I recently built a shed in our backyard. I bought one of those DIY kits from Costco. Truth be told, it was significantly less “kit-like” and more “we’ve cut all the boards, but you’re basically building a tiny house from scratch.”
I knew WHY I was building it. (We have very little storage and I think I heard our garage audibly cry for mercy.)
I knew WHEN I was building it. (When I told myself “this summer” I thought that meant two weeks during July and August. Come to find out, weeks and months are interchangeable words.)
Yup. I knew why and when. The how part was learned along the way.
Fortunately, the shed came with a guide. The first page of the guide laid out the parts of the shed – and equally important – the tools I would need. The remaining pages walked me step-by-step through the process of building the shed.
I would have been lost without the guide.
So many people “drift” in their Bible reading because they have answered the first two questions, but they lack the guide for answering the HOW question.
You might know why you want to be consistent in the Word (deepen your relationship with Jesus) and when you want to start (Now!).
But what are the tools you’re going to use and what process will you follow?
This post and the next will focus on The Tools and The Process. There are so many tools you can use for Bible study. Let’s dive in to my Top 5 Bible Study Tools.
ONE: A Location
Most of the time, I lump this into the conversation about the schedule. I decided to call it out so you’d really hear me clearly:
Where you read your Bible can be an important tool for maintaining consistency.”
Why? Because it taps into how God has wired our brains. Don’t you have certain emotions or memories that get triggered when you arrive at certain locations?
Your favorite coffee shop.
Your kid’s school.
Your favorite chair.
Location and setting trigger emotion and memory. Use that truth to create positive emotions and memories around Bible reading.
For me, when I’m not traveling, I always read at the same spot on the same couch in the corner of our living room. It is not the spot where I sit to read other books or to watch TV. My wife sits in a different spot in a different room entirely.
There’s something about my mindset and emotion that changes when I sit there. The same can – and will – happen for you.
It won’t happen the first day. Maybe not even the first couple weeks. But you will notice that you begin to look forward to sitting in that spot.
The spot where you met with God yesterday. The spot where you truly expect to meet Him today. The spot where you look forward to meeting with Him tomorrow.
TWO: A Physical Bible
Some of you read that and thought, “Is this guy 100 years old or something? I’ve got a Bible on my phone and it’s always with me. Welcome to the 21st century Keith!”
First off…I’m not even halfway to 100! (At least not until May.)
Second…See Tool #3.
I will spend the rest of my life making the argument that reading a physical Bible will always lead to more consistency than only using a digital Bible.
Just as location triggers emotion and memory, so does physical touch. There’s something about the look and feel of a page in your Bible. The Bible app on your phone will never have a wrinkled edge. It will never have the stain of a tear. It will never have the handwritten prayer in the margin.
One last argument for using a physical Bible…
Nothing is more distracting than holding something that does 1000 things. Nothing helps you focus as much as holding something that only does one.”
When you’re holding a physical Bible, you will never be interrupted by a social media notification, a reminder of an appointment, or the tug to check your email.
Use a physical Bible. (You’ll thank me later.)
THREE: A Digital Bible
Nope. Not a contradiction. I have several Bible apps on my phone. While I don’t use any of them for my primary reading, I love having the ability to compare translations in seconds. It’s great to listen to the Bible passage I was reading this morning while I’m driving in my car later in the day.
Also, there are times when you’re away from your “special location” and don’t have your Bible with you. Since you probably never go anywhere without your phone (only half joking), having the ability to open your Bible anytime, anywhere, is a fantastic benefit of the digital age we live in.
One Idea: For the next week, anytime you’re in a line or waiting somewhere, instead of checking Facebook or email, open your Bible app and read a Psalm or Proverb.
FOUR: Bible Study Tools
I know this whole post is about “tools,” but I couldn’t think of a better word.
There are lots of physical and digital options here. Digital ones are better for most people (and way cheaper) when it comes to Bible study tools.
I have a whole post on some online tools for doing word studies. It’s amazing how simple it is to do a fast, deep word study with zero knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew.
A Bible app like YouVersion, Logos Bible, Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, or Bible Study Tools are fantastic ways to compare translations, listen to an audio Bible, do a word study, or read a commentary. While some of them have paid versions, all of them have a free version as well that is fantastic! (I’ll have to do an entire post on that!)
FIVE: A Friend
Usually when you call a friend a “tool” that’s not a compliment. In this case, it definitely is. And it is an absolutely essential tool.
Remember: This whole series is about avoiding drifting.
Whether it’s healthy eating, exercise, or Bible reading, having a buddy will always lead to more consistency. We need each other. We need the accountability.
Not to mention it’s simply more fun! If Bible reading becomes fun for you…consistency won’t be a struggle.
- A Location
- A Physical Bible
- A Digital Bible
- Bible Study Tools
- A Friend
There are a lot more tools than these five. That said, these Top 5 will cover 90% of what you’ll need to build a lasting foundation of consistent Bible reading.
One last part to wrap up this series: The Process. We’ll take a look at that one next time.