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I Don’t Read My Bible Anymore… But I’m a… Christian?


The Bible shown above (Attributed to: Michaela McNichol, Library of Congress), is the one Abraham Lincoln held for his oath of office in 1861. A little Wikipedia research and this article from CBS News told me it was not the Bible Abraham Lincoln carried with him to his inaguration. The story is he arrived in Washington in the middle of the night on the edge of the Civil War, separated from his own Bible, and had to use a borrowed one. A clerk of the US Supreme Court brought one he kept for official use.

How sad, the fate of this Bible, with its crisp, unturned pages, wasting its life away in a drawer somewhere. And yet, how many of our own Bibles do the same?

The truth is, there are very few people who read the Bible from cover to cover. Some purpose to read the Bible every year, and they may or may not reach that goal. Others are content to sit in church and listen to someone read a few verses to them. My suspicion is there are a lot of “Christians” out there who seldom move past the cover.

Question, friends. If we, as Matthew 4:4 tells us, live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, will we not die if we choose not to partake? Will we be like the Saducees in Matthew 22, and have God tell us we are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures or power of God?

I’ve found that although it’s a challenge to sit and read pages of the Bible at a time in our busy society, it’s rather easy to read an excerpt here and there. I found little stickers, and placed verses on all my light switch plates. I have pictures hanging in my home with Bible verses written as a caption. You can hang a calendar that provides a scripture to read each day of the month. There are apps and CDs that will read the Bible to you in the car. Sites like Bible Gateway will send you a verse of the day. Even if you cannot find the time to sit and read page after page, you can still find ways to encounter God’s words throughout your day.

Every year, I renew my goal to memorize 100 Bible verses. I do this for Lads to Leaders, but mostly to provide an example for my children about how important God’s words are and how we must write them on our hearts. My goal for this year is that my children learn them, too. Join us! We’re starting with the Beattitudes, Matthew 5:1-12.

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Meme-Based Religion and the Status Bible

Sometimes it scares me how impatient we’ve all become, and how few people seem to take time anymore to stop and smell the roses. But the things we do take time for…always Facebook, right?

According to this NBC News article from 2013, smartphone users check their Facebook pages an average of fourteen times every day. That’s the average. The article goes on to mention that 79% of users check their phones in the first fifteen minutes of their day.

Think about how different the world might be if those same people checked their Bibles first thing or opened their Bibles fourteen times every day.

I think there are a lot of Christians out there who live busy lives and take comfort in being able to post a Bible verse or a religious-themed meme. We do so with good intentions–it’s an easy way to “share Christ” with everyone who follows us in their news feed. But what are we really sharing? It’s Cracker Jack Christianity. Dig through the sticky muck on our newsfeed and pull out a cheap imitation for the real thing. But at least people are reading Bible verses, right? Well, yeah. Right.


And this is a big however…

According to several studies, there are a lot of Christians out there not reading their Bibles very often anymore. Take this article from the Huffington Post, for example (April 2013). They cite a survey from the American Bible Society claiming that only one in five Americans read their Bibles on a regular basis. It said that fifty-seven percent only read their Bibles three or four times per year, and that the same percentage of young people ages 18-28 read their Bibles three times or less per year.

What this means is for many, the only access they have to Scripture is whatever random verse they see on someone’s Facebook wall. They might base their faith entirely on that, thinking they’re okay when they’re not. And like Psalm 119:105 says, the Bible is a light to our path–without it, we’re just walking blindly in the dark.

This is what prompted me to write Cavernous. It’s a what-if book, considering the idea that our obsession with social media might lead to the next big political revolution. First, a presidential assassination, and then a planned effort that leads to the secession of several states. And a group of extremists who recruit through their Facebook page lead several states into secession to form their own country.

Is that so far fetched? How many blog posts have we shared without looking to see what the writers really stand for? How many memes have we passed on without looking at the names of the original poster? I for one have seen Christians post pictures from users or groups with inappopriate names  on multiple occasions and they probably didn’t even notice.

What if–we like the pages, we sign on via the comfort of our own homes, and then suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of a great divide?

Suppose a new political leader came along who didn’t agree with three verses in I Corinthians–so he has them removed and reprinted. And he didn’t like part of Romans, and he couldn’t leave in the verses that address his favorite sin… and suddenly we have a Bible that doesn’t reflect God’s true plan of salvation. And we might not realize it because WE HAVEN’T READ OUR BIBLES LATELY!

It would never happen, right?

But think about it, thoughout history, political leaders have had influence on printing the Bible. The King James version, for example, was commissioned by King James IV and the church of England. And these days, anyone can self publish whatever drivel they feel like.

In Cavernous, one of the themes is to not only read Scripture, but to write it on our hearts. The main character, Callie, is able to stand up to the political leaders because of her Biblical knowledge. I’m not sure I could do that myself, which is why this is a message for me as much as anyone else. These days, it’s so easy to read the Bible. There are even phone apps that will read it out loud to you. None of us have an excuse to rely on statuses and memes to give us our daily Biblical nourishment.

Rant over 🙂 Back to writing!

Taking Time to Read

Here’s the first in a list of ten pieces of advice Richard Bausch gives in his “Letter to a Young Writer.” 

Read. You must try to know everything that has ever been written that is worth remembering and you must keep up with what your contemporaries are doing. Fitzgerald’s advice to his daughter, Scotty, is as good as any there is on the subject. “You must try to absorb six good authors a year.” This means that you do not read books as an English major is trained to read them. You swallow them. You ingest them. You move on. You do not stop to analyze or think much. You just take them into yourself and go on to the next one. And you read obsessively, too. If you really like something, you read it over and over through the years. Come to know the world’s literature by heart. Every good writer I know or have known began with an insatiable appetite for books – for plundering what is in them, for the nourishment provided there that you can’t get from any other source. 

While reading writing help blogs and articles, I continually find advice for a writer to read from the genre they hope to write in. As a new writer, you might not know that, so my suggestion is to look at the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers.That’s where I found my favorite book, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. The title intrigued me, the story gripped me, and I might have never found it, had I not looked over that list.

I love Bausch’s advice about not stopping to analyze, and just losing yourself in the book.

If you don’t like to read, you should know that when you write, there’s a lot of time spent reading your own work to try to make it better. Write, read, revise. Write, read, revise.

Though I do think it’s important to not stop to analyze, I also believe that analysis at the end is essential. Some have called Stephenie Meyer brilliant; others do not have much nice to say about her writing. No one argues that she doesn’t know how to sell a story.The Twilight series speaks to people in a way that many other books can’t. The same is true for The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and The 39 Clues. Ask yourself questions, like why there are so many middle-aged people devouring these books that were written for a young adult audience.

Well, off to follow my own advice. Can’t wait to read Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed!