Joseph McRae Mellichamp, Professor Emeritus
Management Science, University of Alabama
At this time of the year, most of us think of things we would like to accomplish in the next year. Some of us make a list of New Year’s resolutions; others assess their lives and formulate a plan and various goals. Whether we make detailed lists to check off, or simply affirm that we are going to undertake some project in the next year, the chances are that we have already begun to think along these lines.
What about goals for the spiritual dimension of our lives? In last week’s MMM, Mark Geil talked about taking his family through the Bible in a year. He mentioned the reading guide I had assembled; I thought you might be interested in the impetus for its creation.
I Wanted To Know All Of God’s Word
Several years ago, I decided to read through the Bible as a New Year’s resolution. I wanted to know all of God’s word. Martin Luther said: “If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.”
This may sound like a huge undertaking, one that would involve a large time commitment. It’s not. I discovered by putting together a spreadsheet to guide me, and reading an average of 85 verses a day (10 to 15 minutes) that I could complete the entire Bible in a year.
My 13th Year
In a few days I will finish reading all of the Bible for the 13th consecutive year, and I am chomping at the bit to start again in 2011. My wife Peggy will finish her 12th reading in a few days and many of our friends are also finishing up—some for the first or second time, others for the fifth or sixth or seventh time.
I have been blessed so much by this discipline that I am challenging anyone who will listen to join us. In fact, in our Christmas letter every year we close by inviting all our friends and relatives to join us and include a copy of the spreadsheet.
I wanted to see my devotional life deepen; reading through the Bible delivers. It has helped me become more consistent in my prayer life; a daily time in the Word opens the door to conversation with the Author of the Word.
As we begin the New Year, what could be more exciting than reading the story of the greatest Person of history?
© 2008 Joseph McRae Mellichamp
University of Alabama
Faculty Commons National Representative
[April 25, 2010]—
As the academic year draws to a close we face both student and departmental evaluations of our performance. How do I evaluate my life as a Christian professor? What would Jesus have me do?
My initial reaction to the WWJD fad/movement a few years ago was to conclude that most of us, myself included, don’t know Jesus well enough to know what He would do in any given circumstance. So I have deliberately focused my devotional life around this idea of knowing Him.
The most important activity in the life of any believer, I have discovered, is to learn of Jesus, to get to know Him. Everything else is a distant second. No matter how I protest, if I put other things before spending time with Him, I don’t value Him as I ought.
Here are a few things I have been learning about Jesus:
He Lived a Focused Life
Jesus didn’t dabble in peripheral issues. Matthew tells us that Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem and the cross that awaited Him there. Satan tried to distract Him by offering Him the kingdoms of the world; the people tried to distract Him by looking for someone to overthrow the rule of Rome. He declined all offers in order to become our sacrifice.
He Accomplished Important Things
Jesus did not respond to what we typically characterize as urgency. When Lazarus was dying, Jesus, to the consternation of His disciples and Lazarus’ family, delayed two days before going to him. Jesus always made time for the important things—time with His Father and with hurting people.
He Sought the Lost
Responding to criticism from the religious leaders of the day for associating with sinners like Zaccheus, a rich tax collector, Jesus said, “And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost.” (Luke 19:10 NLT) He could have spent His life secluded as a teacher in the Temple; instead He associated with the common people.
I’m doing a series now for our Sunday School class on “Jesus the Teacher.” What a wonderful teacher He was! Many of His illustrations are masterpieces of communication, for example, the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Lost Sheep. The Sermon on the Mount is His unforgettable lesson on godly living.
He Made Disciples
The population of Palestine at the time of Jesus was 2,000,000; the world population was 180,000,000. There was no way He could speak personally with all those people. So He made disciples to communicate His message. His disciples reached the world of their day with the gospel and they continue even to our time to deliver the message of salvation.
Would He do anything differently if He were a professor today? I don’t think so. I believe that His focus and priorities would be the same. His surroundings would be different, but His passion would not.
In the light of this, what should we university professors today be about? Or, for that matter, what should any of us be about? If you would like additional reading along these lines, I would recommend a free download of a little booklet I wrote several years ago, What Would Jesus Do At My University?
© 2010 Joseph McRae Mellichamp