So recently in an interview with several Bishops and their staff I was asked, “What is one thing we didn’t learn that we should know?”

I answered as honestly as I could.  “I have never read the whole Bible straight through.”

For years I have spent time in the Bible- lots and lots of time.  I am fairly certain I have read the entire Bible, but unless one reads it straight through or marks it up every time they read it in parts, one cannot know for sure.  But every time I tried a Bible reading plan it failed for one reason or another.  It is like taking Vitamins.  I know they are good for me.  I feel better when I am taking them.  But then one gets stuck on the way down, you know the one I am talking about, the big white one with no coating.  It hurts.  It scares me and then every time I need to take it I remember how hard it was to get down and what if that happens again?  So I try everything to get it down- cut it up, dip it in coconut oil, swallow a gallon of water at a time.  But the memory stays.  So I just stop trying.

But the thing is, I love the Bible.  I love how I feel reading it. I know it is good for me, but honestly, there are passages that hurt and make me feel like I am in danger.  So I try to break them up into other reading plans and those never work either.  The fact is, I just need to simply do it. I finally discovered how to take a big pill without pain.  It is actually so simple it can’t possibly be true.  And I wonder, is that the same with the Bible?  Maybe I need to stop all that dancing around and just do it.

And to be honest, it is a daunting book.  There is information in it that is just not what we need to know at the moment.  The Holy Spirit reveals in her own time.  So you can read a passage 100 times but only on the 101st will you see the truth in it a particular way.  So a lot of the Bible is like most of the supplies in your first aid kit- when you need it you sure need it, but most days, you do not need all of it. Still, to be able to use it well you need to be familiar with it.  So, in the time I sit waiting for my hip to heal, I realized this is the perfect Lent to read the whole Bible in order.

Here are some things you may want to know:

How much time does that take?  Well everyone reads at differing speeds and stopping to take notes takes time too, but I am averaging 1.5 hours a day.  Because Lent is 40 days with Sundays set “out,” the plan also sets Sundays aside.  That gives me a day to catch up if I fall behind.  Either way, by Easter I will be done (about 5-6 weeks)

Which version?  I use many versions for sermon work and prep, as well as enjoyable reading time, but for this I am choosing the ESV (English Standard Version).  On a continuum of Word for Word to Thought for Thought, it runs pretty far to the Word for Word side, but is still readable.  Here is a great chart to help you understand the versions and where they lay:   I am also using YouVersion app on my phone and ipad to read along with a paper Bible when I feel the desire to hold books.  The app lets me listen along or just listen as I quilt or lay in a hot bath.  Talk about a great way to get through the tough books!!!

Won’t you miss the details?  Maybe.  But Margaret Feingberg created this plan and she writes that this is like riding in a plane at 40,000 feet.  Yes, you miss the details of the trees and rocks, but you see the lay of the land and a new perspective of the beauty and can piece things together in a new way.  Besides.  Spending 1.5-2 hours a day in the Bible is hardly avoiding deep study! That is like arguing that walking 40 miles is better than driving.  You still get there.  You just do it differently and it gives you different perspectives and means of accomplishing your goals.

Finally, I will blog out at least weekly, or more as topics come up.  Join me.  Tweet me, reply or share.  Welcome to swallowing the Bible whole- in one Lenten Bite.


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