10 things I've learned as a pastor from reading the Bible 100 times

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When I was a pastoral student at Liberty University in 1989, I made a commitment to Jesus to read the Bible ten chapters a day until I had read it 100 times. I began this commitment on August 16, 1989, and I fulfilled this commitment on February 27, 2024. It took me 34 and a half years to read the Bible 100 times. It should have taken me 33 and a third, meaning I should have finished it about 500 days sooner. So, I missed my goal, but as Dr Jerry Falwell used to say at Liberty University, “Shoot for the stars, land on the moon, and nobody will notice the difference!”

This one discipline has single-handedly changed the trajectory of my life and pastoral ministry. It has carried me through the past 27 years of raising a family and church planting as a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in Colorado Springs called Vanguard Church. I talk about this discipline and commitment in the book, The Good Pastor, published by Leadership Books.

I hope my story of commitment to this discipline will inspire a new generation of Jesus followers to make the Word of God the central piece of their lives. I pray this discipline will become the hub that dictates to them everything else about their lives.

Now if you knew me personally or as a pastor, you might say, “Kelly, if you truly spent that much time reading and applying the Word of God to your life over the past 35 years, it would seem to me you would be a lot godlier than you actually are.”

I agree!

One of my favourite authors is Henri Nouwen, whom I can relate with. Once someone remarked to him, “Henri, it surprises me that you are not godlier than you are given how much time you have spent with the Lord and His Word in your lifetime.” To which Henri responded, “I know, can you imagine how bad of a man I would be had I not spent any time with Jesus and His Word.”

My sentiment exactly!

I look at my life and think to myself, I should be godlier! But I can’t imagine where I would be today without this discipline of reading and applying God’s Word each day.

As I reflect on the past 35 years, I wanted to capture the top ten lessons I have learned from reading the Bible 100 times and here they are:

  1. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.
  2. God is perfectly Holy throughout the Bible.
  3. God is perfect love throughout the Bible and commands us in Leviticus to love one another.
  4. The entire Bible is about one person, and His name is Jesus. He is the ONLY way to eternal life.
  5. God hates our sin. The shame you feel before repentance is always from God.
  6. God always and immediately forgives sin when we repent. Shame you feel after repentance is never from God.
  7. God seeks every private means possible to convict us of sin for repentance before He brings public destruction in our lives.
  8. God’s judgement in this life is always to lead us to repentance and restoration.
  9. God’s kindness to us is never random; it is always for the sake of either showing His goodness to us or to turn us back from our sin.
  10. All Scripture is profitable for us. Don’t unhook your plow from the Old Testament. Nothing in the entire Bible is a mistake or inconsistent to who God is or unapplicable to our lives today.

My life and pastoral ministry have been forever changed by my time in the Word and the application of it in my life each day. However, my discipline yesterday in God’s Word does not guarantee success tomorrow. The Bible is alive and active like you and me. This is why it is important to read the Bible each day. The writer of Hebrews says it like this:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12).

Every time we read the Bible it is alive and active. It digs into motives, actions, feelings, and thoughts and allows us like the Psalmist to say:

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23).

James, the brother of Jesus, said the Word of God is a mirror into our souls. When we read it, we see our true selves if we are willing to hear the prompting of the Spirit inside of us as it mirrors to us our lives through its active counsel. However, as James says, reading it is not enough.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22-25).

Read God’s Word! Apply it every day and you will be blessed by God. It is a promise from God! It has saved me from self-destruction, and it can save you too!

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