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June 1, 2010

Over the past several years God has been taking me through a process of transformation that is changing me at the core of who I am.

About 16 years ago I began to systematically read the Bible for more that just preparation for preaching and teaching.  At first that reading was a pretty dismal and inconsistent attempt to read one chapter one day per week (a person has to start somewhere).  Over 16 years I have become pretty consistent reading several chapters of Scripture per day 7 days per week.  That process and practice has been transformational.

There is no question in my mind, as I have become more consistent in my reading of God’s word and in prayer, that God is using His word to transform my life.  I see my attitudes changing.  My understanding and perspective of life are changing.  I believe that I am trusting God more and enjoying my relationship with Him more.  All of which is affecting my relationship with Karen, the kids, and others.  Through His word God is remolding my life for the better.

All of which makes me ask, “Why wasn’t I doing this years ago?”  How much have I missed out on because I was wasting time doing things that took me away from God’s word rather than opening up opportunities to be in it?

I think our Adversary, Satan, knows this truth very well.  If God’s people get into God’s word he (Satan) begins to lose his grip on our lives.  Satan knows that God’s word will transform our lives.  Maybe that’s why he works so hard to keep us from it.

92% of households in the United States have a Bible (the average is 3 per household).  Other than going to church, where the Bible is read to us, 50% read the Bible occasionally and 37% read the Bible once a week.  14% of Americans belong to a Bible study.

When I ask people, “How are your one thing studies going?” often the response is an uncomfortable silence.  Sometimes there is an attempt to explain why their reading is inconsistent at best.  It concerns me that so many of my siblings in Jesus are robbing themselves of such a great privilege.

Out of my daily reading I am finding the courage to take more spiritual leadership at home.  How can I say to my children, “Kids you need to be reading and studying God’s word” if I’m not in His word myself?  On the flip side, to read and to challenge my children to read and to share with each other what God is teaching us is huge!  

Someone might say, “Well, he’s the pastor.  He gets paid to read the Bible.”  Remember that what I’m talking about is personal - above and beyond anything related to my role as a pastor.  I know that schedules are busy.  If yours is like mine its a 26/7 run through the week.  Who has time to read and pray?

My question is, “Who doesn’t have time for something so important?”

I’d like to challenge you as I was challenged 16 years ago.  Stop finding reasons why not to read and find ways to read.  To daily get into God’s word is one of the most important choices you will ever make.

Some ideas to get you started…

Start Simple:  Don’t overwhelm yourself with an in depth plan for reading (charts and commentaries) or by trying to read lengthy sections of Scripture.  Trying to read the whole Old Testament in one sitting is probably going to burn you out.  Pick something shorter like the Gospel of Mark or John.  “One Thing Studies” are great (pick a book, pick a chapter, let God show you one thing that sticks out, meditate and pray about that one thing asking God to help you understand how it applies to you). 

Be consistent:  Schedule a time to sit with God and His word that you know you can consistently show up for (and even be awake).  Maybe in the morning or before bed.  Maybe at lunch.  Even if you are able to only keep your appointment with God once a week that’s a good beginning.  Don’t beat yourself up for what you’re not doing.  Let yourself enjoy what you are able to do.

Pray:  Make sure that you invite God to open up His word to you.  Reading God’s word is a dialogue in which we get to speak to God about our lives and allow Him to instruct us in living.

And... let me know how its going.  May God bless you as you get into His word.