Resolution 2016: Blueprint for Bible Reading Success

Big Mouth DonkeyMy Confession:

I hate to brag, but I have a really big mouth… Years back, I told a few guys I was going to read through the bible that year – cover to cover. I was full of it. Trying to impress. Selfish motive, meet big mouth. Ever been there?

There are two paths you can go with that: either repent & resolve to do it year after year, failing until you quit trying, or get so sick and tired of not doing it that you finally get it doneI want this to be the last year you try and fail. Is that OK? An END to the lightning starts in Genesis, followed by stop and go traffic in Leviticus, and stalling out in the genealogies of Numbers somewhere around February 2nd… (Yes, I’ve had camera drones flying over your house for years now… Can we get back to the point?)

Every year, we make resolutions because something inside us yearns for “better”. Whether light years better or just a few inches better, we want… better. But, striving for better will only wear us out. (Been there, done that. I give it zero stars.) Christ promises us if we “walk by the Spirit” we’ll bear some killer fruit (see Gal. 5:16); one of them is perseverance. 

The Most Important “Strategy” Question

     Most failures begin with a great strategy. ( –Yours, Truly). But, as Michael Hyatt taught me:

Popular wisdom says the crucial strategy for completing any challenging, long term task is “accountability“. While that is important, it’s not most important. Strategy apart from vision leads to frustration, false starts, and failure regardless of accountability. Accountability doesn’t do the work. The work gets done where the rubber of strategy meets the road of discipline, fueled by vision. The most important strategy question starts by first answering the vision question: “why do I want to read the Bible start to finish?” The Lord weighs the heart. We should, too. If you’re reading to get a bible merit badge, regroup, repent, restart… now. We have the word of God so that we may know the God of the word. Let’s use it that way, mkay?

Then… write that answer down. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

     If your answer isn’t similar to “I want to know the Lord more than merely knowing about the Lord”, then start by praying “Lord, make me willing” and only then move forward. Once your vision is one of running toward deep, abiding intimacy with Christ or relentlessly pursuing unbroken fellowship with God, you’ll want a reading plan. Imagine your boss, CEO, or board of directors asking “how do you plan to do ‘x’ this quarter?” Would anyone answer “I’m just going to start randomly and wander until it’s done.” We wouldn’t do any other worthwhile thing without a plan, let’s not take the “throw a dart at my table of contents and see where I end up in December” approach. Pick a workable plan, man.

This year, I’m mixing it up, reading a couple of excellent devotionals: a 365 Day Devotion by Walt Henrichsen, cycling through a 3 month prayer “manual” by Ken Boa, and implementing the “10 Chapters a Day” reading plan (link below).

blueprintPick a Plan, Man:

  • If you’re a real crazy plan freak, you can start (or continue) the journey by figuring out how long it will take you, and adjust your calendar to fit. Go to How Long Does it Take to Read the Bible?.
  • RC Sproul has a list of 15 different plans on his website here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/ including the M’Cheyne –
  • Nineteenth century Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne (say that with a mouthful of haggis) devised a daily calendar you can download here. It’s a very well known plan among academics and has gained great popularity in recent years.
  • Next, is a form in pdf that you can either click on the check boxes or print and check manually. If you need this plan, you’ll know from the title: “Read through the Bible Program for Shirkers and Slackers“. Enough said?

Prefer a Bible Over a Plan?

There are a ton of bibles out there that are both a bible and a plan. When I read, I start with an easy to read version, then compare to the KJV or online/on paper versions of the Hebrew or Greek, because I know there are translation errors in versions like NIV/ESV/HCSB/NLT. With that as a heads-up, if you’re looking for a bible that’s already laid out in 1 year format, here’s an NIV, an ESV, and a chronological bible a friend gave me recently in NLT. And, no, you can’t take away my Oxford comma.

Bible Reading Vision Statement

Keep your “vision” statement handy for when you fall off the wagon.

What to Do When I Fall Off the Wagon?

Get up.

Seriously. That simple. No one is more skilled at kicking me when I’m down than I am. Don’t take the bait.

Most times, stepping off the path is as easy as “life got busy”. When the voice of condemnation tries to convince us not to get back on the path take out your vision statement on an index card (I use that as my bible bookmark). Read it and pray it every time you pick your bible up. Vision leaks. Your vision statement, if God-given, will usher the Spirit of God through the noise in your head anytime that voice tells you “it’s too late… to big… to unrealistic…” It’s possible to be “too late to finish on time” but it’s never too late to get back on the path.

And, yes… Call, text, or email me for accountability. Aarron at Zeroinbox dot Org. Or, talk to your small group or other godly guys in your life about holding you to the outcome to which you’ve committed. This year, my great desire is to “take out the trash” (eliminate obstacles to intimacy with Christ). But, in the place of what’s not God (or not godly) in my life, I want to fill the space with His word and help others do the same. If I can be available to any of you to such end, I’m open for discussion on what that may look like.

Last, I’ll leave you with Igniter Media’s “The Bible Contains” video for a little inspiration:

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