Bible Consumption Guide 33 Ways to Nourish Your Soul
Be slow to open this book—but be sure to open it.
My Bible Consumption Record Phase 1: One Week*
Phase 2: One Month (Four Weeks)*
Phase 3: One Year*
*After consumption, reward yourself daily with a simple check!
Bible Consumption Guide Today, you can make one of
the most important decisions of your life, one of those major decisions that compares with deciding who to marry or which career path to take. Read the next few pages and decide carefully! On your last day on earth, do you anticipate a joyful look back on life? This decision can help you smile on that day! By the best measure of success, is success important to you? This decision can ensure true success! If the One who created you wrote you a detailed message, would it be worth reading? This decision can help you better get to know your Creator!
What is this decision?
It’s the decision to spend time daily in the Bible. Be slow to rush past this decision…
The Bible’s Promise about Bible Consumption Consider this promise from the Bible, in Joshua 1:8: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
That’s quite a promise: Time spent consuming the Bible brings success. (By the way, Joshua called the Bible he had “The Book of the Law”; it was God’s Word that had been given at that time, the first five books of the Bible we have today. And Joshua is not the only place where the Bible makes this promise. (See Great News! Consistent time in the Bible is Psalm 1:1-3, too.) Some think, “I don’t have the rather simple. Keep reading discipline to spend time in the Bible every and see how. If you don’t day, so it really doesn’t matter if I want hunger for the Bible now, to. I simply can’t.” They think they can’t, don’t let that stop you. so they don’t. But let’s slow down and Assume the promise of the recognize that wrong thinking may be the Bible is true and watch for the thing robbing us of “the wisest of habits.”
hunger to come later.
Don’t Be Crazy!
With respect, I’ll make another bold statement: “It is nuts to neglect the daily consumption of the Bible!” Listening to your Maker is a smart path! Like Wisdom calls out in Proverbs 8, “To you, O people, I call out!”, so I call out to you: “To you, O People, do all you can to establish the habit of daily Bible consumption!” This Bible Consumption Guide is created to help you capture the treasures of the Bible for your own possession and benefit. The riches are there for the taking.However, like a check, you have to cash it in order to access the riches! Daily consumption of the Bible “cashes the check”!
Don’t think this is about Bible consumption is not the consuming a book. It’s not. This is destination; it is the path to about knowing the one who knowing God—to life! made you. I encourage you not to neglect this fresh opportunity to know the author of the Bible more deeply. John 17:3 equates real life to knowing God. Bible consumption is not the destination; it is the path to knowing God—to life!
The Four Ingredients of a New Habit One of the great secrets in life is that while a habit is a matter of an initiating decision, it is NOT a matter of willpower. Willpower-based habits almost always fail to become habits. Enduring habits are those that tap the empowering insight contained in the next three pages. A habit is built on a decision that taps strength OUTSIDE of willpower. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg demonstrates that a well-selected pattern of habits can transform a life—and that it is possible for people to remake themselves in a very short span of time by actually choosing their habits. He explains why habits exist and how they can be changed.While some struggle in their attempts at a disciplined life, The Power of Habit reveals that such discipline isn’t as nearly as evasive as people fear. The book identifies four key elements in establishing a habit:
1) 2) 3) 4)
A prompt that triggers a behavior—like waking up in the morning. A repeated behavior—like “consuming” the Bible. A reward of some sort—It can be as simple as checking a box. An associated craving—like the longing for a glimpse of God.
Two More Powerful Habit-forming Helps There are two other things that can bring success in establishing a habit:
Help #1) Initiate a New Habit in the “Grooves” of an Old Habit. The Power of Habit calls this “The Golden Rule of Habit Change.” For instance, as a habit, you wake up every day, you take a bite of something every day, and you brush your teeth every day. It is possible to tap into the existing “discipline” of these habits to empower a new habit. (These are habits so they hardly feel like discipline. That’s where we’d like to get with Bible consumption.) Consider using one of these consistent habits as your prompt to spend time in Scripture. Your approach might look like this: “Before I take my first bite of food each day, I will first spend at least five minutes consuming the Bible.” Or engage in Scripture before you shower, or after you shower, or whatever seems the wisest existing habit to attach to. Important Note: Don’t weigh yourself down with a commitment to spend 30 or 60 minutes a day with the Bible, or maybe not even 10 or 15. Decide to focus on a comprehendible minimum: perhaps five minutes or even just one minute will suffice to get you rolling.Then, allow your appetite and your choices to
4 expand (and contract) your consumption to as many minutes as seems appropriate. But a key to habitually consuming Scripture is to consume at least a little at least once each day. As we start our daily Bible consumption habit with one “beachhead” in our routine, we can then insert additional “meals of consumption” in our day. The Bible suggests we engage Scripture repeatedly each day—and night! Not only does it suggest this repeated daily activity, in Deuteronomy 6:7 Moses suggests four prompts to use during the day, each of which is already an existing habit: When waking up When sitting (at a meal) When walking (or driving!) along the way When lying down at the end of the day (Sometime in the next few days I think you’ll be very inspired if you read Deuteronomy Chapter 6 aloud to yourself—or to someone else. Yes, I suggest you read it aloud. Try it!)
