Thoughts on Reading your Bible

biblereadingJanuary always feels like a good time to start reading your bible again. There is something about the freshness of the 1st of January that brings about the urge to open up those thin wisps of paper (or turn on your bible) and begin reading it. There are lots of different types of plans and methods on how to read it, and lots of ideas on how to keep to that discipline.

There are several people in my church starting to use a plan that Phil Moore has been using and tweeting about. It is quite a nice one with 3 sections to read each day.

I personally use the one that Ron Frost uses and who inspired me to read up to 10 chapters of the bible a day, from Genesis to Revelation to capture the story of the bible in bigger chunks. I have to admit I adapt this to do what I can, some days I read 10 chapters but some days I find myself reading less (especially if they are long chapters!!).

Any method you use is good, find one that suits you. Whether reading in bigger chunks is better or moving from one chapter to another from different parts of the bible, than that’s great too. I have been doing the bigger chunks bible reading for the last couple of years and I have found it helpful and enjoyable.

But as you begin to start your bible reading, I just have a few things for you to think about:

1. Why are you reading your bible? This may seem like an odd question. I mean as Christians its obvious that this is what we do. We read this old-looking book and try to make sense of it, right? I think if you are approaching your bible reading simply out of a sense of “This is what I have to do“. Then you will find yourself giving up at the end of february, bored and disheartened! Instead our desire to read the bible must come from a desire to know Jesus more. Every time we pick up that book, it isn’t out of fear or guilt, but out of curiosity and a desire to seek and know our wonderful saviour.

2. You are not the Hero in the bible…Jesus is the Hero. From Genesis to Revelation. It is all about him. Too often we think we are primarily the main characters, that we are King David, Boaz, Job and that the Psalms are about us, that we are the center of the parables. And although they will teach us much about ourselves, we should not think first about how we are to be like them. Instead we are to ask “What does this teach me about Jesus?” “How is Jesus like David, Boaz, Job? and how is He better…?” This will put your bible reading into perspective.

3. Ask questions and underline...Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are lots of stories and hard bits in the bible and it’s ok to ask questions! Underline bits you like and also the tough bits, the bits that are hard to understand. Find someone to talk to about those bits or read commentaries.

4. Read in Community… For some reason we have made bible reading mostly into an individual activity. Yet this would never be the case over 2000 years ago where communities would gather together to listen to bible readings. They didn’t have their own individual bibles! Reading scripture together or at least discussing what we have been reading is a brilliant way to keep accountable, to share what we are learning and to build up the church in encouragement. So my question to you is: Who will you read the bible with this year?

5. Guilt-Free bible reading…

During the year you will find yourself missing a day or two of your bible reading plan, which will no doubt bring about a lot of guilt. The reason you and I feel guilty when we miss reading our bible or indeed find out that a week goes by and I haven’t turned a page in my bible, is because we secretly think that the Father is more pleased with us when we read the bible and he is very angry when we don’t. This is a lie. A lie that plagues us. A lie that seeps in and destroys us and it comes down to thinking that our standing with God is based on what we do rather than what Jesus has done.

Guilt free bible reading is about knowing and loving Jesus more with the help of the Holy Spirit by reading about him on the pages of the bible which has been given to us as a gift. If you feel guilty for missing a bible reading then your joy in reading the bible will diminish quickly and your motivation may be skewed into thinking the Father loves you more if you keep up with your bible reading. It all comes down to that first question, why are you reading your bible?

Here are some blog posts that I have written on this subject:

Feasting on the Bible Part 1 and Part 2

A Story Repeated

Stuck in the mud with Jeremiah

Thanks for reading and enjoy reading and finding out more about Jesus this year!

Collection of Webs: Summer Edition Pt1

For most of the summer holidays I have been away, taking a break from blogging. It has been a fun summer with a mixture of going away on an IFES conference in Poland, holiday times at home and parents visiting. But now I am back & I thought I would do a summer edition of Collection Webs. Hope you enjoy it!

