Take an inside look at the Bible-reading habits of some of the Homecoming Friends who contributed their words to the Gaither Homecoming Bible.
My favorite version has been and probably will always be King James because I love the poetry. I also have several copies of the Living Bible, the New King James, New International, and The Message. I have Bibles in my den, kitchen, study, bedroom, bathroom, garden room and bus, and I have a Bible verse app on my iPhone that sends me a daily scripture.
My favorite time to study the Bible is when the house is quiet and I’ve just gotten up and poured a cup of coffee. I like to walk outside on to my back porch and sit down with one of my favorite devotions. I love Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and anything by Max Lucado, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, C.S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers. I read the devotion and really listen to what it is that God is whispering to me through the author’s words. Then, I’ll usually read the corresponding scripture and ponder over the verses and how they apply to my life. I love reading the Bible on vacation, at the beach or at the lake. The key for me is quiet.
Sometimes I simply pray and ask God to show me something that I need to see, then open my Bible randomly and begin to read. Still other times, I sit down at the kitchen table with my computer, a couple of different versions of the Bible, a devotional and have myself a little classroom devoted to my reading. I love to read just before bedtime and I always travel with a copy and read in-flight, onboard, or rolling down the highway.
I find it better to try to do as much of my Bible reading as I can first thing in the morning, before everybody’s up and around. I think I can absorb more. You might read a bunch, but, for me, I’m only going to absorb so much. When I’m on the road, I sometimes put myself to sleep by reading. And I do some of my devotional late at night, because after a concert, it can be 12:00 or 12:30 before I lie down, and I’m continuing to unwind at that point. Then, I may just read a couple of devotionals for that day at that time. That’s my routine — nothing fancy. I try to do it when I can most absorb and comprehend as much as possible.
Being a part of the Gaither Homecoming Bible is truly one of the greatest honors of my life. I love the Word of God. I’ve always heard that everyone should choose the Bible that helps one understand His Word more. I have a few translations, but my favorite is the New King James. Several years ago, I had a favorite study Bible that I carried around with me everywhere that I went. Unfortunately, it was lost due to a traveling mishap. I was devastated. I felt like I had lost my best friend. It took me a while to find another that I liked as well.
I was saved when I was 8 years old. As a little girl, I can remember reading my Bible before I went to sleep at night. Looking back, I’m sure it wasn’t every night, but I do remember, on occasion, waking up holding the Bible in my arms. As I got older, I found myself reading so many Christian books that I realized that those books had replaced the Bible! Therefore, I began reading the Bible more. I discovered that everything I needed in life, I could find in God’s Word. His Holy Spirit would teach me everything that I needed to know. Now, I find that the more time I spend with Him, the better I get to know Him. On the road, I love reading in my bunk at night before I go to bed. When I’m home, I love reading in the morning to start my day. However, I love ending my day with a scripture. It seems like over the past few years, a particular scripture will stay with me for days or weeks at a time. I’ll study it and research it. Even though I read other scriptures, that one passage will always come back to me. I’ll talk about it and think about it until the Lord gives me another scripture to think about.
I’ve got a Bible that Mom gave me for Christmas several years ago, and it’s got all kinds of highlights and notes in it. When I pick it up, I feel like I know just where to go. The Bible is the foundation that my entire life is built on and the place I can go to find out what God says. Through the fires and storms of life, God promised He would take care of us, and the Bible reveals all of those promises.
Most of my reading is usually in the evening after a concert. Time alone with God gives me peace and helps me wind down. When I’m gone from my girls, it gives me peace about His promise of protection over them and reminds me that it’s out of my hands and in His, and those are the best hands to be in!
I have several Bibles, but love my shiny, red, leather Bible that is all marked up. I have so many notes and reminders written in there of the times when God gave me a specific word for one of my children, or simply gave me instruction or encouragement at the exact time I needed it.
At the start of my morning, I begin by journaling (with freshly brewed coffee close by) because I typically have a lot on my mind. Once I’ve gotten on paper everything that has been swirling around in this head of mine, then and only then am I ready to read and begin my devotional time. It’s more of an emptying of myself first and then letting God fill me up with what He wants me to have for the day. What a sweet time that is!
My father required me and each of my siblings to begin reading the book of Proverbs on our 16th birthdays. I’m so glad he did. There are 31 chapters in this book, one for each day of the month. As an adult, I have developed a real love for Proverbs and the wisdom it contains. I generally will begin my reading there each morning. I have been through this book many times over and still never cease to learn something new each time. I typically move from there and go through one book of the Bible at a time for study purposes. Oswald Chambers is a big part of my extra reading during my Bible study time. I personally love My Utmost For His Highest. E.M. Bounds is another author that I really enjoy. He has written some powerful books on prayer. I also love Henry Blackaby’s writings. One of his most in-depth books is Experiencing God. It is a must-read for every Christian! All of these have been a great source of help to me over the years during my devotional times.