Help #2) Consume the Bible Daily in the Context of Community. Again, God himself suggests this element in Bible consumption. In the same verse of Deuteronomy, he says to talk about your Bible consumption with others.The great power found in community is lost in isolation. Connect your consumption with others. There are numerous ways you can harness the power of community in your daily Bible engagement: Tell someone else or several others that you have decided to spend time in the Bible each day. Sharing your intentions can help raise your own awareness as you establish a new habit. Share verses with others that invigorate or challenge you. You can do this verbally, by text message, via email or note cards. For a specific duration of time, invite someone or several others to consume the same passages of the Bible that you are consuming. An example of this would be reading a chapter of Proverbs every day and occasionally sharing with each other something that you’ve learned. Warning: Tapping the power of community is not the same thing as what some call “accountability.” It is important to keep the source of discipline within yourself and not be externally dependent on another for maintaining a habit. Community is a great source of strength and encouragement, but accountability isn’t the best source of motivation in Bible consumption. The purest motivation for consuming the Bible is simply the love of God. Read and reflect on what Deuteronomy 6 has to say about this motivation. Choose to love God by doing a daily practice. The Spirit infuses life into our hearts and empowers us to grow strong in spirit through the Bible. Many passages in Scripture about Scripture affirm
5 just how incredible and life-giving the Bible is. Joshua tells us that filling ourselves with the Word of God will lead to success in life (See Psalm 19; Psalm 119:9-11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12, just to name a few!) In spite of such a promise, most of us drift into seasons of neglect that shrivel our souls and rob us of spiritual power. Perhaps you are in one of those seasons right now. Before you finish reading this page, you can set yourself onto the adventurous path of habitual Scripture consumption. This fork in the road offers a lifetime of feasts and delicacies, appetizers and entrées, vitamins and nutrients for growing that incredible asset within you: your own heart! Are you ready to jump into a fresh pursuit of daily Bible consumption? th Five minutes is one-third of one percent of a day, about 1/300 ! You might ask, “Why just five minutes?” Not just five minutes—at least five minutes. Don’t limit yourself—but commit to a small minimum. The Bible is far and above the #1 bestseller in history. It makes sense to get to know it better, doesn’t it? If you agree it’s a good choice, I have a proposal for you: Make a commitment to yourself to consume the Bible for at least five minutes a day for at least six days a week for a specific time period. Sure, you can read it seven days a week if you want. But give yourself some grace. Shoot for six days a week x just five minutes a day x 52 weeks. Seize this moment! Make a great choice that will impact your entire next year. Don’t wait until next week or next month. Starting today, open it up and begin creatively consuming the Bible, each day using one or more of the 33 easy-to-use ways to engage Scripture in this Bible Consumption Guide.Make a great choice—Check the boxes of your choice below and dive in!
— Today’s Decision — Check your choices below.
I’m in! I plan to consume the Bible for at least 5 minutes daily for: one week
Suggestion: Start with a week!
Use the chart in the front of this guide to track your journey over the next week, the following month, and succeeding year.
Solidify the “Wisest of Habits” To further solidify your launch into this “wisest of habits”, answer these questions: 1) What is the best prompt for me from among my existing habits? Before I eat breakfast Before or while I drink my first cup of coffee Before or after I take a shower Before I watch any television As part of my bedtime routine Other: _____________________________ 2) What is my minimal commitment to my new habit?
