Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Tis the Season...for Bible reading plans?

'Tis the the season for me to try to figure out what plan to use for Bible reading in 2012.

Earlier this year I wrote about discovering, using, and enjoying Professor Grant Horner's Ten Lists system.  He has Ten Lists which can be turned into ten bookmarks that have you reading one chapter from ten different places in the Bible each day.  It's sounds chaotic and overwhelming at first, but there were many things I liked about his system.

A few favorites...

•No dates, so no feeling behind. No guilt for missed days! Just find your place, read, and keep going.  
         I guilt!
•Variety of Bible book genres each day. (Gospels, Poetry, History, Prophets, Epistles, etc.)
•The "lists" are all different lengths so the Bible readings line up differently with each other over time, speaking to me in new ways and showing new (and exciting) things about God and His redemptive plan that is revealed and woven all the way through all the books.
•The lists put books in different seasons over time, again because the lists are of varying lengths. 
     If, like me, you have tried many reading plans over the years 
        and are quite tired of reading Genesis in January, 
             it is a real treat to have a plan that varies seasonally! 
•Plus, I really did enjoy reading in ten places.  It captured my attention and, surprisingly, I didn't have any trouble following the flow of things even in so many places.

BUT... I totally failed at finding (making) the time to read ten chapters a day once Summer ended.  And that was even before I discovered I was pregnant and had extra fatigue and (all day) morning sickness for the first time in many years.  Every time I did pick up my Bible, I was very happy to find the faithful bookmarks sitting there waiting for me so my fuzzy brain knew where to read, but I hardly ever got through all ten bookmarks in one day. 

Often, though, I could manage half the lists and finish up the next day.

So that gave me an idea.  What if I made my own book marks, my own lists, and I was only reading five chapters a day and still no pressure if I miss a day from time to time (or more often)?  Something that takes 20-30 minutes a day?

Just. Keep. Moving. Instead of giving up and thinking I need to wait and start all over again with Genesis and Matthew in January!

So, 'tis the season for me to make a plan to be in the Word in some systematic way this upcoming year and I've decided to stick with the bookmark type plan. I'm quite a ways in and will keep my place where I've been reading, but I've modified it to Five Lists which I've made into Five Bookmarks.  I'm giving all credit to Professor Grant Horner, because all I've done is combine his lists in a way that seems good to me, and possible during this upcoming season of my life.

For those who might be interested, I'm going to share my lists here - along with my no-dates, you're-never-behind, Bookmarks Bible Reading Plan.

Sara’s Five Bookmarks Read one chapter per day, per bookmark. (Or whatever you can manage - just keep moving the bookmarks at your own pace - one bookmark, two bookmarks, or five)

1. Gospels and Acts •  Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts ( 117 chapters) 

2. Books of Moses and Psalms • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms • (337 chapters)  (I recommend starting with Psalms if you are beginning this in January and you've tried many plans over the years - just to avoid reading Genesis again first, in the dead of winter)

3. Poetry and Prophets • Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi  • (312 chapters) 

4. Wisdom and History • Proverbs, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther • (280 chapters) 

5. New Testament Epistles • Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation • (145 chapters) 

Email me at if you'd like the actual Sara's Five Bookmarks .pdf  to print and cut out at home (with these instructions).

Note: One thing I have done this past year in using the bookmark system is make a tiny dot (.) at the end of each chapter when I finish it, so that if the bookmarks fall out (or are taken out, chewed, and ripped by a baby–as happened more than once to mine) or if I miss several days of reading, I can easily find my place and get going again. One of Professor Horner's strong suggestions is using the same Bible for reading all the time, and I like to read a paper (rather than digital) Bible so this (the tiny dot markings) works well for me.

My goal is NOT to get through these lists in one year, but just to read widely and consistently this year (and always) in the Bible.  Although if one did read these five bookmark lists consistently, one would get through all the Bible at least once, and the New Testament books at least twice ~ even skipping 28 days entirely. But, one of my own personal rules is "never try to catch up" just pick up and read where the bookmarks are, and abide in the Word that day by His grace.

I thought this a wise comment on Bible reading...

"I don’t want to master God’s Word. I want God, through his Word, to master me. And I’ve got a long way to go." ~Bob Kauflin, in his excellent and encouraging explanation of why and how he is using the Ten Lists plan. 

Most important to remember is that our Lord has called us to abide with Him, and yet nowhere in the Bible is there any requirement that anyone read through the Bible in one year or with any particular plan.  I do believe being in the Word brings joy, and allows us to abide in Him, and for this reason (among others) I desire a great hunger for the Word so that I may pursue it for love and joy, and not for duty.  

(For more tips on using the bookmark here)

...In Your presence is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11. 
         Please, grant us that gift. 


*Professor Grant Horner's Original Bible Reading System, and his thoughts on it can be found here.

For a "just the plan, please" explanation my no-dates, you're-never-behind Bookmarks Bible Reading Plan (Basically, Sara's Five Bookmarks plus Instructions) go here.

Email me at for a pdf of Sara's Five Bookmarks with instructions.


Crafty Cristy said...

Amen. And beautifully worded.

Lauren P said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm with you! I tried Dr. Horner's plan this past year and did great the first two months but fell way behind after that. I really did love the way I was reading different combinations of Scripture and the way "Scripture interpreted Scripture" as I did this. Also I had a horrid time with all those book marks falling out, so like you I found making a small dot at the end of each chapter was a huge help but that got messy with the shorter lists. So post it notes really came to my rescue - and amazingly they held up the whole year!!! I just wrote the books included in each category on a post it note and then moved it from chapter to chapter as I advanced. Now I'm going to make new post-its for your five categories - I love your idea to combine them! Much more manageable! Thank you so much for sharing!

Sara said...

I have another friend who uses post-it notes. That sounds like a great option. Do you use the longer ones or just the regular square ones? I have found that just making them out of paper, they stay in place pretty well for me - but if I try to laminate them they slip out all the time. My ten bookmarks were cardstock, but got a bit thick right by the binding. Anyway - thanks so much for your comments about how things work for you! I am just loving the five lists - after trying to read ten it is very manageable! Blessings in the New Year.

Katy~The Country Blossom said...

What a neat system! **The ESV bible is my favorite, as well!**

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