Read THE Book 2019

Welcome to RTB 2019, a place to read through the Bible in the year 2019 and stay in contact with others who are doing the same thing and have a little hand-holding as you go. Want to jump right in? You can click on the “Read THE Book 2019” tab above to find the most current weekly notes.

Some of my local friends know that I’ve been teaching through the Bible chronologically for many years. My goal was to help you sort out all that confusing timeline stuff so that when you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you have an understanding of where you are, when you are, and what was going on in the world at that time.

In 2017 I decided to do a trial run of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year discussion group that met every week to discuss what we read as we followed a reading schedule using the traditional book by book order. Have I mentioned that “book by book order” does not flow chronologically? Nope – the books are grouped into sections, but they don’t always flow in the order that the events happened. So to help us along, I wrote a weekly reading guide with three sections: What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? And Who’s Who? This was a one page handout that gave you just a little head’s up about things I thought you might want to know at the beginning of each week’s assigned reading to help you keep your bearings. The trial run turned out to be a success for those who finished.

I have decided to go ahead and make those weekly notes available here on the website so that anyone can read along at their own pace. If you missed the January 1st start date, the notes are designed so that you can start at week 1 any time of year and begin your own journey to Read THE Book. Feel free to contact me and let me know how I can help get you started. It doesn’t matter to me how you use this information as long as it does what I always imagined it might do. If it helps you to Read THE Book, then I’m happy to know I’ve made it a little easier.

Want to be part of the local discussion group? There are two groups to choose from. One will meet in Scottsboro, AL at the First Methodist Church on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM. Another group meets at Jamoka’s Coffee shop in Guntersville, AL Mondays at noon.

And of course, I’ll be having several workshops throughout the year that give the overview of the whole Bible, known as “THE Bible Story.” I encourage anyone local to try to come to this workshop as it will really help you get all the chronology sorted out. You’ll even make your own timeline showing the major people and events from Genesis to Revelation and that will come in handy as you are reading. If you want to host a workshop at your church, just let me know

It is my prayer that anyone who is thinking about making a New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible in 2019 will join with me and let’s make a commitment to each other to do it together! It seems like everything is just a little easier when you have friends who can share the same experience with you. The reading schedule will begin on January 1, 2019 and I’ll have all the information you need well before that, so keep checking back as I post new information here.

Let’s Do This!

Daily Reading Schedule [Word][PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word][PDF]

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Group Guidelines & Reading Schedule

Daily Reading Schedule [Word] [PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word] [PDF]

  • You may use any Bible translation that you are comfortable with.
  • I have scheduled readings for Monday through Saturday with an average of about five chapters a day. Take Sunday off, use that day to catch up, or read some Psalms.
  • Each Sunday I will post notes about what you will be reading the next week. These notes will have three sections: What’s Going On, When and Where Are We, and Who’s Who. These notes are designed to guide you as you read through the Bible and my way of pointing out some things I wish someone had told me the first time I read through the Bible. For example, there are places the books don’t go in chronological order and there are times that when you begin a new book things have changed significantly in the world. I’ll try to help you keep it all straight.
  • You can Subscribe to the blog so that you will get an email notification when a new blog is posted by adding your email on the right side of the screen and hit “Subscribe”
  • I will be leading local discussion groups and encourage you to attend if you can. Or form your own discussion group with friends where you can share your a-ha moments, questions, and reflections with each other. If you are flying solo, please stay connected by following along on the website and use the comments section if you want to ask questions or share your own thoughts. One big advantage to this format is anyone can begin their reading journey at any point in the year and follow along at their own pace.
  • If you are part of the discussion group and you get behind or take time off for vacation, illness, or unexpected what-not, I suggest you rejoin the group when you are able and pick up with where the group is reading. You might miss stuff. That’s ok! Read the notes from the weeks you missed and don’t try to catch up. The goal is to stay with the group so that you can be current on discussions. You can read what you missed later.
  • I have decided not to include the Psalms in our reading schedule. Suggestions for how you might read through them:
    • Read one Psalm every day. There are 150 so you will read each one at least twice
    • Read 3-5 Psalms every Sunday
    • Wait until December (we finish our plan on Nov 30th) and then read all of the Psalms by reading five or six Psalms each day of December
    • Work your way through the book of Psalms any way that works for you
    • I don’t normally recommend the King James Version for daily reading. But the Psalms are at their most beautiful in the KJV. Consider reading them in several different translations
  • Consider keeping a journal as you read through the Bible for personal reflection. Everyone has their own style, but you might want to keep notes and random thoughts as you go along. I filled up a large 5 subject notebook in 2017 with my own a-ha moments and I’ve read through the Bible many, many times.
  • Some weeks will be lighter than others. I tried to keep the readings even throughout, but I want us to come to natural breaks in the story at the end of each week.
  • On the master schedule, there is a place to mark what you’ve read with an X. It feels good to mark things off as you accomplish them!
  • I’ve built in two breaks. One is halfway through the Old Testament and the other is between the Old and New Testaments. Use these weeks to catch up if you need to.
  • If you have never read all the way through the Bible before, your goal is just to keep up and finish! If you have read through the Bible before, I suggest that each time you read it through you find a different goal for that year. For example, you might read a different translation or use a study Bible with notes, or you might use the various maps to follow the story by location, learn the Names of God and see how they are used differently in different passages, etc. The last time I read through the Old Testament, I underlined all the words that God spoke in red. The words of Jesus are often in red in the New Testament and I thought it would be good to see the Words of the Lord in the OT the same way.
  • If at any time you read something that troubles you, ask Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding. You may need to set something aside and trust that as the Lord wants you to learn something from that passage, He will bring it up at the right time. Don’t let it upset you if you struggle with some of the things you read. Bring it to the group and let’s talk about it. There are things that I struggle with, too. It’s ok. God knows our struggles and loves us anyway.

