Through The Bible: The Great Escape

I have always enjoyed reading the Bible with a group of people because of the different perspectives that can be brought up and enjoyed. I believe that is one of the reasons Paul instructed the Corinthian church to involve all who gather:

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. (I Cor. 14:26-30)

That is why I was so glad to hear from Tiney on my previous “Through the Bible” post. I was discussing the value of building altars in our lives much like our spiritual fathers did all through Genesis and she made this interesting point:

“The thing that always struck me about Biblical altars was their importance for future generations. An altar wasn’t just so you would have a reminder about what God did for you, but so you could point to it and tell your children about God’s faithfulness for Generations…

Please take a minute to see her entire comment on the post “Through The Bible: the Middle of the Beginning” That is why I want to hear from those of you who read this blog you can point out things I miss that are truly great.

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Through The Bible: Job

I have read many things written on the book of Job, and actually finished it so I am slightly ahead of schedule.  (Heather and I were reading together and got a great synergy going)The first chapters of Job and the last are the most interesting as far as I am concerned.  Listening to the debate that takes place between job and his friends is a little irritating at time and for the most part I would like to smack his friends.


Through The Bible: The Beginning

This year my Bible reading is off to a rocky start, when I got started with my new Bible, The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version, and enjoying it quite a bit as it is one of those Bibles with almost as many notes as text, Heather started to feel sick and we went to the hospital. The long and short of it is she was admitted at 2:00am and we crashed hard there. She is fine now and is home resting but I haven’t gotten much past Genesis 3.

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I am Gabriel

     And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak…” — Luke 1:19 NKJV

gladiator.jpgAs I read those words I felt like I was in the presence of authority. Gabriel knew who he was and where he stood. It reminded me of a scene from the Hollywood movie, Gladiator. The main character, Maximus is asked by the emperor after winning a battle in the arena, “Do you have a name?” His response:

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

Here is a man that does not struggle with who he is or what his mission is. The same could be said of Gabriel, although his mission was not so bleak. But where does this identity come from and more directly why does that matter to us?

When Moses questioned God in Exodus 3:13-14, God responded “I AM WHO I AM… you shall say…I AM has sent me”. And now, hundreds of years later Zacharias questions Gabriel. Gabriel knows who he is – “I am Gabriel”, but the messenger does not stop, satisfied that the mere declaration of his name brings understanding or context to the situation. No, he continues, “…who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak”.

Later in the same chapter one of Luke, Mary finds her purpose from her Creator and declares:

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
vs. 47-48 NKJV

We must find our identity in Christ. Moses was able to lead the captives free because he knew who he was in context of “I AM”. Gabriel spoke with authority because he knew who he was in context of “I AM”. Mary faced possible abandonment from her fiance, but rejoiced knowing who she was in context of “I AM”.

I cannot be defined by my environment as our factious Maximus was. Defining myself based on my race or people group, my church or denomination, my salary or job, my house or neighborhood, my anything-other-than my Creator is flawed. It is in Him that I find my purpose. When I know who I am based on who He is, I can push forward, and I can do so with authority.

As I embark on this trip through the Bible, I look for understanding, I look for purpose, and I look for identity.  As you read “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, find youself as God see you.  The next time you start a sentence with “I am”, pay attention to what follows.  Are you speaking with the authority that only comes from the Creator?  An angel may never wake you up at night to declare your purpose, but God Himself as made Himself known to us thourgh this Book – After all, He is I AM!

The Beginning of the Gospels

John 1:1-14

Why does John start his Gospel the way he does? He is writing to Greeks and desires to show Jesus as the eternal God so he begins with a theological introduction that shows just that…

By using the term Word for Jesus John is declaring him to be the embodiment of God’s revelation. It is a term his audience would be familiar with as many philosophers used it as “The Greek term translated “word” was also used by many philosophers to mean “reason,” the force which structured the universe” (Bible Background Commentary)

Matt 1

The Genealogy of Matthew was not complete, it is written in three sets of 14 generations, but generations are skipped in order to be concise. Interestingly I probably would have skipped some of the people listed, the more scandalous births like Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Tamar’s story from Gen 38 is very much like a modern Jerry Springer show.

