I’m pretty consistent about reading my Bible. Not perfect, mind you. Sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes I get distracted. For the most part, though, I try to read at least a chapter (or more, if they’re short or in Numbers) every morning. I always imagine it as God and I sitting down over a cup of tea, having our own little tête-à-tête.
Recently I’ve been rereading the gospels, first Matthew, then John. Pen and straight edge in hand (I’m a bit compulsive about neat annotations), I was underlining verses that particularly spoke to me, inscribing comments in the margin to remind myself later of what I was learning.
Did you make New Year’s resolutions for 2013? If so, you’re certainly in good company. According to a study published in the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of people usually make resolutions and another 17% make them occasionally. They go on to state that “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” That’s pretty inspiring.
Most resolutions deal with self improvement issues—specifically losing weight, getting more organized, exercising—and finances. I’m not surprised. I usually resolve to lose weight and exercise more too. (I’m making good progress on the exercise vow. The weight problem? Not so much, sigh.)
About ten years ago I added a new resolution that I’m very glad I kept. I boldly promised God and myself that I would read through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
I’ve been unwell the past few days—a bad reaction to a new prescription preceded by either a worse reaction to another new prescription or a 24-hour virus. My mind has been off wandering aimlessly around some abandoned part of town while I got to spend 48 hours in bed, waiting to feel better.
Normally, I’d be giddy with the thought of spending some time lounging around, reading books I’ve wanted to read, with no responsibilities and no interruptions. But when every part of your body is on strike—my skin even protested the gentle spray from the shower, and more so the towel afterward—and the thermometer says 102.3, lying around loses its luster.
I read a lot of books—probably about one a week. I usually have several going at the same time. It’s a good thing public libraries don’t charge!
I’ll pick out a nonfiction book on a subject I’m interested in at the moment and at least one book about God and faith and the church. (Our library has a remarkably good selection for a secular institution.) And then I like to have something just for fun—usually an adventure or science fiction story, the more exciting, the better.
Picking out the nonfiction books is relatively easy. If I want a book on birding, I simply head to the shelves numbered 598.07234 and start browsing. My friends and pastors often recommend books about our faith, soI have an endless list of ones I want to read. But the fiction poses a real challenge.
Think of your favorite book, the one you read in one sitting because you just couldn’t bear to put it down. The Hobbit? One of the Harry Potter books? A best seller by John Grisham or Clive Cussler? I bet it wasn’t the Bible.
We agree that the Bible is important reading, but is it exciting? Once you know that Noah survives the flood, that David confesses his sin regarding Uriah and Bathsheba, and that Jesus rises from the dead, you’ve got to admit that the Bible just isn’t that suspenseful. In fact, reading it often feels like hard work.
Summer is coming to a close, and a lot of our friends are back from their short-term mission trips. I’ve always been supportive of short-term missions (see my daughter’s post about them), but lately I’ve wondered. Did these missionaries make a difference? Did God change their hearts? Did their trips improve the lives of those they went to serve?
Our friend Bob works for Partners International, one of my favorite cross-cultural ministries. He has compiled a list of mission books that he recommends. The first two, Serving with Eyes Wide Open, by David Livermore, and When Helping Hurts, by Corbett and Fikkert, address my questions about our short-term mission efforts. I can’t wait to buy and read both of them.
Bob discusses these and other mission books on his blog. Because I know and respect his opinions, I highly recommend his list to you.