Moving…

move

No I am not moving from Fresh Read, nor from the city of Madison.  We have moved to re-size our living space and finances. What that means is that some of the extras in life, such as a blog, have gotten neglected.  Alas, we are moved, mostly, but there are boxes, many boxes, too many boxes.

I also think I lost some weight.  I started serious packing in May and serious unpacking continues in August.

but as Arnold said, “I’ll be back,”

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Commitment and Guilt – those reading plans

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New Years.

Yes it seems like a good idea to make a great plan.

Read through the Bible in a year.  However, we tend to shipwreck somewhere between Leviticus and Numbers.

I have a plan to read a chapter of the New Testament and a Psalm in my Spanish/English Bible.

Yet I have already fallen off the wagon.

Alas, I have experience with commitment and guilt.

Here is my advice

  • Avoid over eager plans.
  • Avoid plans with boxes to check off.  All those un-checks stare ate your with outstretched fingers of accusation. Who needs it.  Just read the next chapter whenever you do get to it.
  • The Sabbath is God’s idea, so build in some days without Bible Reading work in it.
  • Remember the point is to learn and internalize.
  • If you are going to try to read the whole Bible, try a plan that mixes OT and NT and a Psalm each day is nice.
  • Reading a genealogy is usually a matter of skimming (but not always as Matthew 1 attests).
  • Reading a parable or proverbs requires that you stop reading and think it over.
  • You did not fail if you fell a few chapters short; think of what you did read.
  • Next year will come soon enough.

New Year – 2015

scribe.2Yep, there will be another year of Blogging, deo volente. Here are some topics

  • Matthew part 2, we will resume a series in Matthew in January, picking up the story in chapter 14.
  • Family Life in the Bible – a series of messages from Mothers Day to Fathers Day.
  • Some things on church unity and diversity as Bethany is becoming a more focused Multi-Lingual ministry incubator in 2015.
  • Various serendipitous topics.

Thanks for checking in.

Fall 2014 topics for Fresh Read

wileerunningI have been running like a cartoon character recently.  You know the scene, where the legs are going but the person is stationary. Yet, at last I came up with a fall schedule for sermons and classes. So, of course, Fresh Read topics will be tied to these and whatever idea falls out of the tree to hit me on the head.

Delivering the Good News – how the speeches in Acts demonstrate speaking the gospel to different kinds of people, from people of faith, to polytheists.

Science and Faith – I plan to do three weeks of topics on how Christians have responded to Darwin in particular, look at the responses of opposition, accommodation and dialogue. In the last I want to treat B. B. Warfield as the Theologian of the Year.  He engaged Darwin in correspondence – interesting for the “Father of Inerrancy”.

Finances – the Bible does not give a full fledged financial plan (despite some books to the contrary) but it does speak about finances and material things, so we will talk about giving, generosity, simplicity and planning. In one case I set the
Sermon on the Mount (chapter 6) beside Proverbs (chapter 6) and say ,”what gives?”

A Slow Train Coming – I want to explore a few texts that were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus – mostly from the account in Matthew’s gospel.

Then after all this, we return to Matthew part 2, from Chapter 15 to the end.

I am also teaching a class at Christian Life College on Isaiah.

Do You Have a Favorite Verse?

snip.logo.redWe gave a survey to the congregation to find out their favorite verses in order to construct a summer sermon series.  There was quite a range of passages. I will be working on these in June, July and August.

I have attached a document with all of the suggestions here – Favorite Verses.

I’d like to know if the readers of Fresh Read have favorites.  It might be a good source of material for the blog.   I have often found that it is worthwhile to study what we think we are most familiar with, and we discover how little we know.

First on the list is Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble
.

This was the text at the first funeral I presided over as a pastoral intern.  The man who died was not a regular part of the Chicago congregation, but received discreet financial assistance from time to time.  I have learned by talking to other pastors, that in addition to the official church funds for benevolence, there is often an unofficial case load of people who just can’t quite make it at times on their limited incomes.

Sometimes God’s ever present help comes through his people, or strangers.

 

Milestones – 20 and 8

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We arrived on Good Friday, April 1, 1994 to take up the position of Pastor at Bethany Evangelical Free Church. Today marks 20 years in the same place.

Observations:

  • the 20 years have been different – no two repeated.
  • We talked about looking more like the neighborhood, so we are now multicultural (with four language groups partnering at this location) but we have not really see that many from the Isthmus community make a connection here.
  • I once said that I thought the church could grow in this location to about 200.  That is roughly the number of active participants of the three congregations here now (Bethany English and Lao Fellowship, Nueva Vida and Greater Madison Chinese EFC)
  • There have been major trends passing by in the ministry world:  “seeker driven” was in its heyday, now “missional” is.  We are a bit ahead of the curve with ‘chaos theory ministry.”
  • Oh yes, the internet was kind of showing up to the non-geek crowd – I remember the hubbub over Windows 95.
  • I take a much more literary approach to Biblical study than I did – and will not be going back.

About 8 years ago I started this blog.  The name came to me in the shower.  I hoped to keep the Jesus Junk and in-house churchy talk to a minimum and provide a place where people who are curious about the bible will want to explore.  It has turned out to also keep on conversations with folks I have known over the years.  Many of my posts are test runs for sermon or class ideas.

  • The NIV changed to the New NIV. I use it but I don’t like it much.
  • The ESV is a nice study text, but I am not in love with it either.
  • The ESV Literary Bible is great, except for sepia toned small print – what were they thinking?
  • Something like 55,000 people have visited the site, but more see it through Facebook.  That is about 10 times the size of the town I grew up in.  But maybe Port Orchard made multiple visits.
  • Adding pictures doubles the readership of a blog
  • The most read post is still “A visit to the ant hill” based on Proverbs 6:6.

As far as I know I will continue with Bethany and Fresh Read…but that is up to the Boss.