WBE reading schedule for Aug. 2009

Following is Whole Bible Experience (WBE) reading schedule: August 2009
This is the reading schedule for the month of August for the Whole Bible Experience, a one-year, church-wide Bible reading project. I am privileged to serve as the preaching minister with the Missouri Street Church of Christ in Baytown, TX and I would love for you to follow me in this journey through the entire Bible! Just watch for regular posts  here on this blog or check the daily posts on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/preachersmith) or on Twitter.com and we’ll stay in this thing together.
This project makes use of a use of a “special Bible” – The Books of the Bible (IBS, 2007; http://tinyurl.com/l55xg3); hence the page numbers listed below. However, the chapter and verse references listed enable you to follow this reading schedule in your “regular” Bible. And the URLs are direct links to BibleGateway (www.biblegateway.com) to leave you without any excuse whatsoever. The following schedule is the schedule I’ll follow: a six-day-per-week schedule that makes Sundays my “off” day. Join me on this journey!
Sun.; Aug. 2
WBE Day 1: Genesis 1:1-4:26 (pp.7-11; http://bit.ly/zchjL).
Mon.; Aug. 3
WBE Day 2: Genesis 5:1-10:5 (pp.12-16; http://bit.ly/61n76).
Tues.; Aug. 4
WBE Day 3: Genesis 10:6-15:21 (pp.17-22; http://bit.ly/wHcZK).
Wed.; Aug. 5
WBE Day 4: Genesis 16:1-20:18 (pp.23-27; http://bit.ly/g9X5R).
Thur.; Aug. 6
WBE Day 5: Genesis 21:1-24:9 (pp.27-31; http://bit.ly/3E3XJx).
Fri.; Aug. 7
WBE Day 6: Genesis 24:10-26:11 (pp.31-35; http://bit.ly/NNKoQ).
Sat.; Aug. 8
WBE Day 7: Genesis 26:12-29:30 (pp.35-40; http://bit.ly/7dCeW).
Sun.; Aug. 9
Off day; review previous week’s reading
Mon.; Aug. 10
WBE Day 8: Genesis 29:31-33:17 (pp.40-46; http://bit.ly/ayHA5).
Tues.; Aug. 11
WBE Day 9: Genesis 33:18-37:11 (pp.46-51; http://bit.ly/1lCJGD).
Wed.; Aug. 12
WBE Day 10: Genesis 37:12-40:23 (pp.51-55; http://bit.ly/3qBPnb).
Thur.; Aug. 13
WBE Day 11: Genesis 41:1-42:38 (pp.55-59; http://bit.ly/12JnGF).
Fri.; Aug. 14
WBE Day 12: Genesis 43:1-46:27 (pp.59-64; http://bit.ly/NBJv7).
Sat.; Aug. 15
WBE Day 13: Genesis 46:28-48:22 (pp.64-67; http://bit.ly/a2lsH).
Sun.; Aug. 16
Off day; review previous week’s reading
Mon.; Aug. 17
WBE Day 14: Genesis 49:1-50:26 (pp.67-71; http://bit.ly/NLgRg).
Tues.; Aug. 18
WBE Day 15: Exodus 1:1-5:21 (pp.77-81; http://tinyurl.com/lt8nhj).
Wed.; Aug. 19
WBE Day 16: Exodus 5:22-9:35 (pp.81-86; http://tinyurl.com/kw3x8m).
Thur.; Aug. 20
WBE Day 17: Exodus 10:1-13:22 (pp.86-91; http://tinyurl.com/l6raf6).
Fri.; Aug. 21
WBE Day 18: Exodus 14:1-16:36 (pp.91-96; http://tinyurl.com/m63ls5).
Sat.; Aug. 22
WBE Day 19: Exodus 17:1-21:36 (pp.96-101; http://tinyurl.com/l529wg).
Sun.; Aug. 23
Off day; review previous week’s reading
Mon.; Aug. 24
WBE Day 20: Exodus 22:1-24:18 (pp.101-104; http://tinyurl.com/m8htpg).
Tues.; Aug. 25
WBE Day 21: Exodus 25:1-28:43 (pp.104-108; http://tinyurl.com/mbvvuo).
Wed.; Aug. 26
WBE Day 22: Exodus 29:1-31:18 (pp.108-112; http://tinyurl.com/mcks3x).
Thur.; Aug. 27
WBE Day 23: Exodus 32:1-35:3 (pp.112-116; http://tinyurl.com/mgk5yl).
Fri.; Aug. 28
WBE Day 24: Exodus 35:4-38:31 (pp.116-120; http://tinyurl.com/kqkqoy).
Sat.; Aug. 29
WBE Day 25: Exodus 39:1-40:38 (pp.120-122; http://tinyurl.com/mg3oe6).
Sun.; Aug. 30
Off day; review previous week’s reading
Mon.; Aug. 31
WBE Day 26: Leviticus 1:1-6:7 (pp.125-129; http://bit.ly/10Jc2K).F

Following is the reading schedule for the month of August for the Whole Bible Experience, a one-year, church-wide Bible reading project. I am privileged to serve as the preaching minister with the Missouri Street Church of Christ in Baytown, TX and I would love for you to follow me in this journey through the entire Bible! Just watch for regular posts  here on this blog or check the daily posts on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/preachersmith) or on Twitter.com and we’ll stay in this thing together.

This project makes use of a use of a “special Bible” – The Books of the Bible (IBS, 2007; http://tinyurl.com/l55xg3) – and so, that’s the reason for the page  numbers listed below. However, you can make use of your “regular” Bible by simply following the chapter and verse references. And the URLs are direct links to BibleGateway (www.biblegateway.com) to leave you without any excuse whatsoever. This schedule is the schedule I’ll personally follow: a six-day-per-week schedule that makes Sundays my “off” day (actually, “review” day). Join me on this journey!

Sun.; Aug. 2

WBE Day 1: Genesis 1:1-4:26 (pp.7-11; http://bit.ly/zchjL).

Mon.; Aug. 3

WBE Day 2: Genesis 5:1-10:5 (pp.12-16; http://bit.ly/61n76).

Tues.; Aug. 4

WBE Day 3: Genesis 10:6-15:21 (pp.17-22; http://bit.ly/wHcZK).

Wed.; Aug. 5

WBE Day 4: Genesis 16:1-20:18 (pp.23-27; http://bit.ly/g9X5R).

