Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bible or Email?

Should I say "Happy New Year"? But "happy" can sound as shallow as "merry" when you are facing suffering or an uncertain future.

Maybe I should wish you joy-filled or profitable or blessed new year. All those would certainly be good, but still the focus seems to be on what I will get. It is natural to want more. More happiness, more comfort, more pleasure, more of God's blessing - but it starts to sound self-centered.

What if I wished for more of God's grace this year? What if I desired to know God better? What if my greatest longing was to be more like Jesus?

Those things are possible. I might not get wealthier, or healthier, or wiser, and certainly not younger in 2018. But I can grow in the love of Christ and deepen my knowledge of His grace.

Looking back over past years of blogging I was thrilled to find that many times I beain the new year talking about Bible reading. How appropriate. I can't think of a better goal than to read more of God's Word. A new year is the perfect time to reevaluate and plan for the future.

I have struggled more in the last few years with Bible reading than ever in my life. This year was really hard. I began the year with a baby who slept poorly and woke me up often. And unlike when all my children were small, I don't have that quiet hour in the afternoon during naps anymore.

Then Ed got sick. I fought to concentrate on any reading. Like Laura Story wrote in When God Doesn't Fix It, I was so glad when a friend would give me a verse in a card or email. I could gulp down one verse like a vitamin during the time when chewing on verses in my own reading felt impossible. I started writing one verse a day in a journal - one on a page - so I could contrate on those few words.

After that journal filled I felt ready for some more thorough Bible study. I got a new journal and started reading through the Epistles writing down every verse that spoke of the character and work of God. Recording the verses by hand slowed me down enough to help me think on what I was reading. I'm enjoying this very much and plan to finish that study this winter.

But I still have the problem of waking up too late and jumping into the many tasks of the day without taking time for Bible reading.

So...deep breath...I'm making a goal...and telling you all to make myself accountable so I don't wimp out.

I always find time to check my email. Always. Every day. Usually soon after breakfast. Always before lunch.

So here is my goal: I'm committing to read my Bible before checking email.

I told a couple friends and Ed about this goal a few days ago so I've had some time to try it out.

Ouch. I knew this might be hard, but it is pitiful how many times already that I've looked from my laptop to my Bible and did an internal battle.

"I don't have time to read my Bible right now, so I'll just check my email quick."

"No. If I don't have time to read my Bible I don't have time to check email."

And I'm embarrassed to admit that I've totally forgotten and checked my email first.

But I know this will be good for me so I'm going to keep striving so that this becomes a habit.

I'm not writing this so you feel guilty. Or suggest that you need to make a similar goal. I just know that telling you all will make it easier for me to win the argument with my laptop each morning.

I'd love to hear how you help build good habits for Bible reading. One of my friends texts her friend each day with the Scripture reference she read. I love that they are using modern tech tools to help them put Scripture first. And I'm sure there are many more great ideas.

Thanks so much for your investment in my life this past year, especially those who have shared the truths of Scripture with me.

I wish for you a Christ-centered, Bible-filled, grace-saturated year.

Past blog posts on this topic...

One year ago: Are Bible reading plans legalistic?

Two years ago: Realistic Bible reading planning - Beginner's Bible Reading plan

Three years ago: One Year Bible

Five years ago: The One Needful Thing - A friend's Bible reading challenge

29 comments :

  1. I always love your posts on Bible reading plans and tips; thank you for starting out the year with this. I struggle sometimes with getting into the rut of reading to check off the list that I've read, more than reading as my daily sustenance. So recently I've been just reading until I hit a gem that I want to meditate on...and then I stop reading, whether it's one verse or many chapters; but that day I try to dwell on that one thought the Lord had for me. I've never really done a journal, but I have started just jotting down those few words to help me remember and let those words dwell richly in me. May it fill me (us) this coming year!

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    1. That is one of my struggles with a plan - that it becomes just a checklist. But I know that prayer helps it stay a relationship builder and not a vain effort.
      Gina

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  2. Blessed New Year. I have found that when under stress , I would read the Bible less, rather when I need it the most! Some issues make it very hard to concentrate, so a few years ago I started doing this, a version of what you are doing now with your journal. When the Lord gives me a powerful word, I write it down on an index card. When scripture jumps out at me from a frantic Bible scan, I write it down on an index card. When I am about to come apart from worry, I grab my stack of index cards (kept close at all times) and start reading them outloud. This keeps in His word, and I feel I am 'doing something' profitable, and not fretting. Thank you so much Ms, Gina, for your beautiful sharing, always encouraging and faith building. Prayers for more of Gods' Love and Joy and Comfort this year. (On my index card "Laughter is good medicine") Blessings dear Gina!

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    1. I love your index card idea - and reading Scripture out loud! Thanks, Gina

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  3. I too grappled with the Happy as much as I did the merry. I just sounds kind of empty. I do think we show how human we are, and want all to be well. But I have learned we can say all is well, with tears streaming down our cheeks. This life does have heartache,but God is still GOOD, all the time.
    I know you understand this.
    I do appreciate your thoughts on Bible reading. I too grasped to verses. I admit concentration is still an issue for me. But I hunger for God's word to minister to my heart.
    I haven't read books since marlita's diagnosis. I always read. I think little by little it will come. The contraction that is.
    God bless you each day, with gave to carry on.
    With heartfelt love.

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    1. Thanks for being honest. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. I've thought of your family a lot this Christmas.
      Gina

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  4. Gina I have started a Bible reading plan called Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers. I've printed the plan and put it in my Bible.
    I'm still praying for Ed. Love you Sis!

