I wasn’t always a Bible Binger. I used to open the Bible, slide my fingers across the silky pages and get ready to be transformed. I’d read a few words, maybe a chapter, and – BOOM – bored. So I’d put it back on the shelf and go back to trying to be a good Christian, even with the nagging feeling I was missing something. You know the feeling, like you should be doing something…
That feeling gnawed at me. And then a pastor gave that feeling a voice, and it changed the way to saw that book I took down from the shelf too seldom. He told us if we aren’t reading our Bible we’re designing our own God, creating our own Jesus. Does Jesus get angry? Not my Jesus! Does Jesus disapprove of my sin? My Jesus loves me just as I am! Has Jesus ever called a generation unbelieving and perverse? My Jesus would never do that! His catchphrase of “not my Jesus” was powerful because it showed me how quick we are to invent the perfect God for us. My Jesus might be different than Your Jesus because our God is relevant and unique to us, our perceptions, our history, our desires, and our heartbreaks.
If we call ourselves Christians and we’re not reading the word of God, we can’t know Him, His promises, His heart, His hurts, His desires, or His plans for us.
But you’re busy right? Super busy. Maybe you’ve tried – really you have – to read it. But you find your mind wandering or you fall asleep, or you get distracted. I’ve been there.
What if I told you reading the Bible could be easier? That it could be enjoyable? That you could actually get a little hooked on it? Become a Bible Binger like me.
Let’s pretend you’re perusing Netflix for another show to binge watch. (Because let’s face it, we all love the addictive nature of escaping and streaming an entire season of a show in a matter of days.) No matter what you select, it’s going to take you several minutes of commitment before you can determine your level of interest, right? It takes time to get to know the characters and to decide whether you care about them.
Let’s say you find the perfect show. As you move through the episodes, you begin to anticipate what might happen next, you become familiar with the style of the show, you wait expectantly for the next big dramatic scene, you become invested in the story as though it were your own, and the characters somehow become a part of your family. (If you watch This is Us or you ever watched Parenthood you know what I mean.)
Here’s the good news: reading your Bible starts the same way. When you begin, you’re trying to get your bearings. The Bible, though it’s the inspired word of God, is still a book of stories. There are “characters” you’ll root for and “characters” you’ll love to despise (cue Satan). The Bible has a single plotline (the story of Jesus from beginning to end) with hundreds of dramatic subplots.
But it’s soooo boring, you might be thinking. But I’m sooooo busy, you might say. But I don’t even know where to start. Sweet friend, I’ve got you. We can do this together.
Here’s a list of 7 Tips to help you get hooked on reading your Bible:
- Pick a time when you’re fresh and alert. Don’t take on reading your Bible at night when you’re tired. We don’t want you to associate the Word with sleep, especially if you already think it’s boring! Try the morning after the kids have gone to school or when your baby is napping, or on lunch break at work.
- Purchase a translation of the Bible that’s easy to understand. The NIV is my favorite translation, but you could also use the ESV, NLT or even the Message, which is not a translation but a paraphrase. The King James Version can be difficult to understand for those who weren’t raised in its translation.
- Open a physical Bible. I believe there’s great power in holding a Bible. Here’s why: first of all, turning pages is more active than reading on an app. Second, you have context and content around whatever you’re reading. This helps you engage and get your bearings on how the Bible is laid out and how everything fits together. As you begin to read and study, highlight and underline what speaks to you. These highlights, lines, stars, hearts and other embellishments will continue to encourage you as you turn the pages in search of new wisdom. You’ll be fed by new and old readings each time you turn the page. I learned to read on Zondervan’s NIV Busy Mom’s Bible. It has a 10-minute Study Guide, 5 Minutes Reading about the Women of the Bible and about Jesus, and an extensive 10-Minute Study Index.
- Read out loud. When we aren’t actively reading aloud, our thoughts can take over. You might have started off engaged, but the next thing you know you’ve planned your meals for the week and your outfit for the next day, only to realize you have no idea what you’ve read. Reading aloud will help you focus. (This also helps with praying!)
- Start a Bible Study. I know you’re busy. I know there are so many things on your plate that, in the time constraints of the day, feel more important than actually studying the Bible. But through directed study (with a teacher – physical or virtual), you’ll get to know the people of the Bible, you’ll begin to love them and have a relationship with their characters (just like TV!), but they’ll impact you through the Godly wisdom you’ll receive as you read.
You don’t need to participate in a Bible Study group if it doesn’t fit into your schedule. You can stream and download videos from Lifeway.com and use the workbook on your own accord. For $35, I’ve just rented the Entrusted Bible Study by Beth Moore and I’ll be doing the six-week study on my own – in my own time, with my own deadlines. (Translation: it’ll probably take me 8-10 weeks.) As far as studies go, I recommend ANYTHING by Beth Moore because she’ll really get you deep in the Word and keep you entertained at the same time. My greatest growth has been through her studies over the years. Lisa Harper is also gold. Priscilla Shirer has some great studies as well. A great study that gives you an understanding of the Bible as a whole is Seamless by Angie Smith. Check out Bible Study Options here at Lifeway.com. You can also search Amazon if you’re a Prime member and want it quick!
- Use a Daily Devotional. I personally prefer the daily homework of an in-depth Bible study, but for the gal who wants a simple way to delve into the Word daily, a devotional is a great start. They typically start with a verse, followed by an application of that verse in your life. You can download an app like Proverbs 31 First Five, use the YouVersion Bible app, which has multiple free reading plans, or get a physical book devotional. Annie Downs has a fun new one called 100 Days to Brave and Christine Caine has a new devotional called Unshakable.
- Listen to the audio version of the Bible. If you’re new to reading the Bible and you’ve been suffering through the whole “Bible is boring” mantra, then here are some books of the Bible to consider when listening to the audio version. You can listen on the way to work, as you schlep your kids all over town, or even as you’re cleaning your house! (The YouVersion Bible app has the audio option, by the way. So easy and FREE!)
This is not an exhaustive list of the best stories in the Bible, but these are action-driven.
Genesis – the ending of the story of Noah might surprise you; Sarah and Abraham’s story is one of my favorites (Sarah literally laughs at God); and Jacob wrestles God!
Exodus – there are so many lessons to be learned here, and Moses’s story is packed with action. If you’re stuck in a season of complaining, check out how a season of complaining impacted the Israelites!
First and Second Samuel – if you like drama, you’ll love these chapters that feature David. He’s deeply flawed and you’ll be inspired by his epic mistakes and missteps. In these chapters are adultery, betrayal, birth and death, and enough family strife to fill a Maury Povich show!
Luke – follow the story of Jesus from the beginning.
Acts – The majority of Acts follows the apostle Paul on his ministries, from the moment he was blinded by the sight of Jesus on the road to Demascus to being bitten, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead until just before his death in Rome. This book is sure to give you some perspective.
No matter what, friend, I guarantee that when you take the time to dive into the Bible, you WILL be transformed. Give it a try, and let me know how your life is impacted.
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