1 minute a day 3 minutes a day 5 minutes a day 10 minutes a day Other: _____________________________
3) How will I reward myself after my “consumption”? With a simple check mark “” With my first bite of food or cup of coffee With a shower With sleep Other: _____________________________ 4) What craving will I cultivate to reinforce my habit? Craving for a glimpse of God Craving to express affection to God Craving to “get to my daily check mark” (Don’t laugh! It can work!) Other: _____________________________ 5) Who will I tell about my minimum commitment? ____________________
6) Who might I first invite to join me for a time in the journey of daily Bible consumption? ____________________
Suggestion: Pause briefly to talk and listen to God about daily Bible consumption.
Build a “Bible Consumption Kit” Consider building your own Bible Consumption Kitto enhance your habit of consumption. Gather some useful tools:
A Bible o Choose one that is appealing and encourages you to pick it up. o Choose one that you feel free to mark up. A Bible you are free to write in and mark on is a Bible that’s likely to be consumed more often. Envision your Bible a year from now, bent and tattered, rigorously marked by your repeated use! o If you don’t have a Bible, www.biblicadirect.com has quality Bibles at phenomenally low prices. This Bible Consumption Guide o Read this once and begin your journey of daily Bible consumption. Return to it again when you falter or sense a need to reinforce or reset your habit. o Refer often to the 33 different ways to add variety and interest to your Bible consumption. o Allow the picture of the lion to remind you that Jesus, “The Lion of Judah,” is hidden in the pages of the Bible. Keep a look out for him every day in your consumption! (John 1:1; John 5:39) A Ballpoint Pen o A ballpoint pen is best because it doesn’t bleed through and mark the page behind. Several Highlighter Pens o See the suggestions in this Bible Consumption Guide for using these tools to reinforce your reading. o One highlighter is handy. Four or five are even better! A Writing Journal o Use a journal to reflect about your daily Bible consumption. Daily Bible consumption is interactive! o Use it for some of the writing-related activities contained in this Bible Consumption Guide. A Cross o Keep this tangible symbol of grace close by, at times gripping it while you engage the Bible, allowing it to remind you that God can be trusted and that his love for you is greater than your love for yourself. o Use the cross as a “lens” to give perspective on difficult to understand passages.
33 Ways to Nourish Your Soul through Bible Consumption Suggestion: Read through all 33 ideas listed below and select 3-5 approaches to Bible consumption to try out first. Keep track of your adventures by checking the box “” next each example once you’ve tried it.
1. Summarize the Word Whether it be the whole of Scripture, an entire book in the Bible, or a given passage, capturing the big picture makes deeper engagement of the Word more accessible and productive. One avid Bible fan created a 66-word summary of the Bible by selecting one word that best characterized each book of the Bible. Another example of a summary that I crafted is what I call The 51-Word Bible. Here it is: God's Creation! Satan's Deception. Adam's Consumption. Noah's Boat. Abraham's Faith. Joseph's Dreams. Pharaoh’s Oppression. Moses' Escape. Doubters’ Wandering. Joshua's Conquests. Judges’ Strength. David's Slingshot. Solomon's Wisdom. Prophets' Proclamations. Israel’s Scattering. Mary's Delivery! Jesus' Miracles. Rabbi’s Lessons. Lamb’s Death. Resurrection! Spirit's Arrival.Disciples’ Testimony.Paul's Letters. Churches' Multiplication.World's Demise. Heaven's Triumph! The value of a summary is that it drives understanding and brings focus to a Scripture passage, short or long, and gives a context for reference. Take any verse, chapter, or section of Scripture and boil it down to a defined number of words—1 word, 5 words, 20 words—whatever! You’ll be surprised by how this process forces you to understand the Bible at a deeper level. Starter Idea: Read through Psalm 23 or 2 Thessalonians and summarize the passage in exactly seven words.
2. Listen to the Word Listening is an intake strategy that offers an opportunity to hear the Bible when busy lives so often push it out of our
9 schedules. Consume the Bible as you walk along the path, drive along the road, or sit in your favorite lounge chair. A great source of audio Scripture is found in the YouVersion smartphone app. The app can be downloaded at the new Bible.com. You can get also free audio Scripture with The Streaming Bible at FaithComesByHearing.com. Depending on the recording, one can listen to an entire audio New Testament in 15-20 hours. The whole Bible can be completed in 75-85 hours. (Here’s an idea: “Fast” from TV and discretionary Internet use for 30 days and listen to the entire Bible in a month instead. Be prepared to have your mind restructured and your thought processes changed!) Starter Idea: Access the audio function on YouVersion and listen to a chapter a day from the Book of Romans or Hebrews until finished. Or, begin smaller with the book of Philippians or Ephesians.