Books Read:

Summer is a great chance to read books, lots of books! Here is a snippet of some of the books I got to read:

Penelope_bookPenelope:

A very gentle and fun read about a girl called Penelope who goes to University. This is a very quirky story and you meet some interesting characters! A nice holiday read.

bravenewworldBrave New World:

A classic and brilliant book. Huxley wasn’t far off the truth when he wrote this about the future.

SilmarillionSilmarillion:

I am still reading Silmarillion and I think it is brilliant! There is so much in this story that is the same to that of the bible. It is a history of the creation of the world and we meet its creator. There

is a fall. There is good and evil. Wonderful stuff.

Creative:

It has been a rather creative summer for us, we have made homemade jam, homemade bread and lots of meals from scratch! Also my husband has done a step by step guide on how to do this DT project! How to make a Roman Catapult

What has also caught our eye:

Creative Bookmarks

How to make a Concrete Camera

Snaps from the summer:

2013-08-18 17.42.10 2013-08-24 14.54.49-1 2013-08-25 12.33.21 2013-08-25 12.54.46

Collection of Webs: March

Here is a monthly collection of webs where I share with you what I have been reading on blogs, articles, books and what I have been watching or listening to.

Blogs Posts from friends:

My friend Ali has started blogging again over at Redeeming Clouds. It’s a great read and worth having in your bookmarks.

My friend Emily has been writing a series about how she isn’t a morning person. A really good little series to read.

Tanya writes a cracking post on penguins and parenting. It’s heart-wrenching and you may cry at the end!!

Blog Posts Out There:

Creative People Say No: Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

10 Time management Rules you are breaking: A helpful list of being more productive.

God will find you in your dark place: When you’re in a dark place, God crawls into the darkness with you, tells you He’s with you, and then he holds you till hope begins stirring in your soul.

Books:

Finished Miranda: Is it just me? Which was delightful, funny and full of good little stories. Certainly a feel good book.

I finished Reading Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp – one of the best books on pastoral ministry that I have read so far. Challenging, insightful and helpful!

Also finished reading Real Marriage: by the Driscolls which was an interesting and also helpful read in places.

Now I am reading Life of Pi, which is a fantastic read so far.

I am also on Good Reads if you want to find out more about what I am reading or what I am going to read etc.

Posts on my blog:

Do Check out my Black Mirror Series that I wrote last month.

6 Questions for Christian Leaders

Jesus or Cheesus?

Collection of Webs: February

Here is a monthly collection of webs where I share with you what I have been reading on blogs, articles, books and what I have been watching or listening to.

Blogs Posts from friends:

Elli posts on Defining Terms and she remarks: “So, here’s the deal. I’m giving myself a new label, one that to some is going to sound the epitome of oxymoronic, but I don’t care. I’m a Complementarian Feminist.”

The Importance of Adam written by Glen: “You might ask, “What on earth should we say to our scientifically minded friends who laugh at an historic Adam?”  Well I’d simply ask them about their belief in Christ. With 1 Corinthians 15 open I’ll say, “Here’s the bible’s logic: if Christ rose, Adam fell. Let’s ask whether Christ rose…”

Matt Herring has posted some fantastic photo’s up from the street. He is a really good photographer, so please do check the rest of his blog out!

Tanya writes about how she became a feminist: “A feminist is someone who believes in the equal worth of women and men and also sees a world where women aren’t valued equally. I have always been the former; now I am becoming the latter.”

Blog Posts Out There:

3 reasons I’ll be reading Rob Bell’s new book: A rather interesting article from the Gospel Coalition:” I expect Rob’s book will prod me toward better and more beautiful ways of presenting the truth.”

Are you worshipping the idol of open options?: As I stood in line, I actually started to think, Maybe I want 140-degree coffee too. Maybe, I thought to myself, my choice of milk temperature up to this point has been catastrophically naive. Suddenly, his choices made me unhappier about my own. I began to covet. I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore. I became anxious and indecisive. I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit—either to my kind of coffee or to his. Was this really freedom of choice, or slavery to it?

Books:

I finished reading Game of Thrones book 3 part 1, which was very enjoyable. I am now reading Miranda’s book: Is It just me? I love it. It’s so funny and so Miranda!

