New Year and Reading Lists

I love this time of the year, when the old year ends and the new begins. While it is an arbitrary point on a calendar, I like the idea of a fresh start, a new beginning and the start of a new year lends itself to this thinking.

I also love to make lists. So making a reading list for the new year is something I enjoy. Whether I actually stick to that list is another story. But the making of the list is fun, so I continue to do it, even if I don’t actually stick to it. Tim Challies’ 2017 Reading Challenge also provides an opportunity to make book lists.

I also find that the new year is a great time to make goals. I’ve learned to be more realistic in my goal-setting, yet still trying to stretch myself. But never accomplishing goals can be discouraging so I try to make goals that are somewhat attainable. However I do have some ambitious book goals for 2017. The last few years I have had the goal of reading 100 books. Once again I hope to read 100 books in 2017. But this year I have added the goal of trying to not buy any books during 2017. This is mostly to work on reading my own books and getting my to-be-read mountain lowered. I’m not sure I can go a whole year without buying any books. This should be interesting.

One of my other goals includes reading Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith. I love theology and have several monstrous tomes to read. Picking one to read each year should help me wade through them. Because I read so much and I love trying different Bible reading plans, in 2017 I plan to start an annual goal of reading through the Bible twice each year. For 2017 I plan to read through the NKJV Chronological Bible (which I’ve already started) and also read the Bible along with Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty book (there is a reading plan for reading the book along with the Bible).

I also have a Scripture memory goal that I’m working on and a health goal. Do you make goals for the new year? What about reading goals or lists?


Chronological Study Bible NKJV Review

Chronological Study Bible: Explore God's Word In Historical Order- New King James Version (NKJV)Chronological Study Bible: Explore God’s Word In Historical Order- New King James Version by Anonymous

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Bible. I was sent for review one of the imitation leather versions. While I think it is important to read the Bible straight through for context and to not have sections of books broken up, I also think reading through the Bible in the order that events happened can open up the story and allow us to see the big picture of God’s unfolding story. David’s Psalms are interspersed through his ordeals with his various enemies. The prophets are interspersed with the kings that they were prophesying about judgment to. It really helps to bring clarification to a lot of the Old Testament stories to have things in chronological order. My favorite translations of NASB and ESV have yet to put out a chronological Bible. While I don’t mind the NIV translation, it is not word-for-word, and I’m leary of the New Living Translation as it is much more thought-for-thought and I prefer as close to the original as possible. Without getting into a debate on translations, I wanted a chronological Bible that was in a more word-for-word translation, and I do like the New King James Version as being more readable today than the original King James.

But this Bible is much more than just having the Bible in chronological order. It is also a study Bible. It does not have commentary style notes like most study Bibles, however, it does include information and articles to help explain the text. Because it is chronological, there are no book outlines, but there are instead timelines and information about what was taking place during that era of humanity. Throughout the Bible, the top of the pages includes a running timeline of where you currently are in history.

In the back is a glossary as well as a concordance and reading plans are included to help you read through the Bible. Definitely a great Bible to see the chronological story, as well as being a more accurate translation.

*I received a copy of this Bible for free from the publishers Thomas Nelson through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my review.

Journey through the Bible

My husband and I do a read-through of the Bible in 90 days every other year from February 1 to May 1 (on even years).  We try to encourage others to join us in this endeavor. Since this is an “even” year (2016), we are starting our read-through today. This is my third time doing this. The first time I used a chronological Bible to read through. Last time I read straight through using the Bible in 90 Days Bible. This year I am using the ESV One-Year Bible. Each day’s reading includes the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs (it actually takes you through Psalms twice). So it is straight through, but in 4 sections at the same time. Rather than taking the full year to read through it, I will read several days’ worth at a time.

My husband Jono and I have found this to be a wonderful way to get an overview of the Bible and to see the big picture. While we are strong proponents of Bible study and digging into the meat of Scripture, we also see the importance of reading the Bible as one book, an unfolding story of God’s redemption for mankind. Another huge benefit for me is that it has helped me to develop the discipline of consistent Bible reading.

