90 Day Bible Challenge (Day 9)

After 9 days, or 10% of the challenge, I am through Genesis, Exodus & Leviticus and into Numbers.  So far I have been pleased with how I have been able to keep up.  In fact, I am actually almost a day ahead.  There was way too much in the first 9 days for me to fairly summarize what I was reading.  Rather, I will share about my approach so far.  

To me, variety has been key.  I have read using the YouVersion app.  I have read a physical bible.  I have listened to a dramatized audio version.  I have read/listened to at least 4 different translations.  This has helped me keep enough variety to keep me from zoning out.  Another strategy I have is to try to attack the reading in the first part of the day, especially using my commute to help by listening to the audio.   Then I give myself persmission to read or listen to other books, podcasts, etc. later in the day.
I am only 9 days in, but I find myself looking for opportnities to get a chapter or two in.  And, since I cant add more time to my day, I am spending much less time mindlessly on social media, which is probably a good trade off.  Bottomline:  so far so good.

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90 Day Bible Reading Challenge

Have you ever had one of those gnawing projects that you have put off for years and years, but know you would benefit greatly from actually doing it. Well, reading through the Bible is one of those tasks.  As a follow of Jesus, the Word or God is central to my growth, or lack of, in my faith.  Until recently, this accomplishment has been on the important but not urgent list.  But, when my wife, Krysta, completed the 90 day Bible reading challenge earlier this year, I knew that I would need to get this done soon if I were to have any integrity in thinking I was the spiritual leader of our home.  Checking a box doesn’t necessarily make you a leader, but rising to a challenge does.

The time has now come.  In researching how to do this, I looked at several reading plans, ranging from 90 days to 1 year.  After talking to Krysta, I believe the 90 day option makes the most sense for my personality.  I am a quick start, but not the best in long-term focus.  I am usually on to the next thing.  Hopefully, 90 days will prove short enough to keep my attention.  I am using the Bible in 90 Days plan in the YouVersion Bible app.

One consistent piece of advice I have found is that its easier to do with a partner, for support and accountability.  Well, I don’t have someone doing it along with me per se.  But, I decided to dust off the old blog to serve this purpose.  If you are interested in doing it with me, that’s great.  Otherwise, I do covet your prayers and support during this summer.   I plan on posting weekly updates as I progress.

For now, I have some reading to do!

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It Is Well with My Soul

Easily one of my top 3 hymns of all time is It Is Well with My Soul. In recent weeks I have heard it numerous times, either in worship services or on Pandora. It always stirs something in my heart when I hear it. There is so much pain present yet contentment, peace, and ultimately the praise and worship of God takes over as the song progresses. I was interested in knowing the origins of the hymn and the story is truly remarkable.

Horatio Spafford was a prominent attorney in Chicago in the 1860s. He and his wife Anna were close friends and supporters of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. Along with four daughters and a son, they were busy living the American dream when disaster struck. Their 4-year-old son died of scarlet fever in 1870. One year later, as heavy investors in Chicago real estate, the Spaffords lost almost everything they owned in the Great Chicago Fire.

The Spafford family needed a break and decided to sail to England for a vacation and to meet up with Rev. Moody to help in one of his evangelistic campaigns. They made it to New York, but a last-minute business issue caused Horatio to have to delay. He decided to send his wife and four daughters on ahead and he would catch up with them in England. The women set sail aboard a French steamer and nine days later Horatio received a telegram from Anna that read “Saved alone”. The ship had collided with another ship and sunk in 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people, including Horatio’s four daughters. Anna survived by God’s grace as a piece of wood happened to keep her unconscious body afloat.

When Horatio heard the news, he boarded the first ship he could to be with Anna. When they came to the site of the accident, the captain called Horatio to the bridge. As they passed the spot where his daughters perished God began to speak to Horatio. He immediately went back to his room and penned the now-famous hymn.

As you read the verses of the song below, think about how you would react in similar circumstances.  Would you have the same peace? What is it that allows Horatio Spafford to say “It is well”?

