Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to Read The Bible in 90 Days

Some of you might think that this post should be titled, "Why Read the Bible in 90 Days"? for that, too, is a good question.  There are programs to help you to read the whole Bible in a year, which seems challenging enough.  Why read the Bible in 90 Days?  In fact, to go even further, why read the whole Bible at all?  Why not stay with the 'snippets'? 

David Plotz wrote a book called, aptly enough, Good Book, in which he re-counts the things he learned when he read the whole Old Testament.  (Plotz is Jewish.)  It's funny, and enlightening, and sobering, too; in the end,  he did not feel that his faith was strengthened by his project.  He ended with more questions than answers.   If you read the whole Bible, whether in a year of 90 days, there will be plenty of things to make you go, 'hmmmm.'   There will be things that make you say, "the Bible is a very strange book."  And there will also be plenty of wonderful surprises too.  I'm telling you this, and I'm only in Leviticus.

There are plenty of reasons to read slowly, and carefully, smaller segments of the Bible.  There are plenty of reasons to take short passages of the Bible and read them in a small group, and discuss what they mean, and what they mean in our lives.  But that's not how to read the Bible in 90 Days. 

If you are going to read the Bible in 90 Days, you're going to have to read a chunk a day.  Most of us have other things to do during the day (working, making supper, sleeping, for example), so I'm going to make a huge generalization and say that when you read the Bible in 90 days (or so), you're going to read quickly, you're going to skim a bit, and I'm telling you now that it's ok.  I give you permission to do that.  We're going for the big picture here.  If there are things you don't understand, that's okay too.  Nobody understands everything in the Bible.

I am reading from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase The Message.  Some people might consider this cheating.  I do not.  I am reading the Bible in 90 days (I hope), not studying the Bible for 90 Days.  I know that this is not a study Bible.

As you're reading, though, notice a couple of things that picque your interest.  Don't try to think about everything.  Notice the things that catch your eye, and take some time to think about those things.  If you're a writer, you might want to keep a diary of what you've read, and the things that make you go, 'hmmm.' 

Of course, there are pitfalls with this method.  I, for example, more often than not notice myself focusing on the women in scripture.  (I can't figure out why that might be.)  In other words, sometimes we gravitate to certain themes or stories in the Bible, the ones that we like or that intrigue us.  There are other themes that are annoying or disturbing to us.  We might like to sweep those under the carpet.  What you ignore in the Bible tells you as much about yourself as what you gravitate toward.   In fact, you might take a little time somewhere along the time to consider:  are there parts of the Bible that I am consistently ignoring?  Are there people I am more interested in and others I am not interested in?   Who are you favorites?

As for me, I already know that I have warm feelings toward the people in the Bible who, when they are called by God to some impossible thing or another, say, "Who?  Me?  You must be mistaken, Lord."  And there are several people like that, by the way.  (See, for example, Moses and Gideon.)

Best wishes on your continued reading.  We're in this together!

1 comment:

Amy@ MomsToolbox said...

I am very excited for you and your journey in reading the Bible in 90 Days!

I read it myself that way for the first time 10 years ago and now I host two read-throughs a year on my blog. It has been quite an adventure!!

If you are on Twitter and would like some encouragement, tweet with the #B90Days hashtag and you're sure to get a response from our gang of graduates and readers.