Daily Bread Format- An Oral Presentation with Q&A Session
By Don Kuper
Daily Bread Writers’ Workshop
We held a Daily Bread Writers’ Workshop on November 10, 2012 at Hamburger University, an ideal spot for conferences of this nature. Ironically, there are no McDonald’s hamburgers served. We heard a lecture on “Theology: Basics” by Dr. Augustine Suh, an oral presentation on Daily Bread Format prepared by Missionary Don Kuper, and finally, Missionary Sarah Barry presented the Inductive Bible Study Method, which is a foundation for UBF ministry. In my oral presentation with Q&A, we had the opportunity to evaluate some of the recent changes to our UBF Daily Bread book. We also discussed and voted on the need to change the two-part format of Daily Bread which has served so well the past fifty years. We stopped to appreciate the older format of Daily Bread and review its merits. But then we also discussed the need to change this format so that it may be more accessible for young people living in a postmodern world.
In this paper, I would like to review the history of Daily Bread and UBF Daily Bread ministry. Then we will also compare our Daily Bread format with other formats outside UBF. Finally, the fruit of our lively Q & A session will be presented at the end. I hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as I did preparing it.
I. History of Daily Bread (Exodus 16; Deut. 8:2-3)
Where did Daily Bread come from? God gave manna to Israel as their daily bread while they were in the desert (Ex. 16:4). This manna was the first daily bread. When the Israelites saw it for the first time, they said to each other, “What is it?” (Ex. 16:15). Literally, the word manna sounds like the Hebrew for What is it?  God instructed them to go out and collect just enough manna for each household. They had to get up early in the morning and collect the manna.
Then what was God’s purpose in giving the Israelites manna training? As we review their history, we find that the Israelites continually doubted God’s goodness and faithfulness even after seeing God’s mighty acts of deliverance on their behalf. They even had Aaron make them their own gods out of gold, which they then paid homage to in a wild orgy (Ex. 32:1-6). When we see Israel in the desert, we find that although they had left Egypt, Egypt had not left them. They were filled with a slave mentality which seeks immediate gratification and pays only lip service instead of real genuine devotion. Moreover, they had no sense of history and continually forgot God’s grace in their lives.
To this slave-people, God gave two training topics to raise them up as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The first was collecting manna daily and the second was keeping the Sabbath holy.God commanded them to go out each morning and collect the manna which had fallen on the ground like a light snow. When each one got back to his tent, he or she found that they had collected just enough for that day. No matter how hard they tried, they could not collect more than each day’s portion. Moreover, when some greedy Israelites tried to collect manna in the afternoon, they couldn’t find any, for it had melted. God’s purpose behind the manna training was for the Israelites to live by God’s word daily. He humbled and tested them in the desert and fed them with manna in order to see if they would obey him (Dt. 8:2-3). Based on this, they could grow from a people with a slave mentality to a chosen people who have living faith that depends on the living God.
In the New Testament we find a parallel to the Old Testament manna. Jesus gave his disciples a prayer topic regarding daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread…” This reference to a “daily bread” is both physical and spiritual daily bread. We must depend on God for our physical and our spiritual daily bread. Throughout the history of the Church, God’s people have collected the spiritual manna by keeping a quiet time (QT) in order to collect a portion of God’s word every morning. From this deep desire to have time with God and his word, various ministries have developed Daily Bread devotional guides or booklets.
UBF also has its own unique history and history of Daily Bread. Briefly, let’s review our history. UBF was born in 1961 in tumultuous times during the aftermath of the Korean War. At that time, students were restless, fatalistic and very poor. But they also had a deep spiritual thirst and hunger for God’s word in spite of their physical poverty. Sarah Barry tells us in the introduction to her Daily Bread Notes that one of the greatest lessons of the early period of UBF history in Kwangju was that “the Bible, the living word of God, spoke to the hunger for truth and deepest needs of Kwangju students.”
In reading her introduction, I found the following lessons from early UBF History in Kwangju: First, English Bible study generated a quiet Bible study revolution in the Korean language. That is, Korean college students who were attending her English Bible class began to talk about what they were learning from Bible study in Korean. This was revolutionary. Secondly, there was a consensus among them that growing leaders needed Daily Bread to grow more.
