Today, gyms across the world will be full. Folks with new workout clothes and resolutions that have not yet broken will be climbing about strange looking gym equipment like spider monkeys with the fervor January always ushers in. This is the adult version of the college student working out before spring break. I did that. A week before we went to the beach, I would go into the gym and do only two exercises: Bench press and bicep curls. Then, if that didn’t “take,” I would do push ups right before we went out onto the sandy shores of Panama City Beach for “Beach MTV.” I distinctly remember debating whether a push up was worth putting my bare hands on the floor of the incredibly seedy motels we would clown car 7 guys into each Spring Break. (The “core” didn’t exist when I was in college in 1998 or I might have worked that out too.)
What’s the Christian version of the gym resolution? Reading through the Bible in a year. And even though it’s only January 3rd, some of you have already fallen behind on the plan. (A year starting on a Saturday is so unfair. Today should be day one. Nobody starts something new on the weekend. New was made for Monday!)
But if you haven’t fallen behind, if you’re trying to stay on track, please accept some pointers from someone who usually reads through a year study in about two and a half years.
1. Don’t get suckered in by the stories.
In most front to back Bible plans, you’ve only read Genesis 1-7 so far by January 3. That’s Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah. That’s like the Die Hard trilogy! Action packed! But beware, some “begets” are coming, lineage is on it’s way.
2. Look out for lineage.
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but the sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras. That’s where you’re headed my friend, right into the land of lineage. I’m not sure if Biblically we’re allowed to skim sections that say, “Gomer beget Ashkenaz,” (We need a ruling on that from someone who has gone to seminary) but there will be some random nuggets mixed in there. For instance, Nimrod was a “mighty hunter before the Lord.” Not sure if that’s the first image we all think of with that name anymore.
3. Don’t get hung up on translation updates.
I’m reading through the updated NIV right now and in Genesis 4:1, it says, “Adam made love to his wife Eve.” I felt like I had never heard that before and looked in my older version of the NIV which says, “Adam lay with his wife.” Those are two very different phrases to me. One is what I assumed folks in the OT did. The other reminds me of Prince and Boys II Men. At this point, I’m thinking, “this is what it sounds like, when doves cry,” and have completely lost my train of thought. Don’t be like me. Stay focused.
4. Make it easy.
We Christians get crazy legalistic when it comes to reading through the Bible in a year. “It’s got to be my black leather Bible, in this chair, at this time of day, with this pen in my hand, while having a peppermint mocha coffee heated to 120 degrees or my reading doesn’t ‘count’ that day.” Don’t be that guy to yourself. I’m going through the Bible with a group of guys right now and we’re reading it on YouVersion. It’s online, it’s easy to use and with an iPhone in my hand it eliminates the excuse, “I can’t find my Bible, oh well, guess I’ll skip my reading.”
5. Go through it with friends.
I might be the first person in history to talk trash about a Bible reading plan, but that’s probably going to happen if one of my friends misses a day. I’ll follow the James model of rebuke, but also probably take some pointers from my fantasy basketball league on how to call out a friend on a blog in love. Going through the Bible with friends makes it fun and a whole lot easier to stay honest about your progress.
6. Start mentally preparing for Leviticus.
That book will break you. I promise. Unless you have some very specific questions about mold. It’s a beautiful book, but 87% of all read through the Bible plans jump the sea cow right here. (That will make sense once you get to Leviticus.)
I’m three for three so far this year and just finished reading Genesis 11 this morning. I even made it through some begets while learning about the linage of Arphaxad. Remember that guy? He used to hang with Lud, but definitely not Hazarmaveth. I digress.
Any tips you’d suggest to read through the Bible in a year?
Have you ever done that? Are you doing it this year?