Starting the 2018 Bible Reading Challenge

By Forrest White

In my childhood days, I was a “what if …” thinker, so I worried about all kinds of things that seem silly now. I remember looking to the night sky and thinking “What if Martians invade?” Of course, some thoughts weren’t so silly. I am an only child. “What if something happens to my parents?” That was a frightening thought. One day, wearied perhaps by my worries, my dad made a simple statement, one that helped me as a child and still helps me as an adult. “An idle mind,” he said, “is the devil’s workshop.”

As adults, our minds also may be preoccupied with idol thoughts when we chase what society deems important or with worries of the world where news, often bad, reaches us in moments via social media and notifications on our smart phones.

How can we make a lasting change?

We can heed the urgent advice of the Apostle Paul, who wrote to the church in Rome: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

In one of his many fine books, Rabbi Harold Kushner writes: “I recently ran across a story about a Native American tribal leader describing his own inner struggles. He said, ‘There are two dogs inside of me. One dog is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ Someone asked him which dog usually wins, and after a moment’s reflection, he answered, ‘The one I feed the most.’” 

There is no better way to feed the good dog inside us or to reprogram our minds than through a daily Scripture reading plan like Bishop Sharma Lewis’ 2018 Bible Challenge.

Here are some ways to make daily reading a habit:

1) Pick a time and do your best to stick to it daily. Make the time non-negotiable.

2) Pick a place that’s comfortable and quiet for reading and reflection.

3) Undergird this journey with prayer. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18

4) Ask someone to be your accountability partner. Don’t simply ask one another if you’ve done the reading. Make sure to ask questions like, “How did God speak to you through today’s Scripture?” or “What word or phrase stood out to you today?”

5) Be persistent. Some books of the Bible are more easily navigated than others, but remember … “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 16-17

6) Try hard not to skip a day. But, if that happens, don’t beat yourself up over it and, whatever you do, don’t give up! Fortunately for us, life and Bible reading challenges aren’t like a spelling bee – one mistake and you’re out.

7) Embrace technology. There are some terrific apps for your smart phone. They are easy to navigate and offer multiple translations and even commentaries.

8) If you prefer to read from a print version of the Bible, begin with a new one. We mark Bibles because they speak to us at that moment in time. Allow God’s living word to speak to you anew in this season of your life.

9) Listen up! Consider an audio Bible to supplement your reading.

10) Enjoy the journey! Don’t look at it as something you have to do, but embrace it as something you want to do.

-Forrest White is a news associate with the conference Communications office.


The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark, and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the GCFA, Attn: Legal Department, PO Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203-0029; phone 615-369-2334; fax 615-369-2330

Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
1-800-768-6040 or (804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center