Overview of the Old Testament

As I’m taking the Simeon Course on how to study and teach the various literary genres in the Bible, I’m currently on the Old Testament Narratives section. I’ve also been reading Graeme Goldsworthy’s Trilogy – Gospel and KingdomThe Gospel in Revelation, and Gospel and Wisdom. The first one, Gospel and Kingdom, gives the importance of why we need to read and understand the Old Testament and how we can do that in light of the New Testament and Christ’s coming. It’s neat how these resources dovetail together in providing the theme of the Old Testament. Here is an excerpt from Goldsworthy’s book Gospel and Kingdom:

“Biblical History as the Bible Presents It

We are thus dealing with a history which begins with the creation of the universe, the world and man. The history then focuses on man (Adam) and on his relationship with God. After being ejected from paradise in Eden because of his rebellion against the Creator, man’s history is one of increasing and widespread sinfulness. This leads to destruction through the flood and to the preservation one family. From this family of Noah the lineage of man is shown to divide among the nations of the world although the focus is on the line of Shem leading to Abraham.

Abraham was called by God to leave Mesopotamia and to go to Canaan where he received certain promises concerning his descendants (of which there were none as yet). This promise was later passed on to his son Isaac and to Isaac’s son, Jacob. Eventually the descendants of Jacob migrated to Egypt and in time became a large nation. When this people was subjected to a cruel slavery by the Egyptians, God sent Moses to lead them into the land of Canaan which he had promised to give to Abraham’s descendants. This process was long and involved and included the making of a covenant at Mount Sinai in which this nation of Israel was bound to God as his people with all that that implied.

The dispossession of the inhabitants of Canaan, and the settlement in the land, led to the development of the need for some form of government or administration of the covenant. After a false start under King Saul, Israel received a great leader in the person of David. He united the tribes, established a capital city, secured the borders and set up a proper administration. Unfortunately David’s successor, Solomon, became too ambitious and unwise policies led to eventual dissatisfaction. When his son came to the throne, there was a rebellion and the ten tribes of the north seceded to become the kingdom of Israel while the dynasty of David continued to rule over the southern kingdom of Judah.

The secession led to a general decline in both north and south, although the prophets continued to call the people back to faithfulness to the covenant God. The north finally suffered defeat at the hands of the Assyrians (722 B.C.) and ceased to be an independent state. More than a century later the might of Babylon was aimed at the south and, with the destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and the deportation of most of the people, Judah as a political entity ceased to be.

The exile in Babylon came to an end for the Jews when Cyrus the Persian overcame the power of Babylon and allowed captive peoples to return home (538 B.C.). Many of the Jews chose to remain in Babylon, for life had been quite kind to them. But those who returned had a real struggle to reconstruct the state of Judah. Eventually, with Persian co-operation, some stability was reached and Jerusalem and the Temple were reconstructed. But the glory of the golden age of David and Solomon never returned and the Old Testament period comes to an end with a whimper rather than a bang!

Some three-and-a-half centuries intervened between the two Testaments. During this time the most complex political developments occurred in the Jewish state. The Persian Empire crumbled when Alexander the Great pushed into Asia Minor and advanced to Egypt and beyond Babylon to the borders of India. Hellenistic culture was imposed upon Alexander’s empire by his successors and the Jews did not escape the fearful results of the conflict between the pagan Greek philosophies and way of life, and the Hebrew devotion to the Law and religion of the one True God. In the middle of the first century B.C., the Romans entered the Middle East region and the Jews found themselves a province of the great Roman Empire.”


Operation Deepen Faith: Bible Reading and More

Each year Becky hosts the Operation Deepen Faith challenge to read the Bible, study it, and grow in our faith. There are several options and you can participate in one or more of them, depending on what your goals are. You can see them at her post here.

