Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Services

Today has not been unusual. I've spent it alone and in relative quiet. Although, when I got up I did not feel well at all. For two weeks I had virtually no pain and this week I've been slammed with pain. Yesterday was horrible. This morning I slept late and I think the extra rest may have helped.

If you've followed me here or on Facebook you know that for months I've battled severe pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Virtually every day I am in pain in my feet, knees, hands, or hips. Or all of them. Moving is not fun most days, particularly if I have to get up and down very much.

I stayed home from church and it is very frustrating. All my life I've gone to church, missing only for serious illnesses or unavoidable issues. Now, it is almost a way of life, one I do not like. I'm isolated and my only Christian contact is via Youtube or the internet.  Thank God for those. I don't even like Facebook but sometimes people share Christian posts or videos. They are like water in the desert to this starving girl.

This morning I read my Bible and prayed. I listened to Samual Rodriguez, a Hispanic preacher that I've been following on YouTube for a while. He is a great little preacher and there is always such a wonderful spirit in his preaching. Every time I've listened to one of his messages, I am blessed. What would people like me do if it weren't for Youtube? I am always scouring for good preaching on there.

My pain seemed to lessen and around 12:30 I decided to attempt another walk in the cemetery. I visited Jerry's grave while I was there. They've put the flags out in preparation for Memorial Day and they'll hold services tomorrow. I don't know if I'll go or not. I usually do but it just depends on how I feel. I can carry a comfortable chair, at least.

After my walk, I decided to see if there was a place I could sit and have lunch. Lunch with the dead... the ideal dinner companion. You can say what you want, they listen, and they don't talk back or criticize you. 

When I got my lunch, I came back to the cemetery and found a seat. It was a beautiful day and I have to say, the best company I've had in a long time. 

And we got the shower, too.

Monday, May 23, 2016


If you read my previous post, you know that I've started a new Bible reading plan. I talked at great length about it in that post.

 Today, I started thinking about it again. Anyone who has been a Christian long thinks about reading the Bible through in one year. Among the faithful it is almost a rite of passage to do so.

 In fact, our obsession with this rite is so enormous that we've actually created a demand for companies to create Bible Reading Plans of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Just go Google it. Check out or other suppliers. Many of these plans are free so it isn't a great expense but now they're making actual Bibles with the scriptures organized into daily readings for you, just in case you can't do that on your own.

Do I sound a bit sarcastic? I guess I am. Because when I realized how silly this whole process is, I got snarky. I apologize. It is, in my humble opinion, very important that Christians and even non-Christians read the Bible through, from cover to cover, at least once in your life. It, like Shakespeare and Dickens, should be part of every education. And they could toss Dickens if it were up to me. For the Christian, if you continue going to church or reading any material where it is a reference before you die you will have heard or read the majority of it many times over.

However, I've come to the conclusion... in the last week, that we're really silly about the whole thing. In fact, my feeling that we're silly about it grew to the point that this morning I actually took my calculator and calculated exactly how many chapters per day we would need to read to finish the Bible in exactly 1 year (not including leap years).

Of course, Bible reading plans do this for you but how many chapters will vary as with as many plans as there are available. Most have you reading four or five a day. Some give you weekends off. Some, like my current plan, have you reading even more. If you check the last post I put up, you can find a link to the one I am trying now.

The truth is, it isn't that difficult to come up with a plan. First, you need to know what you're up against. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. They vary in length considerably. Psalms 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and runs for a few pages, depending on the font size on your Bible. Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible and if you consider he has a second book, Lamentation, there is no competition. Both books are heavy reading.

Anyway, if you divide 1189 chapters by 365 days you will need to read 3.2575342466 chapters a day. You should finish on December 31. Since it isn't a round number you might as well just read four chapters and be done a day or so early to prep for your New Year celebration.

Just stop struggling with the whole thing. Chart out your own plan and read 3.25 chapters a day. You could start by reading all the short books first: the Minor Prophets and the short History books. You'd kill a big chunk of the Bible in a month or so. Follow up with the Letters, except Romans isn't short. Mix it up any way you like because for those driven to participate in the BIAY (Bible in a Year) competition, the truth is, it doesn't matter what order you read it in. As a bonus, you could read 5 chapters a day finish in 237.8 days, just in time for the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays!

Remember the Minor Prophets, Paul's letters to individuals, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, general letters, and Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Ester are all some of the shortest books in the Bible.  Wisdom books follow.

Here's a graphic that divides the Old and New Testament into their proper divisions. Study it and create your own plan.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Baking Bread

Every year, usually around December, folks start talking about beginning a Bible reading plan as their New Year's Resolution. I don't make resolutions but I do try and read my Bible regularly and I believe everyone should read the Bible through at least once. 

I've read it straight through once when I was young because I thought I should. This was before plans became a fad but if you consider the years I've been reading my Bible in total, I've probably read it through a few times in random order just not in one year. I'm not sold on the idea that reading it through in a year has any real merit. 

I honestly can't say I read my Bible daily because some days I can't read a pill bottle with any clarity. Due to health issues, I often suffer from a brain fog that limits my ability to focus for more than a few minutes on any task. Bible reading is disappointing in that respect. On those days, when I read anything I can't remember what I've read by the time I put the book down. 

Several years ago I bought a One Year Chronological Bible to help me read it in a year. Because... everyone thinks you should. I love that Bible. Not only was it set up in daily readings, they were in chronological order. I discovered immediately that the order made things so much clearer and gave me a much better reading experience. Even better, it was a really easy to read translation. 

As with most plans, they often go awry. I did read it but I also got behind. Because that is what we do. Life happens and things get behind. I tried to catch up but let's face it, once you're behind on the reading plan, there is no catching up. You have to keep the pace or you're lost. 

