I've got a handful of statements that I want to characterize my life, and one of these is that I "know God's Word and the One to whom it points." This means that I want to KEEP reading the Bible - not just once, but again, and again, and again, and again (and again). I want to KEEP reading the Bible, and letting the Bible "read" me, throughout my entire lifetime.
The danger with repeated exposure to the Bible is that familiarity can breed a casual approach that skims passages rather than soaks in them. Familiarity can lead to an approach that doesn't think as carefully about application as it used to. Familiarity can lead to an approach that doesn't keep digging for fresh insight from God's revelation of Himself in Scripture. Familiarity can lead to our reading of God's Word becoming stale.
And so the question I've had to ask - and that I think others can relate to - is this: How do I keep my Bible reading fresh?
Focus on the Family recently posted some really helpful tips for keeping the Bible fresh - I'll simply mention them, and encourage you to read the full article form which these were taken here:
1. Remind Yourself of the Bible's Worth
2. Turn from Reading to Praying Scripture.
3. Change Up Your Reading Plan.
I agree with all of these. And I want to add a few more of my own, piggy-backing off of the thrust of the post started by Focus on the Family. In addition to what's included above, here are four more ways to keep your reading of God's Word fresh. (And just so we're clear, none of these are mutually exclusive!)
4. Read Books that Will Push You into THE Book.
There's certainly a danger in all the supplemental Christian literature that's out there. The vast availability of potentially-worthwhile books can keep us from actually reading the Bible - because we're so busy reading other Christian books! But I've found this doesn't HAVE to be the case. Instead, I've found that reading worthwhile Christian books can actually whet my appetite for getting into God's Word myself - to confirm what authors bring up, to discover things for myself, and to stand on the shoulders of the Christian writers. So find some books that might push you into God's Word, and hang on for the ride!
5. Encounter the Bible through the Eyes of Others.
Reading and studying the Bible in groups is valuable for all sorts of reasons, and one of the primary reasons is that others will see things in Scripture that you would have completely missed. I'm not talking about "what-does-it-mean-to-me" Bible interpretation relativism here; rather, I'm talking about the legitimate fact that we all bring something of our own personalities, backgrounds, etc., to the Bible as we read, and so we benefit from learning from and through others, as they let the meaning of God's Word ripple out into and through their lives as well.
We can benefit from reading God's Word alongside another group as well - children. For you parents out there with you kids (or tween or teen kids), read the Bible with your kids! They'll bring insights, and questions that you never would have thought. Seeing the Bible through the eyes of kids can be tremendously refreshing. (And it may bring some questions that will drive you back to God's Word for answers!)
6. Rediscover Biblical Mediation.
This is similar to the point of "praying God's Word" mentioned in the Focus on the Family post. Biblical meditation is simply "soaking" in Scripture; it's "getting into God's Word in such a way that God's Word gets into you." Think of meditation like marinating meat: the longer you let the meat soak in the juices, the more those juices become a part of the taste. In the same way, the longer we marinate in a passage of Scripture - turning it over and over in our minds, memorizing it, praying it, considering how multi-faceted applications and implications can be - the more flavor of Scripture we'll absorb.
And keep in mind that meditation is slow - it takes time. The goal in biblical meditation isn't to read the Bible seven times in one year, but to take seven passes (more more!) by one passage and increasingly let the meaning and truth of that passage soak into you.
7. Remember that Fresh Application Often Leads to Fresh Reading
I don't know if I've ever talked with someone who says their Bible reading is stale, who is at the time taking fresh steps of obedience as they follow Jesus. In other words, fresh obedience keeps our Bible reading fresh! Why? Because as we obey God, we discover that His Word is living and active. As we obey God, we realize that His Word is food for our souls and gas in our tank. We realize that God's Word really does narrate the best story, of which we are a part and in which we play a role.
The question for us then becomes, "How can I take fresh steps of obedience in line with God's Word this week?" Make asking this question a discipline for the next 30 days (and then follow through with obedience!), and I'll guess that God's Word takes on fresh life of you as well!
What tips have you found for keeping the Bible fresh? Share them here!
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.