I suggest you begin each day with a prayer that might go something like this…..

Thank You, Father, for Your Word. Please guide me as I read today and help me understand what YOU would have me understand and absorb what YOU would have me absorb. Hide the words and the message in my heart so that I may carry it with me into everything I do. Open the eyes of my heart to what You would have me see, learn, know, and remember. Take me by the hand and walk with me on this journey. Send Holy Spirit to be my guide, my teacher, my helper, and my shield. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Ode to Cindy – The Best Ministry Partner In The World

I started this blog/website several years ago, not really knowing how I wanted to use it. I assumed it would be a place I could just park some things I had written and taught and thought somebody out there ought to write some of the things down that I thought were basic knowledge for Christians, but that are rarely taught inside the religious institutions or other Christian websites. I thought about writing a book about how to read the Bible, but then realized there are millions of other books out there about how to read the Bible and I had no unique contribution – no Doctorate of Biblical Studies – no formal seminary training – no church I was pastoring or even working at. Why would anyone listen to me?

But I had a friend who kept telling me that the way I taught was so unique, so different – that’s what qualified me to do what I do. She encouraged me when I had no courage. She lifted me out of my doubts and believed in me. She read everything I ever wrote and had nothing but praise for my efforts. When I started doing workshops, she helped me. She was my photographer and took pictures of me and my work. She was my editor and helped me with the formatting and stuff I didn’t know how to do. She was my friend and listened to me whine about my insecurities.

She had worked for a local newspaper for years – and hated it. She left that job when the opportunity came up for her to be a volunteer coordinator for a local seniors group. She had an impossible boss and left that job so discouraged and confused – it made no sense. How could anyone not realize how amazing she was? Then I had an idea (He gave me an idea). I had years and years’ worth of things I had written that were on paper, but the computer I had originally written them on had died so I had no digital copies. I asked her to help me figure out how to get them into a digital format and offered to pay her to help me. She was so excited! She spent the last four months working to help me. We had already been meeting together once a week as friends, but our weekly lunches turned into business meetings. I would give her assignments, she would work on them and bring them back, I’d go over changes, etc. I think she was more excited than I was! She believed in my work and was so thankful to be able to support me in what I was doing.

Several years ago, I was teaching a Wednesday night class at church that was a twenty-six week class that covered the events of the Bible chronologically. I lectured for an hour each week and one year decided to record my classes. And the recordings somehow just sat in my computer, or on a flash drive, or maybe still one of two digital recorders I had stuck into a drawer and forgotten about. I don’t know. But I asked her to help me figure out where they were and see about transcribing them. So she did. She figured out how to do every little thing I asked her to do.

