by Tom Smith
The New Testament has a total of 260 chapters. If you read three per day you will easily finish in under three months. Why not join with others and plan to read the entire New Testament between January 01 and April 05? Begin on New Year's day and finish by Easter. Attached you'll find a copy of a reading plan that you can print to keep track. Chronological NT 3 month plan
by Tom Smith
Thinking about doing is something I do alot. I think about making a phone call. I really don't use the phone that much. I think about making a personal visit. I actually do a fair number of these over coffee, but I think about doing a lot more. Do you find yourself thinking about doing something only to not do it. Here's a tip. When the thinking exceeds the doing, doing even a little counts. On Christmas Day after breakfast but before our family feast, I thought about going on a long bike ride. I never did get the long ride in due to a number of factors. But I did go for about a 30-35 minutes ride and was glad I did. I read a tip for new bicyclists that said that "consistency is key." They said a weekly ride of only 15 to 20 minutes is enough to keep your body acclimated to the bike. Are you kidding me? Only 15 to 20 minutes? I thought "I can do that" and I did. You need not do a lot of thinking about it, but you do need to do a little bit of doing. Thinking about a long prayer time of uninterrupted communion with Jesus over a cup of tea or coffee with an open Bible? Do a little bit of praying and reading now, when you finish reading this short blog post. Thinking about writing a long newsy letter to a missionary overseas? Write a postcard. Thinking about having a spiritual discussion with a neglected neighbor? Say hello and ask about their day next time you are putting out the trash or mowing the yard and see them. Thinking about a romantic getaway with your wife over a weekend in a tropical paradise? Plan a week ahead and go out for a meal at a local restaurant without the kiddos. Whoever said "the thought counts" has given false solace to those who think about doing. In such cases, the thought counts for nought. The doing counts. James 1:22 says, "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
by Tom Smith
This is no joke. A truck driver, meat cutter, and a cop met in a small group for Bible study going over Sunday's sermon. They opened their Bibles and opened their lives with each other. Letting the teaching from Romans 8:17-30 sort through their personal experiences was not easy. They all had seen the rough edges of life and had no doubt that "Everything was broken" and indeed creation groans and people groan too. But they also knew that "Everything will be fixed one day" even though that may seem as far off as when Romans 8 was written 2,000 years ago. However, the hope "in which we were saved" is no vacuous wish upon a star. It is a certain hope in the Faithful One who made the promises (Hebrews 10:23). Our God is the One who has planned it all and brings it to completion. He foreknew, He predestined, He called, He justified, and He glorified those who love Him. He's working all things together for good--the good of the truck driver, meat cutter, and cop--of those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But wait, there's more! Besides the three already mentioned there's also a realtor, nurse practitioner, investment advisor, stay at home mom, and some other characters. Weekly meeting together, they are "assembling" together in the best way. They are putting Bible into life, fitting the pieces together, tightening up loose theology, finding where the 'spare' parts belong. This process only happens in small groups, not large group worship. In our church, small groups are working. They learned last Sunday that "God's goal is for our glory, not just getting by." Destined for glory, they are getting excited! At least excited in some small, Baptist kind of way. Nothing too showy, but very real nonetheless.
by Tom Smith
I just got back from a weeklong trip to Indiana to visit my father. Dad, my sister, and I went out to dinner for his 88th birthday. I enjoyed the time I spent with them. Dad and I sat and talked together, watched TV together, and worked together on several smallish projects that needed to be done around his house. This has been a cold winter in Indiana and in much of the nation. Snowfall in the 2013-2014 winter has been one of the top ten snowiest on record. Schools have postponed and/or cancelled many days. Hoosier students are in danger of falling behind unless they add hours to the school day, days to the school week, or weeks to the school year. They're trying to figure out what to do to make up for lost time. Something was missing in Indiana. With plenty of snow in evidence on streets, parking lots, yards, fields—basically everywhere—I didn't see a single snowman in front of anybody's house. Not one. Where had all the snowmen gone? In Oregon, as soon as the flakes fall on the Willamette Valley floor, people start scheming how to liberate their inner snow angel. Instagram fills with cute photos of toddlers in snowsuits. Dogs run and jump to catch flakes or snowballs. Outdoorsy types don snowshoes or cross-country skis. Young families come together building snowmen, snow forts, etc. In Indiana, I saw plenty of snow and yet not one snowman. For a period, the temperature was below-zero cold, but not all the time. The snow was powdery dry, but not everywhere. My conclusion? Too much snow and cold weather killed the desire to play in it. They were sick and tired of snow. Hence, the snowmen went bye-bye. First endangered, then threatened, finally extinct. Living in a land of plenty (of anything) can kill our appreciation, numb our gratitude, and anesthetize our delight. During the month of March, our church is offering you the opportunity to forgo plenty in order to experience simple joys once again. Along with others, we are going to eat rice and beans three meals a day as often as you care to for the entire month. Wait a minute you say, "I didn't get that memo!" (The memo follows this post.) Why are we doing this? What's the point? Read the memo. Another helpful place to learn more is at www.eatriceandbeans.com. Join us on this experience and afterwards, who knows, maybe you'll appreciate the variety and quantity of foods available to you in new ways. For more information on why we are doing this . . . read the memo :-) Memo rice and beans