Read With Us Bible Reading Plan from the Africa Study Bible


Starting February 1st join us as we experience God’s Word using the Africa Study Bible.

The Bible is a beautiful gift from God to the world. As we encounter and learn from our brothers and sisters around the world we are better able to understand who God is and how he is working in many nations and communities. This month we will journey into the Bible together using a reading plan from the Africa Study Bible.

The Africa Study Bible brings together 350 contributors from over 50 countries, providing a unique African perspective. It’s an all-in-one course in biblical content, theology, history, and culture, with special attention to the African context. Each feature was planned by African leaders to help readers grow strong in Jesus Christ by providing understanding and instruction on how to live a good and righteous life. Join us as we take another look at God’s Word through African eyes.

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Learn more about our partners at Oasis International

Immerse: Poets Now Available!

immerse poets 2

We are excited that the most recent volume of Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience has been released. Immerse: Poets presents the poetical books of the First Testament divided into two groupings.


  • Psalms
  • Lamentations
  • Song of Songs


  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Job

These writing all reflect the daily, down-to-earth faith of God’s people as they live out their covenant relationship with him in worship and wise living.

Experience Immerse: Poets.

immerse poets

Find out more about our partners at the Institute for Bible Reading

Small Group Loves “Fresh” Experience with Immerse



Barb and Glenn Martin have spent much of their lives in the education field — Barb as a faculty member at Bethel University, Glenn as a teacher, coach, and high-school principal. They both love the Word of God, faithfully participating in Bible studies and programs at their church in Roseville, MN.

When they heard about Immerse, Barb said, “It immediately captured our hearts and attention. so we thought, ‘let’s pilot it at church. If we can get a green light from our pastoral staff, we thought getting into the Word of God and doing it in the way that the Immerse program has been written would be a great way to get into the Bible with some folks from church and see where it goes.’”

Barb and Glenn’s group recently finished reading through the New Testament together using Immerse: Messiah, so I caught up with them to see how it went.

Tell me about your experience with the Bible prior to Immerse.

Glenn: I’ve tried to be very diligent in the Word in many ways. For the last five years I’ve been doing the One Year Bible in various ways, most recently chronologically using the Bible app on my phone. I’ve really enjoyed that and have done it faithfully for many years. I have emails that come with topical ways to get in the Word. I’ve been in Men’s groups that have been in the Word doing leadership and discipleship studies. I love the Word of God…but I’ve been excited about Immerse. I’m thinking this really has possibilities for believers and seekers alike.

Barb: In my own study I’ve been slowly working my way from beginning to end in a Bible study program. Women’s studies at church, book studies, that type of thing. When we went to Israel in 2014 we read The Harmony of the Gospels in preparation. That was fun and different from anything I’d done before.

How would you describe your personal experience with Immerse?


Barb: I liked it a lot. The approach and way it was structured was fresh. We started out with Luke and Acts and then Paul’s Letters, and the sequencing of that was very interesting. I really liked the notes at the beginning that gave you an introduction to what you were going to be experiencing – I thought that was very helpful. I did like the format without the chapter and verse breaks and just reading it like a book! It was fresh. It was interesting.

I also liked the fact that we had a range of people who joined our group – some people with great Bible knowledge, some with very little. We read with the four questions in mind and what we’d like to share with the group. It was approachable and it wasn’t threatening. We had the freedom to go off on different tangents, and it was wonderful to see what people picked up on as they were answering those questions themselves. It made you say, “I never took it like that” or, “That’s an interesting thought.” It was really neat to see the Body of Christ at work in the Holy Spirit revealing things to all of us in different places.

Glenn: I echo a lot of that. Additionally, for me personally, I really appreciated the way it caused you to see the flow of Scripture. The flow of Luke to Acts to the letters of Paul – that type of thing. The idea of the Gentile track and the Hebrew track of the New Testament was something I knew about but I hadn’t really read it that way. It helped me see it in a new way—dots that got connected in ways I’d never really fully understood because for the most part I’d read the Bible chronologically every day, but it’s piecemeal, it’s smaller chunks. To have this more global, holistic, 10-thousand-foot view was refreshing and revealed things I hadn’t seen before.

How was your group’s experience?

Glenn: As Barb said, there was varied experience and differing depths of faith. So some of the questions that were raised were really eye-opening for me. One guy asked some questions that seemed obvious at first, but when you stop to really think about it, it’s a very foundational question. It really helped me see the potential of this kind of study with nonbelievers and seekers because it’s really non-threatening. Here’s a book, four questions, what do you think? You don’t have to be a Bible expert, experienced theologian, don’t need a degree, don’t need a concordance to really be blessed by it.

