Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

guest blogger: Bible Reading in the trenches

I'm happy to share the testimony of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Here's her testimony of how she's doing reading through the Bible in a year. Feel free to share your own stories about reading the Bible - struggles, victories, questions. Thanks

I finally listened to Richard’s admonition that we practice spiritual disciplines: I decided to dust off my Bible and work on creating a consistent habit of reading it. I’m embarrassed to admit that there are vast portions of scripture that I have never read even though I became a Christ follower long ago. And I have never been a regular reader of The Word. For years I have been a “second stringer”, content to sit back and let others feed me instead of pursuing spiritual food myself. But I am ready to stop living a life of faith vicariously through those around me. So, here I go.

I am reading through the entire Bible this year. I attempted it once before, using a schedule that starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation. I think I made it to Leviticus before I bogged down, got hopelessly behind and gave up. This time I found an online calendar that has me reading from both the Old and New Testaments plus Psalms and Proverbs at each sitting, which I find much more appealing. Amazingly, it’s August and I’m still at it!

It hasn’t always been pretty. As a matter of fact today I had to catch up for the last ten days. The worst lapse had me fourteen days behind. One friend asked me why I didn’t just skip the parts I missed and pick up at the current calendar date. Why would I go back and painstakingly read every missed day? I told her that I am determined to read every word of the Bible this year. Maybe I’m a little OCD but, actually, I don’t want to miss any of the stories! My goal of course is to make scripture reading an essential part of every day that I would no more miss than I would go without brushing my teeth. Or eating.

Even with my less than perfect record this year, as I open up my Bible, I am getting to know God in new ways, falling deeper in love with him as I see his character in the many and varied stories I have read. Not everything is clear to me and sometimes I am bewildered by what I read. Or in awe, or encouraged, or challenged. God is so much bigger to me than he ever has been. And I am changed. Just through the reading.

On my next journey through the Bible – and, yes, I think I will make this a yearly discipline – I will try to keep a journal, jotting down the verses that most speak to me that day or thoughts or prayers about what I’ve read. As Richard reminded us in his sermon last Sunday (available online here), we need to do more than just read and study the Bible. We need to digest it.

I usually begin my reading by praying that God will speak to me through the words I am about to read, that he will use it to transform me. That is my prayer for all of us.

Isaiah 55:10-11 – For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.


At 12/8/08 20:20, Anonymous donte said...

Lately I’ve been listening (via ipod) to my bible more than actually reading it. I’ve found myself clinging to the same books that have become favorites—John, Acts, Romans, and Hebrews. These books strengthen my faith, inspire me to keep pressing on, and help me understand what it means to love my neighbor.

And then there is the Old Testament. I honestly don’t read it very often. It frustrates me much more than it encourages me, so I avoid it as much as I can. Maybe it’s because the characters too closely resemble me; the broken families are far too similar to my family. No one is really good, not even the ‘man after God’s own heart’. And then there’s God—He is so focused on the redemption of one people that he seemingly ignores the fate of the rest of the world. He is God and I am not, but I can’t help but ask, “Why did He have to do it that way?”

I often wish I could forget my misgivings about what I don’t understand and just move on, but that is much easier said than done. If I had it my way, I would remove the Old Testament from Christian pedagogy, but I know that at best— the story would be grossly deficient.

Therefore I’ve accepted the Bible in its entirety, because I have no choice. I have no doubt that through the blood of Christ all will be made right in the end, but for now I have to accept Paul’s addendum that “now we see things imperfectly.”

At 13/8/08 15:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have read my little bible from Gen to Rev in 3days. Now i am happy to read it everyday,since i have no one who wants to read the bible with me or share it, i have recently told my crew that we will be reading the bible ea day when we are on the job & say a little prayer for us & the people.
Many thanks,

At 13/8/08 17:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can she share the calender she's using, or put a link to it on your blog?

At 14/8/08 13:25, Blogger Rider said...

I have read the bible some days with vigor and other days with my eyes glazed over only to fall asleep. Your heart definately has to be ready. To change it up sometimes I go to the seminary web sites and you can podcast whole courses free, the last one I did was the old testament Kings, which really helps you understand what was going on at the time and gives you insight on the parallels of the old and new testament.

At 15/8/08 21:34, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

Megan... the schedule you request is available on the link referenced in the article. Best wishes with the pursuit


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