Thur.; Aug. 6

WBE Day 5: Genesis 21:1-24:9 (pp.27-31; http://bit.ly/3E3XJx).

Fri.; Aug. 7

WBE Day 6: Genesis 24:10-26:11 (pp.31-35; http://bit.ly/NNKoQ).

Sat.; Aug. 8

WBE Day 7: Genesis 26:12-29:30 (pp.35-40; http://bit.ly/7dCeW).

Sun.; Aug. 9

Off day; review previous week’s reading

Mon.; Aug. 10

WBE Day 8: Genesis 29:31-33:17 (pp.40-46; http://bit.ly/ayHA5).

Tues.; Aug. 11

WBE Day 9: Genesis 33:18-37:11 (pp.46-51; http://bit.ly/1lCJGD).

Wed.; Aug. 12

WBE Day 10: Genesis 37:12-40:23 (pp.51-55; http://bit.ly/3qBPnb).

Thur.; Aug. 13

WBE Day 11: Genesis 41:1-42:38 (pp.55-59; http://bit.ly/12JnGF).

Fri.; Aug. 14

WBE Day 12: Genesis 43:1-46:27 (pp.59-64; http://bit.ly/NBJv7).

Sat.; Aug. 15

WBE Day 13: Genesis 46:28-48:22 (pp.64-67; http://bit.ly/a2lsH).

Sun.; Aug. 16

Off day; review previous week’s reading

Mon.; Aug. 17

WBE Day 14: Genesis 49:1-50:26 (pp.67-71; http://bit.ly/NLgRg).

Tues.; Aug. 18

WBE Day 15: Exodus 1:1-5:21 (pp.77-81; http://tinyurl.com/lt8nhj).

Wed.; Aug. 19

WBE Day 16: Exodus 5:22-9:35 (pp.81-86; http://tinyurl.com/kw3x8m).

Thur.; Aug. 20

WBE Day 17: Exodus 10:1-13:22 (pp.86-91; http://tinyurl.com/l6raf6).

Fri.; Aug. 21

WBE Day 18: Exodus 14:1-16:36 (pp.91-96; http://tinyurl.com/m63ls5).

Sat.; Aug. 22

WBE Day 19: Exodus 17:1-21:36 (pp.96-101; http://tinyurl.com/l529wg).

Sun.; Aug. 23

Off day; review previous week’s reading

Mon.; Aug. 24

WBE Day 20: Exodus 22:1-24:18 (pp.101-104; http://tinyurl.com/m8htpg).

Tues.; Aug. 25

WBE Day 21: Exodus 25:1-28:43 (pp.104-108; http://tinyurl.com/mbvvuo).

Wed.; Aug. 26

WBE Day 22: Exodus 29:1-31:18 (pp.108-112; http://tinyurl.com/mcks3x).

Thur.; Aug. 27

WBE Day 23: Exodus 32:1-35:3 (pp.112-116; http://tinyurl.com/mgk5yl).

Fri.; Aug. 28

WBE Day 24: Exodus 35:4-38:31 (pp.116-120; http://tinyurl.com/kqkqoy).

Sat.; Aug. 29

WBE Day 25: Exodus 39:1-40:38 (pp.120-122; http://tinyurl.com/mg3oe6).

Sun.; Aug. 30

Off day; review previous week’s reading

Mon.; Aug. 31

WBE Day 26: Leviticus 1:1-6:7 (pp.125-129; http://bit.ly/10Jc2K).

how to never read your Bible thru: 20 tips

1. Always put reading your Bible on your “to do” list every day; just make it your lowest priority. Make sure you fill up your life with so many other commitments that there’s simply no time left on the clock for reading. Good, solid, innocent and wholesome commitments are best.

2. Think of reading your Bible as a “duty” or “burden.” Practice learning to visibly frown or audibly sigh at the mere thought of reading. Make it something you’ve “got” to do instead of something you “get” to do.

3. With or without duty or burden in mind, read your Bible with a single objective in mind, namely just to get it done so you can get on with your life. The concept is simple: divorce your eyes and ears from your head and heart. It’s much easier to do than you might think and once you learn it, it’s like riding a bike, you can’t hardly forget how to do it.

4. Tell yourself you’re an “action figure,” someone who always needs to be doing something; it’s just not you to become a book worm. It’s all in the perspective and labeling. Pit reading the Bible against living it.

5. Put it off until tomorrow.

6. Turn on the computer or TV and then try to do your reading. Tell yourself you need to spend more time with your family so you’ll do your reading in the same room while others are web-surfing or watching the tube.

7. Do your reading when you are most tired and sleepy. Reading it in bed to help put you to sleep usually does the trick.

8. If you can’t use it as a sleep aid, make sure you try to read your Bible during the noisiest times of your day when distractions abound. Three days in a row like that is almost always a sure fire vaccination against reading your Bible.

9. Firmly plant in your head an image of the most annoying person you know who is always in your face about the Bible. Better still, pick that someone you know who is always talking about the Bible, but who obviously isn’t affected by it much themselves. Come to obsess a bit about them.

10. Insist on reading it in a dated, hard-to-read and tough-to-comprehend translation. The KJV is the perfect choice. If you can, make it some Bible that has high sentimental value to you (it was your grandpa’s Bible) your reading Bible. That way you’ll likely come to cherish what it is rather than what it says.

11. If you don’t have a dated or sentimental-value Bible, get a really good-looking edition and stick it on your coffee table or some prominent place. Remember, its beauty of binding is more important than its words binding you. Do this and it will quickly become what you intended it to be: a mere decoration.

12. Put it off until tomorrow.

13. Compartmentalize your life so that you see life divided up like a pie. You have your work life, your family life, your leisure time, your church/spiritual time, etc. Consider “personal Bible reading” as being a part of the “church/spiritual” segment of your life. Why? So that you never come to see the whole pie asspiritual.” Once you’ve got that mastered, work on slowly whittling down the size of the “church/spiritual life” pie.

14. Build up some real frustration and impatience for all those names and places you can’t pronounce. Just put it out of your head that such never stops you from reading the latest novels or kept you from watching Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series.

15. Frequently stop in the middle of your reading to do some wondering rather than saving your pondering for after you get your reading done.

16. Make your reading top secret, something like your own private project, never mentioning anything you read to anyone else. After all, they might hold you accountable.

