Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

A new year is here and many of us are thinking about Bible reading. Today I want to share 5 Bible reading plans you could use to make this a year of great spiritual growth. Keep reading because I’ll also tell you what reading plan I’m going to use and why I’m going to use it.

The truth is the Bible can be an intimidating book, and if you don’t have a plan to read it, you probably won’t. While many Christians have the desire to read it, it’s overwhelming for many. How often do you really pick up a book this size and try to read it?

With technology, we can now keep better track of our progress and even be reminded to read.

The YouVersion app has been one of the great gifts to the kingdom of God in recent years, and it’s full of great Bible reading plans. Here are five of them.

Five Great Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion

ESV Study Bible Plan: I generally use the ESV to read and study the Bible, so the ESV plan makes sense. It breaks reading up into four sections: Psalms and wisdom, first five books of the Bible and the history of Israel, the prophets and chronicles, and the fourth one is the New Testament. The thing I like about this plan is that you could break your reading into four times per day and understand what you’re reading each time.

Eat this book: Join me in reading Eat this Book: One Year Bible with Daily Psalm: this one will start in the Old Testament and continue on into the New Testament with a Psalm each day. I know multiple people who completed this plan last year.

M’Cheyne One Year Bible Reading Plan: this one is a classic. Each day you read from the OT, the NT, and either the Psalms or the Gospels. Another great way to read is to break it up into four times a day…maybe at each meal and then right before you go to bed.

The One Year Bible: this has daily readings from theOT, the NT, the Psalms, and Proverbs. It’s pretty straightforward and is very popular.

The Bible Project Plan: This chronological plan includes a video overview of each book. Their videos are incredibly well done and give great insight into the Bible.

So there are 5 reading plans to get you started in the Youversion Bible app this year.

Put a comment below about what your plan is for reading the Bible this year. I’d love to see.

So which plan am I reading?

I recently got invited to participate in a plan called As it Happened. I’m reading it with a group from my church, so I decided to accept that invitation and read through the Bible with them.

It will help with accountability which is key if you’re going to stick with the plans this year.

I also made a video about using the SOAP method for studying the Bible. You can watch that video by clicking here.

Sharp Disputes and Relationships

In youth group this Sunday we finished up a series on relationships. We specifically talked about how relationships change over time. Sometimes you step away from people you once had a great relationship with because of a disagreement or a different vision.

That was the case with Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas had to manage their “sharp dispute” over the effectiveness of bringing John Mark with them on their missionary journey.

Here’s the story: And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-39). 

As I read through that passage and the rest of the account throughout the book of Acts, I observed four things that I think can help when it comes to relationships.

1. They stepped back. They realized they may need to get away from the situation and not continually let this one thing be a problem.

2. They gave it time. They knew that they were not going to solve their differences and needed to take some time away from each other.

3. They didn’t let it distract them. They ultimately had a mission to live out, and neither one of them were willing to let this stop them from that.

4. They remained friendly. Each of them continued to speak highly of each other and found each other’s ministry beneficial. In fact, I feel they kept in touch because Paul had to have heard of what was going on in the life of John Mark when, in the letter to Timothy, he writes that he is beneficial to his ministry.

It’s not easy to have sharp disputes with people, and often navigating that relationship after the dispute is one of the most difficult things to do. If we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of gossiping and slandering the people who were once close to us. We could all learn something from the way that Paul and Barnabas handled their “sharp dispute.”

How to Get Planted in a Community

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon titled, “Stop Going to Church.”

The premise was that simply attending church is not going to lead anyone to the kind of spiritual growth or community that God wants for us. If we are going to really, truly grow in Him, then we need to invest in a local church and plant ourselves in that community.

I thought about the way that the Bible describes the righteous, comparing them to trees that are planted by rivers of water, and then thought of ways that we can PLANT ourselves in our local church. Here are the five ways below. You can also watch the video summary of this part of the sermon by clicking here. 

5 WAYS to PLANT Yourself in a Community

Prioritize participation: You cannot be planted in a community by attending once a month. Unless we place a priority on participation–even when it isn’t convenient–we will not be planted.

Let others into your life: It is one thing to participate, or attend regularly; it is completely different to allow others to be involved in your life. I often do not want to let people in because I am either fearful of what they will think of me or do not feel I can trust them to be around for the long haul. There are many reasons people do not let others into their lives, but it is essential for community.