My father used to say to me, “You’ll never know the joy of a prayer/devotional life until you know the discipline of one.” What truth is packed in that statement! I can truthfully say that one of the most cherished times of my day is my quiet time of talking with God, getting instruction, encouragement, maybe chastisement and being reminded again each day that His mercies are new every morning. There’s nothing else quite like it!
I always spend at least an hour in the study of God’s Word as well as prayer time, which means if I have an early flight, I simply get up earlier! I don’t want to ever leave home without knowing what God is saying to me through His Word each day. Very often, something I read in my time of devotion comes to mind during that day and I meditate on it. It is extremely difficult for me to have devotions in the evening because I am tired and want to get right to sleep, but I do read from the Scriptures, usually a Psalm, so God’s Word is on my mind as I fall asleep. Proverbs 3:24 tells us that “we will lie down and our sleep will be sweet.” Knowing that each day I will have challenges as well as opportunities, I always close my time of devotion by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation and finally the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Now I am dressed for success!
I am so grateful that I was born and raised in a Christian home. One of my most vivid memories is when I would come through the front door and see my mom sitting in her favorite chair reading God’s Word. It was instilled in me how important it was to have that time with Him each day. And by the grace of God, I plan to continue what began with my dear mom — to begin each day in God’s Holy Word.
I don’t have a Bible reading routine. For someone with ADD, the word routine reflects a mandate or a rut. Although I don’t have a specific nook in the house in which I cozy up with a coffeetable Bible, it doesn’t mean I don’t get quality time with His Word. Sometimes devotions on my iPhone are the best main dish during a 6:30 a.m. breakfast; often I play the Daily Bread app while I’m stuck in traffic during my morning commute. If my workload is becoming a little heavy, I pull out from my desk drawer Lori Jones’ Hearing God and transport myself from my Music Row office. For me, it doesn’t matter when or where I am fed the Word. The King James Version is just as good at night before bed or with a highlighter at noon. And if you are ever near me in church, please know that I am not breaking the 11th commandment and texting in church. I am taking copious notes on my iPhone instead of not being able to interpret my doctor-like penmanship on the backs of tithing envelopes. Whether I am being fed the Word on printed paper or on a touchscreen, I am connecting with Him, which for me is less about routine and more about lifestyle.
For the last few years, I’ve been using the Book of Common Prayer as a system for daily Bible reading. In the back is a section called “The Daily Office” which consists of daily readings from the Psalms, an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading (usually from one of the epistles), and a reading from one of the four gospels. It’s arranged to be read at various stations of the day — basically morning, noon, evening and bedtime — but I usually read them all in one sitting in the morning as I’m having my coffee and greeting the day.
“The Daily Office” is arranged in such a way that if you stick with it and perform it every day, within a couple of years, you will have read through the entire Bible. It’s also arranged to fit the Christian calendar, so that various seasons like Advent, Lent, Easter and so on, have pertinent readings surrounding each season. I love reading the Bible this way, because now after 30 years of being a Bible student, I sort of have an overall understanding of the big picture story that the Bible tells — namely creation, fall, redemption and restoration or re-creation. So I’m always looking for these things as I read through “The Daily Office” and they are always there. For me, this approach to reading scripture affords the best way to hear the whole counsel of God to man.
My Bible and devotional routine varies from time to time. One of the most exciting things that I get to do during my Bible time is journal. I have been journaling since 1984. I started out calling my journals “My Love Letter To You, Dear Lord” because I used to write love letters to God during my prayer time. I still do, but because I have matured quite a bit, I don’t have to just flatter God. I do remind Him of how awesome He is daily and how much I love Him in every letter. However, my journaling time has become more about prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of heartache and heartbreak, prayers for wisdom, guidance, and so on. I really enjoy that part of my devotions.
I have also been using the Daily Light which is a devotional book that has been used in Billy Graham’s family for many years. There are morning and evening devotions in this little book and it is just scripture. I love it because the scriptures are always life-giving.
Over the past two years, because of some of the personal storms I have gone through, I have been using Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. All I can say about this little devotional book is WOW! Somebody must have gone through a whole bunch of stuff because I see my life in almost all of those pages. It is SO encouraging! It is a book of hope, faith, praying through, believing, trusting, receiving … it’s incredible! It has been life changing!