3. Read the Word Rapidly Probably the most common form of engaging God’s Word in our time, silent reading of the Word, is the fastest way to take in Scripture. The average person silently reads 250-300 words a minute. The advantages of reading this way include privacy, ease, speed, and volume of intake. Silent reading allows for quick overviews and a first pass before deeper Bible engagement. At 300 words a minute, one can read the entire Bible in approximately 42 hours. An hour of rapid reading a day could get you from Genesis to Revelation in seven weeks. Or you could slow it down slightly and read the Bible in 90 Days (approximately 10 pages a day). Some would call this type of reading skimming. In much Bible study, a student looks for every detail and application; rapid reading is more like a “flyover” to get the lay of the land. Starter Idea: Begin the Gospel of Mark and read a chapter a day for 16 days.
4. Read the Word Aloud Privately People in centuries gone by, particularly the contemporaries of Christ, spoke the word aloud when they read it. That’s what the Ethiopian Eunuch was apparently doing when Philip “stumbled” onto him in Acts 8. Reading aloud slows us down to approximately 125-140 words a minute, half the speed of reading silently. This type of reading helps us take in Scripture through two gates, the eyes and the ears, and is far
10 more engaging than silent reading. If this is a new idea for you, you might find it a little awkward at first. And if other people can hear you, they might think you’re a little odd. Try it a few times! Starter Idea: Find a private place and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) aloud with exactly the intonation you imagine Jesus would use if he were giving the sermon today in the English language.
5. Read the Word Aloud Publicly Certainly our faith cannot be fully realized when we are isolated as individuals. A corporate reading of the Word in a public context creates a community dynamic of praise, honor, obedience, grace, and hope. I don’t know of anything that can strengthen a body of believers more effectively than an extensive corporate reading of God’s Word. We’re not simply talking about a few verses read on a Sunday morning. I’m talking about a public proclamation of Scripture over an hour, hours, or even a full day or weekend. You’ve likely heard of “Concerts of Prayer.” How about “Concerts of Scripture”? What would happen if the whole of your church gathered to hear the whole of Genesis read in the course of a day? Or the Book of Matthew from beginning to end? Or an evening dedicated to the reading of Revelation? Another approach is to read passages aloud at home with one or more family members, taking turns reading verses or paragraphs around the table. Starter Idea: Schedule a Concert of Prayer for an evening at your church or home. Go through an entire book in an evening such as Genesis, Matthew, Hebrews, or Revelation.
6. Read the Word Responsively A type of public reading of the Word is responsive reading of a passage. This is interactive public reading. A leader reads a verse and the group or assembly responds with the next passage. Or women can read one and men respond with the next. Or adults and children. (Why not try tall people and short people?!) Poorly done responsive readings are best left undone. Here is a quote worth noting from Henrietta Mears: “It’s a sin to bore people with the Word of God!” A responsive reading must be done with energy and passion. Starter Idea: Find a reading partner for a day. Read Proverbs 24 together, each reading a verse at a time.
7. Whisper the Word Whispering can be “louder” than shouting if the goal is actually to be heard. One that speaks softly often penetrates the heart more effectively than one who screams. A gentle answer can break a bone, as Proverbs says. Whispering brings concentration and focus. Starter Idea: Whisper a passage aloud to yourself, to a friend or around a circle, alternating verses with each other. Or alternate between different forms of speech: whispering, singing, shouting (with controlled volume), and speaking.
8. Discuss the Word In the movie Yentl, the young apprentice Rabbis had as much fun discussing the finer points of The Torah as fans have cheering at a football game. Discussions about meaning, interpretations, doctrinal substance, and sheer trivia can be a productive means of engaging the Bible and driving it more deeply into our hearts. Starter Idea: Find three friends to meet weekly with for four weeks. Discuss questions that arise from the four chapters of Philippians.
9. Hand-copy the Word This exercise can be far more stimulating that you might guess. Hand-copying the Word slows the brain down and synchronizes the mind with the meaning of a passage, with the Bible on one side, your journal on the other. Practice your penmanship as you go. I usually use cursive when I copy the Word. A slightly faster way to copy the Word is to re-type it on the computer. Try using different fonts. Copying the word is a tremendous way to nourish the spirit and align the mind with the thoughts of God. Hand-copying the Bible is an excellent way to wring extra nutrients and taste out of a passage. This is probably my favorite form of Bible consumption. It helps me slow my mind down and relish the word. I get more “juice” out of it this way! Starter Idea: In your journal, hand-copy Psalm 1, Psalm 100, Psalm 150, Proverbs 18, or Romans 8.
