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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: discipline

The Road Less Traveled

Wesley Skinner

There are a lot of verses that stand out to me when I think about what is most important. Most people have a few verses that they like or maybe they are comforted by. But my favorite verse is one that embraces discomfort. 

1 Samuel chapter 15 has influenced the direction of my life more than any other passage I can remember.  

Samuel, the prophet of God, has just told Saul, the king, his marching orders from God; 'Go and completely destroy the Amalekites;men, women, children, livestock. Anything that moves or breathes, I want their name blotted out of the history books.'(paraphrase) But that's not what Saul does. Saul destroys everything excepet the king and keeps the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to The Lord. We find out later, whether it is true or just an excuse, that he did this because he gave into what he thought was expected of him by his soldiers. 

What Saul did was the good and right and acceptable thing in his culture. Their custom was to save the good of the livestock to make a sacrifice to God, thanking Him for victory. The problem was, God didn't want the culturally acceptable thing, He wanted obedience.  

The first time I remember this passage standing out to me was early in college. I was at a conference, sitting in the floor of the hotel lobby just doing my daily scripture reading. I had been wrestling for a while with the question of what God wanted from my life, and here was the answer. Obedience.  

What I had been trying to do for so long was work God into my plan for my life. I had bought into the Christian spin on the American dream. My focus was wife, kids, nice house, good job, lots of toys, to be important some how and give God 10%. The other 90% was mine. Or even to try and figure out how to serve God in a good and right and culturally acceptable way like be a youth pastor(nothing wrong with that just not where God was leading me, thank God!) I knew what God wanted out of my life and being a missionary, especially one who lives in America and hangs out with college students, doesn't fit the culturally acceptable paradigm. I knew that some people wouldn't understand, and after 7 years of this some people still don't. Even friends of mine in ministry that infer or sometimes just flat out say, 'when you're ready to do REAL ministry come plant a church with me.' The problem was then, and still is today, that would not be obedience to God's call in my life. 

Understanding that obedience to God will not make sense to everyone and you will feel pressure to compromise, even from well-intentioned friends is a tough reality to embrace. It is also not always an easy road, but this less traveled road makes all the difference. 

 

Start with Samuel!

Wesley Skinner

Want to read through the Bible this year but missed the start or got behind? start with 1 Samuel! Today in the One Year Chronological Bible I linked in a previous post, we have gotten through Genesis, job, exodus, Leviticus, numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Now we start with 1 Samuel. And 1 Samuel is one of my favorite books! 

In this reading plan it only takes 10-15 minutes per day(another 2 if you want to read me blogging random musings as I read) and by the end of the year you will have made it all the way through! And if you missed the start, reading previous days as you have time can catch you up quickly.  

It's not too late! Don't wait for 9 months because you missed 3. Start today!  

Leaving behind the judges.

Wesley Skinner

I love the Old Testament! Most people think that's weird. When reading through the bible in a year, the Pentateuch is easy for me to get through. Yes, you see Israel quickly forget God's faithfulness and turn away, but they keep turning back to Him. Then Joshua continues along those same lines. In Joshua you see God deliver the nations into the hands of Israel as they take over the promised land. Then we hit the book of Judges. 

The book of Judges is difficult for me. Upon a first reading, Judges reads like an action packed adventure. It is fast paced and stars characters that seem superhuman. But there is a problem, a phrase that continues screaming from the pages "again, Israel did evil in the sight of The Lord and He[allowed them to be ruled by]...."

But God didn't forget about them, He raised up judges. Judges who break the very law they are supposed to be keeping. Judges who sacrifice their children and break their vows to The Lord and are faithless. Sure, the action in the book is exciting until you realize that this is not a movie. Death and destruction and war and captivity are not fleeting bumps with a happy ending. The are the consequences of sin and idolatry.

Judges is a dark book. And it is summed up in just a few words, "in those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit." Those words are more indicting than at first glance. As we leave Judges and move to Samuel you will see this talk of Israel having a king come up again. It is a slap in the face of God. It is Israel rejecting God as their king. So, here when it says, "Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit", Israel rejected God's rule and God's law. Everyone lived in darkness. And the darkness is seen clearly in one of the most sin-filled book of the Bible. I'm glad we are moving on to Samuel. 

