Today’s post will be a bit more personal than a normal blog topic as I feel compelled to provide a public explanation regarding one of my goals for 2012. Simply put, my goal is to read through the entire English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible in 2012. I know, I know…for most people, this is not a big deal – it is something they have done a dozen times over their lifetime (which is great!). And who knows, between personal devotions, Bible studies and over 37 years being part of local churches dedicated to following the Word of God, maybe I have already effectively read/heard every verse. But that is not the point of my goal. And let me be frank – this is an ambitious goal for me. Why? Well it’s not for my lack of joy in reading itself because I LOVE to read. On average, I read about a book a month – fiction, non-fiction, theology, spy, Francis Chan, John Grisham, Erik Larson, and Michael Lewis. For years I have being attempting to improve the quality and purpose of my reading pursuits but that is another discussion of another day. Suffice to say nothing is more enjoyable than the day I finish a book, check that off the list (and yes, I keep a list) and then get the pleasure of choosing the next title to tackle. It’s like the whole world is open to me again – the closest thing to being an early explorer I can think of. The reason reading through the Bible in one year is ambitious for me is because I am not a fast reader – in fact, some would say I am somewhat slow. So to accomplish the whole Bible in a year does place a time constraint on me which is fairly robust. However, time constraint aside, there are two reasons I committed to making this a 2012 goal: for the sake of my discipline and for the reduction of my own hypocrisy.

I would like to note very clearly from the beginning the inclusion of the word “my” in both rationales. By no means am I attempting to make a vast statement or develop a normative principle about anyone else’s lack of discipline or existence of personal hypocrisy. These are my burdens to bear alone. Regarding my own discipline, there are not many things in my life that I will voluntarily do every day for 365 days straight. I have to sleep. I have to eat. Even spiritual disciplines like devotions and prayer can vary in length and consistency. I do believe there is value in discipline and I do believe there is value in striving to do something every day regardless of circumstances. My intent is not to be legalistic about it – I already have missed a day once or twice since starting. But my goal is if I am knocked down (miss a day), I get back up (catch up) – I try never to be more than one day behind. So as of today, February 21st, I am exactly on schedule.

Now regarding my own hypocrisy, this truth was driven home by the unlikeliest of people. I stumbled upon a conversion during the Christmas season between two relatives regarding the bestseller “The Shack”. It was not a necessarily edifying conversation, nor one that cast certain people of faith in a very good light. There were many harsh things being spoken that I wanted to jump into and correct, rebuke…attack! But out of respect for the situation I just listened – and by listening, this statement came ringing to my ears from one of the participants “I wish people wouldn’t criticize a book they haven’t even read.” There is much truth in that statement. By just hearing that, it helped encourage me to keep my mouth shut at that moment as I had yet to completely finish “The Shack”. But as I thought about it more over the days, it was impressed upon my heart that I should systematically read the entire Word of God through. How am I to live out a book that I haven’t necessarily read in its entirety? How am I to teach about that book , explain that book, value that book? I came to some startling answers to each of those questions. So it is not out of self-promotion, ego or legalism I undertake this task – it is out of pure self awareness of my own failings and desire to know more, learn more, and understand more.

And this brings us to the reason I am writing about it here. I desire accountability for this goal. There will be difficult times – I can already see a summer filled with vacations, ball practices, trips, work, sun, chores and the like. However, even during those rough patches, I want to be held accountable to this goal. If anyone is curious, I am using the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan that goes through the OT once and the NT & Psalms twice (Why? Because this plan – and there are dozens – seemed the most interesting to me). In closing, I have other goals for 2012 as well – some I may announce; some I never will. But with that said…here we go!