10. Study the Word Probably the broadest of these Bible consumption techniques, study of the Bible calls for a close examination
12 through multiple approaches. Analyze the grammar. Observe the facts. Find parallels. Note the verb tenses. Consult commentaries. Investigate the original languages. Post a question on a discussion forum. Compare with other Scriptures. Ask someone else for insight into a passage. Buy a Bible software program. Do a word study. Do a character study. Pick apart a passage. Investigate using the productive approach of “Observe what is straightforward, prayerfully Interpret in light of other Bible passages, and Apply what you learn!” Starter Idea:Visit www.studylight.org. 2 Timothy is the New Testament Bible book that seems to encourage Bible study most. Study it and answer these questions: Who are the people? What relationship do they have to each other? What are the most repeated words and phrases? What should I start doing that I haven’t been doing? What should I stop doing that I have been doing? Find a friend to share what you learned. Use the commentaries and cross-referencing capabilities of the site to go deeper.
11. Cross-reference the Word When Peter said that no Scripture was a matter of private interpretation, I take that to mean that it doesn’t stand alone. It’s easy to go off track in our thinking when we don’t check Scripture against Scripture. Each passage must be understood in light of other Scriptures because it is part of the integrated message of the whole of the Bible. Cross-referencing one passage with another related passage releases much light into the soul. Use a concordance. Use in-line verse references found in a study Bible. Use a Bible site search capability. Besides the Bible itself, an excellent Bible study tool is an exhaustive concordance of the Bible, indexing every word. BibleGateway.com allows you to generate every use of a word in the whole Bible. Starter Idea: Using a concordance or the search capabilities on BibleGateway.com, read through more than 100 uses of the word “grace” in the Bible. Complete the exercise by writing a 20-word definition of “grace” (or “holy”, “mercy” or “wisdom”).
12. Stress the Word Some don’t like to engage long passages. Instead, they prefer to meditate on a single verse, phrase, or even word. One way to “squeeze some extra nutrition” from a verse is to use contrasting stress, or emphasis, as you repeat a text. For
13 instance, consider the fresh angle from each stress in the following from Psalm 23: THE Lord is my shepherd. (Pause and Reflect) The LORD is my shepherd.(Pause and Reflect) The Lord IS my shepherd.(Pause and Reflect) The Lord is MY shepherd.(Pause and Reflect) The Lord is my SHEPHERD.(Pause and Reflect) Can you see new meaning emerge as you stress each word? Starter Idea: Choose a favorite verse and “chew” on it with contrasting stress. Try Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:28, Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, or another favorite passage, placing the stress on each succeeding word as you read through it.
13. Highlight the Word A simple and productive consumption tool is a highlighter pen—or pens. Enjoy reading silently and then highlight words that seem to “bulge” with meaning. Or, scout for certain things and mark them with certain colors. Multiple colors can highlight different things: Green– Something I need to do Yellow– Something I don’t understand Orange – A promise to believe in Blue –A warning to be aware of Another approach for the grammatically inclined is to take six different colored markers and use each to highlight a passage: 1) nouns/pronouns, 2) verbs, 3) adjectives and articles, 4) adverbs 5) conjunctions, and 6) prepositions. Watch even more insights and meaning leap off the page! Starter Idea: Read through the Gospel of John. Every time you see the word “sign” or miracle, highlight it in yellow. Every time you see a form of the word “believe” (belief, believed, trust, trusted, etc.), highlight it in orange. Every time you see a form of the word “life” (live, lived, alive, etc.), highlight it in green. Look for relationships between the colors.
14. Paraphrase the Word Good translation can be defined as taking the meaning from one language and capturing it accurately in another language. Paraphrasing is like that, only it is capturing the meaning of a passage and re-expressing that same meaning
14 with different words. This can be done orally or in writing. An accurate paraphrase indicates understanding. For example: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” can be re-expressed as: “The Creator of us all had such a deep love for us that he willingly sent the only Son he ever conceived to die in our place!” (Notice some of the meaning that is implicit is sometimes brought out explicitly in a paraphrase. Remember, the goal is accuracy in meaning.) Starter Idea: Choose a single verse and attempt to re-express it using completely new words!
