In my last post, I mentioned how podcasting is another form of indie publishing. That was a prelude to a calling that at that time I was just beginning to understand, and have since developed into a final product called The Weekly Bible Wrap Up at https://anchor.fm/weekly-bible-wrap-up.
I’ll start with context because I think it’s important with any story, interpretation, or opinion. Because this podcast is not just about summarizing the Bible, I think it’s important to have context behind that to try to understand the intent and the communication and the message of the person delivering that and that goes to when reading the Bible – understand the context when it was written.
I grew up Catholic, but non practicing, in that we didn’t go to church regularly. It was only when I was about 16 that I reached out to the Catholic Church to learn more, as a young adult on my own. My first Communion and my confirmation were later than those going through the faith I went through that as a young adult, and some might argue that that actually makes it more impactful because you’re making a decision as an adult.
As a practicing Catholic and was pretty good about maintaining attendance with church, but really didn’t connect well with the whole environment. I felt like I was doing something as an obligation, like I had to go to church because I wanted to get to heaven. That was the only reason why I was doing any of that. It’s like “Well, here I am, putting in my time so that when I die you can see the attendance sheet and yay Greg, you can go through, that’s great.
Not exactly the most fulfilling way to look at the entire Bible and the faith.
I drifted away from the Catholic Church. But through a rather spontaneous or perhaps planned (I don’t believe anything is a coincidence) circumstance, I was invited to attend an interdenominational church in Murfreesboro, TN called World Outreach Church, and this was about 13 or 14 years ago.
Now you must understand a little bit more about context too. I grew up in the north, New York. I was a Yankee obviously, moved down to the South about almost 30 years ago and have claimed Tennessee as my home. I love it in Tennessee. It’s just been very fulfilling for me here. There’s a whole host of reasons why I really feel that I’ve reached my own personal promised land.
And in the south, they call it the Bible Belt and there’s reasons for that, you know? In some cases, there are large, very large churches and World Outreach being one of them. I accepted the invitation and went, but in the beginning, I didn’t see it as “real” church.
I saw it more as like a Christian Community Center type thing gathering. I didn’t get the holding of hands in the air. I didn’t get any of that. But it was nice, and the people seemed nice, and so I stayed.
And I did resonate with the first sermon that I ever heard from Pastor Alan Jackson. In fact, my friend introduced me to him right after that first service and I told Pastor Allen him that I was floored by his message. If you’ve heard Pastor Jackson speak, you know he has an excellent and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humor and I think his response was somewhere along the lines of, “Well, sometimes when I preach people end up on the floor.” In other words, he puts them to sleep. That was my introduction to him personally.
I started to attend world outreach more and more and then around this time is when I met my wife. Before we got married her and I started to attend together. We were regular in our attendance off and on, off and on, and became slowly over time more on than off and something was happening within us. Several years ago, I think about six years ago we joined the choir and that certainly opened up more about the church.
What was happening to me was that I was understanding and growing in this concept of a personal relationship with Christ. I always thought that that was sort of like marketing mumbo jumbo from the extreme evangelicals. But it really, really resonated with me.
Every year the church does a weekly well daily rather Bible reading. The idea is that if you read the Bible for 10 or 15 minutes a day, you will get through. And I use those words on purpose because I’ll explain why I said that in just a moment you will get through the Bible within a year. I thought, well, I’ve never read the entire Bible. I probably should if I really want to get a better understanding about what it is that I believe. Plus, Pastor Jackson had kind of implanted in my mind that you can’t really understand the New Testament without really understanding the Old Testament. That makes sense, and makes more sense as you read the Bible.
I began listening on my commute. I would commute one day to a remote office about little more than two hours one way, and that would be my day that I would catch up on the Bible. During the commute, I would listen to a podcast called the Daily Audio Bible and it was my introduction into the regularity of the Bible. I was trying to catch up on all the daily readings for the week in one day. With all the Bible readings, because I’m a type A personality, I wanted to make sure I was staying on schedule, because I wanted to get through the Bible.
There’s a problem with those words – get through. It signifies an obligation, really, nothing different than what ended up turning me off from the Catholic Church.
But God was working through me, and after two years or three years of passively listening to the Bible, whether it be driving or then I got into a better habit of doing it daily. Sometimes I still had to catch up, but I would listen while I was working out. It was still in the list of priorities, a background thing, but at least it was on my list of priorities of things I was doing.
