Friday, January 4, 2019

For instance ...

This is for all of you who struggle to find a regular Bible reading discipline. If you have a discipline of regular Bible reading that works for you, that's great. Stick to it. But for those who struggle to find such a discipline, I'd like to give you a "for instance."
Yesterday, instead of my normal morning walk, I decided that it was time to get a haircut. I often listen to the Bible during my morning walk, but I wouldn't be able to do that since I was getting a haircut. I arrived at the barber shop at 7:20 a.m. and there was one customer ahead of me in the chair.  It was obvious that the barber and the customer knew each other well and they were deep in conversation about family members. I was the only other person in the shop. So I took out my smartphone and began my Bible reading through my Kindle app, picking up where I had left off the day before. By the time I got into the barber chair and started talking to Freddie the barber about his twin grandsons and his collard patch, I had read three chapters of Luke's gospel.
When I got in my car after my haircut, before I backed out of the parking space, I pulled up on the web browser of my smartphone.  I went to the next chapter in Luke's gospel. Among the many translations offered at Biblegateway, I chose the NIV because there's a speaker icon included with that translation which means I can listen to that version through my smartphone. I had to take a slight detour to pick up something at the cleaners, so it took me close to 20 minutes to get to the office. In that time I listened to another four chapters of Luke's gospel bringing my total chapter count for the day to seven.
This morning Alison, my daughter, had to be at work at WakeMed, Raleigh very early in the morning. That means I would take Natalie, her daughter (and my granddaughter, of course), to daycare. As is the case on most Fridays, I will spend most of the day in my man cave doing sermon work. 
So, when I got up, I put on a wireless headset connected to my smartphone. I've had this headset for over a year and the sound is pretty good and I paid $19.95 for it on Amazon--free shipping with Amazon Prime.  Once again, I opened on my smartphone browser and started listening to Luke's gospel where I left off yesterday. I tended to several normal morning chores and ate breakfast. Then I got my laptop and study materials set up in the man cave. Meanwhile, Terri was busily getting ready to head out for work.  After my chores, I stopped listening to the Bible and got Natalie ready to go, fed her breakfast and drove her to daycare. 
This is a morning routine I've been through many, many times, so it doesn't require intense focus, freeing me to devote most of my focus to the Bible verses that were being read to me as I did it.  By the time I had finished the chores and the man  cave set up, I had listened to another seven chapters of Luke's gospel. So, on these two mornings when I didn't do my normal, quiet, early morning walk, listening to the Bible, I still managed to read or listen to 14 chapters of Luke's gospel.
You may have favorite radio shows, music or podcasts that you like to listen to on your morning commute that you're hesitant to give up for Bible listening. That's okay, consider this. Let's say you have a goal of reading through the Bible each year. In order to accomplish that goal, you need to read 3.26 Bible chapters each day on average.  That means you need to read 22.82 chapters each week.
In my two reading/listening sessions of the last two days, I read or listened to 14 chapters of the Bible. But not all chapters are created equal--some are a lot longer than others. The average  chapter length of Bible chapters is 26.15 verses. The chapters in Luke's gospel that I read or listened to over the last two days are longer than the average. I did the math and, when I take into account the surplus verses above the average, I read or listened to the equivalent of 24.287 chapters by verse count in two brief reading/listening sessions in two days. So, if I was working toward a goal of reading the Bible in a year, I would be 1.467 chapters ahead for the whole week in only two brief reading/listening sessions. 
What that means is that, depending on the length of your commute, you might be able to get a week of Bible reading finished in one or two commutes.  So you can still listen to your favorite radio shows, podcasts or music on most days. Depending on your morning routine, you might be able to achieve your goal by listening to the Bible during your morning chores before you even get on the road as I did this morning before I headed out with Natalie for daycare. 
The point is, you can get in a lot of Bible "reading" in only a few minutes of Bible listening. If you have openings in your schedule that allow for some listening time, it only takes a few brief listening sessions to reach significant Bible "reading" goals.  Sure, it's great to have those moments of quietness to devote reverent attention to Bible reading. But if you have trouble finding a lot of moments like that, it certainly can't hurt to absorb some biblical teaching in the manner I've suggested here. Not only will it not hurt, I'm confident that it can help ... a lot. 
A link to is below. I suggest this option only because it's an avenue for listening to the Bible for free online. Of course, there are numerous options for downloading audio versions of the Bible so that you don't have to depend on using your web browser.  For those who prefer CD's, you can also get the Bible in that format and listen to it.
One more thing ... I mentioned a goal of reading through the Bible in a year. That's a fine goal. But consider the plan recommended in the Anglican church of reading the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice each year. If you simply read through the Bible once each year, then you will spend roughly two-thirds of your time in the Old Testament.  There's nothing wrong with that. But, if you wish to give the New Testament more equal time, then consider reading it twice during the year. And, if you listen on the go as I've suggested, this isn't an unreasonable goal.
Here's the link:
Happy listening!

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