Wow, I realized that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary until after the birth of Jesus but he “took her home as his wife” The Bible doesn’t say how much time was left in their betrothal, a time where the couple was more than engaged but less than married as they didn’t live or sleep together, but he cut it short and lived with her, talk about self control. We today Christians can’t even keep their pants on in the car, let alone while living with your wife.

Luke 2:1-28

V1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

  • I heard from the Chair of Religion at UNC chapel hill that there is no historical record outside of the Bible to support that this census happened. I am looking into it currently

John 1:15

According to the Bible Exposition commentary Pharisees were baptizing Gentiles that wanted to adopt the Jewish faith. John however was baptizing Jews. We understand he was baptizing them to repentance, much like many churches baptize people who have walked away from their faith and then return. But the Pharisees were investigating John as the custodians of the faith and were making sure there wasn’t a false teacher leading people astray, they were actually doing, at least part, of their duty.

The Adventure Begins…

We are beginning our journey through the Bible this week we have decided to do it chronologically the chart we are using can be found here. We are starting on their day 75. (Thanks to Black Hawk church) If you would like to add anything to the conversation please do.

Matthew Mark Luke John
Author Jewish Christian formally a tax collector Jewish Christian; Cousin of Barnabas Gentile Christian Doctor Jewish Christian and Jesus’ Youngest Disciple
Audience Jews Romans Gentiles Greeks
Portrait of Jesus Jewish Messiah and King Faithful Servant Perfect Man God
Genealogy Traced to Abraham and David, showing Jesus as the
fulfillment of OT Prophecy
No Genealogy, sine Jesus’ accomplishments and not his
family are what is important
Traced to Adam to show that Jesus was fully human Jesus as the eternal word of God.
Notable Features Roughly 60% is Jesus’ words from his teaching as a rabbi;
about 50 OT quotes
Briefest Gospel; few OT quotes; explains Jewish words and
customs for non-Jews;

150 present tense verbs emphasizing Jesus’ actions; 35
miracles, 40% is Jesus’ words

Roughly 50% of the book is Jesus’ word;

Thirteen women are mentioned that are omitted from the
other gospels;

Jewish Customs explained;

Focus on Jesus early years and emotional life

Roughly 90% is unique to John; no parables or exorcism;
seven “I AM” statements to prove Jesus was God.

I wanted to start with a comparison of the Gospels because I believe it is useful in understanding why they wrote the way they did, particularly in seeing who they were writing to, notice that Mark and Luke took the time to explain the Jewish traditions to their Gentile audiences.

Luke 1

Perhaps just a foolish question but I never thought about the fact that John the Baptists father was a priest, do you think he was ever embarrassed by his son who ignored his heritage and not only didn’t be come a priest but a “lunatic” raving out in the desert. I am sure, if he became a believer, he would have realized that John had a greater calling, which Malachi spoke of, but I think it may have caused some friction in the house.

V8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

  • While Zechariah was inside at the altar of incense, a crowd gathered to pray. The incense for which Zechariah was responsible symbolized the prayers of the entire nation. At that particular moment Zechariah was thus the focal point of the entire Jewish nation—Bible Knowledge Commentary

17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

  • I have heard this verse preached from Mal 4:5-6 about a youth group but God already fulfilled this prophesy in John. This looks like another example of not applying the Bible in the way God intended it to be applied but using it to our own advantage.

It is very interesting to look at the contrasts between Gabriel’s announcements to Zachariah and Mary, the aged priest doubted but the young girl had faith enough to say “”I am the Lord’s servant may it be to me as you have said.” Even though she had to realize the trouble it may have caused Joseph and her family she realized that God’s will was more important than her own desires.

