Posted in theology

What Bible Reading Plan did I choose?

By Elizabeth Prata

I dithered about which Bible reading plan to follow, until yesterday. Talk about cutting it close. It’s not a question that I follow a plan. It affords me structure and a goal for what is a must to do each day.

For 2 years I did my seminary friend’s personally constructed plan which followed the chronological writing of the Bible, i.e. reading which books were written first all the way to last. That one started with Job, traditionally seen as the oldest book, and ended with Revelation, known to be the last written.

I did Grant Horner’s for two years, and M’Cheynes for a year. I loved them all, they are good.

Justin Peters is reading what appears to be M’Cheyne’s plan, (the link is to Jan 1 reading, – go to his landing page to subscribe to get the recordings that come out each day.)

Last year I did the MacArthur Daily Bible. I liked that one too.

So I’ve read thru based on chronological, on order written, and several plans that combine OT, NT with Psalms and Proverbs interspersed. What plan should I turn to next? From what angle can I absorb the treasures of Christ?

In the end I chose the one my elder recommended, the G3 plan. It’s called 5 Day Bible Narratives Reading Plan, a 52-week Bible reading plan that focuses only on the narratives of Scripture, along with all of the psalms and proverbs. About this plan:

–Read through all of the major narratives of Scripture, plus Psalm and Proverbs, in a year.
–Read only 5 days per week, catch up on the weekends.
–Perfect especially for children, families, or individuals who wish to focus a year’s reading only on the Bible’s narratives

The site offers free downloads, or a packet for purchase containing all the goodies. ($12.99 includes a chronological reading plan along with a 52-week catechism, memory passage for each week, and hymn of the week. Finally, it contains a guide for each day of readings that includes study notes, a brief description, and questions for personal or group reflection. I bought the packet.

Free Downloads

So what Bible reading plan if any, did you choose?

Posted in encouragement, theology

My silly reluctance to read the Bible

By Elizabeth Prata

There are a lot of songs of praise to and about God in the Bible. We think of Mary’s Magnificat at Christmas time. We think of the Psalms and their exaltation of Yahweh throughout. Simeon’s song. But there are so many others.

I follow a Bible reading plan that is chronological according to when the Bible book is written. So that means Job is the first book in the plan and Revelation is the last one. I just finished reading through Ezekiel.

When I was first saved the Lord saw fit to put in me an interest in Old Testament prophets. So that meant as a babe in Christ I was weaned on Jeremiah, Nahum, Obadiah and so on. I came to understand that was something a bit different as a new Christian than the logical progression of reading John and Acts and the other 3 Gospels. But I cut my teeth on the prophets and I love them and I’m familiar with them. Continue reading “My silly reluctance to read the Bible”

Posted in old testament, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: And the walls fell flat?

Our Bible Reading for today is Joshua 6-10. It’s the famous scene where Joshua and his army are commanded to march around the city of Jericho for six days. On the 7th day they were to march around it 7 times, shout, and the LORD would make the walls fall flat.

The walls were about 7 feet high, with a ditch around that, and atop a steep incline. The wall was actually a double wall. Towers were built into the walls, and anyone attempting to climb the hill and attack would be at a severe disadvantage.

It must have been unnerving for the Jericho-ites to see the Israelite army marching around and around day after day, the tension heightening, the strangeness of the scene increasing their apprehension. It was a good lesson for the Israelite army too. Obedience in the face of a strange command. Its fulfillment promised blessing, though, and would be a tremendous miracle.

And it was!

Some people say that such a thing could not physically happen. Others say that archaeology does not confirm what the Bible says, that Jericho never even had a wall. In both cases, these are not a problem for the Bible believer. We believe God, therefore we believe what He says in His inspired word. The walls fell flat? Yes, the walls fell flat. Praise God for His mighty and mysterious ways.