Barb: When we presented this to the group – the reading schedule and everything, there was an element of excitement that in eight weeks we could read the New Testament. It was a fun challenge, and for everyone to say, “Wow, the weeks flew by” and at the end it was really a nice celebration! We did the New Testament in eight weeks! I thought that was a really fun part of it – that we did it together.

What does your future with Immerse look like?

Glenn: A couple of us from the group are heading south for a few months, but the rest of them are continuing with Beginnings and we’re being encouraged to Skype in to the discussions. The group definitely wanted to continue and they actually had their first meeting last night.

Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

The One Year Bible (Enter to win!)

The new year means it’s time to set your reading goal for the year. For many, this means setting out to read the entire Bible over the next 12 months. If this sounds like you, we have something that can help, The One Year Bible!

The One Year Bible divides the Bible text into 365 daily readings so you can read through the entire Bible in one year. The One Year Bible is available in a variety of formats and come in two types of reading plans: a canonical reading where each day includes a passage from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs and a chronological reading. Do you like to color or journal? There are also One Year Bibles with lightly-ruled wide margins, and some wide-margin editions include line-art.

You can learn more about The One Yer Bible here – click here.

Enter to win a copy of The One Year Bible NLT!


Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Fill out the Gleam form below.
  • Sign-up for our “Read With Us” devotional to earn an extra entry.
  • Pick which Bible you want to win.
(Entries open to U.S. residents only.)

One Year Bible Giveaway

From “No Bible” to “Know Bible” Part 6: Living the Story

Find out what our partners at the Institute for Bible Reading are talking about and visit to learn more about the Immerse Bible Reading Experience. Read Part 6 of the 6 part series by Bible Scholar Glenn Paauw.

Banner Experience Life Together

What does it mean to receive the Bible on its own terms? Dynamic, living Bible engagement happens when a community:

  • has good access to a well-translated text presented in its natural literary forms,
  • regularly feasts together on whole literary units understood in context,
  • understands the overall story of the Bible as centered in Jesus, and
  • accepts the invitation to take up its own role in God’s ongoing drama of restoration through
    the power of the Spirit.

When the Scriptures are received on their own terms like this they can once again become God’s speech act—instructing, revealing, convicting, judging, comforting, healing, and saving with all their intended power

Part 6: The Bible’s Endgame For Us: Living the Story

The first answer to the question What are we supposed to do with the Bible? is to read it well. For this to happen, it’s essential that we go there—into the world of the Bible. Reading big and reading whole will open up this strange new world of the Bible for us. We will have the opportunity to begin receiving the Bible on its own terms. We will read the Bible in all of its contexts—literary, canonical, historical, cultural—and we will read the Bible as God’s great story of the world. Clearly, this is what God had in mind when he decided to give us the kind of Bible he did.

The second answer to our central question, however, has to do with coming back again into our own lives in this present world. The point of the Bible must never be only about then. It must also be about now.

The Bible still speaks a living word for us, in our own time and place and situation.

But how? This is precisely where so many modern strategies for getting meaning from the Bible fall down, and fall badly. Fragmentary ways of reading (or maybe using, since they’re not really based on reading) lead to a fragmentary Bible, unable to do its main work of transforming lives. Reading the Bible as if it is speaking directly to us, as if it is not historical, cannot be the answer. Rather, the answer is in the story.

Or better, into the story.

Yes, that’s what the Bible is trying to do. The way we can most honor the Bible is by living its story in our own lives. In fact, we could say it’s actually the other way around. The Bible wants us to see our own lives as little parts of its own bigger, grander story. The Bible wants us to enter into this judging-then-restoring narrative and work alongside God in his new creation project in our time.


The Scriptures have a saving trajectory—through the world-transforming work of Messiah Jesus—reaching beyond the pages of the Bible into our time and place and beyond. Our job is to know the backstory of God’s decisive work inside and out so we can appropriately improvise it on our own stage.

Really? Improvise? Yes, improvise.

The Bible is not trying to be an instruction book speaking directly to every situation we encounter in our lives, telling us exactly what to do. The Bible tells us what God has already been doing in the world, preeminently in the life and ministry of Jesus. The more deeply we know this story, the more clearly we will know how to bring this story to life in our world today with our 21st century problems and questions. It’s true that history changes, but it’s also true that a lot of things in our human condition stay the same. Sometimes we face challenges similar to those of God’s people in the Scriptures, and we can learn directly from what God told them and how they responded.