About nine years ago I bought a Chronological Study Bible. I have several Bibles but that one has become my favorite to read. It is a treasure house. There are notes on history, geography, archaeology, social activity, religious behavior of the period, timelines, and photos that supplement the scriptures. It is chock full of so much information there is no way I could read that version in one year. I'm halfway through it and if that sounds bad to you, I have to tell you my goal in reading this Bible has not been to cram it into one year but to learn things I never knew about the Bible. 

No, I don't read that one every day either. But I try. It is is the heaviest Bible I own and I have a rough time holding it but it is one of the most enjoyable reads because it puts things in order and provides details about things I never knew. 

Of course, the challenge is still there. I don't know it happens to you, but when folks start talking about reading the Bible in one year, I feel guilty. For about the first six weeks of the year, I feel as if I'm lacking in some fundamental way where my faith is concerned. Everyone is making this big production of reading it in a year and I'm sitting over here hoping no one ask me about how it is going. Because.. it isn't. 

Plethora of Plans

If you Google Bible reading plans, you will get every imaginable plan out there. There are dozens, maybe even hundreds. Everyone has a sure fire fix. And they all work for a while. I do know people who read their Bible in a year, every single year but the numbers tell me the percentage is minuscule. I've been in places where they gave certificates, too, and believe me there are not a lot of winners. It is a difficult task, made more difficult by some of the material. Let's face it, we all hate Numbers and Deuteronomy. Do I really need to know who begat who begat who? 

I ran across a blog post yesterday that discussed a plan I've heard about. I actually know someone who tried it. I don't know if they still use it but they did try it and recommended it to me. It is called Horner's Bible Reading Plan. I was already using another plan and this one didn't appeal to me at that time. It just seemed so counter-intuitive. It still does. 

But... I printed it off yesterday and started using it today and found that, although it is a bit odd, I think it might actually be easier than any other plan I've tried.

If you follow the link you get a PDF of the plan but you can Google it also and come up with numerous sites that discuss it. Some love it, some like it but tweaked it to suit them, and some really think it isn't a good plan to use to study the Bible.  

Inherent Flaws of Plans

Finding a plan you like takes time but any 1-year plan has inherent problems. Here is my take on those.  

1. Keep in mind that plans are goal orientated (a finish line). They are designed for one purpose only: to read the whole Bible within 12 months. I don't care what anyone says, it is not a Bible study plan. 

2. You will be reading fast, cursory, and not for content. Readings are supposed to take less than half an hour. Some days you will not be able to read and will fall behind. You will have to devote more time to catch up. For every day missed, you are 30 minutes behind. If you miss a week, you're looking at hours.

3. The failure rate is high and predictable. Those who quit will do so at about the 3-6 month mark. I know because I've tried plans several times. 

4. For those who reach the finish line, you will not be as well versed in scripture as the person who is plodding along, taking the time to study, cross reference, and digest what they read and who takes several years to finish the whole book. You'll just be able to say you read it in 1 year. And that's ok but don't gloat over those who prefer quality over quantity.

4. Reading in this fashion will not necessarily make you understand it any better. Understanding only comes with real study. Study takes more than half an hour of reading. 

It Takes Time

When I was 18, I told a woman in my church I didn't like reading the Bible because I didn't understand a lot of it. She said, "Don't try to understand it. Don't worry about that. Just read it. When you need a scripture, it will come to you and so will the understanding." I can remember that day, in her kitchen as clearly as a picture. And I took her word for it because this was a woman with great spiritual power and insight. 

So, while you won't become a Bible scholar reading the Bible in 1 year, you will develop a habit of reading the Word. And you will pick up bits and pieces that make sense, that you remember from Sunday School, from your Mama pointing her finger at you and quoting it to scare you straight, or quoted in other material you've read. 

In the 40 years since she told me that, her advice has never, ever failed. Not because I followed plans, but because I just kept reading, regardless of my comprehension. Time brought wisdom and understanding.

Positives of Honer's Plan

All plans will get you to the end if you follow them. However, after looking over the Horner plan I realized that it is only 250 days long. 

The Bible is divided into ten lists, and you read one chapter from each list each day, or 10 chapters a day. They are not in order because you skip between Old & New Testament and between books. Some lists are shorter than others. Acts requires 30 days to complete. So, when you finish a shorter list, you are to start over on that list and continue with the ones you haven't finished. 

Of the 10, the longest list is 250 days. Remember you are reading the lists concurrently. So, in 250 days you will have read the whole Bible and some books you will have read more than once if you follow his plan. If you're just in this to "finish the whole Bible" in a 12 month period, this is far more effective than the standard plans because it is 115 days shorter. You will get the same benefit as the other plans. 

What I do find most exciting about this is that you don't have to start over after you finish a list. You could just stop after one list is finished and continue with the remaining ones until you finish them all. This will still get you through the whole Bible in 250 days. 

You can also reduce the number of chapters your read. Reading only 5 a day. This will, of course, increase the time to more than a year. Or you could, when finishing a list, double up on the remaining lists. This would get you finished in nearly half the time, or about 6 months. This is of particular advantage if you get behind at some point. You can easily catch up by not restarting finished lists and by reading more chapters from longer lists. 

I think it is safe to say that the biggest advantage of Horner's plan over all the others is the flexibility it offers and the ability to complete the Bible in far less time. And if you like doing it every year, you'll be well ahead of those who start fresh on January 1. 

So, I'm going to try Horner's plan and see what happens. I don't know if I'll adhere to his method strictly or manipulate it a bit to avoid falling behind. But the ability to do that is why I find this very enticing. I'll have to set a reminder to follow up with you to see how it is working... if it is working.