Monday, March 28, 2011

The Blood Detective

The Blood DetectiveLate last week I finished reading my Bible again. My sixth time through, but it was thrilling to get through it again. I tried reading the Bible several times as a young adult, and I could never make it any farther than past the Ten Commandments in Exodus. I wanted to read, wanted to understand, but just couldn't get past the rules and regulations. I started reading it again when I was thirty after I was asked to start teaching the confirmation Sunday school class at church. I had a head faith in God and I figured that if I wanted to reach my students, I'd better have some knowledge of my own rather than just using a book.

My dad recommended that I start reading the New Testament, with the Gospels. So I started in Matthew, worked my way through Mark, and toward the end of Luke had my salvation experience making me a true child of God. After that reading through the rest of the New Testament became a joy, and it gave new understanding when I finally tackled the Old Testament. I admit to skimming the rule heavy books of Leviticus and Numbers my first time through. The second time I gave them my full attention, and by then I had come to understand what they meant and represented. All those rules were the only way for a sinful people to be able to reach God. It required many sacrifices, often of blood, and strict dietary laws as well as rules about personal interaction. Jesus changed all that with His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. We no longer needed to do daily blood sacrifices for our sins, nor avoid pork and shellfish, nor do we have to kick those with leprosy or other skin diseases out of society. The rules made sense now that I understood their purpose, and the other stories, those that I had heard countless times in Sunday school as a child, suddenly had new depth and weren't just children's tales.

I've been through the three "food" phases of Bible reading: "castor oil" is when we read it because it's good for us but it's not enjoyable, "cereal" is when it's dry and uninteresting but it's good for us so we do it, and "peaches and cream" is when we are reading and loving the Word of God. I've been enjoying my "peaches and cream" every night for the last several years. I've been through dry spells where it becomes a chore, but in the last six months or so, it's truly become my favorite part of each day. I've used a different color of highlighter each time through reading so I can see how different verses have affected me during the seasons of my life. My first time through I was too fearful to write in it. I viewed the Bible as too sacred to make my own. The second time through I used a pen to underline a few verses, but only a very few. Now I'm highlighting verses regularly and occasionally jotting down notes in the margins.

I've heard the phrase "A Bible that is falling apart is probably owned by a person whose life isn't!" and I hope to wear out my Bible to that point someday, although for now I'm still jumping from version to version with each read. My first read was the RSV, Revised Standard Version, popular among Methodists. My second time was in the NIV, New International Version, one of the most popular translations today. My third time I fell in love with the NLT, New Language Translation, and I eventually bought myself a nice leather bound one in that translation with my name on it. It's the Bible I hope to read until the covers are falling off and that one of my grandchildren will be thrilled to own someday. My fourth time was again in the NLT. Last year during my Lenten experiment, I read through The Message Bible, and that gave me fresh and exciting understanding of Scripture by reading it in modern language. I returned to my standby NLT for the sixth read, and I'm still in that translation this time, but it's the Transformation Bible with studies written by Warren W. Wiersbe.

I wish that I could express the change in my life reading the Bible on a daily basis has wrought. I've discovered a deep peace and joy that I never thought possible. I'll post more on this later this week, but I wanted to share my excitement with you at my sixth time through doing something I never thought I'd be capable of doing even once!

The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell is the first book in a new mystery series starring London genealogist Nigel Barnes. Barnes has recently returned to his work as a family history researcher after an unsuccessful attempt to become a university professor. He's frustrated at the lack of work within the occupation until hired by police detective Grant Foster and his partner Heather Jenkins to discover the meaning behind a code carved into the body of a murdered body found in a churchyard. The code refers to a record at the Family Records Centre which Barnes discovers traces back to a murderer known as the Kensington Killer who stabbed five men to death in 1879. As Foster, Jenkins, and Barnes investigate the 1879 case, they quickly discover that the current victims are tied to that century old case. Who would have thought that Waddell could take the dusty hobby of genealogy and turned it into an exciting and completely thrilling murder mystery. He uses the past to good effect as each person associated with the case has a secret in their own history. The writing is gritty, believable, and thoroughly compelling. Waddell gets extra points from me for laying out the clues for readers so I knew the motive and murderer before the main characters. I will definitely be following up on this series.