August 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
I'm looking forward to reading through the New Testament with many of you beginning on September 1 and concluding on December 31. In this email, I wanted to give you the schedule and some tips to help you make it through the New Testament Reading Challenge (or NTRC from here on out).
Here is a spreadsheet of the schedule (Link). Note: I'll send out the week's readings at the beginning of each week in an email, but I wanted you to have the whole thing up front.
TIPS TO MAKE IT THROUGH
Allow me to address the privilege of reading, preparation for reading, and then give some practical advice (tips) in reading.
The Privilege of Reading
What you are reading is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Consider the privilege we have in reading God's Word to us! And consider how useful it is! Now, reading the Bible can be hard. It can take work. Not every part of the Bible is easy to read, and we’ve got to be okay with this. We even need to be humble and recognize that God wants us to exercise our minds. He doesn’t want lazy thinking disciples. He wants disciples who give effort in their thinking. He may even want disciples who will out-think a thoughtful world. Bible reading takes work. Laziness is no virtue for God’s people, but we need to know that our work will be rewarded. God uses his Word, and thoughtful engagement with it to make us happy in Jesus, more like Jesus, and more useful for Jesus. What a privilege to read and profit from God's Word!
Preparation for Reading:
Pray. Before you read, pray. Pray for faith to believe this is God’s Word to you and for you. Pray, “Give me a mind ready to think, a heart ready to hear, and a response of faith ready to trust and obey,” or some prayer like that.
Practical Advice in Reading
First, keep reading. You don't have to stop, slow down, or go back. I mean, you can if you really want to, but for this project, I'd encourage you to just keep going. It is okay if you didn’t get or understand every detail. Keep going. Recognize that you’re called to read the Bible for the rest of your life. This is not just a four month project, this is a year after year after year project. Whatever you missed and you need to understand, the Lord will eventually teach you. Keep going. Keep reading. Did I mention that you should keep reading? Good. Keep reading.
Second, consider purchasing/using a reader’s Bible. There are all sorts of versions of reader's Bibles out there. I have two and I use both for different purposes. A reader’s Bible is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. A reader’s Bible declutters the Bible from headings, chapters, and verse demarcations. It makes the Bible more like a book, and that is just what the Bible is! When you’re trying to read large passages of Scripture having less text, which you don’t need in the course of your reading (like headings, chapters, and verse demarcations), will help you to keep going. Using a reader’s Bible has helped me to read faster, and it may help you too.
Third, to help you stay focused, consider listening to your text as you read. I listen to the ESV at double time speed as I read. I think that I can actually read faster by not listening to the audio, but having sight and sound engages multiple senses for me and actually helps me to keep reading. That may not work for you, but it works for me. Whatever the case may be, it helps me to keep reading. Don’t stop. Don’t rewind. Don’t start the chapter over again. Just keep going. If you don't have the Bible on cd (I'm dating myself) or mp3, then www.esv.org will play the audio for you.
Fourth, before reading a book, consider checking out what the Bible Project guys have to say about the book you’re about to read. They’ve got some pretty awesome YouTube videos that help orient you to the main content of the books of the Bible. Consider watching this one on the Gospel of Mark. It is so helpful to know what you are going to read before you read it.
Fifth, read with others and ask them to hold you accountable. If you are seeing another believer from church at some point in the week, then read that day's assignment with them. Talk about it, and pray for one another out of that passage. Part of the reason that I'll be scheduling only a chapter on Wednesdays is because that is when I meet a group of guys from church at 6:30 AM to read the Bible and pray together. We'll use that time to read a chapter, discuss it, hold one another accountable, and pray for one another. If you're a man in the church, and you want to join us on Wednesday mornings, then just turn up in the fellowship hall at 6:30 AM on Wednesdays. That's where you'll find us. If you're a woman in the church and you want to do something similar, then go for it! Get a group of sisters together, read the Bible, talk about it, and pray together. I trust that the Lord will bless that time.
I hope that these tips are helpful, and Lord willing the next email you'll be getting from me on the NTRC is the first week's assignments. I'm looking forward to it!
Warmly in Christ,