Then it became an issue whether to borrow materials from other ministries like Scripture Union or to write Daily Bread in-house. Many churches and parachurch organizations had their own devotional books so UBF could have used one of these. But instead Dr. Lee chose to write his own Daily Bread. Why did he do so? First, he wanted to study the whole Bible (all 66 books) systematically. Second, he wanted to contextualize the writing, that is, study and write what God’s word was saying to them in a Korean student environment. Therefore, Dr. Lee began writing Daily Bread notes in March 1968. He continued until he came to the USA in 1977.
What was the fruit of having a Daily Bread book? Sarah Barry writes: “In Seoul, Daily Bread became a major tool for campus pioneering… each fellowship met once a week to share their Daily Bread writings and pray together… they would pray together for their campus…”
After Dr. Lee left for the USA, the Korean staff shepherds, Mark Yang, Paul Rhee, Samuel H. Lee, David Kim and Daniel Rhee, began to write Daily Bread notes.
After coming back to the USA Mother Sarah Barry began writing Daily Bread in English (mid-1970s until the mid-1990s). Sarah Barry writes the following: “I followed the Bible text as carefully as I could. Personally, it was a blessing to study and write Daily Bread notes on the whole Bible.” (Sarah Barry)
In the USA, American shepherds also began to write Daily Bread in the 2000s. This is why we are meeting here for a Daily Bread Writers’ Workshop. Then what can we, as Daily Bread writers, take away from this early history of UBF in Kwangju?
I would like to suggest the following conclusions which I believe we share as Daily Bread writers based on Sarah Barry’s Daily Bread Notes:
II. Daily Bread Format
Our UBF Daily Bread format is well suited to the inductive Bible study method. Daily Bread format has been based on a 2-part model (though sometimes a passage is broken into 3 parts). The following is a classic devotional as written by Missionary Sarah Barry:
In the Beginning
1. God created the heavens and the earth (1)
“In the Beginning God…” God is eternal. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He is almighty. He created the universe and all that is in it for his own good purpose. He is the Owner of all things. The world is not an accident—and neither was I. Life has meaning when we know our Creator…
2. The earth was formless, empty and dark (2)
Prayer: Lord God, Creator and Owner of all things, I worship you and I acknowledge your sovereignty over my life.
One Word: God created me and all things
This format has worked well for nearly fifty years. It has been noted by certain scholars that our UBF Daily Bread is exemplary among devotionals. Then the question arises after fifty years have gone by: Should we modify or change this format? We will address this issue in the Q&A session after briefly looking at other formats from other sources.
Most popular devotional books are based on a single paragraph or several paragraphs in one part rather than a multi-part division. This allows for development of a unifying theme and eliminates the pressure to divide a passage unnecessarily into artificial divisions based on a writer’s arbitrary rules. It also allows us to read the devotional like a short manuscript without the awkward division with its number and bold-faced text.
We read one devotional from each of the following devotional guides:
Here, I would like to share some excerpts from Unto the Hills by Dr. Billy Graham and then from Our Daily Bread by RBC ministries.
The Highest Calling
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. –Luke 14:33
If I leave my room in the morning without my quiet time, my day is all wrong, my ministry curtailed. I have no close walk, no intimate fellowship with Christ…The Bible says much about the mind. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” We should make it a habit to center our minds on the Person of Christ.
Let him take your tongue and nail it to the cross. The Scripture says that we smite with the tongue. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity… and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). Take this little muscle of yours and nail it to the cross…
Take those eyes of yours and say with Job, “I’ve made a covenant with my eyes.”
From Head to Heart
(From Our Daily Bread by RBC Ministries)
Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. —Psalm 119:11
My childhood piano teacher was a stickler for memorization. Being able to play a piece without error was not enough. I had to play several pieces flawlessly by memory. Her reasoning was this: She didn’t want her students to say, when asked to play, “I’m sorry, I don’t have my music with me.”
As a child, I also memorized Bible passages, including Psalm 119:11. Due to my limited understanding, I believed that simple memorization would keep me from sin. I worked hard at memorizing verses, and I even won a Moody Bible Story Book as an award.
