Thank you: to all who consistently modeled this discipline. My online friend, Laura, has shared for years how she reads the Bible through twice each year....and well my confession is below. But hearing her success encouraged me to continue trying. Thank you, Laura.
Confessions: I've written HERE to explain my thoughts on racing, walking, and crawling through the Word. I shared that it was my goal to read through the Bible, and I had been attempting it for years. What I didn't share is that I always bog down. In 2006 I began my "power walk" through the Word. The idea was to study my way all the way through the Bible. It carried into 2007....I haven't finished; it may be a life-long pursuit. My commitment to read the Bible through frequently remains. I just couldn't seem to reach the goal - 100%. I did race through the Bible year after year...but I always skipped things or bogged down in a gospel..... I limped along and comforted myself with the TRUTH that any time in the Word was better than none, and that I WAS in the Word (20 - 30 hours a week for study). About this time a friend of mine mentioned that her church was "reading the Bible in 90 Days." My thought, "WHAT? Good luck! Let me know how THAT works for you!" ::sigh::
Consider these facts from Barna and others: 42% of Americans say that reading the Bible is very important to them; less than 50% of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Gallup), among those who say they read the Bible the average reader spends less than 7 minutes a day, but the average person spends almost 5 hours a day watching TV (Communications Industry Forecast & Reporting).
Time Management: I don't watch 5 hours of TV a day. We don't watch TV. In the interest of TRUTH, to be sure none have an unrealistic view of our family life, we do have a small VCR/TV that we watch cartoons et al on and a weekly family night. Rather than feeling smug that *I* am not in the group spending 7 minutes in the Word while watching TV 5 hours a day, I began to think about how I WAS spending my time. I don't know if it was 5 hours....but yahoo groups, reading blogs, personal blogging, reading books - there was a significant amount of time I could rearrange to harvest time for Bible Reading. I COULD make it through the Bible, prepare for weekly study and continue to homeschool....I thought. Then the need to make workouts a priority popped up, and I had to get really serious about managing my time.
My Experience: A few weeks after being told that my friend HAD read through the Bible in 90 days, I saw The Bible in 90 Days at our local Family Christian Bookstore. I hadn't realized it was a curriculum, program, movement that churches and small groups were doing. I debated. I LOVE my Bible. I didn't NEED a new Bible, but I immediately saw that there were some features that might be of help in my quest. It's hard bound, book size. I can take it with me as easily as I take books with me (everywhere I go) without the fear of destroying my REAL Bible. They say it has "large text", though it seemed small enough to me. ::snort:: NIV is not my translation of choice, but it is the one that makes the 90 day Bible. You read straight through the Bible in 12 pages a day. I couldn't get the marketing line, "Cover to Cover in 12 pages a day" out of my mind. The fact that I was regularly reading more than 12 pages a day on blogs and books, and yet couldn't find the time to totally read the Bible through in a year convicted me. I was challenged.
I originally felt the Bible in 90 Days was a marketing ploy, but there are some great reasons that this made it easier for me to finish. I STUDY with my study Bible. I could not resist the impulse to fill out CHARTS ::snort::, write notes, do word studies, but with this Bible, I read - I read and made arrows, jotted a few references as I went, but because my goal was the Bible in 90 Days - I was FORCED to plow on and not get side-tracked and bogged down. It made it easier for me to "read it like a novel." I have MANY "?" in the margins.....I noted that I'd LIKE to study this more, but I kept moving. I found that reading the Bible through in such a short amount of time caused me to make many new connections, to see how things related to each other (because it was all fresh in my mind), to understand context better than when I read through in a year. I finished reading all the way through this a.m. - ALL the way from Genesis to Rev. I told myself repeatedly, "You can do ANYTHING for 3 months".
Nuts and Bolts: How did I find the time? I made the time. This became my priority. Mike made exercise my priority - that gave me two priorities to accomplish each day, while I continued to homeschool and lead our weekly Bible Study. I cut time from other areas. I NEVER read ANY OTHER BOOK or BLOG or YAHOO list until my daily reading was done. In the beginning there were many days when I finished my reading before bed and, yes, that meant I hadn't read anything else except school books that day. I began naturally getting up 30 min earlier. I read that this could be done in 30 minutes. It consistently took me 45 minutes a day. God continually whispers to me about self-control and discipline since January. I began to fit in exercise. Do you need a clear picture of how it works? I wake up at 5:30 - 6:00 and read. By 7:00 I am helping the youngers get breakfast. I run to the gym while they clean up, do chores, get dressed and do their independent school. Most days we have an hour of couch school before lunch. Many days we do our couch school after lunch, but it is starting to fall into a routine. I've ALWAYS said if we didn't have couch school done before lunch it wouldn't happen now that I have 3 big daily priorities (Word, Workout, Homeschool) and 1 pretty big daily priority (blogging for family posterity) - I've simply MADE the changes that I needed to make in order to get things done. I'm still limping. This new schedule daily tests my commitment to live a disciplined life. There are days when I've stayed up far too late because I just WANTED badly to read and knew if I woke up tomorrow a.m., I'd not be able to get to that chapter, or blog that incident until I got my 12 pages of reading done. ::snort:: I'm still growing. There were days I was ahead in the plan, and days I was behind in the plan but overall I did finish by the end of March. I did deviate from the plan once. I read Matthew, Mark, and Luke...then I skipped to Acts and Romans and came back to John - finishing it the week of Easter.
My Plan: I'm doing what the creator of the 90 Day Bible suggests. I'm taking a month off (not from the Word but from the rapid-paced reading). I'll then begin to read through the Bible again in 90 days. My goal is to do this 2 more times this year. I thought of having a blog, creating a small group to read along, but God clearly impressed on me that the first time through was for ME. I was to develop this discipline not to lead others but to personally follow Him.
Reading Plans: "Into Thy Word" has many Bible reading plans for free. Click here to see plans for 10 minutes a day to go through Psalms and Proverbs in one month; 15 minutes a day to go through the New Testament in 90 days. "Bible Plan.org" has 13 different reading plans and online translations of several Bibles available available in 15 different translations and 12 languages- check it out.In the back of the Bible in 90 Days, there is a reading schedule for those who choose to read using a Bible other than the 90 Day Bible. (Yeah, I questioned the LOGIC of that too - if you don't want to use the NIV Bible why would you have the Bible to read the chart??? LOL - but I thought it was wonderful that they included it.) You can see that schedule online here in this PDF file.
THIS concludes my Winter Reading Challenge and yes this "book" will remain on my 2008 Reading List.