The intention is almost always good. I’m going to read my Bible every day this year. The first week or two are typically rock-solid. The next couple weeks things taper off a bit. February 1 hits and you re-commit…for a week. By the end of February you’re back to what you were doing in December, which is (ahem) not much.
[Insert heavy sigh here.]
NOTE: I have been on a rotation of writing a blog post one week and recording a podcast the next. This topic is so common and so important that I am writing it out AND recording a podcast episode so that whether you’re a “reader” or a “listener,” I’ve got you covered.
Podcast: Play in new window
In my last post, I invited you to join me for the most interactive 4-month Bible Read Thru ever. Over 200 of you took me up on the offer! In that post, I linked to a survey where you shared your questions, your hopes, and your concerns going in.
There were so many terrific – and refreshingly honest – questions. I’ll be tackling several in upcoming blog posts and podcast episodes. However, by far the most common question you asked was some form of this…
How do I stick with it when my enthusiasm dwindles?”
And there you have it. The most common question I get asked about spending time in the Word. And while it’s most prevalent here at the turn of the calendar, it is a question I get all year round.
Why does this happen again and again? You want to read and love the Bible. You want to know God more deeply. You want to walk with Jesus more closely. You want to become more sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. And yet, it is a massive struggle year after year after year.
There are heaps of reasons why this happens, but I have narrowed it down to the Top Six mistakes that will guarantee you won’t keep your New Year’s Bible Resolution. Here we go…
Mistake #1: You don’t have a plan.
This one is so common it can be applied to pretty much every New Year’s Resolution, not just the ones about Bible reading. I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to spend less and save more. I’m going to be a better dad/mom/spouse/friend. I’m going to spend time with God every day.
Without a plan, you might as well start each of those sentences with “I hope…” instead of “I’m going to…” Someone once said to me, “Hope is not a strategy.” I completely agree. Simply put: Without a plan, you won’t stick with it.
So many people sit down to read the Bible, don’t have any idea where to start, and either start at the beginning (Genesis), crack open the first gospel (Matthew), or use the I’ll Just Open Up My Bible And See Where My Finger Lands Method.
None of these is a plan. And you need one.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Mistake #2: You don’t have the right plan.
Having a plan is not the same things as having the right plan. What do want to accomplish? Do you want a better general understanding of the Bible as a whole. Do you want to know more about what the Bible has to say about a specific topic? Do you want to dive deep into the particular book your pastor is preaching on or your small group is discussing? Do you want to know more about the life of David, Moses, Jesus, or Paul?
Each of these questions can be a fantastic focus for several weeks – or months – in God’s Word. Each of these is also going to require a different plan.
I am thrilled that 200 of you have joined me for BRT 2014! But if the question you want to answer is one of the last three questions in the above paragraph – or something else entirely – than BRT 2014 is the wrong plan!
In my book 10 Tips for Liking the Bible (Because Believing It’s True Is Not Enough) – which is still free through the end of January – I lay out a few different plans. One is for the 4-Month Bible Read Thru. Another is what I recommend for new disciples (or anyone looking for a foundational understanding of the life of Jesus and the early church). Still another is a 60-Day Adventure in Philippians or II Timothy. All are very different. Obviously, there are heaps of other plans out there. You need the right one for you.
Mistake #3: You don’t have a consistent time set aside.
I could have put this one as a sub-category of having a plan. But it’s too important. And too ignored. Lots of people tell me they are going to squeeze it in. Over breakfast. On their lunch break at work. Between school and practice. Whenever they “have time that day.”
Uh…yeah…that never works.
In the next couple weeks, I will share why I believe that early morning is the easiest (not at first!) time to be consistent. But not today. The key is to find a time when you can be consistent. The same time every day. Better still…the same time and location.
I have a friend who drives partway to work, parks by a lake, and reads in his car. I know others who leave the TV off at night and read after their kids are in bed. Over the years, I’ve heard from several people who have a very scheduled lunch break and use that 60 minutes each day to hang out with God.
Bottom line: If you want something to become a habit you have do it…habitually.
Mistake #4: You don’t read enough.
We read too little of the Bible. I’m not talking frequency. I’m talking quantity. Reading little pieces of the Bible without ever reading big sections – even whole books – is like studying the scenes of a movie you’ve never watched.
