A Holy Habit

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In the midst of all your plans to eat healthier, workout more, quit smoking, start saving, etc., can I encourage you to make another plan in 2016?

You should read through the Bible this year.

I’m supposed to say that, I know. I’m a student pastor on staff at a church that pays me to teach the Bible. If I don’t encourage you to read your Bible through this year, am I really even a pastor? (Some might argue that student pastors aren’t really even “pastors” anyway, but I digress.)

Let me write to you for a minute from outside of the pastoral perspective–or at least the best I can. I grew up in church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, repeat. As a result, I heard a lot of the Bible growing up. I knew the familiar flannel graph stories. I blushed as I would skim through Song of Solomon. I snickered at the use of the word “ass” in the King James Version (especially in 2 Peter 2:16, if you’re taking notes). Despite the fact that I was pretty familiar with the Bible, I never read through it until I was in seminary (which probably made me unqualified for seminary).

So in 2011 I picked up a copy of the One Year Bible and committed myself to reading through it. I read and I read and I read. And I got behind–like, way behind. I think I was actually 17 days behind at one point. But I made those days up over the course of a few weeks, and on December 31, 2011 I read the final passages from the book of Revelation. Done.

I didn’t understand a lot of it. Truth be told, I still don’t understand the majority of it. I did learn a lot, but nothing completely life-altering at the time. God didn’t part the clouds and commend me with a “well done, good and faithful servant!” But there was an interesting side-effect of reading through the Bible that year: it became a habit.

For the last 4+ years, I’ve had a fairly consistent habit of reading the Bible daily. On the days where I don’t make time to read, something feels out of place. Please don’t read that as a boasting of sorts. I still have “out of place” days. And sometimes even the days I do read I do so through the grogginess of an early morning funk or with a “check-Bible-reading-off-my-to-do-list” mentality, neither of which are particularly helpful. But through the grogginess and the struggles, I try to read. It’s habitual.

That’s why I think you should read through the Bible this year. Not because I suspect you’ll experience a completely life-changing truth–though you very well may. Not because you’ll learn much that you didn’t know–though you probably will. Not even because it’s what “good Christians” are supposed to do. I think you should read through the Bible this year to form a habit of reading the Bible daily.

You can find an endless number of reading plans on the YouVersion app or a quick internet search will provide you with ample plans to choose from. If it’s easier, just pick up the One Year Bible, set it on your nightstand or coffee table like I did and read the passages that correspond with each day.

In a season when we’re all contemplating dropping a bad habit, let’s fill the void with a good one–one that has some eternal weight significance (poor word choice around the New Year). One that I really believe will transform us “from one degree of glory to another” one daily reading at a time.

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Awesome Stuff in 2015

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In case you missed it, 2015 is half-over. Crazy, huh? It seems like just yesterday that we were all making resolutions we knew we wouldn’t keep. Oh, nostalgia.

Anyways, I think 2015 has been pretty awesome so far. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the aforementioned awesome things from the first half of 2015. Yes, they’re random. But hey, a wannabe writer has to write something during this summer lull. So without further adieu, here are some awesome things from 2015:

  • The Manday Tradition. Over the last couple of months, Owen and I have established a tradition affectionately known as Manday. We just spend time together. No real agenda. No women allowed. Just manly things like eating donuts, paying bills, running errands, playing at the playground, etc. It’s also inspired me to put together a father-son to-do list. Maybe I’ll share that sometime too.
  • It’s a boy! Speaking of creating a father-son to-do list, I’ll soon have two boys to corrupt. We found out back in March that baby number 2 would be another boy. We’ll be welcoming Henry Allen Larkin into the world any day now. Two boys two years apart. This is why we won’t have nice things.
  • I’m still alive. In all fairness, this should probably top the list. Kind of sets the tone for everything else, you know?
  • I started shaving like my grandpa. Before this turns weird quickly, I stole that last sentence from an article on Art of Manliness. A few months ago I started shaving with an old-school double-edge razor. It’s pretty fantastic. Yes, growing a beard would be way more manly, but Patches here isn’t quite able to complete the full beard, so shaving in a manly way seemed like the next best option.
  • Three-goggles. Saving the best for last, Kelli and I celebrated three years of marriage in June. She’s a beautiful, patient, gracious, loving woman, ya’ll. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The way she simultaneously loves me, loves Owen, carries Henry, takes care of our home, keeps us fed, holds down a job, serves her church and more without dropping the ball is baffling to me. She wears a lot of hats. Which is convenient, because she looks good in hats.

What about you? What made the first half of your year awesome? What are you looking forward to in the second half of 2015? What are some things you would recommend to make the second half of 2015 awesome for me?

Thanks Dad

Dad,

First of all, thank you for being present. I thought it was normal to have a loving dad at home all the time. I have since learned that I was likely in the minority. Because of my assumption, I overlooked the value of having you involved in my life. I wish I had paid more attention at times. I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I hadn’t slept so much in the passenger seat of your truck while we traveled up and down I-75. Thankfully, your presence in my life is not a matter of past-tense. I am grateful to have you just a phone call or short drive away.