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Chorus:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Relevant Verses:
Philippians 4:4-7
Psalm 146:1
Psalm 46:1-3
Psalm 103:1-6
John 14:27

See also:
Everything is Breaking!!!
I Love a Good Storm by Ashley Gilland via Counting it all JOY!

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Blindsided Leadership

Back in the glory days of high school football, I played middle linebacker on my team. I was the leader of our defense, the guy that my teammates and coaches looked to be the man and get it done. I felt responsible for what happened when we were on defense.

During my senior year, we played a team that ran a triple option offense. On most plays, the quarterback would either hand the ball off to the fullback, keep it himself and run around the edge of the line, or pitch it out wide to another running back. To defend the triple option, a defense must be disciplined and each player is responsible for a different phase of the attack. In our scheme, the middle linebacker was responsible for the quarterback.

Late in the game, our opponents were driving deep inside our red zone and were at our 5 yard line. The quarterback received the snap, faked the ball to the fullback and began to run wide. I had him in my sights, like a lion targets a gazelle. No way he was going to get past me! Here he comes . . . .

When I came to, I was looking out of the ear hole of my helmet, my chin strap was on the ground, my jaw was killing me and the crowd and my teammates were cheering wildly. What was going on? I got up and jogged with my teammates back to the sideline, having no clue what just happened. As I pieced myself back together, I was told that the opponent had fumbled and we recovered. We went on to win the game, because we had that defensive stand.

So, what happened to me? As I was about to tackle the quarterback, our opponent’s 6’3″ 230 pound tight end applied what is known as a crack-back on me. Basically, he started out wide and ran inside at a full sprint to hit me in the side with all he had. I never saw him coming. He literally laid me out.

This was always a fun story to tell, but it did not hit me until years later the implications of what happened. As a leader, I was the guy in charge and responsible for the end result. But, I got blindsided, something took me out of the play. There are a lot of things that can blind side leaders today: illness, family crises, moral failures and even blind success.

The question is, what kind of leadership are you providing today to prepare your team for such an event? Do you micromanage every detail of your company? Are you a decision bottleneck? Do you trust those you lead? Hopefully you are not easily replaced, but if you are blindsided, are those you lead prepared to keep the ship afloat when you are down or will your team fall apart? Thankfully, my teammates took care of business and we won the game.

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What if?

What if I fail?
What if I lose my job?
What if I my marriage falls apart?
What if people think I am weird?
What if this prospect rejects me?
What if we go into a recession?
What if I lose money?
What if my kids aren’t cool?
What if my kids are too cool?
What if something bad happens to them?

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7.

I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 56:2-4.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! – Isaiah 26:3.

Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-9.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15.

What if I do succeed?
What if my children make a difference?
What if God gives me a mission in my work?
What if my wealth changes others‘ lives?
What if my marriage continues to grow over time?
What if God keeps His promises?
What if God does more than I could ever imagine?
What if God is all I need?

Adapted from the message “I Quit LIving in Fear” by Craig Groeschel at Lifechurch.tv.

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Everything is Breaking!!!

Do you ever feel like everything around you is falling apart? Whether its vehicles, house, finances, bodies, careers, personal relationships, it seems there is always something breaking and in need of repair. I recently went through a rash of car repairs, computer failure, etc., and it causes you to throw your hands in the air and cynically ask “What’s next?”

When I turn to the Bible for help in my personal pity party, I am shown that everything is broken and falling apart. This includes small things like your car’s transmission to big items like cancer in a loved one. In Romans 8, Paul points out that the entire creation is in “bondage to decay”.  Everything that has been created is in a state of decay. This makes a lot of sense, but that does not make me feel better!

But, that is not the whole story, Paul goes on to say that all of creation (cars, computers, nature, human beings) is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth.” Again, not helping! But, as with childbirth there is an expectation, something to look forward to. Paul shows that we “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” The Bible reveals that followers of Christ are children of God and will one day be freed from the decay of this world. Things will continue to fall apart in this world, but if you know Christ personally, you have hope that one day all will be restored and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

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