By: Kris Dolberry– One of my favorite times is the beginning of a new year. It’s a time when I can de-clutter my soul and set new rhythms in my life. Several years ago, I created purpose statements for each domain of my life (family, work, friends, health, etc.). So, at the outset of each new year, I revisit those statements, revise them if needed, and create goals around them. Then I develop a plan of execution throughout the year to get me to those goals.
My “faith” goals always involve getting a fresh focus on the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 instructs us to…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
I know that nothing has the power to transform my life like spending time in God’s Word. In fact, our LifeWay Research team found in a recent study that daily Bible reading is the number one predictor of spiritual growth. Here are the 5 things I will do this year to get in the Word of God:
Each year I set a plan for how I will read scripture each day. Your plan will be different than mine. Some of you will read more. Others less. Just do something. I spend about 30 minutes each morning reading the Word of God and journaling my response. I also have a goal for the number of books I want to read this year that help me dive into the Word deeper and understand God better.
I admit it. I don’t like to read. Like many men, I’d rather be doing something active. I’m not alone. My friend, Dr. Johnny Hunt recently said, 85% of men have not read a book since graduation. I’m can’t confirm that stat, but point taken. By and large, men don’t read. This creates a problem when it comes to reading the Word of God. Thankfully, we have more access today to ways to consume God’s word without reading than ever before. I have found that using my commute time, time at the gym, or cutting the grass to listen to an audio book through Audible or several chapters of the Bible is a great way to consume hear the Word. And after all, Faith comes through hearing… (Romans 10:17).
Psalm 1 is an interesting section of scripture. It is a meditation about meditating on the Word of God. Verse 2 speaks of meditating on the Word of God day and night. (I encourage you to take some time to read the whole chapter.) I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I hear the word meditate is of a far-eastern monk sitting with his legs crossed and chanting. But, actually the meaning of the word is similar to rumination- when an animal such as a cow chews his food, then regurgitates it to chew on it again, and again, and again to take in every last one of its nutrients.
If you’ve never done this before, a great way to get started is to read a scripture, write down its meaning in your own words. Then write down what you learned about God, yourself, and others through it. Finally, write your response to what you hear God saying, in the form of a prayer. For me this process sometimes happens over the course of thinking about a verse all day long.
Praying scripture has been one of the most powerful disciplines of my spiritual life. It’s simply a way of communicating with God about what He has told us in scripture. It is an acknowledgement of the truth of His Word and letting your soul respond. If you’ve never done this before, start with the Psalms.
Coach Tommy Bowden recently told me that when he began to follow Jesus, he decided to read all the way through the Bible. But, he didn’t just want to read it. He wanted to dig in and understand it. After 5 years, he had made his way through the entire Bible but with a deep understand of the story it tells from Genesis to the maps. Every man needs to have a plan for how he will study and understand the Bible.
At LifeWay, we want to help you with that. We will be offering Eric Geiger’s new study for men, Unfolded: The Story of God free in an online format beginning January 19. It is an 8 week study that will help you study the Bible and understand it like never before. To find out more about the Unfolded Online Bible Study, Click Here
The bottom line… When men get serious about the Word, God deepens us and clarifies the identity He’s given us as men. When we read the Bible every day, I believe our families are changed, churches are strengthened, and communities are impacted for the glory of God.
Kris Dolberry is a pastor, Bible teacher, writer, and church consultant. After serving in pastoral leadership for 16 years, Kris now leads Ministry to Men at LifeWay and serves as Executive Editor of Stand Firm, a daily devotional magazine for men. He is passionate about serving churches in their mission of making disciples. Kris is husband to Vanessa and Dad to Konnor, Emma, and Brady. They live outside Nashville, Tennessee.