Monday, November 23, 2015

2016 Operation Deepen Faith



This challenge has multiple parts. (You wouldn't have to sign up for each part. But. Ideally participants would be interested in doing more than just one.) The challenge is from January 2016 through December 2016. Read carefully, I've added some new things this year!!! One thing I've added is an OPTIONAL introduction survey for you to fill out either in the comments or on your own blog.

I. Wonderful Words of Life. Goal: Read the Bible. The goal isn't to read the Bible following a specific plan or by a certain date. The goal is to read the Bible. For some that might mean reading the Bible once a year. For others it might mean reading the Bible over two or three years. What matters is that you incorporate reading the Bible into your life.

Looking for a plan? I've got a list:
  • Back to the Bible's 21 Day Bible Reading Challenge (John only)*
  • Back to the Bible's 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge (Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke only) (link to pdf file)*
  • Back to the Bible's 6 Month Bible Reading Challenge (Acts through Revelation, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes only) (link to pdf file)*
  • 5X5X5 Bible Reading Plan (New Testament Only, 5 Days A Week, 5 Minutes a Day) (link to pdf file)*
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (Book-at-a-Time) (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • (Whole) Bible in 90 Days Plan (link to pdf file)
  • John MacArthur's NT Plan (read a book 30 days in a row)
  • Woodrow Kroll's Plan (read whole books at a time; read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting)
  • Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • 52 Week Bible Reading Plan, Different Genre Every Day (link to pdf file)
  • Legacy Reading Plan (No set daily readings, but, set monthly readings) (link to pdf file)
  • Back to the Bible's Chronological Plan (lists readings month by month, the link to January)
II. Sweet Hour of Prayer. Goal: Pray daily. I don't know about you. But prayer doesn't always come easily, naturally, effortlessly. The weight and shame of not praying or not praying good enough or long enough or hard enough can be heavy and burdensome. And if your guilt and shame keeps you from even trying, that's a problem. There are so many books on prayer, on praying, on learning to pray. There are two or three that come to my mind as being the best. But any book that helps you out, that gets you praying, that keeps you praying, will do. (Often it's getting started, creating a habit that is the toughest part.) 

One I recommend is PRAYING THE BIBLE by Donald S. Whitney. I personally think it's the best of the best when it comes to practical books on how to pray. His method of praying has you praying the Bible, praying the book of Psalms to be exact. What's the date? Say it's the 5th. You would skim Psalms 5, 35, 65, 95, and 125. (Just find the date. Add 30. Keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms!) After briefly skimming them to see which one is the best fit for you on that day, you'd then choose ONE to pray. Read the chapter. Line by line, verse by verse. Talk to God. Let His word talk to you, to minister to you. Pray what's on your mind. Use the words of Scripture--when possible--to shape your prayer. But not in a strict, confining way. You'll notice that much of it is God-centered and praise-and-thanksgiving-centered. And that's a great thing!!! You can pray for yourself, pray for your loved ones, pray for your circumstances. But focusing on how good and righteous and faithful God is makes a difference. You almost have to try it yourself to see it's true. 

But let me stress again, it's not the plan or method that matters. Pray daily. 

III. How Firm A Foundation. Goal: STUDY (meditate too!) one book of the Bible throughout the year. I'd recommend reading it at least four times. But even better perhaps would be to read it twelve times--one each month. Read it on your own. But also take a few extra steps to get to know it. If possible, read the notes in a study Bible, or, read a commentary book about your book, or, read and listen to sermons on your book, or, doing an inductive (manuscript) study of your book. Consider reading it in different translations. Get to know that one book well. Let God speak to you through it. Online commentaries are available. Classic Bible Commentaries. Bible Gateway offers several as well: IVP New Testament Commentary Series; Reformation Study Bible; Asbury Bible Commentary. List of commentaries available throughBibleStudyTools.com. J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible sermons are also available. (Listen online through Oneplace.)

IV. Deep and Wide; Goal: read multiple books of the bible in multiple translations.

For example that might mean reading four to six books of the Bible (OT or NT, whatever you prefer) in four to six different translations. The books wouldn't have to be long books. You might choose Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, etc. Or you might choose  John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation. Or Luke, Acts, Romans, Hebrews. You can choose a group of books that makes sense to you. Books that you want to explore further. You choose the books, you choose the translations. You choose the pace. 

