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We’ve all said this before: I’m going to read the Bible cover to cover, starting with Genesis, every day, starting…now!  You sit down with your bible, a cup of coffee the size of your head, pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, all ready to go.  A month later, you haven’t made it past Genesis…chapter 2.

Written by Allyson Sarring   Facebook  ||  Twitter

Written by Allyson Sarring

Facebook || Twitter

I've tried reading the Bible cover to cover many times, but have failed.  I would forget a day, be lazy, or just was having a difficult time understanding the scriptures.  It’s pretty easy to get frustrated and discouraged.  I used to think Bible reading plans were for the weak or made things more complicated, but now I am so thankful for them!

With all the technology these days, we can get anything with snap (or should I say swipe) of a finger!  We can read the Bible on our computers, tablets, phones, etc.  If you’re tech savvy, you probably have the YouVersion Bible app downloaded on some device.  It’s fantastic and super easy to use!  The Bible app is great, but the key to its success is that you actually have to use it!  It’s nice to have it downloaded, but if you are just reading the Verse of the Day and nothing else, you are missing out on this awesome resource that is full of…..Bible. Reading. Plans.  Yes, I said it!  This app has hundreds of plans to keep you fed and focused on God.  Especially with the nice daily reminders it sends you. 

I've done some research and found tons of reading plans that you should consider doing.  I actually will be working though some of them myself!

Click on each plan to begin your reading plan on your computer! Download the app on your smartphone or tablet to take each plan on the go!  

 

1.       Ownit365

This plan takes you through the entire Bible in a year, with two readings per day, six days a week.  OWN is an acronym that outlines the reading plan.  Every day you will have a reading from the Old Testament, in conjunction with one from the Wisdom Books or New Testament.  This plan focuses on balance, letting you work though the Bible, while at the same time including daily, easier to understand passages that you can apply to your life.  In addition to YouVersion, downloading the OWNit365 app will give you access to their videos, reading plan guides, discussion questions, etc.

This plan was provided by OWNit365.com.

 

2.       Discipleship Journal 5x5x5 Reading Plan

Not ready to tackle the whole Bible in a year?  No problem.  This plan allows you to just work through the New Testament: 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Giving you 5 ways to dig deeper.  You will read through one chapter each day.

This plan was provided by NavPress.

 

3.       Before the Cross: The Life of Jesus

If you are looking for an efficient way to get through the Gospels and gain a complete understanding of the life of Jesus, this plan is it!  This is an 80 day reading plan that walks you through the four gospels in order, outlining his life from His birth to His death and resurrection.

This plan was provided by Before the Cross.

 

4.       Major People, Major Themes, Major Beliefs, Major Events

These are four separate reading plans that will take you through the major people, themes, beliefs, and events of the Bible in only 65 days.  They are beneficial when used separately or when all four reading plans are done at once.  It’s also a great way to focus on one aspect of the Bible at a time. 

These plans were provided by LCBC Church.

 

5.       The Overflow Devo

YouVersion has awesome seven day devotionals written by some of Christian music’s biggest artists, such as Lecrae, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, for KING & COUNTRY, and Hawk Nelson.  Each week, you can work through a devotional written by each artist that features music from their albums.  Their songs aid understanding each week’s topic.

These plans were provided by The OverFlow.

 

6.       The Essential 100

This plan helps you get an overview of the Bible without getting overwhelmed.  In 100 days, you will have read 50 Old Testament and 50 New Testament passages.  The goal of this plan is to help you develop a daily habit of getting into the word, while at the same time, giving you an overall view of the Bible.

This plan was provided by Scripture Union.

 

7.       Project 345

This plan takes a unique approach to reading the entire New Testament in one year.  Five days a week you will read a chapter a day, using the weekends to catch up if need be.  The name Project 345 was inspired by the average time is takes to read one chapter in the New Testament (3 minutes 45 seconds).  If you are looking for this approach plus a little extra, check out Project 345 Plus  which adds a Psalm or Proverb each day, along with passages from the Old Testament. 

This plan was provided by The Ark Church.

 

8.       Bible in 90 Days

If you are feeling ambitious, this plan will help you get through the Bible in just three months!  Perfect one to do in the summer!  Maybe even this summer?  Every day’s readings average to about 12 pages each day.  This plan takes more commitment, but is very worthwhile. 

This plan was provided by Bible Gateway.


These are just a few of hundreds of thought out readings plans that YouVersion provides.  Go grab some coffee and a quiet place, and get going!  Happy Reading.

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Because of intense academic pressure, it is really challenging to find ways to build community within international students’ busy schedules.  Here’s some things we’ve tried to incorporate to build community.

1) Food! Everyone loves food and having international-friendly food really builds community.  For snacks, serve pita and hummus rather than chips and dip. Chicken is a favorite with most cultures and fresh fruit is a winner every single time. And always, always have vegetarian options. We avoid pork altogether at events (no pepperoni pizza) to continue to say “welcome” to our Muslim friends.

