As a lot of you know, for the last year or so I have been providing Daily Reading Prompts on Monday-Friday of each week. It started as an experiment to help my men’s LifeGroup study Luke together and has expanded enormously since them.
The Prompts cover a section of Scripture — usually less than a chapter so that we can savor rather than speed — that our digital group ends up reading in a virtual “community.”
They’re sent each day by 7 am Eastern time to a large email list and then posted to a much larger Facebook audience and even to a few Twitter faithful.
I’ve been grateful for the impact of the prompts have had on people’s lives and their habits, especially during this time when by and large we have not been able to gather in person.
But today’s “Top Five” takes a different direction — how preparing those prompts each day have helped me as a Christian and pastor. Here goes:
One. Routine Upgrade! A lot of you know that I thrive on routine. But this “Word before the world” routine is so much better than my previous one (which probably lasted, oh, 50 years!): get up, read the paper, and eat breakfast. Now it’s: stopped the subscription to the paper and no longer need breakfast. Voila! The Word really is the first thing … coming downstairs knowing the bible is ready for me is strangely exhilarating.
Two. I process my thoughts best by writing. I talk for a living, that’s true. But much of what I speak has already been written and, as an English major and introvert-leaner, I process my thoughts best by writing them down. So if I am encountering a section of Scripture, I work out my observations and interpretations of it by writing about it.
Three. It gives teeth to my plea: “read the bible!” For thirty years I have encouraged congregants to read their bibles more. I just never coupled that plea with directions on how to do that well. Over the past year, problem solved. “Where should I read?” people will ask. “Friend me on Facebook,” comes the answer.
Four. It makes me practice what I done preached. In the early part of 2018 I had a message with a bottom line I really like: WHERE you start the day determines HOW you finish it. Starting the day in the Word rather than in your device ensures that you’ll finish it in serenity rather than strife. Guess what, Preacher? Why don’t you listen to your own advice? I have, and it works.
Five. It gives perspective during a pandemic and an election. We’re addicted to conflict and outrage. If we fail to gain the perspective of eternity that Scripture brings us, we’ll fall prey to our addictions. This pattern and these prompts helps me remember who is really in charge and who holds the future … November 3 and beyond.
If you’d like to receive the Reading Prompts — we’re currently finishing up the letter of James and tomorrow begin the Gospel of Mark — either send me a friend request on Facebook or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.