Finished another course at Koinonia Institute and this is my review. I went throught the course materials for this course, Learn the Bible in 24 Hours – Lecture 1-12 Old Testament more than twenty years ago while regretfully serving in the US Army overseas. Now, taking the course again, it was surprising how much I remembered from so long ago.
You can find all the coursework for my Unschooled Master of Theology Program by clicking here.
Let’s get started….
Now Released as Free Content
The Learn the Bible in 24 Hours program used to be part of the Koinonia House K-Ration program where you would get a tape a week from Missler’s catalog of teaching seminars. While serving overseas, a few officers that worked on a neighboring base happened to be members and they would circulate tapes to several of us who had interest. This program, along with a few other sets, were my favorites. They were, sadly, the very first real exposure I had to expositional, contextual, systematic teaching of the bible. Everything else I had experienced up to that point had been topical sermons focusing on salvation, or the gospel message, or Easter, or some archaic reference to someone I didn’t recognize in the Old Testament (or worse, someone somewhere lost in history).
Chuck Missler was a breath of fresh air for me, as I struggled through the bible the very first time. I had spent the bulk of Basic Training reading through the pocket New Testament the Gideons had given me while in Junior High School (I brought it home that afternoon and deposited it into the junk drawer in the kitchen, never to see it again until I left for military service years later).
It served me well. Thank you to all the Gideons out there. Know your bible(s) were instrumental in saving at least one person on planet earth.
After arriving to my duty station in Europe, at the behest of a young missionary, I went to the local PX and purchased an NIV study bible and set out on the lofty task of reading through the entire bible. I would go to work during the day and then would spend nights and weekends curled up on my bed or on the window seat of my barracks room reading through Romans and 1 Corinthians and Revelation and Genesis until I got through all 66 books. I always kept a notepad next to me and would write out questions, highlight text in the bible with different markers (green = I agreed; yellow = wasn’t sure; orange = did not agree). I then would set up appointments with chaplains, missionary pastors, missionaries – really anyone who would sit long enough so I could ask them my questions. This went on for a good year.
Chuck Missler was relegated to nights. I would lay in bed and stare up at the ceiling and listen to him as he worked through each book of the bible systematically, connecting so many dots, answering so many of the questions I’d asked others hundreds of times but typically got few answers. Mostly they just wanted me to start coming to Church on Sunday so I could support them by way of the offering plate (a running theme throughout my Christian walk).
Fast forward to today, two years to the day (as I’m writing this) after Chuck Missler passed away and his organization, Koinonia House, was passed on to its heirs. It appears the first thing the operators did was make Learn the Bible in 24 Hours free to the world (kind of a shrewd decision, since most of Missler’s materials are widely available on the internet for free anyway).
After signing up for the Koinonia Institute, I saw this course and the second course covering the New Testament, and figured it would be a good review if nothing else. And, it certainly has been, despite rather bordering right on the edge of Hebrews 6:1.
Learn the Bible in 24 Hours and the official course at KI is quite basic in its approach. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is knew to the faith, who has just recently encountered God on a personal level, who might have confusion and even frustration, as they look around them at the world with fresh eyes.
There is nothing safe or easy about a life in Christ. At least for me, it has been full of hazy confusion, self-doubt, often ridicule from the world, family, old friends (or those you thought were friends). But, if they hated him, right? This course and the material are a great introduction to the bible, a most necessary foundational addition to the watered-down teaching coming so often from the pulpits of America in our age. So much so, I’m hard pressed to find a structured, modern day Church I could even consider an authentic representation of the Church as we see from the biblical account.
“The love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
But, thankfully, Chuck Missler has left us a legacy, and one in which is enshrined in audio and video for all future generations to come. It will be important for all of us to stash away local copies of Missler’s work, for in the future, and seemingly overnight, the online digital copies of this kind of work will be expunged from the public commons once concerted persecution begins.
So Very Much Left to Learn
One thing I keep coming away from these materials as I wrestle with them in my uThM program, is how much I still have left to learn. I’m starting here at the beginning, despite having studied the bible systematically for nearly 30 years. I still know nothing about God or his plan for my life. He is an explicit mystery still to me. He is a perplexity.
But, when compared to the counterpart who has spent the last 30 years sitting only in the pew on Sunday morning and the occasional bible study or weekend retreat, Missler provides an unrivaled education, to top even the most expensive seminary degree experience. And, no, he wasn’t a perfect man. He’s not a perfect bible teacher. Over the years I’ve seem him struggle with the idolatry of nationalism, with issues pertaining to his own vision for K-House, and to watch those things change through the course of his own walk.
He is just a man after all.
But, what a great opportunity afforded to anyone from any walk of life, to study with such a man as this. And, within a few years, as Starlink comes on line, the whole of the internet (yes, the bad along with the good) will be rushing into virgin swaths of the globe. A huge shift is coming, as Western society will certainly begin to wane and the third world will experience a renewed Renaissance. Jewish Rabbis are now predicting wide-spread disruption and catastrophe in the developed world, encouraging Jews of all walks of life to flee to their homeland for safety.
Where are we to go, those of us who are not part of the tribe of Judah? Who are not of Israel? We have to stand firm, gird ourselves, prepare both physically and emotionally for the persecution that is sure to come. It is our turn. We have grown fat and lazy and comfortable. This will soon end, and the winnowing fire of persecution will burn through the cultural church and will hollow out all that is called Christianity but is so far from it removed.
I encourage everyone to take this course and all the courses on KI. It’s time now to prepare for what is surely to come. If not, all the better, yet, even still how much more the worse?
The goal of Missler with starting K-House and KI was to develop biblical literacy within the church. I hope he was successful. We’re definitely going to need it.
Until my next assignment….
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Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!