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There Are No Shortcuts to Being a Disciple

By | Blog

Some words change over time. One word I detested growing up, has now become beloved.

The word STUDY was an unpleasant word for much of my childhood. I was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and STUDY was the returning thief that kept robbing me year after year. The more it invaded my freewill the more my disdain for school grew. Why couldn’t I willfully choose what topics I wanted to learn and avoid the boring ones that didn’t interest me?

In Elementary School I learned that the teacher’s edition was different than my textbook because it had the answer keys. If only I could get my hands on a copy of their book, then I would ace every test! Oh the time it would save me!

In High School, the Cliffs Notes section at the local bookstore caught my eye. Why read a 400-page book you have no interest in when you can buy a short summary of it, complete with a thematic outline? Timesaver!

In my 20s, I was the rookie in a room full of Christian publishing professionals planning for an upcoming release of a new Study Bible. Why didn’t more people read the Bible? was the question we were all trying to tackle. Most everyone agreed to what a great timesaver this edition would be for busy Christians who couldn’t find time for devotional study. After much banter and brainstorming, the marketing message taking shape was somewhere close to, “Be a better disciple in ONLY 5 minutes a day!”

We thought we nailed it until a quiet veteran nearing retirement spoke up, “There are no shortcuts to being a disciple” he said somberly. It was like a needle introducing itself to a balloon; there was nothing more to say.

Studying God’s Word should not be a chore. It does take time, but it’s a joyful time. It never robs and only rewards. Here’s a short reflective list of why I find joy in reading the Bible:

  • God reveals Himself and His plan is scripture (John 1:1, 18). Why read a biography when there is an autobiography in print?
  • In reading the Bible I find I have new questions and then eventually as I keep reading, many of those will get answered too. The discovery of knowing God is endless (Philippians 3:10).
  • The Holy Spirit illuminates the text as our guide of all truth. So, scripture reading provides an opportunity to read with His companionship (John 16:13).
  • Scripture is eternal and therefore the joy is everlasting (Matthew 24:35). Plus, scripture tells me my name is written in another eternal book, the Book of Life!

There are no shortcuts. Discipleship takes a lifetime. Time spent in the Bible is time well spent.  

Read On!

Chris Scotti

VP and Publisher

Three Sixteen Publishing

How the Bestselling Book Became His Best Read Book – Our VP’s Story

By | Blog

I was raised a reader.

By the time I reached high school there were several years I had read over 100 books annually. In elementary school, I read bestsellers like the Little House series, Roots and The Hobbit. But, whenever someone asked me if I had read the bestselling book of all time, my answer repeated something I had heard from an adult, “the Bible was not meant for me, it’s a holy book, written for priests.”

Giving that same answer one day, a challenge came back from an adult, “What if I told you the Bible is God’s manual for life and He wants you to read it?” The next day at age 15 I opened a KJV Bible to the Gospel of John and by the end of that week I received Christ as Savior, not by the Word preached, but by the Word read.

At age 20 I began working at a Christian bookstore and got plenty of free books. Ten years later when I went to work for a publisher that produced 120+ new titles a year, I got even more. At one time before marriage in my mid-twenties, I tracked my reading and averaged over 2000 pages a week for a year. Fast forward nearly 30 years and my reading of books has dwindled to less than 50 pages a week most weeks (not including reading to my 18-month-old granddaughter).

Since I first encountered the Bible,  I’ve maintained reading at least a chapter of scripture each day. Early on there were times it was done dutifully, legalistically and with wrong motives. Though there were also many days and seasons I read joyfully, anticipating learning more of the story.

After reading every day for 30+ years, the Bible stories are no longer new. Yet, I have a greater joy that draws me into the text. My Bible reading ceased being performance based as an attempt to win God’s favor. Instead, I look forward to my time in God’s Word each morning because of the joy and faith it produces and the way God’s grace is on display.

I may not have grown up in a Christian home, but my mom gave me a love for reading; the avenue through which I came to know Christ. So though my granddaughter is only 18 months, I am thrilled that she loves books! Because training up a reader is one of the greatest challenges that can cultivate a lifetime of reward.

I’m not sure I would be a daily Bible reader without the love for reading my Mom modeled for me at a very young age. Reading is a great gift and reading Scripture provides a great reward. The Bible is in a category all by itself. It is the only Holy Book, written by the only true and living God and He wants you to read it.

Redeem the time and make the Bible the best-read book of your life.

Chris Scotti

VP and Publisher

Three Sixteen Publishing

The Bible: More Important Than Coffee

By | Blog

Hudson Taylor once said, “Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

At the beginning of each day, which are we more intentional about? Setting aside time for Bible reading or for a cup of coffee? In the busyness of life, it’s easy for Bible reading to get pushed towards the edges, or crowded out completely.

A 2018 American Bible Society survey claims that 69% of Bible engaged Americans say they “need the Bible more than coffee” (https://www.americanbible.org/state-of-the-bible). That’s the right Sunday School answer, but in the rhythm of life we sometimes falter.