15. Dramatize the Word If drama can bring a story to life, then certainly it can be a useful means of bringing Scripture to life. Dramatizations of the Word can be completely spontaneous and amateur exercises or they can be professional quality productions that are scripted, rehearsed, costumed, recorded and replayed. They can bring a narrative story to life or they can articulate a poetic passage through dance and physical expression. A small group may express a passage through an interpretive drama or a worship drama team may memorize and re-enact a passage. In any case, the Word comes to life as it takes on three dimensions, motion, and sound. Starter Idea: Try re-enacting John 6:16-24. Hey, if you can’t walk on water, at least you can experience what it’s like pretending to walk on water!
16. Sketch the Word For the right-brain artistic types among us, drawing the Word is something that is second nature. But even for those of us who do better with straight lines and right angles, sketching the Word can be a rich experience capturing the big idea of a passage or even details best highlighted with a sketch or drawing. Starter Ideas: Choose a passage like Jesus’ reference to swallowing a camel and enfold it into a three-panel comic strip.
Find an event in the Bible like the stoning of Stephen or the raising of Lazarus and see how many details you can weave into a single-scene sketch. Select a more abstract or difficult passage like Romans 6:1 about dying to sin and see what you might illustrate with a sketch.
17. Read the Word Interpretively Think of the scene in the Dead Poet Society when the boarding school students snuck out of their dormitories and met in their secret hideout to recite verse written by poets that had long since died. They did it with such passion and expression that I wanted to find their hideout and join the society myself. Scripture can be more powerfully communicated when we avoid a monotone expression of the Bible using a lifeless voice. Instead capture and express the meaning of a passage with precision, passion, and expression. Give it a try, by yourself or with others! A “Scripture Reading Society” could be every bit as exciting as a Dead Poets club—and then some! Starter Ideas: John 1:1-3; John 14:1-3Try Ephesians 3:1421, Romans 8:31-39
18. Memorize the Word David said he hid the Word of God in his heart to avoid sin (Psalm 119:11). But there is another reason to memorize Scripture: Memorization is a foundational exercise on which many other forms of Scripture meditation are based. Sure, it’s rather easy to come up with reasons not to memorize Scripture: “That’s for the legalists.” (Often times it has been!) “It fosters spiritual pride.” (Sometimes it does!) “That’s for young people.” (It’s still achievable for any age.) Why let the nay-saying thoughts rob us of one of the great activities the soul can ever experience? If you struggle memorizing a passage, try this: Choose a short passage, even just one verse. Read that passage aloud three times in the morning, once at noon, and three times at bedtime—every day for three weeks. If it is not already committed to memory after three weeks, a little extra effort at that time can solidify the passage in your memory. If you struggle with the pride associated with memorization, keep the actual goal of memorization in mind: Meditation. It’s not ultimately about reciting a passage word-for-word from
16 memory to show someone you did it. It’s about having a passage at the full disposal of the mind at any time God might want to teach you from it, so you can meditate as you…”Sit at home…Walk along…Lie down…and Get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) Starter Idea: If you want to start with a verse or two, consider John 3:16, Romans 5:1, or 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If you are feeling more ambitious, consider Psalm 1. Don’t too quickly pass up the idea of memorizing a whole book of the Bible, such as Philippians.
19. Recite the Word Interpretively One of the payoffs of memorizing the Word is that you are then able to recite it to yourself or to others. This idea is a combination of memorizing and interpretive reading. If you recite Scripture to yourself before you fall asleep or when you wake up during the night, you don’t even need to turn on the light to consume the Bible. Starter Idea: Envision an evening when you and other believers did nothing but articulate passages of Scripture to each other by interpretive reading or recitation. Choose a favorite verse to recite to yourself before getting out of bed in the morning. Say it like you mean it!
20. Personalize the Word If the Word never gets personal, something has gone wrong. Whether by reading or recitation, it’s exhilarating to insert your name into a passage. For instance: “For God so loved Frank!” (John 3:16) “What shall Lauren say? Shall she go on sinning that grace my increase? By no means! Lauren died to sin!” (Romans 6:1) “Even Tom grows tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But as Tom hopes in the Lord, he will renew Tom’s strength. He will mount up on wings like eagles!” (Isaiah 40:30-31) Starter Idea: Try personalizing Romans 6 in writing.
