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The Bible is the world's most printed, most sold nonfiction book. Because so many copies are given away, sales figures vary widely. Guinness World Records says the total number sold is likely five billion Bibles. Wow!

If you look at the versions of Bibles being purchased, we have the advantage of many good translations available. Your choice depends on what you're looking for. Are you reading the Bible to understand God? Are you wanting to feed your faith, or do you want to know how to live? Then a thought-for-thought translation, set up in a paragraph format, will serve you well. Do you want to seriously examine the scriptures, diving into original languages? Then get a Study Bible so you can run cross-references or examine topics. A verse by verse format with word-for-word translation might be best for you. Don't be afraid to underline key phrases.

I began reading the Bible when I was young. My mother was an avid Bible reader. She read completely through her old King James Bible at least 11 times despite its archaic English. She wrote the date in the cover each time she finished. My first pastor was a Bible teacher. I watched him explain its truth using illustrations on a chalkboard. It was understandable to me. His simple teaching made me respect the word of God. I realized it had something for me. Later, this same pastor sold me a big Thompson Chain Reference Bible, my first study Bible (which I no longer use).

God called me to preach during Junior High School. After that divine encounter, I began to devour the scriptures. I would sometimes read it while on my knees in prayer. My next Bible was a cross-reference edition, published by Oxford. I loved its clear print, crisp pages, and soft leather. I graduated with a degree in Missions and Bible from Southeastern University. On the last day of class, I stopped by the campus bookstore. I discovered a hardback edition of the New American Standard Bible's New Testament. Later I purchased the whole Bible. I fell in love with this clean, clear modern translation. It had a verse by verse format like my old King James, so the references were easy to find. It has been my go-to study Bible ever since.

In America, the Bible was once the basis for our morality and civil society. When I started public school, many teachers had a Bible on their desk. Prayer was offered over the PA each morning. The biggest discipline problem, believe it or not, was kids chewing gum in class. Teen pregnancy, abortion, gangs, gun violence, divorce, and drugs were uncommon. Students were able to learn. Teachers didn't have to daily deal with disruptive disrespect. When they did, right and wrong were upheld. Punishment was swift. Order was kept. Did intact families make us feel safer? Did reading the Bible help us young people with self-discipline? I think so.

Today 65% of Americans identify as Christian. This percentage has declined since 1990, when the number was 85%. But only 45% of us are attending church weekly. Yet there are 1,300 megachurches in the U.S. with attendance of 2,000+ members. Some have 10-40,000! Despite huge crowds, many modern Christians have faith that's shallow; a mile wide and an inch deep. 2020 is designated, "The Year of the Bible." Let's read the Bible more, shall we?

--RON WOOD IS A WRITER AND MINISTER. CONTACT HIM AT [email protected] OR VISIT WWW.TOUCHEDBYGRACE.ORG. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Religion on 02/05/2020

Print Headline: The Year 2020 Is Designated As The Year Of The Bible: Let's Read It

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