Redeemer Stories: Pieter Jan Boot

(Kicking off our Bible in One Year Reading Plan)

Name: Pieter Jan Boot
Nationality: Dutch
Favourite Bible Book: The Gospel of John

1. Tell us a little about yourself
First the basics: I am 36 years young, happily married to Elsbeth and the father of 2 beautiful boys. I love nature, poetry, art, people.

Now the specifics: I was born and raised on one of the islands under Rotterdam in a Christian environment, surrounded by the beauty of nature.  This had laid in me from a young age a steady awareness that God existed and that seeking Him is a wonderful thing to do. In my teenage years I had some wandering moments. But because of the presence of dedicated Christian friends and youth leaders, this actually helped me to make a decision to earnestly seek God. 

I do remember the hunger for more and this led to intentionally reading the Bible with the desire to experience God for myself. During this journey God clearly revealed Himself and His grace in moments when I engaged with the Bible (esp. the Gospel of John).

This led to dedicating my life to Him and was the start of my walk with Jesus as a personal follower of Him. It is exciting to see how over the years God leads you from one aspect of knowing Him into the next aspect. From knowing His forgiveness to knowing Him as a loving Father. From knowing the power of His Spirit unto getting filled with the Spirit. From knowing the grace of God to be accepted unto knowing His grace to be transformed. From knowing His authority to standing in the authority He has given us.

Fast forward 15 years later, I am still thrilled about the ongoing journey of knowing Him more and more and being transformed more and more towards his image.

2. What kind of Bible reader are you?
I am both a passionate – and at the same time a very easily distracted reader.  As I read I am always listening to what God highlights in the text and as soon as that happens I always underline those sentences. Often I draw little symbols or drawings besides it, when it comes to themes that occur a lot or speak to my heart.  

At the same time I always have an A6 paper and a pen next to me, to write down what I feel the Spirit is highlighting. Sometimes it is a phrase of Scripture. Sometimes a prayer that wells up. Sometimes a theme that God puts on my heart. Sometimes it is a creative way of engaging with it in the form of a pen drawing. Often these papers surround me when I am at work and in that way during the day the Words that God has opened are still somewhere visible to read.

3. What’s the most helpful tip/tool you’ve learned in setting Bible-reading habits?

Dedicating a proper amount of time, simply to reading and prayer on a set moment of your daily schedule and sticking to this has been super helpful for me.  A couple of years ago as a staff team we made the decision to dedicate every first hour of the day to being in the Word and prayer. Since than  I have simply scheduled the first hour of every day to have time with the Father. It is my time to ‘just be’ with God and this is so helpful.

I would love to recommend everyone who struggles with the habit of setting time apart with God to simply commit to a set proper time (enough to help you to really engage) each day for a period of time just to be with the Father.

Other tips: sometimes you can be ‘tired’ of reading. Especially when you read through the Bible in one year, there might be some moments that you are tired of reading.  Allow grace moments to be in your times with God, worship Him through worship, meditate on one simple verse, go out of the house and go for a walk,  read a book that stirs your affection and faith.  There are moments that I allow myself to simply not read – to re-engage after that with a refreshed hunger.

When you are out of the habit of reading, the joy of reading can also be activated by reading something simple as a cartoon or as a funny book (like a novel from your childhood) just for a couple of hours.  Reading is an active activity and in our culture with everything on screens sometimes I need to get back into the rhythm of reading. When you have been busy reading ‘serious’ stuff, it can be really refreshing to read something light, that you really allow your mind to have some holiday. I found that after that I reengage with more passion and brightness.  Personally this kicks me into the habit of enjoying reading once I have been out.

One simple tip: when you start reading the Bible, read like you eat fish. Eat the meat, and not the bones.

4. What do you do when you want to understand a Bible passage better?

I always try to take time first to fix my eyes on Jesus, to come in a place of rest.  I welcome the Spirit, have a moment of surrendering myself to God. That makes me ready to receive.
After that I read the text. When I want to gain more understanding I read and read it again.  Often (esp. when I engage with a smaller text unit, like a psalm) I write parts out. It helps me to see the themes that occur, to really see what is in there.
If something is unclear to me, I look for different translations, read that one verse in 4 or 5 translations.  This often gives you a good taste of what it says in the original language. For very quick help I often turn to the Study Bible (ESV Study Bible) or to more specific commentaries.

If something is unclear and I just want to know how this can be applied,  I usually go to a gifted Bible teacher I know I can trust (in my case this has been for more than a decade, John Piper). I benefit from his skills and just check out the passage and see if he has said something worth reading/listening to around the text. 

5. How do you choose a Bible?
Personally I am reading from a NIV translation with a big size (A5). I want my times of reading to be intentional, so I always read from a physical copy. I buy a new work Bible every year to receive the Word afresh and to be surprised and not overlook things because I am drawn to my underlining or comments.

When I study, I often open at least 4 translations. The NIV is a translation that is focused on the English language and how the original phrase is best understood in our language. Sometimes that means that the way how it is worded, is a bit further from the original expression.
To get a grip on the original text I then read the ESV (who is more focused in translating the Bible in such a way that you can see how it was written in the original language).
Besides that I use an interlinear Bible, that has the Hebrew and Greek text and the direct translation of words under it.
I also use some translations from different traditions (like the Dutch HSV (the equivalent of the NKJ) and the Willibrordvertaling (the Dutch catholic translation).

I found it helpful to have one predominant translation for personal usage over the years, so that I start remembering the exact wording and I can memorise verses. For me this translation must be easy readable and at the same time close to the original text. After all, you want the Bible to give instruction for our daily lives – so it helps me to use a translation that
comes with an ease in the use of language.

Want to start the Bible in One Year reading plan that we’re following at Redeemer in 2022?