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    1. I've used that plan in past years. It really mixes up the reading which helps keep it fresh.
      Gina

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  5. This resonates with me, and I admire your vulnerability. It would do me good to take the challenge too. And perhaps add in that I won't scan the daily newspaper either unless I've spent time with God. I can usually find time for that. :-\ Let's pray for each other.

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    1. Kathryn -
      You have my permission to ask me the next time you see me how it is going!
      Gina

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  6. What a good idea. The first thing I read, along with drinking my coffee, is the local newspaper. A small town newspaper and not as filled with horrendous news as a major paper would be but depressing enough. How much better to start the day with God's words of hope and comfort to season the bad, depressing, worrying news so prevalent in our world today. I'm going to try that.

    Thanks for the head's up.

    Thinking of you and praying for many more loving days with your husband.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have the same exact issue as you do with email and Bible reading. I think, "It will only take a moment to check email and much longer to read my Bible." How pitiful is that? So I do understand and I thank you for sharing with us. I am trying to be better this year. I have a plan. Lets see if it works! :-)
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. So I'm not the only one...
      Thanks,
      Gina

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  8. Bless you, Gina! I have found that when I ask God to remind me to read His Word before other things, He does His part! Then I have the choice to make....

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    1. And He promises to make a way to escape temptation!
      Gina

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  9. My one and only New Year's Resolution this year is to make sure I read my Bible every day. My Mom has had a commitment for years not to read anything else until she's read her Bible that day. I've never made a commitment like that, but now that I'm a young mother myself, I can see why she chose to do that...so many other duties and tasks can quickly push daily Bible reading to the perimeter. I want my children to remember that their Mama depended on God's Word for wisdom and encouragement everyday. A friend of mine uses Whatsap to have a Bible reading group with 4 other friends. They all are committed to reading some Scripture daily (not all the same thing though) then journal their response to what they read using the acronym S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation,Application, Prayer) and post a pic of their Journaling on the group. If they miss more than 3 days in one month they get dropped from the group. Talk about positive peer pressure!

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    1. I love your friend's Whatsup group! What a fun way to encourage each other!
      Gina

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  10. I have been struggling with my reading this year too, I miss it so much yet never seem to find the time (or am fighting it.. because it IS more important then my other tasks). I think having babies along with health trouble/other family needs makes for stressed moms too. I also had a baby this year and less then a week before I was due my husband lost his only living parent, unexpectedly.

    So, last week I put the audio bible on my kindle and during breakfast (when I am making it and while eating) we listen to the Bible. It is not me reading anymore and I am not sure how much the children are getting from it, but I am enjoying it. There is less talking at the table too - which is nice in the mornings; starting out the day with Gods Word and less fighting/bickering!

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    1. What an awesome idea! I might have to steal that idea. When I was a teen, for a short time, I was trying to memorize a particular chapter and I'd turn on an audio of that chapter every night before bed. I loved falling asleep listening to God's Word. It wasn't the same as studying it, but it felt comforting.
      Gina

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  11. I use a similar strategy to make sure that my Bible reading is a priority. I don't go to my computer at all until I've had my morning devotions. I made this decision after many early morning stints at writing--another activity that comes easiest early in the morning when the house is quiet. I'd plan to read my Bible later, but it often didn't happen. This discipline has been very rewarding.

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  12. I'm in a pretty good habit with daily Bible reading now, but it wasn't always that way. Right now I am reading 'Our Daily Bread' devotional and follow along with their daily Bible reading ( takes one year). I always do this before going on the computer, and with a nice cup of tea. As an almost fifty year old with grown up children this is a lot easier than in earlier years! I think there is a season for short devotionals and brief Bible readings, and if that's what you can do now- great!

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  13. Thanks for sharing, Gina! Encourages me to have dedicated, focused Bible reading time. I am often blessed by a verse here and there, in a devotional, in our school curriculum, on a flip calendar, etc. But that focused time—hard to get in, but vital!

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  14. When my children were young, I used to read my bible at night. Then as they got older I always went back to bed with my breakfast and prayed, ate, and read the bible. The discipline of it in the early years has since become an anchor for me. Many times when life was hard, I felt the Lord encourage me to keep on doing what I always do. Keep that time with Him in the morning. It always sets me up for the day, because I know His word will guide me. May God bless you and your family this coming year. :) ~ Linda

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  15. I've read your blog for many years and it's one of my favorites because of how Christ-centered it is. I especially enjoyed this post - maybe because of the stress and change we're facing as a family right now I realize how desperately I need God!! I really like your idea of writing down one verse per page. I think I'll try that for a while! Blessings to you!! SMH
    P.S. I met you at Ladies Seminar at Penn Valley a year ago

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  16. Thanks for sharing your commitment with us, Gina. I've considered this as a "guideline" but have never made a complete commitment to always reading my Bible before my phone/computer. You've encouraged me on to further thought! :) Blessings today!

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  17. Gina, I love the practicality of this goal. I made a similar one when I hung a sign beside my bed that says, "Give God your FIRST time!" Somehow, it is so much easier to check email or start making plans for the day than to spend time in the Word. I haven't stuck to my goal 100%, so thank you for this reminder and encouragement to do better. Love to you and your family.

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  18. How on earth do I think I can be equipped for the ups and downs of life, if I do not first feast on God's Word! And yet, I wonder why I think/behave so "Kim-ish" much of the time. God wants me to think/behave HIS ways. Thank you for this reminder.............and challenge.
    Praying on for you and yours.

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  19. I'm also working to develop a new habit (new time, new place) of daily Bible study. Would it be helpful if you placed your Bible (and all needed study materials) on top of your closed laptop. Before you could 'quickly check your email' you would have to pick up the Bible. And trigger the 'Bible first, email later' thought process, before powering up the laptop.

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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