Five Ways to Suck at Reading Your Bible

Thomas Edison QuoteA familiar line from Thomas Edison frames failure with unfamiliar brightness: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

It embarrasses me that it has taken me years to establish a regular Scripture reading habit. But in the spirit of Edison, here are five surefire ways to failure that I discovered along the way:

1) Don’t Have a Plan.
The amount of mental energy saved by following an already-established reading schedule is unreal. Such a plan allows me to quickly jump in to the task at hand without clearing any additional hurdles on a daily basis because if I have to clear additional hurdles on a daily basis, I’m not even stepping on the track. If you are in desperate need of a varied and reasonably paced reading schedule, here is the one I use; it has me on course to read my Bible through every three years. If you want to avoid reading your Bible, plan to figure out what to read each day when the moment arrives–that failure method is foolproof.

2) Do It at Bedtime.
“I am not a morning person.” That was my chorus for many years, particularly during my student days, when late-night studying was a regular rhythm. Then my conscience would awake at bedtime to remind me of my missed Bible readings. Additionally, the idea of falling asleep with Scripture as my final thoughts of the day was somewhat romantic. The less romantic reality was that I typically failed to get through a paragraph before my eyes closed up shop. We can argue about being a morning person or not in another post. For the moment, consider every option better than reading in a horizontal position at the end of a hard day: while you eat breakfast, on the bus to school, during morning coffee break, as you grab lunch, first thing after you tuck in your kids. If deep down, you really don’t want to read your Bible, do it at bedtime. And you won’t!

3) Seek the Check Mark.
How much pleasure do you derive from checking off at item on your to do list? Have you ever done something that wasn’t on your list, and then written it on your list after the fact so that you could place a check mark beside it? I know someone who has. However, all the check marks in the world can actually work to undercut the value of a solid Bible reading habit. You might getting to it, but is it getting to you? Tell your duty-driven self to submit itself before the Scriptures being reading. View the exercise as a time dedicated to God getting His hands on your heart, rather than you getting your hands on His book. But if the only mark you want left from the habit is checks upon your list, then treat Bible-reading as something akin to washing the floor or changing the oil. You will get exactly what you are seeking–the thrill of inking a check mark.

4) Settle for Silence.
Silent reading engages the eyes and the mind. And sometimes it fails to do even that much. At times, I’ve added my ears to the game by listening to an audio Bible. Max McLean is among my favourite readers–he can be heard on BibleGateway’s website, reading the ESV along with a few other translations. However, after a time, I realized that I was still under-engaged in the act. His soothing voice had become background noise as my eyes grazed over the text. Next move? Read it aloud with my own voice. This now engages my eyes, ears, and mouth. And it is that final component–my mouth determining the tone and emphasis to read with as I press the text through my lips–that engages my mind on a deeper level still. But if you want to struggle to interact with the text, or even to remember it an hour later, stay in the silence.

5) Keep Moving Regardless.If you have a plan in action (see #1), and you enjoy checking it off each day (see #3), then one corrective measure may be needed. In “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ,” Madame Guyon likened Scripture-reading to a bee buzzing over flowers. At some point, he finds what he’s looking for and stops to plunge himself into it. If your Scripture habit is driven by a recognized need to connect with God and hear from Him, then pay more attention to your reading than to your reading list. What if the second verse of your chapter is where your heart needs to linger? Guyon would say, “Scrap the rest of your plan, and linger.” To keep reading is to risk losing the glorious revelation that most of bemoan as lacking in our Bible readings. Don’t allow your sense of duty (I should really finish the whole passage) to undercut the entire purpose of your habit: To connect with God. If God shows up ready to teach, clear your schedule… starting with the rest of today’s reading. Or to minimize the impact of your Scripture habits, keep trucking blindly.

YOUR TURN: What about you? Have you discovered any other paths to surefire failure in your Bible readings?  Your input makes this post better!

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Basement Treasures

Over the past week, we have been sifting through boxes in our basement. Many of these contain “memories” from childhood, high school, and university years.

Here are a few sweet treasures we found tonight:

First Championship
I can still remember carrying trophy around the ice.  My Mom says we looked like skating bobbleheads.  This patch was given to sew on to a hockey coat that I never owned.


My WWF Crew
Oh, the hours of fun that these, along with a mix of G.I. Joe’s, A-Team, and bargain shop brutes provided, in the home-made wresting ring that my dad constructed way-back-when!


Still in regular contact with 4/5 of this Western Christian “super group”, I am personally stunned (do I mean “offended”?) that these tracks cannot be had on iTunes.  BUT they can be had in my basement… if you still own a cassette player.


Any classics that you’ve discovered during past bouts of spring cleaning?

Talking and Tweeting

Some time ago, I posted about a computer program I’d purchased. It was a patient program, which I hoped might be useful.  used it only a few times because our home computer seldom offered the privacy that I might like for speaking aloud to a machine. However, I recently updated my version and loaded it onto my work computer. So here I am testing it out one more time. Continue reading

Time Saved

Today, I had a plan.

Church in the morning, followed by lunch and a baby shower for some friends.  The Rider/Bomber game was on TV at 11 AM our time.  I conceded that I’d not even try to catch the end of the live showing.  I’d simply watch it online afterward.

Somewhere in there, I caught the final score.

And that saved me three hours.  Hidden blessing!


Beginning now, I’ve got two weeks off.  Call them holidays.  Call the paternity time.  Call them away-from-work time.

Call me pleased.

If you need me over the next two weeks, I’ll be home with my sweet girls, doing a few house projects, taking in a couple weddings, and enjoying some summer family time.

I may even try to up by blog post count.