17. Get several days behind on your reading schedule and then try to catch up as quickly as possible, preferably in just a day or two.

18. Never let anyone see you with your Bible, certainly never with it open. Someone might conclude you read it or come to think that you believe there’s more to life than meets the eye.

19. Did I mention “Put it off until tomorrow?”

20. At the very least, ignore, or downright defy, those 20 tips I gave you yesterday on how to stick with your Bible reading. They’re deadly!

20 tips for reading your Bible through

1. Pick the time of day that is best for you to read. If you’re a morning person, read in the morning; if you’re a night owl, read at night. Tinker with different times to discover what works best for you.

2. Don’t skip the introductions to each book. Your edition of the Bible for the Whole Bible Experience (The Books of the Bible) includes such; however, those introductions are not included in the reading schedule. Include them for they will help you keep what you read in proper context.

3. If your attention span is short, break up your daily reading into 2-4 pieces rather than trying to do it all in one 15-20 minute block.

4. Pick out a short sentence or phrase from each day’s reading to memorize, ponder, and meditate on throughout the day (or if you read at night, to think on the next day).

5. Find someone with whom you can partner in reading. Occasionally mention something you’ve read in conversation. Hold each other accountable.

6. Freely mark up and write in your Bible. Highlight or underline text that particularly strikes you. Just use a writing instrument that doesn’t bleed through the paper. Jot short questions that come to mind in the margins.

7. Acquire a solid one-volume Bible commentary (e.g. – The Transforming Word [www.transformingwordcommentary.com]) or study Bible (e.g. – TNIV Study Biblehttp://bit.ly/Mf91V) and read it along with each day’s reading.

8. Read slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully, but not stopping to re-read and reflect. If at all possible, do your pondering and writing after you’ve completed the day’s reading.

9. Plow through those names you can’t pronounce. Make an honest effort. Get a copy of Harper’s Bible Pronunciation Guide (http://bit.ly/CyLxy) for quick, authoritative reference on how to pronounce thousands of names and places mentioned in the Bible.

10. Let your daily reading prompt you to compose a one sentence prayer to write in your Bible’s margin. Give this Bible to a loved one when you finish reading the entire Bible.

11. Vary the way you do your reading. Read it in your printed Bible one day, online another (www.zondervanbiblesearch.com) and listen to it read to you online on other days (www.biblegateway.com). Big hint: utilize that listening tip when you hit one of those genealogy lists, etc.!

12. Try alternating reading aloud the paragraphs of a day’s reading with your mate or a friend. Hearing a text read aloud to you, or verbalizing what you read, will often cause you to notice things you would not have otherwise noticed if you had read the text silently.

13. If you’re a person who thrives on variety, try reading in different locations. If you thrive on continuity, pick out one spot in which to read your Bible and try to always go there to do your reading. If you don’t feel like reading, go there anyway. Just being in that location can help build your motivation to do your reading. Location matters.

14. Purchase a copy of the Bible as .mp3 files or on CD’s so you can do some of your “reading” while commuting, exercising, etc. This is a real boon for those of us who are OC multi-taskers.

15. Take note of words or concepts that are repeated in the course of a day’s reading. Repetition and restatement are frequent means of emphasis throughout the Bible.

16. What? You just read a section and then, coming to the end of it, you realize you don’t recall a thing you read? It happens, but hold yourself firmly accountable. Take a few minutes (or hours) break from your reading and then re-read it, trying a completely different way of doing so.

17. Refuse to skim over those passages that you think “I already know this well, practically by heart.” Familiar Scripture needs to be read most closely of all. Sometimes looking at a text through a specific character’s eyes will help open your eyes. If necessary, even look at it through the eyes of a critic or skeptic.

18. Keep your Bible in a place where you will have to physically cross its path daily. “Out of sight, out of mind; in your way, part of your day.” Lay it on top of your wallet, beside your purse, on your pillow after you make your bed, on  your computer’s keyboard, etc.

19. Find something in each day’s text you can put skin on and live out that day. It’s three chapters of genealogy, you say? Good, let that prompt you to thank God in prayer, by name, for specific people who in your life.

20. Decide to make daily Bible reading a natural part of your life, something as natural and essential to you as eating. Use a different reading plan each year as well as a different Bible translation to help keep things “fresh” and to open new vistas of understanding to what you’re reading.

WBE (whole bible experience)

Have you ever read the Bible all the way through? Have you intended to do that, but just never have gotten around to it? Do you want to read it, but honestly don’t have a clue how to go about it?

Starting this Sun., Aug. 2, I’m going to do it; I’m going to read the whole Bible from cover-to-cover. And here’s an idea: join me on this journey. Work your way through the whole Bible with me.

Now you can just follow my Bible reading schedule if you’d like, of course, but here’s how I plan experience this journey. I’ll read about fifteen or twenty minutes a day, six days a week, over the course of the next year. I’ll read slowly and thoughtfully. I’ll look for a sentence or phrase in each day’s reading that I can easily remember and ponder each day. I’ll daily read a solid commentary along with my Bible reading, The Transforming Word (www.transformingwordcommentary.com). I’ll document my journey via daily Facebook (www.facebook.com/preachersmith) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/preachersmith) updates, as well as through weekly articles (on Thursdays) on this blog. I’ll write a one sentence prayer in the margin of my Bible each day and someday in the future, God willing, I’ll pass that Bible along to my grandson. But most of all, I’ll look for ways to live out the message I find each day.

Books-of-the-BibleOf course, the easiest way for you to follow me in this experience is simply to follow my lead. Get a copy of the special Bible I’ll use for this project, The Books of the Bible, as well as a Whole Bible Experience reading schedule. Both are available from the International Bible Society (800-524-1588; http://tinyurl.com/l55xg3). The schedule is a free download and the Bible costs about $10.

What is it that makes this edition of the Bible special? Two things. First, it’s formatted it’s formatted just like any other book (i.e. – single column text, no chapters and verse divisions, etc.). That means it’s easier to read and there are fewer things to distract you. Second, the sixty-six books of the Bible have been rearranged so as to aid your comprehension of the Bible’s overall message. Same text as other TNIV Bibles, just in a different order. With one of these Bibles in hand and a copy of the reading schedule, you’re good to go. You’ll note from the reading schedule that each day’s reading is keyed to  page numbers, not chapters and verses, from The Books of the Bible (i.e. – pp.7-11, not Genesis 1:1-4:26).

