CATC Bible Reading Plan
Why Read the Bible?
The Bible is God’s word to us. It is the record of the Story of God that orients our lives toward ultimate reality. It reveals God to us, shows us the way to be saved, brings us into a greater experience of friendship with God, and is a primary means of grace in our spiritual formation. We will not grow in our relationship with God apart from it. It makes us wise, strengthens us spiritually, nourishes our souls, and equips us for participation in God’s work. It is precious (many have given their lives for it) and it is powerful (multitudes have been given life by it).
The Unique Features of the CATC Bible Reading Plan
There are many Bible reading plans available, so what makes this plan unique? Why are we creating and promoting this plan? We have sought to create a bible reading plan that is unique in a few of its features.
Use of Repetition to Strengthen Comprehension. The best way to understand and retain the Scripture is to read it repetitively. The CATC plan takes you through the New Testament three times every year in such a way that you are immersed in one New Testament Gospel or Epistle for several days, absorbing its message and internalizing it in ways a flyover, one-time reading would not permit.
Sensitivity to the Church Calendar. The Church calendar reflects the storyline of the gospel. Beginning in Advent, the flow of the Church Year tells the story of Jesus:
Advent: The Longing for Christ
Christmastide: The Arrival of Christ
Epiphany: The Glory of Christ
Lent: The Holiness of Christ
Eastertide: The Indestructible Life of Christ
Pentecost: The Spirit of Christ
Ordinary Time: The Mission of Christ
The seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany take us through the experience of longing for Jesus, his arrival, and the revelation of his glory to us. Lent and Easter help us experience the reality of our own sin, our need for a suffering Savior who dies and rises from the dead to secure our salvation. The Day of Pentecost and the season of Ordinary Time help us embrace our commission by the Risen Christ who has ascended to the Father and who has poured out his Holy Spirit on the Church, sending us with the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations as we await his return. The CATC readings seek to align with these high points during the Church Year, even reflecting the colors of the Church calendar. Therefore, the books of the bible are not read in order, but in light of their doctrinal focus and alignment with the rhythm of the Church year.
Inclusion of a Daily Psalm. Each day a Psalm or a portion of a Psalm is included in the reading. In this way, you will complete the Psalms in a year. These Psalms serve as great aides for prayer in the evening or morning.
Reading on a Two Year Cycle. Because the reading plan is New Testament intensive, the Old Testament is read in its entirety over a two year span. If one completes the two year cycle, in two years they will read the New Testament six times, the Old Testament once, and the Psalms twice.
Days of Reflection and Make-up. We know that it is easy to get behind in any reading plan. We have scheduled every seventh day to be a day to catch up and reflect on what you have been reading. For those who are in step with the reading, they can use this seventh day to reread or study a particular section that spoke to them throughout the week.
How to Read the Bible
Schedule a daily time and place. You must form a ritualized habit of reading the Bible. If you don’t intentionally schedule Bible reading into your life, the day’s activities will force it out of your life.
Pick a Bible. Find a good translation. I use the English Standard Bible at Church at the Cross and recommend the ESV Study Bible as a great resource for your Bible reading. It is important not to get bogged down in Study Bible Notes in your daily reading, but those notes are very helpful in extended study and when reading through hard to understand passages. In addition, it is helpful to read the introduction to each book in a good Study Bible before reading the book. Doing so gives you context and helps you understand the historical situation in which the author is writing a particular people. Having this context will be key to your understanding of what you are reading.
Read the Bible prayerfully. Pray before you read the Bible that God would give you focus and understanding. Pray while you are reading the Bible, responding to God’s voice in the Scripture with confession, thanksgiving, praise, and petition. Pray after you read, thanking God for his word and asking for his help in applying it.
Read aloud. Sometimes reading out loud will help you stay focused and allow you to engage more of your senses as you read.
Look for Jesus and the gospel. Jesus is the point of Scripture. As you read, look for him and for gospel patterns in the text that you might know Christ more.
Keep a Journal. Consider keeping a journal where you write down insights, prayers, aspirations, or prayers in response to the section of Scripture you are reading.
Obey and share what you read. The goal is not information, but transformation. Respond to God’s word in trust and obedience. Share with others how God is speaking to you in the Scripture and how it is shaping you.
Read it with a friend. Have other people in your church follow this plan with you. Consider meeting weekly to share what God is saying to you and how you are seeking to apply. This will add accountability and encourage you as you hear how God is speaking to others.
Don’t give up. We are all in different places when it comes to Bible reading. Some people are just beginning their journey and reading multiple chapters a day can be overwhelming and intimidating. Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons where the demands for our time make reading more challenging. If you miss a reading, don’t give up. The CATC plan includes four days a month to catch up and reflect on what you are reading. If you get far behind, don’t worry about catching up or making up the reading. Just start reading again the assigned reading for the day and move forward.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1–3, ESV)
We will introduce the Church at the Cross Daily Readings on Sunday, November 29 and the plan will begin at the start of Advent, December 1.