Wednesday, January 2, 2013

If You Fail to Plan...You Plan to Fail

A new year signals a new start. A clean slate. An unmarred canvas upon which to begin anew.

The turn of the year is a traditional time to pause and reflect on the past and to make plans for the future. It is the time to set out new goals and resolve to fulfill elusive resolutions.

Some goals and resolutions seem to make the list every year. Lose 10 pounds. Be happy. Eat healthy. Be active. Stop smoking.

She is practicing her resolute look

Christians tend to have some spiritual goals too. Spiritual resolutions yearly resolved and then abandoned. Read the Bible every day. Read through the Bible this year. Pray more. Serve somehow.

How can a Christian succeed at this Bible reading-prayer thing? Every day?

By having a plan. A plan with measurable goals. A plan with doable steps. A daily reading plan.

I have written about Elizabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity before. (here) This book profoundly impacted my life in several ways, not the least of which was to spur me on to systematically read through my Bible in a year. Her method was to read 2 chapters from the Old Testament and 1 from the New Testament on the weekdays. Saturday and Sunday she read 4 chapters from the Old Testament both days. I have done this plan 15 times now.

It works. It gets me through every year. It is easy to follow-just read the next thing. It is doable-most days it only takes 10-15 minutes. It has familiarized me with the entire Bible-not just my favorite verses and books. It forces me to read-at least once a year-the hard passages like Ezekiel, Leviticus and Chronicles. But, it also gives me the opportunity to read my favorite passages too. As I encounter the notes and underlined verses, it is like meeting a familiar friend.

Not only was Elizabeth Elliot a big proponent of systematic and annual Bible reading, she was just one of many famous Christians who have also made this a life habit.

Have you ever heard of George Muller? He had orphanages and great faith. He never asked for money to help keep those orphanages running. Instead he got up early (early!!) everyday to read the Bible and pray.

Robert Murray McCheyne was the first author of a systematic plan. Not that people hadn't read through their Bibles annually before his time-the 1840s. Though maybe most didn't. His plan is still widely used, and brings its users through the New Testament and Psalms twice annually, and the rest of the Bible once. He was a pastor in Scotland and preached a great sermon on the whys and wherefores of annually reading through the Bible. You can find a sort transcript (here).

This being the age of technology, the 21st century and all, it is easy to find various and sundry Bible reading plans that you can use with a paper and ink Bible, or on your smart phone or personal device.

I downloaded the Reading Plan app for the iPad. (here) It contains many different plans including McCheyne's and a chronological plan. The awesome thing about the reading plan is that you can look up the date and find out what you are supposed to be reading. Plus it has a place you can check off the chapters you have read. If you are all about checking off things, like I am. Oh, and its free. Did I mention that?

And, hear-hear! The Barefoot Hippie Girl is trying something new this year. Which is a modern miracle. Because my personal philosophy is: if it isn't broke, why fix it? I am doing the Coley plan-which is also available on the Reading Plan app. The Coley plan covers all 52 weeks, and has you in a different portion of the Bible each day of the week-like the epistles on Tuesday and poetry some other day. I am looking forward to it. It looks interesting. I have my friend Randy to thank for enticing me with this.

Will you make it your goal to read through the Bible this year? Will you use one of these tools and join me? What is your plan for a daily Bible time? Tell me in the comments.