycott the network and “Liking” various “We Support Phil” and “We Stand with Phil” pages on Facebook. I have “liked” a few of the pages as well.

As I sat down to write a response this morning, I came across this article written by a friend, Scott Prickett. Scott speaks as a Christian lawyer regarding the separate issues of our Constitution’s freedom of speech and religion on one hand, and the Bible’s descriptions of morality on the other hand.

The issue isn’t free speech and the censorship of Phil Robertson.

A&E is free to make the decisions they have made. And the viewing public is free to support – or not support – A&E because of their decision by how we spend or don’t spend in buying DD merchandise. I’m sure that according to  contractual arrangements, more profits from the merchandise goes to A&E than the Robertson family.

A few years ago, Natalie Mains, lead singer of the “Dixie Chicks” said she was ashamed she was from the same state as President Bush. She exercised her freedom of speech. In response, many Americans exercised their “freedom of the purse” and many radio stations, especially in Texas, exercised their freedom of airplay. I don’t know (or care) what happened to the group, but their music is rarely played, they’re rarely on TV, and I’m confident that they were deeply affected financially.

Last year, GLAAD boycotted Chic fil-A because the CEO commented that he supports traditional marriage, implying that he doesn’t support “nontraditional marriage”. Sales spiked and it proved to be the least-effective boycott in the history of mankind.

The free market has a way of utilizing its own “free speech”.

I expect that A&E will regret their decision. But whether they do or don’t, we shouldn’t be surprised when lost people act like lost people.

Christians need to be careful of how we express our concerns. Some of the posts I have seen on Facebook are downright hateful and vengeful. This is out of character of how the Bible tells us to to act.

Phil’s teenage granddaughter, Sadie Robertson Tweeted, “Prayer is the best conversation of the day. It’s better to go to God before taking it to someone else.” Such wisdom from a teenager!

I have a quick question

Have you prayed for the executives at GQ and A&E as well as the critics at GLAAD and the LGBTQ community as much as you have expressed your angst with your family and friends? I must confess that I haven’t.

Yes, we must be careful how we express our concerns (Colossians 4:6). The lost (and the fence-sitting world) are watching.

What do you think?

 

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