365 Challenge – Minor Prophets

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Dear 365 Readers,

Tomorrow (9/15) we start our reading of the “minor prophets”, those short little books at the end of Old Testament that can be hard to find and keep sorted out in your mind!  I’m going to give you a brief overview here, maybe you can print it out and keep it with you as you read:

Hosea – to the Northern Kingdom, in the days of its last evil kings.  A painful personal love story of Hosea’s marriage to a woman who acted like a prostitute.  He was good to her and she humiliated him with her unfaithful, brazen behavior.  It is both a true story, and a symbolic story of God’s love for His unfaithful people.

Joel – to the Southern Kingdom/Judah, during the time of Elisha.  A plague of locusts had come to discipline the nation, Joel called people to return to God before an even greater judgement came.  The Holy Spirit is promised here as well.

Amos – to the Northern Kingdom, in the days of its last evil kings.  Amos spoke against those who exploited or ignored the needy, reminding people that God calls his people to fight against injustice.

Obadiah – to the nation of Edom, in the days of Elijah.  Obadiah spoke against the pride of Edom and its violent actions against God’s people.

Jonah – to the city of Ninevah in the nation of Assyria, prior to the fall of the Northern Kingdom and the rise of Assyrian empire.  God sent Jonah to warn Ninevah to repent or face judgement, but Jonah didn’t want to go, and there was a drama with a big fish!  When Jonah finally went, the people of Ninevah repented and God relented.

Micah – to the Southern Kingdom/Judah, prior to the fall of the Northern Kingdom.  Micah predicted the fall of both kingdoms as discipline for God’s people.  Good King Hezekiah listened to Micah, and thus delayed the fall the of Southern Kingdom/Judah.

Nahum – to the nation of Assyria, after the fall of the Northern Kingdom.  Assyria oppressed the Southern Kingdom/Judah, and the people of Judah admired the wealth and power of Assyria.  Nahum warned that the mighty Assyrian empire would soon fall.  God would judge Assyria, and God rules sovereignly over all the earth.

Habbakuk – to the Southern Kingdom/Judah, during the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  Habakkuk asked God why He didn’t punish the wicked in the Southern Kingdom/Judah.  How could God allow such evil exist?  God promised to use the Babylonians to punish Judah, and then to punish the Babylonians as well.  Habbakuk chose to hold on to the hope that God would be faithful and strengthen him in time of disaster.

Zephaniah – to the Southern Kingdom/Judah, during the time of Jeremiah.  Zephaniah warned that a day will come when God, as judge, will punish all nations.  But after judgment, He will show mercy to all who have been faithful to Him.

Haggai – after the return of the exiles to Jerusalem.  Haggai warned that the temple of God was only half finished, yet the people had lost interest and instead built beautiful homes.  Haggai encouraged the people to finish the temple, and not to prioritize their jobs and possessions ahead of God.

Zechariah – after the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, same time as Haggai.  Zechariah also encouraged the completion of the temple, and shared many visions of an eternal kingdom that gave people hope.

Malachi – the last prophet of the Old Testament, after the temple and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt completely.  Malachi warned that the people’s relationship with God was broken because of sin, in particular the sins of the priests and society’s complete disregard for the sanctity of marriage.  Careless living has consequences, but those who repent will find favor with God.  The coming Messiah is promised.

And then there was silence for 400 years.

365 1 & 2 Kings

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Good morning 365 Bible Challenge Readers!  I hope you have enjoyed the stories of Samuel, Saul, and David in the books of 1 & 2 Samuel… I always enjoy the passion and transparency we see in King David’s life.  Our reading plan starts 1 & 2 Kings today (4/8).  If you’re behind, try to catch up this weekend, or just start fresh in 1 Kings!

1 & 2 Kings were originally one long book – the story of Israel after King David, through the reign of Solomon (Israel’s glory days!), and then civil war, destruction, and exile (an ancient Game of Thrones!).

As you read about Solomon, ask yourself: “How did the liveliest, wealthiest, most contented nation of its day slide so disastrously in one generation?”  What character lessons can we learn from Solomon?  What character lessons can we learn from the other kings?

As you read of Elijah and Elisha (some of my favorites!), ask yourself what we can learn about God from their stories?

Kings is laid out documentary style, but after the kingdom divides it cuts back and forth between Israel/Northern Kingdom and Judah/Southern Kingdom quite a bit… and can become very confusing.  I am attaching a map of the divided kingdom with two capitols (Samaria in Israel/North and Jerusalem in Judah/South).  I am also attaching a list of the Kings, which I recommend you print out and keep handy so you don’t get lost.  It’s important to work at understanding the historical framework, as you’ll need it when we get to reading the various prophets later.

KingsofDividedKingdom

Keep reading!  There are some colorful and tragic characters in the coming chapters!

