When I pick up my boys after band, play practice, or 4H, I tend to ask pretty much the same questions on our ride home. Nothing profound, mind you, just, “Who did you see?” and “Anything exciting happen?” kind of questions. It’s not that I really need to know that they practiced Smoke on the Water again or that Lam-bo is being more cooperative about walking with his halter. What I really DO need, however, is to work on relationship with my boys, so asking questions is my way of being present to whatever they want to talk about.
According to Keith Ferrin, author of How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible, this is the reason we read the Bible — it’s all about relationship with God, and so begins the first of ten tips for becoming a more consistent and effective student of the Word. The book has come along at just the right time for me, because I have recently heard a respected Bible teacher say that he absorbed much of what he knows about the New Testament by reading it in big chunks — whole books in sitting! That’s fine for Jude or III John, but I’ve wondered how that would work for Hebrews and the Revelation. Keith suggests approaching these longer books by reading for an amount of time every day (e.g. twenty minutes), rather than the usual “a chapter a day keeps the devil away” approach. After all, I hardly ever stop at just one chapter when I’m reading other books, and I certainly don’t watch movies in four minute installments. (That’s how long it takes, on average, to read one chapter of the Bible.)
This rhythm of repetition, returning to a passage every day for thirty days or more, is key to cementing the passage in your mind. Keith also recommends reading out loud and holding off on the commentaries and other study tools at first in order to let the Bible speak for itself. Most exciting of all is the suggestion to tackle a book of the Bible with a friend or in a group of fellow-learners, journaling and discussing major themes, favorite verses, and lessons for life along the way. Dawson Trotman said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips or through pencil tips.” Reading and then writing and discussing the truth closes a circle of comprehension, both mentally and spiritually.
How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible concludes with several suggested reading plans, so just as soon as I finish my current plan, I’m in! And here’s the math: If I devote 30 days to each book of the New Testament (27 books), I’ll have pondered each book in depth in just over two years. But . . . it’s not about covering ground or getting information or checking something off my list. It’s about keeping a relational mindset, getting to know the Author, and letting His Words transform my words, thoughts, actions, and all my other relationships.
This book was provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.
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