pet exhorts owner to read her Bible

The following “better than average story” is the work of a dear friend of mine, Kathy Read, long-time secretary for the Missouri Street Church of Christ in Baytown, TX.



In today’s normal use of the language, we rarely use the word “exhort,” a word meaning “strong or ardent urging.” However, it seems that God inserts a wide variety of exhortations and reminders into our lives, some being ones we would never have even dreamed possible. For example, who would ever have considered the word used for exhortation to be “Arf?”

Now this year’s Bible reading project in my church family is the Psalms. I will freely confess: a regular reader of the Psalms I am not. I am not! But, I am once again giving this project a try.

Evening is when I do my reading in the Psalms and my evenings are spent with the faithful companion that God put in my life about ten years ago. She is a wee, small thing, currently down to her 98 pounds from her high of 110. In the dog pound she looked so beaten down and sad, but she looked at me like, “Please, take me out of this place!” And so I did and named her Shadow.

Now Shadow exhorts me at times. She has various ways to do this exhorting. Sometimes it is with a look. At other times it is an ear-piercing bark. And at still other times it is by simply walking over to the fridge and staring at the door as she tries to get her frozen marshmallows to materialize for our 7:00 p.m. game of catch. They are a relatively safe item to throw in the house, especially the mini-size. Great fun.

But, back to the Bible reading project. Normally about 8:00 p.m. I’ll say to my companion, “It is time to go read the Bible.” And after several weeks of this it is now routine for us, most nights. We go into the living room where the good old recliner and lamp are and we get comfortable; me in the chair and her laying right next to me on the floor. This year after nearly falling asleep reading silently, I decided maybe I’d get more out of it if I read the Psalms aloud … to Shadow. She doesn’t mind the mistakes or mispronunciations. After a few sighs, she looks up at me as if to say, “All is well” and she stops throwing balls at me and talking to me about various topics I’m still trying to understand and we read half a dozen Psalms or so together.

That is “Normally.” Some nights I doze off in front of the television and that is when my personal encourager/exhorter kicks in. She comes over next to me and stands there looking at me until she wakes me up. I’m supposed to move at this point, but some nights I can’t budge. She begins pacing back and forth from me to the recliner, to the recliner and me. If movement does not take place quickly enough, she walks back to me with a soft bark and walks back to the recliner. If by then I still haven’t gotten into gear, her exhortation kicks into high gear. She has the most ear splitting “Arf” you can imagine! You need ear protection for jet engines … and Shadow. By then, I’m on my way to the recliner, my Bible, and the lamp.

I start in with “O Lord” or “Sing to our God” or one of those beginning phrases throughout Psalms and once again the contented sigh is heard in satisfaction, knowing she has accomplished the work that God has placed in her being, to be that encouragement that a person needs in this world today.

Several thoughts come from this little message – exhortations to us all – but two stand out to me in this moment. First, look for the good, the encouragement in the smallest of things, and you will find it. And the second – the most important – is this: if hearing God’s word brings peace and contentment to an old dog, just imagine the joy and happiness it brings to God himself if we take the time to read of his love story to us.

Peace and “Arf!” to you!

C45: MoSt Church’s 2017 Bible project


Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119.105)

Every year at MoSt Church we involve ourselves in a church-wide Bible reading project. This coming year’s project (2017) is called C45 and is a micro-level reading approach.

What does C45 mean? The C in C45 stands for “crucial” and the “45” is the project’s length (45 weeks).

What’s C45 about? In a very few words: as a church, we’ll memorize and meditate on 45 very brief but vital Scriptures between Jan. 8 and Nov. 26, 2017.

Where will we be in the word? We’ll be into the Old Testament (e.g. – Numbers 6.24-26; Psalm 46.1-2; Proverbs 3.5-6; Isaiah 29.13; Micah 6.8). And we’ll also be all over the New Testament (e.g. – Acts 2.38; 3.19; Colossians 3.17; 4.5; Hebrews 4.14-16; 1 John 1.7; Jude 24). At times we’ll focus on a context for awhile, lingering on a chunk of Scripture (e.g. – Matthew 5.3-12a; Philippians 2.2-4; Colossians 1.15-20; James 1.19-21). However, most of the time we’ll be “here and there.”

How long is each week’s text to memorize? No week’s text exceeds 35 words in length (e.g. – Matthew 22.37-38; 1 Peter 1.3). That is very, very doable; not burdensome at all. In fact, many weeks the text length to commit to memory is 25 words or less (e.g. – Exodus 34.6b-7a; Psalm 55.22). Some weeks the text is even uber-brief: think 15 words or less (e.g. – Galatians 5.6b; Philippians 1.21; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18a).

