By Kara Witherow, Editor
Dr. Jay Harris has been hungry for God’s Word since he was a teenager.
Baptized at age 8, he gave his life to Christ a few weeks before he turned 14 while on a youth group outing at a Christian concert.
Given a New Testament and told to start reading at the Book of John, Dr. Harris’ faith has been grounded and formed in scripture ever since.
“I realized that this was instruction for me in that God, through the Bible, was instructing me how I was to live as a Christian. The relevance of it hit me and I felt a connection with God through his Word,” he said.
That connection to God’s Word has shaped and directed Dr. Harris’ life.
As a preacher, a Sunday school lesson writer, and now serving in extension ministry, he has – in various capacities – taught the scriptures for more than 30 years.
And now Dr. Harris’ passion for reading and teaching the Bible has culminated in the publication of “Layered Bible Journey,” a book that guides readers through the Bible with a plot-driven reading plan.
“Reading the whole Bible changes your life. The challenge is starting and finishing,” Dr. Harris said. “This book gives you a plot-driven guide to read the Bible more like you would a good book. If you have been a Bible reader for a while, this will become your favorite way of reading the Bible. If you have no prior knowledge of the Bible, this guide is designed to build your knowledge of the Bible as you read – one layer at a time.”
Inspired by those who set out to read the Bible in a year but have trouble reading it in its entirety, Dr. Harris remembered how things clicked for him when he started to understand the way the Bible is laid out.
He credits mentors like Danny Key, Dr. Bill Hinson, and professors at the religion department at LaGrange College for nurturing his hunger for the Word and giving him the tools he’s still using today.
“I remember that feeling of beginning to understand how the Bible is laid out,” Dr. Harris said. “It’s made up of very different kinds of parts and yet through it all there’s this story of redemption being told. The whole witness of the Bible is a story of redemption.”
Dr. Harris laid the groundwork for “Layered Bible Journey” 15 years ago when he produced it as a pamphlet for those in his local church. What was then a 15-page document detailing the readings in order with one-sentence introductions has grown into a 527-page book that guides readers through the 66-books of the Bible in one year.
“I realized it was meeting a need,” he said. “And then I had a desire to do more than just one-sentence introductions. I feel like I’m just a guide in their journey through the Bible.”
It’s different from typical Bible-in-a-year plans in that the reader reads the Bible in three layers that build upon each other. Instead of beginning in January and reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation, not getting to the New Testament until September, when using the “Layered Bible Journey” as a guide the reader starts in Genesis but is “rewarded,” Dr. Harris said, by reading sections of the New Testament in April.
For Dr. Harris, who has served in extension ministry since 2013 as Assistant to the Bishop for Ministerial Services, the “Layered Bible Journey” feels like a new ministry that’s about to emerge and unfold. A teacher at heart, he’s excited about the way the book can help make the Bible more accessible to people, help them complete their journey through the scriptures, and help them connect with God through His Word.
“It's kind of a culmination of two parts of my ministry that, though I’m not preaching every Sunday, I feel like now I’m getting to do the part of preaching and teaching through the written word, being a guide in other people’s journeys,” he said. “They don’t need to know Jay Harris at all … but hopefully it will connect them with God and will be that transformative experience that I’ve had through God’s word. I desire that for others.”
Learn more at www.layeredbiblejourney.com.