It’s always a happy moment when I meet my annual Goodreads reading challenge:
I was truly surprised, though, when I went back through all the titles and realized that almost half of the reading I did in 2022 was scriptural or theological. Could that really be? I counted again and yes, 29 of the titles I read were on my Christianity “shelf”.
I’ve been all over the place with God in my life and honestly, I am guessing God would say He has been all over the place with me as well. I’m a trial; a little skittish, a little rebellious, a lot imperfect. But we’re working on it, me and God, and after several well-meaning but failed attempts along the way to read the one-year or three year Bible, I finally found something that works for me.
I was thinking, maybe if I listened to it I could make better headway, and I was on the verge of clicking James Earl Jones’ reading of the Holy Bible (what could be better than the voice of God himself?!) when another option popped up.
Dr. Bill Creasy’s Logos Bible Study is not a word for word reading, but a navigated study through each book of the Bible. A retired UCLA professor, Creasy now leads hugely popular Bible Studies in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas as well as offering teaching tours to the Holy Land.
I think his Logos Bible Study web site offers the studies in YouTube video form, but I suspected I couldn’t sit still that long and opted for the Audible versions that I could listen to while I take my morning walks. I began in January 2021 with, of course, Genesis and – taking a week off each time I completed a book to ponder what I had learned – ended that year with the Book of Psalms.
Thus, I began 2022 with the Book of Proverbs and by August I celebrated having completed the Old Testament. (My new party trick, if it’s a good day and I am well-caffeinated, is reciting aloud the titles of the 39 OT books.) And then it was onward into the Gospels – I made it through the Book of Luke before New Year’s.
As you can see, I still have miles to go…
But I wonder if just maybe, by the end of this year, I could possibly make it all the through. We’ll see.
I thought motivation would be an issue – stick-to-it-iveness is not my strong suit. But surprisingly, during each of my week-long abstinences between books, I find myself genuinely eager to begin the next one.
Pastor Timothy Keller, founder of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of many popular books on Christian faith and living, tweeted recently “Nothing more important for a Christian to do than to read right through the whole Bible over an over and over, at the very least once a year. You have to keep checking and refining your beliefs by immersion in the Scripture.”
I’m a long way from being able to process the entire Bible in one year, but I understand what Keller is saying. While I’ve long heard pastors and study leaders stress the importance of “being in the Word”, it never seemed like a realistic goal until I found a template that works for me. Reading it in a linear fashion has provided an exponential leap in understanding for me both in terms of history and of the Bible’s significance as the inspired word of God.
If you’ve never opened a page of scripture, you will likely be skeptical. Isn’t it boring? Well, I and II Chronicles did not exactly get my heart rate up and yes, I struggled a bit with the minor prophets. But you have to build from book to book for the entire fabric of scripture to hold together. I attended a study on the Book of Revelation a few years ago and found myself thoroughly at sea. Now I know why Dr. Creasy often says that Revelation is the easiest book of the Bible to understand — providing that you’ve already read every previous book.
And while I’m not big on “best sellers”, I have to give this one 5 stars across the board. With somewhere between five and seven billion copies printed in the 1500 years since the contents of the Bible were standardized, it is the best-selling book of all time. You have to read it to believe it…