Bible Reading

Our Daily Bread

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This is the fourth in our series on reading the bible in 2019. This one is from Claire Jackson, who along with some other women in the church family, are reading the bible in an academic year.

What do we need to live? Amongst other essentials we need food and water. We wouldn’t dream of going for days without either of these, so why do we approach God’s word, the Bible, any differently? We are told throughout the Bible that reading it is essential to living as a Christian. Jesus himself says so plainly in Matthew 4v4 “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

To take this seriously and obey God’s command to eat of his word, some of the ladies at Christ Church Walkley embarked on a plan at the start of September to read the whole Bible in an academic year. It’s composed by Christ Kirk, Moscow, Idaho who are really happy for others to join in so we can all pull up a chair each day at God’s table and eat together. 

Most days we read around six chapters, with each Sunday allocated as a rest/catch up day as we will all be eating from God’s word as we gather at church that day. Some days it’s a mixture of Old Testament and New Testament, others it’s all from one book. Basically the aim is to get people reading God’s word for themselves, however that is done! Some people have a cheap, paperback Bible to take along in a handbag or changing bag so you can grab it when you have a few minutes to spare. Others, like I, have downloaded an audio Bible so I’ve been able to listen to chunks of Scripture on my way to work, which sets me up for the day better than the usual drivel on the radio! You can download and print a paper copy, but there are also a few apps you can download to access an interactive version of the reading plan (follow the link above) - it’s exciting to tick the box to say you’ve read each chapter! It’s also been a joy to be encouraged by others to read the daily chapters wherever, whenever and however possible; I’ve read the chapters for the day whilst being with the boys as they played football at the park!

There is also a Facebook group for those joining in the challenge and as part of that, it’s been exhilarating to learn of and from other ladies reading the same portion of the Bible each day, yet are located all around the globe. This group has also answered some questions raised by less well known sections of the Bible, like Leviticus! 

Eating God’s word each day and in bigger chunks than I would normally embark on has been exciting and encouraging. Honestly, the more regularly I manage to read the day’s passages, the more I want to keep on reading. So let’s be humble in our obedience to come and eat at our Father’s table, let’s challenge each other to read his word each day. 

Reading the bible with your children in 2019

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This is the third in our New Year bible reading series. This one is from Paul Jones who has two young sons.

Reading the bible with your children isn't easy - and I think that that's certainly true for me. I find it hard, but it's also fair to say that it is really rewarding. Our boys, 5 and 8, are both beginning to ask some really big and sometimes tough questions, which makes bible time exciting too.

We have 2 main 'slots' in the day where we do things. When we sit down for tea, we pray through the church family using the church prayer diary. We pray too, for the people we have around our table for tea that night. It's also a good time to make it a habit of saying thank you together, for our food. During Advent, we add in prayer and chat about the name of Jesus that is on our advent candle for that day. As the boys have gotten older this has been a good way to start to weave the whole bible narrative together.

The second slot is when we read the bible to the boys before bed. This has become a little more complicated recently. Our eldest has outgrown the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Bible, so we got him the Holy Bible for Kids (ESV), which is the one he uses in Sunday School as well as the version we use in church. When we are reading the passage together, he will look up the reference in his bible and follow along with us. The Big Picture Story Bible is slightly easier for this as it provides references for each reading. This has helped to show both boys that the stories they are learning about come from the same bible as Daddy and Mummy have, and that we read from on Sunday at church. It has also allowed Sam to start linking things together - only last night he spotted that there were two instances in Matthew's gospel where God says "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased..." and so we were able to chat about that.

We then pray, normally in three ways; thank you prayers where the boys share, we pray about what we have learnt about Jesus from our passage, and sorry prayers which sometimes the boys will pray. From time to time we have to push hard on the thank you and sorry prayers - but as we say to the boys "there is always something we can say Thank You to God for!" and they are quickly learning that even if they've not been told off, there is always the need for God's forgiveness! We also make sure that we talk to the boys about what they've been learning in Sunday School. They don't always follow the sermon series - although when that happens it can make for a great discussion - so talking to them is really interesting. Seeing how their understanding of who Jesus is and what God has done is growing all the time.

Less formally, we have tried to take to heart Deuteronomy 6v4-7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

To talk about the things of God all the time. Whether they be in relation to school things, or a great view when we are out walking, a rainbow or when the boys ask us questions. One of the things that Jennie is particularly good at is praying with the boys if they are worried about something, or can't sleep, or are having a nightmare. We are conscious that whilst the more formal slots are important, showing the boys that following Jesus is all encompassing and that God is not just interested in, but in charge of, all areas of our lives is really important too.