I have written on this topic – a lot. Here’s a post. And here’s a podcast episode dedicated entirely to this idea of reading more. Rather than write even more here, let me just share an excerpt from an email I got this Monday from one of the BRT2014 participants:
It was so great reading large chunks of the Bible that I ended up reading the entire book of Job on Friday. It is exciting to see how much more I can engage in the text when I take time to read more of it.” Karen (BRT2014 Participant)
Well said, Karen.
Mistake #5: You don’t have a partner.
This is another topic I’ve written (and podcasted) about. It’s also another mistake that can derailalmost any resolution. Want to be more consistent with exercise? Get a buddy to workout with you. Want to stick with that diet? Have someone else that does it with you (or at least give someone permission to “check up” on you).
If you want to be consistent…get a partner (or several).
If you want to enjoy it more…get a partner to discuss what you’re reading.
If you want to learn and grow more…get a few people together and pay attention to what they see.
I’ll put this as simply and clearly as I can: If you skip this step, the chances of you being consistent in Bible reading (especially if you’re doing a 4-month or year-long read thru) is very slim.
Mistake #6: You don’t expect it to be hard.
- Because the Bible is true.
- Because we love God.
- Because we long to be closer to Him.
- Because we seem to know so many people who read the Bible a lot.
- Because we want to become more like Jesus.
All of these are reasons we think it should be easy. After all, if we want it and we know we need it, shouldn’t it be easy? Nope. Just the opposite.
The truth of the matter is the enemy (see 1 Peter 5:8) sees your healthy, godly desires as the very reasons for him to go on the attack. He wants nothing more than to make sure you don’t like the Bible. That you don’t become consistent. That you don’t even start!
Anticipating the attack will prepare you to face it when it comes.
Let’s flip all these around. You’ll find that the way to successfully, consistently, enjoyably enter into the Word is found in reversing the mistakes themselves:
- Develop a plan.
- Make sure you’ve chosen the right plan.
- Determine a consistent time (and place).
- Read more of the Bible.
- Get a partner (or a few).
- Expect it to be hard.
Listener Question (Listen at 21:59)
Paul, from the United Kingdom asks…
How can I get the benefit of a Bible Read Thruand Internalization without having two separate quiet times?”
In 2010, after I did my first Bible Read Thru, I had to wrestle with this very question. In this episode, I provide three different ideas, as well as sharing what I have done the last several years.
Can I answer your question on a future episode?
I have several ways you can submit a question – or an idea for an episode topic:
- Call the dedicated Podcast Voicemail Line: (425) 522-3487
- Shoot me an email: podcast– at – keithferrin.com
- Record a voicemail – up to 90 seconds – at www.speakpipe.com/keithferrin.
- Leave a comment here on this page.
Resource of the Week
You may or may not know this, but the Bible is not written in chronological order. In general, it is, but not entirely. Some events are told a few times. Others only once. Some books cover a long amount of time. Others are a deeper dive into a shorter amount.
Reading the Bible in the order the events actually occurred is super helpful.
I have put together this short eBook outlining every chapter in the Bible chronologically. You will find a deeper overview of this process in the opening pages.
For me, it’s helpful to simply print the two pages with the chapter breakdowns and tuck it in my Bible. Feel free to print it, copy it…or ignore it.
Click here (or click the picture) to download your copy!
Links (People, Info, and Resources) from Episode 014:
- Bible Read Thru 2014 – Find out more about the 4-month read thru, the survey, and the private Facebook Group.
- 10 Tips for Liking the Bible. It contains three different reading plans depending on whether you want an overview of the whole Bible, a deeper understanding of the life of Jesus and the early church, or a deep dive on Philippians or II Timothy.
- Ron Frost – This is the guy who introduced me to a 4-month Bible Read Thru back in 2010.
- Chronological Reading Plan (FREE) – This link will open up a PDF document. You’ll need a PDF reader (like Adobe) for it to work.
- Podcast Art – Pipe & Tabor (Vancouver, WA)
- Intro/Outro Music – Dan Carollo of CeltoGrass Music
- If you enjoyed this episode, would you do me a favor and share the love? (pre-written tweets and Facebook posts)
- Or…write a quick review or rate this podcast on iTunes?
- Or…you can TWEET THIS:
“Struggle with LIKING the Bible? Want to like it more? Check out @KeithFerrin’s podcast http://wp.me/P2rPgQ-FS #LikeTheBible”