Bibles

Bible Reading 101 (Part 2): Keep Track

Bible Reading Chart 2What do you keep track of?

People keep track of calories, expenses, water consumption, sex, bills, medications, vacation time, chores, taxes.  Why do we record these things?  When life is complicated, it’s easy to forget (particularly as we get older), and there are often serious consequences when we can’t remember what we have and haven’t done.

Things that are important you keep track of.  

For the past four years I’ve been using a fitness tracker (first a Fitbit, then a Garmin watch) to help me record my steps, my runs, my heartbeat, my workouts.   A few years ago, it seemed like no one had fitness trackers, but I was in a meeting a few days ago, and I looked around and the majority of the people were wearing some type of tracker.  Why do I have a tracker?  It is important to me to know how much exercise I am getting.

Things that are important you keep track of.  

In my last blog, I wrote about reading the Bible slowly, one chapter a day.  Here, I’m going to encourage you to “Keep Track” as you read the Bible.

For most of my adult life I would randomly pick a part of the Bible to read next in my daily devotions.   I would feel like reading Mark, then Exodus, then 2 Timothy (my favorite books).  I would continue this cycle for a while until I thought, I think it’s time for me to go back and read Mark, then Exodus, then 2 Timothy.  Strangely, I never felt like reading Leviticus, Nahum, or Jude.

In my optimistic moments, I would rationalize that I had probably read through the whole Bible in its entirety in my random Bible reading plan.  But in my more realistic moments I realized that the odds of me randomly completing the Bible were the same as winning the lottery.  It is important to read through the whole Bible if you believe all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching.

Things that are important you keep track of.  

About 6 years ago I started to keep track of which parts of the Bible I’ve read.  I decided I didn’t need a high-tech solution to this problem.  A piece of 8.5″ by 11″ paper listing the  66 books of the Bible would suffice (see image).  After I finish a book, I record the month I complete it.  To decide which book to read next, I just find one I haven’t read for a while.  It took me about 5 years to finish.

There are 1189 chapters in the Bible.  If you read one a day (and you keep track), you should finish the Bible in 3.25 years.  If you are young, you could read through the Bible 10-15 times over the course of your life.

I know there are apps for keeping track.  But I’ve decided to not use my phone during devotions or prayer times because it is too easy for me to get sucked into emails, news, sports, youtube, or other temptations.  Perhaps you are better at resisting temptation than I?

I also don’t like using devotional guides that direct you through the Bible because it is easy to spend more time on the fluff (the side bars, the personal stories), so you don’t actually spend much time reading the Bible.  Pure, unadulterated Scripture is my preference.

I would be happy to email anyone (dlamb@biblical.edu) my Bible Tracking chart.  I folded mine in half and I keep it in my devotional Bible, so I know where it is.

There are a lot of ways to record what you’ve read, but figure out a method that works for you, since…

Things that are important you keep track of.  

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Bible Reading 101 (Part 1): Start Slow

Image result for slow runningI often hear someone say, “I’m going to read through the whole Bible this year.”   I don’t say it, but I think, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”  I’m not normally a pessimist.  When I applied to college, the adjective I used to describe myself on my application was “optimistic.”  But when I comes to year-long Bible plans, I’m a realist–they are rarely realized.  I don’t want to be a heretic, but I think trying to read the Bible in a year is usually a bad idea.  And I love reading the Bible.

I’m reminded of the new jogger who boldly declares, “I’m going to run a marathon in 3 months.” I’ll believe it when I see it.  I’ve been running for twenty years.  I’ve run three half-marathons, but haven’t been able to do a full marathon for a variety of health reasons (AFib, plantar fasciitis, and a varies of injuries to my toe, calf, knee, hamstrings, etc).  Running in a marathon won’t happen for most people, and it’s probably a bad idea (running is hard on the body).

Reading through the Bible in a year is a lot like running a marathon.  It’s hard for most of us to do, and not very helpful.  The Bible contains 1189 chapters, which means if you read seven days a week, 365 days a year, you’ll need to read 3-4 chapters a day just to finish.

If you’re sick, or miss a few days on vacation, it goes up to 5-6 chapters a day.  How much do you comprehend, or even remember when you are reading that much Scripture that quickly?  Not much.  (If you’re retired and have several hours a day for long Bible reading–that’s fantastic–I’ll look forward to that!)

Most people who start with this lofty plan end somewhere in Exodus, or perhaps they make it as far as the desert of Leviticus.  Then they feel defeated, discouraged, perhaps like they let God down.

I never recommend reading through the Bible in a year.

I was speaking this past Sunday to the high school group at my church (Calvary Church of Souderton) with my wife Shannon about personal Bible study.  I gave them three recommendations.  My first was, “Start slow.”

Most people when they start running are excited, eager, energetic, so they run too fast, too far, too long, which often leads to injury, pain or burnout, which means they give up after a few runs, like most year-long Bible readers.  If people ask me about starting to run, I say, “Start slow.”

When I started running (in my 30’s), I began running a slow mile, for several weeks, and then very gradually running longer distances.  Over the course of a year, my distances increased, and I started running in races: a 5K, a 10K, then a half-marathon–but only after having run for several years.

When it comes to Bible reading, “Start slow.”  Plan to read your Bible just a chapter a day, or perhaps 5-10 verses.  It may take you a few years to finish it but you probably already know how the story ends.  And you will get more out of it from a slow read.  If you’re reading a short section, you can re-read it, and reflect on it since you aren’t in a hurry to tick off those four chapters.  You are far more likely to remember a chapter you’ve read twice, than 4 chapters you’re read once.  If God can speak through a donkey (Numbers 22), he can certainly speak through speed-reading programs, but it is more likely we will be able to hear him if we are reading his word slowly.

My next blog, “Bible Reading 101 (Part 2): Keep Track.”

The Emoji Bible

Bible EmojiThe twitter account has been going for almost a year, but the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the newest version of the Bible, in that special language we love, The Emoji Bible has finally arrived.

You can purchase it for $2.99 at iBooks.

Check out the perspectives of Christianity Today or The NY Times.

Before you get too excited, there are a lot more English words (from the King James Version), than there are emojis.

While I don’t use emoji’s except to make fun of them, or other people for using them, I don’t think this is a work of Satan (as some apparently do), but a great idea.  Anything that gets people to read God’s word in language that speaks to their heart, soul, mind, and strength is a good thing.  If you love to use emojis in your various forms of communication, this translation could speak to you.  History of full of people who have adapted God’s word into the vernacular of their day in creative ways.  The Emoji Bible fits into this tradition.

Although I was a bit disappointed when I typed in one of my favorite verses into the Emoji Bible verse translator site and this is what it gave me, only a couple legit emojis:

4 the whole 🏠 of ahab shall perish: & i will cut off from ahab him that pisseth against the wall, & him that is shut 👆 & left in israel (2 Kings 9:8 in KJV).  

What do you think?  Thumbs up, or thumbs down?

Story of God Commentary Video

What is the new Story of God Bible Commentary series?  I’m glad you asked.

To answer your questions about the SGBC, Zondervan has prepared a short video (2 minutes, 40 seconds).  Click here or below.  Contributors for the Old Testament include some big names (e.g., Tremper Longman III on Genesis, Chris Wright on Exodus) and some small names (e.g., David T. Lamb on 1, 2 Kings).

The first two volumes come out very soon:

Scot McKnight’s Sermon on the Mount commentary.
Lynn Cohick’s Philippians commentary.

For free E-Book excerpts of these two commentaries, click here.