Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Of Reading Plans and Audio Bibles

EPrata photo
This essay will be more if a "fireside chat" than a theological exploration.

I've never done a formal "bible reading plan" as you see commonly discussed every January. I just read through a book of the Bible and see where it takes me. But I thought perhaps it might be a good idea this time to formalize my study instead of it being loose and organic as it has been.

I chose to do the Robert Murray M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, and use the audio option. I don't listen to audio books, I don't like them. But for some reason I decided to try listening to the Bible (Max McLean reading) and my hunch was right- it brings another aspect to the text. For the texts meant to be heard, such as Peter's great sermon, or Paul's sermons, or the legal arguments in Romans, hearing them spoken brings a layer of understanding I'd missed previously. What a joy to hear these sermons and passages read aloud, it ignites a different area of my mind. And no doubt, hearing the names and places in Genesis and Nehemiah spoken correctly is a joy (and a relief).

However the downside is, I don't feel as though my depth of connection to the text is really there as it has been. I do read along, my eyes going over the text as McLean speaks it, but it's not the same as when I read it myself. I feel that listening is actually more shallow than the way I used to do it. I gave it a month, and I'll give it more time to decide if this is working for me. It's maybe that I just don't like change.

I'm not impervious to trends and tradition and peer pressure. I see all the hoopla on social media in late December and early January about "which Bible reading plan are you using" and all the posts about the choices and all the Facebook talk about how good these plans are. I think to myself, 'Should I do one of these? Am I "doing it wrong"? Is there a more rigorous way to go about it? Can I be honoring Jesus further by studying better?'

In the end, I think it's good to try different ways to read the Bible, such as this plan or that one, or audio v. reading, Kindle vs book, personal reading v. an organized plan. I think it's good to ask one's self occasionally if I could be doing better. Slacking is always a problem. The flesh battles with the soul and rebels against the things of Christ, (1 Peter 2:11) so an occasional shake-up won't harm anything if it's to ensure that I am still focused on Christ and involved in His word to His glory.

slacker cat. EPrata photo
It's good to "check in" with yourself to see how things are going, look back over the past year or years to see if your sanctification has leveled off or deepened or weakened, and try to identify the causes. It's good to be active and proactive about one's study. The goal of course is to know Christ better, so attempting different levels through the scripture to determine differing measures of successfully engaging with it is OK.

The problem would arise if I sensed that my depth of study was shallower in using a certain Reading Plan and settled for shallow. We always strive to go deeper, know more of Christ, pray for wisdom and insight, pray for the Spirit's leading on how to use the knowledge gained. Never settle. Strive, press on-

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12)


9 comments :

  1. I started doing an audio bible reading and so far am loving it....there is some explanation beforehand about the passage which is nice for some understanding. And I look forward to my daily reading, something I was having trouble with up till now.

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    1. Hi ANonymous,

      Thank you! I'm thrilled that you love the audio reading. Which audio program or book are you listening to which gives an explanation first? That sounds good.

      I agree, it's a plus that the audio reading plan does keep me reading every single day which is something I'd wanted to happen. So that's good.

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    2. Thanks for your reply...it is the One Year Bible Online
      http://oneyearbibleonline.com/

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  2. December 2014 my Christmas present was a beautiful Cambridge Clarion single column NASB bible. I decided that the following year (2015) I wanted to do a daily plan so that I would read and touch (and smell! I'm not kidding, I know I'm weird) every page. I did the Macarthur Daily email plan. You read a portion of OT, Psalms, Proverbs and NT each day. And the commentary comes in the email for that day which is helpful. I hated it for the first 8 months because I do not like change, apparently even when it is my idea. But by December 31, 2015 I had adjusted and decided I really liked it. It was nice to have read the bible once through for the year. I found it especially helpful in some of the more difficult OT portions that can be hard if you are just reading 1 book at a time. When I was bogged down in Numbers, I still had things from the NT to read that were more easily understood. The daily plan kept me from falling into ruts where I miss a few days and then before I know it a whole month had gone by. I'm a list checker person, so I wanted to not fall behind! I am doing it again this year.
    Jennifer

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  3. I've tried (and failed) various Bible reading plans over the years. Three or four years or so ago, I found what's referred to as "Professor Grant Horner's Bible Reading System". He has divided the Bible into 10 sections, and you read one chapter from each section for a total of 10 chapters daily. I use the 10 lists, but I usually read only 3 chapters per day.

    This has worked for me. I *know* that I have read through the entire Bible at least once, and parts of it multiple times. Because it's not date driven, I don't get upset with myself if I miss a day; I don't ever have to worry about trying to catch up to where I'm "supposed" to be. It has truly been a blessing to me.

    Tim Challies gave it a good review here: http://www.challies.com/christian-living/ten-chapters-per-day

    Ramona

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    1. Thank you Ramona and Jennifer and Anonymous- reading your comments it's encouraging to know sometimes it takes a while to discover which plan or any plan works best for you. Thank you ladies for the tops, too. I will refer back and check them out when making my decisions. I really appreciate the input

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  4. Thank you for this post. I haven't necessarily followed a particular audio Bible program but just listened to the audio Bible each day. Chronologically or quite often I'll listen to a book several times as particular verses catch my attention and I want to "take it all in".
    Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. May God be glorified with sincere hearts desiring to be Bereans!

    "healingInHim"

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  5. I try to do both consistently. I read during my morning routine and listen to the audio bible on my morning commute. I also like hearing the Word because you hear something you miss while reading and the same is true vice versa. When i can i like to hear a sermon and read the transcript if available. I think most commentaries are expanded essays or treatises of a sermon.
    Mike

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  6. I don't have much time at home because, since I don't have children, I work, but I drive an hour to and an hour from my job and make really good use of the time by listening to the kjv on aidio as well as sermons.
    This really helps.

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