Last week’s episode, number 192, was about my pick for word for the year: Read. If you’re not much of a reader and can only tackle one book this year, I suggest read the Bible. Some people follow a Bible Reading plan that gets them through the entire book in one year.

But if you’re an underachiever like me, I’ve got a more manageable, guilt-free way to read the Bible. Keep listening to learn what it is and how it could work for you.

But before we get into all this, here’s what this podcast is all about.

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If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.

I’m your host, John Certalic, award-winning author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.

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Intimidated by Pat Boone

I recently read a Wall Street Journal article about Pat Boone entitled “Last of the Hollywood Squares.” It was about how this actor, whom I’m guessing is about 420 years old by now, has capitalized on his squeaky-clean image throughout his career. He stands in stark contrast to the typical Hollywood actor that comes to mind these days.

The article talked about Pat Boone’s faith and that he has read through the entire Bible for each of the past 40 years. 40 Years! Yikes!

Read through the Bible in a year

People like this intimidate me. I’ve read through the entire Bible I think 3 times. But I’m clearly an underachiever when compared to Pat Boone. I followed a Bible reading plan that each day of the year included chapters from the old testament, the new testament, and the book of psalms. I would read the selected passages for the day, and then put a checkmark in the box next to that day's reading.

I’m glad I did this. I saw themes and issues that repeated themselves that gave me insight as to what is important to God, which in turn showed me how I should then live.

If you like feeling a sense of accomplishment, this type of plan works well. The downside to this reading plan for underachievers like me is that some days I’m just reading to be able to check off the box that I completed the task. Some days I was reading just to read, and not to draw closer to God and understand him better. That’s the underachiever in me.

Another downside, if this is the first time you’re considering reading through the Bible in a year, is that we’re already 11 days into the new year as of the date of this episode. It puts you 11 days behind most Bible reading plans.

Another option

But I have an alternative I’d like you to consider. Last summer I came across an idea from a Bible teacher I heard at a Christian family camp we’ve been going to for years. As an aside to whatever he was talking about that day, he said in passing,

“If you want to get to know Jesus better, read just 3 chapters a day from the Gospels, and you’ll finish all four of them in a month.”

I started doing that on September 1, but by the middle of the month I got behind, and then on some days couldn’t figure out where I ended the day before so I could start the next day’s reading. As an underabhvier, this was not surprising. So I came up with a slightly different Bible reading plan. This one could work for you, too.

My Underachievers Bible reading plan for 2023 is to still stick with just reading a portion of the four gospels every day this year. It will mean going over the four Gospels several times during the course of 2023.

The difference between this plan and the one from the Bible teacher I heard last summer, is that sometimes I’ll read 3 chapters in a day, sometimes 2, and maybe even 4 chapters. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of. Here’s how it works.

Here’s how it works

Open your Bible and start reading the first complete chapter that begins on the page on your left. Continue reading onto the page on the right side. Start any new chapter that starts on the right-hand page, and don’t stop until you’ve completed reading the chapter. This will usually mean turning the page, and finishing up that chapter on the next page on your left. You stop here for the day. Tomorrow, you pick up where you left off with a new complete chapter on the page on your left. It’s rinse and repeat every day.

For example, today I opened my Bible to the page where I placed the burgundy bookmark ribbon yesterday after finishing that day’s reading. I’m in the Gospel of John at the moment. The left page continues the text from the end of John 12 from yesterday’s reading. I started today’s reading with the first complete chapter on the left-hand page, chapter 13.

It continues onto the right page and ends there. Chapter 14 starts here, and then I turn the page to get to the rest of chapter 14, which ends in the middle of the page and where I stop for the day. I place my bookmark here, which tells me where I start the next day.

So you start each day with a new complete chapter, and you end each day finishing a chapter.

Using a bookmark eliminates the need to check off a box for a pre-determined reading for a particular day. If you’re a box checker-offer, type, this approach may not work for you. But for underachievers like me, this bible reading plan works well for getting to know Jesus better.

Here’s what I’ve noticed

I’ve been doing this for four months now, just reading through the four gospels multiple times as I’ve described. Here are a few things I’ve noticed in my reading.

  • The story never gets old. It’s like looking at a painting several times over a period of time and seeing something new each time you see it again.
  • I’ve seen how much Jesus spoke against the religious leaders of the day and their hypocrisy. How they misled people and were out to hold onto the power they had over people
  • How much Jesus loved people
  • The lengths to which Jesus used simple stories to illustrate profound truths
  • How a relationship with Jesus is not as hard as we make it. In John 6:28-29 a crowd of people who weren’t quite sure what they thought of Jesus say to him. “…we want to perform God’s work, too. What should we do? Jesus replies,

“This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

  • Religion at times makes it harder to get to know Jesus.
  • I don’t remember where in the gospels I read it, but there’s a scene where the disciple are walking with Jesus around town and pointing out buildings to him. I find this humorous and wonder if the gospel writer saw it too, this guided tour telling Jesus what he was already well aware of. It made me chuckle.
So what does all this mean for YOU?

I’ve said it many times before that this podcast is all about finding joy in the relationships God designed for us. The most important relationship is our relationship with Jesus. Following a bible reading plan, any plan, helps nurture that relationship.

You will find more joy in life the more you read about Jesus and what he tells you. He will be the most impactful person you can read about this year. Take time to discover more about Him this year, a little each day, following a bible reading plan.

Here’s the main idea I hope you take away from today’s episode

Reading through the whole Bible this year is one of the most enriching things you can do for yourself. But if this seems too daunting a task right now, give reading 2 or 3 chapters a day from the Gospels a try. Cut yourself some slack, and it’s okay if you miss a day here and there.


Before we wrap up today’s show, if you’d like some input regarding a relationship question or issue you’re dealing with, I’d love to hear from you. Just go to to leave me a voicemail. If you’d rather put your question in writing, just enter it in the Leave a Comment box at the bottom of the show notes.

I’ll do my best to answer your question in a future show.

In closing, I’d also love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice a Bible reading plan to get to know Jesus better.

Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. Scroll down to the bottom of the show notes and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.

And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. Ask people what they’re reading these days. Tell them what you’re reading. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.

Other episodes or resources related to today’s shows

139: Why Should I Listen to This Podcast?
021: The Most Important Relationship of All

Last week’s episode

192: Word of the Year for 2023 – Read

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