Four Ways to Be More Consistent in Your Bible Reading

Let’s face it. Most of us are not as disciplined in our Bible reading as we should be. We’ve heard over and over to “Read your Bible and pray every day” since as long as we’ve given our lives to Christ, but we still struggle to read God’s Word as often as we should. We know that the Bible is a major part of our spiritual nourishment, but it’s all too common that we realize one day that we can’t remember the last time that we actually read the Bible for ourselves.

I know that feeling all to well. As a minister, you would think that I’ve been a super-human, high-powered, professional holy man since the day I jumped out of my mother’s womb. But the reality is that I’ve struggled to be consistent in this area most of my adult life. I get distracted way too easy. Life makes me tired. And I’ve struggled much more than I’ve done well.

That’s changed a lot over the past couple years. I can honestly say that this year and last I’ve been the most consistent in my daily reading than ever before. In fact, I’ve read the Bible every single day so far in 2010. I’ve learned a few things that have really helped me become consistent, so I thought I’d share those here. Here are a few things that have worked for me and I think they could help you, too.

Find a rhythm that works for you.

There are a few people that I know who get up extremely early in the morning (when Jesus might still be asleep) to spend time in prayer and Bible study. When I hear people talk about this my first reaction is to feel guilty. That seems like the thing that all of us should do if we really love Jesus. But the reality is that early mornings don’t work best for everyone. It may be that you need to start doing that, but what’s most important is to find a rhythm of Bible reading that works best for you.

The majority of the time that I read the Bible is at night right before I go to bed. There are days that I’ll find time in the middle of the morning or afternoon to get in the word, but I tend to read before bed most of the time. If you’re a night owl like me, maybe reading the Bible then is the best time for you.

Make it a priority.

This may be the most important thing I’ve done. It’s easy to come up with a litany of excuses about why we’re not being consistent in our reading, but the most likely reason is that we haven’t seen it as being all that important of a thing to do. Excuses like, “We’ve heard most of the important stories before.” “The Bible hasn’t been available to read for everyone for most of history, so why bother today?” “Life’s so stressful with work and the kids that the last thing I need to do is add another thing to my to do list.”

Whatever the excuse is the reality is that we’re not making it a high priority in our everyday lives. Until that happens any excuse will seem like a good one.

Follow a plan to read the whole Bible.

From what I can tell, there are two ways that are really popular for reading the Bible but aren’t really the best if you’re struggling in being consistent. One is to just open up the Bible randomly to a page and start reading. All of Scripture is inspired, so I’m bound to find something valuable no matter where I start, right? Well, that is true, but if you don’t have a plan in place to read through the whole Bible you’ll probably just skip over some less than fun sections (Leviticus/Numbers for example).

The other way that I hear of people doing is reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation. I’ve never done this and it’s likely that I never will. My wife, Brea, is doing this now and I really admire her for it, but there are a number of other ways to read the Bible that I have found to be easier to to follow than this plan.

The best source for reading plans I have found is from YouVersion. They have over twenty plans to choose from. Not only that, YouVersion can be accessed from your browser or you mobile device (they even have an iPhone app, too). On top of that, you can choose how short or how long you want it take to make it through the plan. Oh, and they also have an option to add accountability partner to help keep you on track! Those are some great options!

If you prefer to read your print bible you can check out some printable plans over at the Blue Letter Bible website.

Give yourself some grace.

Even if you follow my previous tips, you’re likely to miss a day or two (or more) over the course of your reading. If this happens to you realize that this just confirms your need for grace and forgiveness from Christ and learn to give yourself some grace. Satan loves to make people feel guilty, and if you feel guilty about not reading your Bible you’ll be less likely to read your Bible, which is what is making you feel guilty in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle.

Those are just a few tips that I’ve got. Do you have any success stories or struggles to share in your Bible reading? Share in the comments!

[image via eye2eye]

Is God a Republican or Democrat?