Just like our plan for coffee, our Bible reading needs to be cultivated into a habit. The discipline of a morning Scripture reading will set a consistent tone for each day. The Psalmist says, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14 NASB)

Everything from the strength to resist temptation to the joy that accompanies our obedience, comes from faith. And faith is a gift meant to be received and exercised through time in the Word with Christ (Eph 2:8). As Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

The reason Hudson Taylor’s quote rings true, is because the Word of God is how we are put in tune with Jesus. It’s easy to push Bible reading aside on our busy days. But let the opposite be true. Just like the coffee run to start off the big day with a kick, begin your day by spending time with Jesus through His Word. And let your life be an instrument of worship in the concert of God’s glory.

Summertime = Bibletime

By | Blog

Summertime = Bibletime

The rhythm of life changes during the summer. Vacations. Weekend excursions. Kids around the house more. Summer nights outdoors. The change in pace is a welcome one.

For many of us, Summertime provides extra opportunities to spend time with family and friends. What if you make it a goal this season of life to spend that time spent together in the Bible?

Some suggestions for the Summer season:

  • Start each day of your vacation reading the Bible together around the breakfast table.
  • On your road trip, listen to an audio Bible (try the book of Acts).
  • Before starting a hike, or around the campfire read a portion of scripture about God’s creation (Psalm 8, 19, Genesis 1).
  • Pack a Bible in your beach bag or backpack and enjoy reading outdoors in a new setting. Take turns reading a chapter out loud.
  • Get a Bible trivia game, form teams and play once a week to encourage one another.
  • Have each family or group member on the same Bible reading plan and make it the topic of conversation over a shared meal.

Bible reading isn’t about getting brownie points or being puffed up with Bible knowledge. It’s crucial for every Christian because there is a direct correlation between it and spiritual maturity.

For the more ambitious, Summer can be a great time to grow in Bible reading consistency. Set a personal goal to read a minimum of 20 minutes everyday. Be fastidious and protective of your goal and use a Bible reading plan if necessary. Set daily reminders, make sure you have easy access through Bible apps and printed editions. You might consider starting with one of the four Gospels, one of the 66 books your church is studying, or one of the Old Testament prophets you have never read. The point is, just start and stay on track. Studies show it takes 60 days on average to develop a new habit. Use this Summer to grow in this crucial spiritual discipline.

The challenge in writing any blog about Bible Literacy is that you are writing and therefore interacting with a group of readers. However, if the Church has hope in reversing the current trends, it will take individuals like yourself modeling the habits of Bible reading and encouraging others to get engaged with the scriptures everyday. Community and accountability can both be beneficial toward solidifying a daily habit of Bible reading.

So while publishers may focus on fiction as a summer escape, we suggest you consider engaging with the history, poetry, suspense, adventure, love stories, dramatic endings and more found in the Book above all books. Read the Bible everyday and as Peter said, …grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18a, NASB).

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 5

By | Blog

C.H. Spurgeon once said, “The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.”

When engaging in a spiritual discussion, how quick are you to go to God’s Word? Jesus gives us a striking example when he was posed a question by some Jewish leaders who wanted to hear his opinion on a complex religious issue. They were using it as bait for a trap.

Being God though, Jesus was not intimidated by them or their question. He simply replied in Mark 12:24, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” He then continues on in verse 25 asking them, “….have you not read….?” (look up the entire chapter of Mark’s Gospel for more context)

Jesus corrects the questioners by implying that if they had been reading the scriptures, they would’ve known the answer.

In Luke 4:17-21 we also read of Jesus reading scripture to other listeners.

17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,

BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.

HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,

AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,

TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

There will likely come a time in all of our lives (our kids included) when people ask questions to try to trap us in our religious beliefs. At those times, may the investments of reading the scriptures and having them read to us equip us for the moment. It’s not about sharing our own opinion, but in the same way Jesus responded, let’s use the Word of God.

The Importance of Biblical Literacy Pt. 4

By | Blog

Proverbs 3:1-7 depicts a beautiful picture of a relationship of learning between a parent and a child.

Prov. 3:1     My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;

2 For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

We often read this and (rightly) focus on the child, commanding them not to forget their father’s instruction. But think of it from the other angle. As parents, are we regularly and intentionally turning our kids’ attention toward Biblical wisdom?

If we are following the model of Proverbs, we are regularly investing ourselves in our children, and thus we are training them up with a love for God’s Word. By introducing them to the wisdom of the Bible, we are pointing them to the banquet table and wellspring where they can feast and drink of the goodness of God.

Biblical illiteracy is spiritual famine. But unlike how we feed and fuel our bodies, the sustenance does not enter through the mouth, but rather through the ears and eyes of the heart.

With children, this happens through repetition. When it comes to the Bible, the more we read to our kids, the more they read to themselves, the more opportunities they have to grow spiritually. The Bible is the lamp to keep them on track through their journey of life.

While it can be easy to give the role of Biblical instruction to Sunday school teachers, we need to be saturating our kids with intentional Biblical instruction ourselves.

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