Schofield Ministry

Ministry of Jeff and Shawn Schofield Serving in Manchester, England

Plan to Meditate and Be Still

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So far I have encouraged you to have a plan for reading the Bible and a plan for reading good books. This week I would like to encourage you to have a plan for meditating on God’s Word and for being still before the Lord. Over the years, I have tried different formulations and combinations of these two things both separate and together. My most enjoyable and meaningful experiences have all happened when I do both of these in the morning. Really this and the last two posts are my morning routine. I would love to say that this routine is an every day occurrence, but I still struggle with a deep affection for sleep.

When I am most fulfilled in my daily walk it is always because I spent a considerable amount of time in the morning just savoring time with Jesus. My morning routine looks something like this:

  • Wake up at least 2 hours before I need to leave the house or start my day.
  • Do not touch my phone at all, but leave it on my nightstand exactly where I put it the previous night.
  • Make a cup of coffee and grab a cereal bar.
  • I then settle into my chair with my Bible, books, and tablet.
  • First: I start off reading the daily portions of the Bible for that day. I end this time with a couple of minutes to think through what I read and just review it in my head.
  • Second: I read a chapter in a commentary I am working through. I end this time with another couple of minutes to reflect on what I just read.
  • Third: I turn on my tablet and open up OneNote to get to my journal. I spend as much time as I need to journal out my thoughts. I treat this as a time of prayer. I am conversing with the Lord, but just typing it into a journal instead of  speaking it out loud or in my mind. It involves a mixture of the following:
    • Thoughts and insights from the Bible and the commentary and how it should/can impact my life and worldview.
    • Review of the previous day highlighting both the struggles and the encouragements.
    • Work through any sin or recurring issues that need attention in my life.
    • Give praise to the Lord for who He is and what he continues to do in my life.
  • Fourth: Before I close out the journal, I scan and review the week worth of journal entries. I find it interesting to see how the Lord is already working in my struggles and anxieties.
  • Fifth: I close out OneNote, turn off the tablet, and I just relax and be quiet. Sometimes this takes 2 minutes, sometimes it lasts 10 minutes. Really just depends on how my mind is processing. I enjoy just taking some time to really soak in all that I have read and processed that morning.
  • At this point, I am usually right at an hour into my routine. So typically I give myself another 30 minutes to read a book I am working through, but that really depends on my schedule and need to leave the house.

So that is my routine for meditating and being still before the Lord. Not complicated and not intense. Really just me being intentional and available to be still and be quiet. This formula has several advantages, but one that I am thankful for is the continual documentation of how the Lord is moving in my life. It is always interesting to scan back through the years and see how God worked in a particular point in my life. When I am in a difficult time of life, it is helpful to reflect back on an earlier similar period of life. This gives me first-hand insight into the struggle. It is always good to get advice from others and read their story, but it is a great help to actually read and remember how I struggled with it in the past and remember how God was faithful to provide.

I would encourage you to design a plan that works best for you. The key is to just be consistent with whatever you choose and give yourself time to get in the Bible and process through what it is saying. If you have never done this before or have not been successful in the past, start small. Give yourself 15 minutes. This is enough time to read a chapter and then think and pray through what you read. Your life will be richly rewarded for the effort and your intimacy with God will continue to increase as you become more consistent and intentional.

Plan to Read Good Books

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In my last post, I talked about the importance of having a plan to read the Bible systematically and intentionally. This week I would like to encourage you to have a system or a plan to read through a set of good books every year. There are a lot of different ideas and thoughts surrounding how many books and what types of genres you should focus on. As with the Bible reading plan, I have landed on a system that is not too constraining and gives me a lot of freedom to make choices throughout the year.

I have found over time that if I box myself in at the beginning of the year with a list of book titles to read, then I lose momentum and the freedom to choose topics based on what is happening at different moments in my life. I have also found that if I don’t have a general outline of the types of books I want to read, I will inevitably not read the hard books and gravitate to the quick and easy ones or no books at all.

