Earley: Starting the Year of the Bible
Published 9:32 am Friday, January 13, 2017
The air was crisp and cool at 11:55 p.m. Dec. 31, 2016. I was at the Oldham County Courthouse gazebo to launch the Bible Reading Marathon in just five minutes.
Seventy-four other counties across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were getting ready to do the same thing (prayerfocus.co). We had committed to reading the Bible, out loud, from Genesis to Revelation, from Jan. 1-4. As I stood at the podium, and looked out over the courthouse lawn, there was nobody to hear me.
The words from Isaiah 55:11 kept running through my mind, “(M)y word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
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I knew the truth of these words because they were from the Bible, the word of God. It didn’t matter if anyone heard me reading the Bible. The word of God was going out and it would not return empty. At the moment the clock struck midnight, bringing in 2017, I spoke with confidence, “Hello, Oldham County. I am here to launch the Bible Reading Marathon, and proclaim that the Bible is the final authority in Oldham County. Genesis chapter one. In the Beginning…”
As I read the words of Genesis 1-3, I had a deeply spiritual experience with God. From the very beginning, God was whispering to my soul with revelations of His will. I sensed God wanted me to know this act of reading His word in a public place was very important to Him. He wanted to confirm that it was Him who put it on my heart to call Oldham County Christians to publicly declare the Bible is the final authority in our county.
I also felt God whispering that He wants this to be the year of the Bible at my church. I felt God was confirming this when I found out Gov. Matt Bevin had declared that 2017 would be “The Year of the Bible” in Kentucky.
Gov. Bevin has done this for the last two years in response to the Bible Reading Marathon across the state. The predictable negative voices spoke about him blurring the lines of separation between church and state, a bad interpretation of the Constitution’s “Establishment Clause.”
It is really quite simple, but very profound, as it lifts up a few of the major historical moments when our greatest leaders declared the importance of the Bible for our great country. President Abraham Lincoln (1864), the first Chief Justice John Jay, President Harry S Truman are each acknowledged for their public statements about the importance of the Bible. President Ronald Reagan also declared 1983 to be the “Year of the Bible.”
I am proud of Gov. Bevin for boldly declaring his faith by making this proclamation. He did not have to do it, and he has taken plenty of flak for having done so. As governor, there will be many battles and he must choose his battles wisely. Since he has chosen this as one of his battles, it seems to me that the Christians of this state must respond.
As a part of making this “Year of the Bible” at my church, I will preach through the Bible. I am going to challenge the churches in my county to make this “The Year of the Bible.”
When our ministerial association meets, we will talk about how we can do this faithfully and obediently. As one of the planners of our county’s Bible Marathon, I am going to find ways to support Kentucky Prayer Focus in helping our state truly make this “The Year of the Bible.”
What can you do? Can you make a decision right now to read through the Bible this year? That would be about four chapters a day. Can you meet with your minister and volunteer to help your church do a Bible Marathon sometime this year, or to begin 2018? Can you pray for God to reveal how you can make this “The Year of the Bible” in your church and community?
The fact is every year is truly “The Year of the Bible.” When Christians join together across denominational lines it has power in our communities and the spiritual realm. I call all the faithful Christians to join together and make this “The Year of the Bible.”
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous columns, see www.lagrangepres.com.