Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'm very excited about the number of people at Central who have committed to doing their best to read the Bible each day in 2010. It's not some legalistic requirement, it's just a commitment to take the Bible seriously and dig into it each day as much as possible. I know some people have hesitated to make the commitment because they're worried they'll miss a day -- but that is so not the point! Mostly, though, the response has been amazing. Last count I heard we have 577 people making this commitment. (If you're part of Central and haven't made that commitment but would like to, shoot me an email and we'll put your name on the list!) That kind of digging into Scripture is going to bear huge fruit, and I'm excited to see what God does with this in 2010.

I've been asked often what the best way is to read the Bible. I usually discourage people from starting at Genesis and reading straight through, though that method works well for some people. Usually newbies get bogged down about Exodus 30, after a few chapters of tabernacle blueprints, or in Leviticus when they can't stand reading about ritual laws and "he shall bathe and be unclean until evening" one more time. For newbies, and sometimes for old hands, I usually recommend starting with one of the gospels. John is my favorite place for people to start, because it's possible to read it at so many different levels. One thing I've done as a medium-length reading project is to read through John, then simply continue through Acts (the stories of the early Christians and how God grew the church) and then plow right on through Romans (the best summary of Christian belief and practice in the whole Bible). So that's one idea.

Some people want to take their time and read something short, but read it in depth. Mark's gospel is a good option for this. A few years ago we did a sermon series preaching through Mark and I wrote a study guide to go along with that. Those reflections and questions might be helpful to some who want a guided way to work through a book of the Bible. If you'd like a copy, let me know and we can get one to you. Email me.

Another possibility is to slow waaaay down and read and reread a short section of the Bible in order to ponder and dig deep into it. That's my winter project, as I've alluded to before, with Genesis 1-12. Those initial chapters set up so much that makes sense of the rest of the Bible, and makes sense of me & my life as well. So I'm looking forward to that digging. If you want to join me in that, I'll be posting a lot of those reflections here.

So if you haven't decided to already, I encourage you to do your best to read the Bible every day in 2010. I heard a few years ago about a priest who, immediately after a wedding ceremony was finished and before the guests filed out of the sanctuary, would pull the newly married couple aside and pray quickly with them. Then he would say to the couple, "Now you have prayed together every day of your married life. Don't let the habit die." Bible reading is kind of like that. So if you haven't started yet, here's a Bible reading for January 1st, 2010:

From Jeremiah 29:
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

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