The Wrong Way to Read History and Why You Need a Bible Reading Plan

I love reading all kinds of history. One of my favorite books this summer was Hunting Eichmann by Neil Bascomb. The book summarizes the atrocities of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann during WW2, follows his escape to Argentina as the allies closed in on Berlin, and then leads you on an almost 20 year hunt for him that finally ended with his capture in 1960. It reads like a novel.

So if I love reading history now, why did I hate it so much when I was in school? I’m sure that some of it has to do with the “know-it-all” attitude and the “school is boring” immaturity I had as a high school student. But I don’t think that that’s the whole answer. I think that a big part of my distaste was due to how history was taught.

Imagine reading a history of the United States by starting with the civil rights movement, then bouncing to the revolutionary war, examining FDR’s presidency, and then surveying the founding fathers. It just wouldn’t make sense. None of those events is understandable unless they are placed within their historical context. But my recollection is that is exactly how I was taught history–in short little segments that never seemed to relate to one another.

And I’m afraid that that is exactly how too many of us read the Bible. Maybe today I read a psalm, tomorrow a chapter from one of the Old Testament prophets, and the next day I read a section of John. No wonder we don’t enjoy it or feel like we are understanding much of what we read.

The Bible is a story that starts with Genesis and continues through Revelation. Reading parts of the story without knowing something about the larger context leads first to confusion and then to frustration. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t read one book of the Bible–say the gospel of Luke–without reading the entire Old Testament. But there is a case to be made for at least trying to start at the beginning of a book and read through til the end.

In January of this year we preached a series of sermons on the importance reading the Bible for yourself and declared 2009 to be the Year of the Bible at The Crossing. Our goal was to help each person read through the entire New Testament along with Psalms and Proverbs during this calendar year. Some of you are still on track to do just that while others started but got distracted at some point and of course there are others who never quite got started.

The Bible Reading Guide is designed to help you stay on course by providing bite size chunks of Scripture to be read each day. It also helps you read through entire books in order so that you can get the big picture of what’s happening and avoid the confusion and frustration that comes when you just get pieces.

If you aren’t participating in the program, I’d encourage you to get started. You can either start at the beginning making today January 1 or you can just pick up with the August 20th reading and continue on through the end of the year.

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