I made a huge discovery in January of 2010. I can take no credit for this discovery. It was a total accident. But this accident changed everything.
You see, I was just starting my very first 4-Month Bible Read Thru. I had a sense this was going to be a uniquely powerful exercise. (It was. Insert “huge understatement” here.) I decided that instead of having my early morning time in my office I would get up early, grab my coffee (an essential Bible Study Tool), sit on the living room couch, and read until my first kid woke up.
Before going any further, I should disclose that I prefer to study in my office. I love my office. The comfy chair. The attic-like feel of the slanted ceilings. The desk tucked into the corner. The silence. Love it. I didn’t want to move. But I did want the experience to be different.
My office = same.
Living room couch = different.
Back to the story…
As you probably know, this week marks the fourth year that I have kicked off a 4-Month Bible Read Thru. If you are new to the blog, you can find out more here (with video).
First off: It’s not too late to join. After all, it is only January 2nd!
As you set off on this journey – which will be life-changing – you might not realize that the Bible isn’t set up chronological. If you don’t know this going in, you might be a little confused when you read a story and think, Didn’t I read this same story a few weeks ago?
You see, some books cover very long spans of times (think centuries, not years). Others cover a relatively short period of time. That short period of time is often covered in one of the other books.
These two modern scenarios might help make it clear:
Book A: Someone decides to write a book that covers the history of the football program at Such-and-Such University. Decades are spanned. Coaches and players are profiled. Highlights are given.
Book B: Several years later an author decides to write a book about one, specific, amazing season the football team at Such-and-Such University had decades earlier. Some of the same coaches, players, and games will be mentioned for sure. But there will certainly be a lot more (or less) detail about specific people or events.
Knowing where everything fits is extremely helpful…and makes it heaps more fun!
That is what I love about reading the Bible chronologically. Even if it means jumping around from place to place in your Bible, getting a detailed account – or simply a different perspective – on similar events adds a layer of depth and understanding.
I have looked at a lot of different chronological Bibles and plans. Simply type “chronological Bible” into your favorite search engine and you will see that there is no lack of options.
These are the best plans I have found (and when/how to use them):
Last week I promised to share my detailed plan for what I am going to do for my New Year’s Resolution. In that post we looked at three questions you need to ask first. I was going to just write out my plan, but making a video is a lot more fun. So here you go…
So…You just want to skip the video and read the highlights? Ok, ok, here is the challenge:
Any time I meet someone who enthusiastically loves God’s Word, I take notice. There was no doubt that the guy I met Sunday loves the Bible. After I spoke at Mt. View Presbyterian Church on Sunday, he made a beeline to where I was standing and started asking me questions about How this?…and Why that?…and What about this? His passion was contagious.
At one point he shared the process he is currently using to read the Bible. It is pretty simple…but very intriguing. He is reading through the New Testament, book-by-book, five times through each book. Each reading has a slight twist.
Reading 1: He simply reads the book in the New International Version. (no notes or commentaries of any kind)
Reading 2: He reads it again…in The Message.
Reading 3: He reads it in the NIV again. However…this time he reads ALL the notes in his study Bible.)
Reading 4: He reads it in the New Living Translation (no notes)
Reading 5: He reads it one last time in the NIV (no notes)
Told you it was simple.
Not only could I see the immediate benefits of this type of read through, I could also see some cool adaptations. You could insert various translations other than the ones mentioned. What if during one – or more – of the readings you were ALSO listening while you were reading? What if you read it out loud with/to a partner? Hmmm…got me thinking…
What are some other adaptations to this process?
Photo Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net
I finished. Even finished a couple weeks early. The goal was May 8th. And I’m done.
I have written before about being challenged by Ron Frost a few years ago to do a Bible Read Thru. Pick a timeframe (something six months or shorter). Read from Genesis thru Revelation. Get together with some friends each week and talk about it.
