How My Bible Reading Went from Sporadic to My Most Important Daily Activity

How My Bible Reading Went from Sporadic to My Most Important Daily Activity

First, let me say that I’m a big sinner.  I struggle with sin.  My daily battles are not engaging with some jihadi terrorists half-way around the world.  But the battles I face are as real, and in some regards even more consequential.  Without a doubt, our troops are engaged in many physical life and death encounters, with some really bad guys.  But if you’re alive and breathing, you’ll acknowledge that you, like me, are engaged in very real spiritual battles every day… oftentimes many, many times each day.  And the consequences of these battles are eternal in nature.  Think about that for a minute.  

The struggles you face today, tomorrow and next week, and how you respond to them, will have eternal consequences!  As in forever!

When I thought about writing this article, I struggled to do so, lest anyone believe I am holding myself out as some kind of spiritual guru or example.  The truth is, I’m the exact opposite. If you could spend a day or two in my shoes, you’d see why I completely identify with the Apostle Paul when he exclaimed that he was “the chief of sinners.”  If you doubt me, just ask my wife. 

It’s because of the reality that I struggle with sin, that in 2016 I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in a year.  I have read the Bible off and on since I was a kid.  Sometimes that meant reading through the Bible in a year.  But typically it meant reading a few verses or chapters here and there, for a few days or weeks.  But it was seldom structured or consistent, and never permanent.   

But when I took up the challenge to read through the Bible in 2016, I did it with others in our church.  I completed the “Bible in a Year” Plan on schedule and decided to do it again in 2017.  But as I began, now two years ago, I recalled the example of my grandfather.   

🔹My Grandfather’s Example

When Oscar Werner turned 50, he set a goal of reading through the Bible four times a year so that when he was 75 he would finish reading the Bible 100 times.  He met his goal and continued that same schedule until he died in his 80’s.  I wrote an article about his story which you can read on my blog.  It’s entitled The Wisdom of the Ages: The Example of My Grandfather“.

So as I began reading through the Bible again in 2017, I began to double or triple up my readings each day.  I realized that doing so was actually quite easy.  I enjoyed it and was also challenged by the increased amount of time in God’s Word.  

Four and a half months into 2017, I completed reading the entire Bible.  And it was such a joy to do so.  With this renewed love for God’s Word, I felt I needed more.  So I found a reading program via my Bible app that would take me through the Bible in 90 days.  I set out to do that.  In essence this was the same schedule that my grandfather had embarked on 75 years earlier.   

But 44 days later, I completed reading through the Bible again.  I was impacted, and inspired.  When the Bible says that it is “alive and sharper than any two edged sword” I could testify to this truth.  I was being convicted and challenged over and over, day after day, in such a meaningful manner. At the same time, my thoughts and philosophy on a host of matters were being changed, dramatically, as I sought to conform them to God’s Word!  (That’s a whole separate story.) 

So I continued on my reading program, starting on my third time through the Bible in June 2017.  As the weeks ticked by, I continued to ingest God’s Word at an ever increasing rate.  18 days. 21 days. 27 days… and on and on.  By the end of 2017, I completed reading through the Bible ten times, and nine of those times were in a little over seven months. 

Truthfully, I was addicted… in a good way.  I started 2018 with a continued fervor to devour the Word.  It had become the single most important activity in my life each day and something I eagerly anticipated.   

Walking.  Waiting in line.  Traveling on a plane.  Riding in a car (using the audio option).  Hiking in Nepal under the shadows of the Himalayas.  Whenever I had time where I was not engaged with someone or something else, I found myself continuously opening my Bible app and getting some more “time in the Word.”  It replaced my love for music and talk radio.   

So as I write this, a few days before Christmas 2018, I just completed my 17th time through God’s Word in 2018 — 27 times in 2 years. 

Perhaps the most exciting thing for me though has been to see my wife become consumed with this same passion, as she also completed reading both the entire Bible as well as the New Testament multiple times in 2018, and has now started the 90 Day Plan. 

🔹My Challenge to You

Again, I want to reiterate that I don’t share this to bring any focus to me.  The fact is I’ve had this article written for months and have hesitated to share it lest it be misunderstood.  

Truthfully, I share this for one reason.  It’s the same reason I believe that my grandfather allowed his family to know about the goal he had set:  to inspire and challenge others to do the same… to get into God’s Word.  Oscar Werner knew that if his family would follow his example, we would find the answers to life’s deepest questions, and most difficult struggles. 

So like my grandfather inspired me, I want to inspire you to get into the Bible.  

No, I’m not suggesting that you read 2-3 hours a day, although some day I hope you will.  Rather, I want to challenge you to simply begin reading consistently through the Bible, every day, in a structured manner.   Never miss it.  Set a reminder if you must.   

Every significant habit, begins with a simple decision.  

