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Posts Tagged ‘bible reading’

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m  often full of great new ideas and initiatives. But what that actually means is that many old ideas and initiatives have fallen by the wayside. So when I extol the beauty of a new bible reading scheme or system of prayer, it possibly (=usually) indicates that the last system I extolled has somewhat petered out…

Last night Sharonxx asked the following:

I have tried to set myself the simple ‘resolution’ this year to pray at least once a day [either an Office or personal prayer], to read one small devotional a day and to do one bible study each day [using T.Wright…for Everyone]. I work 9-3, I have an 8 year old son and I’m married….pretty normal on the face of it….so why can’t I achieve even these simple goals??

Any tips? How do you do it with your busy life and family commitments? Indeed, DO you always manage to keep up with the bible reading etc.??

Simple goals, and ones I can relate to so well: read my bible, read something else devotional, pray. I’d love to do this every day too. But I often don’t. And I don’t work outside the house either, with all the extra juggling entailed in that.

So why don’t I do it? There are a bunch of reasons: tiredness, craziness of life in the Vicarage, but mainly it’s because other things seem more important than spending time with God. They’re not, of course, but my sinful heart takes control and I sleep a little more, tweet a little more, watch a little more Midsomer Murders. As I was reminded by my reading in Romans 7 this morning ‘What a wretched (wo)man I am!’

But the important thing is not to be discouraged when I fail. I’ve snoozed and missed the timeslot when I would have been reading my Bible. So I can grab a verse for the day on my phone. I’ve missed prayer time in the quite of the early morning. But I can still pray over the ironing board, or in the queue for the sandwich shop. I might not feel that I’ve prayed very well, or read enough of the Word, or wrestled with a theological concept. But if I’m keeping in regular touch with the Lord, I’m able to build my relationship with him. And even if I’m crazy busy or laid low by illness, there are still ways that relationship can grow, as his Spirit works in me. The Spirit reminds me of Scriptures or hymns and spiritual songs that I can cling to when I’m struggling with time or energy. The Spirit shows me the Lord’s providence in seemingly small ways that enable me to praise God when I feel like crying. The Spirit works in me so that I can will and work to the Father’s good pleasure.

Some of the resources I’ve found useful recently include using the audio setting with YouBible on my phone or tablet. This morning I read my allotted chapters from my epic 10 chapters a day reading plan but my head was a bit fuzzy and I didn’t process much. So then I listened to them again as I cleaned the kitchen and a bit more went in. Not everything, but a bit more.

My prayer life is a bit wobbly at the moment, but I’ve been using The Valley of Vision and have also recently downloaded the excellent PrayerMate app which is free at the moment. It has all the bells and whistles if you have an Apple device, but we are Android users in the Vicarage, so I have the newly launched version (which will be updated over the next few months) and am slowly uploading my prayer diary to its pages.

So I guess my answer is that I constantly fail to read my bible, to pray and balance all my family and other commitments. But I also constantly try and reboot them and get them back on track. The temptation is to feel that once we’ve missed a day in our readings, we’ve missed the boat. So we need to remind ourselves that the Father is waiting for our return. He loves us unconditionally, whether we’ve read our Bibles, prayed our prayers or simply slouched on the couch. Find a system which frees you from guilt if you miss a day; 10ofthose have some great undated devotional books. Start again. I read a blogpost in the last week about how we need to have Monday resolutions, not just New Year resolutions. And perhaps I even need to have daily resolutions. I mustn’t put off getting back on track because I’m waiting for a special season. I can reboot my resolutions today.

Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:7

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Our big Advent activity in the Vicarage is always the Jesse Tree – a bare twig we cover in decorations that take us through the salvation story to Jesus. We don’t always manage to get all the way through the readings and the decorating, but we make an attempt each year and cover at least some of it.

If you’re thinking of following God’s story from creation to the birth of Christ with a Jesse Tree for the first time this Advent, an excellently easy way to get your kit together would be to use free printables. These colour-in ones over at Life Your Way look great – there are lots of others all over the internet if you don’t fancy the colouring in, or if you want different bible stories. You don’t even have to use a twig – an outline of a tree drawn on a poster would work just as well (and not take up as much space in the kitchen). In the next couple of days we’ll be digging out our battered Celebrations tin and hunting round for the decorations that went astray when we packed up last year.

Another great Advent activity, especially good for holiday clubs or the like, or if school breaks up way before Christmas, is making a Nativity set. You could use this gorgeous cut up and colour set by Dutch designer Marloes de Vries or buy a set of Nativity Shrinkles, which my kids had lots of fun with last year. My goddaughters have each been sent a set this year. Our schools break up on the Friday before Christmas, so we may not have time for colouring activities this year, but I shall keep the Marloes de Vries colouring to hand, just in case the kids need occupying. We may end up with a house full of nativity sets!

I’ve linked this post up with one of Tanya’s – she’s posting some Advent reflections over the next four weeks.

