…wow, so it’s Sunday and it’s officially the Sabbath.  God says it helps us to take one in 7 off and I believe him.  We work pretty much as hard as we can charting these books, so when there’s a day off, I sit typing at a computer.  Haha, not really… kind of.  it’s sort of a computer age, but oh well.  Montana is gorgeous right now, fall leaves everywhere, and mountains…and a beautiful lake…

The way this works, I am learning, is that we have a medium sized book like Mark to chart for the week.  It’s all done on-line and collected, finished or not, at 5pm Saturday.  There are several stages.  First, you read the book out loud in a group of about 4.  For Luke, that took 2 hrs. Then you go back and do paragraph titles, which means every paragraph is titled using no more than 4 words from that paragraph… in order, that summarize it.  After that, you divide the book into divisions, sections, and segments,  with titles for those as well.  From there (I forget which comes first) you come up with the main idea or theme of the book, the reason it was written, and pick the “Key Verse” that sums up the crux of the book.  Then you start again, for the 3rd time, and go through and color code it.  This means you make notations with colored pencils for observations like contrasts, repeated themes, comparisons, promises, predictions, literary content, etc. right in your copy of the ESV Bible.  Then you chart the book.    But before that, you have a “checker” sign off on your “horizontal” which is the divisions you created earlier, your key verse, theme, etc.  Until you’re signed off, you can’t chart.

The charting is the biggest part, so you want to be done with all the preliminary readings and stuff no later than Monday night.  Remember, you might have started Saturday, took Sunday off, and had some class Monday.  For each segment, you write up a chart. (Mark has 15-17) Each one is like a little sermon or paper.  You more or less type your color-coded observations into the computer program in a column on the left.  Then you go back and pick something as a primary observation and write up a “build” about that on the right.  You  are free to write as many builds as you want, but so far, it’s hard to get any more than 2 with any quality and still finish by the deadline.  A “build” is an observation with supporting observations under it (all with references), a series of questions and answers called the interpretation, and finally, the application part of the build.  That’s where you take it from the OR/OH (Original Reader/Hearer) standpoint and bring it to the contemporary reader, which is me, or you, or people alive today. This application comes from a Timeless Truth you pull from the text. So that’s plus or minus 30 timeless truths from a book like Mark in a given week.

The Bible has so much more, the deeper you go into it.  Who gets to take 9 months and do this? The thing I keep thinking is, “I am sinner, saved by grace.”  The word is like light shining into my heart.  Sometimes personally applying all these timeless truths is a bit of a flogging and I realize what a sinner I really am.

There was a day when I thought, “If I could just quit drinking and smoking and all that, I’d be pretty much fine.”  HA! The opposite is actually true.  The outside stuff is relatively easy to fix and actually was just symptoms of the inside stuff like, rebellious thoughts, self-pity, selfishness, comparison with others, unbelief, fear of intimacy, etc. etc. etc. It seems endless.  I’d like to say I’m like the disciples, but if the truth were known, I am more like a Pharisee… and who had a real problem with Jesus?  I am learning it’s possible to go from crazy, reckless lost to repentance to forgiveness, then to some self-righteous thing.  Jesus warns us to watch out for this…

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (Luke 12:1b-2)

Sobering… Grace. Grace. Grace.  Amen.

I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.