Rather than just share what I saw or learned about God this time through, what I find myself thinking about more is the lessons I have learned about completing any valuable goal.
Lesson 1: You know it was valuable when there is sadness about nearing the end. One of the women in our group came last week and said, I have to say there is some sadness about finishing. I want to stretch it out and make it last. I couldn’t agree more. The reading. The conversations. The insights from others. The camaraderie. The coffee. (wink) All of it. We know that stretching it out to a year would have taken something away from the value. And yet, there is still a piece of me that is bummed these six people won’t be getting together every Tuesday morning.
Lesson 2: You know it was valuable when finishing gives you more ideas. This Bible Read Thru has fostered many ideas – both personally and professionally. I have ideas about ways to improve discussion in small groups. I have book ideas, blog ideas, and video ideas. I have ideas about what I believe God wants me to remember long-term from this particular read thru. I have ideas about the people I want to invite to do the 2013 Bible Read Thru next January – April. (Look out…it might be you.)
Lesson 3: You know it was valuable when you see finishing as a starting point. I might be finished, but I’m not done. This read thru made me want to read more the very next morning after I finished. Yes…sometimes a break after completing a big project or accomplishing a goal is good and necessary. For me, this time, I couldn’t wait to jump back in. I am not doing the same thing. But I am continuing. Completing this read thru fostered a growing love for God and His Word. It made me want to be in conversation with Him…and others. It made me want to see what He has for me next.
Now that’s valuable.
When have you seen a finish line as just the beginning?
Photo courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In 2010, I started the year with one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Several of us spent January through April reading through the Bible – Genesis to Revelation. (Yes…in 4 months!) I can say that – without exception – each person found it more enjoyable, more beneficial, and easier than we ever hoped. So…we’re doing it again! And I want you to join me.
The parameters are very simple:
- Commit to reading the whole Bible by May 6th.
- Read with a pen in your hand – either underlining or taking notes in a journal.
- Find people to meet with. This is crucial.
Commit to getting together every week to share what you’ve underlined and what “conversations” you’ve had with God about His Word. (If you live in the Seattle area, let me know and you can join us.)
That’s it. This is not a prayer time (though prayer is good). This is not a Bible study per se (though Bible Study is good). This is not a discussion (though discussion in good). We’re simply reading the Bible, then getting together to share what God has said to us.
You will be changed. It’s hard to guarantee something like that, but here’s what I am willing to do. If you take – and complete – the challenge and it does NOT significantly impact your life and faith, let me know and I will send you any three of my products for free.
FYI: There are about 130 days between now and May 6th. That’s about 9-10 chapters a day. Reading out loud (which I highly recommend) at a normal pace, it’ll take you about 40-50 minutes a day. Tough? Yes. Doable. Definitely. Valuable? Absolutely! It would be a good idea to simply set a goal for the amount of time to spend each day, as opposed to having your goal be to read 10 chapters. It will seem much less like a chore and more like “sitting down to read a good book.” (Which it is, by the way!)
Have you ever read the Bible – all the way through? What was your experience?
On July 1st our whole church is taking a challenge for the rest of the summer. Here is how the announcement reads:
Summer is a season where we take time off … from school, from work, from small groups, etc. So with all your extra time we want to challenge you to add one thing … a two-month read thru of the New Testament. July 1 thru August 31 – Matthew to Revelation. That’s about 5-6 chapters a day. Reading out loud at a normal pace, it’ll take you about 16 minutes a day.
The parameters are very simple:
1. Commit to reading the whole New Testament by September 1.
2. Read with a pen in your hand – either underlining or taking notes in a journal.
3. Join the "16 Minute Challenge" Facebook Group and share what you’ve underlined and what "conversations" you’ve had with God about His Word.
That’s it. This is not a prayer time (though prayer is good). This is not a Bible study per se (though Bible Study is good). This is not a discussion of a particular passage (though discussion in good). We’re simply reading the Bible, then sharing what God has said to us.
