Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Journey Post!


It was awesome. And it was (for me anyway) really, really challenging. In fact, I feel like I’ve graduated or something. Many months before 2012 began (23 in fact) I heard of a church in another state that went through the whole Bible in a year together. I was so impressed and thought, “That would be so good for us!” But my next thought was, “But I’m not sure I can preach through the Bible in a year.” Frankly, I was flat out scared. It would be an epic challenge. I know...people don’t want to hear pastors talk about how hard it is to preach; so I’ll keep my whining to a minimum. But I’m telling you, about September, I was feeling as close to burnout as I’ve ever felt (as evidenced by the lack of posts since then!). I love to study God’s Word. Love it. I love to share its riches and wisdom and truth with others. This Journey was so different, however. The 30,000-foot perspective was a great discipline for me as a reader and a teacher for many reasons:
  • It forced me to focus on the big themes: who God is and how he works, his plan and his providence.
  • It helped me see and communicate how well the Old and New Testaments fit together.
  • It solidified in me certain doctrinal beliefs I’ve held:
    • God’s sovereignty in all matters.
    • The reason for pain and evil, and the necessity of our own suffering.
    • The wonder of God’s grace, and our unworthiness of it.
    • The meaning and supremacy of the atonement of Christ.
    • The exceeding goodness of the Good News.
    • The way all things will end, and how to better interpret apocalyptic passages.
    • The uniqueness and wonder and mystery and inerrancy of God’s Word.

The discipline of reading (and for me, studying) large swaths of the Bible each week was hugely beneficial.
  • It kept my thoughts on God and his thoughts. I’m amazed by him and love him more.
  • It served as a constant positive “pressure” to be disciplined.
  • It gave so many great opportunities to have spiritual conversations with my family and others.

But I’ve got to say, I’m so glad it’s over.
  • I’ll have much more timeMy study time was ridiculous during 2012. Probably 35 hours a week on average (I know, but I’m not as smart as others). It just took that much time to read and digest the passages, then outline them and determine main themes & applications, then see what scholars/commentaries say (to make sure I wasn’t off base), and then reduce the content to manageable size and make it understandable. I’ve gained 12 lbs. this year because I virtually stopped running (it’s the first thing to go when I get short on time) and I’m grossly out-of-shape. I’m going to be much more pleasant to my kids on the weekends and will get back to enjoying some things I didn’t do much of (fishing, hunting, hiking, going to ballgames, working in the garden, working on our cars, house, etc.). The staff at church will see me more. My small group will get their leader back. I’ll be a better pastor. I’ll be a better son, friend, husband, dad, and neighbor. (Man, I’m a whiner!)
  • You’ll get out of church on timeBelieve me, nobody was more stressed than me about going 50 (or sometimes more!) minutes. On many weeks I would be up Saturday night until 2:00am trying to cut content, and then be hoarse from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday from talking too long. It was exhausting, and I hated myself for going too long. I would promise the staff that I would be shorter...only to make myself a liar.
  • I’m looking forward to putting away the telescope and getting out the microscope.
    Bite-sizes are so much more enjoyable, and perhaps more beneficial. We’ll get back to this “proper portion” size the first week of February when we start Romans. And there’s not a better time for Romans—after grasping the whole Bible! I can't wait!
So many people have said that God used the Journey to deepen them in 2012. I’m thankful. I definitely think we did right by attempting this crazy thing! But I’m glad it’s over. Now I pray that God will move all of us forward as we become more conformed to his image.
Thanks, Lord, for how you’ve worked. Please grow us more. Please grow me more. 


Dave Lamons said...

Chad I think it's safe to say I can speak for most of us when I say thank God for your motivation and dedication to this journey. It really was tough to stay with at times for a lot of us for many different reasons I'm sure. However it was due to your leadership and your hard work that kept us all following you and trying to learn. I know a few times I missed service because I just said I don't want to do this today then shortly after I felt like I let my team down. On a personal level I can say I am now a better student and hopefully becoming a better follower of Jesus Christ because of this journey and I would have never been motivated to do this by myself or understood the things I've learned on my own. So from all of my small group and church family we wish you a Happy New Year and hope you get you some much needed rest.

Dan said...


I agree with you that I prefer a more detailed study of the Bible instead of the 30,000 ft view. I like to take a few verses and look at the commentaries for insights from the language and culture. However, the 30,000 ft view is important. The addition of chapter and verse divisions into the Bible have, in my opinion, created the opportunity for problems. We, not you, can focus on a few verses and not interpret them in the context of the entire Bible. As a friend of mine says, "Scripture interprets scripture". So keeping the 30,000 ft view in mind is important as we study individual sections of scripture.

denise proffitt said...

