Read the Book!

August 7, 2013

A number of years ago, I really don’t recall how many, but I know it’s been over 25 years, I decided to tackle the Bible. For however long, I’d had conversations with people—mostly older folks, I’ll admit, who had the sense about them that they were “cramming for their final exam”—who had read from Genesis to Revelation. I thought that sounded like a good thing to do. I mean, I was (and still am) a Pastor.

But I could never get through it, I’d get bogged down somewhere, and just give up. It is simply so big, so long, that it felt like I could never make it from stem to stern. I felt defeated, and less of a follower of Jesus. I felt sub-par.

Then one day I stumbled across a “Through the Bible in a Year” reading guide. It broke the Bible into roughly 4-chapters a day, seven days a week, and between January 1 and December 31, you could read the entire Old and New Testament.

So I did it. And while there were some days, admittedly, when it went in one eye and out the other (those “begats” are simply mind numbing, and the laws in Leviticus can rob your soul), there were other days when I sat in amazement as I rediscovered the amazing love of God, the Lord’s capacity for grace, humanity’s inclination to run from God, but the shocking reality of the love of God.

A couple of years later I found a “Chronological Read Through the Bible,” and made my way through that. When serving churches, I have consistently sought to encourage people to “read the Book.”

But what I heard so many times was that there were people who were having a similar struggle as the one(s) I’d had. It felt like too much, too hard. Or they would fall a few days behind, and feel that they could not (or would not) read 16 chapters in a day to get “back on track.” Or the laws just made them quit, or some other excuse. They quit.

One morning, I the midst of my own private devotions, I was meditating on this, reflecting on it/praying about it. I thought, “If I could only get people to get a taste of Scripture, maybe they would read the entire Bible.” There is simply this core conviction that if people are exposed to Scripture with consistency, intentionality, and regularity, God changes them, for His good.

I wondered what a “Through the New Testament in a Year” would look like (in another faith tradition, I would need to say “The Lord spoke to me,” but I feel arrogant saying that.) I went to the Dining Room table with my Bible and a calculator, and in short order discovered that if you read one chapter a day, five days a week, you could read through the New Testament in a year.

We started publishing that guide, and adjusted it every year (then added a Through the New Testament Chronologically) because since it involved reading only Monday through Friday, the readings had to be changed annually to match days instead of dates.

And people started reading the New Testament! And some have gone on to to tackle the entire Bible.

So what’s next? Glad you asked. I’m in the initial stages of working with some folks to establish an email system whereby a portion of the Bible would be sent daily, so all you have to do is open an email, read what’s in it, and if you do that daily (for the whole Bible) or simply through the work week (for the New Testament), Scripture would be rooted in you.

No links to click, pages to search, books to carry. If you have a smartphone, it would be in your hand when you picked up the phone and opened your email.

I want to make Scripture, and reading it consistently, as simple and as accessible as possible. Make sense?

Stay tuned; I have to negotiate copyright terms now!