‘Just want to let you know that two and a half years after you first recommended it, with several stops and starts and very non-religiously, I have worked my way through Don Carson’s ‘For the Love of God’ and as a result have read my wonderful Bible from cover to cover. I never thought I could end up loving God’s word the way I do so just wanted to say thank you and share such a moment with you and hope it encourages you.’
A Friend's Text Message (last week)
You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God
Bible in one year, 4/3/14 (Today)
Last Sunday a lady in our church called Ann bore testimony to the healing of her mother Cynthia [who we had prayed for] from stage 3 ovarian cancer that had spread to secondaries. We were all stunned, amazed, encouraged and greatly humbled as a community- as indeed was her Doctor. Praise God.
Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. The danger of Lent is that it can be turned in a feast for prideful or poe-faced weird religious people to act even more religiously than they already do. Those outside the faith looking in witness a God who requires you to give things up and who doesn't like chocolate. An already incomprehensible thing looks even more so to our post-Christian culture.
So what's the point of taking Lent seriously?
There are many reasons. My answer would be that to take Lent seriously is to have a plan [afresh] to love God more fully and serve him more heartily at the end of it than you did at the beginning. Otherwise, to be honest what's the point. Lent is very often linked with the disciplines. If you don't know what these are I do recommend the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Witney as your Lent read. The disciplines, practiced rightly and from a place of grace, are absolutely crucial to your growth and sanctification as a follower of Jesus. Also, you might want to dedicate one day in Lent to retreat and do this exercise that I called 'The art of self-leadership'
One of the ways you might employ a specific discipline is to MOT your Bible reading. We are as a church getting back to basics and I am encouraging everyone to develop the habit anew of reading Scripture as a central and core part of their lives.
Here are three ways you can do this:
1. For the Love of God: This is a simple Bible reading method employing the scheme of Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne. If you read its four chapters every day you will get through the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice every year. You might do this in two years or four if you just want to read a chapter a day as Mrs C is planning to do! I have done this three times and each time took between 18 months and two years to read it through. Grace abounds when it comes to my Bible reading!
2. The Bible in One Year: More recently, I have been using the 'Bible in one year' app on my phone and iPad. This gives you an OT, NT and either a Psalm or Proverb each day. It then has a commentary and some prayers. This is great if you have a commute or find grabbing the same time each day difficult. Just plan to hit the app once a day and try and clear 15 minutes to pray and listen to God's word. The great advantage of this app is it's easy.
3. YOU version: This is the world's most popular Bible app and contains a font of resources including lots of different reading plans and also audio options.
If you can keep a journal at the same time that's a plus. There is something good and faith-building about having a record of the things God has spoken to you and the prayers you have prayed down the years.
I am praying that by the end of Lent that our church, like my friend, may ignite afresh with a love for God's word and in the Spirit's power.