I’ve heard more discussion about this year’s election than I’ve ever heard in my entire life. This might be because I’m getting older and my ear is tuned more to politics, but it could also be an indicator that our nation is more interested in this election than any other time in recent history. There have been numerous stories of record early vote turnout and the expectation that there will also be long lines at the polls today. If the 75+ people that were lined up outside the church building this morning at 6:55 am are any indication this is no doubt true.

Being a full-time Christian minister I’m privy to a number of conversations that I most likely would not have otherwise heard. I’ve discussed and heard discussions about this year’s election from a number of different angles. I’ve heard people say things like “If you’re really a Christian you will vote Republican.” I’ve heard someone say, “I’m a Christian so that means I’m voting Democrat.” I’ve also heard people say that neither candidate is really worth of the Office, so they’re either not voting or writing in another person. This election is being hotly debated for sure.

The Bible has some things to say about the role of Christians in politics. It talks a lot about being submissive to earthly rulers:

  • “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2).
  • “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
  • “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:13-15).
  • “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise” (Proverbs 24:21).

Christians are also instructed to pray for our leaders: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). One of the coolest ideas I’ve seen lately related to this concept is for us to “Pray Backwards” (, which basically means to pray for God to bless the other candidate(s) that you did not vote for with wisdom in leadership. This is a valid idea and it also teaches us a dose of humility, since our way always seems the right or best way.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of discussion about praying that a particular candidate is elected President.  I’m not opposed to praying bold prayers (see Luke 11 & 18), but I also know that God will accomplish his will on earth regardless of who is in office. He’s done it before and he will do it again and again. As Christians, our hope is built firmly on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and His Kingdom alone, not the Office of the President nor any earthly kingdom.

So, should you move to Canada, France, Mexico, or another country if your candidate is not elected? Absolutely not. Will America be more of a Christian nation if a particular party is in power? No. Our Founding Fathers may have been religious people, and possibly even Christians, but it’s most likely that they were Deists. The laws they established may have biblical roots, but that is where the connection ends. Their goals was not to establish another Christendom. It was to establish a county with religious freedoms.

History has shown us that when the church has too much power it can become corrupt and unspiritual (think about the Crusades) and lose sight of its mission. When the church is in power it’s easy to get comfortable and forget that Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We should be involved in politics, but our primary allegiance is to God and His true Kingdom: the church.

So if you’re hoping and praying that McCain will be President, but Obama wins, or if you’re pulling for Obama and McCain wins, don’t lose hope. Also, don’t get too confident if your man wins. They are earthly leaders and are prone to sin (Romans 3:23). Place your faith, hope, and trust in the unchanging power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Interesting reads related to this topic:

What part of “no one else” is hard to understand?

In June, the Dallas Morning News published an article entitled “Most Americans say many religions can lead to eternal life.” This title in an of itself shouldn’t be surprising, considering the spiritual climate of tolerance that exists in the country today. It’s not politically correct or socially acceptable to claim exclusive ownership of true religion or the key to entering the afterlife. What was surprising about the study was that the MAJORITY of people surveyed who are connected to a Southern Baptist church agreed with this concept. “More than 60 percent of those who said they were Southern Baptists said many religions can be right about how to get to the hereafter.”

Why this surprises me is that the impression I get from Baptist churches is that they believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority for all spiritual matters. Where the Bible is clear on an issue they are typically ready to accept it as fact.

So, does the Bible leave any room for the possibility that other religions can lead to the same destination: heave? Uh….no. See for yourself:

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

There are plenty more examples I could give, but I think these get the point across. The Bible points to only one source of salvation, and that is the grace that is offered through faith in Jesus Christ. Every other way does not lead to heaven.

I think the real issue that this article addresses is people’s acceptance of the authority of the Bible and the amount of time they spend reading and studying it. It’s not fun to think about friends or family that don’t practice Christianity but seem like good people who have faith in another religion ending up in hell. But if you accept the authority and inspiration of Scripture, you have no other option. This shouldn’t make you mad. It should inspire you to do everything in your power to help them come to a saving faith in Christ. Not only will they end up receiving an eternal reward in heaven, but they will also get a full life lived her on earth.