Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Most Important Book for a Bibliophile

Before I begin:

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Special Extended Edition is now available for review! If you want to know what it's like, or simply need a good Tolkien chat, send an email request to the link on the sidebar, and I'd love to connect with you. Review includes casting, accuracy, and violence; special features not included. No language in this film.


And now for today's post, which is a little different from normal.

Obviously, the most important book a bibliophile could ever read is the Bible. I mention it today, because on Sunday I finished my eleventh year reading through the Bible once per year. I've now been through the Bible eleven times.

It really all started with positive peer pressure.

My brother took up reading the Bible, and very soon I joined him. Had he asked me, I really wouldn't have approved; it seriously cut into his time to give attention to me. But as he went through with it, I decided to make the best of it and tag along. I've been tagging along ever since. And as I now look back on over a decade of doing it I am amazed at all the Scripture I know, simply from reading it every day. I'm afraid I don't do a lot of formal Scripture memorization, but reading it year after year every day builds layers of knowledge that I never knew I had. Verses are there, though I may not have the reference, and repetition, albeit once a year, really does add to your knowledge.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11

We talk a lot on this blog about Scriptural and practical principles: what makes a book good, how to put a book down, what to do about love and romance. All these things are good, but if they don't come from Scripture then we're never going to remember them, and the rules will be quite burdensome. Plus, in this culture we have a desperate need for practical knowledge of the Bible. Read it, and you will know instinctively whether the books you pick up are good or not. It will sharpen your conscience, give foundation to your faith, and equip you with a defense for your worldview. What are you going to say when someone asks you how God could exist before time? Or how will you respond when people encourage you to do something evil, because there's no other option? Such questions will come, along with many others, and God's Word contains the answers to all of them.


Common Questions and Comments about Bible Reading

1. It's Too Hard.
Trust me, the Bible is much easier to read then Robinson Crusoe, even though it's about three times as long. Hard, yes, because it convicts sin, but no matter which version you read you won't find the syntax difficult, especially people who read classics. The Count of Monte Cristo is harder than the Bible. And with all the poetry, history, parables, and exposition, God always teaches the same truths through many different formats. It is important to read the whole Bible, but if you don't understand one portion right away, you're sure to grasp another. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew; the New Testament was written in common Greek; God wrote it for the common man to understand. More than how easy or hard it is, it's a command. We are commanded to know our Lord, and to do that, we must know His Word, hard or not.  But be assured, even if it's tough at first, it gets much easier with time.

2. Do I have to Read the Whole Bible in a Year?
No, certainly not. It's more important that you're in God's Word every day than that you finish it in a certain amount of time. God doesn't set rules in His Word for how fast it should take us to read it. Some people in our family read it once a year, others are moving on to 90 day reading plans. It's like a muscle that takes exercise to build up strength.

3. How Do I Read the Bible?
Some people are unsure of reading the Bible in a whole year because they think it would take too long. But often this is because of the difference between Bible reading and Bible study. The purpose of reading the Bible in a year is actually different then studying portions of the Bible every day. When you have five chapters to do, it's probably best not to stop every couple of verses. That leads to frustration because it's taking so long. So assess your style--would you prefer to study a little every day, or just read and have the knowledge accumulate over time? Either way is perfectly right and acceptable, so pick which you're most comfortable with.
 
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. ~Psalm 119:105

Tips

1. Change it up
I used the same Bible chart for ten years. Psalms on Sunday, OT history on Monday, Law on Tuesday, etc. While I enjoyed this, I was ready for something new at the end of that time. I chose a chart that went straight through from Genesis to Revelation, and tried it out last year, and I was very pleased with it. This year I'm going through the same chart again, because I want to familiarize myself with it a little more. But if you're starting to stagnate in a groove, then try shaking it up a little; sometimes reading the Bible in a different order than you have been helps you to approach it with fresh perspective. Otherwise the verses begin to go in one ear and out the other.

2. Make Your Reading Consistent
I get up at 6:45 every morning, and every day I start reading my Bible somewhere between 6:50 and 7:00. While this may not work for everyone, the point is to be consistent. Train yourself so that you don't even debate "Should I read my Bible today?" but rather it's an automatic routine like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. This will eliminate a lot of guilt both for missed days and for a lack of enthusiasm. And don't beat yourself up if you're honestly trying to be consistent and miss a day. Recite a passage of Scripture if you're on the go; that's a great way to still be in God's Word. Also, don't quit because you're having a tough day. That's like saying "I'll become a Christian when my heart's right". God's Word is the safest place to be in the rough times, and it's very dangerous to walk away until "things are better". That's trying to right yourself in your own power, not in God's.

