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Unleash the Bible in 2009

2008 December 31
by Tim V-B

A New Year. New Year’s Resolutions. Fresh Start. Time to feel guilty about something.

Or instead, maybe 2009 can be a year of spiritual joy as you engage with God’s Word more than ever before.

Make 2009 the year when you read the Bible lots.  Not just little nuggests, pulled from some spiritual pic’n’mix (now that Woolies has gone and you can’t get sugary pic’n’mix any more). Read it through. Big sections at a time. Enjoy the story. Discover Jesus.

Here are some good resources to get you going:

The ESV has 10 Reading Plans, including the BCP Daily Office Lectionary! (Great if you want to read the Psalms every month).  Justin Taylor explains a few of them here.  Whatever form you require – RSS, web, iCal or good-old-fashioned print-off-a-pdf, you’ll find them here.

Ron Frost was a big help to me when I read this article encouraging people to read through the Bible fast (ideally with someone else).  Do go and read it. Now. If you just want to start with Genesis and gallop through to Revelation, you’ll find reading plans (what to read each week) with a view to finish in 3, 4, 6, 9 or 12 months.

As he says on his blog:

we read the Bible boldly because it’s the best way to see how brilliantly God shows himself to be “wonderful”—that is, “full of wonder”—throughout the collective books. If we only nibble at the Bible or cherry pick our favorite books and verses, this God of wonder almost never shows up. It would be like watching an epic movie in limited daily doses of four or five minutes. The story line would only become evident after many months, with most of the important early parts largely forgotten by the time the climax is offered. But once we read the Bible in flow—in very big chunks—we start to see the same sort of miracle that the infant Jesus represented. Both the written Word and the living Word appear through humble people, in humble circumstances, and in unpretentious forms. But, over time, both the Scriptures and the Son come to be unveiled as brilliant  self-disclosures of God’s heart.

Do you need some more inspiration? Look no further than 3 excellent talks on the Power of God’s Word by Mike Reeves. I listened to them this last few days. Fantastic!  Heart-warming, Jesus-focused and very very listenable.

Finally, is this the “World’s Best Bible Reading Plan“?  Dan Edelen’s excellent piece encourages us to take a book of the Bible, read it and read it and read it, then put it into practice.  I’ll leave you with an extended quote, but read it all:

Here’s how The World’s Best Bible-Reading Program works:

    1. Find a quiet, undisturbed place to read. Start in the New Testament since the New Covenant is necessary for perspective on the Old Testament. [Err, not quite, have you not been reading Christ The Truth? – Tim] Might as well begin with Matthew.

    2. Read through one entire book in a single sitting. Obviously, the first five books of the NT are going to require some time. But do it. (You’re eternal. Live like it!) These books are whole units and are meant to be read as such. We need to experience their coherence. Trust me; the Holy Spirit will bring the entirety of the book to your mind in the future in a way you’ve never experienced before.

    3. When you’ve read the book once, don’t move on! Read through it again. For the first five books, if you must break them into chunks, go with five or six chapters—whatever maintains the arc of the narrative.

    4. Re-read that one book. Note the way the narrative and themes flow. Commit those stories and themes to memory. Note where they exist in the book.

    5. Re-read that one book. Pay special attention to the way the Lord is portrayed.

    6. Re-read that one book. Examine the relational aspects of the book, God to Man, Man to Man, Man to God.

    7. Re-read that one book. Note the Lord’s redeeming and salvific acts within the greater arc of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.  (This first pass through the NT assumes you have a modicum of OT understanding. After reading the OT through, the second pass through the NT will clarify things further.)

    8. Re-read that one book. This time around, note all the Lord’s commands and how we’re told to practice them. Consider how they might work practically in your daily activities.

    (By this point, you’ve read the same book seven times. Depending on the length of the book, it may have taken seven days or seven weeks. It doesn’t matter. This is about changing your life and relationship with Christ. This is about sixty years of discipleship. It’s not about getting through the Bible in a certain length of time.)

    Now comes the hard (and controversial) part…

    9. Take everything you’ve learned in this book and put it into practice. Take a month (*see comments below) to do nothing but concertedly meditate on what you’ve just read by making it real in your
    own life. It might mean that the only Bible you read this month are the parts of this one book that you still aren’t getting and must re-read. Doesn’t matter—do it. (If you absolutely have to read something every day that isn’t part of this program, consider a few Psalms or a cycle of Proverbs. They’re the most suited to broken-up reading patterns since they are collections of wisdom and less unified than a book like Romans.)

    10. After your month, take stock of all that you’ve learned by reading and practice. Make a mental assessment of the themes of the book and how they apply to your discipleship. If you’re confident
    you’ve read and practiced this book, move on to the next one. Once the NT is finished, move onto the OT. (I realize some of the OT books are daunting in length for a single read-through. Make a concerted effort to read them in one sitting. Failing this, some of the OT books are narrative, which allows for breaks in the story. Psalms and Proverbs are easily segmented, as noted above. All prophets must be read in one sitting the first time through. A book as enormous as Isaiah is hard to partition, so consider reading it on a weekend day.)

Repeat these ten steps for the rest of your life.

4 Responses
  1. David Beauchamp permalink
    January 2, 2009

    Thanks Tim! I’ve been trying to read large chunks of scripture on & off over the last 6 months, and have got through the whole of the OT history in one grand sweep. I’d been a bit discouraged recently, as the story flags a bit in the Psalms, and I happen to know that it doesn’t pick up again for a while…! This post has given me the oomph to pick up again, and I think I’ll read Jeremiah in one go (since we’ve already had the highlights!), then skip to a gospel – probably Luke.
    Thanks again.

  2. January 5, 2009

    Welcome to the New Year. Thanks again for all the resources. You linked some time ago to some material called Gospel Centred Life. Do you have it? The link in the site is not working. If so could you ever mail me the material at davidcooke2003 at hotmail dot com. No worries if not. Pax David

  3. Will permalink
    January 18, 2009

    Hi Tim,

    I put the first part of this post (up to and including the Ron Frost quote) in my church bulletin yesterday, where it might have been read by about 50 people. I hope that’s alright. If so, thank you!

    I am an apprentice minister in rural NSW (Wee Waa). I’m good friends with Adam Rushton and Glen Scrivener – I think there was a chance I was going to meet you at Glen’s ordination but I don’t think you could make it in the end. Perhaps some other day!

    Jesus bless,


  4. admin permalink*
    January 19, 2009

    If the article gets people into the Bible – you can do what you want with it! I hope it helps.
    Yeah, Glen’s ordination proved impossible to get to without missing my first Sunday on the job! I’ll see you in the New Creation, if not earlier…


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