Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of a practice known as Lent. Lent is observed mainly by Christians in the Anglican, Calvinist, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The purpose of Lent is traditionally the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, charity, atonement and self-denial. Lent lasts 40 days, reflecting the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning His public ministry, and culminates in the celebration of Easter Sunday.
Christians all around the world choose some form of fasting for Lent each year; whether it is fasting on a certain day every week (like every Sunday), or fasting from a specific vice (like drinking) or simply fasting from a luxury (like going out to dinner). The idea is that the believer will take whatever it is that they have chosen to sacrifice and use either the time or the money from that to contribute in some way to charity. It really is a beautiful tradition that seeks to deny our ‘self’ and draw closer to God and His Kingdom work.
However, Lent is not simply about giving something up. In addition, it can be about adding in a regular spiritual discipline that is beneficial to a believer’s life; for example, reading scripture and spending time in prayer daily. I recently issued a challenge to my students in The Bridge to Give God 12, which simply means to give 12 minutes of your day to God, every day. The 12 minutes can be spent reading God’s Word, journaling and memorizing what they read, and also including time for prayer and reflection. Each student was asked to create a plan to Give God 12 using the following steps:
- Choose a specific amount of time (12 minutes!)
- Choose a specific time of day
- Choose a specific place
- Choose a specific reading schedule
Ask yourself how many minutes of your day do you want to give to God? When is your best time of day? Where is your best place to meet with God? Dedicating yourself to the rigidity of a daily routine to give time to God is something that is important for us all to do. But the Bible can sometimes be confusing, and overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in, and some people simply don’t know how to read their Bibles.
This is why I want to introduce you to something called “The Bible Project.” The Bible Project was started by Tim Mackie, who is a Pastor at a Portland Church, Door of Hope. The purpose of this Bible Project is basically to help people read the Bible. They offer a study guide which takes you through the entire Bible (chronologically) in less than a year, coupled with beautifully animated short 5 minute (ish) video clips that are used to introduce you to the big picture and major themes and concepts that you find as you read through the different chapters of the Bible and how they fit into the story as a whole.
My husband and I recently discovered The Bible Project and we are on day 16 (today) which is the end of the book of Genesis. Following along with project usually only takes about 15 minutes of my day, just barely longer than the time period I challenged my students to commit to. All that being said, I would like to issue a challenge to YOU. Give God your time! Use Lent to draw closer to God. Give the Bible Project a try and see how spending purposeful, daily time with God can and will change your life. I bet you’ll notice that you will look forward to the next day, and maybe even be tempted to do multiple days’ worth of reading in a single sitting.
Here are a couple of videos for you:
The first video is an introduction to the project itself and the men behind it.
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The second video is an introduction to the reading plan and its structure.
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You can download the reading guide, and all the videos are available for download at NO CHARGE. Totally free. It is a wonderful tool!