Which version of the Bible will we use in this project? No one translation, but a variety. However, the CEB, KNT, NIV, NLT, NRSV, and The Voice will predominate. Why? We’ll select on the basis of which works best for that text for this project.

Let me tell you: this is going to be good stuff!

Classes and sermons will supplement. You’ll be encouraged to journal, but memorize for sure. Consider now how you can share such with your friends and/or family then. Get creative.

So, be encouraged and determine to be an encouragement. Gear up with anticipation and prayer. Get thirsty for the word of the Lord and prepare to drink it in.

Remember: C45. Mark it down: January 8. And watch for “C45” in the coming weeks/months and you’ll see much more word to come on this project throughout the coming weeks/months.

All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. (2 Timothy 3.16-17, The Voice)

a 9-day hygiene routine in Romans


You shower or bathe daily, right? For this we’re all even more grateful, right? And yet, what about your ways with others? When was the last time you carefully washed away any filth and scrubbed off all of the stink that’s a part of the way you treat others? Has it been awhile?

You use toothpaste and/or mouthwash, right? For this, we’re all very thankful. But, do you do a brain and heart wash? Have you even done that this week?

To be sure – we all need it. And we dare not think we can “skip a day” or that we’re “good enough” for we all know that there are plenty of times that we think we pass “the sniff test,” but others would tell us, if prodded for honesty and they were true friend, that … parts of us, well, just plain stink or that there’s dirt in places we can’t see. For just as a person will never see 30% of their own body without the aid of a mirror, so there is no small percentage of our ways to which we will always remain blind, nose blind even, without the help of others.

And so, we all need others – especially the others we don’t think we need!

Remember: honest to God Christian faith is not about you and God. It is about God and your relationship with him and all others. Think “one another,” not merely “me and him.”

All of which leads me to note: there are several dozen instances of the phrase “one another” in the New Testament and a significant number of them – quite a cluster, really – appear in the latter part of Romans (ch.12-16). And while we’re reading through Romans right now, I’d encourage all of us to keep our eyes open for these passages.

And why is that? Because they speak clearly and directly to the heart of a very important matter – to use our common and terribly watered-down way of speaking today – how church members treat other church members. All of them. Take the time to seriously ponder what it would look like for you to carefully live these things out in your life, and deeply so. To the point that you became a walking, talking embodiment of each one of them in your ways with others, all others, beginning with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Each of these nine statements are exceedingly brief, so brief in fact that you could easily memorize one in the morning and turn it over and over again in your mind throughout the course of a day.

Be devoted to one another in love. (Romans 12.10a)

Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12.10b)

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. (Romans 12.16; cf. 15.5)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13.8)

… let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14.13)

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus … (Romans 15.5; cf. 12.16)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15.7)

instruct one another. (Romans 15.14)

Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16.16)

Think of these matters as floss for your heart and body wash for your behavior. And then imagine a church full of people practicing the same every day.

Courteous, to say the very least, no? Respectful, to be sure. In truth – beautiful.

2015 church-wide Bible reading project – Take Note: Give Thanks!

I urge every MoSt Church member to participate in next year’s church-wide Bible reading project! It will be unlike any reading project you have ever done before. While most Bible-reading efforts focus on what to read, our focus in 2015 will be not on what we read, but on how, when, and where we read. That’s right: what you read is left completely up to you.

How will that work? Let me answer in a Q & A format.

Q. When will the 2015 reading project start and conclude?

A. Our reading will start on Mon., Jan. 5 and will continue through Fri., Nov. 20.

Q. At what pace should I read?

A. You’ll make the call as you’re the one who determines both the parameters and pace of your reading. Whatever you decide, tailor your choice to maximize your ability to actually accomplish the reading.

Q. So what’s the plan? What’s it made of?

A. This project has four components. The first concerns the place and time of our reading. Strive to be as consistent as possible in this, making it a matter of daily routine – the same place and time.

Second, if at all possible, do your reading in a paper (non-electronic) format. Is that a change for you? Roll with it for it’s good to get out of your comfort zone on occasion!

Third, take a few, simple notes on each day’s reading. Those notes can be as simple or as involved as you want to make them. The point is to truly engage what you’re reading.