To me, it is an absolute privilege to be able to talk with, walk with, and be in the presence of the God of the Universe every single day of my life. Spending time with Him is almost first nature if I were to be honest. I don’t have to give it much thought because —just like I breathe and need to eat to survive in the physical realm — I too need to live, eat and breathe Jesus everyday. Somehow and in some way!
I do a lot of reading on the bus, in my bunk, where I get inspiration. I also love to walk, for exercise, and I do a lot of praying when I’m doing that and when I’m driving. The Bible I use most is by Charles Stanley — the Life Application Bible. I like that one the best, because it has the King James Version on one side and the Living Bible on the other side, on the same page. So if there’s something I don’t understand, I can look at the other version and read it there. It just gives you a great perspective from both sides. One of my favorite scriptures is Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” To me, that kind of says it all. There have been some difficult situations in my life and the lives of my family. These experiences have obviously made me who I am today, and I love that scripture because I have felt broken at times and yet, I had to die to myself and let Christ live in me and me in Him.
One of my earliest recollections of Sunday school is singing a little song: “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, The B-I-B-L-E!” As long as I can remember, the Bible has been my family’s point of reference for guidelines in our life. Just like WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), the question was always asked, “What does the Bible say?” Because of this, I was taught to study God’s Word.
I like to begin my morning sitting in our sunroom, with a cup of coffee, my Bible and a stack of devotionals. It jumpstarts my day and helps to put into perspective, with calming assurance, that God has everything under control and I am not “alone.” It is food for my soul, nourishment for my mind, and strength to my body. Whenever I finally get in the bed (I have a saying, “I never go to bed the same day I get up”), I wind down with reading my Bible, thanking God for the day and His protection, calling my loved ones, family and friends’ names in prayer and asking for Him to surround us all with His peace through the night.
One of my most cherished Bibles is a thin, black NIV I received from Gloria and Bill as a Christmas gift in1986. I carry it with me on trips, and it is a part of my accessories anytime I go to church. I feel like I am not completely put together and dressed for church if I leave my Bible at home. Weird, I know! I have underlined scriptures and written in the margins dates, speakers and sermon notes which document numerous points when God revealed incredible insights at a specific time in my life. They have become markers, “pillars of stone” and altars of reminder on my spiritual journey.
I am extremely grateful God placed me in a family where the Word of God was taught and lived. I lose my balance without it. It keeps me grounded and relevant like nothing else. I can testify that it has been and continues to be “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
My love for the Bible began as a young boy. My mom and dad had a huge collection of those Bible storybooks that almost everyone in America has seen at one point or another. Now they are mostly found in doctor and dentist offices. Mom would read a new story each night, and I remember the power the Word of God had as I would lie in bed and picture the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors.
Today, as I travel with Karen Peck & New River, it is sometimes hard to set aside a certain quiet time each day, but I prefer reading the Word at night in my bunk. There’s just something about crawling in my bunk after a long day on the road, opening up the Bible and drawing closer to the Lord.
It is hard for me to just pick up the Bible and open to a certain chapter. I need guidance and structure or I find it hard to commit. My favorite Bible teacher is Beth Moore. I admit that most of her studies are especially geared toward women, but I find that the Word is applicable to ALL. She is an amazing storyteller and completely captures me with every word she says. I am currently reading her Bible study of David, a man after God’s own heart. It is phenomenal, and I find myself anxious to peel open the next chapter of the Bible each night after the concert.
In the day of the iPhone, I usually use the Bible app on my phone to search for scriptures. It is neat because I can switch between translations and find a new meaning at the click of a button. Normally, though, I use the Men’s Devotional Bible. It is filled with daily devotionals by some of the best preachers and teachers on the planet. For so much of my early life, I prayed to God and expected answers, opening His Word only on Sunday mornings. I have found there is nothing like the Word of God, and I need it every day.
I was saved when I was 10. But after I got married and my boys were born, I knew there was more to this gospel and the spiritual life than I was experiencing. I asked God to give me a hunger for His Word, and He did. I started in Genesis, and as I read, I learned things that I never really knew. If I could have eaten the Word with a spoon, I would have. And that began to transform my life and is still transforming my life. Now, when I get up at home, I’ll read in the morning. Where I’ve really read the most, over the years, is in my bunk on the bus.
