I love to read books with my daughters (and my son too!). When the girls were little, they enjoyed the story of a young girl preparing for a book report at school. This little girl daydreamed about the project, brainstormed ideas for the project, and created a beautiful cover for her project. But, she only ended up with a two-sentence report! Why? She spent all her time analyzing and preparing…and almost no time reading or writing.
If we’re not careful, this is how we approach Bible reading. We are surrounded by an embarrassment of riches for reading and studying God’s Word. We have support groups, detailed plans, multiple strategies, digital programs to track our progress, and beautiful (I mean, handsome) journals for recording observations….and almost no time for reading and reporting on the text.
We assume it would be the opposite—more resources means more reading. However, the general complexity of our culture has revealed the reverse. Technology originally designed to save us time and help us do more can (not always—but often) consume our time and distract our attention. It’s easy for guys to become intimidated by all the plans and resources on the market. They think, “If I don’t have a detailed plan, multiple translations of the Bible, and 30 minutes to give, I shouldn’t even bother.” Or, guys develop “paralysis by analysis” that causes them to doubt their ability to read or understand Scripture.
We know the Enemy of God wants to keep us away from God’s Word. On one hand is the intellectual who “knows everything” and doesn’t feel the need to read Scripture. More common, though, is the guy who really desires to read Scripture but feels overwhelmed by doubt and intimated by all the “extras.”
How do we overcome this? For starters, I recommend you pick one plan and stick with it for a season. Better yet, connect your personal reading plan to what your local church or Bible study group (Sunday School class) is studying. By tying your personal Scripture reading to something you’re already doing, you will find yourself reading with more focus and purpose.
If you’re not currently involved in a church or feel unsure about following Jesus, pick one of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and read that book, at your own pace, multiple times.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with plans, strategies, and resources (I might have a problem with artsy journals, but I like a good moleskin journal as much as the next guy). I value these resources. I simply worry in my own life about multiple resources preventing me from actually reading the text.
Have a plan. Use resources. Link arms with other guys to study. Buy a great journal if you want. In the end, though, make sure you don’t miss what really matters—reading, meditating on, and obeying God’s Word.
Dr. Owen Nease
Pastor, Emmaus Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK
**Owen also lead a Truth Track during Rewired 2017 entitled Him.Men.Neutics guiding men in the study of God’s Word.