This coming year I’m going to read the whole Bible through, no excuses. Do you want the Whole Bible Experience? Join me on the journey. You won’t regret it.

review: preaching with variety

Preaching with Variety: How to Re-create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres
by Jeffery Arthurs (Kregel, 2007), pb, 258pp
Part of the Preaching With series
quotes
“Preachers sometimes get bored with their own preaching. It’s the regularity that dulls us. On some Sundays we speak because we are expected to say something and not because we have something to say. In addition, we get bored with preaching the Bible because we treat the Bible as an assortment of texts from which to build sermons. To actually preach with variety and excitement, we must treat the Scriptures as they are – a library of different types of great literature.” (p.11, from the foreword by Haddon Robinson)
“Because God loves poetry, the preacher must try to appreciate it.” (p.11, from the foreword by Haddon Robinson)
“Why should we preach with variety? Because God himself is the Great Communicator, and part of that greatness is seen in his freshness and creativity.” (p.22)
“Ministers who, week after week, frame their sermons as arguments, syllogisms armed for debate, tend to give that form to the faith perspective of regular listeners. Being a Christian is proving you are right. … Sermons which invariably place before the congregation the ‘either/or’ format … contribute to oversimplification, inflexibility, and the notion that faith is always an urgent decision. In contrast, ‘both/and’ sermons tend to broaden horizons and sympathies but never confront the listener with a crisp decision. … Regardless of the subjects being treated, a preacher can thereby nourish rigidity or openness, legalism or graciousness, inclusiveness or exclusiveness, adversarial or conciliating mentality, willingness to discuss or demand immediate answers.” (p.27, quoting Fred Craddock)
“The following five factors influence how contemporary listeners listen, and so should influence how contemporary speakers speak. Visual. … Speed. … Participation. … Experience. … Authority.” (pp.31-36)
“One hundred listeners will translate a single sermon into one hundred or more correlated messages.” (p.37)
“As lyric poetry, the psalms display the following features: brevity, intricate structure, concrete images, and intense emotion.” (p.41)
“The ancient Hebrews were music-loving people. The Bible alludes to a number of secular songs such as work songs for digging (Num. 21:17-18) and making wine (Isa. 16:10; Jer. 48:33). Music was integral to ceremonies such as marriages (Jer. 7:34) and funerals, at which laments were sung or chanted (2 Sam. 1:19-27). In his works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien captures the way that ancient oral cultures used music. Notice how often and with what lack of self-consciousness the characters sing in Tolkien’s works – they sing as they bathe, drink, walk, work, lament, and commemorate.” (pp.41-42)
“The first element on which your preaching will depend for power and success … is imagination, which I regard as the most important of all elements that go to make the preacher.” (p.49, quoting Henry Ward Beecher)
“Silence is torture to a person who brought up with constant visual and aural stimulation. Most Americans lack the ability to silence and to imagine something not paraded before their eyes, but those skills are necessary to exegete the Psalms. Is there any hope for channel surfers like you and me?” (p.49)
“The key to communicating concretely is verbs and nouns. … Mark Twain once said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” (p.50)
“Try writing out a manuscript. This discipline helps slow the preparation process. It gives us time to choose vivid words. It also gives us a tangible document to edit. Caution: write a manuscript, but do not preach from it! … Don’t memorize the manuscript either.” (p.51)
“In face-to-face communication, the non-verbal channel dominates the actual words. This is especially true when the nonverbal channel seems to conflict with the words. … When the two conflict, we believe the nonverbal; therefore, preachers who want to re-create the rhetorical impact of the text must embody it.” (p.59)
“Perhaps all of this advice on re-creating the impact of the psalms can be summarized in the old adage about writing: ‘If you’re going to talk about a bear, it is of utmost importance to bring in a bear.'” (p.59)
“The key features of narrative literature are plot, character, setting, and point of view.” (p.68)
“Plots typically move through five stages: (1) background, (2) conflict, (3) rising action, (4) climax, and (5) resolution. … As a preacher of narrative, you’ll find it helpful in your exegesis to lay out the plot of your passage in these five sections.” (pp.70-71)
“I estimate that 50 percent of biblical narrative is dialogue, which means the quoted word carries the story’s freight of meaning, yet the dialogue is compressed and crafted so that every word tells.” (p.73)
“… today’s readers must use a slightly different set of conventions to read the old texts well. Here are seven of those conventions that convey character: dialogue … action … titles and names … physical description … authorial comment … response from other characters … foils.” (pp.73-75)
“… imbibe and appreciate five techniques of perspective that biblical storytellers use to guide readers’ responses to plot, character and setting. … [They are] degree of omniscience … amount of detail … flow of time … selection and arrangement … [and] irony.” (pp.79-81)
“As a teacher of public speaking, Alan Monroe developed a way to organize sales presentations and other talks to achieve maximum persuasion. In a sales talk, to get to the ‘close,’ Monroe said you must take your audience through a five-step process: attention … need … satisfaction … visualization … [and] action. (pp.87-88)
“Lowry’s ‘homiletical plot’ … also arranges material in five steps designed to take the listeners through an experience in time: … upset the equilibrium … analyze the discrepancy … disclose the key to resolution … experience the gospel … anticipate the consequences.” (p.89)
“Jesus spoke fifty to seventy parables, depending on how you define the term, so that approximately 43 percent of his words in Matthew, 16% of his words in Mark, and 52 percent of his words in Luke are parables.” (p.103)
“The communication dynamics that parables engender are so complex that they can seem inscrutable, but we can get a handle on them by exploring three qualities: their realism … their folktale qualities … their natures as analogies.” (p.106)
“Proverbs abound in western culture just as they did in the ancient world. We see them on t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and calendars. … Advertising is the primary creator and transmitter of of proverbs today …” (p.130)
“Try this. Preachers have many options for recommunicating proverbs … These suggestions are arranged roughly in chronological sequence moving from exegesis to delivery. Preach observations, not promises. … Do not preach selfish behavior, humanism, or materialism. … Preach thought units. … Use your imagination. … Show as well as tell. … Turn on the spotlight … not the floodlight. This means to rove mentally through society searching for particular situations that should be illumined by a particular proverb. … Make your central idea ‘proverbial.’ … Dueling proverbs. Compare and contrast modern proverbs with biblical ones. … Borrow the proverb’s movement. … Adopt the teacher’s stance. … Feature women. … Use some humor. … Use homespun language.” (pp.140-150)
“Epistles substitute for the presence of the author … Under Augustus, the Roman emperors established their own postal services with vehicles, horses, and inns, all largely restricted for imperial use, but an official letter from Rome to Caesarea still took fifty-four days. For private letters, no postal system existed …” (p.153)
