Last year, my friend and boss Adam Bouse moved away from Indiana to join the staff at YouVersion, an online Bible-reading program operated through LifeChurch.tv, a megachurch out of Oklahoma City that has its presence, well, all over. That's about the extent of my knowledge of the organization he left us at the Prairie to serve. (Funny, also, because he was my second supervisor in a row that had left to go into ministry. Giggle.)(Sarah and I reading together the last two verses of Revelation, finishing our program together.)
YouVersion offers many, many Bible reading plans online that have been put together throughout the years by many different organizations. There are short-term reading plans. There are Lenten reading plans, Advent reading plans, and, yes, year-long reading plans. Want to commit to reading the Bible in a year? You can read it straight through, cover-to-cover. You can read it following the "One Year Bible" plan, that has you read a little from the Old Testament, a little from the New Testament, a little from Psalms and a little from Proverbs. You can read in a plan that begins at the beginning of Old and New testaments and jumps back and forth between. Or you can read the "chronological" plan, which has you read the Bible in the order that scholars feel the events took place. This is the plan I chose, and my friend Sarah joined with me.
So, obviously, you start in Genesis. Somewhere during Genesis, you find Job. Job, my friends, is a LONG book. Of course, as my moms' Bible study group studied the book of Job, yes, this was already most evident. It is a long book. The next interesting place is when you get to read Kings and Chronicles together. Makes sense, since the events are mirrored. I think it makes a lot more sense, because you don't have to scratch your head and ask yourself, hmm, didn't I already read this? Yes, you did, and when you read them back-to-back, you follow the stories better.
The Psalms are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament, as some of them are Davidic, and some are written after the Exile, and so on. This is a neat way to do it. Read about David and Bathsheba and Nathan's confrontation, then read Psalm 51: Have mercy on me, oh God. Yeah. I knew the story already, but it has great impact reading those pieces together. Ditto with others of David's psalms. Ditto with something like Psalm 37, after the exile.
The Gospels are tightly interwoven, with many stories playing out two, three, or four times. The book of Acts is interspersed with the letters written during Paul's travels. It was particularly interesting to read of Paul's travels to a particular region, to read of what happened there (thank you, Luke, for the details), and then to read Paul's letter back to that church later. Once someone commented to me that if you had to consider the context Paul's writings were written in, you weren't really reading in faith. I think that when you read with context what Paul wrote, it gives much greater understanding to the text, the time, and the message. (Because seriously, was Paul a misogynist, or were there some women in some of the churches who really caused some trouble? I think it's the latter.)
A year-long commitment can be hard. A lot of life gets in the way. YouVersion's plans are on the internet, but if you're away from your computer or internet access for a few days, it's easy to get behind. And while getting behind on a year-long plan is less fatal than getting behind on a "read the Bible through during Lent
" plan, it still adds a little extra challenge. There were a few days where I had a LOT of reading to do in order to catch up, and yes, I may have let it go for a few days during vacations and busy times also. However, the name of the game is accountability, and that's where Sarah came in. Did I mention that Sarah was reading too? And she was reading the same plan as I was. So when she got behind, she kicked in to make sure that she didn't get behind me, and when I got behind, I had to step it up as well. That's how accountability works.
Today is the last day of the year. At noon (just a couple hours from now), Sarah and I are meeting at the local coffee shop to read Revelation 22 together to wrap up our Biblical journey. I have a favorite Bible that I have marked up and had friends mark up with me since I got it 20 years ago, and I'm taking it with me for Sarah to sign on the last page of the New Testament.
What reading plan do I start tomorrow?
Check YouVersion.com to see what's available and make your suggestions below.