I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:1-2

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ten chapters per day?

In December I started looking around for a new Bible reading plan. I have spent several years studying different topics and/or being "stuck" in one book of the Bible. All of this has transformed my thinking, but I was feeling that it was time to get an overview again. (See this post from October.) I looked into several plans. The one I was most interested in was the plan my friend used (which she describes in this post.) While searching for more info on her plan, I "stumbled" across this blog post describing Professor Grant Horner's Bible reading system. It intrigued me, so I did a bit more searching and came upon this very interesting interview with Professor Horner. I looked at his plan (and the reasons he gave for why he did what he did) and at my friend's plan (they are quite similar in concept) and made my own hybrid. If you are more tech-savvy than me you can get Professor Horner's plan on YouVersion and read on your smartphone or computer (they also have the M'Cheyne reading plan which is somewhat similar, but only 5 chapters per day and LOTS of other plans.)

I am reading 10 chapters per day from 10 different books of the Bible (6 Old Testament and 4 New Testament.) I do not do it every day. My plan is to do the ten chapters daily on weekdays and do more in depth study on weekends (I have had varying levels of success with this.) Today I was on day 40. That means I have read 400 chapters of the Bible since Jan. 1! WOW! It is exciting and fun (two words I would not have previously connected with this volume of Bible reading.) The fun part comes when different parts of the Bible have crossover, similarities, or other ties that I never noticed before. One day this week my passage in Genesis and my passage in Judges (hundreds of years apart in time) took place in the same obscure (to me) town. At least weekly (and often daily) there has been something like this. It is helping me see the Bible as a whole, to see the connectedness of it, and to build familiarity with even the parts that I would not normally think of reading (minor prophets). It takes me about an hour a day, requiring early rising since I cannot read successfully with my kids around (this also helps explain my lack of blog posts since early morning is my time for that as well). If I was a faster reader and/or I didn't always want to jot references down in my various scripture collections it would probably only take 30-45 minutes. My mom is doing a 9 chapter per day plan and can get it done in 20 minutes (she is a fast reader and has read through the Bible almost yearly for as long as I can remember--familiarity makes you faster.)

Now before you get all guilt-ridden or condemning of yourself for not reading as much (or even reading at all) realize that this is just what I am doing...what God led me to for this season of my life. Last year I just read parts of Isaiah over and over (and many many days didn't read anything at all with the time and energy consuming adoption transition...often I was in survival-mode and sleep-deprived.) I also have a very real and growing understanding of God's grace and the concept of roots and fruit (hopefully topics for other posts.) I do not do this out of obligation, because I have to do this for God to love me or bless me. He loves me and blesses me because of Who He is, not because of what I do. I am doing this because He loves me and gives His love to me so I can love Him and love others. I hunger to know more about Him and His plan for me. I know that by renewing my mind with the Word, my soul, my mind, is transformed into what He would have me to be. I want to be that person!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Bible

If you missed it, check out my previous post. Here is my partial answer to what I believe about the Bible. Many thanks to the friends in my Bible study who also answered this question on their own. Some of my answer below I researched based on what they found and discussed with our group. I finally had to stop with the scripture references because verses led to more verses which led to more verses, and I wanted you to read this and not just get overwhelmed. I am amazed by how much the Bible comments on itself! I would encourage you to look into it for yourself. The links below go to BibleGateway which has handy cross references to get you going.

I believe the Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). God is true author. It is my guidebook (Ps. 119:105, Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:16); my source of wisdom (2 Tim. 3:15, Eph. 1:7-9, Proverbs!); and my checks and balances, discerning my thoughts and intentions (Heb. 4:12). It is the only book I really NEED (Matt. 4:4). I believe that by renewing my mind with the Word of God (with an open and yielded heart--see the parable of the sower and Rom. 12:1), I am being transformed, metamorphosed from the inside out (Rom. 12:2). I believe the Word of God is eternal and unchanging (Ps. 119:89-90, John 1:1, Is. 40:8.) It teaches and encourages me and gives me hope (Rom. 15:4). The Word of God is true (Ps. 18:30 2 Sam. 7:28, Prov. 30:5). It is The Truth (John 17:17, Ps. 119:160). The Word of God equips me to do good (2 Tim. 3:17). It is the sword of the Spirit--our weapon against the devil (Eph. 6:17).

In the past, I have often passed over difficult passages (many in Revelation), entire chapters (in Job and other places) or even whole books of the Bible (Lamentations???), thinking they weren't important to my life, or they were written to someone else or they were in the past and not really relevant except for as a collection of Bible stories (most of the Old Testament.) Now I am coming to realize that I missed the point of 2 Tim. 3:16: ALL Scripture is God-breathed. Jesus said, "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matt. 5:18 also see Luke 16:17 and Matt. 24:35). I need to trust, learn, and teach the whole council of God (Acts. 20:27). It is my job to keep my heart yielded to God (the good soil in the parable of the sower) and plant the seed of the Word, but it is God's job to make that seed grow. It won't return void or be useless (Is. 55:11).

I may not understand every bit of it right now, but now that I do take every bit of it seriously I am finding revelation all over the Bible. It is truly amazing! Also, I am writing out my questions, and fully expecting them to be answered some day. The change in mindset really makes a difference. EVERY WORD in my Bible means something! It is there for a REASON! And God, the Author, the Revealer of Mysteries (Dan. 2), is my guide through it all.