JOLIET – Dale Hansen has led Bible studies for years, and he knows the score about devotionals.
People buy them, especially the books with 365 reflections, with great intentions of using them to grow closer to God.
Until life intervenes.
“They start them on Jan. 1, and by Jan. 15, they’re already 10 days behind,” Hansen said. “By the end of January, they’re not even halfway through.”
Instead of the random one scripture a day model, Hansen thought people could develop their knowledge and faith on a deeper level if they focused on one scripture verse a week.
So Hansen wrote “One Week at a Time: Grounded and Growing Through His Word” based on teachings he has used in his Bible studies and with the encouragement of his wife. The point of Hansen’s book is not necessarily a “must read” daily or to “see how many verses you can read in a week” but an opportunity to grow closer to God.
“You might read it twice, you might read it three times,” Hansen said of each entry.
Hansen’s method nearly eliminates the necessity of memorizing verses. Because people meditate on one verse a week, they often remember it without actively trying, Hansen said.
Proponents of the 365-day devotionals might argue that Hansen’s devotional offers fewer verses to memorize, but Hansen feels people who often don’t finish devotionals will retain more scripture if they finish his book.
“They’ll only make 52 changes a year,” Hansen said, “but more than they normally would. ... I want the reader to know God better.”
Hansen said many of the devotionals included in his book personally helped him and his wife, Patti, in their more than 40 years of marriage.
“We went through infertility and God guided us to adopt two wonderful daughters, who are now happily married,” Hansen said. “He guided Patti through surviving breast cancer twice. Currently, God is working us through my Parkinson’s.
Hansen already has ideas for more devotionals, using the Book of Jude and the Old Testament as springboards. He’s disciplined in his writing habits and works on the books at least two hours each day.
He didn’t become a Christian until 1975, when Hansen was 21 and a senior in college. It didn’t happen at a revival; no, this basketball player and drummer in a band broke his hand.
“I could not play drums – no music and no basketball,” Hansen said. “So I picked up two books by Josh McDowell and read through both of them.”
On Dale Hansen’s website at groundedandgrowingweekly.com, he posts a sample week from his book so potential readers understand his method. Here it is below:
2 Timothy 1:1 to 18
Overview: Paul was thankful for Timothy’s sincere faith. We are saved through Christ’s grace, through His death, and for His purpose. We should not be ashamed of Christ and His gospel. He challenges Timothy to continue with sound teaching and in tune with the Holy Spirit who is in us.
Focus: In verse 7, Timothy was young and may have lacked confidence to step forward into action. Discipline is action – doing and allowing God to work in and through us. He does not want us to be timid; instead, God wants us to be bold through power, love and self-discipline.
How to Apply: Our actions to move forward can include the following:
• Making a big decision
• Deciding between good and best
• Deciding to do what is right
• Taking your spouse on a date
• Reaching out to a friend via phone call, note, or text
• Removing or reducing a distraction (TV, hobbies, etc.)
• Committing to praying five minutes a day to start
• Picking at least one of the above to work on this week
“One Week at a Time: Grounded and Growing Through His Word” is available through Amazon. Hansen also is available for speaking. Contact him through the website.