2) Cook together. Even better…take them to an international grocery to get the ingredients, and then cook together!   It’s amazing what enjoying their cooking creations does to build warmth in community.

Written by Karen Keyser   Facebook

Written by Karen Keyser

Facebook

3) Games.  Keep an atmosphere of laughter and warmth when it comes to playing games.  Try to have games that are not too language or culturally dependent.  Our group enjoys Gestures, Catch Phrase, and Murder, as well as simple card games like Uno and Spoons.

4) Culture Nights. Choose a culture and have a night where they cook, share their cultures’ music and dance and art, and share a testimony from someone in that culture. 

5) Sports—and ping pong!  Internationals often love sports, especially football (soccer)!  In our group, Haydee from the Philippines invites students to play ping ping on Saturday afternoons. She always has a great group of busy graduate students who show up for her “Ping Pong gang.”  

6) Holiday parties.  Internationals enjoy learning about American culture, so including them in Superbowl parties, Christmas celebrations, and Easter egg dying can be a lot of fun and help students to feel connected to our culture. 

7) Dance!  We’ve had a ton of fun teaching internationals square dancing and line dancing with a professional caller.  Spontaneous cultural dances often break out at other events, and there’s nothing like fun dancing to build community.

8) Grocery shopping.  One of my volunteers said that the best thing she ever did to connect with her busy student was regular grocery shopping.  The student and volunteer could visit while they did something that the student always wanted to make time to do.

9) Sightseeing together.  Taking advantage of academic breaks & weekends to do touristy things together creates special community memories. We’ve enjoyed DC tours, corn maizes, aquariums, and art galleries with our international friends. 

10) Road Trip!  My all-time favorite way to build community with internationals is at a retreat.  Having extended time to cook together, hike, do puzzles, chat into the night, answer questions, share testimonies, and sing under the stars does wonders for building a loving community.

Posted
AuthorBlane Young
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How does a person go from watching a video to getting baptized? Great question!

If you're looking for a resource to engage with seekers and new believers, I'd recommend Campus Alpha Course.  Filmed in London, this  8 -week video course helps students explore Christianity in a relaxed setting.   Topics include  Who is Jesus? Why and How Can Study the Bible?  What about the Church? and more.  Then students discuss the topic of the week in a small group where no question or opinion is “off limits.”  The Alpha course always includes a “Holy Spirit” weekend retreat, as well.  The Alpha course has been running in over 169 countries as a way to help seekers to find Christ.

Written by Karen Keyser

Written by Karen Keyser

In Chi Alpha, we have been running a Campus Alpha course at both Georgetown University and Nova Community College each Spring semester for the past several years.  We start with snacks and chatting, then watch the 30 minute video segment, and then divide into 2-4 student-led small groups to discuss the videos.  Many of the students are international students who have never understood Christianity before.

Helen has an Ethiopian background, but has grown up in the United States.  She has been involved in alcohol and drugs since she was a teenager. At age 24,  her world crumbled, and she found herself in a drug detox center.   Upon leaving the center, Helen realized that she needed to get her life straightened out.  She wanted to get back into Nova Community College and surround herself with better influences.  So she joined Alpha right before our Alpha retreat.  At the retreat she learned about the Holy Spirit and his power to transform lives.  

Another student, named Yami, explained to Helen from the Bible about being born again, and Helen was ready to pray a salvation prayer right away.  Afterwards she announced to the group:  “I prayed that prayer.  I’m not sure how you say it, but I’ve been adopted!”   A few weeks later Helen was baptized at our church.

At her baptism she said, “Before Jesus, I had a drug and alcohol problem. Now after, Jesus has set me free!”  Though she joined Alpha mid-semester, God used this resource to bring spiritual freedom to her life!  

Info on Campus Alpha

Posted
AuthorBlane Young

One of the things that I love about the summer months is that there's a little more time in our schedules (as Campus Missionaries) for personal and leadership development. Well, as I talked to students at the end of the semester, I realized that I kept recommending the same short-list of books in nearly every conversation. So, I thought I'd share them here just in case anyone is looking for reading material. 

Book 1 - Want More? 

Now, I'm actually reading this book with a few students this summer because I haven't read it before. But it came highly recommended to me from a few friends on staff at Chi Alpha at the University of Virginia. Basically, it's a practical yet theologically rich book about the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer today.

We have students from dozens of different theological and denominational backgrounds, but I think what Francis Chan identified in Forgotten God is completely accurate. Christians today have a low view or little knowledge about the Holy Spirit. This book does come from a pentecostal perspective and as a pentecostal myself, I do my best to encourage our students to explore this theological topic personally. It's not that I want everyone to believe in the same things that I do, but I'd like for more people (myself included) to build our theology from biblical doctrine instead of from our experiences. It takes time and careful study, but it's always worth it. 

