All posts by Dale Sackrider, II

I am Gabriel

     And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak…” — Luke 1:19 NKJV

gladiator.jpgAs I read those words I felt like I was in the presence of authority. Gabriel knew who he was and where he stood. It reminded me of a scene from the Hollywood movie, Gladiator. The main character, Maximus is asked by the emperor after winning a battle in the arena, “Do you have a name?” His response:

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

Here is a man that does not struggle with who he is or what his mission is. The same could be said of Gabriel, although his mission was not so bleak. But where does this identity come from and more directly why does that matter to us?

When Moses questioned God in Exodus 3:13-14, God responded “I AM WHO I AM… you shall say…I AM has sent me”. And now, hundreds of years later Zacharias questions Gabriel. Gabriel knows who he is – “I am Gabriel”, but the messenger does not stop, satisfied that the mere declaration of his name brings understanding or context to the situation. No, he continues, “…who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak”.

Later in the same chapter one of Luke, Mary finds her purpose from her Creator and declares:

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
vs. 47-48 NKJV

We must find our identity in Christ. Moses was able to lead the captives free because he knew who he was in context of “I AM”. Gabriel spoke with authority because he knew who he was in context of “I AM”. Mary faced possible abandonment from her fiance, but rejoiced knowing who she was in context of “I AM”.

I cannot be defined by my environment as our factious Maximus was. Defining myself based on my race or people group, my church or denomination, my salary or job, my house or neighborhood, my anything-other-than my Creator is flawed. It is in Him that I find my purpose. When I know who I am based on who He is, I can push forward, and I can do so with authority.

As I embark on this trip through the Bible, I look for understanding, I look for purpose, and I look for identity.  As you read “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, find youself as God see you.  The next time you start a sentence with “I am”, pay attention to what follows.  Are you speaking with the authority that only comes from the Creator?  An angel may never wake you up at night to declare your purpose, but God Himself as made Himself known to us thourgh this Book – After all, He is I AM!

What does it mean to read the Bible?

When you were in school, your English teacher would give you a text book and there would be assigned reading, practice questions, review sections, and assignments. Segments of great writings would be included in the text book, but never the entire story. Just the parts you needed to study the method of writing, the verbiage, the rhythm and pace of the story, would be included. We are taught to answer questions like, what did the author mean when he put this in the story, and why did the author choose to say it this way instead of that way, etc. Everything is sanitized and isolated.

How many classics have you only read those passages that were required reading in high school or college? There is value in this method of study, but what a shame that we have neglected so many great books, because we see them as ‘required reading’. We forget that they are great books! Sadly, the Bible is often lost in this same method of reading.

The Bible is a wonderful collection of writing that should be read in its entirety! Did you read the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye? Or maybe the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Image if we read those books like we read the Bible. You could certainly study them, pulling out passages to be dissected, gaining better understanding of what the author was saying. But would you then say you had read them? You wouldn’t think of starting in chapter 8 of Book 3 of the Left Behind series. And so we ask, what does it mean to read the Bible?

That’s a simple question right? Well, maybe not. Most Christians read the Bible like a text book. We are told often that the Bible is a Life Manual, a guide to Righteous living. Life’s How-To Guide. The problem with looking at the Bible this way is that we start to read it that way. Nothing kills the story of a great book like studying it.

Bible study and Bible reading are different both in purpose and process. When I read for the study of a work, I pick it apart. I contemplate things like why did the author say “dread poured into me from my head to my toes” instead of “I found I was gripped with fear, unable to move”. I look for symbolism and parody. I don’t read the whole story again, and I’m not concerned to start from the beginning. I can jump from chapter 8 to chapter 3 without stumbling over the story itself.

When I read for the sake of the story however, I look to understand the whole story. I want to meet the characters, the antagonist and the protagonist. I want to understand the conflict, get lost in the struggle, hope for the hero, and despise the villain! My purpose is to experience the story being told. When I read for this purpose, I read from the beginning. I try not to stumble over the mode and method of the work. They are details that don’t add to the story and so, I don’t focus on them. My purpose determines my process.

The Bible is one of the greatest stories ever told! Everything you could hope to find in the latest novel is found in this Book! Have you ever read it? Maybe you have studied it, and covered the ‘required reading’ but never enjoyed the story itself. If you have never read this Book in its entirety, allow me to recommend it to you. It truly is the Greatest Story ever told.

How to Read the Bible in Six Months


As I invite friends and family to join me in reading the Bible from cover to cover in six months, I often hear the same questions and concerns and wanted to take a moment to address those issues. I hope this benefits you in your journey to read through the scriptures with me.

Why not just get a one year Bible?

