For the uninitiated, lifehacks are tips and tricks for doing mundane tasks more effectively and efficiently… at least, that’s their aim. And whether it’s getting the most out of a 7 minute exercise or amplifying your phone’s speaker with a cup or bowl, the internet is filled with hacks designed to make life simpler.
But can you lifehack Christianity?
Let’s find out.
Carter provides a great summation in the introduction: “The NIV Lifehacks Bible contains a collection of 365 articles that attempt to explain that process. It’s a how-to guide on how to change your life. It’s a compilation of practical advice on the most important journey you’ll ever take. It’s a toolkit for restructuring your life so that you can become more like Jesus.”
The goal of each article is to help Christians in spiritual formation (aka sanctification) through various spiritual disciplines. The spiritual disciplines (or habits, as Carter calls them) are as follows: Bible memorization, character formation, developing wisdom, engaging Scripture, evangelism, faithfulness, fasting, fellowship, gratitude, habit formation, hospitality, journaling, meditation, obedience, overcoming sin and temptation, prayer, redeeming time, rest, sanctification, sanctified imagination, seeing Jesus in Scripture, self-reflection, service, silence and solitude, stewardship, story and patterns, trusting God, understanding Scripture, vocation, and worship.
The articles are concise, typically two or three pages long, and most contain bullet point information for ease of reading. Also, every discipline (or habit) includes a self-assessment article to help us evaluate ourselves in that area.
Every day we are becoming either more like Jesus or less like him. Spiritual formation is the name for the process by which Christians in union with Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit become conformed both internally and externally to the character of Christ for the purpose of communion with God. (Kindle loc. 2168-2170)
After drinking constantly from the fire hose of information, a day without info-tech might seem like a yearlong drought. But by unplugging you might just find something new: a still, quiet voice sharing the information that matters most. (loc. 71138-71140)
The main equipment you need for prayer is a quiet place, a quiet time and a quiet heart. (loc. 71220)
Who should read it?
The practicality and content make the NIV Lifehacks Bible a great read for any Christian. If you would consider yourself lacking in many spiritual disciplines, Carter’s insights and suggestions might be just the boost needed to help you grow in them. On the other hand, if you consider yourself spiritually disciplined, there is still much wisdom and help to find in these articles.
Why should I read it?
I had two hesitations before I began to read the articles of this Bible.
First, the NIV is not my favorite translation. I’m certainly not in the camp that it is a Satanic translation, but I do think there are much better English versions of the Scriptures out there. I also already own multiple copies of the NIV, so I certainly did not need another one.
Second, the idea of lifehacking spiritual disciplines was a little off-putting. A lifehack implies simplicity and ease, and disciplines are supposed to require discipline, right? How can we lifehack something that is meant to be difficult?
Unfortunately, they do not sell the articles apart from the NIV, so I now own another copy of a translation that I rarely use. However, I purchased the Kindle version, which allows you to read articles back-to-back, so other than the large file size, I have been able to use the articles effectively on their own.
And in answer to the second concern, fortunately Carter does a wonderful work of keeping the gospel at the forefront of practicality. He never loses sight of the finished work of Christ that ought to be motivating us in gratitude toward the spiritual disciplines. Striking that balance is as difficult as walking along a tight rope, but Carter does it very well.
It is also important to note that these articles do NOT take the discipline out of the spiritual disciplines. Yes, he provides helpful advice for living each discipline out, but actually doing them is no less challenging. For example, he offers great advice, incentive, and suggestions for memorizing Scripture, but if we truly desire to memorize Scripture, we must still do the work of actually committing it to memory.
The NIV Lifehacks Bible is not going to make spiritual disciplines any easier for you, but if you are looking for a gospel-centered guide for how to approach them, then grab this Bible today.