Folks, I have just finished reading through the entire Bible - and I am so excited! The pastor at our young church plant challenged us last December to try to read through the Bible in a year. Well, I had begun reading through Scripture already, but Brother Billy's encouragement motivated me to continue and see if I could finish reading the entire text by December 2009. As of yesterday, December 31, 2009, I have finished the entire book, cover to cover. I am feeling a little euphoric!
Today begins a new year - and a new cycle of reading. If, like me, you are trying to read consistently through all of Scripture, here are a few tips I've learned over the past year:
First: Just keep reading. Sounds pretty simple, but this can be harder than you think. When I initially attempted to read through the Bible in a year, I sometimes found myself having to miss a day, and then "cramming" to try to catch up with my schedule. As a result, daily reading often felt like a toilsome labor weighted with guilt. Don't do that! It takes much of the joy out of reading, and, in your press to "check off" a chapter, you'll probably miss precious content. This most recent read-through took me almost two years instead of one. I eventually threw away my little schedule of daily readings and committed instead to reading two chapters each day from the Old Testament and one or two from the New. If I missed a day (or more), I simply picked up where I'd left off and continued with the next two chapters. It was incredibly freeing to lose the calendar, kind of like stepping out from under the weight of the Law, into the light of Grace!
Second: Find a reading buddy. My teenagers are going to try to read through the Bible this year, too, and it's a delight to be engaged in this endeavor together. Actually, most of them have already started, and are already at different places in the text. Like thier mom, they'll probably be "two year" types. It's encouraging to see how excited they are about their progress. How can a Mom not smile when her seventeen year-old-son comes to breakfast announcing joyfully, "I just finished reading Ezra!"
Third: When you do finish reading all the way through the Bible, then....just keep reading! I like this tip from Brother Billy: When you finish reading through the Bible, start over and do it again, perhaps with a different translation. Steve gave me an English Standard Version of the Reformation Study Bible for my birthday last July. Although I've used my new Bible for study and church, I've waited six months to begin reading in Genesis with the intent of continuing through to Revelation. Yesterday, I finished reading my tattered NIV. Today, a new journey begins with the ESV!
Fourth: Expect to be amazed. This Book contains some pretty incredible, sometimes weird stuff. I can confidently say that, No, NOWHERE in the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, is there any mention, whatsoever, of satellite TV dishes and how Satan is going to use those for our destruction during the "end times". (If you have any more questions about this topic, you need to talk to Brother Billy!) But it DOES talk about tattoos, and speaking animals, and dancing women, and a God who loves His people enough to die for them...or to destroy them. A God who is sovereign over all the affairs of men, ALL of them, and who works every single thing for His own purposes and glory. Be prepared to be amazed....and to fall in love.
One modern theologian has stated that the greatest crisis facing the Christian church today is our astounding ignorance of the Word of God. We know lyrics to upbeat praise songs, cliches from T-shirts and bumper stickers, lines from "Christian" movies and books, but we don't know the Bible. We know what others tell us about God and Jesus, but not what God and Jesus tell us about themselves. Why don't you join me today on this journey to meet and know the God who created you? It's a wild ride, and one you will not regret!
(Note: For a plan for reading through the entire Bible in a year, go here.)
5 days ago