This last Sunday, I admitted that, years ago, I had a major struggle trying to get into my Bible (And if you missed that message, click here). But, thankfully, over the years, I’ve gotten better at feeding myself. And I’d love to share a few secrets with you.
Of course, it’s especially important to learn how to read our Bibles during busy seasons. So, if you’re busy… don’t sweat it. That’s a perfect time to practice the discipline! And I’m with you. There’s been a lot of amazing things happening around Substance.
Two weeks ago, we released a new music video for Substance Input/Output (our worship band); then, last week, we recorded an acoustic album (for those of you who like soaker-worship); And in the coming week, Variant (our dj/rap band) is performing north of London for 7000 young people.
So, recently, a friend of mine asked: “How in the world do you find time to read your Bible and write sermons?”
Well, keep in mind: I’ve been planning for this busy seasons for months. In fact, I wrote many of these blogs and messages months ago. But, if I’m not careful, even a veteran like me can struggle with Bible reading when things get too hectic. So allow me to teach you an ALL-important principle, and it’s this:
Your desire for God’s Word tends to increase in direct proportion to the margin in your life!
When we’re busy, ALL of our closest relationships often suffer, including our relationship with God. So, what do we do to guard against this? Allow me to give you 3 More Principles that can be the difference makers when it comes to your desire for God’s word:
(1). Force Feed yourself: Whenever I’ve gotten the flu and yacked my guts out for a for a while, the last thing I want to do is eat food. Yet, there’s a point when, eating again is the best thing for you. After forcing a little soup down, against all prevailing moods, you suddenly develop an appetite again. And the same works with God’s word.
As my friend John Bevere says: “We all hunger for that which we feed on.” Or, as I’ve often said: Feelings always seem to follow our focus. If we focus on a certain tv show, we get addicted. Whether your focus is on a crush, a certain social media site or even a style of music, your emotions will inevitably flame up in that direction. (That’s why some people have the weirdest hobbies). And the same is true for God’s Word. “Where your treasure is, there your heart follows” (Mt. 6:20). So treasure it by simply reading for 10 minutes a day. Over time, you’re going to have a difficult time limiting yourself to ten.
(2). Find Friends who Really Love God’s Word: There was a study on exercise – on why some people are motivated to do it and why others are not. The study revealed an interesting ingredient for motivation. People who had friends (who exercised with them) were 37% more likely to exercise regularly and love it. I.e., Motivation has a huge “social component” to it. Those of us who socially surround ourselves with people with a passion for our same interest will likely find more motivation to follow through. Thus, who are the people who LOVE the Bible around you? What are you doing to get around these people? Over the years, my wife has taught me a lot about reading my Bible. She’s always passionate about it. And she always has a book of the Bible that she thinks I should read next.
But, my point is this, by simply being around her, I catch her passions and ideas quite contagiously. So, find people like this at your church. And finally…
(3). Read past the “Habit Threshold” – Research shows that the average habit takes about 66.5 days to form.* I.e., If you do something for about 10 weeks in a row, your desire for Bible reading will spring up all on its own. For example, over the years, I’ve helped thousands of men overcome porn addiction and other sexual attractions; I usually have them get daily accountability until they achieve 3-6 months of sobriety. Once they log 6 months, its much easier for themselves to experience the “neurological overhaul” of their desires. And pretty soon, resisting temptation is quite easy for them.
Unfortunately, I’ve also known a lot of people to quit or get cynical in those critical first months; and, like with any inconsistent discipline, they’re tempted to believe the lie: “Perhaps I’m just not ‘cut out’ for this type of lifestyle.”
No! Shake off your fatalism. You are a new creation in Christ!
Besides, “God is at work within you; helping you want to obey him; helping you to do what he wants” (Php 2:13)!
I also doesn’t hurt to get some advice on what you should be reading. Some people tend to want to read books that are way above their skill level. But, I would aim for consistency first. I know that you’re dying to read about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. But, if you’re a beginner, start with short books like James, 1st or 2nd Peter – Or narrative books like Luke or Acts. My 12 year old son is reading through the book of Acts with me right now and then we’re watching the new tv series A.D. – Kingdom and Empire together on Netflix (which is the Hollywood recap of the same book). Also, if you’ve never read the Old Testament, try 1st Samuel. And when you’re ready for the big picture, read Genesis and Exodus a few times. It only takes about 3 hours for Genesis & 2 hours for Exodus. The more you read them, the better they get!
But heres the deal: every addiction starts somewhere. Even 10 minutes a day will cruise you through the entire Bible every 18 months. And the benefits are crazy: “You will be like a tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season; who’s leaf does not wither; whatever he does prospers!” (Psalm 1). Let this be said of YOU.
“Heavenly Father, help us to know you more. I pray that you’d give me the desire to read your Words. In Jesus’ name” Amen?
* A psychologist by the name of Phillipa Lally of the University College London says that habit formation takes a lot longer than most people think. She required 96 test subjects to repeat a new behavior for over twelve weeks (According to her research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology – Oct, 2010)