Sitting at the Feet of the Master
Today if you were following along with us in the 90 Day Challenge, you read Mark 4. That chapter contains about 886 words in the ESV Bible. Wikipedia tells me (and I’m sure it’s 100% accurate) that the average person can read between 250-300 words per minute. If you do the math, then most of us took somewhere between three to three and a half minutes to read the entire chapter today, theoretically.
When you put it that way, 886 words in three minutes doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. The longest chapter in the Gospels (that I can tell) is Mark 14 at 1,590 words. Still, according to that great bastion of truth Wikipedia, that should only take between five and six minutes to read. But that’s not how long it really takes to read. After all, it’s the thinking, learning, and praying that slow down our reading and, to be honest, can make this challenge difficult. But, in truth, our challenge is not merely to complete reading 90 chapters per se, it’s really a challenge to learn from Jesus. Reading those 90 chapters is simply how we’re doing that.
As we think, learn, pray, and persevere I want to offer you an encouragement and some tips. Don’t get overwhelmed by the challenge! Keep in mind that the goal at the end of this is not necessarily to say, “I finished reading the Gospels!” (though that’s going to be true!), but to say, “I learned some important things about Jesus!”
One of the more challenging things about this challenge is to be consistent. And the feeling of getting backed up if you’re not. But here’s my advice: if you miss a day or two, skip the chapters and start back up on whatever chapter the day is on. This won’t be the last chance you’ll get to read through the Gospels (I hope). It’s more important that you are simply with today’s text and asking the questions than that you complete this like an assignment.
And if you’re feeling intimidated by the questions, my advice is just to ask the first one, “What do I learn about Jesus?” Often, that question answers exactly what you learn about disciple-making after all. But don’t let it paralyze you. Think of this challenge as spiritual exercise. Just like any other kind of exercise, you will see no benefits if you don’t do it at all. So if you feel paralyzed or overwhelmed, find some way to modify the challenge so you can keep in the flow.
Some of you are also wondering how to do the 90 Day Challenge as a small group. As you go through the seven chapters of the week, my suggestion would be to zoom in, then zoom out. In other words, spend some time devotionally in one passage, then tackle the rest of the chapters.
Try something like this:
- Have a leader choose one story out of the seven chapters (5-10 verses) that brings out the theme from the previous Sunday (for example, this week’s was Hospitality).
- Read the story aloud.
- Take a few quiet moments to reflect on what resonates with you in that story. Ask questions like, “Who do I identify with in this story?” or “Why did I feel that way when Jesus said that?”
- Reflect as a group on what you learn about Jesus and what he is calling you to do as a disciple-maker from this passage.
- Then, spend the rest of the time reviewing your answers to the two questions for the rest of the seven chapters.
- Close in prayer for one another. specifically praying for the things you’ve learned to be applied in your lives.
These are just a couple of things to help you if you’re flagging at this point in the challenge. And I’ll belabor my point again: this challenge is about learning from Jesus! We are attempting nothing less than to retrace the steps of those original 12 disciples and sit at the feet of the Master. That’s a worthy endeavor, and I hope you find yourself encouraged and refreshed along the way.
P.S. Many of you might know about our awesome Upward Basketball program, but some of you don’t. Even if you did, it’s easy to miss the fact that hundreds of our neighbors pass through the doors of our church every week to be a part of this program. Many of these folks are not members of Chapel Hill, let alone followers of Christ. Let me encourage you to stop by some Saturday just to see the fun and excitement around this program, and maybe say “hi” to one of your coworkers or neighbors who might be there.