Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Checklists and Gold Stars

When I am driving long distances, I enjoy scanning through local radio stations, singing along to old familiar tunes and catching a few speakers on talk radio.  The stations fade in and out as I pass from county to county like chapters of our lives, moving from one to another.

Last week in rural Indiana, I was pleased to catch a few brief minutes of one speaker who was encouraging people to read the Bible each day.  I salute that endeavor.  But then the speaker offered a "special" Bible that printed each day's designated readings with a "convenient checklist" to make it through the Bible in a year.  "Just check off each day," the announcer declared.  "It is easy as that."  I cringed as I remembered the chart my first-grade teacher displayed, complete with gold stars for good behavior.

The goal of reading the Bible every day is not to click through a daily schedule or complete a to-do list for the day, nor is it about accomplishing a pre-set plan as if in some kind of elite competition.  The goal is not a "goal" at all, but the transformation of my heart.  The Bible is the very words of God.  God will change you through it.

I heard the late preacher E. V. Hill state one time, "Learn to read the Bible slowly."  What am I learning?  What is God teaching me through it?  Think about these things, even take a verse with you through the day.   

What you learn by heart,
                    changes your heart.

But not if you are in a race.

A schedule is a great way to guide your reading.  But not if the schedule itself becomes the focus.

Make God's Word first in your day,
and your time
                  will be multiplied.
God will bear fruit through it
    in more ways than you can know.

...nourished on the words...
Train yourself in godliness;
for while bodily training is of some value,
godliness is of value in every way,
as it holds promise for the present life
and also for the life to come.
                           1 Timothy 4.7-8


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