I think I’m into my 4th year now of reading (not listening to) the Bible. The first year I did it, it was the same methodology. I would read one day, and then I’d skip a few days and then I’d be like, “Oh gosh, I have to catch up and I go through it really fast and then yay, I could check that off and move on.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, I became a lot more intentional about this. I made two changes. First, every morning, first thing in the morning, I would read my Bible. I wouldn’t put it in some other place on my schedule whenever I had a chance to do it. I would make that the priority.
The second change is I began to write notes about it. Now sometimes I’d write down verses. Sometimes I write down feelings or opinions, or where I’ve seen things in relation to today’s modern culture. That was all just for me. It took two years, but I filled a 200-page composition book with daily notes. It helped me to focus on being more intentional when I was reading the Bible. I was reading and trying to absorb it.
Then I changed the translation. I don’t remember the first couple of iterations NIV was one of them. Maybe I read NIV twice in a row and then switched to Living Bible, which was a much easier read. After that I thought, well, I probably should go in the exact opposite direction and read King James. Old English that makes it for a very difficult reading, but I bought the Holman King James Version Study Bible. They do a wonderful job of explaining not only what some of the English means, but also what some of the Bible means, like what are they getting at here? Why are they doing this?
There’s so many elements in the Bible, so many rules. In Leviticus, for example, that when you’re reading Leviticus, talk about having to get through something, it seems like! It is a difficult read, but there is a reason, a structure, that makes perfect sense as to why these sacrifices were done as they were, given the context of when it was written.
During these years, in my day job in information security, I had started a few years ago a YouTube series called The Virtual CISO Moment (CISO stands for Chief Information Security Officer). The series began as a marketing strategy to try to get folks interested in the services we offer. Then that video series slowly. developed into more of an effort of giving back. I have more than 30 years of knowledge and experience in this field to share.
This year I put it up on Spotify and other platforms through a unique opportunity that came my way. Spotify was looking for amateur video content creators like me, those who have already demonstrated that they’ve done videos in the past that they wanted us to be the first wave of their new expanded video and audio podcast creation platform called Anchor.
The Virtual CISO Moment was accepted, and that accelerated my growth into the podcast space this year.
All of this was coming together for context as to why I’m doing this podcast. There are a few elements that have converged. First, I have learned and grown in reading and understanding the Bible, particularly through the intentionality of reading every morning and writing about it.
Second, I’ve learned about how to create a podcast efficiently. One of the first rules of podcasting I would say (I didn’t read this anywhere but may be common advice) is to be consistent about it, so I do this every week. That’s why a new episode drops every Sunday at 6 PM Central (US).
Third, I’ve gotten proficient at speaking into this big foam-covered microphone on a regular basis. I record three episodes per week of The Virtual CISO Moment. I don’t have microphone fear anymore.
I started to get the God-nudging beginning of May. “Hey, Greg. I think I want you to do something else.” That’s how I started in what I’m doing in my career now; five years ago, it was a God nudge, and you can learn more about that if you to the other podcast (first episode titled Genesis).
Here it was, another God message, the shoulder tap, a little whisper in the ear. “I’ve given you these talents. I’d like you to bring them together, for my purpose.”
And thus, The Weekly Bible Wrap Up was born. I don’t know how many people are going to listen to this, but if just one person listens, it’s worth it. I hope more will. I hope that this becomes for some people a vehicle to help bridge from that “I’ve got to get through the Bible” to “I’m living the Bible and I’m living the relationship.”
The one thing that I, nor any podcast, or preacher, or anybody (not even God) can give is the desire to begin. The desire comes from faith. You must believe, when reading the Bible, first and foremost that there is a God who created the universe and loves us.
If you go to the Bible looking immediately right out the gate for proof, chances are you won’t find it, because you’re reading it with the eye of its skeptic. But if you read it as a believer in God, it is amazing how it opens understanding.
I now look forward to reading my Bible every morning, it’s not something I have to get through because it seems like every day I gain more insight, I learn something new. I’m excited about it! I’m excited about this path that God has put me on. I hope it helps you.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m certainly open to any feedback. I hope this podcast becomes a real blessing to you.
Post based on the transcript of the introductory episode of The Weekly Bible Wrap Up.