It’s that time of year when we start making lists of New Year’s goals such as losing weight, settling into an exercise regime, and, for many of us, finding time to read the Bible and grow in our relationship with God. Come February, how many of these goals will have been forgotten?
The International Bible Reading Association’s (IBRA) mission is to help Christians around the world to read the Bible daily, and with understanding. Which is why this January it’s launching the #FreshStart Challenge to better equip and support people to make the daily reading of God’s word a lifestyle habit rather than a just resolution that gets dropped or forgotten.
In addition to promoting its own tips for helping you to stick to your Bible reading resolutions IBRA is challenging others, including Christian bloggers and its own social media followers to share their own tips at @IBRAbibleread on Twitter.
IBRA’s #FreshStart tips for sticking with your Bible this January:
- Find a time that works each day and stick to it. There isn’t one time of day for everyone, but it’s important to find a time that works for you. Early morning or before bed, after the kids are off to school or before work or classes, make it a habit. Keep your Bible handy and set reasonable goals.
- Use a daily devotional or annual plan to inspire and direct your reading. Giving the time you spend in your Bible purpose and direction, this can also be a great way to hear other perspectives on God’s Word and challenge you afresh. Fresh from the Word 2018 is a paperback book that provides 365 sets of notes, prayers and suggestions for action on biblical themes from theologians and biblical scholars; creative and inspirational writers from around the world.
- Weave the Bible into other parts of your day. Bible reading is about a journey of transformation. Make sure what you are reading seeps into other parts of your day – how can what you have read impact your family, friends, colleagues etc. Fresh from the Word 2018 provides daily prompts of ways to further explore the readings and ways to put your faith into action.
- Dig into the ‘other world’ of the Bible. The Bible is written in a world very different from our own. Be curious about jugs and chariots, scrolls and temples, kings, and palaces and armies. How were women treated? What was the ancient attitude to religion? Be curious and take a moment to look something up in a reference book or online.
- Read the Bible with other people, people different than you. Find a Bible study group, a minister or pastor or friend at church you can have a chat with about what you have read. Alternatively, use a devotional like Fresh from the Word2018 that includes diverse perspectives on scripture by featuring different international writers.
Seventy-two year-old Stuart Paulley, a committed Christian from Oldham, and a seasoned Fresh from the Word reader comments: “I use the (Fresh from the Word) notes every morning. They help me understand the background to what I’ve read. I always use the prayer session and often the suggestions for further thought. This is then followed by my daily time set aside for prayer.”
Fresh from the Word 2018 addresses topics such as work life balance, communicating in the 21st century, a community of care, remembering with God, and the Creative Spirit. The book journeys through Holy Week with the Psalms and with the Gospel of John in Advent, and includes weeks on Proverbs, Hosea, Colossians, Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark.
International writers who have provided their perspective on the Bible for 2018’s edition of this annual publication include: Lucy Winkett, Anglican priest, regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day who has written the foreword; Baptist Minister and contributing editor for the online magazine Christian Today Reverend Mark Woods; Brazilian poet and composer Simei Monteiro; Abraham Mathew – an ordained minister of the Mar Thoma Church in Noida, India, which belongs to the Reformed Orthodox tradition; and Alesana Fosi Pala’amo, a lecturer in Practical Theology at Malua Theological College in Samoa.
Fresh from the Word 2018 editor Nathan Eddy, comments “The founding principle of IBRA is to make a habit of reading the Bible and discussing our thoughts with others. The Fresh Start campaign is born from this. We should all remember that Bible reading can be a way of letting God be God, and letting God gaze on us as we read. We want people to remember this January that God delights to look on the world and is as close to you as you’ll allow Him to be; God delights in you, while you read the Bible to understand Him more. Let God see you, warts and all.”
Today Fresh from the Word and the IBRA daily reading list are used by over one million people around the world.
Fresh from the Word 2018 can be purchased for £9.95 online at https://shop.christianeducation.org.uk alternatively you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 458 3313 to purchase your copy.