This past Monday we met for lunch and she handed me the first of the class lecture transcriptions. I couldn’t believe that after all these years, I finally was on the brink of seeing my dream come true. I never forgot about writing that book. The work was daunting and I had never actually done anything about it. But when she showed up Monday with the first lesson done – it was the beginning of the book. We had done it – we had started. We had a plan. We looked at each other in amazement and celebrated the beginning of a project that I expected to take a year to complete – but we had started. I’d been weary, and she gave me hope. For the first time in a long, long time – I was excited. After lunch, we went in Staples to pick up the first of several posters that she had created to go along with my notes. We said goodbye in the parking lot and I just stood there with my jaw hanging open saying – “this is really happening, isn’t it?” She smiled her big smile and said – “You HAVE to do this! You have to see this through!” She knew that for a while she had been having to nudge me. My heart hadn’t been in it. My personal life was falling apart and the “work” was not a joy to me, it was something I was doing on auto-pilot. I was teaching in several other settings, but hadn’t taught that year-long class in several years. But to be honest, I wasn’t enjoying teaching anymore. I had done several workshops, and I did enjoy doing them, but hated all the work that went into preparing them. The marketing part was painfully hard for me, and she knew it. She just quietly encouraged me to keep going. So I did.

Monday afternoon, we both went home and started looking through our computers, flash drives, the digital recorders. I know that when I recorded my classes, I kept them all together on my computer somewhere with file names for each week. But I couldn’t find them. She had the recorders but we couldn’t find the cable that attached it to the computer to see what was on the recorder. I had brought her one from home that day and gave it to her at lunch, but it was the wrong cable. We texted several times that afternoon about where a certain flash drive might be, but we couldn’t find it. I went to bed that night excited. We were really doing this! I knew those audio files were somewhere and she had figured out how to transcribe them from one she was able to pull from another recorder I’d give her. She even brought me the first one, the one where I tell the whole Bible story from beginning to end in one hour. She handed it to me and I knew it was the first of twenty-five more to come.

Tuesday morning, I see a message on my phone from her husband. I quickly called him back and learned that she had passed away in the night. No warning. No symptoms. No explanation. She was gone.

I’m writing this blog post, knowing that very few people will ever see it. She was the only one who ever read anything I wrote and I had stopped writing here because I saw her almost every week and told her what was happening. What’s the point of writing it for her, my only real audience? I never advertised my blog/website. It was printed on a few business cards and I would give it out at my workshops, but I had no real audience and I knew it. Not much incentive to write. Did I mention that my personal life has been a mess and I wasn’t really excited about much of anything? Was I depressed? Probably. Am I depressed now? Absolutely. My ministry partner, my cheerleader, my audience of one is gone now.

What do I plan to do with Read The Book Ministries? I don’t know. For now, though, I have decided to stop teaching for a while. Within twenty-four hours of that horrible phone call Tuesday morning, I had cancelled just about everything that I was teaching or made plans for them to end. I don’t feel like teaching now. I was struggling before; my heart’s just not in it anymore and hadn’t been in a long time. I won’t give up on this project, though. She’d kick my butt if I did.

One of my last texts from her said, “Our hated word, persevere, is when the going gets tough, you keep going. I love you. I believe in your ministry – –  ‘Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.’ Romans 5:3-4.” She did believe in my ministry. I did, too. I DO, too. But my heart is heavy and my light is faint. For now. One day I’ll come back here and pick this back up. Her husband assured me we would find all of the things she had been working on at her house and return them to me. He thanked me that for the last four months she had been able to stay home and work on this project with/for me and it gave him four wonderful months to spend with his wife before she left us. But without my partner, I just don’t see myself doing this alone. Why am I putting this here on a blog no one reads? Because I know it’s in black and white so that kind of makes it a commitment. I’ll know it’s here waiting for me. And I’m guessing she’ll find a way to lead me along from the other side.

In loving memory of my best friend, even if she had never helped me with this project, she was my sister, my soul-mate, my friend. And she believed in me.

Love you, Cindy. I’ll see you again.

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It’s Time!