Joshua 6:21 says that all the people and animals in Jericho were then killed by the sword. (Except Rahab and her brethren).  It’s always rough to read something like that. But the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says-

It should be remembered that the Canaanites were incorrigible idolaters, addicted to the most horrible vices, and that the righteous judgment of God might sweep them away by the sword, as well as by famine or pestilence. There was mercy mingled with judgment in employing the sword as the instrument of punishing the guilty Canaanites, for while it was directed against one place, time was afforded for others to repent.

God is good, He is gracious, and He is merciful. He is also righteous judge, and if idolaters refuse to repent, and continue idolizing the devoted things, then their sin will be paid with death. Joshua’s march shows that obedience brings blessing.

Further Reading

Answers in Genesis: The Walls of Jericho


Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

I finally found a Bible reading plan that works for me

I’ve failed at every Bible reading plan I ever tried. I’ve tried The Chronological method. I’ve tried ‘read the Bible in 90 days’. I’ve tried the audible, listening to Max McLean read Robert Murray M’Cheyene’s plan. I’ve tried the Five Day reading Plan. I’ve abandoned them all.

But now I found Grant Horner’s Bible reading system and I just love it. Rather than talk myself into reading every day, I can’t wait to read every day. I adore the way it’s set up. Here is Tim Challies introducing the system. He had spent the first paragraphs explaining his own previous unsuccessful attempts to stick with a plan, too.

It’s unique among the systems I’ve attempted in that it requires more reading and yet somehow makes all that reading seem so much easier, enjoyable and attainable.

Yes. I have found this to be true.

The system is quite simple–every day you read ten chapters of the Bible. That seems like a lot, so stick with me as I explain it.

What?! Ten chapters!? Yes. Don’t bail out. The plan suggests that you read at somewhere between speed-read and skim. Just read normally. Don’t deep study and don’t go so slow you focus on every word. The reading consistently only takes me about 35 minutes. That’s really only as long as it takes. Challies again-

Each of the ten chapters will be from different books, which is to say that at any given time you’ll be reading ten books of the Bible concurrently, one chapter per day. So on day one of the system you will reading the first chapter of Matthew, Genesis, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Joshua, Isaiah and Acts. You will read each of these books, one chapter per day, and then go on to other books before repeating it all again. This means that every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times.

Scripture begins to interpret scripture. You don’t need the deep-study while reading on this plan because the volume and variety of readings you do each day begin to knit together of themselves. You can deep-study at another time, but if your goal is to read the Bible through, despite the seeming length of material expected to be read daily, this Bible plan is excellent.

Professor Horner says of his plan,

After just a few days the reading gets much easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. And then — you’ll tell others to start the system!

I have found this to be true as well. Here is Challies with a few tips with which I agree:

  • Stay somewhere between speed reading and deep meditation. Get through the text without dawdling, looking up cross-references and so on. Get to know the Bible and these things will explain themselves.
  • Stick with one Bible, not just one translation, but one actual Bible. I would try to ensure it’s a printed Bible, not an electronic one.
  • Read in the order he suggests, which means you’ll be moving from Old Testament to New and back again several times every day.
  • Don’t be legalistic. If you miss a day, pick up and keep going. Don’t quit.

The link to the various styles of bookmarks already have the numbers on top. The ones I printed out didn’t, so I just added a post-it tab on top. I use my MacArthur Study Bible to study, I use this Bible to read. I like using this one because I’m not distracted by the study notes on the bottom and wander off to chase rabbit trails. I just read. 🙂

Since not all the chapters are the same length, and on Day 15 you won’t necessarily be on chapter 15 of all the books, I also use a post-it tab to show me where to begin each day. One thing I like about this plan is that once I printed out the bookmarks and put the tabs on them I was done with organizing. (5 min) There is no paperwork or fussiness to this plan.

I have small note papers next to my laptop. Even though the plan demands you read at a regular reading pace, I do have questions as I read, make comparisons, draw insights. If necessary, I stop very briefly to jot them down on a small paper. It’s small so I won’t interrupt my reading for very long, just a quick note to follow up later.