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That is sooo Last Year. Well, it was for me. And here’s my confession: I failed. But I’m going to pick up where I left off last year (about a fifth of the way through I guess) and nail it in 2011. I was following a bible reading plan for Shirkers and Slackers, but I really shirked and slacked far too much.

I’d already decided to do this when I read a great post over at Stuff Christians Like which reminded me of the barriers we put in the way of reading the bible all the way through. I particularly resonated with Jon Acuff’s fourth point:

4. Make it easy.

We Christians get crazy legalistic when it comes to reading through the Bible in a year. “It’s got to be my black leather Bible, in this chair, at this time of day, with this pen in my hand, while having a peppermint mocha coffee heated to 120 degrees or my reading doesn’t ‘count’ that day.” Don’t be that guy to yourself. I’m going through the Bible with a group of guys right now and we’re reading it on YouVersion. It’s online, it’s easy to use and with an iPhone in my hand it eliminates the excuse, “I can’t find my Bible, oh well, guess I’ll skip my reading.”

I have a bit of a perfectionist streak, and it’s very hard for me to half-do something, or do it without the right pen, and I’d rather just skip it altogether. That’s why I never handed my homework in at school. That’s my excuse, anyway. How stupid is that?!

So this year I need to remember that doing a bit of something worthwhile, like reading my bible (and housework and filing) is FAR FAR BETTER than doing nothing. I’ve decided to help myself by using the online audio bible provided by BibleGateway as well as my normal paper bible. I can listen in the kitchen as I potter about and although it’s not exactly intense study, at least it’s BETTER THAN NOTHING. (The bold capital letters are me shouting at myself btw).

And in case you’re okay with starting a bible reading plan after 1st January, Justin Taylor has a great selection.

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A Happy 2010 to everyone. All is vaguely peaceful in the Vicarage this morning, although the Queen has just declared herself ‘bored’. Christmas as a Vicar (and family) is a lot more full on than as a Curate. The Vicar had seven (or was it eight? I rather lost track) talks to prepare and deliver in the space of about ten days. My days were filled with baking, wrapping and tidying – we were out at events (nativity plays, school fairs etc) and hosting them too.

So in the space between Christmas and New Year, we’ve taken some downtime. The Vicar led and preached at a service on 27th December, but other than that we’ve been on holiday at home. It’s been made special this year by old friends visiting from Australia who have children around the same age as ours.

Borneo Girl and I were in the Brownies together so we go waaaay back. Her daughter and the Queen are the same age and have played together intensively for four days. Hence the boredness of the Queen. Our friends left a whole hour ago. Borneo Girl has promised me some Aussie recipes, so I’ll be blogging those this year.

Now everything is quiet here I am going to get my devotional life back in the groove. When I read that there was a bible reading plan for shirkers and slackers, I knew it was for me. So I’ve printed it out and I’m off to read some Matthew (it is Friday, isn’t it?).

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Big Picture Story Bible

Great for Under 5s

An age ago, I thought I’d start reviewing kids’ bibles. We must have about twenty in the house and most of them have been test driven on three children, so we’ve had a good overview. And since it’s be the sort of time of year when you might be thinking of gift shopping, I thought I’d share a few of our favourites. Different ages and personalities prefer different books and there’s also the aspect of trying to ensure that our kids don’t just hear Christian platitudes even at a young age.

We are not very routine people here in our Vicarage. So our bible time routine with the kids varies with the weather and has changed as the kids have grown and grumped and had fads. We do try to have a bible time with each of them every night. This is not always possible. For instance, if the Vicar’s Wife is on the phone to her sister and the Vicar is buying tickets for the Eurotunnel trip to France next summer and somehow the Queen is still in front of the fire reading stories with Happy at an hour way past her bedtime, she might go to bed with just a quick prayer. That was last night anyway.

But in the grand scheme of things, our routine is story-bible-pray-bed. With teeth and toilet somewhere in the equation. If you change the bible (or the study notes for the older kids) it does seem if there is some variety though. And our children seem to like that, especially the older two. The Engineer is more of a stick-to-what-you-know sort.

His favourite bible for a good few months was The Big Picture Story Bible. Big and with bold colourful pictures, it does what it says on the cover. But more than that, it points to Jesus, and the big picture of God’s work in the whole of the bible, all the way through. The strapline on the back of the book is

The Bible is a big book, about a big God, who keeps a big promise!

Inside, succinct text sits with the double page pictures, telling the story of how God’s people blew hot and cold in their relationship with him throughout the Old Testament. It speaks about the promise of God’s forever king, as the story points forward to Christ.


As well as familiar New Testament stories of Jesus healing and teaching, the cross and resurrection are movingly told and Acts, the epistles and Revelation are all summarised, pointing to the time when:

God’s forever people will one day live in God’s forever place under God’s forever rule.

It’s a great book – highly recommended for preschool children and also those still in the infants who’ve not yet had a bible overview. A 5-7 year old who is beginning to read could help a grown up tell the stories.

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