Reading the Bible When You Have No Time

busyModern life is busy and is predicated on busyness. You are not really successful or even really living unless you are busy. Between work, family, children, hobbies, church, television, time slips through our fingertips and we wonder where it has gone. So when pastors (like myself) say, “You need to be reading your Bible daily,” we can feel the collective eye roll and thoughts like this flashing across people’s mind: “Yeah, like I can fit that in too! Between Jimmy’s basketball practice, my doctor’s appointments, Suzy’s piano lessons, I will magically pull some time out of my hat in order to read my Bible.”

Our busyness has resulted in American Christianity being biblically anemic. Most Christians today do not even read their Bible daily or even weekly. Daily Bible reading is not just another hoop that pastors dream up to sadistically torture their church members; it is one of the primary means by which the Lord strengthens and empowers Christians to live the Christian life. With so many Christians reading the Bible so little, is it any wonder that so many Christians feel distant from God and powerless before temptations to sin? Reading our Bibles is too important to be set aside; we must find the time to read the Bible. Here are some helpful tips to help you read the Bible when you have no time.

  • Reading some Bible is better than reading no Bible. In January, well-intentioned Christians choose a Bible reading plan. Most Bible reading plans have you reading between 3-5 chapters a day so that you read through the Bible in a year. But these plans can also burden a Christian who has little time for Bible reading. My advice is read a chapter a day and don’t start in Genesis. Choose a Gospel or a New Testament letter. One chapter a day amounts to five minutes. Anyone can find five minutes to spare to read their Bible. If you were to read one chapter a day from your Bible, you will have read through the Bible in three years.
  • Choose a time that works for you. The traditional line is: “YOU MUST DO YOUR BIBLE READING IN THE MORNING!” This is good advice, but it does not work for everyone. Some people cannot cognitively function before 8 AM. Instead, choose a time that works for you. If it is the early morning, great. If it is at the end of your lunch break, that’s fine. If it is in the evening, fantastic. Just choose a time and stick with it. Consistency is more important than the time you actually pick.
  • Use an audio Bible. Remember reading some Bible is better than reading no Bible. If you have a commute, redeem it. Very little of what is on the radio is worth the time. The pop stations only play five songs. Talk radio is a bunch of old white men ranting and raving. Public radio is hit or miss. Redeem your commute by listening to Scripture. The YouVersion Bible app for the iPhone has audio Bibles built into the app that you can stream while you drive.
  • Use a digital Bible. This dovetails with the last bit of advice. If you have a smart phone (and odds are that you do), download a Bible app, such as YouVersion. Take five of the minutes you would use to scroll through Facebook or Instagram to read the Bible instead. Smart phones can be enormous wastes of time or they can be great advantages in our walk with Christ.

Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16) is as true today as it was when Paul penned those words. We must not bow to the idol of busyness and sacrifice our time on its altar. These tips ultimately boil down to one fact: our time is a gift from God to be used in His service. So let’s use our time wisely so that we will have enough time to read our Bibles and grow in our relationship with the Lord.

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Helpful Hints: Praying the Bible

One of the greatest blessings of the modern world is that we have so many good Christian books to read to help you grow as a Christian. This blessing can also be a curse; sometimes we go to the fountain of Christian books and find that it is grown over with algae and turned bitter and harmful; pernicious and unhelpful books have entered the fountain and corrupted it. How do we discern the good and helpful books from the harmful ones?

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Beginning this week, I am going to take a stab at helping answer this questions through a monthly post called “Helpful Hints”. I will choose a helpful book and tell you how and what in it is helpful for your Christian walk. I will answer two simple questions: who should read this book? and why should you read this book?

Continue reading “Helpful Hints: Praying the Bible”

Sermon Notes – July 17, 2016

This Sunday, in light of the recent events in Nice, France, I preached a sermon on Genesis 3 that answered two questions: why do bad things happen? and why doesn’t God do something about it.

All evil can be traced back to a single event that happened near the beginning of creation: the Fall. Even in our rapidly secularizing culture, the narrative of Adam, Eve and the Serpent is a fairly familiar one. Satan in the guise of serpent deceives Eve (Gen. 3:1b-5) and his particular method of deception is convincing Eve that God’s word is not to be trusted. Satan lies about God’s motives in commanding Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17). Satan states that God is holding out on Adam and Eve; Satan tells Eve that God does not want Eve to be like God.snakeandfruit Continue reading “Sermon Notes – July 17, 2016”

The Worst Advice I Received On Studying The Bible

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“Don’t you be using no study Bible, ya hear!”

During college, I received some terrible advice about reading the Bible. The advice was this: “Read only your Bible and nothing else. You do not need to read what anyone else has said about the Bible. You don’t need commentaries or study Bibles. Just read your Bible.” These statements sound very pious and in most Protestant ears, they are quite laudable. The Bible is our only authority for life and doctrine after all. But this advice is unsound and leads to dangerous ends. The reasons why this is a dangerous teaching is: Continue reading “The Worst Advice I Received On Studying The Bible”

How (Not) to Read the Old Testament

The Old Testament is filled with stories we know, or are at least vaguely familiar with. Adam and Eve. Noah and the Ark (and all of those animals). David and Goliath. Jonah and the Whale. We know the plot lines, the conflict, the endings. We know these stories. We learned them in Sunday School or through Grandma or Mom and Dad or a friend or just through cultural osmosis. There is a danger when we approach these stories that we know. The danger is that we will read them and many other portions of the Old Testament (and even the New Testament) and we moralize them.

What does it mean to moralize a part of the Bible? Moralizing is when you draw a moral out of the story which may, but is probably not, what the author intended. An excellent example of moralizing is with a modern interpretation of David and Goliath. Continue reading “How (Not) to Read the Old Testament”