Thursday, May 20, 2010


I hate water. Drinking it, I mean. I would rather drink coffee, or Dr. Pepper, or Drano.  If I absolutely HAVE to drink water, I'll mix it with some of that powder flavoring or something, so that it's like drinking water without actually drinking it.  Recently, for Lent, I gave up drinking anything but water for 40 days.
I hated it.  
Rather than bring me closer to God, or cause me to contemplate my lack, or give me a sense of sacrifice, or that I was identifying with Christ in his sufferings, it mostly just pissed me off every time I sat down to a meal.  After 40 days of fasting (and on those blessed 6 celebration days during Lent), I immediately went back to drinking other stuff.  Much to my surprise, in the days following Lent, I have often had cravings for water.  Serious ones.  So bad that I've actually had entire glasses or bottles of plain water (the HORROR!) to drink.

They (whoever THEY are) say that most people walk around functionally dehydrated.
None of us is drinking enough water.  Sure, we get some in our coffee and our juices and stuff like that, but there's no substitute for clean, clear, pure water.  And sometimes we don't know how thirsty we have been until we start to drink.

I hate the Bible. Reading it, I mean.  I would rather read websites, magazines or shampoo bottles.  If I absolutely HAVE to read the Bible, sometimes I'll read what Max Lucado, Rob Bell, or Donald Miller wrote about it, so that it's like reading the Bible without actually reading it.
Most of us walk around functionally deprived of this, too.  Oh, we might get a little bit of it in church or small group or something on TV, but there's no substitute for sitting and reading the wild, raw, naked words of God.
So yesterday I committed myself to a new system for reading the Bible through.
It calls for me to read 10 chapters a day by reading 1 chapter from a series of 10 "lists"
List 1 is the gospels. List 2 is the Torah. List 3 Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Hebrews. List 4 is the Thessalonians,the Timothys, Titus, Philemon, James, the Peters, the Johns, Jude and Revelation. List 5 is Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. List 6 is Psalms. List 7 is Proverbs. List 8 is Joshua - Esther. List 9 is the rest of the prophets. List 10 is Acts.
When I reach the end of a list (Acts, for example, only has 28 chapters), I just start it over, because I'll still be reading through the others (List 9, the Prophets will take 250 days).
In the end, I'll read through all the gospels 4 times, the Torah twice, Paul's letters 4-5 times each, the OT Wisdom Literature 6 times, the Psalms at least twice, the Proverbs and Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT Historical and Prophetic books about 1 1/2 times.
10 chapters might sound like a lot, but it never takes me more than about 30 or 45 minutes. When reading about the Creation story, Job's trials, Christ's birth, the Day of Pentecost, and Paul's introduction to Romans all at the same time, you start to really get a holistic sense of scripture.  Scripture commenting on and interpreting itself.  I used to marvel at guys I knew who taught from the Lectionary.  A schedule that assigns to each Sunday a series of Scriptures that often seem completely unrelated?  An OT reading. A Psalm. A Gospel reading. An Epistle.  I thought, "How do they write one homily or sermon on 4 unrelated texts?" But in just two days I can see harmonies developing between one or two or three or more of these lists that are just beautiful.
I didn't know how thirsty I was until I started to drink again.


hello jamie: said...

I was going to say "you took breaks from your 40 day fast during Lent? wow, what a pansy." but then it turns out that I really enjoyed this post. Nice work.

J.T. said...

From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is actually 46 days. Lent is a 40-day fast because you don't fast on the Sabbaths. That's a no-no. The Sabbath is a celebration day. You break your fast as a mini-Easter.

I'm not a cheater - I'm ORTHODOX.

And thanks!

hello jamie: said...

I hear ya. I just NEVER take the breaks because to me it's not hard to give up something for 6 days. That's like, nothing. When I give up something for Lent, I want to MISS IT. But, I am not at all orthodox. :)