That’s it! Last time I write about beginning a Plan and then abandoning it, someone had suggested in the comments that I try the Horner plan. Well I finally did! Thanks readers!

Further reading:

Professor Horner explaining how he developed his system

Here is a link to Professor Horner’s system itself:

Here is a link to printouts of different styles of bookmarks, the bookmarks help you keep track.

Sunny Shell reviews Horner’s Bible Reading plan.

Posted in Uncategorized

Surprised by Leviticus

I’ve read most of the Bible. I’ve read through the New Testament all in one swoop, and then I’ve read different Books straight through several times.

I’ve read all of the Old Testament Prophets and loved them. I love Genesis especially. I’ve read Lamentations and Ecclesiastes and loved them too. I’m fascinated by Psalms and Proverbs, even the verses I don’t understand.

I’ve never read Leviticus and Numbers.

Until now.

Going through the Bible in a 90-days Reading Plan does have its upside. I came to Leviticus early on and since this particular plan suggests reading 12 pages a day, I got through Leviticus quickly. I have to say that drinking the Word through a fire hose and moving on while still wet is quite a different experience than sipping it like a hummingbird and then meditating and studying while it digests.

I loved Leviticus. Just as you put anything else off and then finally get to it and it turns out to be not only not bad, but easy and great, and you say “Why did I wait so long to do this?” That was my reaction to Leviticus. Even its repetition was purposeful. I came away with the following reactions:

A renewed appreciation for the blood. Christianity is a bloody religion. All religions are bloody. This one is bloody for a good reason. Christianity  requires sacrifices, blood, and incessant focus on the blood. The reason for this is explained in the short Overview of Leviticus below. Suffice to say, God’s institution of Old Testament ritual and purity laws had great meaning in the original cultural setting. But even today, they have great meaning for us, even though we no longer sacrifice animals. Christianity is ALL about the blood, and in my opinion, in no other book do we gain such an appreciation for this fact.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Leviticus 17:11)

Secondly, I gained a renewed appreciation for the holiness of God. His purity, power, and holiness is displayed so magnificently in Leviticus. It is not as dramatic as His power in creating the world in Genesis, or when He parted the Red Sea in Exodus, but it is through His relationship with His people that we see His holiness and purity. It’s always great to learn, remember, and ponder His holiness in whatever form He chooses to reveal it, and for me, Leviticus did that.

Why wait? Perhaps you will have the same reaction to Leviticus as I did. It’s almost like, all scripture is profitable for… Wait, there’s a verse for that.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible Project’s Book of Leviticus Overview. Worth your time either before or after you read.

The Word of God is always wonderful. Always.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Prata Potpourri: Books, Books, Books, and Instagram Bible

Bible Reading Plans, Reading Challenges, Reading Resolutions, what’s a girl to do? Read!

Memory moment: A constant accusation against me as a kid was “Why do you always have your nose stuck in a book?” I heard that a lot, from parents, relatives, teachers. Though the teachers may have had a point. I’d put the smaller book by Laura Ingalls Wilder inside the larger tome of Algebra 1 and pretended to follow along in the math lesson. The teacher was not fooled, blast her preternatural senses.

Now that I’m saved, I pray that my nose is always stuck in THE Book, the Bible. Beyond that, reading as a pleasurable activity also engages the mind and stirs the imagination. Reading increases vocabulary, provides conversational topics, and are just plain fun. I’d let reading go to the side for a while but I’m resolving to pick it back up. (Do you see what I did there?)

I loved this piece by Jen Wilkin: Beware The Instagram Bible. She spoke against “The Instagram Bible” which is to say, the tendency for girls and women to post frilly and sentimental verse posts on Instagram, fluffed by flowers and feathers and filters, but ONLY the “loving”and “kind” verses and none of the tougher verses. Wilkin mused that if all the Bibles of the world disappeared and we only had access to scripture via these posted Instagram verses, the Bible would hardly be properly represented.

