Redeemer Stories: Pieter Jan Boot
(Kicking off our Bible in One Year Reading Plan)
Name: Pieter Jan Boot
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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