FYI: It’s a good idea to simply set a goal for the amount of time to spend each day, as opposed to having your goal be to read 5 chapters. It will seem much less like a chore and more like "sitting down to read a good book." (Which it is, by the way!) Or you can try shooting for 20 minutes and you’ll always be ahead for the days when life happens.
Very cool. I hope a ton of people sign on. What a terrific way to spend your summer.
Today marks the start of the third “4 month Bible read thru” of 2010. This time we’re doing it chronologically. We’re using a chart put out by Back to the Bible. Here’s the link. It’s laid out for a year, so if you’re going to do join me you’ll want to average about three “days” each day. I actually recommend that you just pick an amount of time (somewhere between 35-60 minutes should do it) and then check off the boxes that you covered. If you only do three each day, you’ll end up falling behind the very first time you miss. (Of course, I’m sure I’m the only person who ever struggles with missing a day!)
The plan is simple.
- Read the whole Bible by the end of the year.
- Read with a pen in your hand and jot down the conversations you have with God as you read.
- Post your thoughts here as comments on things I write. (If you’re in the Seattle Eastside area and want to physically join us, let me know. We meet Tuesday mornings at 6:30am.)
Let me know if you’re joining the read thru. One guy in England started with me in January, told some friends, who told some friends, and about 320 people ended up doing it!
What makes you not do what you know you should or could do? Interesting to me that just last night our small group talked about fear. What causes it? How do we overcome it? Then I woke up and my time in God’s Word had me hanging out with Moses. Quick recap of the first few chapters of Exodus:
Moses sees burning bush. Moses talks to God. God says, “Hey, you’re going to lead my people out from under Pharaoh’s thumb and into freedom in the Promised Land.” Moses makes one excuse after another, but finally goes. Moses talks to Pharaoh. Pharaoh makes it even harder on the Israelites. They don’t even want to hear what Moses has to say anymore.
Then God comes to Moses again and tells him to take another trip to Pharaoh. Moses’ response, “Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?” (Ex 6:30 – The Message) In the very next verse, God’s response is “Look at me.”
Stopped me dead in my tracks. How much of what I do and don’t do is because I’m looking at myself instead of Him? My weaknesses instead of His strength. My faithlessness instead of His faithfulness. My fickleness instead of His steadiness. My faults instead of His perfection.
What would happen if my eyes were truly fixed “on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of our faith?” Who are you looking at? How many times do I tell God, "Look at me” only to have Him respond, “No…you look at ME!”
Ninety-five days ago I started a journey. I actually thought it was going to take me 121 days to reach the finish line. I never really doubted that I’d complete it, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be as enjoyable as it was.
The journey was very, very simple: Read the Bible by May 11th. And meet once a week with some guys who are doing the same thing. That’s it. Read…chat.
Here, on this last morning, God showed up again in a small – but powerful – way. A little background… I’ve been setting my alarm for 6am and reading until one of my three kids gets up (usually between 6:45-7am). This morning I actually woke up and glanced at my clock 18 minutes early. Temptation…roll over. Then I thought, I better get up. Maybe I’ll need those extra minutes.
Downstairs I went. Coffee was poured, I plopped down on the couch, and cracked my Bible open to the book of Revelation. Visions of worship. Visions of battle. Visions of sin, evil – and death itself – being conquered by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Visions of the Lamb of God. Visions of a new heaven, new Jerusalem, new earth, and restored relationship between God and His children.
Not more than 60 seconds after finishing the final “Amen” of chapter 22, Sarah and Caleb came walking down the stairs and into my lap. If I hadn’t gotten up 18 minutes early, I would have started my day frustrated with my kids as they “interrupted” my last 3-4 chapters. Instead – I was thrilled. I had been with my Father. They wanted to be with theirs. They were smiling. I was smiling. And I have a feeling my Father was smiling too.
…and the journey continues…