I have also read a booklet on how to deliver a TED talk to help me shape my own talks and ministry. It’s a good little book with helpful ideas. Bish wrote a review here.

Watching:

Been watching a bit of Black Mirror on channel 4. It’s quite Sci-fi and dark, but very interesting to watch. I hope to write some reviews of that soon.

Watching TED talks has been a lot of fun, some inspiring stuff on there.

Posts on my blog:

1. Out of the Heart and onto the blog

2. The Glory of God

3. Guest Post on God and Suffering

4. The Spirit of Sonship

Well that’s me. What have you enjoyed this month?

Feasting on the Bible Part 2

In the last post we looked at why we don’t read the bible and hopefully you saw that some of the ways we view the bible are not helpful. But once we realise that we are not at the center of the bible and we read it because we want to know more of Christ, how then do we go about reading the bible?

May I share with you some ideas that have helped me? Remember this is in a realm of no guilt, we read for the pleasure of feasting on the word because it points to our beautiful saviour, not because we feel like we are reading it to please God.

Firstly I would start reading this wonderful article that turned my bible reading on its head.

There are two things that astounded me:

1. You can just read the bible, like a novel.

2. You can read in community

When I first heard that this guy read the bible like a novel I did ask myself – “Are you allowed to do that?” I mean this is scripture, holy words – can I just read it like Lord of the Rings? Shouldn’t I be studying every sentence and its context and implications on my life? I think this is where the guilt seeps in – I know of a scripture meditation technique where they would take a couple of verses and just meditate on it and wait for the Holy Spirit tell you what it means in your life. So I was in a group doing this and I waited… and I waited… and I waited… and well when it came to my turn to share my thoughts, I found that this just wasn’t working because I didn’t have anything. (Actually just made something up… which I wouldn’t recommend). But again I find this founded on the idea of scripture is all about *me*… and it’s not. So when I started just reading scripture, reading through the chapters from Genesis to Revelation like a novel,  I found that I was enjoying the story, things were starting to piece together, I learnt more about who Jesus was and I felt no pressure to try and draw something out of it. And there is nothing that says we can’t read the bible like a novel, we arn’t being dis-respectful at all. That doesn’t mean we don’t do bible studies, because we do and its good to do – there are times when I get to a point in my bible reading where I don’t understand something and I will stop and dig deeper. But for our “quiet time”, for our enjoyment to know more of Christ we can just sit and read about him and how he interacts with his people.

The second thing is that you can read the bible in community. There is an idea that our bible reading is private and “my time” with God. But what if we could share what we are reading with some other people and encourage them and be encouraged by them. In the article it describes how Ron does this – he chooses reading partners, they go away and read through a book in the bible and come back and chat about what they have been reading. Reading in community means accountability, sharing what we are learning, encouragement and also sharing our struggles and questions! I am sold on this idea. So myself and the lovely Emily are reading the bible together. We have date for when we are going to Skype each other and chat through what we have been reading. I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to sharing Jesus with her and for her to share Jesus with me… it’s going to be good.

So why don’t you give it a go?

Start in Genesis and read as many chapters as you want a day… its not a race, there is not set amount of chapters you should read. Just read what you can and what you want to read and underline what you have noticed, what you find interesting, what you find difficult, what you have found exciting!

Then find a friend or two and ask them to do the same and set a date for when you meet/Skype together and share what you have been learning, underlining, struggling with. Pray together and then set a date for the next time you will do this again. It doesn’t matter if one of you is in the middle of Genesis and the other is ahead in Numbers… it doesn’t matter. It all about knowing Jesus more.

I have to say that I have done this read through a couple of times and each time I see something new and see something more of the big picture. The reason why I want to share these things with you is because I really struggled with reading my bible and there are hundreds of techniques but the most simplest technique of “just read it” really helped me understand who the bible is about, why I would want to read it and why I have no need to feel rubbish when I don’t.

I hope this helps and encourages you too.

