A Holy Habit

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In the midst of all your plans to eat healthier, workout more, quit smoking, start saving, etc., can I encourage you to make another plan in 2016?

You should read through the Bible this year.

I’m supposed to say that, I know. I’m a student pastor on staff at a church that pays me to teach the Bible. If I don’t encourage you to read your Bible through this year, am I really even a pastor? (Some might argue that student pastors aren’t really even “pastors” anyway, but I digress.)

Let me write to you for a minute from outside of the pastoral perspective–or at least the best I can. I grew up in church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, repeat. As a result, I heard a lot of the Bible growing up. I knew the familiar flannel graph stories. I blushed as I would skim through Song of Solomon. I snickered at the use of the word “ass” in the King James Version (especially in 2 Peter 2:16, if you’re taking notes). Despite the fact that I was pretty familiar with the Bible, I never read through it until I was in seminary (which probably made me unqualified for seminary).

So in 2011 I picked up a copy of the One Year Bible and committed myself to reading through it. I read and I read and I read. And I got behind–like, way behind. I think I was actually 17 days behind at one point. But I made those days up over the course of a few weeks, and on December 31, 2011 I read the final passages from the book of Revelation. Done.

I didn’t understand a lot of it. Truth be told, I still don’t understand the majority of it. I did learn a lot, but nothing completely life-altering at the time. God didn’t part the clouds and commend me with a “well done, good and faithful servant!” But there was an interesting side-effect of reading through the Bible that year: it became a habit.

For the last 4+ years, I’ve had a fairly consistent habit of reading the Bible daily. On the days where I don’t make time to read, something feels out of place. Please don’t read that as a boasting of sorts. I still have “out of place” days. And sometimes even the days I do read I do so through the grogginess of an early morning funk or with a “check-Bible-reading-off-my-to-do-list” mentality, neither of which are particularly helpful. But through the grogginess and the struggles, I try to read. It’s habitual.

That’s why I think you should read through the Bible this year. Not because I suspect you’ll experience a completely life-changing truth–though you very well may. Not because you’ll learn much that you didn’t know–though you probably will. Not even because it’s what “good Christians” are supposed to do. I think you should read through the Bible this year to form a habit of reading the Bible daily.

You can find an endless number of reading plans on the YouVersion app or a quick internet search will provide you with ample plans to choose from. If it’s easier, just pick up the One Year Bible, set it on your nightstand or coffee table like I did and read the passages that correspond with each day.

In a season when we’re all contemplating dropping a bad habit, let’s fill the void with a good one–one that has some eternal weight significance (poor word choice around the New Year). One that I really believe will transform us “from one degree of glory to another” one daily reading at a time.

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Why I Prefer A Physical Bible Over A Digital Bible

Earlier this week I finished reading through the Bible. It’s something I’ve done a few times now, and while each time has been a different format or reading plan, one thing has remained consistent—reading from a physical Bible.

I love technology. I try to take advantage of it as much as possible, but the whole digital reading movement has left me in the dust. I just like books. I like highlighting. I like writing in the margins. I prefer turning pages over swiping a screen.

My wedding gift from my wife was a ridiculously nice wide-margin ESV Bible. Ever since unwrapping it, I’ve been reading it (almost) every day. I underline and circle words. I highlight verses. I make notes and reminders for myself in the margins. I record important dates on blank pages—like our wedding day, the day my son was born, and the day my grandpa died. I try to make note of significant moments when I’m needing God’s direction or thanking him for his provision.

And one day, I plan to give it away.

Why? Because there’s more that goes into reading my physical Bible than preference over the digital version. For me, it comes down to legacy.

Spurgeon once said that, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” My hope is that one day when I’m gone my children will be handed a worn-out, marked-up, and tattered Bible that’s falling apart at the seams—the same oversized Bible that they can remember their dad reading from most days. I hope that through years of notes, confessions, and scribbles squeezed into the margins they’ll discover that their dad was far from a perfect man, but he desperately clung to the Word that pointed him to a perfect Savior.

Just so you know, I’m not anti-digital Bible. I have multiple Bible apps readily available across my various devices. But when it’s all said and done, I just don’t think my children will say, “You know, I’m really glad dad left us with his YouVersion app.”

Photo Jan 30, 7 28 36 AM