Honestly, I didn’t like it.
I held this gift in my lap, but I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t, at ALL, what I wanted or even needed.
As I looked at the black-and-white pattern and thick, leather exterior, it felt dated and too formal. It certainly didn’t feel like a case a 22-year old girl would use to carry her new Bible in to church on Sunday mornings. Even though I considered returning the gift Matthew had spent so much time looking for, I knew it wasn’t worth hurting his feelings. Besides, I only saw my Bible and it’s cover an hour each week.
I was right.
The next 13 years passed and that outdated Bible cover was rarely seen. Occasionally, it would cross my mind to grab it before heading to church on Sundays. But, the verses were usually displayed on the big screen at the front. And during our weekly Small Groups at our home, I would sometimes plan to look for it. But usually, my focus would quickly shift from my Bible to whether or not our friends would notice if I added cream cheese to my sausage balls to make them more moist for that night’s snack.
But one day, I made a big decision.
Although I grew-up in church, I had never read the Bible for myself. I believed the stories; but, somehow never truly connected with the words inside. So I decided to give-up
FALSE GODS ‘overly important things‘ in my life to SLOW DOWN, press RESET in my spiritual walk with the Lord and actually open that unwanted black-and-white case that had been pushed to the side all these years.
But something began to change.
As I began to really read through the pages in my Bible for the first time, my eyes and heart were opened! The Bible became REAL to me. No longer did I look at the pages as outdated, but now, each page felt VERY alive, EXTREMELY relevant and EXACTLY what I needed that day!
One morning as I read my daily reading plan, Rayna joined me at the kitchen table to color. As I watched her bring her own monotone page alive with crayons, I realized how symbolic that transformation was with my Bible cover AND my spiritual life!
Without any hesitation, I quickly found colorful markers and began adding LIFE to what I once considered lifeless.
For too many years, I had (incorrectly) assumed the Bible was like my cover- good, but a bit outdated (…and not what I thought I needed or wanted in my life). In the same way I was given a Bible cover I didn’t appreciate, my actions proved that the Holy book kept inside was also unappreciated and not treasured.
But in the same way my Bible (and cover!) came ALIVE, so did my HEART when I discovered the BIBLE for myself!
Regardless of your history or hold-ups,
I want to CHALLENGE YOU to READ the BIBLE for yourself!
MY FAVORITE TIPS
* Choose a TIME & PLACE:
For me, if I don’t read my Bible in the morning, it will not get done. (In certain seasons, I’ve had to wake-up early. Other times, I’ve had to be very stern with my kids and tell them, “For the next 30 minutes, I am reading my Bible- which means I am INVISIBLE.” There were times when a child may have ‘needed’ me to open a container or help with something, but unless it was urgent, I simply reminded them I would be free to help AFTER I finished my Bible study.)
I also intentionally choose a spot that faced the outdoors (vs. at a messy living room or sink filled with dirty dishes). If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s easier to jump into a ‘quick’ task- saying to yourself, “I’ll read my Bible AFTER I…”
Lastly, I really enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea. So, I intentionally set a self-discipline that I will ONLY have my coffee DURING my Bible reading time. This gave me incentive each morning to get started!
* Use your (REAL) Bible:
I’ll explain more how an app helped me in the process. But, I am SOOOOO passionate holding your REAL Bible in your hands… with a pen… and highlighter… and (don’t feel overwhelmed, but) a journal.
* After the Lord speaks to you (through His word), continue the process and use this sacred time to PRAY (and talk to Him) afterwards. I plan on writing more about this soon, but there’s ALSO some great tips that have drastically improved my (at-one-point almost non-existent) prayer life!
Choose a PLAN:
* Reading the Bible in a YEAR is my FAVORITE! I have done this the past four years and I’m constantly AMAZED at how God uses my daily, assigned reading to DIRECTLY speak to EXACTLY what I’m walking through!
* You can simply open your Bible, but I LOVE having a daily guide. Even more than a simple guide, I LOVE having a digital version on my phone. Although I read from my (real) Bible, I’ve downloaded YouVersion’s Bible App. Within that app, you can choose from SO many plans! (My favorite is “Canonical”. Unlike chronological which takes you through the EXACT order each book was written, canonical allows you to read straight through the Bible without having to skip-around from book to book based on the exact order.)
Many apps will allow you invite friends to join you, “catch-up” when you fall behind and even show your progress!
* I would love to say that every minute of every day that you’re reading your Bible is pure bliss. However, you will certainly face seasons when you fall behind, don’t understand certain scripture, aren’t interested or simply distracted. This is NORMAL. Please don’t let the enemy win by getting discouraged, beating yourself up and quitting.
Keep on keeping-on!
If you’re behind, no biggie!
If you don’t understand, don’t beat yourself up!
If you don’t feel like it’s speaking to you, ask God to speak to you in another way.
* Ask a friend to join you!
* Check out THIS SERMON where Pastor Nick says it better than me!
Feel like there’s NO TIME?
* Listen HERE for clear, quick tips on making time (from desiring God)
* I plan to blog about this soon, but INTENTIONALLY SLOW DOWN. Say ‘no’ to busy!
* The first time I resolved to read through the Bible, I was so happy to have simply ‘gotten through’ it. Meaning, I probably didn’t retain a lot.
However, I was eager to do it again and, the second time, write out verses that spoke to me.
* The third year, my goal was to actually LEARN! For me, it helped to have a notebook and markers. Each day, I tried to makes notes where I could not only LEARN myself, but also teach my kids about it later. For my learning-style, that meant a LOT of (bad) drawings and illustrations. (I also created some ‘fill-in-the-blank’ formats where I could use it to teach my kids.)
* Lastly, before I start each book of the Bible, I try to take a few minutes (usually when I’m putting on make-up or unloading the dishwasher) to watch the overview video produced by The Bible Project. On YouTube, I simply search the book of the Bible and “Bible Project” and I’ll quickly get a great summery of the book I’m about to dive into.
I PRAY this will help to encourage and equip you to get into God’s Word! It has totally transformed my own life.
If you need a buddy, I plan on starting another 1-year plan this November. I would LOVE to be your Bible-buddy!
Such powerful words to my 67 year old heart! I too read chronologically. My mission is to pray – journal prayers in the margins for a specific family member. Everyone wins! Especially me! Each one has been a different translation- just happened!
Leaning so much – loving so much deeper both the Lord and family. Knowing God answers prayers, His Word prayed back to Him is a sure investment with high and holy dividends. Thank you for encouraging us