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Here’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone, but reading the Bible is a discipline for me. In other words, it’s not natural. In fact, reading in general is something that I have to discipline myself to do. I don’t think I read an entire novel-length book until high school. And I didn’t enjoy reading until half way through college. So, as you can imagine, reading the Bible is something that takes work for me… even as a pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I crave it and when I get into it, I’m in. Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe it’s easy for you. Then stop reading because this won’t help you.

If reading in general and specifically, reading the Bible, are difficult for you. I hope these 3 tips to kickstart reading the Bible helps.

Andy Stanley, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries does a great job unpacking a simple strategy to kickstart this process. Enjoy this 9:30 minute clip from an old sermon series called TEXT below:

If you’re like me and reading doesn’t naturally, maybe these 3 tips for kickstart reading the Bible is just what you need to get started.
  1. Find a Time
    This is all about the principle of pre-decision. If you pre-decide that you’re going to read some of the Bible at a certain time of day, it will help you stay consistent. If you say, “Maybe I’ll do it in the morning” or “Maybe I’ll get to it on my lunch break” you’ve basically decided not to decide, which leads to inaction. But if you pre-decide, you can set an alarm, and then when the time comes it will be easier to follow through.
  2. Find a Place
    You need a space without distraction. I recommend not reading in a place where you would normally text, watch TV, or sleep. If I read in bed, I fall asleep. If I read with my phone next to me, screen-up, I end up texting or checking my email. You need dedicated space. You need a chair in the corner or a pillow in your closet. You need a bench at the park or a stool at your coffee shop. The point, find a place that you don’t use for anything else.
  3. Pick a Plan
    Believe it or not, this is probably the easiest part. There are literally thousands of plans but here are the resources I recommend. If you’re a digital reader, meaning you read on your iPad or iPhone or whatever already, then it won’t be that difficult for you to start reading on that same device. Download the Bible App, sign up for a account (through the app) and subscribe to a reading plan. Reading plans range from 3 days to 1 year reading plans. I like to mix it up and do a two week plan, then a 3 day, then something else. It keeps it moving and different. The length of what you’re reading doesn’t need to be long, but you just need to concentrate while you read. Give it your focus. If you’re not a digital reader, then I recommend a printed out reading plan that you can keep in a Bible and you can mark off as you go. Here’s a great one to download  and use.

So there you have it, 3 Tips for Kickstart Reading the Bible in 2014. So go Find A Time, Find A Place and Pick a Plan to get you started with reading the Bible.

What else is working for you?

You May Also Like:
5 Tips to Kickstart Your Prayer Life in 2014
5 Things Christian Parents Should Pray Over Their Kids Daily

Who I Learn From

September 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

Leaders need to constantly learn. I’ve often heard it said, “leaders are learners.” I’ve just started a new conference call that I’m really excited about. Through our partnership with North Point Ministries, I get to learn from other guys who are church planting. The best part is, they are further along than I am. I’m the “greenest” planter in the bunch. They challenge me just by telling their story. They inspire me just by telling me their context. Yesterday we told our story in 10 minutes or less each. Next time we meet together we’ll be starting a discussion on the new Andy Stanley book Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Since that’s exactly what we are all doing, it’s very appropriate.

conf call

So who are you learning from and with? It’s important.

My Toddler Reads

March 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

The first time I enjoyed reading a book was in college.
It was not an assignment.
It was a book I picked and I read it “from front to back, in that order.”
(reference anyone?)

Josiah, on the other hand, loves his books.
He recently read a bunch to me.

Culture of Grace

February 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

*this content is from the Leadership Development [LDP] Book created by Athens Church*

“If you claim to be a messenger of grace, if you think you are really preaching grace, yet no one is taking advantage of it, maybe you haven’t preached it hard enough or strong enough.”
Chuck Swindoll taken from The Grace Awakening

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you hear, and nothing has changed.”
(2 John 4-6, The Message)

Salvation is based on grace alone.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV)

Adding any type of work at all to the message of the gospel is the most severe form of legalism.

Sanctification is based on grace alone.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
(Galatians 5:1-6 NIV)

Our outward deeds will never be good enough.

Since salvation and sanctification are based on grace alone, we should be compelled to create a culture of grace.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group  and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:2-11 NIV)

A culture of grace is often misunderstood.
A culture of grace always accepts.
A culture of grace always forgives.
A culture of grace offers a better way.

