TXAB: The Christ Almighty Blog

20 January 2016

TXAB’s bible-reading plan.

Oughta get you through the bible in whatever order works for you.

When I read through the bible, I read each of the books, but in no particular order. Usually I go with whatever book I feel like reading most. Followed by whatever book I feel like reading next. And so on, and so on, till I finish.

Most people read the bible the very same way. Except they don’t keep track of what they read, and what they haven’t. Fr’instance a person (we’ll call her Apolonia) decides she wants to read John, ’cause it’s her favorite. Then she reads James, ’cause her pastor’s preaching a series on it. Then Philippians, ’cause her bible study is going through it. Then she reads Romans, ’cause somebody told her she really oughta. Then Genesis, because she feels she really oughta. Then somebody says something profound from Romans, so she decides to reread that book again. And then Genesis again. She’ll bounce all over the bible, which is fine; but she’ll skip books, which isn’t so good.

Well, here’s how to avoid skipping books: A checklist.

If you click on it, you’ll get a high-resolution version which you can print out. So if Apolonia had this checklist, she could read any chapter of the bible at any time, then check it off and know how much she still has to slog through read.

So could you. Start wherever. Jump around. Just keep track of what you read: Every time you finish a chapter, check it off. Work your way through until every box is checked. Read a chapter a day, or two, or ten; however many chapters you feel comfortable with.

If you skip a day, big deal. This isn’t a schedule. It’s a checklist. You don’t have to scramble to catch up, or feel guilty if you got too busy and got irregular about it. Just pick up where you left off. Or bounce over to another book and read that. If it takes you a year to get all the way through the bible, that’s okay. If it takes two years, that’s okay too. If it takes you a month, good job! But whatever your speed is.

Most people, if they just remember to read every day, will easily finish in three or four months.

Other reading programs.

Obviously I’m a big fan of my own program, but your circumstances may be different.

My brother’s church has its own program, a church-wide schedule where you read a little bit each day. You know the type. A little Old Testament, a little New Testament, a little poetry, 365 days a year. Now, if your entire church is going through such a program, it’s a good idea to sync up with them. I guarantee you: Your church’s daily reading is gonna come up from time to time. If you aren’t familiar with what everybody else is reading, it’s not gonna help you grow together.

This sort of program is pretty common. Here’s DailyAudioBible’s program. I’ll show you an example from October:

If you start on 1 October you’d be at Isaiah 62.6, Philippians 2.19, Psalm 73, and Proverbs 24.13. You’d read the rest of Isaiah, plus Jeremiah and Lamentations. You’d read the rest of Philippians, plus Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews up to 2.18. You’d get Psalms 73–103, but not a lot of Proverbs; 24.13 to 26.23. Still, that’s about 10 books and change. Small books, but still not too shabby.

On your own, you might think reading just five books within a month might be a big achievement. It’s really not. Daily Audio Bible’s program doesn’t give you giant daily readings. They’ll take maybe 15 minutes a day.

My only problem with them: These books really ought to be read as a whole. Not in segments. Titus is a tiny little letter, but reading it a chapter a day, mixed in with other things, means you’re likely to miss the overall themes of Paul’s letter. Reading Jeremiah’s prophecies one at a time makes you miss the subtle differences between them… and you might start to think of Jeremiah as nothing but the same dire predictions, told over and over again by the same whiny guy.

In a nutshell: You miss the context. And we miss so much when we miss the bible’s context. Most of the mistakes we Christians make—and teach to one another—are because we don’t know or get the bible’s context. We chop it up into tiny little segments instead of reading the whole, and think the bible’s a bunch of sound bites instead of books.

True, my checklist lists the bible chapter by chapter. But not so you only read it a chapter at a time. I’d really recommend you don’t. It’s just if you stop a book in the middle, you can mark what you’ve read thus far. It’s meant to free, not limit, your reading. Capisce?

Okay. Get to reading.