“A major modification Paul made was to greatly expand the length of letters. The average length of a letter of Cicero was 295 words; Seneca, 955; but Paul’s epistles averaged 2,500 words! No epistles in the ancient world come close to this.” (p.157)
“Epistles are like speech in four ways: they employ various small forms, argue with linear logic, cite or allude often, and are composed for the ear.” (p.158)
“[In the epistles] most citation is taken from the Old Testament, usually the Septuagint, but citation also comes from hymns, creeds, sayings of Jesus, and even pagan poets (Titus 1:13). As much as half of an epistle can be quoted, what scholars call ‘preformed material.’ [E.E.] Ellis estimates the following percentages: Romans – 27%; 1 Corinthians – 17%; 2 Corinthians – 11%; Galatians – 32%; Ephesians – 54%; Philippians – 7%; Colossians – 43%; 1 Thessalonians – 37%; 2 Thessalonians – 24%; 1 Timothy – 43%; 2 Timothy – 16%; Tutus 46%; Philemon – 0%” (p.160)
“Epistles were not simply dashed off. The whole process was laborious and expensive, especially when you consider the extraordinary lengths of most of the New testament epistles. [E. Randolph] Richards estimates the following [with the hours required to make a final copy and the cost in dollars from the year 2004]: Romans – 11.5 hours and $2,275; “1 Corinthians – 10.7 hours and $2,108; Galatians – 3.6 hours and $722; 1 Thessalonians – 2.4 hours and $484; 1 Timothy – 2.8 hours and $554.” (p.163)
“Chapter checklist [on preaching the epistles]. Exegete and respond to mood. Don’t cage wild things. If your text uses word pictures, use word pictures. Or use real pictures. Light a candle. If your text is autobiography, tell a story. If your text is debate, debate. If your text is a doxology, doxologize. Pay attention to ideas, paragraphs, and logical transitions. Use dialogue. Try question and answer. Try feedforward. Try feedback. Put the listeners at ease so they’ll talk. Interview. Use rhetorical questions. Use question and answer for your main points. ‘Dictate’ to a secretary. use examples, lot of examples – real or hypothetical. When you climb the ladder of abstraction, come down quickly. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Use purposeful redundancy on eight to ten key statements in every sermon. Remember that you are not delivering an essay. Use koine. Prepare out loud (as well as silently). Ground the imperative in the indicative. Join kerygma and didache, the gospel and catechesis. Try appropriate self-disclosure. Watch your ethos.” (pp.176-177)
“Like a maze of high hedges with gold at the center, this genre [apocalyptic literature] does not easily yield its treasure. … Preaching this genre may feel like handling snakes, but let’s remember that God has given it a major place in the canon.” (p.179)
“In the Bible, the following passages are often categorized as apocalyptic: Isaiah 24-27; Daniel 7-12; Zechariah 1-6,9-14; Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Peter 3:1-13; and the book of Revelation.” (p.180)
“The surrealism of apocalyptic functions through three literary-rhetorical features: its dualism, symbols, and hybridized narrative.” (p.183)
observations
If you are what you eat, I was meat loaf, green beans and buttered toast during most of my growing up years.
Not that I’m complaining. I loved Mom’s meat loaf. It was the best in town. At least I suspect it was, seeing as how I never ate anyone else’s back then. It was always the same; perfectly predictable. The same could be said for my liberal application of ketchup there upon. And the green beans were always predictable, too: either Del Monte or fresh from a friend’s garden. I confess, I was a bit adventurous with the beans. Sometimes I’d scoot them over into my ketchup. Once in awhile I’d douse their steam with some lemon juice. And, of course, if time was of the essence and I needed to get some serious playing done, I’d just wolf ’em down plain with a smile. Oh, and the buttered toast? Wonderbread, of course. Was there any other brand? How old was I before I learned bread came in some other color than white and in different shapes, not to mention having different tastes? I wonder.
This much is certain: Mom was a good cook, but variety just wasn’t her thing. And the same could be said for many of us preachers. We may serve up some good stuff, but it may very well be, more often than not, the same-ol-thing just served up the same old way.
In his book Preaching with Variety, Jeffrey Arthur, associate professor of preaching and communication at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, not only encourages us preacher-types to put some variety into the sermon dishes we serve up, but gives us real aid toward dreaming up some recipes that can do just that. And it comes to the ideas for those recipes from, of all places, Scripture!
A glance at the book’s table of contents will let you know that Dr. Arthur’s recipe book deals with discussions of the six main genres of Scripture: psalms, narrative, parables, proverbs, epistles and apocalyptic. A quick thumb through the pages will reveal that Dr. Arthur practices in writing what he preaches concerning variety, too. While each of the discussions of the Biblical genres follows the same outline (some choice quotes, a definition of the genre, an exploration of how the text communicates and what it does, practical suggestions entitled “Try This,” and a chapter checklist), sweet variation abounds within those discussions. Charts, quotes, bullet points, tables, and more will be found. There’s even a complete sermon; a true “classic” you’ve likely heard, but perhaps never knew who originally authored it (pp.54-56).
Complete documentation appears at the end of the book; 17 pages of endnotes and 17 pages of well-rounded, current bibliography pointing to web-based, as well as paper-based, sources. The endnotes insure that we’re not deprived of trails to follow for more information, but also guarantee that the book’s main text remains uncluttered and free of distractions. And that text cast in an easy-to-read font and appearing in formatting that truly aids our “following the trail” the author blazes for us. However, since there are no indexes, I did find myself wishing for the inclusion of a simple Scripture index given Dr. Arthur’s occasional, helpful discussions of specific texts.
It’s probably obvious by now; this book isn’t just anyone’s meat loaf. This is the good stuff, just like Mom used to make. I can wolf this book down because it’s smart and often informs me of things I’ve wondered about (e.g. – the estimated percentage of ‘pre-formed’ material in Paul’s letters [p.160]; the number of rabbinic parables that have been discovered that date before 200 A.D. [p.212]; etc.). It tastes great to me because it often gives me suggestions that cause me to slap my head and say to myself “Why didn’t I think of that before?” (e.g. – line graphing the emotional ups and downs of a text, as exemplified with Psalm 77 on p.53). I like this book because it seems like I’m continually pulling out from it helpings of quality illustrations that illustrate oh, so well (e.g. – Tolstoy on pp. 123-124; Max Lucado on pp.125-126; etc.). And I eat this book up because it simply  summarizes in an original and memorable way (e.g. – the end of chapter “checklists” –  pp.60-61,101,128,150,176-177,198-199).
To be sure, more detailed discussions of Biblical genres can be found, but I dare none so truly readable and downright helpful as this one. And so, I’ll go so far as to say if you purchase just one book on suggestions as to how to approach the genres of Scripture for the purposes of preaching, this book should be the one you get. All others that’s I’ve read so on this matter come in a distant second. I give this one a 9.6 and no, you can not have my copy!
Buttered toast, green beans and meat loaf. Come to think of it, I can’t recall the last time I had a meal like that. Maybe it’s been too long; maybe I need some variety. Pass the lemon juice, please.