Accept accountability: Being planted in a community means that I will be accountable to others in that same community. There are expectations. If I want to belong, I have to accept that there will be things asked of me. This is often not an easy step, but it is important nonetheless.

Nurture relationships with Jesus: In a church community, we often talk about all kinds of things except our relationships with Jesus. This is one of the most important parts of being part of a Christian community. We all need to seek ways to encourage others in their relationship with Jesus. This nurturing of each other will give us spiritual growth like we’ve never seen, and we will begin to delight in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord: The final thing is to trust God, both in the good times and in the bad times. Things are not always going to be incredibly good in the community where you have chosen to plant yourself. Things might even get ugly. There might be storms that come your way. But a part of being planted is to trust God alongside those who are planted around you in the good times and the bad times.

These are five things you can focus on as you seek to plant yourself in a community.

Which one of these is hardest for you personally?

Leave a comment below.

Why Do We Create?

This week I was thinking the human mind (I know…meta, right?).

For some reason, I became fixated about the fact that what you think in your head, if you put in the work, can become a physical reality.

This morning, as I was explaining this idea to my son in the car, we passed by downtown Louisville. I explained it like this. “See that building (talking about the Mercer building for those who live in the ‘ville)…before it was a building, it was an idea in someone’s head. But then they created something physical out of their idea.”

I kept explaining to him how I believe that creating is something shows that we are made in the image of God, the Creator. He said to me, “And it all comes back around to Jesus.” He was half-joking, but I told him that, because of my Christian worldview, of course everything comes back around to Jesus (but that’s not really the point of this post).

I continued explaining that our dog doesn’t wake up in the morning and have the desire to create music or art or buildings. She really just wants to chase the rabbits in our back yard. Really, when you think about it, animals do not create the way that humans do.

We have a desire to create things because in our creation we are mimicking our creator. We are being like God when we create. Since my son was on his way to a band camp, I was explaining that his trumpet playing was also worshipping God today. He will be creating music, and that is something that my dog would never do.

Anytime you create…you are worshipping and being like your creator. If you are building or designing or playing music or painting or creating YouTube videos or drawing or speaking, you are creatively being like your Creator.

So always be creating. Those ideas you have in your head are given to you by God. He is the ultimate Creator, and, as His image-bearer, you and I have a desire–dare I say a need–to create.

Giving out of a Grateful Heart

On Sunday, we honored our graduates (see pic above) and prayed for them as they step out in faith on the next step of their journey.

After that, John continued the series called “The Process: Becoming More Like Jesus” by speaking about giving of our treasures for Kingdom purposes.

His main points were the following:

1. We are managers, not owners. It’s important to remember that everything we have is God’s to begin with and that He has graciously given us the possessions we have to manage for Him.

2. Overflowing generosity is driven by overflowing gratitude. When we see God as the ultimate giver, it changes the way we give.

3. Our hearts lead us to our true treasure.

During the sermon, John asked me to come on stage to be a part of an illustration. I included that in the Sunday Summary video on YouTube.

Check it out below:

Parenting Your 6th Grader

I can’t believe in a few short weeks my middle son is graduating Elementary School. That means I only have 364 more weeks with him before he’s all grown up and moving on to other things besides high school.

Time sure does fly. They grow up so fast. And all that jazz.

I realize that I’ve been through this before with my oldest son, but this feels different. It might be my own stage of life creeping in to give me “all the feels.” I don’t know, but I feel like I can empathize with parents more now that I’m going through this as well. Maybe it’s because we have a rather large group of upcoming 6th graders in our student ministry. Maybe it’s because I’m established at our church now and can really think about these things. I don’t know.

But because we are trying to help families through this at our church, I was reading through a book by Orange called “Parenting Your Sixth Grader” (affiliate link).

Here are four quick takeaways:

  1. By the time you have a 6th grader, there are only 364 weeks left until they graduate. What you do this week is important.
  2. Sixth grade is a phase filled with change and inconsistency. And that’s ok. Just be ready.
  3. Every kid needs: love, stories, work, fun, tribes, and words.
  4. Important Sixth grade conversations revolve around: healthy habits, sexual integrity, technological responsibility, and authentic faith.

The book is really a workbook for parents. It has a lot of space to write in. You can read it quickly, but implementing the ideas in it take time. I’d recommend it as a guide to help you think through the important things during this phase of life.

Have you read this book? What do you think?