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May is here!!! Springtime & everything is in bud!!!

This thread will start the May comments.

Here is a little article that I like to read on a regular basis. I'm sure some of you have seen it before, and I hope you all enjoy it:

The Room

By Josh Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and right to left as far as the eye could see, had very different headings.

As I walked up to the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read, "People I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then, without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my entire life.

The actions of my every moment, big and small, were written in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, mixed with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed." The titles ranged from common, everyday things to the not-so-common "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I Have Yelled at My Brothers and Sisters." Others I couldn’t laugh at: "Things I Have Done in Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I had hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had time in my 17 years to write each of these thousands or millions of cards?

But each card confirmed the truth. Each card was written in my own handwriting. Each card was signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.
I felt sick to think such a moment had been recorded. A feeling of humiliation and anger ran through my body. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room!
I have to destroy them!"

In an insane frenzy, I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.That was when I saw it. The file bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With. "The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than 3 inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came.

I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

Then as I looked up through my tears, I saw Him enter the room. No, please, not Him. Not here. Anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response.
The few times I looked at His face I saw such sadness that it tore at my heart. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did he have to read every one?

Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.
He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file, and, one by one, began to sign his name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written in blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door.
There were still cards to be written...

by Joshua Harris, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye"
~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~

 

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Discussion Starter #3
How is everyone enjoying the book of Judges & Ruth so far?

I had bought the ESV Study Bible on Kindle & it looked so informative that I went and bought the paper version too. It is absolutely wonderful. I have been using it now to do my daily Bible readings and reading the footnotes, commentaries & looking at the maps.
Another nice feature is when I received the Bible, there was a card in it with a code to access the entire study Bible online. Now I can look at the maps better, print out articles, footnotes, etc. It's a feature I will use.

Here is a footnote that I found interesting from the ESV Study Bible on the story about the Levite & his concubine in Judges 19:

Judg. 19:1-21:24 Moral and Social Corruption. This second concluding section (cf. note on 17:1-21:25) deals with outrageous actions perpetrated at Gibeah against a Levite's concubine and the aftermath of those actions. The story is similar to the assault on Lot's household in Sodom in Genesis 19, placing Gibeah on the same debased plane as Sodom (cf. Gen. 13:13; Deut. 32:32; Isa. 1:10; 3:9). This section is linked with the previous (Judges 17-18) by Levites as protagonists in both (17:7; 19:1); in the first section, a Levite from Bethlehem travels to the hill country of Ephraim, while in the second, a Levite from the hill country of Ephraim travels to Bethlehem to take a concubine. One horror seems to lead inexorably to another, apparently with no way out, as the people's unfaithfulness takes its devastating toll.

I appreciated how this comment brings out that they had sunk to the same low we saw in Sodom & Gomorrah. Even the wording of the story was similar.

They also brought out that throughout Judges it kept repeating that there was no king in Israel and every man was doing what was good in his eyes. They said that this was showing Israel's need for a godly king to keep them on the straight & narrow.

The next book we read is Ruth, and it is through Ruth that we get David, the good king that Israel so desperately needed.
 

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I had a bit of a hard time with Judges, although I'm not sure I can pick out anything in particular about it- just general lack of direction I guess. I certainly am glad we have a King we can look to for love and guidance 24/7.

Lynn L
 

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I just couldn't get into Judges for some reason and I can't explain it any better than Lynn did. I am looking forward to Ruth.
 

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Another way to read the Bible.

I wanted to suggest another way to read the Bible (obviously, not the OYB) recommended by John MacArthur. 

This way is a little different than what many are used to, but I think the benefits, if practiced consistently, would be great.

For the Old Testament, which is more narrative in style, MacArthur recommends reading about three chapters a day, I think.  I am a little more unfamiliar with his advice here, but I think this is right.  The reason being that while we do draw from the OT, most of our doctrine comes from the New Testament.  It is there that we find teaching directly to the Church, as opposed to Israel. 

