Hey, my friend. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Before I dive into our conversation today, I want to publicly acknowledge the ladies who are working with me in the Journal Gently program.
Some of these ladies are grieving the loss of a loved one. Some are trying to process a divorce or broken relationship. Some are healing from trauma or abuse in their past.
They are doing the hard and holy work of healing. I am both humbled and amazed to bear witness to the steps they are taking to talk to God about it all. They have named the hurt in their lives, they have decided they don’t want to ignore it anymore or try to push it away or drown it out in service to others. Instead, they are finding ways to process it all on the pages of their journals.
And I am just so stinkin’ proud of them.
If you have experienced grief or trauma or betrayal, or maybe you are going through a difficult season right now, I would love to invite you to join us in the Journal Gently program. During our time together, you’ll be able to create a journaling practice that provides the structure and support you need to start talking to God about what is stirring in your heart.
I know facing trauma or grief can be hard. We worry about remembering or re-living the experience. But this truly is a gentle program. There is never any pressure or rush to complete a specific writing exercise or do something you’re not ready for. In fact, many of the ladies say after the first week or two how much lighter they feel, that they have experienced joy as they wrote.
And I want that for you, my friend.
To learn more about Journal Gently, go to lovedoesthat.org/journalgently. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. I’d love to help you discern if this is a good fit for you right now.
Spiritual Discipline of Bible Reading
Now today, I want to continue with our summer theme of spiritual practices. The reason we’re talking about spiritual disciplines is because we all need to find ways to cling to Jesus during difficult seasons, right? Whether we are the one who is hurting or we are the one caring for the one who is hurting, we need to stay close to Him.
We’ve talked about journaling in a couple of episodes, and we even talked about how sleep can be a spiritual practice, and today, I want to focus on Bible reading.
Bible reading is one of those core spiritual disciplines you think about when you think about the Christian life, right? We are encouraged from a young age to read the Bible every single day.
Reading God’s Word helps us to recognize His voice. It helps us know His character and what He values or finds important. It teaches us to know what He cares about and how He wants us to live.
As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Why wouldn’t we want to spend time reading the Bible? Not only does it teach us and prepare us to do His work, it is probably the best way to come to know God intimately. To not just know about God, but to truly know Him as a person.
But sometimes picking up our Bible and reading it can be a chore. This might be due to our schedule or lack of quiet space to feel like we can focus and read. It might be because we aren’t in the habit of it. Or it might stem from our fear of not understanding what we read.
While I won’t address all those issues today, I think one of the best things you can do to encourage a regular Bible reading habit is to pick a Bible you’ll actually use. Here are three tips to help you do just that.
Tip #1: Choose Your Bible Translation
First, choose what Bible translation you want. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. That means that any English version we have now has been translated from these original languages.
Some translations are what we call word-for-word translations. They focus on translating each word as accurately as they can. This would include the NASB, ESV, RSV, and King James translations.
Other translations are what we call thought-for-thought translations. Instead of translating it one word at a time, they focus more on phrases or ideas. This often makes it a bit more relatable to how we speak today. These translations include the NRSV, NIV, NLT, and the Good News Translation.
Finally, there are also Bible paraphrases. These Bibles are written to make it easier to understand and read. They are great to use alongside a Bible translation. The main Bible paraphrase right now is The Message, by Eugene Peterson.
There are some newer translations out that you’ll want to research before you use. But there are many older ones that have stood the test of time and the input from those who do this for their life’s work. They are tried and true.
Now, everyone has their own opinion about what’s best to use: word-for-word or thought-for-thought. I think both have their place in our Bible reading and Bible study. And I invite you to talk to God about which one might be right for you.
However, here’s my encouragement to you: pick the translation you’ll actually read. If you pick up your Bible and have to really work to understand what you’re reading, or if you’re unfamiliar with words or have a hard time following the sentences or lines of thought… that’s not going to benefit you very much.
Sometimes it’s helpful to read things in a different translation, as it helps us understand different words and what they mean. But for your everyday Bible reading, choose the translation that you are most comfortable with. This increases the chances of you picking up your Bible to read it.
Tip #2: Choose Your Bible Size
So first, choose your Bible translation. Second, choose your Bible size.
Bibles range from small, travel copies to large study Bibles or large-print Bibles. These are all designed for specific purposes.