When a person is suffering from a debilitating disease, oftentimes the only cure might be a blood transfusion.  Their own diseased blood must be replaced with new, fresh, pure blood.  Likewise, we as humans are diseased.  Our nature is sinful.  Our thoughts are impure.  And our hearts are unrighteous.  And only through a daily transfusion of God’s Word, can we ever hope to live a life of humility, repentance and victory through Christ’s strength.   

So I challenge you to get into the Word.  Start today.  And if you do, or are already doing so, I’d love to know that you do.  In fact, let’s do it together! 

Finally, as a result of my time in the Word over the last couple years, the following verse summarizes this season in my life: 

💡 “Let all my words sink deep into your own heart first.  Listen to them carefully…”  Ezekiel 3:10

I hope you will allow God’s Words to sink deep into your own heart as well. 

Let’s make 2019 the Year of the Bible.  Will you do so? 

💡 “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.”  Jeremiah 15:16  

🔹Reading Suggestions

Here are my reading suggestions, but they are simply what work for me: 

  • Download the YouVersion Bible App on your phone.  (With the Brown Holy Bible icon).
  • Go to “Plans” and click on “Find Plans”
  • Go to “Through the Bible”
  • Click on “Whole”
  • Find “Read Through the Bible” Plan (It’s a one year plan)
  • Click “Start Plan”
  • My favorite version is the New Living Translation (NLT).  Not only is it in modern vocabulary, but it has a great Audio option.
  • I both read (with eyes) and listen (with my ears) via the Bible App.  Even when I’m reading with my eyes, I have the audio playing, so I can see and hear simultaneously.  It helps me to better understand and retain what I’m reading. 
  • Regarding the “Audio” option, it’s pretty much all I listen to anymore when I’m driving, walking/exercising, etc. It connects well with any Bluetooth device.  Also, the NLT audio is by far the most pleasant to listen to, in my opinion.  It also includes dramatization where various voices are used to “act out” the stories in the Gospels and Acts.
  • I recommend you Register with “You Version” so you can track your Bible reading, interact with friends and so much more.  If you do, please send me a friend request so we can encourage each other via the app.
  • If you start on this journey, and have any questions whatsoever, please reach out to me. There’s nothing more important to me than encouraging others to read the Bible. So if I can help in any way, including questions or problems with the Bible app, please let me know. 
Noah, The Ark, & a Rowboat

Noah, The Ark, & a Rowboat

As I was reading the story of Noah recently, a few verses jumped out at me as to why God used Noah to build the ark. Note what God had to say about this man, who would build the most famous boat ever, one that was much larger and more capable than the Titanic: 

“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” Genesis 6:9 

Imagine having the above said about you. But wait. There’s more: 

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.”  Genesis 6:22 

When God saw all the evil that filled the earth, He gave Noah very specific instructions on what he should do to save his life, his family, and a remnant of God’s animal creation. Noah’s obedience was critical if they were all to be protected from the impending flood that would soon cover the entire earth.  

Noah obeyed God. Period. But Noah’s obedience wasn’t just for a few weeks, or a year or two. Rather Noah’s obedience was for many decades, as Noah and his sons labored to build the vessel that would save their lives… and ultimately yours and mine. (Think about that for a minute. Aren’t you glad Noah was obedient?) 

So you may be wondering, where does the rowboat come in to Noah’s story?   

Well, God gave Noah an ark-sized mission, because the “master ship builder” had proven to God over time that he could be trusted, that he was “righteous and blameless.” 

But what about you and me?  Or maybe I should just say, what about me?   

Is there a reason my mission hasn’t risen to the size of an ark, or even a yacht?  Is it possible that God is still waiting for me to complete the mission of simply constructing a rowboat?  I believe this may be true for many of us. Until we’ve proven ourselves as ready, reliable, or consistently obedient in the little things, we can only dream about building an ark.  

God needs faithful servants first and foremost. And only then will He elevate the mission He has for us. The parable of the three servants that Jesus relays in the Gospels affirms the concept that connects increasing opportunities to faithful stewardship. The servant who proved he was capable to handle greater resources was given even more. Meanwhile, the servant who was unreliable was given less, and even had those resources eventually taken away altogether.  

So, if you and I want to build an ark for God, we must first prove we can build the rowboat He’s asking us to tackle. And the only way we can build the rowboat is by simply obeying the Truth God has already revealed to us. When we do so, we will be given more.  

So let’s go build a rowboat today. Who knows, maybe God will use our rowboat to simply save some folks who are struggling to keep from drowning in the lake of life. And if so, we will have served an eternal purpose for God.  

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.’” Matthew 25:23 

The Truth Will Set You Free. But What Truth?

The Truth Will Set You Free. But What Truth?