Feasting on the Bible Part 1

Do you feel guilty when you think about reading the bible? When someone asks you – “so hows your bible reading going?” – what do you say? Do you feel guilt and shame rise up in you because you know you haven’t read it for weeks, maybe months? I wonder why that is? What compels you to read it in the first place and what stops you? Who makes you feel guilty when you don’t? Who told you that you should and what reason did they give?

Dan Hames has written a great article on three reasons why you don’t read your bible, here it is in a nutshell:

1. You don’t have time

2. You think the bible is about you

3. You think your bible reading is for God’s benefit

The first one doesn’t really count. Honestly it doesnt. If you have time for TV, facebook, looking at blogs, going out, shopping etc then you have time to read your bible – we make room for what we want to do. Having no time is not an excuse – let’s be honest here, you just don’t want to read. And let me be honest, there are times I don’t want to read it either because I find it boring, irrelevant and a waste of time. Yeh I am being honest. Why do I think those things? Because of the other two points that Dan Hames has mentioned. Its boring and irrelevant because I think the bible is about me and when I open it and if I don’t see me there then I think its boring and out-dated, in fact it gives me no sort of guide on what I should do today and what type of job I should get. It doesn’t give me any horoscope type predictions on my life – what happens if mars meets venus at a coffee shop and spills latte over the red carpet, what does that mean!! Tell me: Where am I in this story?!

Dear God,

In this bible you gave us, you are missing the main character – me! please change this so that I can read more about me in this story… Ok? thanks….  Amen.

Well here is the thing, we arn’t the center of this story. From Genesis to Revelation its all about the Fathers son – its all about Jesus. He is the focus of the story. Yes the Old Testament is about Jesus and it brings me joy to tell you that when you read the OT you can see Jesus in the scriptures and it’s not just about morals and strange laws. Why not open your bible and pray that you would see Jesus in what you are reading. It’s not a “where’s Wally”, it’s a  story  about the chosen seed, offspring, saviour, deliverer, redeemer, husband, king, and lover… the thread of the OT is woven from Jesus, with Jesus and to Jesus.

Where do you feature you may ask? Well if you are going to appear anywhere your character is the rebel, prostitute, outcast, foreigner, grumbler, sinner, disobedient one. Yeh you don’t start out that great. But that’s you and me. But look what happens to those people when they trust in their champion and saviour – they are brought to new life, they are saved, they winners with their champion because he has won it for them. This story isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus. Lets take our eyes off ourself and onto him. Lets see him in scripture and I tell you that you will delight in scripture much more – because the bible isn’t a great “how to guide” and it was never meant to be, we are meant to read it so that we may see more of Jesus who reveals His Father to us. That is wonderful.

And so reading your bible isn’t for God’s benefit. Really it isn’t. It’s for your benefit – to feed you, point you to Jesus and warm your hearts. God isn’t keeping tabs on your bible reading. If you are reading it because you think you have to or God will be displeased with you, then you will only read it out of guilt. As Dan Hames says:

“”In this context the Bible is given to us as a gift to feast on, rather than a project to complete before judgment day.  We will find we go to it to savour and enjoy, and when we miss a day we might feel hunger pangs, but we could never feel guilt, fear, or condemnation. “

Come and feast on the wonderful banquet that is on the table in front of you. Come, taste and see. Come and see Jesus and find that he is wonderfully fulfilling, warming our cold hearts. Thats what I need every day.

Part 2 will be about how we can read the bible.

When you play the game of thrones…

you win or you die…

I have just finished reading this book and I loved it. Its action packed and fast paced. I would recommend it to those that enjoy any books by Robin Hobb, R.E.Fiest etc. But even if you are not into fantasy type books, I would still recommend it to you – its got a great story, which isn’t complicated but does have lots of twists and turns and moments of “NOOOO”…It may be over 800 pages long, but don’t let that put you off, it has chapters that are quite short which zoom you into the lives of different characters, whom you will either love or hate!

Sky produced the game of thrones series on TV which was good, but left out lots and added in way to much sex and nudity which most of it was not in the book (although there is some). But the series is still worth watching.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Has anyone else read this book? Did you enjoy it?