Some years ago I did a complete read-through of my NIV translation of the Bible from the first to last page. Against the advice from my pastor at the time and some Christian mentors who cautioned me away from approaching the Bible as one would a novel, I stubbornly moved forward and read the Bible in my own way. In retrospect, I am satisfied with how I approached that season. As a new Christian it just made sense for me to see what this "Christianity thing" was all about. If God was really calling to me, I wanted to learn first hand everything that I could from the beginning to the end.
Since that time I have read a series of books on the Old Testament patriarchs (e.g. Charles Swindoll's Great Lives series) and a number of focused studies on the books of the New Testament (e.g. Charles Swindoll's New Testament Insights series). I have also pored through textbooks on the Old and New Testaments. Through all of my studies I have found that I gained additional insight and understanding by considering the words through different translations of the Bible. One translation that I have enjoyed time and again is a contemporary offering by Eugene Peterson called simply, The Message.
Recently I decided that I wanted to go through the entire Bible again from stem to stern. Accompanying me on this year-long journey will be my new copy of The Message. My goal is to read and learn and savor from a different perspective than what I have come to know. My personal ground rules are simple. 1). I want to read not as an assignment or a duty, but to grow in God's word. 2). To read with an open and relaxed mind, not just to check off a box on a to-do list. 3). To read with purpose and consistency. I look forward to the journey ahead.