I’ve written about this before, regarding Church Bulletins, which typically do the same thing. Just once I’d like to see a judgment or wrath verse on a church bulletin.

Are you on the fence about starting a Bible Reading Plan? Yes. Yes I am. I am on day three and I’m already chafing under the self-imposed restrictions I’ve adopted. On the other hand, diligence and discipline do often chafe. So there’s that. I am sticking with it so far. But Jen Oshman has a good take on the whole thing in her article above. BTW, I am tickled I found Jen Oshman and put her on my blogroll before Challies did. There you go, my first boast of 2017. I repent. But it felt so good.

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid


Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, who is a good and funny writer, shares her latest estate sale find, a mini barrister bookcase. Her photos are gorgeous too. BTW, my former husband had a barrister bookcase, several levels high. It was a cool item, though not as cool as Mrs Barnes’ bookcase, because, well, hers is mini and mini means cute and cute is always cool.

Tim Challies is complementarian and he reads books by women. Gasp! LOL, of course men read books by women and unlike the Tower of Siloam, the hierarchy God has instituted for his church does not come unexpectedly toppling down to crush all in its usurping path. Read more to see why.

Here is Solid Food Ministries with a list of Reading Resources. Their Book Review page. And, their GoodReads page. Check them out!!

What does Samuel James believe is the threat to reading?

This is such an important, and liberating, point. You can’t read it all, and almost certainly shouldn’t try. Indiscriminate buying of books to fill out one’s “personal library” looks great on Instagram, but in practically every circumstance, it undermines the very intellectual pursuit it mimics.

Are your books piled up in stacks around the house? Bookshelves overflowing? 2X4’s on milk crates sagging? No mini-barrister bookcase in sight? Here is a Librarian with a website dedicated to organizing your own personal library. BTW I organize my books by genre and size. If you do it any other way, you’re doing it wrong. Just kidding. Maybe.

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” 
― Joseph Brodsky

A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. I have this book. It’s on the top left shelf of Bookcase #1. I am too afraid to read it. I have heard that self-diagnosing from the internet isn’t a good idea.

A photo I took of a poster at the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco
City Lights Books, San Francisco, EPrata photo
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Bible reading plans, choices, personal reading, books!

It’s time once again for the annual Bible Reading Plans blog essay! I’m notorious for starting and utterly failing to stick to a Bible Reading Plan. But I keep trying! Alexander Pope wrote hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Whole Bible in 2017

Each year at the end of December, many people choose a reading plan for the upcoming year only to find themselves failing to keep pace as the weeks pass. It may surprise you to know how many people in your church have not read the entire Bible. This year would be a wonderful time to read the whole Bible. Consider these three important reasons why you should read the whole Bible in 2017.

Reading through your Bible has become a year-end advertisement, resolution, and chore list. I would like to encourage you not to not do it. This may seem like an odd request, but I want to drive past the activity and look at the heart. I don’t want you to grab a plan, make plans, and follow through with those plans so you can say you read through your Bible. I would rather you simply say, “I’m committed to learning about my Lord and Savior, therefore I need to read my Bible because it is the source of light in this dark world.”

I’ve never been one to follow a crowd and I balk at being herded into a plan just because it’s Bible plan time of year. Alternately, I have not read through the Bible completely, and it’s been 13 years since I was saved. So, I am lax, lazy, unproductive, non-diligent, and all the words. I want to know my Lord, and the way to do it is to read His word. So thanks to the ever-diligent Challies who wrote about different plans, I am doing three. Over-ambitious? Setting myself up for failure? Probably. However, think of the feast I’ll enjoy if I’m successful at even one of them!