For the NT, MacArthur recommends reading one section once a day for 30 days.  This section can either be an entire small book (such as 1 John, which is five chapters long) or a set of chapters from a larger book, broken down (such as reading the first seven chapters of Matthew's gospel). 

So, let's say you did the above with 1 John.  You would read three chapters of the OT every day, and you would read all five chapters of 1 John once a day for 30 days (or one month).  At the end of that 30 days, you would have read 1 John 30 times, and you would be very familiar with its contents. 

For a larger book, break it down into smaller sections.  So, Matthew's gospel has 28 chapters.  Let's say you broke that down into seven-chapter sections.  You would then read each section once a day for 30 days, and at the end of 4 months, you would have read the Gospel of Matthew 30 times. 

Over a period of about 2 to 3 years (I think), you would have read through the entire NT 30 times, and would be very familiar with what it teaches. 

This may not be for everyone, but it may be something that is of interest to some of you.  
 

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At the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, there is a Bible one can use to read through the entire Bible in 90 days (about three months). The idea is that doing so will give you a bird's eye view of the entire Bible in a short amount of time. This is obviously not the best for deep study, but it can work to get you through the Bible quickly before reading slower. It is good if you have never read the entire Bible before. It can also be good to maybe do once a year just as a refresher. If you can read quickly and retain most of what you read, then it is possible to use this all the time, I suppose. You would read through the entire Bible four times in a year.

You can get it in DTB form, or you can get it on the Kindle, though I cannot vouch for how it looks or anything, as I don't have it.

Here is a link:



If you would rather use a Bible you already have in DTB form (or on Kindle), I think it breaks down to about 14 chapters a day, roughly. That will actually give you a few days of leeway, in case you miss a day or two. I figured that out a long time ago, however, so I could be wrong.

While this sounds like a lot, at a normal reading speed, I think it would probably take you about an hour to read that much. If you read slower, then it will obviously take longer.

Just thought I'd share.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
mwvickers, thanks for all the info about Bible reading plans.

On that John MacArthur plan, does that come from one of his books? That sounds like an interesting way to read the Bible.

I downloaded a sample of that The Bible in 90 days. It is NIV version. It says that it is approximately 12 pages per day. Not bad. Then I did a search online and found the schedule. It is reading it straight through from Genesis to Revelation. I like this method of reading the least. It's so easy to lose heart when I'm in the thick of the Old Testament. Some of those books are quite dry.

For any who are interested in that schedule, you can find it here:

http://www.havenministries.com/schedule.pdf

A plan that I found in the back of my new ESV Study Bible is one that really appeals to me. Each day's reading comes from 1) Psalms and Wisdom Literature; 2) Pentateuch & History of Israel; 3) Chronicles & Prophets; 4) Gospels & Epistles.

One of the nicest features I like about this is that in the Gospels & Epistles readings, you aren't going straight through from Matthew to Revelation like we are doing right now. It's quite mixed up. You won't be reading the four gospels back to back. I like that!

That plan can be found here: http://www.esv.org/assets/pdfs/rp.esv.study.bible.pdf

I'd recommend printing it out. Much easier to read that way! I have a 22" flat screen monitor & mercy, it just about killed my eyes.
 

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Suzanne said:
mwvickers, thanks for all the info about Bible reading plans.

On that John MacArthur plan, does that come from one of his books? That sounds like an interesting way to read the Bible.
It does. But I don't remember which one. It could be from one titled something like How to Study the Bible. He has a newer book on being able to trust the Bible, and it may be in there, too. I think both may be available on Kindle, but I'm not positive.