What you need to decide is where and how you’re going to use this Bible. I’m assuming you’re going to be reading it in your home most of the time, so if you want a larger Bible, that’s perfectly fine. Maybe you can keep it on your desk or nightstand, and that will prompt you to read it every day.
However, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I chose to find a more lightweight Bible than the one I had been using. It’s easier to carry around from room to room, and it’s easier to carry to church with me.
Typically, the smaller the Bible, the smaller the font size, so if you can see the Bible in person and make sure you can read the text, you’ll want to do that. Otherwise, if you’re ordering a Bible online, be sure to check the font size.
Most Bibles have between a 7- and 11-point font. Large print Bibles are 12-point fonts or higher, all the way up to 20-point font. Choose one that won’t strain your eyes. Again, we want to make this as easy as possible for you, to set you up for success in picking up your Bible and reading it every day.
Tip #3: Choose What Bible Resources You’d Like
So you’re going to choose your Bible translation and your Bible size. The last thing you need to decide is what resources—if any—you’d like in your Bible.
For example, do you want a study Bible with footnotes to help you understand what you are reading? Do you want space in the margins to journal? Do you want maps? Timelines? Character studies? A Bible reading plan?
The Bible I used up until a few weeks ago had wide margins so I could write notes and journal. I loved this at the time, because I often wrote things down as they came to mind, and they could be right there in my Bible instead of in a separate notebook.
I talked a couple of weeks ago how I switched that out for a Bible without margins so I could focus on simply reading the Bible and not feel like I had to come up with something noteworthy to write down. The Bible I’m currently using is more lightweight and portable, and it links to an app, so I can scan the page number and it takes me to study notes and additional resources. It’s a great fit for this season of my life.
Seasons Change—And So Might Your Bible
Which brings me to mention… seasons change, don’t they? What works for you in this season of your life may not work for you a year down the road. And that’s okay.
Maybe right now, you want a big study Bible so that as you read, you can learn more about the context of the passage you are reading and how you might be able to apply it to your life today.
Maybe in a few months, you find that you want to carry your Bible around with you more because you’re visiting the hospital a lot or waiting in the car for your kids, and so you choose a smaller, more lightweight Bible.
Maybe you try out one translation and it doesn’t really make sense to you, so you pick a different one.
There are many reasons why we might change up what Bible we’re using. Don’t be afraid to make a switch if you need to. As long as you are reading God’s Word, the format it takes doesn’t really matter, right? At least in my opinion.
What to Do with Used Bibles
Now, if you’re like me, I often feel guilty for having unused Bibles sitting on my shelves. I know there are people in other countries, or even in our own country, who don’t even have one copy of God’s Word, let alone three or six or ten.
Sometimes when I have different translations, I refer to them as I prepare to teach. But once I notice I’m not reaching for a specific Bible anymore, I wonder what I can do with it.
I’ve since discovered an organization called Love Packages, who will send used Bibles to missionaries and others in need of them.
They have facilities in Illinois and in Alabama, and you can mail your used Bible there.
On their website, they share that “what most Americans consider ‘damaged’ is hardly a handicap to the rest of the world. We ship tons (literally) of used bibles and Christian literature every week, and much of it is folded, wrinkled, creased.”
They actually send more than just Bibles, so definitely check them out and see if you can support them. You can find them at lovepackages.org.
Read Your Bible So You Can Know God Himself
So there you go: three tips on how to choose a Bible you’ll actually use. First, pick your Bible translation. Second, pick your Bible size. And third, pick what resources you’d like in your Bible.
All of this so that you actually pick up your Bible and read it. Every day, if you can. Read God’s Word so you can come to know God Himself. So you can receive His guidance, His wisdom, His comfort, His love, His peace.
That’s why this is so important. We cannot get through these hard seasons without Him. And reading the Bible is one clear way we can hear from Him and let Him speak to us.
I’d love to hear if there is a specific Bible you like. You can email me at email@example.com, and remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I. Tell me what Bible you use and why you like it.
Okay, my friend, that is all for today. Until next time, let’s encourage one another.
RELATED EPISODES + RESOURCES:
- Love Packages: Donating old Bibles
- Episode 121: Sleep as a Christian Spiritual Discipline
- Episode 122: Feeling Anxious? Try This 5-Minute Journaling Session
- Episode 125: I Just Ordered A New Planner… Here’s Why
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.