Although memorizing the Bible is a good habit to develop, it’s not the act of memorizing that keeps us from sin. As I learned soon after my winning efforts, having the words of Scripture in my head made little difference in my behavior. In fact, instead of victory over sin, knowledge alone generated feelings of guilt.
Eventually I realized that the Word of God had to spread through my whole being. I needed to internalize Scripture, to hide it “in my heart” the way a musician does a piece of music. I had to live the Bible as well as I could quote it. As God’s Word spreads from our heads to our hearts, sin loses its power over us. —Julie Ackerman Link
O Lord, my God, may Your Word become so much a part of me that obedience comes naturally and cheerfully from my heart. Change me and mold me into Your image.
Let God’s Word fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your life.”
In each of the above examples, we do not find the use of boldfaced/numbered divisions but rather several short paragraphs. The writing of Dr. Graham is very insightful and convicting. The admonition of nailing one’s tongue to the cross and making a covenant with one’s eyes is sharp and clear and irresistible. The excerpt from Our Daily Bread has its own merits. It begins with a personal reflection or anecdote and then eventually leads to the point the author wishes to convey based on the Scripture for the day. The author draws a nice analogy between music and Scripture and shows that memorization alone is not enough in either case. The point is clear: We must do more than memorize God’s word; we must live out God’s word in order for it to have a real effect in our life.
As we discussed the idea of the two-part format, some felt that the bold sub-titles with numbers were helpful and even necessary to digest the passage. One of our writers reminded us that in order for a reader to process the material he is reading, literary devices such as sub-titles, topic sentences, bold letters, etc are very necessary. In the morning we are tired and need help to catch the point of the passage. This is where divisions with sub-titles in bold letters are helpful. Others expressed an opposing position. One person compared the sub-titles to obnoxious toll stops on the freeway. You’re driving along comfortably and suddenly you have to pay a toll at the next part before moving on. Divisions can be misleading and unnatural for some. Just when there seemed to be an impasse that prevented us from reaching any consensus, God helped us to reach a compromise that everyone was satisfied with. We decided to eliminate the formal 2-part Daily Bread format since it seemed to stifle creativity and placed unnecessary pressure on writers to come up with divisions even when the passage had one clear theme or focus. Thus, we decided to eliminate Daily Bread divisions along with the numbers and bold text. In this way, writers felt that Daily Bread will be more streamlined and appear as either a single long paragraph or two or three paragraphs that naturally mirror the content of the Bible passage.
Furthermore, it was decided that since sub-titles do help some readers to make sense of the reading, a writer can deliberately write the first sentence of each paragraph as a kind of topic sentence with the idea of a division in mind. This seemed appropriate since there are passages which have a natural division based on the contents or contrasting themes, etc. In light of this discussion, we then took a vote and all agreed on the new arrangement which satisfied all parties reasonably well.
The new and improved Daily Bread design begins with the second book of the new year of 2013 with other small changes that will enhance your QT experience with God. It was also suggested that a Bible reading program be added to the Daily Bread book. This has been done and will begin as of January 2013. By reading the suggested passages daily, the reader can read the entire Bible in one year. Of course, the Bible reading program is optional and up to one’s own desire. Many find Bible reading convenient as an evening activity, which this writer has chosen to do.
 See the footnote for Exodus 16:15 in the NIV Study Bible.
 This two-fold training lies at the heart of God’s strategy to establish Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. See Exodus 16:4-5, 22-23, 35; 20:8-11.
 Sarah Barry, Sarah Barry’s Daily Bread Notes: Pentateuch (UBF Press, 2011), 5.
 Sarah Barry, Sarah Barry’s Daily Bread Notes: Pentateuch (UBF Press, 2011), 6.
 Sarah Barry, Sarah Barry’s Daily Bread Notes: Pentateuch (UBF Press, 2011), 12.
 Billy Graham, Unto the Hills (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010), June 13.
 RBC Ministries, Our Daily Bread (RBC Ministries, 2012).
 We had a lively discussion on Daily Bread format. It was noted that already there have been some changes to Daily Bread such as having a spiral notebook and lines for notes/prayer.