He called his friend and said, “Someone has played a dirty trick and hidden Limburger cheese in every room of my house! I need you to come over and help me find it.”
The friend came over and noticed the trouble right away—the guy had Limburger cheese stuck in his mustache. Hrruumph!
I’ve had a similar realization recently. I used to think everyone else was weird, but I’ve decided after fifty years of thinking it’s the other guy…I’m the one that’s strange.
There’s just no getting around it. It’s not everyone else. I’m a little north of quirky.
One of My Peculiarities
I could list several oddities here, but let’s stick with the relevant one—Bible reading. I’m not weird because I read my Bible (though some would argue with me there). I’m peculiar in how I read my Bible.
I learned this peculiarity from one of my hubby’s seminary professors. He challenged his students to read the entire Gospel of Matthew in a single sitting. In case you’re wondering, Matthew has twenty-eight chapters (or 1071 verses).
Now, to give you an idea of how much time is involved in reading the entire book, I clocked reading a single verse (6 seconds) and multiplied that times 1071. Then divide 6,426 by sixty to discover the number of minutes to read the whole book. Basically, it would take about 1 ¾ hours to read Matthew without a breather.
Why does it matter? Because this little exercise proved “chunking” as the absolute BEST WAY to read God’s Word!
Hubby’s professor knew that by reading the huge chunk of Matthew’s Gospel, his students would get a clearer picture of Jesus’ ministry on earth and the full message Matthew was trying to convey.
Becoming a Chunky Reader
Through the years, I’ve tried lots of different strategies for my quiet time. I’ve done lots of devotional books, Bible studies, and Bible-reading plans, but I always come back to the Chunky-Reading Method because it gives me the whole picture of what’s happening.
For instance…stop right now, and read the whole book of Jude (Don’t worry. It’s only 25 verses.)
Are you confused about a few things? I was too! I had no idea angels fought over Moses’ body (v.9) or Enoch prophesied (v.14) about anything. But when we’re chunking, we don’t stop at things we don’t fully understand.
When we read the full book and look for the overall message, the confusion often dissipates as the Holy Spirit whispers the over-arching theme of the day’s message to your heart.
Here are a few questions you can ask to get your brain engaged before and after you read the big chunks:
- Who wrote the book (or big chunk)? And to whom was it written?
- Why did he write it? What occasion, celebration, or problem prompted it?
- What is the tone of the book? Discipline? Encouragement? Teaching?
- How can its overall message be applied to our lives today?
Devotional or Research-Oriented?
Depending on your temperament and/or time constraints, you may want to delve deeper into God’s Word after asking the previous questions.
If you’re at an emotional place in life, you may simply need to let the words wash over You, allowing the Spirit to massage His message into your spirit like balm into a wound.
If you find a specific part of the book (or large passage) especially intriguing, dig a little deeper with a Bible dictionary, map, or commentary. My spiritual life soared when I received my first NIV Study Bible as a gift in 1989. Each verse had a deeper explanation in the notes below, and I drank it in like a thirsty traveler in the desert!
Choose Chunks Wisely
If only we had all day to read and study God’s Word, right? Alas…life goes on…
So, how do we choose what chunks to read? For the last few years, I’ve been reading the passages corresponding to the novels I’m writing—focused in the Old Testament. However, before deadlines and editors invaded my space, I tried to balance my time between Old Testament and New.
One of my favorite New Testament books to begin with is James. Relatively short, it’s got LOTS of great nuggets in it but also a fabulous overall message to inspire and encourage. Ruth and Esther are great Old Testament books to begin with—familiar stories in which you’ll find new and powerful insights when read in a single sitting.
When you choose a book that life won’t allow you to read in a single sitting, try to break it into manageable parts. Here’s how I’ve done it in the past:
- Decide which OT/NT book you want to read.
- Google, “How many verses in [chosen book of the Bible]?”
- Time yourself reading one full verse, and then multiply it by the # of verses in your Google search. Divide the total by 60 to determine how many minutes are required to read the full book.
- Now, realistically assess your daily quiet time to decide how many sittings are required to read the full book.
Remember, BIG CHUNKS! If you read a verse every six seconds (like me), you can read 300 verses in thirty minutes. If you have a little ADD (also like me), you’d probably better give yourself a little breathing room. 😉
- I am not weird becauseI read my Bible. I am peculiar in HOW I read my Bible.
- When we read a whole book of the Bible, confusion subsides as the overall theme becomes clear.
- Let the Spirit massage His message into your spirit like balm into a wound.
- If you read a Bible verse every six seconds, you can read 300 verses in thirty minutes.
- Have you ever tried reading a whole biblical book at once? What was your experience like?
- Do you have questions about the logistics of how to be a chunky Bible reader?