Reading The Bible In 2018

Developing A Daily Habit Of Bible Reading

One of the most critical disciples that you can develop for your spiritual growth is the discipline of daily Bible reading. This isn’t the only habit that will facilitate spiritual growth, but it is one of the most foundational. And it’s not as difficult as most people imagine.

Reading the Bible in 2018

As a minister, I spent a lot of years reading the Bible as I was studying for lessons or messages, and assuming that was enough to fill me personally as well. It wasn’t. But I wasn’t mature enough to realize it at the time. And then, I joined in with a couple of other guys to read the Bible daily, and complete it within a year. A whole new level of spiritual growth opened up to me during that year.

I was blown away! I had no idea that I was missing out on some significant growth by not spending time daily with God’s Word, just for my own personal relationship with him. That year opened up my eyes to the realization that I needed to make sure this habit was a non-negotiable part of my life. And while it took some time to get it rooted that deeply, it was well worth every bit of the effort.

Those first years after that realization hit, I managed to read daily most of the time, but not really consistently. So I decided to develop a plan. The Bible Reading Plans that I offer to subscribers here is the culmination of that plan. I created a booklet that contains three different plans to successfully read the entire Bible in a year’s time. Why three? Because I wanted to share this with the teens in my youth ministry, and I knew that not all of them would want to read the Bible the same way I would, or that someone else would. So I incorporated three different plans.

One was simply straightforward, from Genesis to Revelation, throughout the year. The second was a mix, some Old Testament, some New, some of the Gospels, and some from Psalms. The third was more coordinated. It placed passages together that needed to be understood together, or at specific times of the year. For example, when you read of David’s sin with Bathsheba, you would also read Psalm 51 that week, because that is David’s repentance of that sin. Or you would read the Resurrection passages around Easter. And for several years, I renewed this booklet, dating it for that specific year.

One Word 365 – 2018 Edition

Forget The New Year’s Resolutions - Just Choose One Word

I decided a long time ago to forego making New Year’s Resolutions. I was never any good at keeping them, and the harder I tried, the worse it got. I finally made one resolution that I have managed to not break: to not make any more resolutions!

One Word 365: Unhurried

What I have done instead is select a word that I intend to focus my life around for the next twelve months, one word to live by for the year. This practice has had the effect of helping me to keep my focus on a specific area I need to grow in, and it helps me become more who I believe that God wants me to be.

Over the years, I have selected several different words, such as the word “passion” in 2011. As I look back over the years, it seems as if many of them have a common underlying theme, such as my choice of “commit” in 2012, or “intentional” in 2013, or even the words “wait” and “prudence” in 2015 and 2016. And last year, my word to live by was “present.” It seems as if God is teaching me through these years to slow down and allow myself to be led by him, to be intentional, to wait on his leading, and not be so eager to do things my own way.

It seems that my learning in this area is not yet complete.

For the past couple of months, as I have reviewed my Life Plan, striving to be a complete man in every area of my life, I felt like God was leading me to choose another similar word to live by in 2018. As I reviewed every area of my life, one word seemed to crop up over and over.

Maintaining Balance In My Life

Making Changes To Be A Better Me

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the past few weeks. I have been stepping back from several things in my life to reevaluate them and see just how I need to proceed with them, how God wants me to proceed with them. I am now beginning to implement some changes, in order to regain, and maintain, balance in my life.

Maintaining Balance

I have always been one who works a lot, often more than I should. As I spent a week in Colorado with several other ministers in October, I was challenged with the thought that my lifestyle is too hurried, and that I need to slow down, and maybe let a few things go.

Through most of the month of November, I stepped back from a lot of personal projects, from my hobbies, from many of the extraneous things in my life in order to gain a bird’s eye view. I spent most of that month praying about what I have been called to do, and how best to go about it.

In my life, I prioritize things in this order: first is my relationship with God. This involves my study of God’s Word for my personal relationship with him. This includes journaling, reading, praying, solitude, fasting, and all those spiritual disciplines that help me to seek him as much as I possibly can.

Sometimes The Unexpected Occurs

When Things Don’t Go Like You Plan

I love having a plan, and everything going according to that plan. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the unexpected occurs.

Sometimes The Unexpected Occurs

Like this week, for example. I had a lot of things planned over the past few days that I wanted to get done. We had a special speaker in for the weekend at our church. And I wanted to get a few articles written in advance for this site while I am on a retreat the first week of October.

But apparently, that was not to be.

Last Thursday evening, I went home feeling exhausted. I didn’t think anything of it, because it had been a long day. But overnight, I started running a fever. By midday Friday, I was miserable. And I ran a fever off and on for the next several days. After almost a week, and a trip to the doctor, I started to feel better.

As I have reflected on this over the past couple of days, I came to realize that, no matter what my plans may be, sometimes things happen that change my plans. I can respond in one of two ways. Either I can be frustrated and angry that things aren’t going my way, or I can shift my mindset to this new thing, and see what comes of it.

While my tendency is to be frustrated when things don’t go according to plan, and to stress out over the unexpected, I have chosen the alternative way of seeing this past week. I’m watching to see what God may be teaching me through this. He could be saying slow down. He could be saying that I need to trust him and not my own efforts. He could be showing me that things will go on regardless of whether or not I accomplish my plans. There are a lot of things that I have seen through this that I may have missed had I not been forced to stop and rest.

