Thursday, July 19, 2012

‘Passages: How Reading the Bible In A Year Can Change Everything for You’ by Brian Hardin – Book Review

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Even as a seminary student, I find myself not spending enough time in the Bible. So when I became aware of ‘Passages: How Reading the Bible In A Year Can ChangeEverything for You’ by Brian Hardin, I thought it would be helpful in my own life.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

         How A Few Minutes a Day          Will Change Your Whole            Life.
Many of us would love to read the Bible more often, but we rarely make time for more than a few verses on the run.
But the Bible was never meant to be read in short segments here and there when you can fit it in. The Bible is meant to be experienced in sizeable chunks – in passages – and read daily. It is not a book of mystical incantations, but the story of God’s passionate love – for you. It is not a distant relic, but a best friend offering counsel and companionship – for today.
Through his remarkable story, Brian Hardin shows how reading through the Bible in a year changed his life, and how it will change yours too. Passages goes beyond exploring how the Bible was meant to be read, providing three distinct Bible reading plans to help you get started doing it right now.
Hardin, whose daily podcast has more than a million listeners a month, guarantees you a life revolution, if you will only commit to a few minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year.
As you rediscover the joy of reading the Bible, visit and join a community of fellow readers to share your thoughts on your new adventure.

Here is the biography of the author:

Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer, and an ordained minister. In 2006, he created the Daily AudioBible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month. He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively. He is married to Christian musician Jill Parr.

Here is an interview with Mr. Hardin, telling the story of the creation of the Daily Audio Bible and this book:

I found this to be a really well-written book; Mr. Hardin really has a way with words! Here are some ‘passages’ that I found particularly enlightening:

I considered the poverty of the semi-agnostic life I’d been living. Let’s be honest: Isn’t that pretty much how many of us live as Western Christians? We acknowledge God and possibly even go to church regularly. Perhaps we even donate generously. But when push comes to shove, what kind of spiritual foundation do we really have? I had little. There was a little boy with the faith of a warrior in mothballs locked away in the attic of my heart, but now as a father with little boys of my own, my faith was anemic and my existence was balanced on a frail ledge. To say I was a good spiritual leader for my wife and children would be like calling Billy the Kid a good pastor to his band of outlaws. (p. 18)

The Bible isn’t hocus pocus and reading it doesn’t give you magical powers, but it does reveal to you who you really are and illumines a path that you were created to walk. When I began to believe its words and obey its instructions, life began to align with what it said, and this has made all the difference. My heart has been transformed completely. I find myself passionate about things that previously seemed drudgery. The neon blinking lights of culture do not seduce me as they once did. I have little use for the plastic life that made me promises but rarely delivers on anything at all. (p. 26)

I’ve read through the Bible in large portions seven days a week for well over two thousand days consecutively. The man that I was is no longer there. I don’t look at the world the same in any way. I liken this to working out at the gym. If you stick with it a month, you begin to feel healthy. Sweat it out for a quarter of a year and new lines of lean muscle begin to appear. Hang with it for a year and you’ll have a new body and the energy to go along with it. Our hearts seem to work the same way. I’m inviting you to the adventure, and I am quite certain that if you expose yourself to the Scriptures every day for a while, there is no way for you to remain the same. (p. 27)

I love his description of the Bible:

The Bible is written as a story, a story that has not yet reached its conclusion. The story has wound its way through battlefields, and wedding nights, through birthing chambers and funeral parlors, from transcendent pleasure to utter hopelessness. The story has come through voices around Bedouin campfires to stone tablets, from the skins of animals to the printing press. It has passed through ages long forgotten to ages dark and forgettable. Its echoes bound from enlightenments to reformations. This is the unstoppable story of God and his profound love for humanity. (p. 35)

Brian shares with us some of the benefits of Scripture:

The Bible offers us a baseline for hope. It also gives us a reason to hope beyond ourselves because it reveals how interconnected we are, not only with everyone around us but also with the story that’s been told for thousands of years. Scripture’s plumb line that provides us a straight and narrow path through life is irreplaceable – especially when we’ve lost our own internal coordinates and connection to life. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). This we know to be utterly true. The irony is in the verse that follows: “Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.” (p. 45)

He also shares with us the importance of love in the Bible:

Basically we’re being commanded to love one another; if we don’t, nothing will work and nothing will matter. The Bible couldn’t be clearer on this. This is the posture of community, of marriage, of life. This is what our lives are supposed to look like. What would happen to the body of Christ if we believed it? (p. 94)

Prayer is also very important, as exemplified by Jesus:

Jesus regularly and habitually withdrew to pray and be restored, yet the Bible gives no indication that his ministry (his productivity) suffered as a result. If anything, he was able to accomplish more because he took the time to orient himself to his Father and to renew his body and mind. There are no instances in the Gospels in which Jesus has a nervous breakdown. There are also no depictions of Jesus staring at the twelve disciples blankly wondering what they should do next. His commitment to making space in his life to listen to God was a vital component of his life and ministry. (p. 102)

This book also includes several Bible reading plans: the Daily Audio Bible Reading Plan, the Chronological Bible in a Year, and the Historical Bible in a Year. I think my husband, Fred, and I will adopt one of these plans.

I think this is a wonderful book for anyone who needs to kindle or rekindle their interest in reading the Bible. Brian’s life has definitely been transformed – and so can everyone’s!

This book was published by Zondervan and provided by LitFuse Publicity for review purposes.

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