guest post by Larry Dinkins
There are scores of quiet time books which stress making Bible reading a daily habit: Daily Bread, Daily Light, Daily Guideposts, and a huge variety of other Daily devotional aids for every age group. I've used many of them, so I'm not sure why the title of a new devotional caught my eye - "Once-A-Day Bible". Then it dawned on me. I've been thinking about Brother Lawrence whose "Practicing the Presence of God" is still a classic after 400 years. What if all they had in the monastery was the "Once-A-Day" Bible. Would Brother Lawrence read his portion for the day and then say, "Ok, glad that's finished. Once in the Bible is enough for today." Mind you, a "Once-a-Day" Bible is much better than a "Once-in-Awhile" Bible or "Once-in-a-Blue-Moon" Bible.
Surely our goal is to meditate and ruminate on the Scriptures continually as we, " ... sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deut. 6:6). I've heard thousands of sermons in my 60 years and I'm embarassed to say that I very seldom discuss the content of the sermon over say, lunch or when I return home. I always take voluminous notes and so do many of my friends, but we very rarely make the effort to discuss the message, even when everyone agrees that it was a good sermon. Mind you, I've been in churches where the pastor proactively sets up small groups to discuss his sermon and of course that sermon becomes the topic of discussion. Those groups are quite useful, but I don't think that is the primary thing that Moses had in mind in Deut. 6:6.
That is why a story telling emphasis has been so surprising to me. For one thing, in a oral story session, the storyteller makes an effort to feature the story as the core of the teaching and to seal it to the listener's heart by repetition, questions and personal application. The listener actually leaves the session with a high percentage of the story in his memory bank, plus an understanding of the basic meaning of the story. The result is that this "life and blood" story can be transported from a formal sanctuary to an informal lunch table, living room sofa or even park bench.
The early church was always "gossiping the gospel" as it related the marvelous stories of the savior. They had an unusual number of powerful stories in their heart pocket and no doubt told them with the confidence and assurance of an eye witness. Along the way they were able to reach the outer corners of the Roman Empire and ultimately "turn the world upside down".