And at the end of the day, there’s always tomorrow, and the day after, and next week, unless Jesus returns first, in which case it won’t really matter at all. I’ll shift my plans from last week to this week, and to next week if need be. Because I would rather slow down and hear these kinds of things than stay busy and miss hearing the voice of God in my life.

Sometimes it takes a sickness to accomplish that.

Question: Do you take time to rest and listen for God’s voice? Or does he have to get your attention in more drastic ways? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Benefits Of Solitude

Why Getting Away For A Time Can Be Crucial To Spiritual Growth

I’m getting antsy. I’m ready for a break from the routine, ready to get away for a few days.

The Benefits Of Solitude

Each year, I take a week around the first of October and head out for a spiritual retreat. For the past several years, I have utilized a program called Wilderness, run by Christ In Youth. And it has always been an incredible time of spiritual growth and reflection for me.

I try to take a short break every few weeks, a day away where I seek solitude and spend the day in prayer and reading God’s Word. But once a year, I take a bigger chunk of time to really revitalize my soul, and Wilderness has been a key factor in making that a priority for my life.

Solitude is a spiritual discipline that most of us are probably not comfortable with. In our busy society, and a very noisy society, getting away by ourselves and being quiet is very intimidating. But it is very necessary.

At Wilderness, one of the elements I love so much is the opportunity to find a place where I can be alone to listen to God for several hours a day, each day, throughout the week. Wilderness is held at Bear Trap Ranch, outside of Colorado Springs, and each morning, I find a spot in the mountains where I can see peaks all around me, and the golden aspens moving in the breeze. It is incredible peaceful, and I relish this time by myself each day.

Solitude is something I have come to appreciate. It’s something that Jesus modeled for us, because he spent a lot of time off on his own, seeking the Father through prayer. Sometimes it was in the early mornings (Mark 1:35), other times it was in the evening (Luke 6:12). Many times it was before a major event in his life and ministry, like the transfiguration, his arrest, or the choosing of his disciples. But regardless of when or where, it is essential to note that he did this regularly and frequently. So should we.

One Word 365 – 2017 Edition

Forget The New Year’s Resolutions - Just Choose One Word

For the past six years, I have selected one single word to focus my life on for the duration of the coming twelve months, instead of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions that I probably won’t keep. This one word is the word I will strive to live by for the coming year.

Identifying a word to live by for the year helps me to keep my focus on a specific area of growth, and helps me become more of the person God has created me to be.

One Word 365

I’ve set my focus on several different words over the last few years. For example, in 2011, I chose to focus on the word passion. This word underlined all I did throughout the year. It defined the year. Everything I did, I did with enthusiasm, and passion was pretty visible in most areas of my life.

In 2012, I chose the word commit. One of my biggest struggles in life has been to stick to many of the things I decide to do. Focusing on this word helped me to address that deficiency.

In 2013, I chose the word intentional. We have a large family, and as a result, we have a lot going on. I realized that I needed to be intentional, especially in my relationships with family and friends, and in my ministry.

In both 2014 and 2015, I chose the word wait. I tend to be very impatient at times, and focusing on waiting helped me see the bigger picture. And, rather than take matters into my own hands, it allowed my faith to grow by waiting on the Lord.

In 2016, my word was prudence. It simply means to use wisdom and discretion in all that I do. It’s actually very similar to the word wait, and God has continued to teach me to be patient and wait on him.

Each year, I choose to identify and implement a single word as a part of my Life Plan. I add this word to the beginning of my plan, and try to use it as a piece of the foundation for every portion of my plan. Some areas are more successful than others.

The Truth About Words

One of the things that I hold most deeply is the authority of Scripture. The Word of God is infallible and inerrant. God’s Word, and his words, are truth.

The Truth About Words

Not too long ago, I was reading a book recommended to me by a friend, New Evangelicalism, by Paul Smith. It was a very interesting and eye-opening book, and gave me a lot to think about.

But in reading it, I came across this passage that just blew my mind: Smith is speaking here about the solid theological beginnings of Princeton Seminary, and identifying some of the fundamental issues that served as the foundation for the college as it started. He states:

Truth was a stable entity best expressed in written language that conveyed one message relevant for all times and in every place. At Princeton, as well as in many nineteenth-century Protestant American churches, the idea was held that persons of simple common sense could rightly understand Scripture. They also held the view that a genuine religious experience grew out of right ideas, and right ideas could only be expressed in written words.

That simple statement, stuck in the middle of a section that propounded upon the inerrancy of Scripture, has bounced around in my mind for weeks.

I see two striking truths in that paragraph.

First of all, words are sacred. Over and over, the Bible tells us that the things that we speak are weighty (See James 1:19; 3:1-12; Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 5:4 for a start). But most of those passages deal with the spoken word, our conversations. Because I was curious, I did a quick search for the words “write,” “written” and “wrote” in the Bible. Did you know that these word appear in English almost 400 times? And that doesn’t include any other variations of the words, or even look at the original languages and compare all the different forms from their roots.