review: just say the word!

Just Say the Word!: Writing for the Ear
by G. Robert Jacks (Eerdmans, 1996), pb, 195pp
quotes
“And we were carefully taught. No sentence fragments. None. Run-on sentences are an abomination and you should never use them because you’ll get marked down when the teacher grades your paper. Don’t use contractions. It’s not a good idea to ever split infinitives. A preposition is something you should never end a sentence with. And don’t begin sentences with ‘and.’ Never, never repeat yourself. The problem is: that’s the way we’re supposed to write, but it’s not the way we talk to one another.” (p.2)
“When Jesus wanted to make a point, he didn’t give a lecture. He told stories. How odd that we tend to take Jesus’ stories and turn them into lectures.” (p.7)
“We need to do our homework. We don’t need to preach it.” (p.8)
“Put me in a classroom and we can do polemics to our heart’s content. … But put me in a pulpit or pew and I don’t want to do polemics. I want to tell how God has touched even my life.” (p.11)
“Take a look at an old sermon. And then subject it (and yourself) to a barrage of questions about what you’ve written. … First of all, ask yourself what the sermon was supposed to accomplish. What was your intention? To persuade. To convict. To entertain. To rouse to action. To gain a commitment. To appeal to the emotions (and which ones. To elicit sympathy. To teach. To enlighten. (pp.14-15)
“Once I heard that weed killer is nothing more than a kind of super-fertilizer. It causes the weeds to get overblown and die from the effort. Maybe we as preachers need to think about the kind of manure we’re spreading on our words. In our words. On our listeners. … you ought to write for preaching the way you talk. … Let it be natural rather than contriving to let it sound natural.” (p.15)
“When you start trying to write for the ear and not for the eye, you’re going to find yourself at odds with many of the rules you’ve been taught. And that’s okay.” (p.19)
“Here, finally, are the ‘Rules’ we’ve come up with for writing for the ear. … Rule # 1: Active voice is more alive than passive. Rule # 2: Don’t use a 50 cent word when a 5 cent word will do. Rule # 3: Remove unnecessary occurrences of ‘that’ and ‘which.’ Rule # 4: Remove unnecessary or assumable information and get to the point.” Rule # 5: Use dialogue for added interest and life. Rule # 6: Don’t waste words. Rule # 7: Use contractions where appropriate. Rule # 8: Verbs are more alive than nouns. Rule # 9: Accentuate the positive. Rule # 10: Avoid the ‘literary’ sound. Rule # 11: Avoid cliches. Rule # 12: Remove forms of the verb ‘to be’ whenever possible.” (p.31)
“What do we do when the professor assigns a twelve-page paper and we wind up with only three pages of substance? Yes, we engage in one of the most time-honored traditions: padding. Stuff. Unnecessary verbiage that serves to fill up the necessary number of pages. We’ve all done it – and done it to a point of resembling a fine art. Sometimes we do it without being aware we’re doing it, it’s become so ingrained. And then we sit down to write a sermon. And all that ‘stuff’ starts appearing in print. And then we get up and actually preach it. And we wonder why our congregations nod off or even wander in search of some good news that sounds ‘gooder’ than what they’ve been hearing.” (p.32)
“… it’s not what you say but how you say it that gets through to people. We’re talking style. … In deciding for yourself what your style will be, sit down and ask yourself, ‘What’s the most natural way of saying this? How can God’s good news come alive through me without my getting in the way?’ Basically, our ‘style’ shouldn’t show at all. It should just be there, enabling the message and not calling attention to itself. Just like a good conversation.” (pp.44,47)
“Give us images of what’s going on around us. Get to our senses of sight and sound and touch and hearing and smelling and tasting – and don’t appeal just to our heads with words about words.” (p.59)
“‘What is as important as knowledge?’ asked the mind. ‘Seeing and caring (and believing) with the heart,’ assured the soul.'” (p.65)
“Do I hear voices at the back of the room saying, ‘Isn’t this drama? In the church!’ Well, yes it is. And so is the Incarnation. … That’s what God did. He didn’t just say, ‘I love you!’ … Don’t just read Scripture, do stuff with it like retelling it!” (p.82)
“It’s not all that easy to get involved in the preacher’s telling of a biblical account when the preacher herself isn’t all that involved.” (p.87)
“Speak at least as much to our hearts as you speak to our heads. … Use questions rather than conjecture – invite your listeners to think along with you. … Listen to the rhythm of your ideas – keep it varied.” (p.94)
“Consider first person (we, I) rather than second person (you) for a positive tone. … Show more than you tell. Change abstract ideas into concrete ones.” (p.95)