It isn't always easy, and sometimes it is the last thing that I want to do after a long day at work - but I never feel that afterwards. It's not just your children who benefit, you do too. I'm sure we could do more and I'm sure others do lots of other exciting and encouraging things; so as parents, godparents and members of God's wider family - let's be better at talking about these things and better at asking for help, so we can all be the better for it.

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Reading the whole bible in 2019 (Part 2)

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This is the second in our New Year bible reading series. It follows on from Pete Jackson’s first post.

I want to encourage you to try and read the whole bible in a year in 2019. Here are a few follow-up thoughts to the previous post…

First of all, Trevin Wax builds on some of the things I said before in this post here, which also has some suggestions for schemes to use at the bottom.

Secondly, here’s a post arguing that we all have more time to do this than we think. Amongst other things, it shows that if you give only 12 minutes per day to your bible reading, you could read through the whole bible in a year. (And it uses an infographic to show this, which means it must be true.)

Thirdly, there are loads of good schemes or plans to try. Here is the link to the one I did this past year. I liked this scheme for a number of reasons, including

  • There being only 25 readings a month, so if you fall behind it is not a disaster, you can catch up. There were several times when this kept me going during the past year. In the latter part of the year I used this feature to get ahead and finish by the end of November. This means I have been doing something different for my bible reading during December and can return to the same scheme fresh in the new year.

  • Each day has four readings of varied lengths and across different types of bible book. I found it encouraging to be able to make rapid progress in some books, plus the shorter readings for those books makes it easy to achieve quite a lot if you need to catch up. It also made the experience each day less like slogging through heaps of text, which I sometimes found to be the case in the schemes that get you to read chunks of equal size from three books. 

Finally, I think it is worth giving it a go even if you are fearful that you will soon fall woefully behind. Even just trying to do this sort of reading plan and ‘failing’ might well mean you read more of the bible in a year (and more of a variety of the bible) than if you hadn’t bothered. Plus, if you start out and end up so behind that you take a year and a half instead, that will still be so much to your benefit than if you hadn’t even bothered at all. 

Reading the whole bible in 2019

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This is the first post in our series on reading the bible and praying in 2019. This one is written by Pete Jackson - look out for his next one with links to various bible reading resources.

I have failed at reading the whole bible in a year schemes on many occasions. However I am delighted to say that this year I successfully completed the new one I tried - and a month early at that. I don’t say this so that you will congratulate me, but to point out that it can be done. 

As I look back over the year, here are some of the reasons I think reading the whole bible in a year is a worthwhile practice, even though it is hard. 

It means you read the less familiar parts of God’s word…

One danger of sticking to the parts we know well or find ‘easier’ is that we are muting the voice of God and missing perhaps the very parts that will be most stretching or the most challenging to the way we naturally think and live.  

It means reading across a variety of types of writing each day…

God’s communication to us in scripture comes in a rich variety of literary genres, and each affect us in different ways. The bible communicates to us not just by conveying information alone. Most days there’s been some kind of story/history, poetry and song or proverbs, and letters.

It makes sure we are reading the 71% as well as the 29%…

That’s the split between Old and New Testaments. Let’s face it, we often neglect the Old Testament in all sorts of ways, which means we are regularly tuning out of over two thirds of what God has to say to us. 

It trains us in reading the bible for its own sake…

Sometimes we judge the value of our time in scripture from our immediate reactions or emotional responses, or a sense of what we have ‘got out of it’ there and then. At best that’s because we are expecting God to speak through his word, and for that word to be ever relevant. But at worst, this can descend into a search for a ‘blessed thought’ for the day. This is a misunderstanding of how scripture works and of how God’s word changes us. We are mistaken to look for ‘instant gratification,’ we must expect God to form us through constant and regular exposure to his word over the long haul. What’s more, we don’t just need tweet-sized nuggets of God’s word that we can instantly apply, we also need to know the big story arc and the repeated themes that recur page after page, so that gradually over time we learn to place our lives and understand our world from within that story.

It helps us join the dots differently…

Reading passages side by side that you wouldn’t necessarily have put together yourself will help you make connections you would never have made otherwise. This is important because the best tool for understanding the bible is the rest of the bible - God intends us to come to his word as one interconnected and diverse whole which reveals Christ in his many-faceted glory.