For the last several years I’ve provided my congregation with several potential Bible reading plans included in our Sunday bulletin the first of the year: M’Cheyne Reading Plan (with several variables) and For Shirkers and Slackers.
The former offers an intensive reading of the NT books as part of the program. It is quite a decent reading program, but also quite intensive. The latter offers a reader for certain days (Sundays: Poetry; Mondays: Penteteuch [Genesis through Deuteronomy];Tuesdays: Old Testament history; Wednesdays: Old Testament history;Thursdays: Old Testament prophets; Fridays: Gospels and Acts; Saturdays: New Testament epistles [letters]). This one does not offer a day-by-day calendar through the year (like M’Cheyne and many others), but instead only certain days of the week with plenty of buffer built in for “slacking and shirking”. One guess which one I use myself.
While it would be preferred to read better (e.g., using an inductive method, or even lectio divina) rather than simply to read more (and we all know the “guilt” one can feel at times as an Evangelical who doesn’t read “enough”…whatever that is supposed to mean), it is still a tremendous blessing to one’s life to willfully submit to the reading (“hearing”) of Scripture on a regular basis, and to allow the whole canon of Scripture to speak into our lives and conform us to the image of Christ.
We really don’t lack in resources to aid in reading the Scriptures, what we lack is simply the passion to do so. There are a plethora of resources available to aid the disciple desirous of reading more of Scripture…like HERE or HERE. So let’s get reading!
Filed under Bibles, Reading
Today I visited a man in hospital to give him communion. It is likely this will be the last time he ever partakes of the Lord’s supper. His body is slowly shutting down and he could hardly speak. I spent time with him reading the scriptures and preparing him for a good death.
As I was leaving to visit the man I almost forgot to grab my Bible. I had my iPad and therefore my electronic Bibles but I did not have an actual Bible with me. It occurred to me at that moment how inappropriate it would be to stand before someone with the cup and the bread and then whip out the iPad and start reading the Bible. I suppose if that is all I had with me then it would have had to do. However, it felt to me as if it using an e-reader to read the Bible to the dying was in some way cheapening what I was doing in that room at that moment. It’s as if the Holy in Holy Scriptures would have been lost. Maybe I am being sentimental, maybe I am listening to my conscience.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the rise of e-books and electronic devices in class room and church. Today I was once again I was reminded of the importance (for me at least) of the Bible as a book. Electronic Bibles may be convenient and they might be a great new way to engage the scriptures, nevertheless, in my mind at least the Bible should feel like something. In the same way the physical aspects of the Lord’s Supper represent the theological meaning I also wonder if the Bible as book, with pages and leather bound covers, represent the presence of God in written form. Does the book itself remind us that God is with us?
I continually wrestle with how much I am allowing electronic media and devises rule my life. I wouldn’t say I am addicted but I could easily say I am distracted. But am I fighting a losing battle? Is this the same battle they fought with the advent of the printing press and the telephone or even TV? Should we embrace new technologies and the way they are shaping our lives or should we stand fast against the tide of new technologies?
I finish with this quote about new technologies,
“The new technology will change the way we understand truth; it will change the way we use language; it will erode our memories and our relationships; it will take the soul out of language and turn it into a mere “image” a deceitful apparition of true understanding. In short, this new technology is not merely a useful invention; it is something that threatens the very fabric of our society.”
Is this a quote about blogs? About the internet or Facebook? No. It is Plato, written in the fourth century BC about the shift from an oral culture to a written culture! [As quoted by Ben Myers]
Pastors, if you haven’t tried the Common English Bible, here is a great opportunity.
Free download! Go HERE for more information.
Dave Black directed me to a post by Tim Gombis reflecting on the possibility of banning electronic devices in classrooms. I can understand Tim’s struggle. Essentially having a computer or iPad in a classroom is essentially the same as having a TV with you in class if you use it to check email, Facebook or play games. During this intensive I have been using my iPad to takes notes, look up scripture references and the like. Fortunately the internet at my Seminary is terrible but also, Scot is incredibly engaging (as I imagine Dave is!) so the temptation is minimal or fleeting. Having said that, I am uncomfortable seeing people use iPhones or the like while I am preaching. I know some people make comments (nice comments) about my sermons on Facebook but I feel it is the same as if they were talking during my sermon. Anyway, have a read of Dave’s post and Tim’s. Interesting thoughts.
This leads me to my next reflection regarding e-books. For quite some time now I have been a fan of electronic books. My Logos library is incredibly convenient. Since I bought my iPad I have been using my NIV Study Bible app as my main bible and OneNote as my notebook. it is great I can take my Bible, notebook and library with me easily. However, lately I have been wondering if the physical act of writing out my thoughts and prayers with a pen in a physical book helps me to remember and process the thoughts better. Has the digital age destroyed something in me that the physical act of writing something down or flipping pages helped? Or, do I just worry too much? So, for a few days I reverted to using a journal. It was terrible! I had forgotten how bad my writing is! I think the idea of a journal is somewhat romantic. Using an electronic notepad is a new way of practising an ancient art. But I certainly understand why people continue to use a journal.
But what about reading?
Is the image above a good thing? Has my life become so connected and digital that I have lost connection with myself and the simple art of reading a book and writing? I suspect I am worrying too much but, much to my surprise, the picture above saddens me. Despite the convenience of electronic books I have come to really miss the physical feeling of picking up a book, of receiving a book in the mail, of pulling a book off of the shelf. It maybe romanticised ideal of reading but there is something about holding a book that aids the experience of reading. I used to think reading was the main point so the form did not matter. But the idea of just having an iPad or Kindle has begun to cheapen the act of reading, for me anyway.
I don’t know what the future holds for publishing. I would like to think the two mediums can coexist fora very long time to come but then I read that CDs are on the way out and my hope begins to fad. I see another book store closing and I lose faith. Maybe electronic is the way way of the future. Nevertheless it isn’t a future I look forward to!
I have read hundreds of books over the last 35 years. Some were very good and some I would never read again. Over the last 10 years, I have been blessed by the books of R.T. Kendall and Henri Nouwen. I especially liked R.T Kendall’s books on the subject of forgiveness that are based on the life of Joseph. He gives some very practical advice on how to deal with the deep hurts of our lives. He is a very good writer and I would read anything that he writes.
Henri Nouwen has also become a favorite writer. I believe that he was the man who coined the term the wounded healer and has written many books that deal with the issue of our brokeness and how God uses our brokeness to bring us healing. Until we have been healed by the healer, we cannot really help another person find healing. One of his recurring themes is the power of kindness to bring healing to the broken. I especially like his book on the prodigal son entitled, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”. One great lesson that I leaned from him is the wisdom and understanding that we can gain by simply meditating upon scripture for an extended period of time. It really pays to linger in God’s presence and to allow the Holy Spirit to speak deep into our hearts.
Probably the most powerful book that I have read in the last 9 months is the book, “The Red Sea Rules” by Robert Morgan. It is about 10 God-given strategies for dealing with difficult times. Morgan uses the story of God leading the Children of Israel into the desert, into a crisis that they could not solve, and then how God showed up to deliver them. It is a very small book, but one of the best that I have ever read.
Find a good book, get a cup of French Roast coffee, and sit back and relax and let God speak deep into your heart.
Discussion point: Who has influenced you over the years in your reading? Who is influencing you now?
My biggest influence over the last several years has been Dallas Willard. His writing on spiritual formation has been like fresh water to my very dry soul. I also have enjoyed Eugene Peterson, especially his memoirs that were released last year.
If you contribute here, feel free to post your own thoughts, or, as always, comments are welcome!