21. Sing the Word There are those who are musically gifted and there are those who can only play the radio. Though I fall into the latter category, I don’t allow my limited gifting in music to rob me of the richness of God’s Word put to music. And I’m a lot less selfconscious with the Lord than I am around others, so I enjoying
17 singing Scripture songs to myself. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed this one like I have: “O Lord in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3) I even improvise a tune here and there in the privacy of my own car or home. Somehow God has designed a power in music that, when combined with Scripture, penetrates a heart like nothing else can. The dynamic combination of Scripture and music are two elements that should be brought together as often as possible. Another element to add to a “Concert of Scripture”! Starter Idea: Listen to Worship songs in iTunes that are simply Scripture set to music. Sing the Psalms—they were written to be set to music.
22. Hum the Word It’s not all the time that we can belt out a Scripture song. Sometimes something more subtle is required. Humming Scripture quietly is a nice alternative when greater discretion is required. One of my favorite tunes is from Lamentations 3:23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness O Lord. Great is they faithfulness!” Starter Idea: A simple search on Google for “Scripture Songs” will give you ample sites to visit and find many songs for singing or humming.
23. Display the Word Some passages are just so wonderful they are best artistically displayed in some fashion. Such passages might be Bible promises to keep in front of us or reminders to keep us focused in our walk with God. Consider commissioning a calligrapher to artistically transcribe your favorite verse in a frameable drawing or painting. Or create a colorful depiction yourself in PowerPoint or Photoshop. Print it on a color laser printer and have it framed. Starter Idea: Visit Hobby Lobby, Mardel’s, Lifeway, or a Family Christian Store to find a plaque with an uplifting Bible verse on it. Display in your home or on your desk. Enjoy it. Consume it!
24. Share the Word
What would it do for your own Scripture focus if you were to give away one Bible verse to a different person each of the next 30 days? I encourage you to try it. A friend who studied with me at Wycliffe’s Summer Institute of Linguistics caught fire with God’s Word and could hardly contain himself. Brian would constantly hand write verses on 3 x 5 cards and leave them in our mail boxes. The personal touch brought these verses to life and I remember feeling like I had received numerous personal messages from God himself. And Brian himself grew deeper as he shared with so many of us. Sharing the Word with others engages us in it more deeply ourselves. Starter Idea: Scroll through your contacts and choose three people. Find an encouraging, personalized verse for each one and text it to them out of the blue.
25. Imagine the Word This way of consuming the Word takes practice but it can be one of the richest approaches to engaging the Bible. For stories written in narrative, imagine the details. Imagine the expressions on people’s faces. See the waves hitting the rocks. Visualize the eyes of Christ as he speaks to a crowd. Envision the colors in the people’s clothing. Feel the wind blow across your neck as you listen to Paul preach at night. See yourself as an eager bystander, ready for the next word to come out of Jesus’ mouth. Starter Idea: Read the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 and insert descriptive detail that can bring the Bible to life. Comment on the stench of sweat in the air, the shouting in the background, the clanging of iron, the barking of dogs, etc. [Need help with your imagination? Watch for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “The Bible” TV series coming to the History Channel in March 2013. You won’t want to miss it!]
26. Teach (or Preach) the Word Standing in front of a group of people with the responsibility of teaching a Bible passage will bond you with that passage like little else. If I were to rank ways of Scripture engagement in terms of their depth of penetration, teaching the Word would be near the top. It forces you to study, comprehend, and handle a passage so that you can speak with confidence and knowledge rather than timidity and ignorance. Want to grow deeper in the Word? Try teaching it!
Starter Idea: Volunteer to lead a small group or class at church. Do you attend any meetings that include short devotionals? Offer to lead one. Start with a single session. Pray about continuing further!
27. Do the Word! Perhaps the most critical of all means of engaging the Word is doing it. James laments the vanity of hearing and not doing it (1:23) and Jesus stipulates in Matthew 7 that “putting it into practice” is the requirement for building a house that will withstand the storms of life. Hearing and not doing the Word injures our own soul and robs us of spiritual confidence. All reading and no changing leaves us in a worse place than before we started. Watch for opportunities to “Do!” When we engage with the Bible and find ourselves in conflict with it—we must move from where we are to where Scripture is. Micah 6:8 says that God requires us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. What’s the last act of justice for the poor that you performed? When is the last time you exercised mercy on someone who needed compassion or forgiveness? Is your life marked by humility? In just this one verse are several opportunities to “do the Word”. Starter Idea: Read through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and find three ways to do the Word in the next day.
