I was sitting in a private office at the British Library when the curator handed me the last possession belonging to Anne Boleyn, 2nd wife to Henry VIII, before she had her head cut off. It was her Bible. I wondered what scripture comforted her as she placed her head on the wooden headrest. Our production company, Cooke Pictures, was in London shooting a documentary program and the previous day we had been driving to that very same library when a terrorist attack happened. We escaped by the grace of God as bombs exploded on the street near us and in the Tube Station – that we probably would have been riding in had we not had a crew and film equipment in tow.
That experience continued to haunt me when a couple years later we consulted on the media for Back To The Bible and the research project they had commissioned through the Center For Bible Engagement (CBE). The CBE studied 100,000 people over an 8-year period focusing on the activities and habits of Christians and what actually makes a positive difference in their lives. Their results greatly impacted my life. I knew the Bible affected our lives but I had no idea that it was so statistically significant. Their research concluded that reading the Bible just 4 or more times a week makes notable positive changes in our life choices.
Sadly, the biggest reason the CBA study discovered that we don’t read the Bible was that we claim to be too busy and too distracted, primarily due to media and entertainment. Or should I say, primarily because of the clawing addiction we have with our smartphone? We schedule everything in our lives including golf games, play dates, and phone calls. Why don’t we schedule a time to focus on God?
Raised in a Christian home in sin city – Las Vegas, Nevada, I’ve seen the transformation of many people as they come to believe in Jesus and God’s gift of redemption for mankind. I accepted Jesus Christ into my life at an early age and though life has thrown some challenges along the way, my faith has stayed strong. But, I have seen the difference in people’s lives between those who know God and those who actually engage in Bible reading regularly.
During my growing up years, my mom held Bible study groups in our home and the men and women who attended took their faith seriously. I saw the lives of substance abusers, spouse cheaters, abusers of money – lots of gamblers and many unhealthy lifestyles – change. Once accepting Jesus into their lives, they still had challenges with health issues, financial issues, and personal issues from choices they had made before knowing Jesus, but there was a peace and contentment that was noticeable once they dedicated their lives to the Lord. The direction and choices in their lives were changing in a positive direction. Their engagement in Bible reading made a difference. It was a life lesson I witnessed as a child and with my near-death experience in London and the statistical research I read from the CBE, it impacted my priorities deeply.
Our world is more challenging than ever but instead of reaching for the Bible, our culture reaches for the internet, social media and the latest self-help book for answers. We may know God, but we don’t trust that Bible reading and engaging personally with God can actually provide answers and peace.
The next two reasons the CBE study sited, after busyness and distraction, as to why we don’t reach for the Bible is that we don’t find it relevant and we don’t know where to begin. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture. I designed it on a four-day format for our busy distracted culture. It challenges the reader to read a Bible verse while presenting intriguing culturally relevant stories and then asks readers to take action in their lives by asking engaging questions at the end of each entry.
Many of us today grew up knowing God, but we still haven’t cracked the “Good Book.” Research shows that only 50% of Christian American adults have read the Bible cover to cover even though we have almost 5 of them in our homes. Isn’t it time we start reaching for something that can truly make a difference in the way we approach life? Isn’t it time we bring nourishment and strength to our inner soul that will live forever instead of reaching for our smartphone or the internet for advice and answers? When I made Bible reading a priority in my life, even though I had gone to church regularly, prayed, and sang Christian praise songs all my life, things began to flourish in incredibly new and positive ways. Research showed that Bible reading even one to three times a week didn’t even make huge differences in our choices. It was at the four or more times a week that actually gave us the ability to make positive changes.
I challenge readers to engage with God four days a week and see their lives begin to flourish for themselves. Life is never perfect, but with prayer and regular Bible reading, I believe you can find the “peace that passes all understanding” that is promised in Philippians 4:7.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (NIV)