What will you begin to do this week in order to redeem the culture entrusted to you by the Lord?
This continues a series on the Daily Texts and their use in discipleship....
Here's another reason - in no particular order - of why I'm recommending that people I work with in personal discipleship sign up for the daily email version of the Daily Texts or get the printed version (I hope it will be an iPhone app soon!).
In addition to the simple Bible Readings that come as part of the Daily Texts that let people progress through the Word together with other Christians, there are, of course, the two "Daily Texts".
I won't bother you with the grand history of these texts except to say that they are perhaps the most widely used devotional in the world and were used daily by Bonhoeffer till the day of his death.
Suffice it to say, each day offers an Old Testament key verse and a related New Testament verse.
At first I found these virtually "random" and distracting. Today I find them important for a variety of reasons:
1. I'm amazed how "on target" they are for my life in the providence of God. You likely will too.
2. If nothing else goes right during the day, I can at least focus on, meditate about and pray about those two verses and their application to my life.
3. It forces me daily to ask what each verse meant in its original setting, how they relate to one another in light of the change of Testaments, and, finally, how they relate - today - to me. It's a simple exegetical, theological, and "experiential" exercise to appreciate the Word of God as it was given and as it speaks yet today.
4. If I were really brilliant, I could even take the references to these texts and read them in the original languages. What a great way keep your language skills usable if not "sharp"! Unlike seminary days, one just has to translate one short verse. I already feel guilty for not doing it. I'll have to find my Greek New Testament at least! :)
5. When you're in a discipleship setting it's not unusual to ask people to write prayers of some sort. If you're asking people to write out a prayer a day or a prayer a week, writing a prayer (e.g. a "collect" for example) from a single verse or theme suggested by two verses is simpler than saying "here's a chapter... decide what to write a prayer about". It allows for easier focus in such a setting. And when you're discipling people... you want easy.
6. And like I said last time, the Daily Texts are done for me. No "reinventing the wheel"... just get going.
And as if that weren't enough, I find the discipline of identifying a particularly memorable verse or phrase from the Psalm, Old Testament, and New Testament reading that comes with the Daily Texts helpful each day too.
In my previous post on the Daily Texts I promised to explain my reasoning.
I have a running nickname with a friend ... it's "Old School Awesomeness". He even claims that I'm so freakishly old school at times that I wasn't even born in the 1900's! I'll sometimes whip out an archaic term like "All Hallows Eve" for Halloween just to inject some - I'm not sure what the term is - into the conversation.
So adopting a 290 year old tool could be seen as just another display of my tendency towards ornery anachronism at work. Oops, I guess it is.
Modern folk have the tendency to think we know everything. What goes along with that sense of omniscience is a corollary fault... the need to reinvent the wheel all the time.
I'm definitely guilty of that... how about you?
In our quest for the lastest, greatest, best, most cutting edge ministry approach... we needlessly mystify the relatively simple in the name of making a name for ourselves. We want to say "this is a discipleship tool, course, or book " I created. We talk as if there is something we could do that would be fundamentally different or better than has gone on in the last 2000 years... better than Jesus Himself might have done. At least that is the implication.
In reality our difficulties in obedience ourselves not to mention in making disciples come not from the lack of tools available, but from the gravitational pull of Hell itself attached to our Adamic natures. It's sin - not the intrinsic difficulty of the act - that keeps us from prayer, Bible reading, meditation, witness, service, or mission.
It's also sin and the false aspiration for perfection that causes me - us? - to continually "recreate the wheel". We don't constantly need new discipleship tools... we need new disciples.
So God help me stop trying to innovate.
I and those I would mentor or influence simply need to read the word and meditate on it daily. It's much easier to waste hours dreaming up "tools" than to actually read the Word, meditate on it, and teach someone else to do that too!
The Daily Texts let us read the Bible at an easy pace. We read the Psalms annually, the rest of the Bible in two years on Monday through Saturday and read a selection of scriptures each Lord's Day with the wider church. At the same time,each day we are given one Old Testament and one New Testament text to meditate upon.
This is a good basic reading plan. The more ambitious can read more daily... much more. But everyone can at least read and mediate on this very reasonable amount and have time left over for reflection. One can even meditate on the individual texts throughout the day.
As a pastor this saves me hours of thinking, planning, making reading calendars, never being quite happy, RE-doing the calendar, and then never being happy anyway and starting all over again. Each year. Several times per year. Forever.
Instead, this method is a simple way to get people into the Word of God and teach them to meditate and pray through scripture. That way we can all be "on the same page" in a church or discipleship group and be linked with many other Christians across the world at the same time.
So the first reason for adopting this 290 year old tool called the "Daily Texts" is because it saves me from the curse of having to reinvent the wheel each each year (or more often depending on how feverish my brain is!).
Perhaps it will save you too!
More to come!
In 2012 I'm planning to adopt a 290 year old discipleship tool for my use in mentoring folks in 2012.
It's called "The Daily Texts" and it can be received free by email here...
If you can obtain the printed text version, I suggest the one here...
The use of these texts date back to 1722 and have remained about the same since then. There is a weekly "watchword" from scripture and then daily verses from the Old and New Tesament. Added to the basic concept of daily scripture texts (hence the name!) there is a very basic reading plan that covers the Psalms annually and the rest of the Bible in 2 years on Monday through Saturday an the three year lectionary reading on the Lord's Day.
The printed version which I suggest has some additional helps for prayer and meditation that I consider valuable as well for those learning to pray since this IS a discipleship tool!
Running up until 2012 I want to "think through" how I plan to integrate this tool into ministry and how you might as well.