I am not a pastor, preacher or small group leader. I didn't go to divinity school, bible college or discipleship training. Arguably, I am vastly unqualified to write this post.
I write this post with the sheer qualification of having been on the other side of not being in love with my Bible. Frankly, not even touching my Bible. Maybe you read yours daily, maybe you read it monthly, maybe yours is piled under textbooks, magazines and covered in dust. (I've certainly been there, too.)
Or maybe, you don't even own one. Bring it on.
I write this post for the avid Christian, lukewarm Christian, down and out Christian, and the millennial who's just like "Dude, I just don't know about the C-word (Christian), the G-word (God), or any other kind of religious anything."
By all means, come as you are.
I challenge you to read this one book, consistently, with a combination of any number of the below steps, and let me know what happens. Sincerely, let me know. And if these 10 steps don't work, I will come up with 10 more with and for you, because I believe in the power of the words in this book that much. I've grown to be as dependent on them, as I am on the God that inspired them. And trust me, that definitely wasn't always the case.
Here we go.
1. Pray for: fervency in reading, the time to do so, a connectedness to the text and discernment in digesting it.
"But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:16)
2. Share with a friend, a leader, significant other, family member — literally anyone you trust — and use them as your accountability buddy.
This is the kind of accountability where you go to them (not the other way around). You take responsibility for your relationship with God and your fellowship with others. This person is there for support and encouragement, not hand holding or dragging you along.
3. Gather up some supplies. Arguably unnecessary, but really helpful for getting you going.
- Pen and highlighter (For obvious reasons, and see step six.)
- A notebook or templates like these "Daily Devo" journaling sheets (To take notes and/or record questions, feelings, emotions, doubts, affirmations — anything). Scribble down what you're going through, as you're going through it.
4. Get a supporting "devotional" on a relevant topic for you. (I've included some examples and links below.)
Whatever you chose, make it about something you know your struggling with or working on. For example: If you're always doubtful and feel unbelieving at times, a devotion on trust is a good place to start.
Craving just the Biblical text? Another great idea is to read one of the shorter books of the Bible in one sitting ( i.e. Read the book of James or Ephesians - where it can read more like a full 'story' and not make you feel like you randomly just popped onto the scene and are trying to play catch up. (Honestly, they're not that long, I promise it will take you less time than watching an episode of anything on Netflix.) Check out: "Trust Without Borders," "Unglued," "Greater," "Jesus Calling," "Jesus is," etc.
5. Commitment, coffee (or evening tea) and consistency: A three-step process for creating a ritual that you enjoy and associate with your bible reading time.
Get cozy, even if for only 15 minutes. Make that you and God's time, and be mindful of not compromising it. We tell ourselves we have "a million other more important things to be doing," and I get that. But I also challenge you to just think a little bit harder about that statement, and realize who you're spending time with. Then repeat step one.
6. Date and highlight stand-out passages directly in your bible margins.
For the longest time the perfectionist in me didn't want to "ruin" those thin, beloved pages. Ridiculous, right? Now it's my personal canvas and roadmap on my epic Jesus-adventure. I love later coming across a passage and seeing how it spoke to me then, and usually still does.
7. Context and relevance is crucial. Learning about what the heck you're reading and the history behind it (because it's not a fictional tale) gives purpose and meaning to it.
It transcends the boundaries of time and makes you see what, why, and how something that long ago could possibly be relevant to you now.
Other ways to help with this: Get what's called a "study bible," choose a devotion that provides context (see step four), talk to a pastor, ministry leader or Christian friend.
And/or use Google. I promise it's not anti-Christian to look stuff up on the Internet. There are so many digital resources out there if that's what suits you. I for one am so grateful we have it has an immediate aid and quick reference, whereas that simply used to just not be an option.
8. Building on step three, write stuff out even if you're not a writer.
Be honest with yourself, like radically transparent. Ask yourself questions and evaluate yourself against Jesus' nature, not what you compare yourself to on Instagram.
9. Pick one thing that stuck out to you, and try to apply it in your daily life.
Share it with your accountability buddy (see step two).
10. Say another prayer. Finish your efforts and close your bible time by thanking the Lord for his word and asking him to continue drawing you closer to it. Ask that he will make it your heart's desire.
Think on these:
"You do not have, because you do not ask." (James 4:2, ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)
When all else fails, be patient. He brings the change, growth, renewal, sanctification, and transformation. He is the conduit for your "not yet," "not quite," and "almost" dreams. He will remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 119:90).
That's a promise.
Believing with you and for you,