It is the New Year, a time when many Christians may begin a Bible reading plan or have new resolve to do daily devotions. Certainly there are benefits to having spiritual aims or goals, but I wanted to share some practical thoughts in this regard. I think too many of us start with plans that falter and do not last. Why? The answer to that question will vary for each of us. But why keep doing something that fails? Make a change or an alteration in the plan! What’s that saying – insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? Well, stop it!
Know yourself. For myself, I have found that a specific Bible reading plan with check-off boxes does not work for me. I feel constricted…trapped. And if I skip a few days, and see how behind I am on the chart, I easily lose heart, give up, or feel guilty.
I’ve accomplished more Bible reading in recent years without a day-by-day, set-in-stone plan. What do I do instead? I pick a specific Bible to read through. Then I just begin reading, keeping an eye on how far I am progressing in the Bible as the year progresses.
Some days I read more, some less, some none at all (gasp!), depending on various things – my time, my mood, my mental state, etc. At times, I may need to speed up my reading. Maybe this seems lax or lazy or non-committed to you? But for me, it works! I need flexibility. For you, it could be the opposite – you may need a more detailed plan to follow.
Thou shalt always read the entire Bible through? A Bible reading plan does not have to be reading straight through the entire Bible from beginning to end. Don’t feel trapped by so-called Bible reading rules or norms. If you have always attempted reading the Bible from beginning to end, and fail every time – try something different.
Make it your goal to read through the New Testament alone. Or the Old Testament alone. Or pick one book of the Bible for each month of the year. If it is a longer book, it may take you the entire month to read it through once. If a shorter book, you can read through it multiple times and immerse yourself in that particular book.
I am certainly not discouraging reading through the entire Bible. You may want to try reading through the entire Bible in a different way, such as with a chronological Bible. Or use a plan that varies your reading each day with a segment from both the Old and New, or the Psalms/Proverbs thrown in to give variety. Or try a different version of the Bible than what you normally read – a different version can bring fresh perspective.
If you typically get bogged down in a certain part of the Bible, say Leviticus, speed read through that part – its okay – skim read. Better to get through it, than to let it completely derail you.
And what about daily “devotions”? Ugh. Of course, Christians should spend time with God on a consistent basis. But too many “devotional” books are fluffy and superficial. You read one verse, only one, and then there is some type of brief personal story that springboards off of it. It is more like a brief inspirational thought. How is this helpful? Especially if reading the one verse (pulled out of context) is the only Bible reading you do. Christians need more than this to grow spiritually.
Instead of brief devotionals everyday, I suggest in this post that it might be better to find a longer length of time to commit to your spiritual life a couple times a week.
I don’t intend to come across as critical in this post, but simply to offer some ideas for breaking free from the insanity – if you try the same thing each year and fail, try something different!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In case you missed it, in a post from yesterday, I share a picture of the front and back cover of my book which will be released in about 2 weeks with Westbow Press: Positively Powerless, How a Forgotten Movement Undermined Christianity. It will be available in soft cover, hard cover, and e-book – and available to purchase through Westbow, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.