New Year Resolution
Today is the day we make them…New Year’s Resolutions. For many, one resolution is the goal of reading the entire Bible in one year. “From Genesis to Maps” as one of my good friends likes to say. That may seem daunting, but it’s possible to do, and does not require hours of time.
Reading the Bible is worth the time you will spend. It will change your life! But you might wonder how you start, and how you stick to it. Let me share a few things that might help.
The Divine Mentor
A few years ago while I was checking out Facebook, I noticed a question asked by one of the various pages I had liked. While I can’t remember who asked, I do remember the gist of it. Other than the Bible what book has impacted you spiritually? One book that was recommended several times was The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro. I remember because I bought the book. It did not disappoint, and I would recommend getting your own copy. In this post I will be discussing some of the things I learned from the book, and provide a few suggestions of my own. Cordeiro’s perspective on reading the Bible, and allowing God to use it to shape your heart is really helpful.
The Basic Premise
The book’s core message is that throughout life we look for mentors. Instructors to give use guidance when facing life’s challenges. We often feel we cannot find them. But as Cordiero points out God has given us hundreds of mentors! Mentors who are available day or night! They are found in the pages of the Bible.
The stories and writings of these men and women were written down for our instruction and benefit. They still have so much to teach us if only we stop and listen to the them. Even though long dead, they still speak through the records of their lives and what some of them wrote down. People even gave their lives to preseve it. It’s also not just those who followed God we can learn from, but from those who chose to go their own way as well. We can learn from David and Saul, Esther and Haman, Peter and Judas.
In The Divine Mentor, Wayne Cordiero says there are five things you need when reading the Bible. I would agree, although I use digital alternatives. I’ll explain later. But first, here are the five things:
- Reading Plan
Ok your probably thinking the first one is obvious! But, do you think the last four are a bit odd? Why would you need a pen, a journal, a reading plan, an a calendar of all things. Actually there is a good reason to use these or their digital alternatives.
Yes, bringing your Bible would seem obvious. But it’s important to remember to actually spend time reading the Bible! Not your favorite devotional or Christian author. Not your church’s Bible study guide, but the Bible. All those things are good, but they should be used another time. This time is for you, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit!
No, it’s not blasphemy or sacrilegious to write in your Bible. It’s actually a good way to interact with the Bible and put it in your heart. Warning…if you are using a paper Bible you will want to heed my advice. For a highlighter do not use regular highlighters. They will bleed through multiple pages, and make your Bible hard to read. Use dry highlighters (whether it’s traditional Bible paper or newsprint). If regular Bible paper you can use micron pens, but if it uses newsprint paper use ballpoint pens.
Cordeiro also encourages journaling while reading the Bible. This allows us to see what we have learned as we read. In The Divine Mentor
there is a helpful acronym for journaling. Its called S.O.A.P.
and you can read a description of the process here
. Cordeiro’s church has developed some journals that can be used and purchased here
. You can also create your own or use electronic means.
A reading plan is essential when reading the Bible! It helps us from ignoring certain parts of the Bible. I think this quote from The Divine Mentor really hits home:
The loneliest people in the Bible are the Minor Prophets. I can almost hear one complaining: ‘‘These Christians never come to my house! They visit David and Solomon consistently. They visit the disciples and Paul regularly. Maybe once a year they even visit our eccentric cousin, Jeremiah. But they don’t ever come to my house.’’ And immediately all the other Minor Prophets shout their agreement: ‘‘Amen! Alas, we make much food—yea, even a banquet—and yet they come not!’’ (The Divine Mentor, pg. 94))
I think you get the idea! There are great mentors in the Bible, but if we never take the time to “visit” with them (by reading them) we miss out. Don’t get me wrong, the Gospel accounts are essential, and Paul’s letters are powerful. But for a long period of time the Hebrew Bible was the Bible. It’s important to read both the First and Second Testaments.
In The Divine Mentor there is a suggested reading plan called the Life Journal Reading Plan. It’s a good plan and you can easily find it online. There is a another plan that is similar, it’s the one I will be using this year, developed by Logos Bible Software to use with their Faithlife Study Bible.
Why a calendar? I will admit I had never considered the need for having one while getting into the Bible. But after reading The Divine Mentor it made sense. While spending time with God we will get distracted. Things we need to get done will pop in our heads and we will end up missing out on what God is trying to say. Having a place to write it down allows us to let it go and focus on the Bible.
Five Things Remixed
The five things I listed have something in common, they are all paper based. But they are not the only options. In fact if you have a tablet or smartphone it’s the only thing you need to carry. First, download a Bible app. I use one by Logos Bible Software. It has my Bible, highlighters, journal and reading plan in one place. I use the note file to journal.* You could use Evernote as well. I use a to-do list app called Inbox. With iOS multi-tasking its easy to switch to Inbox and enter the task, and then go right back to my Bible.
A wise man, one of those mentors you’ll meet on your journey thru the Bible, once told his son:
“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
That’s why it’s also important to share and discuss what we read in the Bible with others. Each person might see something the other misses. Another reason I use Logos is its integration with Faithlife, and online networking site focused on the Bible. On Faithlife you can create groups, invite friends, share community Bible notes, and group reading plans for both the Bible and other books. Right now there is a group called Bible Year 2013 who is starting a year long journey thru the Bible. The reading plan used has readings for each day in both Testaments (so you won’t get bogged down in Numbers). This is the plan I’ll be using this year. Join the group or start your own. You can follow the instructions here.
Miss a day? Don’t disqualify yourself, and don’t drop out. Each day, begin with the reading scheduled for that specific day. In other words, if you’re behind, stay with the reading designated for that date. When you have a day off or extra time, you can return to what you’ve missed and catch up. When you don’t have time, don’t try to rush; don’t try to cram three days’ worth of reading into one. You’ll get nothing out of your day’s devotions. (The Divine Mentor, pg. 95)
*Logos has the ability to allow user created books (using a .docx file), I plan on creating a book out of my journal. Then as if I search for or study that passage at a later date the corresponding journal entry will be found in the search results. These Personal Books will also at some point be able to sync and be available on mobile devices.