V59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

  • Zach must have written the vision down to Elizabeth because she knew his name was to be John before Zach was able to speak.

Zachariah seemed to make the connection to Mal 3 based on his song.

What does it mean to read the Bible?

When you were in school, your English teacher would give you a text book and there would be assigned reading, practice questions, review sections, and assignments. Segments of great writings would be included in the text book, but never the entire story. Just the parts you needed to study the method of writing, the verbiage, the rhythm and pace of the story, would be included. We are taught to answer questions like, what did the author mean when he put this in the story, and why did the author choose to say it this way instead of that way, etc. Everything is sanitized and isolated.

How many classics have you only read those passages that were required reading in high school or college? There is value in this method of study, but what a shame that we have neglected so many great books, because we see them as ‘required reading’. We forget that they are great books! Sadly, the Bible is often lost in this same method of reading.

The Bible is a wonderful collection of writing that should be read in its entirety! Did you read the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye? Or maybe the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Image if we read those books like we read the Bible. You could certainly study them, pulling out passages to be dissected, gaining better understanding of what the author was saying. But would you then say you had read them? You wouldn’t think of starting in chapter 8 of Book 3 of the Left Behind series. And so we ask, what does it mean to read the Bible?

That’s a simple question right? Well, maybe not. Most Christians read the Bible like a text book. We are told often that the Bible is a Life Manual, a guide to Righteous living. Life’s How-To Guide. The problem with looking at the Bible this way is that we start to read it that way. Nothing kills the story of a great book like studying it.

Bible study and Bible reading are different both in purpose and process. When I read for the study of a work, I pick it apart. I contemplate things like why did the author say “dread poured into me from my head to my toes” instead of “I found I was gripped with fear, unable to move”. I look for symbolism and parody. I don’t read the whole story again, and I’m not concerned to start from the beginning. I can jump from chapter 8 to chapter 3 without stumbling over the story itself.

When I read for the sake of the story however, I look to understand the whole story. I want to meet the characters, the antagonist and the protagonist. I want to understand the conflict, get lost in the struggle, hope for the hero, and despise the villain! My purpose is to experience the story being told. When I read for this purpose, I read from the beginning. I try not to stumble over the mode and method of the work. They are details that don’t add to the story and so, I don’t focus on them. My purpose determines my process.

The Bible is one of the greatest stories ever told! Everything you could hope to find in the latest novel is found in this Book! Have you ever read it? Maybe you have studied it, and covered the ‘required reading’ but never enjoyed the story itself. If you have never read this Book in its entirety, allow me to recommend it to you. It truly is the Greatest Story ever told.

How to Read the Bible in Six Months


As I invite friends and family to join me in reading the Bible from cover to cover in six months, I often hear the same questions and concerns and wanted to take a moment to address those issues. I hope this benefits you in your journey to read through the scriptures with me.

Why not just get a one year Bible?

That’s a great question. I’m not against the idea of reading through the Bible in a year. I would rather you read through in a year than never read at all. Having said that, I have two issues with one year Bibles:

  1. I believe three to five chapters a day is too slow. Most of the Bible is written in story format. It is the greatest story ever told, and we often miss a great deal of it, because we do not read it like one (For more on that thought please see What does it mean to read the Bible?)
  2. One year Bibles often have the reader reading one book in the New Testament and one in the Old at the same time. Maybe you have three novels on your night stand right now and reading multiple books at the same time comes natural for you. Many of us don’t however and even if you do, I bet they are not three books of the same series, right? The New Testament builds on the foundation laid by the Old Testament. There are many OT references in the NT that we often miss if we haven’t read the OT first. Did you know that Jonah was a type of Jesus? Jesus himself tells the Pharisees that the only sign they will have that He is who He claims to be is that of Jonah. Throughout Jesus’ entire ministry, He made references to the OT. References that you may read over without understanding them if you haven’t read the OT first.

But reading from cover to cover is too much OT at once – I want to read about God’s grace and mercy found in the NT.