3. Pick a Translation That Works for You
There are several excellent translations of Scripture: KJV, NKJV, ESV, and the 1984 NIV, as well as others. Do check to make sure it's a solid translation, but then look at one that works well for you. And remember that all the labels, though valuable, are man-made. Sometimes I use more than one translation for different passages, to get the best meaning from both.

The Ultimate Point

Why do we read the Bible?

To know our God.

Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh. We know him by knowing His Word. No one can take it away from us, and it shall endure forevermore. That's the ultimate reason, but there's another one more related for books.
Some of you probably think that I have an elaborate evaluation system that I labor through for each book, painstakingly checking against Scripture as to whether or not it is good and worth reading. Actually, I don't. All the points in these articles are instinctively ingrained when one reads Scripture every day. You'll carry principles of evaluation with you even if you can't put words to them, because the Word of God is a guard and a guide.

Our goal is to be soldiers of Christ taking captive every book, with our tactics so ingrained that we know them in our sleep. That only comes from reading God's Word every day--the most important book for any bibliophile.

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile


9 comments:

  1. Great Post!!
    It is wonderful to hear these things confirmed from yet another source as I come off of the Bible Bee. : ) One of the speakers there gave a talk on the importance of daily Bible reading and said many of the same things about consistency and impact on your life. Thank You!!
    "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...."

    E.H. ;)

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    1. Thank-you! :)
      I find that each year I have a different book of the Bible come alive for me. For instance, when I was younger, all the Major Prophets were pretty long and tedious. But three or four years ago the words of comfort in Isaiah really struck me, and just this summer it was the book of Job. I really couldn't believe how much humor is actually in Job, when I read it in a week. I'm still waiting for Jeremiah, but I'm sure it'll come eventually.

      I was thinking of you when I wrote this post. ;)

      Love,
      Schuyler

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    2. Yes, just in the last year or two I really grew to love Isaiah too. And Job as well; some of my favorite verses I've memorized over the years have come from there. (And not just Job 39:19-25). ;)

      E.H.

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  2. Wonderful post, Schuyler! I started reading through the Bible somewhere after age eight. I wasn't very structured although I did follow a schedule. I read through the Bible three times through during that time. However, when I made an account with YouVersion before the beginning of 2012 I found they had a 90-day Bible reading plan. I have followed that since the beginning of January, and by the end of the year I will have read through the Bible four times in a year. It's been amazing. Yes, there are rather tedious times (like reading 10-15 chapters in Leviticus per day), but overall it has given me a much better knowledge of the Bible. It's definitely not a study-time as such (I tend to study the Bible with friends/church/family, etc.), but devotions has long ago become a habit, too (not *just* a habit, but you know what I mean). I know when I've missed a day. :P

    "My brother took up reading the Bible, and very soon I joined him. Had he asked me, I really wouldn't have approved; it seriously cut into his time to give attention to me."
    I laughed reading that. :D How old were you when you started reading through the Bible? (if you know)

    Blessings,
    Kaleigh

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    Replies
    1. Four times is really amazing. I would like to try that sometime, but I'm trying to figure out what gives. ;) I liked reading Leviticus consectutively this year, but 15 chapters would be a serious commitment. We get more of our study with church and friends too, though mr brother and I both lead groups, so we also get it privately.

      I must have been about seven when I started select portions, and then the next year I started the entire Bible (however much I wanted to copy him, he could still read more than I could! :P )

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  3. Dear Lady B,
    This is an exellent post! I've been enjoying reading the Bible chronologically this year. It's been opening up new insights.
    "Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth,for I have put my hope in your laws." Psalm 119:43
    May we all love God's Word.
    Love, Sister

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    Replies
    1. Thank-you Sister. :)

      I would like to try the Bible chronologically sometime too.

      Love and cuddles!

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  4. This is the best blog post you have written, IMO. :D As you already know, I started reading the Bible through once a year at age 7 and have never stopped since.

    After finishing up reading through the Bible for the 12th time in October, I switched to the 90 day reading plan through YouVersion, which I'll finish in the middle of January. I have very much enjoyed the 90 day reading plan and intend to stick with it for several years. :D

    "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

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    Replies
    1. Why thank-you. :D You were quite inspirational, you know, and I'm sure I'll be tagging along on the 90 day plan eventually. ;)

      Thanks for taking the initiative all those years ago. It bore much good fruit. :D

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