This plan I chose is a five day, semi-chronological plan. And it’s free. Challies wrote, of theFive Day Reading Plan,

My favorite daily Bible-reading plan is the 5 Day Bible Reading Program from Bible Class Material which I was introduced to by Melissa Kruger. It has several features I love:

It is a familiarity plan that covers the entire text of the Bible over the course of the year. Between January 1 and December 31 those who follow it read every word of the Bible.
It is a pseudo-chronological plan that covers the text of the Bible in the order the events happened. Thus, for example, the Psalms come at appropriate moments in the life of David, the books of Kings and Chronicles are read in harmony, and so on. This helps set the events in their historical context. Yet even though it’s chronological, it’s only pseudo-chronological. There are Old Testament and New Testament readings each day and the gospels are interspersed through the year. I find this an ideal compromise over a strictly chronological program.

It is a 5-day plan. A benefit of a 5-day plan (as opposed to a 7-day plan) is that there is less chance of falling far behind. At 5 days per week it is far more doable than at 7 days—there is always a chance to catch up. Also, it allows a day or two of reading something different for those who, for example, like to read and ponder the sermon text on a Sunday morning.

It is a free plan. It’s free for the taking! They’ve got a nice little print-out you can download, print, fold in half, and put inside your Bible. It’s got boxes to tick as complete each day and each week. Or you can do what I did, which is use the Reading Plan app to organize the plan even while reading through Logos, the ESV app, or a printed Bible.

2. I also bought this one for Kindle,
Reading God’s Story, Hardcover: A Chronological Daily Bible Hardcover
by George Guthrie (Author), Holman Bible Staff (Editor)

Reading God’s Story takes that clear narrative approach to the Bible, arranging the complete text into a fresh chronological reading plan developed for the Read the Bible for Life biblical literacy initiative. In this plan the books, chapters, and verses of the Bible are thoughtfully arranged so readers can track the story of Scripture, day by day, from beginning to end, understanding the flow of events and how all the different parts fit together to make sense.

I bought this one too,
3. NIV, Bible in 90 Days, Hardcover Hardcover, by Zondervan (Author)

As you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be an overwhelming challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Use it in conjunction with The Bible in 90 Days curriculum for all the benefits of sharing God’s Word in community, or read it by yourself. Either way, you’ll be fulfilling what for many people is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible.

Well, we’ll see. If I can’t stick to a plan for three months, or for five days in a week, I will be a sorry excise for a reader, a Christian, and a student!

Other plans

Michelle Lesley listed these kinds and other types of Bible Reading Plans on her page also. Take a look to see if there are some that appeal to you. There is a good variety. Michelle is faithful to provide a variety of credible and worthwhile resources on her page. You should bookmark it for 2017 if you haven’t already.

If you commute, pr prefer an audible Bible reading plan, there are those also. BibleGateway has The Daily Audio Bible plan.

Here is another option, The MacArthur Daily Bible:

The MacArthur Daily Bible takes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year, with daily comments that guide and inform you as you read through the Bible in a year. John MacArthur’s insight maximizes the benefit of each day’s reading. If a commitment to daily Bible reading never worked for you before, this is the answer.

You can also purchase it directly from Grace To You’s website, here.

Personal Reading

I am also planning on going through Challies’ reading program at the avid level. That is a commitment to read one book every two weeks. I work two jobs, and when I finish for the day, finish my own Bible reading, fulfill my ministries, and write a blog essay for that day, I’m pretty numb. But I do waste time on tv (like Judge Judy clips on Youtube) or shows like Top Chef or Great British Menu, so the fact is, there IS time to read. I want to read more. It relaxes me more than TV does and it’s better for my mind. I want to re-ignite the daily habit. I like books, and I miss them.

Here is the entire offering, from light reader of one book a month, to obsessed reader at two books per week.

Completed Personal Reading:

So far this School vacation I have finished:

JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy which was excellent. There’s profanity, but it’s necessary because when he quotes his family, that is how they spoke. Overall it’s an excellent secular book examining poverty cycles among those from Appalachia, from the perspective of ‘one who made it out.’