When I had cancer, I would go to the scriptures dealing with faith, and that’s what would get me through a lot of dark nights. I just believe it, and I trust it. I remember I was afraid … I was 39. Nobody in my family had ever had cancer, and I remember finally giving it totally to God and saying, “I’ve been trying, but I can’t do a thing. If anything’s gonna be done, You’re gonna have to do it.” And I believe He directed every step — I know He did, or I wouldn’t be here today. I’m just a firm believer in the Word — I don’t try to push it down anybody’s throat, but I try to be bold and to say it. I like to encourage people to read the Word, because I know whatever they’re going through — I don’t care what it is — God has something in the scriptures that will pertain to them and encourage them.
Like no other book, the Bible has power to give life, to guide, correct and strengthen. It has the power to bring new and different perspective in a situation. I have found that it reads me as I read it. It is alive. It is a sword. It is a healing balm. It brings life. It brings freedom. Having a journal on hand has been a helpful tool for scribbling down what God is pressing on my heart, maybe even an idea for a new song.
Our family belongs to a church in Nashville that offers “daily readings and reflections,” which includes four daily passages of Scripture — a psalm, a Gospel reading, one New and one Old Testament reading. I love how these emails greet me in my inbox every morning, and put the Word of God in front of me as I begin my day. They also help me feel more connected to my home church when I travel.
Our bookshelves are filled with many different versions of the Bible, both in Norwegian and English, and I have personally kept all I have owned since I was a child. I enjoy changing it up and reading different ones throughout the year. The most recent addition belonged to my mom, who passed away peacefully at 82 years of age in October of 2011. This last week I have especially enjoyed holding and reading this particular Bible, turning its worn pages and discovering Mom’s notes and prayers in the margins, reading the paper clippings she had stuck between the worn pages and reading her underlined verses. The faded clippings, poems and yellow sticky notes on her musings over scriptures written by hand in her familiar slanted cursive has brought comfort and strength to me.
Whether we randomly read a few verses or several chapters a day, I believe it is most important to read with an open, prayerful heart. If you, like me, have gone through seasons when the Bible seems like dead pages, I believe it is important to not give it up, but rather invite the Holy Spirit to come and refresh your desire to know God and illuminate His words to us as we study.
My Grandma Rambo used to tell me, “Child, you’re the only Bible some folks will ever read, so be careful what you’re puttin’ on the pages!” When I reminisce about Ma, I think of her unwavering love for people, her thirst for manifested presence in worship and her beautiful, busy hands always reaching out to extend hope to someone … anyone.
On the other hand, Pa Rambo memorized lengthy passages of scripture and loved to debate their meanings, squeezing and wringing hidden truths from them like a pink kitchen sponge. His Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance was almost as dog-eared as his large-print Authorized King James Version. He taught me to explore and dig deep into the Hebrew and Greek and appreciate brilliant facets of what he referred to as “verses of diamond.” I’m a better student of the Bible because of his tutelage.
I thoroughly enjoy the quest of researching various translations, concordances, reference books, online programs and websites pertaining to the Word of God. My husband, Dony, has helped me understand scripture in light of Eastern culture, tradition and poetry. We both enjoy studying a Proverb a day; since there are 31, you simply study the wisdom lesson for that particular day of the month. I usually begin my devotion each morning with a simple prayer. I touch my ears and eyes whispering, “Father, help me read Your living love letters with eyes and ears anointed to comprehend Your heart and truth. Holy Spirit, speak to me.”
Perhaps the greatest interpreter of scripture is scripture itself. The nature, character and plan of God cannot be seen in one random verse or story. I thirst to understand the big picture/plan of amazing love and grace. Or as Psalm 119:160 states beautifully, “The SUM of Thy Word is truth!”
Ma and Pa Rambo both had it right … “Study the Word, then study the Word made flesh in us.”
I am currently reading the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. I am continually amazed at the impeccable timing and placement of this devotional in my everyday life. It’s as if God wrote each day, through Sarah, for me. It always speaks directly to me, no matter what situation I am going through or what decisions I am needing to make. It has two to three scriptures to reinforce the writing, so that I can dig in a little deeper.
I spend many Sundays on the road in different churches; however, there are some Sundays I am not singing/ministering, so my daughter Faith and I are home. On those days, if we are too exhausted to go to our home church, it is not unusual for us to have time together in devotions — pulling out the guitar, singing worship songs together, listening to one or two of my favorite pastor/teachers on TV or my favorite: Faith will pull out her God’s Little Princess devotional by Sheila Walsh. There are several stories and “plays” to be reenacted. There are even props involved, and parts to be read, so it can be lots and lots of fun! I think it really brings the message home for her, especially, and acting it out cements it in her heart.