Mindy’s Good Reads 2015

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One of my life-long goals is to read an average of one book a month… And I have my book club to thank for keeping me on track!  Here’s what I read in 2015:

These three were absolutely extraordinary:

Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter (Old Testament theology)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (Muslim intellectual encounters Jesus)

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller (marriage)

The rest of the list (alphabetical):

Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Olympic rowing team)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland, murder mystery)

Counting by 7’s by Holly Sloan (Young adult, brilliant child in foster care)

Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (women in the genealogy of Christ)

Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me to Stand by Kay Arthur (Ephesians, spiritual warfare)

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (autobiography that inspired the prison series)

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (American orphans 1800s)

Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen (analysis of the prodigal son parable)

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst (life management)

The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe (my fall teaching topic)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (England, plague in the middle ages)

Did you have a favorite book in 2015?  I’d love to hear about it!

Teaching the Old Testament

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I’m teaching an 8 week overview of the Old Testament right now.  It’s a class that provides a framework and helps my students understand the big narrative of scripture… plus they finally understand where all the kings, prophets, and covenants fit.  I dare to say that many churches would profit from an Old Testament Overview type class, so here is what I recommend:

Our text is “Full of Promise” by Bryson Smith and Phil Campbell, Mattias Media, 2011.  It hits all the highlights in 8 weeks and the homework load is 60-90 minutes/week.  Students skim a lot of chapters, and I encourage those with time to just sit down and read the extra passages like a novel.  It’s easy for me to add maps, charts, and teaching sidebars on everything from the implications of the fall to details on various characters and events.

http://www.christianbook.com/full-of-promise-ot-overview/bryson-smith/9781921441899/pd/441891?event=ESRCG

Another GREAT find is “The Epic of Eden” by Dr. Sandra Richter, 2008. This is the single best background and teaching resource I’ve ever seen on the Old Testament.  It’s extremely readable and quite valuable.  It helped me bridge the gap from understanding the Old Testament, to being able to teach the Old Testament to newcomers in a comprehensible manner.

http://www.amazon.com/Epic-Eden-Christian-Entry-Testament/dp/0830825770/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422832319&sr=8-1&keywords=epic+of+eden+sandra+richter

My favorite piece from Dr. Richter is her 5 Men, 5 Eras, 5 Covenants framework.  If your students can just remember Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David… then they have already mastered the outline of the Old Testament timeline and covenantal framework.

Happy teaching!

Lineage Of Grace

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Book club read this month – so awesome! I’ve gotten through the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and halfway through Bathsheba… It’s like the Old Testament has gone from black and white to color!  Suddenly the cultural context has come to life and it reads like a modern day reality tv show… some crazy stuff happened in the Old Testament! Francine Rivers is extremely diligent about staying faithful to what is known in scripture, so I can recommend this without hesitation.

http://www.amazon.com/Lineage-Grace-Stories-Unlikely-Eternity/dp/0842356320/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

Pick a Bible Reading Plan!

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Just in time for the New Year!  It’s time to pick your Bible reading plan for 2015 and this fantastic blog post has every imaginable option you could dream of, and some great pdf downloads.  Disciplers, add this to your library!

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/

If you are a digital reader, or you like having your daily reading emailed to you, then I’d recommend the YouVersion app which has many reading plans.

I think I’m going to do the 5x5x5 New Testament in a year (one chapter a day) this time… and I just finished a whole-Bible-in-three-years plan!

Old Testament – A Visual

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Whoo hoo!  I finished Deuteronomy in my read-thru-the-Bible project… Can I get an amen?  Leviticus and Deuteronomy were the hardest parts!

OTVisualI am a visual learner, and a teacher in love of visual aids and a big white board!  So let me share with you this diagram that will help you, and your students, remember what’s going on in the first part of the Old Testament.

Imagine a map of the Middle East – from the Garden of Eden somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq, the nation of Israel, and Egypt.  The Mediterranean Sea is to the west.  Now follow the tracks of Old Testament characters on the map…

Genesis – The beginning.  We start in the east (Iraq) with Adam, Eve, and Noah.  Then Abraham left Ur and settled in Canaan (Promised Land to be).  After Jacob came the story of Joseph who is sent in capitivity to Egypt.

In Exodus the Israelites exit Egypt after 400 years of captivity.

Leviticus is the Law given at Mt. Sinai (see the Levite/priest in the book title?).

In Numbers the people are numbered and wander in the desert for 40 years.

Deuteronomy is the re-reading of the Law before entry into the Promised Land, which is why it is so similar to Leviticus and closes with all the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.

Joshua crosses the Jordan River into the Promised Land with the nation of Israel and they proceed to slowly conquer most of it.

And the Judges mark a period of rebellion and suffering in the land because “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”.

And then we go to I & II Samuel and the Kings.

I hope it helps you remember the history – it worked for me!

I start reading Joshua next week.  Yea!