A Challenge for Change — I heard something on the radio program Haven Today a couple months ago that challenged me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. A blogger named Amy Gross was being interviewed. She has quite a large following at http://www.momstoolbox.com/ and promotes a program that definitely caught my interest. It is called The Bible in Ninety Days and is just what the name implies – a plan that encourages people to read the Bible from cover to cover in just ninety days.

The Bible in Ninety Days is not original to Amy Gross, however. A man by the name of Ted Cooper developed it. His is an interesting story, actually. He was an agnostic to begin with, but as his children began to grow and ask questions, he began to wonder. Wanting to settle the issue once and for all, and to do it quickly, he decided to read the Bible through. He divided the number of pages in a Bible by ninety so he could be done in three months time, and began to read. Halfway through the Old Testament he accepted Christ as his Savior. His life was changed and as he grew, he wanted to share what had happened to him with others. He began to develop study notes and a curriculum to go along with the Bible-reading.

Amy heard about this plan and did it for herself – several times – and then shared it on her blog. From there it has continued to grow as she has encouraged others to do The Bible in Ninety Days along with her. As I listened to her describe the plan a question immediately came to my mind – “But what good does racing through the Scriptures like that do? Can I get anything of value for my life from it, or is it just a notch in my belt to say I’ve done it?”

Amy answered my questions almost before I was through thinking them. First of all, she shared the study guide that she uses. It is called SOAP. After reading the Scripture passages for the day (which usually takes about an hour), she chooses the one thing she believes God might be telling her that day. Then with her Bible and journal she applies SOAP:

***S: Scripture – She chooses one small passage out of the reading – it might be only a

*****verse or two – that she believes the Lord is using to speak to her that day and writes
*****it in her journal.

***O: Observation – She asks herself the question, “What is God telling me here?”

***A: Application – Then she asks, “How can I apply it to my life?

***P: Prayer – She prays, asking God to show her how and to enable her to make that
*****application in her life.

There are other benefits from reading the Bible in this manner, Amy says. First, reading the whole Bible in just ninety days helped her to get an overall perspective on the Scriptures and to see how wonderfully and miraculously they fit together. Then, it answered many of the questions she had had over the years. And finally, it changed her. Her relationship with Christ grew as she read and listened to His Word. II Timothy 3:16, 17 says, after all, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Every few months Amy issues the challenge again to join her in reading the Bible in ninety days. The official Challenge begins again in a week, on July 5th. Of course, you don’t have to do it with her in the Challenge. I considered starting The Bible in Ninety Days on my own back in April when I first heard about it, but I had just begun the series of 43 messages on the book of Revelation by Dr. David Jeremiah called Escape the Coming Night and I was already spending two or three hours a day listening to them. The timing worked out just right that I will finish that series this week and be ready to begin The Bible in Ninety Days Challenge next week.
If you’re interested in reading more about this yourself, check it out at on Amy Gross’ website at http://www.momstoolbox.com/. She’s got a lot of other interesting things there, too, as well as the link to the ninety-day reading schedule. An hour, or hour and a half, a day may seem like a lot to carve out of one’s day, but I think all of us can generally find the time to do what is really important to us. I may have to get up earlier in the morning, or cut out something else of less importance to get it done, but I want to challenge myself to accomplish this in full. I challenge you to do it, too!
Hot, Hot, Hot! – It has been sooooo hot the last week or two! Hannibal, MO, where we had our family reunion last weekend, was so hot and humid that the first thing I did when I got to town was to go straight to WalMart to buy some cooler clothes than the ones I had brought with me. I could have dealt with it if the air conditioning had been working correctly at the hotel, but that first day, at least, it was nearly as miserable inside as it was outside. Bob doesn’t call it Missouri. He says “Hannibal, Misery.”
It’s been nearly as hot and muggy here in NW Indiana, though, this week as it was there. Every time I e-mail my son-in-law David, however, and am tempted to complain about the heat I just feel foolish. He is stationed in Iraq and Julie told me last night that the temperature there lately has been 124 degrees! It is a dry heat, but David said it is like being in an oven, and when the wind is blowing, it is like a blast oven. It’s hard for us to imagine, isn’t it? He gladly told Julie of a little relief they had the other day. It only got up to 100 degrees that day. A virtual cold snap!
It’s all relative, isn’t it, and dependent on our perspective. I am sure when David gets back to steamy Alabama he’ll be thankful for the weather there! Somehow, we managed to live through these same hot, humid temperatures back before the days of central air conditioning. We now endure them only long enough to hustle from door to car to door and back again. I remember, as a kid, sitting in front of a fan with a tall glass of ice water to stay cool, or spending my days at the pool. Now if the electricity fails, or my air conditioner goes out it is a calamity! We are so spoiled… Nevertheless, I thank Him for modern technology once again in allowing us the luxury of central air!
Imagine living your life in the blast furnace of heat in Iraq and Israel – the part of the world where this Scripture was given – in the days before electricity, and the feeling behind this verse becomes even clearer: “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” (Isaiah 25:1, 4) He is faithful to meet all our needs; a refuge to us from the storm and from the heat, a way through the floods and the fire. Praise His name!
Pumpkin, the Prodigal Pup – Okay, I just can’t resist sharing another Pumpkin story with you.
Julie called the night before we left for Hannibal in tears. Pumpkin was lost. They’d been looking for hours and had not found her before night fell. Julie was broken-hearted and the kids were crying. Somehow (they think she was chasing a rabbit), she had found a loose board in the fence and in a matter of minutes disappeared out of their backyard. Julie especially was kicking herself because the dog didn’t have her collar on. She’d had a sore on her neck so Julie had removed the collar a day or two earlier to allow the cut to heal. Now, unless someone took her to a vet or the pound and they found the microchip identifying her, she might be gone for good. And what if she got hit by a car, or grabbed by a coyote? The precious, pampered little pound puppy who had only been with them two months had quickly worked her way into their hearts and home and now they were worried sick about her.
I was heartsick, too. I had to get up early to leave for Hannibal, but it was well after 3:00 AM before I finally fell asleep. I was praying that somehow the Lord would protect Pumpkin wherever she was during that night and bring her home. It was hard to imagine that the sweet blessing that Pumpkin had been to Julie and the kids since David left for Iraq was gone for good. I reminded the Lord (as if He needed reminding) of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and even the lost son of which Luke 15 speaks, and the rejoicing when they are found! (Okay, I know comparing a lost dog to a sinner who accepts the Lord doesn’t quite work, but still…) I asked Him to show those children who were praying with all their hearts His glory in miraculously returning their pet.
After her own sleepless night, Julie got up early and went out to hang up posters around the neighborhood. She gathered the phone numbers of all the vets, pounds, and police departments in the area to call and ask them to be on the lookout for Pumpkin. She was just about to start calling when the phone rang. Someone in the subdivision had found Pumpkin the night before and seen one of the posters!
They hurried over to get her. It was just as Julie had imagined – Pumpkin had ended up several streets over, just on the edge of the subdivision where she would have been out on the highway if she had gone any further, and seen a man out in his yard. She had run to him, flung herself over on her back with belly exposed, and begged for love and attention! The older couple, dog-lovers themselves with three dogs of their own, took her in for the night and were all set to take her in to their own vet the next morning to look for a microchip when they saw the poster.
The rejoicing over the prodigal pup was great! Julie called me as we were on our way to Hannibal and told me the good news. Oh, such relief – and thanksgiving to God! I could enjoy the reunion now without worrying about my grand-puppy (just kidding about the grand-puppy part!) “Rejoice with me; for I have found the [pup] which I had lost!” Julie laughingly told me later that Pumpkin’s overnight adventure had cost her another $50, as she took homemade cookies and a gift certificate to Cracker Barrel to the people who had found her later that evening.
Julie tells me every time she mentions Pumpkin, what a wonderful, sweet, smart, good little dog she is and how they feel so blessed by God to have her. She has helped them through a difficult time. Just last night, she said, Hannah was praying and thanked God for Pumpkin – her doggie-sister! It took Hannah a while to adjust to having a dog, and in fact, it seemed she was a little jealous of the attention Pumpkin received at first. To hear her call Pumpkin her “doggie-sister” was new and a step in the right direction! Of course, a little later last night when Julie stopped to pet Pumpkin and say (in baby-talk), “Oh, what a good girl you are, Pumpkin! Such a good girl!” she heard Hannah plaintively ask, “Aren‘t I a good girl, too, Mommy?” *Sigh.* It’s a good thing God gave her a doggie-sister to prepare her for when she gets her adopted siblings from El Salvador!

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