I try to read the Bible each year using different reading plans. Every other year (on the “even” years), my husband and I plan to lead a group of people through reading the Bible in 90 days, from February 1 to May 1. In 2016 this will take place from February 1 to April 30 due to the leap year. I plan to use this reading plan for the 90 day reading. Once that is completed, I plan to read the Bible again along with God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment by Jim Hamilton. There is a reading plan for reading his book along with the Bible, to better get an idea of Biblical theology.

I read a lot of Christian non-fiction (her #7 goal), so that’s pretty much a given. I’m also working on Bible memorization (her #5) so will continue with that in 2016. I’m finishing up Ephesians and hope to start on 1 Peter by February or March.

She has a couple of optional choices this year that look like fun – the Alphabet Reading plan, as well as the Bingo Challenge. I’m hoping to do both but will have a separate page for them. She also has a goal for reading some of the creeds or confessions. While not committing to that, I do desire to read some of these and have a better grasp on these statements of faith.

The Bible in 90 Days

Have you ever read through the Bible? Do you understand the overarching story of the Bible and its main theme? One of the great ways to get this overview and to read through the whole Bible is to set aside 3 months (90 days) to read it. With reading for about an hour a day (which can be split up throughout the day), it is possible to read the whole Bible in just 90 days. It’s a shorter commitment than trying to read it in a year and it provides the opportunity to read large sections of the Bible at once, which gives a clearer picture of what it’s saying.

Back in 2012 I read through the Bible in 90 days with a group online. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I loved getting the big picture of the Bible. I did it chronologically, which helped to intersperse the Psalms in with what was happening in David’s life at the time he wrote them. It brought the prophets in during the reign of the kings when they were prophesying and helped to make those make more sense. So in 2014, I led another group of people to read through the Bible in 90 days. This time my husband, who is a slower reader than I am, joined me. He was pleasantly surprised at how he was able to do it and is now as enthusiastic as I am about reading the Bible this way periodically. So now we plan to do this every other year, on the “even” years, from February 1 to May 1 (or April 30 on leap years) and encourage others to join us each time.

We’ve created a Bible Reading group on Facebook to do this, but you can also join in even if you’re not on Facebook. We also had an email group that did it. I’ve included a sign up for those who would like to join us and would prefer to do it through email rather than Facebook. It starts February 1, 2016 and goes through April 30. There is a schedule to do it chronologically as well as straight through. As you make your goals for the year 2016, why not include reading through the Bible?

90 Days through the New Testament in Chronological Order by Ron Rhodes

90 Days Through the New Testament in Chronological Order90 Days Through the New Testament in Chronological Order by Ron Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m always eager to find books and reading plans to help encourage people in reading their Bibles. I also find it interesting when done chronologically, as it helps to see the flow of how things happened (though scholars disagree on the order). This book by Ron Rhodes is to be used in conjunction with reading the New Testament in chronological order.
It starts off in the Introduction giving the background and reliability of the New Testament books and challenges to developing a chronological order. Then it jumps into the reading plan for reading through the New Testament in 90 days. This book can be used as a devotional supplement to one’s reading plan.
Each day (chapter) gives the passages to read. It includes an introduction to one of the Bible books (author, date, facts about the book). Then an overview of the reading is given along with the big ideas. Insights for some of the more difficult verses are given as well. Also included with that day’s reading are cross-references for further digging and the major themes of the passages for that day. Application is brought out (called Life Lessons), along with questions for reflection and discussion. This allows for the book to be used with a small group that is reading through the New Testament together. Verses to remember are included and could be used for memorization.
I thought this was an excellent resource and supplement to use with one’s Bible reading. Sometimes trying to read the Bible can seem overwhelming, but this provides some insights and application to help one break it down. Having a goal of 90 days to read through the New Testament keeps one on track. I would definitely recommend this book to help with reading through the New Testament.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Harvest House in exchange for my review.

