Yes, We Can Do Better
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14)
JANUARY IS A SOUL-SEARCHING MONTH when we take stock of how things went last year and things we may want to change for the better during the coming months. I wrote this article last year and I need to look at it again. I see the bear hasn’t yet caught the man in the picture. I’ve been posting thoughts on Bible themes for ten years now and I like to go back review some of the articles to see how they look today.
I’VE READ THAT SOME OF THE BETTER-KNOWN magazine writers are never satisfied with what they write. It’s good to know that when they pull off their shoes and socks they always come to their bare feet. One of my best how-to books on writing says there are three main rules of writing: 1. Rewrite 2. Rewrite and 3. Rewrite.
THAT STATEMENT GIVES ME PERMISSION TO GO BACK AND READ MY STUFF AGAIN and see if a year of simmering on the back burner has made it any better…or ten years. Some of it looks scrappy, like it shouldn’t have been sent to anyone. And some of it, feeds my soul even if I did write it. Our long-time readers may see it as an old friend and our new readers haven’t seen it before. I hope you’ll find it worth reading again.
THE APOSTLE PAUL, SOMEHOW FOUND TIME TO WRITE THINGS DOWN, even if he had to do it in jail. He passed on and the people he preached to passed on and all that was left was what he wrote down for people to read. Well, that and the influence he had poured into those who listened to him and who decided they would die with him if need be.
PAT BOONE WAS THE ONLY SERIOUS THREAT TO ELVIS PRESSLEY in his early days. Last year he was interviewed on CBN. Early in his career, he let it be known that he embraced the Christian faith. For many years he has encouraged people to visit Israel and has taken groups of people there and acted as their guide. He mentioned that he has read the Bible through every year for the last thirty years. I must confess that his statement caused me to pause and stare at the wall. “Dan, did you hear that?”
I HAVE READ THE BIBLE A GOOD BIT AND MEMORIZED A FEW HUNDRED VERSES. But, I have not read the Bible through every year for thirty years. I can do better. We can read the Bible through in a year by reading four chapters a day. Barbara and I have read the Bible through, together, 10 or 11 times. Part of that time was when we were comparing six of the most popular modern translations with the King James Bible. We compared them verse-by-verse. The King James Bible best meets our needs.
WE CAN DO BETTER. It is not enough just to zip through a chapter, so we can say we have read it. It’s good to underscore words and make notes in the margins, and to read the commentaries. We use the King James Study Bible and the Defender’s Bible by Henry Morris. We scan commentaries by John MacArthur and the Bible Knowledge Commentary published by the Dallas Seminary. But, if you do not have time to mark and read commentaries and make notes, then read or listen to the Bible being read.
I HAVE HEARD BASKETBALL COACHES SAY THAT A TEAM MUST ALWAYS KEEP the fundamentals in good shape. (Does that ring your bell?) So, in warm-ups, they have the team doing the fundamentals of dribbling, passing, laying up, etc. They are always pressing to overcome laziness and slackness. The attitude is always: “We can do better.” The fellow trying to outrun the bear in our picture today…. had better do better. (I think he and the bear are good friends, but they demonstrate the need to do better if you’ve got a bear after you.)
A BIOGRAPHY OF JIMMY STEWART INCLUDED HIS SERVICE AS A B-24 bomber pilot. (I love to read his biography over and over.) He first trained on the B-17 and then moved up to its bigger brother, the B-24. His outfit moved to England as the base of bombing operations over Germany. They promoted him as a wing commander, and put him in charge of a squadron of planes (12-24 planes). A big problem with our Air Force in England was the weather that grounded the planes.
STEWART KNEW THAT THE SAFETY OF HIS MEN (9-11 men per plane) depended a lot on their keeping a keen edge on flying. So, he watched the weather like a hawk and when there was a break in the weather, he had his crews in the air flying in formation and going through routine maneuvers. Some of the men resented this, since they noticed other squadrons remained on the ground while they were required to be in the air. The bomber interiors were very cold at high altitudes, and the men were cold even though they had heaters built into their flight outfits.
A SERIOUS PART OF BOMBER MISSIONS WAS COUNTING THE PLANES as they returned to base. (I’ve read that the casualty rate was about 50% on airmen and that they lost as many men in total as the marines.) When the planes returned to base after a mission, there was always a group of ambulances waiting to remove the wounded and dead from the planes.
ONE DAY, STEWART'S MEN NOTICED THAT MORE OF HIS PLANES were returning home with fewer casualties than the other squadrons. Word got around and soon men from some of the other squadrons began asking to be transferred to Stewart’s squadron when there was an opening. The point of the story is that Stewart was committed to the idea that “we can do better.” And that we “must do better.”
I HAVE TRAVELED AND MIXED WITH CHURCHS AND INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS enough to know that American Christianity is weak. The reason for this is that we are great at buying Bibles and giving Bibles to our children and couples getting married and that’s the end of it. We are not good at reading those Bibles. We can do better.
I HAVE LONG BELIEVED THAT THE LACK OF PRAYER IS RELATED TO THE LACK OF BIBLE READING. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) There are literally tons and tons of books written and sold about Bible themes and Bible-related Christian fiction, etc. Many of these books are good and worth their price. But the Bible itself must not play second-fiddle to all the other books on the market.
I BELIEVE BIBLE READING AND BIBLE LIVING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in the moral structure of America: from the cradle to the grave! I continue to feature: Read Through the Bible in a Year in Morning Minute and try to make sure it’s mailed out on weekends too. I realize that only a small percentage of our readers use that feature. We are busy and there’s only so much time in the day. But some do read that feature. May I encourage you to read the daily Bible readings. We can do better. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JANUARY 19, 2018 – FRIDAY
A.M. Genesis 44-45 P.M. Matthew 14:1-21
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Do you know Lester Roloff? We have a song by his singers today. He often held up his Bible while he was preaching. He’s in Heaven and I miss him. I played for him to sing several times in various meetings. I talked with him by phone and was in his home on one occasion in Corpus Christi, TX. He was a straight shooter. In 1982, at 20,000 feet a storm ripped the wing off his plane and he plunged to the earth. They found him, face down, clutching his King James Bible. He had several girl singers with him. They all died in the crash.
A Good Verse to Memorize:
For whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Romans 14:23b
Song for Today:
Through it All (3:29) (Lester Roloff- Mixed Quartet)
Wait ten seconds for the song to come up.
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