That’s a great question. I’m not against the idea of reading through the Bible in a year. I would rather you read through in a year than never read at all. Having said that, I have two issues with one year Bibles:

  1. I believe three to five chapters a day is too slow. Most of the Bible is written in story format. It is the greatest story ever told, and we often miss a great deal of it, because we do not read it like one (For more on that thought please see What does it mean to read the Bible?)
  2. One year Bibles often have the reader reading one book in the New Testament and one in the Old at the same time. Maybe you have three novels on your night stand right now and reading multiple books at the same time comes natural for you. Many of us don’t however and even if you do, I bet they are not three books of the same series, right? The New Testament builds on the foundation laid by the Old Testament. There are many OT references in the NT that we often miss if we haven’t read the OT first. Did you know that Jonah was a type of Jesus? Jesus himself tells the Pharisees that the only sign they will have that He is who He claims to be is that of Jonah. Throughout Jesus’ entire ministry, He made references to the OT. References that you may read over without understanding them if you haven’t read the OT first.

But reading from cover to cover is too much OT at once – I want to read about God’s grace and mercy found in the NT.

I’ve heard this from a lot of people. To quote a good friend of mine, “That comment is spoken like someone who has never read the Old Testament.” There is so much grace and mercy in the OT but many Christians never experience that because they rarely (if ever) read the OT. Consider this, when God created Adam, He commanded him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge or “you are sure to die”. But when Adam did eat from that tree, God allowed him to live another 900 plus years. That’s Mercy. When Cain killed Able and God cursed him, Cain cry out that the punishment was too much to bare saying “all who find me will kill me”, so God marked him so no man would touch him. That’s Mercy. We haven’t even gotten out of the first four chapters of the first book!

Why should I read the Bible that fast? or When I read that fast I don’t get anything out of it…

To answer this question, I must challenge the term “fast”. First, let me say I believe it is impossible to read the Bible at any pace and not ‘get something out of it’. I understand if you currently read very rarely, or not at all, this could seem like an extremely fast pace. Well, consider this:

  • The King James Version (KJV) Bible is read aloud in about 70 hours for most Audio Bibles
  • The New International Version (NIV) Bible is read aloud in about 77 hours for most Audio Bibles
  • By reading just one hour a day out loud, you could finish the bible in about 70-77 days (2 ½ months)
  • At seven chapters a day, you will finish the 1189 chapters of the Bible in just 5 ½ months!

Reading through in 6 months should only require about 30 minutes a day. You may not read as fast as they do on an Audio Bible, but remember reading out loud takes longer than reading to yourself, so even if you are a little slower, you should still be able to keep up with about thirty minutes a day.

It sounds like you want me to commit to 30 minutes a day; where am I going to find that time?

Reading the Bible should be a priority in your life as a Christian. Psalms 119:105 says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Romans 12:2 commands “Do not conform … but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. I could go on but you already know the importance of Scripture. Your concern is how to make time to do what you already agree should be done, right? Consider this; a one hour television program has over 15 minutes of commercials. The average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day! (See TV Stats). If that’s you, reading during commercials would be more than enough time to complete the daily reading.

OK, you’ve convinced me but I have tried reading the whole Bible before and failed. How can I succeed this time?

I completely understand this concern. I have been there. I have tried to read my Bible many times before and always failed after only a few weeks. I have put together a list of helpful tips that I hope will help you in your journey to read the Bible:

  • JOIN
  • Don’t read KJV Bible, Read a plain English bible. Preferably a Translation (NIV, CEV, NLT) and not a paraphrase (The Living, The Message)
  • Get LARGE print edition (trust me, it will be easier on your eyes and easier to read)
  • Pick a time, read on a routine, the beginning of the day is better than later
  • Don’t get hung up on difficult words (places, people, locations), use an audio bible to help with pronunciations, to make it smoothly over difficult passages. has the audio for most versions of the Bible available for free when you listen online.
  • Don’t stop for a word study – most of the time these are tangents that distract you from reading your bible (see What does it mean to read the Bible?)
  • Take quick short notes so you can go back to study more in depth after your normal reading time. Use those notes to post to the forum – We want to know what stood out to you!
  • If you miss, don’t be discouraged and don’t try to make it up all at once! If you missed 7 chapters today, don’t try to jam 14 chapters in the same reading time tomorrow – maybe 8 chapters, or 9, OR just 7. The key is to keep going!
  • If the Bible Forum group is moving into a new book, and you are behind, start the new book with the group. You can always back fill the book you leave behind, and it’s easier to keep going when you are reading with friends.
  • Get the Bible Book Mark Excel spreadsheet from the site – if you don’t have excel, email the forum admin for other options. You must keep track of your daily reading or you will not read!

For many of you this seems like an enormous endeavor. The first time though, it can be overwhelming, but trust me, it is worth it! You will find yourself thinking differently, acting differently, and living differently because the Bible renews your mind! I know you can do it, and the Bible Forum is full of people ready to cheer you on as you journey with us through The Greatest Story Ever Told!