V. Meditate or Memorize. Note the OR! Not everyone is comfortable committing to memorize Scripture. (I'm one of them!) Goal: Choose about a verse a week--or a verse every other week--to reflect and meditate on. It might mean memorizing it. It might mean writing or journaling about it. (Or blogging about it if you like.) It might mean praying it. Or studying it. It's taking the reading of Scripture into something a little more--worship. These verses would not (have to) be chosen ahead of time. I'm not asking for a list. This is all about choosing-as-you-go, choosing as you read, let Scripture speak to you. Or if you want to make a list, make a list. Whatever gets you excited and keeps you excited about the Word of God.

VI. Choose a Research Project. You can choose the extent of it. If you want it to be small, medium, or large. If your research focuses on studying the Word of God itself or if it incorporates reading other books. It can be a question you're researching, or, just a subject you're researching. For example "the atonement,"  "parables of Jesus" or "sermon on the mount" or "prayer" or "forgiveness" or "predestination" or "grace" or "heaven." OR "What does 1 John teach us about love?" OR "What do different commentators say about John 3?"

VII. Christian Nonfiction. Don't be afraid to give it a try. Read some theology. You choose the number of books to aim for. A beginner might not feel comfortable committing to more than one book. And that's fine. I want to challenge you to start somewhere. This challenge is for everyone. Not just for people who want to commit to reading twenty!  

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Books about God (his attributes, his character, his names, the trinity)
  • Books about the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ; His person, his work. 
  • Books about the Bible (how to read the Bible, how to study the Bible, how it's translated, the history of translation, why it's reliable and trustworthy, why it's inerrant and infallible, etc.)
  • Commentaries on specific books of the Bible (Ezekiel, Gospel of John, Romans, etc.)
  • Books about Bible characters (Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah, Ruth, Mary, Peter, Paul, etc.)
  • Books about prayer and/or fasting
  • Books about worship, praise and thanksgiving, music in church, etc.
  • Books about church life, church growth, church leadership, church discipline, etc.
  • books about missions (evangelism, outreach, discipleship,  service, local and global)
  • sermon collections (book, ebook, websites of teaching ministries, etc.)
  • biographies/autobiographies of theologians, preachers, missionaries, other Christians 
  • books about pain, suffering, grief, and tough questions
  • books about apologetics 
  • books about other religions, specifically books about other religions written from a Christian point of view
  • topical books offering a Christian perspective on any subject (marriage, family life, parenting, finances (getting out of debt), dieting, starting a business, being single, fostering or adopting children, war, terrorism, politics, etc.
  • books about end times 

Completely Optional Choices:

VII A. READ THE ALPHABET. Choose if you want alphabetical book titles or alphabetical authors. Try to read a book for each letter. Some creativity is allowed! For example, I will be using "Exalting Jesus in…" (a commentary series) for the letter X. For Z, I will be reading a commentary on Zechariah. For trickier letters, perhaps allowing any word in the title to count. OR even making individual sermons count as a whole book.

VII B. BINGO. Create your own bingo card. You might want to focus on topics (see above list for suggestions). Or you might want to focus on authors. Or you might want to focus on other things. For example:

  • a book published in the 1970s
  • a book published by Thomas Nelson
  • a book borrowed from the library
  • a book with a blue cover
  • a book with the word "Holy" in it
  • an author who uses initials (C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, A.W. Tozer)

VIII We Believe. Goal: Choose a number of creeds, confessions, or catechisms to read throughout the year. They can be of any length. Some are short. Some are long. Is there a minimum? I'd say at least two or three! You wouldn't have to commit to one per month or anything. Just however many you want. Share your thoughts on what you read.

Sign up by leaving a comment. Be sure to let me know which of the eight you're interested in joining. You don't have to commit to specifics. (You don't have to tell me which one book you're going to study. Or how many books/how many translations you're going to read. Or the number of theology books you're wanting to commit to.) Though if you have decided, then feel free to share! But you don't have to have it all exactly planned out in order to join!

The completely optional, but I really-hope-you-do-it, introduce-yourself survey:Also: There are no wrong answers. I promise. 

