Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Question of the Week #2

Welcome to the second edition of "Question of the Week"...please answer in the comments OR write a blog post of your own and leave me a link to your answers! Feel free to borrow the graphic as well.

I want to thank those that participated last week! I appreciate each and every one of you!

Last week it was all about goals. This week is slightly related to that. It's about plans--Bible reading plans to be exact. Do you need a plan to stay on track? Do you find reading plans helpful? Or are they more of a hindrance to you? Do you have a plan B? In other words, do you have it worked out what you're going to do when you fall behind, forget, get frustrated, get bored, etc.? (There are a dozen excuses why it might happen.) Do you see this as an all or nothing proposition?
There are a good variety of reading plans out there. I think it used to be a one-size-fits-all kind of world. I'm thinking of the traditional one-year-reading-plan with a dose of Old Testament, New Testament, and a bit of Psalms or Proverbs as dessert. There is more variety now. And there are even a few design-your-own plans out there where you can fill in your time frame, your focus (whole bible, new testament, old testament, whatever books you want), etc. And poof, a plan would appear that would divide it into even portions for you.

I personally don't follow a plan. Why? I'm not good with them. It may be one-size-fits-most plan, but it's not a size-that-fits-me. I've never met a plan that I could stick with. Either I would get behind...starting with just one or two days...then plummeting until being two or three or four weeks behind. And it's hard to pick yourself up from that. To try to catch up to where you're "supposed" to be. Or if by some chance I didn't fall behind, I would get bogged down in one book or another.

I guess I've always equated Bible plans with diets. With following certain plans and sticking to it like counting calories and such. (Read this: no more, no less.) If you get caught up in that mindset--not everyone does I know--it's hard to adjust for mistakes--stumbles, frustrations, backsliding, or just general busyness.

I am more of a free spirit. I want to read the Bible daily, yes, but I want the freedom--need the freedom--to go where I will. I believe that all of Scripture is God-breathed. I believe that all of it is important. So I do try to read it all, get to it all. But I don't want to feel bound to read it from cover-to-cover (in that order from Genesis to Revelation). I don't want to feel restricted in what to read and when to read it.

Granted, zig-zagging it may not work for some readers. The thought of reading the books out of order from jumping from John to Ruth to Ezekiel to Genesis to Ephesians to Jonah (all just an example) might seem too messy for some folks, too confusing for others. But I like going with the flow, doing things my way.

I don't want to sound like I'm judgmental of plans. I'm not. If it works for you, then I think it's great. I'm happy that you've got something that works for you. I wouldn't want to un-plan anyone. To discourage you from doing what works for you. But just in case, you're trying to force yourself to stick to a plan that isn't working-all-that-great for you. Know that you don't have to follow a regimented plan to get into the discipline of reading the Bible. It's not what you read so much as the fact that you're reading something.

As for plan B...this is a tricky one for me. When I was following plans--either daily Bible reading plans or daily devotional plans, it was a field of discouragement for me. I was always always getting behind. Of forgetting to do it. Then letting one or two days of forgetfulness turn into a week. Then having the philosophy, well, getting behind just one more day won't hurt. If I'm already that far behind, what's one more day? I'll catch up on the weekend. Or I'll catch up on Monday. Tomorrow, tomorrow, always tomorrow.

I think realizing that each day stands on its own; that it is a choice you make each and every day; that you can't just 'rollover' your time with the Lord is something to consider. If you miss a day, it's not the end of the world. It's not. It's nothing to beat yourself up about. It just means that you need to live in the moment. To realize that today is what matters--yesterday, last week, last month, last year--it's all over and gone with. Today is the day that you need to focus on. That you need to spend with the Lord. How will you choose to spend today?

That's not to say that I have this all down. I don't. I haven't been living life in the moment. But I've been trying to do so for the last few weeks. I'm trying to get in the habit of living life aware of each choice and staying focused on the now instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future.

I want to leave you with a thought--I was reading this in Morning and Evening. (Yes, free spirit I may be, but I love Charles Spurgeon!) January 8th, morning.

WHAT a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart and forgetfulness of God, what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief, what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity, what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight. Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the melioration of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? It may be that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, it may be that my neighbours may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.” So that even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought, that, when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things, He wore upon His brow the words, “Holiness to the Lord;” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!


hopeinbrazil said...

Hi Becky, I used to try to read the Bible through in TWO years so that I didn't feel so rushed. Now I go even more slowly than that, often reading and re-reading one book. My only reading plan is to read the Bible EVERY DAY. I put a date at the beginning of a book when I start to study it so that I know which books I've read so far. Who knows when I'll finish?! I'm learning lots & am enjoying my daily quiet times more than ever.

Soozie4Him said...

My goal is to follow the Chronological Plan and I'm using the ESV this year for the first time ever. I'm using the ESV Study Bible. I'm LOVING the notes in there! Obviously, reading the notes makes it take longer, but it's so much richer that way! Even if/when I fall behind in my plan, my goal is to read SOMETHING in the Bible every day - last night I was already in bed when I realized I hadn't read my Bible yet. My two study Bibles were downstairs and I was upstairs. So I found The Journey Bible on the bookshelf in my closet (small closet, but we have a bookshelf in there - books are more important than clothes!), so I read 5 Psalms. But I was falling asleep, so while it "counts" for reading my Bible, I think I'll re-read them later. My problem with plans is that it's hard when you're doing Bible Studies too.

Which brings up another issue - I read too many books at one time! I'm an Amazon Prime member, and it's SO easy to click on a book and it arrives on my doorstep 24-48 hours later. So when am I going to read all these books? I almost never buy fiction - most of what I buy is Christian non-fiction. Novels I almost never read again, so I get them at the library.

moot96 AT aol DOT com

Unknown said...

I am most definitely following a plan this year, because without one last year I didn't read nearly as much as I would have liked. I think setting a goal really makes me strive towards something (similar to you and your challenge addiction ;-), so I decided to read the entire Bible this year, Chronologically, reading a few chapters (or more) each day. I'm using the One Year Devotional Bible with daily devotions in the NLT, so I get my devotional work done at the same time. Plus I have several other daily devotionals I read. I try to get a new Bible every year and start a new reading goal.

My actual "plan" is to read book by book, in order, by the end of the year, reading some each day. Maybe I'll finish by 12/31, maybe I won't, but it's a goal and I'm spending time with God. :)

Sherrylinn said...

Hi Becky! I finally got to question 2, again a week late. But, the Lord doesn't mind as long as I'm faithful!

God Bless!


sally906 said...

Hi There - Better late than never - I have finally answered question two - have done question 3 for good measure too - LOL!


Mary Moss said...

Actually, Becky, I have used the "zig-zag" plan for many years. I just pray and then open my bible to the place God leads me!

I don't do well with plans either, I'm one of those "color outside the lines people." :-)