28. Chisel the Word Some forms of consumption involve the whole Bible or a whole book of the Bible. Others involve only a verse or a phrase. In this example, choose a single word to carve into a board in your garage or a bench in your backyard or a carefully chosen stone. What are 3 or 4 of your favorite words in the Bible? Starter Idea: Choose a word, grab a sturdy knife or chisel, and start carving!
29. Record the Word Using a voice recorder, your computer, or your smartphone, record a passage of 5-10 verses, practicing careful enunciation and expressive speech. Repeat as necessary. Once you have a recording you are satisfied with, replay it for yourself numerous times in the coming days. Or video yourself reading the word. (Send it to a friend!) Starter Idea: Try recording yourself reading Romans 10:8-15.
30. Photograph the Word A photo is an image in a point in time from a specific vantage point. Using a digital camera or your cell phone, take a photo of a specific verse. Try it from different angles, distances, and with various lighting. When you click one you like, share it! Also, take photos out in nature and connect them with specific verses. With a sunset, pair “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” With a mountain photo, display “I lift my eyes up unto the mountains from whence cometh my help.” And so on with a river, an ocean, a tree planted by a river. Starter Idea: Try this with a tree by a river as in Psalm 1:3.
31. Depict the Word (in 3D) There is power in three dimensions. Sculpture is threedimensional art. There are many different media that work with sculpture: clay, Play-DohTM, magnetized BB’s, even mashed potatoes! Think about statues, sculptures, and stained glass windows that you have seen. There are many opportunities to depict the Word: Think popsicle sticks, toothpicks, Legos, beach sand, marshmallows, and more! Starter Idea: Consider some of your favorite verses, verses that God has shown himself to you through. Identify one that might find expression through sculpture. Choose an scene that can be depicted in sculpture, such as the parting of the Red Sea or the Resurrection, or Jonah in the belly of the fish.
32. Script the Word Words are beautiful. An attractive script can adorn their beauty. Whether you use a calligraphic pen, a Marks-a-lotTM marker, or a carefully selected font on your computer screen, try creatively depicting a verse thought an eye-catching script. Starter Idea: Choose a verse that relates to heaven or the sky or glory or eagles, or a phrase that you need to be reminded of often, such as “Do not fear” (Lamentations 3:57, Joshua 1:9, and so on) or “Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
33. Pray the Word It seemed fitting in a list of ways to consume the Bible to finish with by giving words back to God. If one were to choose a top way to consume the Bible, this might land at the top of the list. It involves reading the Bible and expressing what you read right back to God! Find a passage and read it back to
God. Personalize it. After you read it, tell him what you like about it. Tell him what you might not like about it. Tell him how you want to grow. Tell him how you want to know him better. Ask him about what you don’t understand. If consuming God’s Word everyday comes with such great promises, just consider what talking to God every day might do! If you’ve chosen a prompt to help you consume God’s Word each day, considering using your daily Bible consumption itself as an additional prompt for praying the Word each day, as well. Even if for a solitary minute, talk to God. He is there and he is listening. Starter Idea: Psalms 23 is an ideal opportunity to pray to the Word to the Lord: “You, Lord, are my shepherd. Because of you, I have everything I need. You make me lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside quiet waters. You restore my soul…” Note from the Author:
I can’t say that I’m satisfied with the current state of this Bible Consumption Guide. There is so much more that I want to do with it. Yet, as my wife reminds me, “A piece of writing is never finished; it’s only due.” It’s time for me to send this to press and share it with my friends for Christmas. If you have found this guide of enough value to share it with others, you may download it for free at www.bibleconsumption.com. You’ll find a copy of this book and other helpful resources to support you in a lifetime of Bible consumption and deeper discovery of God!
~ back cover ~
Are You New to The Bible? Over 40 authors wrote the 66 books of the Bible. With 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 783,137 words, it’s easy to get lost! Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a great place to start. But you might not want to wade through another 40 hours of reading before you get to the New Testament. Before too long, it’s a good idea to go through the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament. John was written by Jesus’ closest friend—named John! The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are also excellent reading. The Book of Acts is rather exciting, too.
Are You a “Veteran” of The Bible? Pretend you aren’t! This Bible Consumption Guide is for you.
Bible Consumption Guide: 33 Ways to Nourish Your Soul Second Edition © 2012 Ron Forseth Permission freely granted to reproduce this resource for non-commercial purposes. Permission to customize this resource can be secured by emailing [email protected]
Lion Cover Image © 2012 by Jan Forseth www.ImagesOfTheWild.com