I’ve heard this from a lot of people. To quote a good friend of mine, “That comment is spoken like someone who has never read the Old Testament.” There is so much grace and mercy in the OT but many Christians never experience that because they rarely (if ever) read the OT. Consider this, when God created Adam, He commanded him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge or “you are sure to die”. But when Adam did eat from that tree, God allowed him to live another 900 plus years. That’s Mercy. When Cain killed Able and God cursed him, Cain cry out that the punishment was too much to bare saying “all who find me will kill me”, so God marked him so no man would touch him. That’s Mercy. We haven’t even gotten out of the first four chapters of the first book!

Why should I read the Bible that fast? or When I read that fast I don’t get anything out of it…

To answer this question, I must challenge the term “fast”. First, let me say I believe it is impossible to read the Bible at any pace and not ‘get something out of it’. I understand if you currently read very rarely, or not at all, this could seem like an extremely fast pace. Well, consider this:

  • The King James Version (KJV) Bible is read aloud in about 70 hours for most Audio Bibles
  • The New International Version (NIV) Bible is read aloud in about 77 hours for most Audio Bibles
  • By reading just one hour a day out loud, you could finish the bible in about 70-77 days (2 ½ months)
  • At seven chapters a day, you will finish the 1189 chapters of the Bible in just 5 ½ months!

Reading through in 6 months should only require about 30 minutes a day. You may not read as fast as they do on an Audio Bible, but remember reading out loud takes longer than reading to yourself, so even if you are a little slower, you should still be able to keep up with about thirty minutes a day.

It sounds like you want me to commit to 30 minutes a day; where am I going to find that time?

Reading the Bible should be a priority in your life as a Christian. Psalms 119:105 says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Romans 12:2 commands “Do not conform … but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. I could go on but you already know the importance of Scripture. Your concern is how to make time to do what you already agree should be done, right? Consider this; a one hour television program has over 15 minutes of commercials. The average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day! (See TV Stats). If that’s you, reading during commercials would be more than enough time to complete the daily reading.

OK, you’ve convinced me but I have tried reading the whole Bible before and failed. How can I succeed this time?

I completely understand this concern. I have been there. I have tried to read my Bible many times before and always failed after only a few weeks. I have put together a list of helpful tips that I hope will help you in your journey to read the Bible:

  • JOIN
  • Don’t read KJV Bible, Read a plain English bible. Preferably a Translation (NIV, CEV, NLT) and not a paraphrase (The Living, The Message)
  • Get LARGE print edition (trust me, it will be easier on your eyes and easier to read)
  • Pick a time, read on a routine, the beginning of the day is better than later
  • Don’t get hung up on difficult words (places, people, locations), use an audio bible to help with pronunciations, to make it smoothly over difficult passages. has the audio for most versions of the Bible available for free when you listen online.
  • Don’t stop for a word study – most of the time these are tangents that distract you from reading your bible (see What does it mean to read the Bible?)
  • Take quick short notes so you can go back to study more in depth after your normal reading time. Use those notes to post to the forum – We want to know what stood out to you!
  • If you miss, don’t be discouraged and don’t try to make it up all at once! If you missed 7 chapters today, don’t try to jam 14 chapters in the same reading time tomorrow – maybe 8 chapters, or 9, OR just 7. The key is to keep going!
  • If the Bible Forum group is moving into a new book, and you are behind, start the new book with the group. You can always back fill the book you leave behind, and it’s easier to keep going when you are reading with friends.
  • Get the Bible Book Mark Excel spreadsheet from the site – if you don’t have excel, email the forum admin for other options. You must keep track of your daily reading or you will not read!

For many of you this seems like an enormous endeavor. The first time though, it can be overwhelming, but trust me, it is worth it! You will find yourself thinking differently, acting differently, and living differently because the Bible renews your mind! I know you can do it, and the Bible Forum is full of people ready to cheer you on as you journey with us through The Greatest Story Ever Told!