We’ve all heard the saying, “the truth will set you free.”  It’s possible we’ve even quoted it. But have you ever asked yourself, “what truth?” 

In this age of relativism, it’s also often said, “truth is whatever you believe it to be.” 

But how can both of these statements be true?  For if you or I want to be free, and truth is whatever we believe it to be, then can just anything you or I believe give us the freedom we seek or long for? 

Of course not. Believing such absurdity can easily be disproved. Consider this example. If the one struggling to free himself of his addiction to meth, also believes the cursed chemical frees him from his struggles, then the second “truth” will never lead the addict to the freedom he desires.  

So it’s incumbent for us to define and limit truth to its absolute claims, in order for truth to set us free.  

When Jesus stood before Pilate, just moments prior to His crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus a question every human must ask, “What is Truth?” 

It’s ironic that Pilate asked this question of the One who had earlier claimed, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (John 14:6) 

This would be akin to asking Elon Musk the question, “What is an electric car?” or Ronald Reagan, “What is a conservative?”  They were both authorities in their fields so they were equipped to answer their respective question.  

Jesus had spent His entire earthly ministry living and explaining Truth. His teachings revealed Truth.  And His life was a living example of Truth. So when the Authority on Truth shared the secret to being set free by the Truth, we should consider His words: 

“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) 

Did you catch that?  There is only one way to know the Truth, and that is:  1) to know the teachings of Jesus, and 2) to remain faithful to those teachings.  

Simple?  Yes! 

Difficult?  Yes! 

His teachings are both. But the teachings of Jesus are also profound. If you want to truly know those teachings, they will not be learned solely in a class, a YouTube video, or sitting in church (although these may all be helpful).  

Rather, the teachings of Jesus will be learned as we spend time daily in the book of Jesus’ teachings (the Bible).  They will be learned as we “pray without ceasing” (meaning live our lives in a constant state of prayer).  His teachings will be learned as we try them, stumble, get back up, and try them again. They will be learned as God’s Spirit reveals them to us, and empowers us, as we earnestly seek God.  And His teachings will be learned as we meditate on them, and share them with others. 

Ultimately, we will be “faithful to Jesus’ teachings” as they become the Truth that literally consumes and dominates our lives. As we faithfully do this, “the truth will set us free.” 

Are you ready to be set free from whatever entraps you? 

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”  (John 8:36) 

The Christian Life: A Marathon, Not a 100 Yard Dash

The Christian Life: A Marathon, Not a 100 Yard Dash

Anyone who believes Christianity is for the faint of heart, or the mentally weak, has never tried living the Christian life.  The truth is that the Christian life, when experienced like Jesus lived and taught it, is the most difficult thing you will ever do.  In fact, Jesus Himself referred to it as “taking up your cross” which by all accounts would hardly be easy.  Likewise, the Apostle Paul referred to the Christian life as running a race… not a quick sprint, but rather a marathon.  And this race would involve many hardships along the way.

I’ve run several half marathons, and even one marathon 10 years ago (before I seriously injured my back).  Running my first marathon at age 48 was hardly an easy feat, but completing it was something I’ll always cherish.  Despite all the months and months of training, and the sacrifice and pain (both mental and physical) associated with the marathon, it was more than worth it.  

The same holds true with the Christian life.  Despite the sacrifice and difficulties associated with living the Christian life as Jesus taught, if we actually do so, the rewards are literally out of this world!  The standard “three score and ten” we live here on earth includes many heartaches, trials and difficulties.  To be fair though, it will include joy and peace and freedom as well.  

But can you imagine preferring our 70 years on earth over an eternity with God, in a new world created especially for those who simply trusted God and took Him at His word?  Is it worth it?  Only you can decide whether it is for you.  But your choice to pursue or reject Christ, and the life He offers, will be affirmed the moment after your last breath on earth. 

Your choice will lead to either eternal reward and blessing or eternal separation from God in a real place prepared for Satan and his minions. 

So are you ready for this marathon called a Christian life?  You don’t have to run it alone, and you will be strengthened supernaturally as you begin it.  So let’s do it!  Ready, set, GO!

Check out these verses for encouragement and strength, as you travel down the narrow and less travelled path:

Galatians 5:16-26

Ephesians 6:10-18

Galatians 6:9

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed: The Insidious Character Flaw of TVA’s Executives

Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times.  So we must constantly be on guard against it.  But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions. 

In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.”  It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.

TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone.  Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by. 

There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs.  These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead.  And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil. 

There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right.  This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party. 

Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible. 

There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific.  There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more.  To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.

So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play.  Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.  

In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace.  They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves.  In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace.  What a sad reality.  But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner.  We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws.  But we must still share truth regardless. 

Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families.  Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court.  His Truths remain, as does His Justice.

So the good news is this.  Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished.  Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others.  Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.  

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…”  (Isaiah 51:7)