I loved it. thank u so much, u are a great preacher!

Anonymous said...

I came to Providence when I lived in Knoxville and now live a few hrs away. I have loved following the journey online. Really i am sorry it is over. I drive alot and would listen to the reading with U-version and then listen to your sermons. The whole thing was very beneficial for me and I feel like I understand the bible better than I ever have especially since I am a new Christian. I wish I was back in knoxville so I could go to providence. It is very hard to find a church where I am that really teaches the bible so that I get it. Thanks for turning me on to U-Version because I am going to do another reading plan. Do you have any suggestions on which one? I don't want to lose the habit!!!!!!!!
D. Black

Phil Breedlove said...

Phil Breedlove via Facebook

A few points:
1. It doesn't sound like "whining," just factual reporting. I don't imagine anyone who's ever done homework would begrudge the work you've done in preparation for your sermons.

2. I've never felt your sermons were "too long," but I have many many times been left with a great hunger for "more more more!" I listen to a podcast from a group called "Breakaway Ministries" down in Texas, and one of the things they do on the back end of the podcast is a section called "Things we couldn't get to in the sermon." There the minister gives his sources, the books he read, and all the details he just didn't have time to get to during his talk. Maybe you could start including that in the small group notes, or put it into a section of the website or on Facebook (good idea @john barber?).

3. Having said all that, I totally understand what you're saying about "having more time for x, y, & z," and I hope you're able to find some sabbath in the next few months to recharge your batteries. I'm guessing a few days on the trail somewhere might do the trick, or just a day or two here and there to sit under a tree or by a creek and listen to God's green symphony all around you. You definitely deserve it! Maybe we should put something in the bylaws that says you get a sabbatical every 7 years UNLESS you preach through the bible in a year, and then you get one every other year!

4. Like Dave, I've had a feeling these past two days of missing out on something with my team. Reading the bible as a church was, for lack of a better word, invigorating! I felt like I was a part of something bigger, something worthwhile, and the thrill of seeing that "You're finished" screen on my phone was something I want to feel again.

5. I can't wait to get into Romans! While I'm thrilled that we're headed in that direction, I'm wondering if something a wee bit less theologically and intellectually intense might not have been a good idea for you. I always laugh when I think about Peter writing his letter and saying to the readers "I hear you've been reading Paul. Some things he writes are hard to understand!" If it was tough for an apostle, then it's gotta be pretty much like rocket science for the rest of us, right?

6. Finally, aren't you glad we're under grace and not the requirements of the law? Reading through the bible could at any point have felt like a legal requirement and not a gift, but praise Jesus it never did, at least not for TOO long! Thank you to you and the elders for leading us this past year. I know we're all interested in seeing where this journey will lead next!

Brett said...

Thanks for taking this challenge on Chad. I feel like I have a whole new understanding of the bible and plan to focus on some parts this year that I had to skim over in 2012.

Jessie Renaldo Ostrowski said...

Thank you (and your family) for your many sacrifices this past year. Establishing the habit of reading the Bible every day will have an impact on me and my family for many years to come, I am sure. I just started the U Version Eat This Book reading plan for the coming year since I have a lot of friends at Two Rivers Church and that is the reading plan they are using.
Jessie Renaldo Ostrowski via Facebook

Lexi Rice said...

Chad - Thank you for your leadership and dedication throughout the Journey. I know it was not easy. And I would like to add that we never minded when you went long - in fact, I was usually thinking "don't let us go yet - I know there's more!" Also, I am very, very excited to get the microscope back out for Romans.

Cheri Hogrefe said...

Cheri Stone Hogrefe from Facebook:
I must say...I have never minding the longer sermons. I am with Phil Breedlove in that I usually crave more. But after the Journey - I can sympathize with not knowing what to cut or how to make it work if you do cut something. If you ask my volunteers on Discovery Street - they will tell you that every time I teach the kids...I go WAY over my allotted time, but it's because I am passionate about communicating the material in the best way possible. When I'm in the middle of teaching - the idea of keeping track of time becomes impossible for me. Anywho...I am thankful for a Pastor that spends the amount of time you do for our benefit. Thank God for Providence and for the has greatly impacted my life as I read, studied and taught it to the Discovery Street kids!