We sometimes have a bad habit as Christians of sticking to only our favorite warm-and-fuzzy Bible passages, and not making any attempt to understand the passages that bore us or, even worse, make us uncomfortable. A focused plan for going through the whole Bible forces us to address the whole Bible – which isn’t always easy or pleasant. Sometimes it raises questions and forces you to turn to your pastor, or to commentators or authors whom you trust, for clarification. Sometimes, you still aren’t sure what to believe. But I think it’s vitally important for us to confront the Bible and meet it head-on.
There are, of course, numerous Bible-through-the-year reading plans, such as the excellent one developed by Discipleship Journal magazine, which you can download here. There are also many Bible-on-CD products, generally with stentorian voices chewing on the holy scenery.
DAB is different from either of these. It’s a daily podcast – you can listen on your computer, use any podcast-catching software or RSS feed reader to subscribe, or download official DAB apps on your phone or tablet.
Brian Hardin, based in Spring Hill, takes you through the Bible in a year’s time. Each day there’s an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a reading from Psalms and a reading from Proverbs. All of the readings proceed in chronological order – that is, the Old Testament readings start with Genesis on January 1 and wrap up with Malachi on December 31; the New Testament starts with Matthew on January 1 and ends with Revelation on December 31. Psalms is actually repeated twice over the course of the year.
Brian’s reading style is friendly and conversational, not like a performance. They don’t just repeat the same tape from year to year; even though the schedule is the same from year to year, each day’s reading is recorded fresh before it’s released. If Brian is sick or otherwise unable to record and post that day’s podcast, his wife Jill steps in. (The two of them also read Song of Solomon as a dialogue each year, which is kind of sweet.)
The version of the Bible used rotates each week – this is actually one part of the podcast I’d change if I could. Some of the translations are great, but a few of the paraphrases are gimmicky and distracting. A few years ago, when a special edition of the NIV was published based around the DAB schedule, Brian proposed using just the NIV that year so that people could follow along in the printed version. But I was outvoted by other DAB listeners, who apparently like the rotating versions.
The normal schedule for the podcast runs like this: Brian introduces the podcast, then does the readings. If he’s getting into a new book of the Bible, he makes a few introductory remarks about that book prior to starting it. Usually, after he’s given all four readings, he makes a few brief remarks about one of them. His remarks generally strive to be non-denominational, but the context he provides can sometimes be helpful, especially in the case of difficult passages. You can always use this as a jumping-off point for your own research, or conversation with a friend or clergy member.
Then he talks briefly about the DAB community, his upcoming speaking engagements, retreats, or trips to the Holy Land. Then, the podcast concludes by playing prayer requests received (by voicemail) on a 24-hour prayer line. Occasionally, maybe once a week, the announcements and prayer requests are replaced by a song appropriate to that day’s readings.
If all you want is the Bible reading itself, you can turn away as soon as it’s finished. Or you can listen to the reading plus Brian’s remarks and prayer, or you can listen to the whole episode. It’s completely up to you. The amount of time you spend each day depends on how much you listen to.
DAB tries to encourage a sense of community, although I admit I haven’t been too active in it. In addition to the recorded prayer requests, there are various message forums at the DAB web site. There are also a few other podcasts you can subscribe to at the site, including a daily Bible podcast for kids, a daily podcast with just Proverbs, and versions of the DAB in multiple languages.
I’ve found the DAB to be helpful, and I think some of you might too. Thursday would be an excellent time to jump in and try it out, just to see if you like it.