Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review of Passages by Brian Hardin

Passages: How Reading the Bible In a Year Will Change Everything For You
By Brian Hardin
ISBN 978-310-32919-0
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Ever since I was a young child, I was encouraged to read through the Bible in a year. The first time I actually did this I was in sixth grade. These were the days before the "One-Year Bibles" came out, and I was encouraged to simply read four chapters a day. I also strove to memorize at least one verse from every book in the Bible.

Bible knowledge became my ambition as a young teen. This provided a lot of benefit to my life. I began to know and live what the Scripture said. I fell in love with Christ and the church. Reading the Bible through became the foundation of my faith as it grew. It was probably the foundation of my journey toward full-time ministry as well.

On the other hand, knowledge of Scripture became an ego issue for me as well. I would go to church camp as a middle school teen, and enter Bible trivia contests. Most of the other competitors were PKs, or they came from well-established church families. I was from a poor single-parent family that as a whole was marginally affiliated with church matters. Most of the other competitors were high school teens. I was a seventh grader who had not even entered puberty yet. Against these folks, I would often go head to head and win against several of them. When I was not at camp, I would also win Bible memory contests and win prizes. I would go to Bible Study, and the adults would call me the "bible answer man". The result was all this Bible reading and knowledge became more a matter of pride than of faith, and so around my sophomore year I stopped striving for spiritual accomplishments to suit my ego, and made the decision to give up the ego -enhancing activities. That meant giving up reading through the Bible for several years, and ever since then only doing it occassionally, and not EVERY year.

Several times since then, I have attempted to read through the Bible, with limited success. I find other ways to fill my devotional time. Brian Hardin's book Passages, though, might convince me to get back to my roots and read through the Bible in a year all over again.

Brian Hardin has given us a wonderful book here. Part testimony to God's blessing in reading through the Bible, and part exhortation to adopt this spiritual discipline, Hardin puts together a book that both motivates and instructs.

What I love about Passages is that it encourages people to read through the Bible in the right way and for the right reasons. He encourages us to understand Scripture as a story. Hardin wants believers to get the big picture of what God is doing in the world, and become part of it. This book does not have a whiff of the pride and guilt inducing legalism I began my faith with. Instead, it clearly uses positive language to encourage people to take the next step in their journey with God.

Passages is put together pretty well. It challenges readers to read the Bible contemplatively, and not just rust through reading the Bible to meet a goal. Especially during instructional moments, the text is generously littered with personal testimonies of people who have begun to listen/read through the Bible. There are excellent quotes before each chapter. And, the end of the book has reading plans for reading through the Bible in a year--several of them as a matter of fact.

Take the journey with God of reading through Scripture! And take this book along for the ride as a guide and encouragement as you go. You won't regret it.

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