Jump Into The Word

Bible Engagement Blog

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Today, for the first time, November 24, the National Bible Association, in partnership with YouVersion, American Bible Society,  Bible Gateway and Scripture Union, has suggested we celebrate the International Day of the Bible. Organizers are encouraging people to find ways to honour, show appreciation for God’s Word, and to use #BibleCelebration when posting online comments, videos, photos and creative expressions. [Click here for Twitter and Facebook]

So here’s the jumpintotheword Bible Engagement Blog contribution:

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success*, argues that success is due to much more than intelligence and ambition. According to Gladwell there is one very important factor that enables people to be extremely successful – the amount of time they spend pursuing/practicing a specific activity or pursuit.

In a study of college music majors, Gladwell discovered that students who had practised for 4-6 thousand hours on their instruments usually become music teachers, those who had practised for 6-8 thousand hours usually became music performers, and those who had practised for 10,000 hours had the potential to be world-class musicians. The 10,000 hour plateau also applies to writers, painters, football players, astronomers, gymnasts, researchers, sculptors, actors – to everyone in the arts, academics or athletics.

If Bible engagement was our college major, then to become Bible teachers we would need to read/reflect/practice it for 4 hours every day for 365 days of the year for 3-4 years. To go to the next level (maybe a teacher of teachers) we would need to read/reflect/practice the Bible for 6 hours every day for 365 days of the year for 3-4 years. To be world class we would need to read/reflect/practice the Bible for 8 hours every day of the year for 3.5 years.

Most of us aren’t able to commit 4-8 hours a day over 3-4 years to Bible reading/reflection/practice. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible for us to attain a level of engagement with the Bible that would, by Gladwell’s measure, be considered world class status.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Ten-thousand hours is attainable when it’s accrued over a longer period. If one goes to church every week for 2 hours, attends a weekly Bible study group for 2 hours, and reads the Bible for 1 hour every day; it takes about 17 and a half years to attain world class status.

Of course it requires much more than time spent reading/reflecting/practicing the Bible to become mature in the Word. We should probably add that to attain world class Bible engagement status we need the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds (cf. Psalm 119:36Romans 12:2), the recognition that we can’t do it in the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:17), a willingness to hear the word of God and obey it (cf. James 1:25), and the desire to see our lives becoming more and more about Jesus (cf. Colossians 3:1-3).

* An outlier is a statistical term referring to an extreme observation, i.e. an observation point that is distant from other observations or belonging to something different to the rest of a sample set.

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


Why Do You Choose To Read A Particular Bible Translation?

Tradition! According to the Canadian Bible Engagement Study people tend to read the translation used in their denomination. To be precise, 40% of Canadian Christians privately read the same translation that’s publicly used in their church worship service. Stereotypically speaking, that means if you’re an Evangelical you’re more likely to be reading the NIV and if you’re a Mainline Protestant or Catholic it’s the NRSV or RSV.

There are hundreds of good English versions of the Bible, but we generally aren’t persuaded to read a particular version because of the translation philosophy or reading level of the translation. While our age is an influence in the translation we choose to read, this is a secondary factor. What ultimately guides our choice of translation is what we see and hear others reading. That is, the version found in our home is often the same version read by our pastor, found in our church pew, cited in our prayer book, read by our parents, or used in the Sunday sermon PowerPoint slides.

That’s not to say we only read one version of the Bible. Protestants (more so than Catholics), and Evangelicals in particular, often read from multiple versions. The ESV is popular as a study Bible and the NLT for readability. Interestingly, the ESV and NLT are each read by 1% of Canadians. In fact just 14 versions of the Bible are read by the majority of Canadians, with 40% of Canadians who read the Bible saying they read the KJV or NIV.

The frequency of Bible reading should also be mentioned as a contributing factor. People who read the Bible regularly (a few times a week) are more likely reading the NIV (23% of Bible readers in Canada) or the KJV (21% of Bible readers in Canada).

Finally, it should be noted that the KJV is the only version that isn’t buttonholed by one or two denominations. Unlike the other versions, it’s read by a significant number of people in all denominations. Why the KJV? Tradition! It has a history of being used with a broad range of English speaking audiences for more than 400 years.

For more information on Bible Translation Choice in Canada, click here to read the full report: www.bibleengagementstudy.ca

© Scripture Union Canada 2014

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Why We Should Read The Bible Every Day

There are many good reasons and one essential reason why we should read the Bible every day.

First, several good reasons:

  • to fuel our faith
  • to inform our world view
  • to direct our activities
  • to nurture wisdom
  • to reflect on life
  • to strengthen our convictions
  • to incline our hearts to righteousness

There are many more reasons why we should read the Bible. People have told me they read it; “To know what to do”, “To be changed internally”, “To enjoy God’s grace”, “To think more accurately”, “To get a word from heaven”, “To be emotionally and psychologically nourished” and so on. If you’re a regular Bible reader you probably have a few more reasons why you make it a priority to read/listen to the Word.

While there are hundreds of reasons why people read the Bible, there is one essential reason why we should read it every day – to meet with God.

Why should the essential reason for reading the Bible be to meet with God? An analogy with marriage helps answer this question:

A marriage thrives when it’s constantly being renewed. Chatting with one’s spouse once or twice a week simply doesn’t cut it! It’s expected, understood, implicit to the laws of relationships that married couples listen and talk to each other regularly.

Karen and I have been hanging out with each other nearly every day for more than thirty years. During our time together we’ve been able to ‘read’ and ‘re-read’ every ‘page’ of each other’s ‘books’ to the extent that our ‘books’ have sort of become one ‘book’.

When I came to faith in Christ I made a marriage type commitment to love, obey and serve Him for the rest of my life. If I don’t connect with Christ for a couple of days the relationship suffers. My communion with Christ needs to be constantly renewed. Meeting with Him daily is nonnegotiable. For my relationship to thrive I must spend time ‘reading’ and ‘re-reading’ His Book and allowing it to ‘read’ me.

Life is a dash from the cradle to the grave. With the passing of years, I’ll soon be dead. When I come to the winter of my life I doubt I’ll be thinking I should have written better blog posts, spent more time gardening, or gone for longer walks. No, when death rolls in I suspect I’ll be thinking about my relationships.

So remember your mortality. Remember your relationships. And read the Bible to meet with Christ every day.

© Scripture Union Canada 2014

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