new perspectives about Bible reading

What it all comes down to, is choosing to remember and choosing to do it. Bible reading. Just do it. And it’s a choice and decision every time. The choices we make determine the people we become.

notes

As this new year of 2011 gets into full swing, I hear this talk from someone who’s read the Bible every day for 25 years, married to someone who’s read the Bible every day for 37 years, and mentions someone who read the Bible through in 20 days. Daunting. Not as inspiring to me as it was intended.

I have a confession. I haven’t had a streak or habit like that. And I have lots of (not so good) reasons for not reading the Bible every day. Reasons like:

I’m not a predictable creature of routines. I’m way better at being inconsistent and unpredictable.

I haven’t made a commitment like that, that 1st decision to do something every day, like Bible reading. There’s some wisdom to counting the cost before making a commitment. Failing to come through on commitment isn’t a good thing. I just don’t see myself doing a daily commitment. (There are other kinds of commitments, like being married, that was a decision and action that happened one day in the past, that continues to have consequence, but those don’t require a daily choice to do something to keep it.)

I know people who (say they) read the Bible every day or have a daily devotional life. And I’ll take them at their word on that. But their lives don’t show much patience nor kindness nor life change. Some even turn out to have scandalous lives of hypocrisy. Doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I don’t want to be like that. Perspective: that’s their problem. It don’t have to be like that. I don’t have to be that guy.

I’m not motivated by the things that motivate and inspire other people. Goals. Plans. Challenges. Resolutions. Accountability. Competition. Those don’t work for me. What motivates me is elusive.

I don’t want Bible reading to be the kind of habit or routine where it becomes auto-pilot and disengages my heart & soul. Perspective: just because I’m doing something daily doesn’t mean it has to be disengaging.

I don’t want Bible reading to be an overspiritualized escape from the real world. It’s too easy for Bible reading to reinforce my biases and self-talk and cultural lenses. Perspective: I can believe by faith that God’s Spirit can break through my echo chamber and inspire new insights & thoughts to change me. And, reading & discussing Bible in community with others can break my self-talk too.

I blog all this to share honestly what I wrestle with. I’m way imperfect and don’t have it together. I think it can be a good thing to let one’s flaws and warts be shown rather than hidden. I think honesty is way more inspiring when it’s not an excuse for “that’s just the way I am” and it’s a confession of a desire for a turning point in life and even a humble need for help.

Sometime between Christmas and the New Year, I felt my heart changed. I give God credit for changing my heart to choose Bible reading in 2011. I got a couple days head start on a plan called the Bible in 90 Days. Didn’t make it to day 3. Not sticking that plan.

I’m hopeful that I’ll keep making progress in my Bible reading. All it takes is making that choice every day. Will update you in a month or two with how it goes.

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12 Responses

  1. Rick says:

    Right there with – thanks for posting and being honest. Most of the same reasons on my side, to which I’ll add “lazy” but will continue to hope it’s not the “driving” force in not reading for me. I look forward to seeing how it goes for you.

  2. Noel says:

    We actually started emailing folks from our church (via RSS) a chapter of the Bible every morning and it has really helped a lot of people (me included) get into the Word. Of course, I still skip a lot of days…

    Here’s the link, in case it helps: Text.RivChurch.com.

  3. tony sheng says:

    thanks for posting this dj. i’ve struggled with this for years. tried many ideas – bible via rss, one year bible, email readings, etc. the closest was a one year chronological bible and i made it into july. but i’m still going to plug away even though it’s been months.

  4. djchuang says:

    @Rick, @Noel, @Tony: thanks for stopping by and adding a comment to chime in. When you find a fresh inspiration in your Bible reading, be sure to share the wealth.

  5. This is challenging for me because #1, I know I’m not a good Bible reader, #2 you are honest without using honesty as an excuse for apathy, and #3 I’m often tempted to do just that. Thanks. This was a good find.

  6. Andrew says:

    DJ! I had exaclty the same sentiments… for me it comes down to principles cf. programs. Programs can often offer some helpful principles to grow… however if i make it about the program, i’ve lost the true art and soul of it all. I use LifeChurch.tv’s bible app on my iPhone – and it keeps me digging into the word in a helpful way, and yet i’m still trying to remove the guilt/shame aspect of it all… as a pastor, shouldn’t i be doing this?! =] appreciate your honesty…

  7. djchuang says:

    @Tamara, thanks for your kind words and empathy. Took a peek at your blog, love your candid sharing of your life. I find that more inspiring than the inspirational-speak of victorious successful people in the spotlight.

    @Andrew, hey hey, thanks for the reply! I just started a reading plan called OwnIt365.com and I like the social media part of it. Using it on the YouVersion Bible app, too. Taking it for a spin. This one might well work for me.

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