  1. Introduce yourself. Which categories are you joining? Which category are you most excited about?  
  2. Have you participated in this challenge before? 
  3. Do you have a blog? Please share a blog address if you have one! I'd love to add you to my blog list and keep up with you.
  4. Have you read the Bible before? Or is this your first time reading it? Are you looking for support and encouragement on the journey? Or is it something you want to do on your own? Do you plan to blog about your Bible reading? 
  5. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? a favorite verse of the Bible? 
  6. Have you read many Christian nonfiction books? Why or why not? 
  7. Do you have a favorite author? a favorite book?
  8. Which books or which authors would you recommend to other participants?
  9. Would you be interested in reading a book with another participant (book buddy) or even participating in a group read-a-long? 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

6 comments:

twiga92 said...

I will be reading the Bible in 90 Days in 2016 and then I will be reading through the Bible along with Jim Hamilton's God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment, which will help show the Biblical theology flow. I might try the read the alphabet and/or Bingo. I'm always reading Christian nonfiction so that will be a given. :-) I've started a study on Romans that will continue into 2016. And I'm finishing up memorizing Ephesians and then will start working on 1 Peter hopefully by February or March.

Becky said...

Great to have you join us for another year! I love to read the Bible in 90 Days though I generally don't do it as part of an 'official' group. (I'm good at actually reading the Bible, horrible about checking in and doing social media.) I've got a copy of God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment around somewhere. But I think I'll read A History of the Work of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards. I think it surveys the Bible through the lens of God's redemption/redeeming acts showing that grace is not just a New Testament thing, but, that God has been acting graciously and mercifully towards man since creation. Still, I'm curious to see what you think of God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment! It's one I hope to read someday ;)

twiga92 said...

My post regarding it: https://bookaddict4lifeblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/operation-deepen-faith-bible-reading-and-more/

I'm doing the Bingo Challenge and Alphabet Reading Challenge, but am putting them on a static page rather than blog post so they are easier to update throughout the year. Here is my introductory survey answers:

Introduce yourself. Which categories are you joining? Which category are you most excited about? Debi Martin, participating in the Bible reading (#1) and the Memorizing (#5), as well as the Christian non-fiction (#7) and the 2 optional: Bingo & alphabet read

Have you participated in this challenge before? Yes

Do you have a blog? Please share a blog address if you have one! I'd love to add you to my blog list and keep up with you. http://bookaddict4lifeblog.wordpress.com

Have you read the Bible before? Or is this your first time reading it? Are you looking for support and encouragement on the journey? Or is it something you want to do on your own? Do you plan to blog about your Bible reading? I've read the Bible before, I will probably blog about the Bible in 90 Days read-through.

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? a favorite verse of the Bible? Probably Ephesians, my favorite passage is 2 Peter 1:3-9

Have you read many Christian nonfiction books? Why or why not? Yes, lots and lots! My favorite genre!

Do you have a favorite author? a favorite book? Not sure of a favorite author at this point, though I like John MacArthur and Michael Horton; my favorite book is probably Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word

Which books or which authors would you recommend to other participants? John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Jen Wilkin, Kathleen Nielson, Nancy Guthrie

Would you be interested in reading a book with another participant (book buddy) or even participating in a group read-a-long? Sure, depending on what the book was

Adriana Garcia said...

I haven't explored my faith in about four years since I decided to stop going to church. I've read very little of the bible because there were points that bothered me. I'm pretty non-traditional in that I think the bible isn't all right. I'm more of a pick and choose kind of girl when it comes to what I believe in especially regarding the Bible and the Catholic church. I want to try reading the bible again and not allow the old testament to frustrate me since it's a part of history. I wonder what I'm going to feel when I get to Deuteronomy too... If I do get frustrated I think I might just work on reading the New Testament because it's really important to me that I finally give spirituality and God a try. It'll be also nice to explore other religions and what they believe in throughout the year too. Praying too is something I want to do at least three times a week. I'm just going to basically do what makes me happy and see what happens (: ~ Hopefully I become closer to God or at least become a more giving person. I'll post a link in a little while.

Adriana Garcia said...

Here's my link: http://shesgotbooksonhermind.blogspot.com/2015/12/2016-reading-challenges.html

thecoolmom said...

Thank you for doing this challenge again. I did it last year and really enjoyed it. I'm signing up for categories I and VII. I read the bible at least once each year. I change up which plan I'm using and which translation from time to time to get a different perspective.I like reading Christian nonfiction, but the subject changes according to need. Here's the link to my blog post about reading challenges: http://www.turninghomeward.com/2016-reading-challenges/