Have you ever messed up? I mean REALLY messed up. Most of us have. The people of God had messed up, too. God had a special relationship with His people, Israel. But they slowly turned their backs on Him. Everything was great under King David, but it started going downhill after that. There were several kings that sat on the throne of Israel, later called Judah, and all of them David’s descendants. But they slowly fell further and further away from God and eventually lost everything. Israel was destroyed. They were kicked out of their land and overtaken by their enemies. They’d blown it. But God is good, all the time. Even though they had messed up, He still promised that one day He would send a Savior. Lots of prophets said it would happen. They knew it would. And they waited. And they waited. And nothing happened for a long, long time. But then one day an angel shows up and says, “It’s Time!” It was time for God to make good on His promise and send the long awaited Messiah, who would not only come to save His precious Israel, but He would come to save us ALL. Way back in the beginning of the story, God told Abraham that one day all the world would be blessed through him. And it was time.

The birth of the baby Jesus was a world-changing event. All of history would be changed by it. It was a miracle. It was finally time for God’s promise to come true. That’s why we celebrate Christmas and the miracle of the Baby Boy that was born of a virgin. That was part of the prophecy that said we would know when God was at work making His promise come true.

I hope you won’t just take my word for it, but read the story for yourself. It starts with lots of hard-to-pronounce names. That’s just saying that the promise to Abraham, that one of his descendants would be the Savior, was true. It also linked the Baby Boy up with the kings who had once ruled Israel. They were His forefathers. He came from a line of kings and that made Him eligible to be a King, too. Not just of Israel, but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Here’s how the story goes. I hope you read it and see just how much Grace is found in the story.

Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 — The genealogies of Joseph and Mary

Luke 1:5-25 — John’s birth foretold

Luke 1:26-38 — Jesus’ birth foretold to Mary

Matthew 1:18-24 — Jesus’ birth foretold to Joseph

Luke 1:39-56 — Mary visits Elizabeth in Judea, then returns home

Luke 1:57-80 — John is born

Luke 2:1-5 — Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem

Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:6-7— Jesus is born

Luke 2:8-20 — The angels appear to the shepherds and they go visit Jesus

Luke 2:21-38 — Jesus is presented at the Temple, met by Simeon and Anna

Matthew 2:1-12 — The visit of the Magi

Matthew 2:13-18 — Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt

Matthew 2: 19-23 and Luke 2:40 — Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Nazareth

Merry Christmas!

Suzanne

(If you want to read this online, go to www.biblegateway.com and type the references in the search bar)

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Journey Through The Bible

For many years, Read THE Book Ministries has been focused on local teaching with the long-term goal to share the information with more than just those who commit to a 30 week class at my local church. I have loved teaching “Journey Through The Bible” in the classroom for many years and at several different locations. It always surprises me how many people tell me how much that class means to them and how little they actually knew about the Bible before taking my class. Almost half of the people who took the class took it again so that the second time through they were able to absorb things they missed the first time through. I especially love how many older, engineer, logical-minded men would come to me in the hallways and admit they thought they were the only ones who struggled with the Bible, that it’s not laid out in a way that makes sense. They say that I make it something they can understand – and they are so very grateful.

But this past summer, as I began thinking about teaching in the classroom again, I realized I want to do more than just tell you the stories and walk you through the events of history which is how the class works. I want you to read them for yourself. I know, I know – it’s hard! So I want to do some hand-holding while we go through it together. And I don’t want to be limited to just those who can be with me in the classroom. I want to reach out to those who may not be able to take a class with me. So I began thinking about ways to do that. I’ve decided on the Book Club format and will be using a Facebook group for discussion and accountability. I’ll give weekly reading assignments and send out helpful information to keep you on track. I’m going to start in January with a reading plan to read through the Bible in 2017. I’ll host weekly gatherings to discuss what we read and answer questions, but I won’t be actively teaching – that’s what the weekly notes are for. Hopefully I will be able to tweak the idea as we go and as I get feedback from those who will join me as I wander into new territory with this new idea. Contact me for access to the Facebook group. A new Journey begins!

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The Land of the Lost

There used to be a TV show called The Land of the Lost. It was about a family that somehow fell through time and ended up in prehistoric dinosaur days. I tuned in every week to see if they miraculously got back home without being eaten by a T-Rex. There is a story in the Bible (Luke 15) about a guy who found himself living in a Land of The Lost. There was a son that went to his father and asked for his inheritance money so he could leave home. The father gave it to him and he hit the road. He spent all the money and one day realized he didn’t have any money, he didn’t have a job, he didn’t have anything left. He was living in The Land of The Lost. He tucks his tail and goes home to ask his dad for a job; he’s willing to work for his father to earn some money; he had hit rock bottom. When he gets home, he sees his father standing out in the road, waiting for him. He tells his Dad he’s sorry and after his father hugs him, the father prepares a big feast to welcome his lost son home.

