Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? I know that we often break resolutions before we really get them started. But that doesn't mean that they're not a good idea, especially if we resolve to do something that we've always wanted to do... something like reading through the whole Bible. Stop and think about it: why should you rely upon what other people say about the Bible, when you could be drawing your own conclusions from your own reading?
The thing about reading the Bible is that it's not like any other book. While some people have the discipline to pick the Bible up, start at the beginning and read straight through, most people are going to struggle without a better plan. I have read through the Bible several times and offer some practical... and some relatively new ideas... about how to make this Bible reading resolution one you will keep.
- Read a Bible without notes. Study Bibles are great for studying but can be distracting when your goal is to read through the Bible.
- Read a Bible in a different translation than to one you're accustomed to reading. Sometimes the most familiar verses become alive anew to you when you read it in a different translation.
- Read a Bible in an easier translation to read. Some translations are just easier to read than others. I recommend the New Living Translation or The Message for ease of reading.
- If you struggle staying focused, try reading out loud. This is especially helpful first thing in the morning when you are just waking up.
- Combine habits. Tie in your new Bible reading habit with an existing habit. For example, if you already exercise regularly try listening to the Bible while you work out.
- Consistent with #5 above, try listening to the Bible instead of reading it to yourself. There are lots of good audio Bibles out there, but my favorite is any Bible read by Max McLean, which you can find at www.ListenersBible.com.
- Read systematically. Don't use the "dip and skip" method. You know you've done this if you ever read the Bible by just letting it fall open to any place.
- To read systematically you need a good Bible reading plan. There are many good ones out there. Here are four suggestions:
- Buy a One Year Bible. This is a Bible organized by date rather than by the traditional books in the Bible. Each day includes a reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. You can purchase a One Year Bible in any one of three translations: the NIV, the NLT, or the ESV.
- The new Amazon Kindle was made for reading! So why not combine the great idea of the One Year Bible above with an electronic reader? There are many good choices available.
- Have your daily Bible reading emailed to you each day. Then just read your email! The best plan for this that I have found is at a very simple site: www.BiblePlan.org.
- The newest and, I think, best online site is YouVersion.com. They offer more than 20 different reading plans. Perhaps the greatest advantage to YouVersion is that they will automatically sync your daily reading plan with your mobile phone like iPhone, Blackberry, or Droid.
- No plan by itself with make you successful with this resolution. Perhaps the most important thing is to find someone to be your partner. Accountability is a big factor in any new habit. Besides, it's more fun to be able to share your new discoveries as you read through the Bible.