What works best for me is to set a goal of reading a certain number of books from a pre-determined list of genres. I may list out a few titles in the beginning that I really do want to read, but I try to leave as much room as possible for developing that over the coming months as my interests develop and situations begin to dictate a necessity to learn more about a particular topic. My 2016 list currently looks like the following:

As you can tell, I like to try and get a well rounded reading plan together for the year. I have found this helpful in two ways. First, It helps ensure that I am reading books that will help me grow and develop as a person and not just pass the time. Second, It teaches me to continue to grow and widen my circle of knowledge. I don’t want to get caught in a circle of only reading theological books or even avoiding them all together. I want to engage my mind through a varied array of disciplines that will challenge me to think outside myself and my circle of life. Yet, I also want to challenge myself with the deep things of God. I want to learn from the spiritual thinkers of today and those that have stood the test of time.

I would encourage you to develop your own system and plan for reading a variety of books throughout the year. Start small and grow the amount you read over the years. You will find that the more you read and challenge yourself, the more you will want to read and be challenged.

Plan to Read the Bible

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For the past 25 years, I have endeavored to read my Bible consistently and with intentionality. This means that I have tried many different Bible reading plans. I have always wanted to focus on the whole Bible and not just specific passages or themes of the Bible, so I have naturally gravitated to an annual reading plan of some flavor. There are many really good plans if reading the complete Bible in a year is your goal. Here are a few plans I would recommend to get started.

  • 52 Week Bible Reading Plan
    This plan allows you to read through both the Old and New Testament in a year long daily format. It has you reading through one different section of Scripture every day rotating between the seven sections during the week. The format is set on a Sunday to Saturday week, so there is no designed catch-up or meditation day implemented into the plan. [Download]
  • Bible Reading Chart
    This is a simple and minimalistic plan that can be used to read at your own pace. This would be good if you feel constrained by having dates and timelines staring back at you when you look at the plan. This would be a good resource for the person who doesn’t necessarily want to adhere to a specific reading strategy or timeframe. [Download]
  • Chronological Bible Reading Plan
    This is an interesting way to read through the Bible as it allows you to follow the narrative of Scripture based on the timeline of events. So you will not necessarily read straight through an entire book, but will alternate between passages as they occur in history. Again this plan is designed to be read every day and does not allow for catch-up days. [Download]
  • ESV Daily Reading Plan
    This plan focuses on reading through four categories of writing types in the Bible (history, poetry and wisdom, prophets, gospels and epistles). This plan and the 52 week plan are similar in design and effect as it aims to give you a broad taste of the Bible daily. Main difference being you will read through a portion of each of the four sections daily. It is also designed to be used every day with no time set aside for catching up. [Download]

I have tried all of these at some point in my life and really enjoyed the way they allowed me to focus on reading more consistently and to see how the Bible is woven together. It is always interesting to see how your reading in one section plays into the other sections of reading for that day. The only issue that I have encountered with these plans is that I always felt constrained to fit within the daily reading plan. There are times throughout the year where I am not in the Word as consistently as I would desire. This would then cause some guilt to sink in as the more days I missed, the more passages would build up in my queue to read. The sheer volume of chapter accumulation would cause me to shrink away from just reading and enjoying God’s Word to just reading so I can stay on track and finish the plan.

This led me to design a plan that fit my lifestyle and desire for slower reading. I doubt that my plan is actually something that is new or unheard of. I am sure that someone in the history of reading the Bible has thought of this, but it is something I sat down and worked through for myself about six years ago. My plan is designed to achieve three goals. First, I want to be able to read from both the Old and New Testaments on a daily basis. Second, I want to read at a pace that allows me to think and meditate on what I am reading. Third, I want to build in catch-up days that allow me to make up for lost reading without getting overwhelmed.

So my plan is simply a Two Year Bible plan with the following facets.:

  • Reading is based on weekly objectives. I don’t really worry about what I am going to read each day. I focus more on what am I reading for the week. This gives me the freedom to allocate my time as my schedule allows.
  • My main objectives are to read through the Old Testament over a two year period and read through the New Testament annually.
  • This is accomplished by reading 9 Old Testament chapters a week and 5 New Testament chapters a week.

I have found using this plan that I am better able to stay on track, but I have a greater freedom to dive deeper into my reading. I typically take some time after my reading in the morning to journal through what I just read and think through the text and how it integrates and informs my life. I have found this to be amazingly helpful and beneficial as I seek to grow in my walk. I have included a PDF format of the plan below. If you’re interested, take a look and get started. Any of the plans would be a great start. It is all about getting in God’s Word and letting it permeate your life.

Bible-Two-Year-Reading-Plan

Download – Bible Two Year Reading Plan

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