I downloaded a sample of that The Bible in 90 days. It is NIV version. It says that it is approximately 12 pages per day. Not bad. Then I did a search online and found the schedule. It is reading it straight through from Genesis to Revelation. I like this method of reading the least. It's so easy to lose heart when I'm in the thick of the Old Testament. Some of those books are quite dry.
That's true, but on the other hand, it keeps you in the mindset of each book more. The way we are doing it is kind of like reading a chapter of four different books at one time. While this breaks up some of the potential monotony of some of the books, it also keeps you from being able to follow the train of thought of the author, if that makes sense. Basically, it breaks the context in our minds. I think the benefit of the 90-day plan is that it helps you to keep the flow of whatever you are reading better. Again, it's not for everyone, though.

A plan that I found in the back of my new ESV Study Bible is one that really appeals to me. Each day's reading comes from 1) Psalms and Wisdom Literature; 2) Pentateuch & History of Israel; 3) Chronicles & Prophets; 4) Gospels & Epistles.

One of the nicest features I like about this is that in the Gospels & Epistles readings, you aren't going straight through from Matthew to Revelation like we are doing right now. It's quite mixed up. You won't be reading the four gospels back to back. I like that!

That plan can be found here: http://www.esv.org/assets/pdfs/rp.esv.study.bible.pdf

I'd recommend printing it out. Much easier to read that way! I have a 22" flat screen monitor & mercy, it just about killed my eyes.
That sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Anju No. 469 said:
I have found myself reading Samuel ahead of time, just to see what is happening! I do this occasionally in the NT as well, but with no history of the OT I am doing it more and more :D
Anju, I moved your comment into the May comments since it has to do with this month's readings. I hope you don't mind.

I'm also enjoying Samuel immensely!
 

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No problem Suzi - I had no idea how David became king, or that Saul was a bad boy or Samuel was so strong, this has been such an education for me!  And I keep on reading because I know the rest of you are right with me.
 
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It amazes me how vengeful God was in the OT, calling for an entire people to be slaughtered! I enjoyed the story of how David became king though. and the NT reading is a true classic. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."  I try to remember that whenever I get angry with someone!
 

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It's really something the change we have seen in Saul from when he was first anointed to now, where he is totally rejected as king. Here he was, at the beginning hiding amongst the luggage!! And now, presumptuous to a fault. It seemed to me that he really wasn't sorry about being disobedient to God's command to devote everything to destruction; he was more worried about saving face, and having Samuel with him in front of the people. Very sad.
 
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It seemed like Saul was a non believer. He kept saying "the Lord your God".  He had not accepted the Lord as his God, so it's no wonder he failed and was rejected!
 

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Yes, you are right. It sounds like he did not have a personal relationship with God. I noticed that too when he said it. Also, I was wondering if he was trying to somehow push the blame on Samuel or even God by saying the Lord YOUR God. It reminds me of the Garden of Eden when Adam was questioned by God about his disobedience and he said to God, The woman that YOU GAVE ME . . . as if to imply the problem was God's; had God not given Adam a woman or that particular woman, he wouldn't have been in the situation he was in. Seems like placing the blame elsewhere and not taking responsibility for one's actions started right there in Eden.
 

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had God not given Adam a woman or that particular woman, he wouldn't have been in the situation he was in.
I've said that! ;D
 
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Wow, Saul was one crazy man! That was awful how he had all the priests killed. David's faith really paid off for him though!

I loved the NT reading too. If I am not mistaken the part about "I have other sheep, too that are not in this sheepfold." refers to the Mormons, or at least they believe so according to their Book of Mormon.

I like the very last line of of the NT reading "Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

Great readings!
 

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Yes, Saul started off good, otherwise, God would not have chose him to be king. But he was headstrong, would not follow instructions, and when jealousy of David took seed in his heart & began to grow, he became a truly wicked person. How far he has fallen, to have those priests of God killed!!!

I never heard that about the Mormons thinking they were the "other sheep." My understanding of it is the Gentiles were the other sheep and maybe also the Samaritans.
 
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I remember they quoted that line about other sheep in their commercials offering a free copy of the Book of Mormon to folks. I haven't seen one in awhile though.

Saul is an excellent example of how jealousy can poison ones soul!
 
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