Stretch Yourself--Kevin Wildman
This is the time of year where people often begin to think about things they want to change in coming years. One change I often hear Christians mention is their desire to read the Bible more. It is a desire that I think is very healthy.
I want to spend a moment to encourage you to think on your Bible reading habits. How often do you read? When was the last time you read through the entire Bible? How much do you remember about your last reading?
I don’t want these questions or thoughts to shame you, but I do want them to challenge you. There are numerous ways in which we can read Scripture, but the tendency we often gravitate to is as little as possible, and frequently passages we are comfortable with reading.
I want to encourage you to be stretched this year. Maybe your current approach is to meditate on one verse a day, which can be fruitful. However, this approach is very limited and can create problems with certain verses. One big issue is that this approach provides no context. Maybe you could start reading a little larger chunk of Scripture, and meditate on that passage the rest of the day.
Maybe you read through the entire Bible cover to cover regularly, but it is disjointed and disconnected for you. I would suggest finding a way to be more intentional about connecting with the Scriptures.
In order to aid in this endeavor we are providing a host of options to choose from as far as Bible reading plans are concerned. From a month in the Gospels to the entire Bible in 90 days, and everything in between.
Before you say that this is too lofty consider a few things. We live in a culture that reads a fair amount. Yet we watch T.V. and play a fair amount of video games, and other activities that are mindless.
However, when there is something we are excited about we read. We devour. We wait in expectation until we can read some more. Here are a few statistics of some popular works.
In the first 4 books of the Harry Potter series there are 1,850 pages.
In the classic The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit the four books accumulate a total 1,516 pages.
Finally, in the recent (past handful of years) the popular Twilight saga amass over 2,500 pages.
These are books people dive into and don’t want to leave. I’ve known people who will binge read and finish one or more of these volumes in a week.
Yet, The Bible, the book we say gives us the guide to living and tells us of the God we serve and claim to love, we have trouble getting into. I just reached up and pulled a copy of the Bible off of my shelf. It is a simple copy, no study notes, not a lot of extras, just the text, some translation footnotes, and short introductions (one paragraph) to each book. This copy of the Bible is merely 895 pages long. You could read this Bible just shy of a full three times to reach the same page count as the Twilight saga.
I don’t want this to be a shame article. I hope this spurs you (as it does me) on to a greater commitment to The Word of God.
Here’s my challenge, find a plan that works for you this year. Maybe it is through the Bible in a year, maybe it is the 90 day plan, whatever it is, find a plan and work it. There will be times that you get behind. Don’t stress about catching up, just keep working your plan. If you have free time and can catch-up that’s great, but working the plan is what makes a difference.
For instance you get ambitious and decide to complete the 90 day plan, and you continue to find yourself behind, and it ends up taking you 180 days to finish…when was the last time you read the whole Bible in 6 months?!
My prayer is that the plans we provide will help you to better love and devour The Word of God. I pray that as you love and devour His Word that He continues to transform you by the renewing of your mind. Conforming you to the image of Christ for the sake of others and the glory of God. Living a life in tune with the Holy Spirit living in you.
Wait For It...--Derrick Jackson
How often have we caught ourselves saying I can hardly wait? Waiting is one of my least favorite things to do. When I am going on a trip and I get stuck in traffic…not good. When you are at an amusement park and your favorite ride has a line that is 2 hours long…not good. Growing up my family would always take a week during the summer and spend it in Monticello on Lake Freeman at my grandparent’s lake cottage. The hour and 10 minute car ride seemed like an eternity. As we got closer to the lake my sister and I would start to try to get the best spot in the car to see the big green bridge that crossed the lake, because we knew when we saw it we were there and there would be no more waiting. It was a contest to see who could see the bridge first. There was some shoving and possibly elbows that were thrown but we wanted to be the first to see it. The big green bridge was always something we looked forward to seeing. When it’s something you are excited about waiting seems harder, but worth the wait in the end because of where you end up.
Many of us find ourselves in many different areas of life waiting. Waiting for an answer, for a decision, for an opportunity, for more time, or for the end. Whatever we are waiting for, trusting that God will guide you where you need to be is crucial. I knew that we would end up at the big green bridge because I trusted my dad in getting us there. God does the same for us. He is taking us on a journey through life and He is leading you where you need to go. It may be nerve wrecking or seem crazy but He is in control. All we have to do is sit and be still and trust that He will get us there. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. The Psalmist tells us to be still and know God. In a sense he is telling us to wait for it. Wait for God to show up and lead us to where we need to go. So in all the times we get impatient and get tired of waiting, remember that God has everything planned out for you. If you rush away in a different direction because you are tired of waiting you will miss out on what God has in store for you. So don’t rush and don’t be impatient. The big green bridge is coming…just wait for it.
Blog posts from the Sterling staff, and maybe even the occasional guest blogger.