I read a Kindle short called My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller. You might remember Stoller as Everybody Loves Raymond’s whiny look-alike cousin. It’s well written and interesting about the background life of character actors and comedy writers.

Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith. It’s published by Voice of  the Martyrs. I got a few chapters in and burst out crying as a mother fleeing murderous Muslim fanatics with torches and machetes crawled through the jungle and then exhausted, stopped to prepare her young children for imminent death. Tough but necessary book! There is nothing like reading about the courage of martyrs to make one grateful for the Lord’s decision to install me in the US in a comfortable life.

Warren Wiersbe’s Lonely People: Biblical Lessons on Understanding and Overcoming Loneliness (Living Lessons from God’s Word). I’m not lonely, lol. I am accumulating books for the church library or to hand out to Christian friends. I read them ahead of time to make sure they are solid in doctrine. I’ve seen too many church libraries and even pastor’s study shelves flooded with junk. So I read them before I give them. The book was slim, readable, and biblical. Wiersbe looked at six attributes that contribute to loneliness, which he distinguishes from solitude or lonesomeness. Wiersbe offers reasons for loneliness and biblical solutions.

I had three Banner of Truth magazines piled up and finished them. These are meaty, theological magazines. I especially enjoyed the November edition looking at the doctrine of Particular Atonement and October’s edition where the last days of Martin Luther were chronicled. I encourage you to subscribe. They publish 11 times per year, one of the issues is a double issue.

On the To-Read list, books I recommend to one and all,

Truth Or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare by Jim Osman. Pastor Osman is pastor of Kootenai Community Church. He is Justin Peters’ pastor, the preacher known for his discernment conferences and videos. Pastor Osman has another book coming out soon, too. A new book by Pastor Jim Osman on Psalm 73 and the prosperity of the wicked will be released in early 2017.

Justin Peters has a new book just released this week, also-

Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion
I live in the Bible Belt where there’s a Baptist church around every corner. It is common for me to arrive at school on a Monday and a kindergarten or first grade child shares that ‘yesterday they got saved, they’d asked Jesus into their heart’. While I’m thrilled the child goes to church and learns about Jesus, I’ve seen too many children over the years grow up and abandon their commitment and fall away. I often mourn when greeted with “Jesus into my heart” news. From the book:

Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me and do not hinder them; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Is this a verse in support of baptizing children who make a profession of faith in Christ as most evangelicals have supposed? If it is, why is it that so many of the children we baptize grow up to show little if any fruit of having been genuinely converted? Why do so many walk away from Christianity once they gain independence from the home? In Do Not Hinder Them, author and evangelist Justin Peters presents a compelling biblical case that both the nature of children and the nature of salvation warrant extreme caution before we baptize children who have made intellectual assent to the basics of the Gospel.

Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America

At one time in history, New England was a light to the nations. From its origination, the Northeast region has been a spiritual powerhouse, leading the way for Christianity to flourish in America and beyond. However, after three centuries of vibrant Christian influence, it encountered a perfect storm comprised of false doctrine, liberalism, and materialism, which crippled the church, and plunged the region into spiritual darkness. In Reviving New England, Nate Pickowicz makes a case for the inestimable value of the region, and offers a series of biblical prescriptions for faithfulness

I’m from New England, and it’s heart-breaking to see the empty churches, failing churches, liberal churches, all in gloriously beautiful and historic buildings that once espoused the faith in truth and light.

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, by J. Ligon Duncan, Susan Hunt (Paperback)

Susan Hunt and Ligon Duncan walk through the Scriptures to help readers better understand what it means to have an effective, biblical women’s ministry in the church. The benefits of women’s ministries are great: training and discipling, evangelizing, and reaching out to the poor and needy. This book, written by seasoned ministry leaders, provides many proven tools to help start a women’s ministry in your church.

Ok, if I sit here writing about reading for too long I will not get to read! Happy New Year, may the Lord bless you in all you do for Him and in Him.