 

 

God does EVERYTHING on purpose

Wesley Skinner

Among all of the specifications of the building of the tabernacle the sacrificial system and the law, something becomes very obvious, God is aGod of details!  Everything is very specific and, while I don't understand the symbology of everything that is listed, I can see why God is a very detailed person and does everything with purpose. 

Doing EVERYTHING with purpose, that is something I can really get behind! I am a creature of habit. It drives Monica crazy. And I am a creature of very specific and intentional habit. Everything I do I have carefully thought through and can give you my reasoning behind why. This may seem a little time consuming, but God wired me in such a way that I process things from many angles very quickly and I don't even stop to think about it, it's just the way my brain works. My morning routine is a Great example: as soon a I get up, I go to the bathroom get my toothbrush and while brushing my teeth gather the clothes I will wear(maximizing time) finish brushing then jump in the shower, after I shower I get dressed, put on deodorant, style my hair, put on my glasses and shoes(in that order).Then I get my coffee, which was set the night before to brew while I shower, four spoons of sugar(yes that's sweet) and a little heavy whipping cream(to thicken the coffee). From there I sit in the same spot in our office, perfect distance from the end table on my right(for my coffee), a little sunlight at my back and a comfortable seat. Then I am ready to spend time reading my bible. 

Am I OCD? Maybe... But I think God is too! That is probably why I am the only person in the world who really likes reading all of these specifics.  

If God does EVERYTHING with a purpose, what about us? Shouldn't we do things with purpose? Not saying everyone needs to be crazy like me, but what if there were a few things each day we chose to do intentionally. Maybe, it means giving yourself margin to take time to really listen to one person each day rather than speed from one thing to the next. Maybe it's choosing a person each week to call and catch up with or encourage. Maybe it's just being mindful to pray throughout the day as you go from one thing to the next. Knowing why you do what you do is key. 

What can you do on purpose today?

 

Start with Exodus. February 1

Wesley Skinner

Did you want to start reading through the bible in one year in 2014 but missed the start in January? It's not too late! Don't let missing day 1 stop you! You can start February 1(this Saturday!) with Exodus. 

In the chronological one year bible I recommended in the intro to 365 challenge, we have currently read through Genesis and will finish Job Friday. This would be a great time to jump in!  

365 Challenge; It's Not Too Late To Start!

Wesley Skinner

 

365 challenge it's not too late!

Reading through the Bible is great, but what if you missed the start? It's ok. Don't let missing the start of a year prevent you from jumping in. And now is a great time to jump in. 

Reading through the Bible chronologically allows a great place for a late start. Chronologically, the Bible starts with Genesis, and my chronological Bible ends Genesis and jumps straight into Job. 

So if you missed the beginning of the year, start now with Job and catch up on Genesis as you have time. My previous blogs can give you a good recap as well. 

John Piper explains why reading your Bible is not legalism

Wesley Skinner

For many years I have been saying that one thing I don't think I can be too legalist about is reading my Bible. Even when I don't want to. Even when I don't feel like I am growing. Even when I am in difficult sections of scripture to read. 

I spent middle school, high school, and my first to years of college as a distance runner. One thing learned from my time as a runner is that running is as much a mental discipline as it is a physical one. Going on long runs prepares your mind mentally to know that you can do it, and running everyday regardless of how I feel moves me past the option to just rest one day...which turns into two...which turns into...

When I stopped running after my second year of college, I stopped running. Now 10 years later, I carry 40 more pounds than I did then, and my body is just not used to running consistently anymore. I really want to get back in shape and my goal is to run a marathon, but it is much more difficult now. The only solution for me, is to become legalistic about running. Knowing that everyday I will run take the option off the table to not. And over time I will get in shape again. Regardless of days that I don't want to do it or am not seeing the results I hoped or feel bad on the run, by running everyday I will reach my goal. 

Sometimes reading my Bible is similar. Some days I don't want to. Some days I don't feel like I'm growing, but I know that by doing it consistently and making reading my Bible daily not optional, God will change my heart. 

Here is a link to Piper's article. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/read-your-bible-more-and-more