Jesus was telling the story to make a point. In fact, He told three different stories about lost stuff being found and how happy it made the person who had lost them. He was making the point that when something that was once lost gets found, you stop worrying about the circumstances in which it got lost and you just celebrate its return. He even said that was how God felt when a person who has been lost, gets found. When someone who has been living a life away from God comes BACK to God, He rejoices.

Have you been lost? I don’t mean – you can’t figure out which exit to take on the freeway lost. I mean – you can’t figure out which way to go in LIFE lost. I have. I have BTDT and it stinks. I sort of hit my own version of rock bottom and cried out to God for help. And you know what? He took me back with open arms. At that point, my journey toward a NEW LIFE IN CHRIST began.

Are you tired of living in The Land of The Lost; desperately wanting another chance? A fresh start? A New Life? The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning. It’s a good thing, too, because there are many, many times I need another chance. And another. And another. In the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son, Jesus said the father (God) was waiting, watching, hoping the son would come home. God is waiting, watching, and hoping you will come home, too.

You’ve probably heard the song Amazing Grace before. The first verse says: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” Are you ready to pack up and leave The Land of The Lost? If so, welcome to your NEW LIFE IN CHRIST!

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New Life In Christ – Accepting Christ as Your Lord and Savior

You’ve probably heard the phrase “accepting Christ” before, but WHAT does it mean and HOW do you do it? Christians are called Christians because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We learn about Christ by reading the Bible. I’ll explain more about the Bible in another post, but for now, just know that the bold words below are from the Bible. As you learn more about Christ, you may want to become a Christian. Why would you want to do this? Because Christians believe anyone who does not accept Christ cannot enter into eternal peace after our physical bodies die. We believe God is calling out to each of us, no matter who we are, what we have done, or what we grew up believing, everyone can be Saved by Accepting Christ. This is one way to understand it:

Nobody’s perfect. We have all sinned against God and against each other. You don’t have to be perfect in order to talk to God; you don’t even have to be good: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Nobody deserves God’s mercy. That’s what makes it such a great gift! The gift of salvation is better than any present you have ever received because it lasts FOREVER! If we all got what we deserved, we would get a one-way ticket to nowhere. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) It’s because Jesus already took our punishment for all the rotten things we have ever done, or ever will do, that we don’t have to get what we deserve. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) All we have to do to receive this gift of eternal life with God is to simply ask Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior – and believe that He will rescue us from sin and death. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Jesus doesn’t mind if we still need some work once we accept Him. The good news is that now we have His help to do all that He would ask us to do. Once we call Him Lord, He will be our guide through the rest of our lives, both here on earth and forever in life-after-death. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

If you would like to have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, pray this prayer or any other that comes to your mind (you might even consider praying out loud):

Lord, I know I don’t deserve it, but would You please take me as one of Your own? I want to be included in Your family and live with You forever in Your eternal kingdom. I haven’t done such a great job with my life so far, but if You will have it, I give it to You. I believe You sent Your son, Jesus Christ, to take my place on the cross and set me free from the eternal emptiness that I deserve. I’m sorry it had to be like that. Thank You for what You did for me. I now completely turn my life over to You and commit to a life of learning more about You, serving You in every way that I can, and sharing Your love with everyone that You put along my path.

In the Holy Name of Jesus Christ- Amen!

That’s it. No magic fairy dust, chants, or ceremonies. If you have not been baptized, please find a local church where you can do this. It is important to become part of a church family where you can worship Him weekly, study about Him through classes and other small groups, receive Holy Communion, and use the gifts and talents you have been given (Yes! You do have them) to serve Him in whatever way He leads. Don’t worry if it takes a while to figure this out, just commit to getting to know Him and His Word, and in time, you will find your way. And keep coming back here to learn more about your NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.

Congratulations! And welcome to the family!

Therefore, if ANYONE is in Christ, he is a New Creation; the old is gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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