The fourth component is not directly related to your daily reading, but will connect with the persistent theme of gratitude that runs throughout all of scripture. At the end of each day, take ten minutes to write down three matters that happened that very day for which you are thankful, and as best as you can discern, why those three things happened. Then, pray in regarding such. Try to make this step virtually the last thing you give real thought to, and actually do, right before you go to bed each night. Seek to work this fourth component on a daily basis – no exceptions! – whether or not your Bible reading plan is daily.

Q. Why should I participate?

A. The purpose behind all of this is fourfold. We want to help you: (1) create a habit of body and mind that associates a specific place and time with feeding on God’s word, (2) develop a mental and tactile sense about such, (3) truly engage what you read, and (4) fill your mind at the close of each day with good things you recall that cause you to thank God.

Further, think not only of the benefit you’ll receive forming this habit of discipline, but think also of the good your children, grandchildren or other loved ones will derive in the future from pouring over your handwritten notes about Scripture and your thankfulness to God. Just imagine the possibilities of what God could do with such tools!

Q. Is there a verse that sums up the essence of this effort?

A. Yes! In fact, there are two texts: Philippians 4.8 and Psalm 106.1. Memorize both passages as soon as possible if you haven’t already. In fact, I’d encourage you to recite Phil. 4.8 every morning, out loud, before you even get out of bed, every day next year. Similarly, I’d encourage you to recite Ps. 106.1  aloud before and after your night’s posting of three things for which you are thankful. Using these two verses so can only help us deliberately enhance the growth of a mind bent all the more toward the Lord.

Q. How will you go about your reading, preacher man?

A. I’ll read the Old Testament through on a six-day-per-week schedule with Sunday being my ‘off’ day. I’ll do my reading sitting in my favorite chair in my study at my house somewhere between 5:15-6:30 a.m. The translation I’ll use for this project is The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition. I’ll make my thankfulness list in a small, leather journal that was given to me as a gift. And I’ll make my Bible notes in the NIV Note-Taker’s Bible.

If you have any questions – or are looking for some suggestions – as to this project, do let me hear from you.

Oh, and I’d greatly enjoy hearing how, when, and where you’ll do your reading and writing, as well as the what of it. Share such with me, won’t you?

May we be formed by this daily discipline it into something more of a blessing from God to each other and the whole world.


“From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4.8 CEB)

word for the weak: week forty


Following is this week’s reading schedule and memory verse in MoSt Church‘s 2012 Uncommon Truth for Common People Bible reading project. The page numbers correspond to the Daily Companion Bible (DCB). Each week’s theme and Scriptures are discussed in our Wednesday night auditorium class.

• Mon., Oct. 1 – Psalm 24.1-5; Matthew 5.5; 1 Timothy 1.5; James 3.17 (p. 236)

• Tues., Oct. 2 – Ephesians 4.17-5.6 (p. 237)

• Wed., Oct. 3 – Psalm 51.7-10; Malachi 3.1-6 (p. 238)

• Thur., Oct. 4 – Psalm 119.1-16 (p. 239)

• Fri., Oct. 5 – Galatians 5.16-26 (p. 240)

This week’s memory verse is: “Who can ascend the Lord’s mountain? Who can stand in his holy sanctuary? Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart …” (Psalm 24.3-4a)

word for the weak: week thirty-three


This week’s theme in MoSt Church‘s 2012 Bible reading project – the Uncommon Truth for Common People project – is leadership. Each week’s theme and Scriptures are discussed in our Wednesday night auditorium class.

• Mon., Aug. 13 – John 13.1-20

• Tues., Aug. 14 – 1 Peter 5.1-10

• Wed., Aug. 15 – Exodus 33.7-23

• Thur., Aug. 16 – Exodus 8.7-17; Deuteronomy 1.9-18

• Fri., Aug. 17 – Deuteronomy 4.1-14; Hebrews 3.12-13

This week’s memory verse is Heb. 3.12: “Watch out … that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God.”

word for the weak: week thirty-two


This week’s theme in MoSt Church‘s 2012 Bible reading project – the Uncommon Truth for Common People project – is influence. Each week’s theme and Scriptures are discussed in our Wednesday night auditorium class.

• Mon., Aug. 6 – Joshua 2.1-24; 6.15-25; James 2.24-26

• Tues., Aug. 7 – Numbers 22.1-28; 24.1-14

• Wed., Aug. 8 – Ezra 4.1-5; 4.24-5.17; 6.14-18

• Thur., Aug. 9 – Acts 6.8-15; 7.54-8.3; 9.1-22

• Fri., Aug. 10 – Matthew 5.14-16; 2 Corinthians 2.12-3.6

This week’s memory verse is 2 Cor. 2.15: “We smell like the aroma of Christ’s offering to God …”