But overall, the Bible is not trying to be an answer book. The Bible is a story telling us that we can step into it as a living drama. We can activate the Bible in our own lives by performing it, enacting it anew, as God continues to bring his salvation into our world. Story invites our understanding and insight, while drama invites our faithful action.

So knowledgeably with God’s Scriptures, powerfully with God’s Spirit, prayerfully with God’s help, and together with God’s people, we can discern how to live out the story of God’s redemption. We can live a robust and active Christian life as a work of art, looking for ways to fittingly and faithfully continue the narrative of God’s restoration of the world. We can give beauty back to beauty’s Creator.

The final step of deep Bible engagement is found in discovering the Bible as this drama. We must begin to embody the story. To live it out so others can see our biblical performance and be drawn into its light. This is why it’s so devastating when God’s people perform the story badly. Those watching us are repulsed rather than attracted to the Bible and to the God found within the Bible.

Biblical performance matters. The skill of our biblical improvisation matters.

We of course cannot even begin to enact this story today if we are only barely familiar with the story that’s gone before. Immersion in the Bible is the only way we’ll be able to pull off fresh new extensions of God’s grand narrative in front of this watching world.

Immersion, leading to improvisation. A Bible well played. This is the endgame of engagement with God’s holy Scriptures.

For further reading, see: Scripture and the Authority of God by N. T. Wright; Improvisation by Samuel Wells; and Faith Speaking Understanding by Kevin Vanhoozer

 Learn more about the Institute for Bible Reading

Saddleback Small Group Loves Immerse


Chris Chapman has been practicing law in Southern California for well over a decade. Recently he created Chapman Sports and Entertainment—a full service sports and marketing agency where Chris is a certified agent with both the NFL and NBA. When I talked to him this week, he was on his way to the Pacific Northwest to scout out two college football players for the NFL.

Chris grew up in pastor’s home in Texas and attends Saddleback Church but had never read the New Testament. So when his small group leader at Saddleback Church recommended the group read through Immerse: Messiah, Chris jumped at the chance.

Tell me about your experience with the Bible before Immerse.
Reading the Bible, especially the New Testament, has always been on my bucket list, but when I tried to read I found it cumbersome and overwhelming. I think part of the problem was that I was reading from an older Bible that I got from church when I was a kid. I even downloaded a Bible app thinking that would help, but I found that overwhelming as well.

So how was your experience reading Immerse: Messiah?
Honestly I was a little intimidated at first. I’m not a big reader—I kind of got burned out reading so much in law school. But I was surprised at how easily Immerse read. I liked the layout, and the more contemporary language of the NLT* really helped—although at first I kept going back to my original Bible to make sure Immerse was getting it right. [Author’s note: This is what lawyers do—right?]

As a busy lawyer who’s in court a lot, were you able to keep up with the reading?
Honestly, once I got started reading, it was hard for me to stop. I’d take it to the office with me, and I actually ended up getting ahead of the 8-week reading schedule. I was surprised at how easy it was. I figured I was reading two to three hours a week. The book introductions are brilliant and helped me understand the cultural background and helped put everything in context for the reader.

How important was it that you read Immerse: Messiah with your group?
The group experience was critical. Even though I was enjoying the reading, I’m not sure I’d have kept reading without the group motivation. I really wanted to engage in the conversations when we got together, so the group really kept me on task. The book club approach was also helpful. I’m not looking for more work! So I’d just read and show up.

What were your group conversations like?
The discussions were great! People caught things that I’d missed and vice versa. A number of times we recalled that Pastor Rick had preached on this before, but now we were seeing it as part of the whole. We actually had one of Saddleback’s pastors in our group, and occasionally we’d pick his brain about something we didn’t understand, but because we’d all read about fifty pages that week, everyone had a lot to contribute.

Where do you go from here with the Bible?
I ordered copies of Immerse and sent them to members of my family. And I’m excited that Immerse: Messiah has come out in Spanish! We have relatives in Mexico and want to send them copies as well. Also, as my sports agency grows, I hope to share Immerse with the athletes I’m working with. I don’t want to cram anything down their throats, but I hope to give them a copy when the time is right.

As a group, we’re talking about starting Beginnings. I definitely want to read the Old Testament.

*This is a typical response for people who read the NLT for the first time. Another person said to me: “With the NLT, I spend more time understanding it and less time trying to understand it.”

