On “boring” testimonies

From time to time I run across people who do something I find pretty strange – they apologize or seem in some way embarrassed or ashamed by their simple, boring, not exciting personal testimony. They were saved young, attended church their whole life, haven’t committed any really awful sins, and just live the Christian life in a quiet way. And they seem to think there is something wrong with that, that somehow a testimony isn’t worth much if it doesn’t include stories of deep pain, horrible darkness, and shameful sin.

If you are one of these people, please listen to me. I have an interesting, exciting – or, as I prefer to call it, harrowing – testimony. I am proof that Jesus can save anyone, no matter how far they’ve wandered or how hard they’ve warred with God.

And I love the “boring” testimonies. Can’t get enough of them.

You see, I have children. My greatest prayer as a mother is that all my children would someday come to Christ. However, my second greatest prayer for them is that God would keep them from the path that I have walked. Obviously, God’s will for them is better than what I want, but I regularly ask that he would see fit to allow them to walk with him from a young age and not get too deeply entangled in the kind of sin and depravity that I’ve seen.

That’s why I love to hear the so-called boring testimonies. I love to listen to people talk about how Jesus took their hand when they were young and has never allowed them to stumble too far away from him. I get excited to hear stories that don’t involve huge amounts of grievous sin and Damascus moments. Those testimonies are wonderful, too, and I rejoice whenever I hear someone talk about how Jesus rescued them, but they don’t give me the kind of hope for my children that the simpler ones do.

So please, keep telling your simple testimony and don’t apologize for it. You never know who may need to hear it.

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My favorite Bible reading plan

As we’re coming up on the beginning of a new year, it’s time for a post about Bible reading plans. Maybe you are like me over the past decade and have tried a ton of plans to read your Bible – read through in 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years; read it chronologically, theologically, topically; etc. – but have never found a plan you really liked or could stick to.

A few years ago, I stumbled across Prof Grant Horner’s Bible reading plan. For those unfamiliar with the plan, it has ten lists of books in the Bible, based on book genre. Every day the reader reads one chapter from each list. So, on day one you read Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Romans 1, etc. When you get to the end of one book in the list, move on to the next. When you get to the end of an individual list, go back to the beginning. With repeated readings, you’ll start to see how Scripture will comment on and interpret itself. Reading at a good pace – not skimming, but not stopping to meditate on the text – each day’s reading can be finished in about an hour.

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I added ribbons to my Bible so I didn’t have to work with paper bookmarks, sticky notes, tabs, or any of the other methods I’ve tried to keep track of where I am. They works well and are aesthetically pleasing.

It’s a fantastic idea. You read through parts of the Bible multiple times in a year, and as the years progress you never read the same 10 chapters together again, allowing for much more changes in your daily reading than most plans. However, after having used the plan for a few months, I found one thing I really didn’t like about it. The original plan calls for reading Proverbs and Acts once a month, something that got very repetitive for me and didn’t feel helpful. So, I added those books into other lists and got 8 lists.

Here are the lists I use:

List 1 – Pentateuch
Genesis-Deuteronomy

List 2 – OT Historical books
Joshua-Esther

List 3 – Wisdom/Poetry
Job, Proverbs-Song of Songs

List 4
Psalms

List 5 – Prophets
Isaiah-Malachi, Revelation

List 6 – NT Historical books
Matthew-Acts

List 7 – Major letters
Romans-Colossians, Hebrews

List 8 – Minor letters
1 Thessalonians-Jude

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I wrote down my lists and taped them into the front cover of my Bible so I can keep track. The mark near 1 Thess shows I’ve finished that book. This is a clean tracking sheet, my other was really marked up.

Daily reading takes 45 min to an hour, depending on chapter length and how well I’m focusing on the reading. Sometimes I break it into two parts and read four chapter in the morning and four in the evening, sometimes I’ll only read a few chapters each day and make it through all the lists over two or three days, sometimes I’ll read two chapters per list in a day. If I miss a day (or, let’s be realistic here, a week…or two) I can just jump right back in where I left off. If I need a break from such drinking from the fire hose Bible reading, I write down where I left off on a piece of paper that I tuck into my Bible and do a different plan, or no plan, for a while.

Reading a large portion of Scripture every day has really impressed on me how much I was missing out on when I was only reading two or three chapters a day. I find myself more and more hungry for Scripture the longer I read this way. If you’re looking for a way to get more Bible reading into your life in the new year, I encourage you to try some form of a multiple-chapter genre reading plan.