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible by Keith Ferrin

How to Enjoy Reading Your BibleHow to Enjoy Reading Your Bible by Keith Ferrin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short, quick read with very practical tips for getting into the Bible. We know we should read the Bible but often we find ourselves doing it as a chore rather than a delight. The author reminds us that it’s not just about gathering information about God, but also that it’s about a relationship with God, getting to know Who He is. And we do that by reading the Bible.
Some of the tips include reading whole books in order to see the story, praying before, during and after reading, and having a Bible buddy. Included with each chapter are discussion questions. The end of the book has a couple 60-day challenges to do with a group to immerse yourself in a book of the Bible (he suggests Philippians and 2 Timothy).
Very practical book with some great tips for making Bible reading more enjoyable.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Bethany House through Netgalley in exchange for my review.

The NASB Note-Takers Bible

I’m all about taking notes as we read our Bibles, or jotting thoughts and notes down while listening to sermons, so a Note-Takers Bible sounded right up my alley.

Note-Taker's Bible-NASB

I also like the NASB translation – New American Standard Bible – as it is one of the more literal or word-for-word translations.
This is a very straight-forward Bible, no study notes or commentary, just the text. The font is a little small for these 40-year-old eyes, but still readable. And of course there are extra margins for writing in, both on the sides of the text and the bottom.

There is a concordance for being able to look up key words as well as some lists on the Teachings of Jesus and the Miracles of Jesus. And a short “What the Bible Says About..” list (such as “What to Read When..” you struggle with apathy, etc.). It is a red-letter edition, which doesn’t thrill me, but not a deal-breaker for me.
All in all, this is a great Bible to have for doing personal study where one wants to jot down notes and observations, or to use for church to take notes during the sermon. It isn’t too big for carrying to and from church though a bit larger than a personal-size Bible would be. So if you like to take notes in your Bible, this is a good one to use, having a reliable translation as well as space for writing down thoughts.

*I received a copy of this Bible from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my review.

Bible Reading Plans

I love coming across different Bible reading plans! The trouble is, there are so many plans out there that it’s highly unlikely I will be able to try them all in my lifetime. If you come to my actual blog page Sojourner Between Worlds rather than reading through email or a reader, on the right side of my blog page is a list of various Bible reading plans from various websites under the section titled “Bible Reading Plan Links”. Having recently completed reading through the Bible in 90 Days, I wanted to use a plan that would take me through the Bible by the end of the year. I decided to try the Professor Grant Horners Reading System.

This plan involves reading 1 chapter from 10 lists each day (so 10 chapters a day). Each list is from a different section of the Bible. As you can see from the above picture, Psalms is its own list, as well as Proverbs and Acts. Not all the lists have the same number of chapters, so when you finish a list, you start again at the beginning of that list while continuing on with the other lists. The longest list is List 9 (Old Testament prophets) which takes 250 days to get through. So I will have completed the whole Bible by the end of the year, while having read some portions (such as Proverbs and Acts) several times. I’ve been doing this for over a week so far and am really enjoying it. It is a lot of reading, but not as much as was involved with the Bible in 90 Days. Also, I’m a pretty fast reader and can get through 10 chapters in about 20 minutes. That will vary with longer chapters (such as Psalm 119).
I’m using the Net Bible Reader’s Edition to go through this reading plan.

I’m thinking that with as fast as I read, I may be able to read through the Bible every 6 months or so rather than taking a year to do it. So with the different reading plans that I want to try, I can just read 2 days’ worth of reading to finish the plan in 6 months. So the plan is to stop doing the Horner plan at the end of the year (it is actually a perpetual plan, not necessarily a yearly one and can be modified as needed for less chapters each day).
Starting in January of 2015, I hope to start the ESV Daily Reading Bible.

This Bible uses the M’Cheyne Reading Plan, which is designed to take the reader through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year, while reading the rest of the Bible once that year. I may try to do this in 6 months, but will have to see as it is more than reading through the entire Bible just once.
What kind of reading plan do you use for reading your Bible regularly? Have you found a plan that works well or still trying different ones out?