“For a lot of us in ministry, there can be a kind of ‘split-screen’ mentality regarding what we do in a one-on-one conversation with a parishioner and what we converse about from a pulpit. Maybe it’s because we tend to identify the conversation that takes place in the pastor’s study as dealing with very personal issues, and we don’t think in those terms when we’re wracking our brains over what to preach on Sunday morning. But in real life, people who sit in congregations on Sunday mornings don’t live ‘congregated’ lived with ‘congregated’ issues and problems to deal with. That mass of humanity out there in padded pews has individual headaches and toothaches and heartaches. They have individual problems at home or at school or at the office. They have individual temptations to engage in individual sins and have individual feelings or individual shame and individual guilt. One of the main distinctions is that they don’t come on Sunday dressed in their Sunday best to talk about their problems. They too often come to appear as though they were problemless and ‘just-fine-thank-you’ without a worldly care. And then on Tuesday they come in mufti to talk about what’s really going on in their lives.” (p.124)
observations
A lot of things got me to thinking about getting into preaching, but one of the creeks that fed that river years ago was my hearing of a particularly bad sermon. That’s right: God can use sermons that stink.
Oh, I was hot. As in burned up. I had worked hard all day at the service station and had raced home to get cleaned up right quick just so I could attend a gospel meeting one evening in a nearby town. Everyone had told me, a still relatively new Christian, that the guest preacher conducting this meeting was the man to hear. He was simply the model of what a gospel preacher should be and exemplary in powerful, personal delivery. I’d get fed the word and be given plenty to think about. So, I pulled out all the stops to make sure I could hear him.
And I heard him. Oh, I heard him. For forty-five minutes. About how the middle verse in the KJV is found here and there are x number of words in the Bible there, etc., etc., .etc. Just a bunch of “stuff.” Filler and fluff. Even I could see this “sermon” didn’t make a dime’s worth of a difference to becoming or growing as a Christian. And it all flowed out in such contrived wording filled with foot-long words. I heard some folks call it “eloquent,” but “pompous” and “stale” were the only words that came to my mind. And personal? Why, it was anything but! It was delivered in such a lukewarm fashion that it sounded like he was bored with it himself! Why couldn’t he just talk about things we really needed to hear in words that we all could understand from a heart that seemed to care?
When the last “Amen” was said, I simply couldn’t get out of the building fast enough, for I felt like everyone in the room had got cheated out of an opportunity to get some fuel in their tank for living real life, myself included. As I stalked to my car, I distinctly remember the thought flying through my head: “Why, even I could preach a better sermon than that!”
Understand that last sentence. I was (am) anything but a public speaker. Consistently, if in a class at school we all had to make a talk of some sort and people spoke in the order that they volunteered, I was always the last, or next to last, one up. From grade school on through most of college. Public speaking scared me half to death, and frankly, still does.
“Why, even I could preach a better sermon than that!”
I vowed right then and there that if I ever did find myself in a situation where I was speaking publicly about the Lord, it would be about things that truly mattered. That I wouldn’t sound like some stuffy, old, boring textbook. That I’d come across like someone who cared about the Lord and people in a big way. That I’d talk about God in a way anyone could understand.
Well, I don’t know if I’ve accomplished that task in preaching, but it’s still one of the goals I shoot for every time I’m up. Every time. “Fresh bread” is what I call it; I want to deliver fresh bread. So KISS: keep it simple, stupid. And the funny thing about it all is that I have, in part, a worthless sermon preached long ago to thank for that spirit within me! Which, I might add, gives me great hope for my poor sermons today!
And that’s what Just Say the Word! is about. It’s about how your preparation affects your delivery. It’s about helping you make what you have to say in your sermons able to be truly heard by all who listen to them. It’s about ruthlessly tearing down all the walls that all too often separate preachers and those who hear them. It’s about sounding like you’re engaged with everyday life and people, instead of sounding distanced and dead.
To accomplish this, Just Say the Word! assumes two things: you manuscript your sermons and you rehearse their delivery. If that describes your typical sermon preparation, and you have a strong bent for writing, not speaking, this workbook is for you. That’s right – it’s a workbook. However, if you don’t manuscript your sermons and/or rehearse them, this workbook will be of little value to you, save for the implied encouragement to start doing so.
In short, if you’re ready to have your sermon delivery critiqued not on the basis of enunciation or elocution (like those big words?), but on the basis of “Can people really hear that?,” then you’re ready for a copy of Just Say the Word! The preacher in me gives it a solid 9.4, while the speech major in me who just loves to yank English major’s chains every chance he gets gives it a solid 10.