Amazon Link || Want More? by Tim Enloe

Book 2 - The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership 

I know that everyone isn't a John Maxwell fan like I am but what I appreciate about this book is that it provides a basic framework for processing information about leadership. In turn, it allows for people to get a handle on what it means to influence people so that they can assess themselves, have conversations about leadership and identify strengths they have as a leader that they may not have had language to describe. 

Of course, information doesn't make someone a leader (or even a better one) but most college students I know haven't read any books on the topic of leadership and I think this one is a solid place to start. I had a mentor walk with me through the content of this book via VHS lectures from John Maxwell about ten years ago, but I'm looking forward to a refresher course this summer and a chance to discuss the topic of leadership with a few of the guys I mentor. 

Amazon Link || The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Book 3 - Habitudes (Chi Alpha Edition)

If you haven't read anything by Tim Elmore, Habitudes is a wonderful place to start. He basically shares a leadership principle and discussion questions based around a picture. For instance, he shares the lesson of the starving baker. And in short, it's describing the person that gives and gives but never takes care of themselves. So, in Habitudes, he has a picture of a sad, starving baker and goes into depth to tell this parable before sharing the principle. 

My favorite part of this book (and the series as a whole) is that the format really lends itself to people committing these stories and principles to memory for the long haul. I used one of the Habitudes books as the curriculum for a small group a few years ago and to this day, I've had conversations with those guys and they've at least remembered a handful of the lessons we discussed! 

Well, just a few weeks ago, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries partnered with Tim Elmore and Growing Leaders to put out a new edition of Habitudes that specifically discusses the leadership principles we hold most dear in our organization. The price is a little steep and I think it's only available in print, but I think it's worth it! 

Purchase Online Habitudes (Chi Alpha Edition) by Tim Elmore & Harvey Herman 

 

Which one of the books above look most interesting to you? What other books are on your summer reading list? 


Posted
AuthorBlane Young
Written by Natalie Hill

Written by Natalie Hill

One time a friend wrote me a note, folded it up, and tucked it into my journal for me to find the next time I went in it.  She knew I was feeling “stuck” in my devotional life.  At the top of the page it read, “A Helpful (but Incomplete) Guide To Your Quiet Time.”  It was a simple gesture - just a page torn out of a notebook with a couple thoughts written down - but I still look back on it even now.

Having a personal devotional life is important because we can always go further and deeper.  We continually grow in our understanding of Jesus, not just by learning more or reading more verses, but also by constantly being recharged by God, knowing that He truly is our daily bread.

But all of us struggle with being consistent.  We do well for a little while, but then we stop. My friend’s practical tips helped me with the sustainability and regularity of my quiet time.

One thing I know is that everyone has different preferences.  Some people (like me) are morning people, and others (definitely not me) are night owls.  Some people like white noise, and others need complete silence.  So it’s important to find what works best for you and to create an environment that brings you joy.  Because, after all, you should enjoy the one-on-one time you have with Jesus.  Here are some more thoughts:

 

Time

Find a time when you’re the most energized.  I like to do my devotions in the morning before work when I’m feeling refreshed.  I’ve found that it starts my day off well and dictates my thoughts, feelings, and actions throughout the day.  

 

Setting

Find a place where you’re at peace.  Solitude and privacy is important.  I’ve found that if I’m not somewhere private, I don’t feel comfortable praying or really losing myself in my quiet time.  I’m distracted and self-conscious.  So I’ll usually sit at my desk after my roommate leaves for work and open the blinds so the sun comes in.  Little things like that make a difference.  It’s also good to change up routine.  Go to a coffee shop or a park.  I have friends who love the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral.  Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. 

I like to listen to music in the background and often make morning playlists (lately it’s included John Mark McMillan and All Sons & Daughters).  Music helps settle me.

Good food makes a huge difference.  In my friend’s note, she wrote, “Take something delicious with you.”  For me, that’s coffee in a favorite mug (the mug really does matter).  Maybe for others it’s breakfast or chocolate or a diet coke.  

 

Content

There have been times when I’ve journaled and read spiritual books but have left feeling empty because I didn’t fill up on God’s Word.  It’s easy to get caught up in the outside voices and forget that our best way to hear God’s voice is through His actual words in the Bible.  YouVersion is a great website with all kinds of Bible reading plans.  Taking notes helps me remember what I’m reading, and it’s good to look back on my thoughts and feelings.  And I think there are few things better in life than a good journal. 

Overall, I think the most important thing is to find out what works for you.  Once we get caught up on the rules and steps, we’ve lost the point.  Devotional life is about getting in God’s presence and growing in Him through His Word and through prayer.  It’s up to us to create a quiet time environment where we find joy. 

Posted
AuthorBlane Young