Many, many, New Year’s ago I was a young, religion major at Trevecca Nazarene College (before it was a University.) I took a bunch of classes, some pretty good, some I didn’t care for much. But one of my favorite classes was taught by Fred Huff. Fred was on staff at Nashville First Church of the Nazarene at the time, and the class was some kind of practics thing, I’m sure. I loved that class, not just because Fred was a good communicator, but because he was actually out there doing it at the time. I appreciated my other professors but Fred was hands-on, in the field, really doing the work. I took copious notes, attended every class faithfully, and hated to see the session come to an end.
Not too many years after that, I was on staff at Mt. Vernon First Church of the Nazarene. I was invited to teach a class at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College (before it was a University.) It was some kind of practics class, I’m sure. On my first day, I was driving across town, thumbing through some books, trying to come up with something to talk about. That’s when it hit me. I bet Fred Huff was doing the same thing in that class that he taught.
It is the last day of 2021 as I write this. My guess is it will be 2022 before you read it, if you read it at all. It may be that you will begin the year reading this blog and thinking that I have some answers and something to teach you. Nope! I was thumbing through a book just a few minutes ago. It has never been my imagination that I am so wise and my writing so profound that you just have to hear this stuff. Instead, it is always my idea that this blog, like the best definition of evangelism, is just “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
So, with that in mind. Let me repeat what I said on Monday and tell you what I plan to do during the month of January, and for the year that follows. You are welcome to come along.
- First, I plan to Keep Fed– I have recommended the Daily Audio Bible App to you for several years now. It is a good, steady way to read through the Bible in a year. If you haven’t used it, I urge you to download it and take a look. HOWEVER, this year I am doing something different. I am going to read the Bible chronologically. We will start with Genesis and end with Revelation but all of the way in between we will take the Bible in the historical order that it happened. To do that I am using a different app. This one is called The Bible Recap. Here’s the URL. https://thebiblerecap.com/ Each day the scripture reading will be listed, 3-6 chapters and the app will be a brief, 6 minutes commentary by Tara Leigh Cobble. It’s good. By the way, if you want to join me for a 40 Day Adventure during Lent, I will be using this app.
- Next, I suggest we Keep Committed– I can’t think of a better way than to make some kind of sacrifice to get closer to God. In other words, fasting. There are two possibilities for this. I plan to start January 1 and go for 31 days, the entire month. Or, my church, (so I will be emphasizing it) is doing a 21 day fast starting January 7 and ending January 28. In either case, I am not suggesting a full-on, no food fast. I am suggesting that for however many days you choose, you give up ONE thing, maybe Monday lunch, or no caffeine, or a fast from social media. Whatever it is, make a commitment to surrender one thing to remind you regularly of your desire to go further and deeper in your faith.
- Third, Keep Connected– There is something about doing this together, as a group. I invite you to be connected with us as we do these things together. One way to do that is a Monday video and a Friday Blog. Go to https://www.branchesblog.com and subscribe today to get notified of the vlogs and blogs. I am trying to keep the vlogs at 5 minutes and the blogs to 1 page. (not doing great) but I will try to be brief. By reading together, responding, listening to the same thing, we will build a community that will encourage our walk. Watch for the vlog and blog to keep connected.
- Finally, Keep Track– You cannot expect what you do not inspect. Making some simple commitments and then journaling them will so more than anything to develop discipline and powerful positive habits. I am attaching a sheet that I use every day. Down through the years, this has evolved for me to become a simple, 1 page that I fill out at the beginning of every day to track how I am doing, plan for the day ahead of me, and, at the end of the day, look back and see what God has said to me. It looks like this:
- Bible Reading
What caught my attention?
What did God say?
What do I need to do?
Exercise and Health
|List a few things you’re grateful for when you first wake up.
|Throughout the day, list three obstacles and write down
what you’re learning from them.
Well, that’s about what I would have found if I thumbed through some book. Happy New Year! If you follow along, I’ll talk to you Monday. If you don’t, see if you can find a blog by Fred Huff.