Banner Experience Life Together

Find out more about the Institute for Bible Reading

From “No Bible” to “Know Bible” Part 5: The Story of God and Us

Find out what our partners at the Institute for Bible Reading are talking about and visit to learn more about the Immerse Bible Reading Experience. Read Part 5 of the 6 part series by Bible Scholar Glenn Paauw.


Editors Note: From “No Bible” to “Know Bible” is a 6-part series on the path toward great Bible engagement.

What does it mean to receive the Bible on its own terms? Dynamic, living Bible engagement happens when a community:

  • has good access to a well-translated text presented in its natural literary forms,
  • regularly feasts together on whole literary units understood in context,
  • understands the overall story of the Bible as centered in Jesus, and
  • accepts the invitation to take up its own role in God’s ongoing drama of restoration through
    the power of the Spirit.

When the Scriptures are received on their own terms like this they can once again become God’s speech act—instructing, revealing, convicting, judging, comforting, healing, and saving with all their intended power

Part 5: The Heart of the Matter—The Story of God and Us

We’ve been proposing that there are several steps to reaching the goal of great Bible engagement. Everything from the physical presentation to the reading of whole books, and from experiencing the Bible in community to taking note of the Bible’s various contexts. But here’s the single biggest factor: reading the Bible as the grand adventure God made it to be.

All those books in the Bible come together to narrate the world. In concert, they take us through all those ups and downs—big moves forward and devastating setbacks and losses—to disclose the big shape of the story. We learn the beauty and glory of God’s intention in creation, the failure and darkness of human rebellion, and then the long, slow road back to the redemption and flourishing of God’s entire creation.

There are of course lots and lots of messages, big and small, throughout the Bible. We can learn particular truths about all kinds of things—from the proper worship of God to getting along with our neighbors. But overall, the Bible has one exceedingly great goal: to tell us how things are with God and his world.

More than anything else, the Bible is a story.

This has all kinds of implications.

Jesus was once questioned by an expert in the law about what must be done to gain a share in the world to come. Jesus answered the question with one of his own: “What does the Law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

That indeed is the question for us too: How do you read it?

Jesus is teaching us something crucial about the Scriptures right here. The Bible is not some collection of words that simply jump off the page and communicate by themselves. We have to read and interpret them. And we have to read and interpret them well for them to do their proper work in us. Jesus’ question implies there are options.

Unfortunately, many of our current options for reading and interpreting fail to provide the full and compelling meaning the Bible is offering. Too often the Bible is treated in a piecemeal fashion, as if it were a handy reference book for looking up short, infallible answers to all our questions.


But there’s a better way: big reading leads to big meaning. Because God created our world and always intended to interact with us as significant actors within it, the revelation in the Bible moves along with God’s people. If the Bible wants to enter human history as part of God’s mission to transform that history, then it has no choice but to be story. Because story is where we live. We don’t live in information — even good, inspiring, encouraging, or wise information. We always and invariably think of our lives as individual stories within some bigger, overall story.

So the Bible enters the fray of all the competing narratives that are trying to tell us they are the true story of the world. These narratives are actively trying to recruit us every day. Nationalist. Consumerist. Narcissist. Pantheist. There are would-be Master Narratives everywhere. If we don’t read and know the Bible’s story of the world, then we will end up reading the Bible for little snippets of information and bits of spiritual wisdom that we then fit into another controlling narrative that we get from somewhere else.

This is why the centerpiece of our recovery of the Bible is the recovery of the Bible as story. The piecemeal Bible fails to capture imaginations because it is simply too small. This is certainly part of the reason why fewer people, especially fewer younger people, are engaging with the Bible.

The upward journey from a minimalist Bible to being immersed in God’s full revelation takes us from bits to full books then all the way to God’s beautiful saga of world transformation. It is precisely as this surprising and redemptive story that the Bible comes into its own to confront, judge, forgive, save, and restore.

This is the Bible God intends for us. A Bible we know deeply. A Bible filled with people and covenants, with dramatic scenes, rising and falling action, and major movements that all fit into a plot that is taking us somewhere. To know the Bible is to know all these smaller stories that fit into the Story.

This, then, is our itinerary: as we continually feast on whole books, the Story will emerge with greater and greater clarity. And with clarity comes both understanding and invitation. We will begin to understand what God is doing, and then the Bible’s endgame for us will emerge. We will be invited to join him.

Learn more about the Institute for Bible Reading