Thanks for not living vicariously through us kids. I’ve seen so many dads put an incredible amount of pressure on their children to perform or excel at certain activities. You never did that. You always let us have the freedom to choose what activities, hobbies, interests, and sports we wanted to pursue. When I didn’t make the basketball team in middle school you weren’t disappointed. In fact, you wrote me a letter of encouragement (didn’t think I’d remember that, did you?). When I wanted to be a teenager instead of being at the racetrack on a given weekend, you were fine with that. Thank you.

Thank you for practicing what you preached. I vividly remember watching an episode of “Dirty Jobs” one night. The job at hand was cleaning out port-a-potties. One of us boys made a comment about how we’d never do that job and I remember you replying with something along the lines of, “You’ll do whatever you have to do to provide for your family.” Fast-forward several years and you lived out those words. The economy turned south, business slowed down, and you picked up a second job to provide for your family. That spoke volumes to your sons who were learning what it meant to be men.

Thanks for making us work. Once we were old enough to enter the workforce we didn’t spend summers sleeping in and playing video games. We were up at 7:58am for work at 8am (side note: thanks for living so close to the shop). Even before that you had us mowing the yard, washing trucks, and so on. You taught us that work is a good thing. Also, thanks for not bringing work home. I am still amazed at your ability to leave the stress and weight of owning a business in your office instead of bringing it to our living room.

This might sound odd, but thanks for crying. You showed us that real men can and do cry. I’ve seen your eyes fill with tears of sadness and sorrow at the death of a loved one. I’ve watched you choke back tears of gratitude as the family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. I recall hearing your voice waver as you apologized to us for the time a campaign took up much of your family time. And I’ve seen tears of joy as you held your grandchildren for the first time. Tears are powerful. Thanks for not holding them back.

I could go on and on and thank you for many more things—but instead I want to finish with the words of the great Urban philosopher (first name, Keith) who sang the words that I think every father wants to hear:

I only hope when I have my own family
that everyday I see
a little more of my father in me.

I love you, Dad.

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Why I Prefer A Physical Bible Over A Digital Bible

Earlier this week I finished reading through the Bible. It’s something I’ve done a few times now, and while each time has been a different format or reading plan, one thing has remained consistent—reading from a physical Bible.

I love technology. I try to take advantage of it as much as possible, but the whole digital reading movement has left me in the dust. I just like books. I like highlighting. I like writing in the margins. I prefer turning pages over swiping a screen.

My wedding gift from my wife was a ridiculously nice wide-margin ESV Bible. Ever since unwrapping it, I’ve been reading it (almost) every day. I underline and circle words. I highlight verses. I make notes and reminders for myself in the margins. I record important dates on blank pages—like our wedding day, the day my son was born, and the day my grandpa died. I try to make note of significant moments when I’m needing God’s direction or thanking him for his provision.

And one day, I plan to give it away.

Why? Because there’s more that goes into reading my physical Bible than preference over the digital version. For me, it comes down to legacy.

Spurgeon once said that, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” My hope is that one day when I’m gone my children will be handed a worn-out, marked-up, and tattered Bible that’s falling apart at the seams—the same oversized Bible that they can remember their dad reading from most days. I hope that through years of notes, confessions, and scribbles squeezed into the margins they’ll discover that their dad was far from a perfect man, but he desperately clung to the Word that pointed him to a perfect Savior.

Just so you know, I’m not anti-digital Bible. I have multiple Bible apps readily available across my various devices. But when it’s all said and done, I just don’t think my children will say, “You know, I’m really glad dad left us with his YouVersion app.”

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Living Backwards

Recent studies show that one out of every one persons will die at some point in their lifetime.

With that being said, we all have a day coming where family, friends and other random people who assumed they were our friends will gather to reflect and (hopefully) celebrate our lives. My question to you is simply this:

How do you want to be remembered?

I’m not talking about the generic, “Oh, he was such a good man” or “She was such a sweet lady”—you and I both know that people will say that regardless of whether you live like hell or not.

But what do you want your legacy to be? What is it that you want people to know about you before the preacher stands up to try to remind (or persuade) them?

It’s a tough question, isn’t it? This is the question that was brought up in our life group a few weeks ago. It’s the question I’ve thought about fairly often since then. It’s the question that I’ve set aside a page in my Moleskine journal for. It’s the question that sparked an hour-ish long discussion over our dinner table last week.

When we think about legacy, it’s so easy to think long-term. But legacies are not made in the long-term. Legacies are built brick-by-brick in the day-to-day grind of life. Our legacies are forged a little more with each setting of the sun.

Want to be remembered as a loving spouse? Love your spouse today. Want to be remembered as a beloved parent? Be intentional with your kids today. Want to be remembered for your generosity? Start giving today. Want to be remembered for your faith? Walk with Jesus today. If you want your legacy to be remembered tomorrow, get started on it today.

So what do you want your legacy to be? I think that’s a question you should ask yourself. Not just in passing—really ask yourself. Make some notes. Do some reflecting. And then once you decide what you want to be known for, try living each day with the end in mind. Live backwards.