review: the fully alive preacher

The Fully Alive Preacher: Recovering from Homiletical Burnout
by Mike Graves (Westminster John Knox, 2006), pb, 178pp
quotes
“… in these pages … there is the tantalizing invitation to discover a purpose deeper than producing serviceable sermons on a weekly basis, by deciding to become a deeper human being. Mike Graves has preached long enough to know how the steady exposure of the pulpit can sunburn the spirit. … His good news for those who wish to keep preaching is that the cure for what ails us is not more skills, more workshops, or more books, but more life – and especially the simple pleasures of life that preachers routinely forego.” (p.xiii) [by Barbara Brown Taylor]
“Irenaeus, the early church theologian, put it this way: The glory of God is a human being fully alive. How many preachers these days can be described as fully alive? … What’s wrong with preaching these days may be more a matter of what’s wrong with us preachers. … Anne Lamott, reflecting on writer’s block, has captured the problem best in a statement that will not let me go: ‘If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door.’ She continues, ‘The word “block” suggests that you are constipated or stuck, when the truth is that you are empty.’ … In this book my primary interest is how our approach to preaching – and life – allows room for God to renew us – or doesn’t.” (pp.4-5)
“Part of our problem lies with how we define spirituality itself, cordoning spiritual matters off from the rest of our earthly existence … Do preachers require times of prayer and meditation, reading Scripture and reflecting? Of course we do, the same way plants need water and sunshine, or else they die. But we are more than plants; we are social creatures who desire times of recreation as well. Thus we can integrate … times of prayer in the study as we wrestle with Sunday’s sermon, but also a child’s soccer game on a Tuesday night – viewing all of our lives as lived in the presence of God.” (p.27)
“A primary reason [preachers] procrastinate is in order to build up a sense of deadline. Deadlines create a flow of adrenaline. Adrenaline medicates and overwhelms the censor. [Preachers] procrastinate so that when they finally get to preparing, they can get past the censor.” (p.39, quoting Julia Cameron)
“‘The process of arriving at something to say is to be distinguished from the process of determining how to say it.’ Or perhaps we could mount another of his statements on our wall: ‘Unless the minister has two eurekas, it is not likely the listeners will have one.'” (p.41, quoting Fred Craddock)
“… study is necessary, but not too much. … I love the image homiletics professor Stephen Farris uses for realistic levels of exegesis in the pastorate. He recalls an episode of MASH in which Charles Emerson Winchester has just arrived on the front line. He’s a meticulous surgeon, one who knows the finer points of his profession; but he’s slow, very slow, and soldiers are dying. Colonel Potter pulls Winchester out of the operating room, ordering Hawkeye to take over. Potter explains to the prima donna that in a situation like this they do ‘meatball surgery.’ There’s no time for anything else. Farris suggests that ‘meatball exegesis’ is what ministers must do in the church. Sunday is coming and the assignment is neither a formal exegetical paper nor an impromptu  devotional thought.” (p.51)
“Imagine if someone were to offer you an additional week of preparation time but require no more time than you already give to your sermons. Twice as much time without any more commitments on your part. … begin your sermon one week earlier and stagger the Sundays. … In other words, take the amount of time you currently spend in preparation and simply divide it over thirteen days or so. The way it works is simple, but the dividends are surprisingly rich. Recall Fred Craddock’s dictum that fundamental to sermon preparation is recognizing two distinct phases, the exegetical and the homiletical, each requiring its own eureka moments. If we let the two weeks of preparation correspond to these two distinct tasks … the exegetical work done in week one, whenever it occurs, is the beginning of sermon preparation for the Sunday of week two. The homiletical work in week two begins not from scratch, but by building on the exegetical framework begun the week before. … The important thing is that ministers allow themselves twice as much time to live with the sermon while no more actual preparation time is required.” (p.60)
“I have come to the conviction that the term ‘biblical preaching’ is both redundant and incomplete. It is redundant because the biblical message is what we preach, God’s redemptive acts and hope for humanity. It is incomplete because spouting ancient Scripture is never enough. We must make connections with our day, or else we have not preached!” (p.68)
“Honestly, I don’t mean to sound like Chicken Little, ‘The literacy rates are falling!’ but I worry about the reading habits of preachers these days. … We read not just to find stories for Sundays but to keep ourselves alive the other six days of the week – which, when taken together, eventually add up to a lifetime.” (p.81)
“When it comes to the imagination, we are like people who, having had little exercise, find themselves severely taxed by strenuous physical effort. Our imaginations are out of condition.” (p.112)
“One helpful way to move toward the creation of the sermon’s sequence is to divide the possible material into two categories: textual/theological and today. On a piece of paper divided into two columns, I write the textual/theological material in the left-hand column. I the right hand column I list some of the possible contemporary stories and images.” (p.115)
“… sermons come in three main colors: blue, red, and gray. I’ve applied this description to to preaching. Blue preachers are orderly and disciplined. They’re analytical, logical, rational, and restrained. Blue preachers capture the attention of the congregation by their precision. Red preachers are more charged in their manner. They are emotional, driven, charismatic, even impulsive at times. Red preachers are more passionate than precise. Gray preachers are none of these things. They’re not so much somewhere between blue and red, but somewhere underneath. Gray preachers are a dime a dozen, because being gray is what many churches have come to expect. In truth, it is possible to hide while preaching, to hide behind a mask of dull and drab gray.” (p.134)
“Part of our journey as preachers is discovering whether writing out the whole sermon, parts of the sermon, or none of the sermon works best for us.” (p.142)
“Rehearsing [the preaching of a sermon] is essential, especially when we preach without notes.” (p.147)
observations
Can you relate to this?
After a day of creating announcement sheets, talking with folks who stop by, answering the phone, running a couple of errands, troubleshooting an office PC, ditching a couple of salesmen, answering a flurry of e-mails, visiting the hospital, and a couple of meetings thrown in for good measure, all the while thinking that somewhere in the midst of all of these urgent things you simply must talk to God and crank out a couple of sermons, the thought comes to mind: “I need to get a life!” And then, when you have finally, successfully sealed yourself off from the ever-demanding world for a few minutes to focus on sermon preparation, what do you find, but an empty net. You’re diligently trawling for ideas and answers, but all you come back with are a few empty shells and a car tire.
You’ve been there, right? Oh, that’s right, that’s where you live every day!
If you sense that your life is beginning to look way too much like a remake of Groundhog Day, you do need to get a life. For the sake of your sermons, those who listen to them and for your own sanity. And getting a copy of this book would be a good place to start on that fresh quest for fire.
And honestly, “Get a life” is basically the thesis of this book. Way too many of us ministers, way too much of the time, have put our lives on eternal hold for the sake of a thousand other things. Things that ultimately drain the creative life out of us and burn us slap out. Then we wind up preaching lifeless sermons because we live lives without life.
The remedy? It’s not necessarily more study time. Not necessarily more prayer. It’s not more and better books for our library (rats!). It’s about getting a life.
Look through a telescope at happenings in the night sky. Sit in the grass and look closely at the world between the blades of grass. Get away to a park or beach and treat yourself to a catnap in the sunshine. If you already have a walking route, try traversing it in reverse. Read aloud to a child; borrow one if you have to. Spend half a day in a bookstore browsing through titles until one of them finds you. Take a friend to a ball game, or a favorite museum, or a movie. Buy a gift for a friend; better yet, make something yourself to give away. Sing along with some of your favorite recording artists. Attend the opera or symphony. Savor a piece of chocolate as slowly as you can. Buy a copy of Polacco’s Thunder Cake (http://bit.ly/bL0PK) and enjoy the treat. Those are just some of Graves’ many recommendations as to how to overcome homiletic burnout.
Mixed in with these recommendations are a great many questions for personal reflection. What is your favorite part of preaching? What is a drudgery? Where do sermon preparation and self-care rank in your priorities, not ideally, but at the end of most weeks? When do your best ideas occur to you? Does your sermon preparation fit with your spirituality? When do you normally begin your sermon preparation? What are your Saturdays like? Can you imagine different spaces for different kinds of work? What kind of study aids do you currently use? Do you ever seek congregational input?
I could go on and on, but I don’t want this review to sound like Groundhog Day. I can’t imagine a preaching minister not benefiting from this book. It will make you think and will breathe ideas for life into you. It’s easy-to-read and yet shows evidence of real thought and serious engagement with the realities of ministry. You can view the table of contents online at Amazon.com. It’s well-documented, but in an unobtrusive way (thirteen pages of endnotes), but there are no indexes of any kind. This book is definitely required reading; I give it a 9.7. Get it and get on the road to getting a life.