Think about this:

What experiences have you had at a church that would be inconsistent with a culture of grace?
Would you consider Your church a place that exemplifies a culture of grace? Why or why not?

Do you read?

November 28, 2011 — 2 Comments

I have a Confession:
I’m what most people call a slow reader and that discourages me from finishing the books I start. Every time I’m part of a group of people who read a book together and discuss it, I’m the one that is cramming to catch up to everybody else. Not because I’m lazy. Not because I waited until the last minute, just because I’m slow. But I know that leaders are learners and learners are readers. So, it’s a learned-behavior, a discipline in my life.

My son reads. At least he’s starting to, sort of.

Are you a leader?
Are you a learner?
Are you a reader?

What’s the latest thing you’re reading?

Just read this.

Read this excerpt from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“Suppose you have a teenage son and your normal conversation is something like, ‘Clean your room. Button your shirt. Turn down the radio. Go get a haircut. And don’t forget to take out the garbage!’ Over a period of time, the withdrawals (from your emotional bank account) far exceed the deposits.

Now suppose this son is in the process of making some important decisions that will affect the rest of his life. But the trust level is so low and the communication process so closed, mechanical, and unsatisfying that he simply will not be open to your counsel. You may have the wisdom and the knowledge to help him, but because your account is so overdrawn, he will end up making his decisions from a short-range emotional perspective, which may well result in many negative long-range consequences.

You need a balance to communicate on these tender issues.”

(pg 189)

We know it’s true…yet how many of us ignore these facts? Sometimes we forget and we take the short, easy, yet not effective route.

It’s obvious isn’t it? We need to build a relationship strong enough to bear the weight of truth.

Blog Tours

April 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

I’ve had the honor of being involved in two book blog tours. A book blog tour is a marketing campaign to get the word out about a new book. Here’s how it works: 1. a blogger is recruited, 2. they send the blogger the book and 3. the blogger then reads and blogs about it.

Here are my two previous blog tour posts

  1. Shift
  2. Scouting the Divine

I have two books tours coming soon. The first is Mark Foreman’s book, Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness. And the second is Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Carey Nieuwhof and Reggie Joiner.

If you are about to debut an album, single, book, movie or anything…I’d like to be considered for your blog tour. Just let me know.

I recently had the opportunity to hear author Margaret Feinberg, at the Catalyst Conference, share how her book Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Honey came about. Actually, every attender got a free copy of her book! (Thank You!) Since I was in the nose-bleed section, I got a signed copy…very cool.

Over the past month I’ve travelled with Feinberg through the pages of her book. Taking in glimpses of my savior in ways I had not thought of him before. The old illustrations I’ve heard all my life have blossomed into something more real simply through her explorations of what it means for Jesus to be The Good Shepherd. Feinberg also explores other parables and stories that involve wine, vines and honey. The details of being a Shepherd, Vintner or Bee Keeper bring new meaning and light to these stories from the bible.

What does it mean for Jesus to proclaim that he leaves the 99 to find the 1 lost sheep? Well, that’s a very common thing for Shepherds. Of course you’d leave the 99, because there is strength in numbers. The 99 are better protected, but that 1 needs his Shepherd to find him or he will most certainly die. Sheep can’t live without a Shepherd. They need someone to lead them to still waters and green pastures. When alone, the enemy targets them and wins.

This book is told as short stories and vignettes that are sure to color your personal understanding of scripture and your devotions. I recommend this easy read to you. Go buy it, read it and you’ll see what I mean.

This has been part of the Scouting the Divine Blog Tour.

Book Blog Tour: Shift

October 7, 2009 — 4 Comments

Recently I was asked to review a new book coming out from Group Publishing. Here are my thoughts about the book.

“Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today” – By Brian Haynes


I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t need another book to tell me how to reach families. I need more ______ to help me do it.” I’m sure you could put any number of things in that blank. I’m sure, volunteers, money, and support would all be great words to plug in to that space. But before you write off Haynes and the systems from Kingsland Baptist Church, read this quick quote, “Parents teach their children how to love God by loving God in front of them. Parents intentionally impress the truth of God on their children. Nothing fancy. Beautifully simple.” (pg. 34) Sounds too good to be true right? Nothing in the church is “beautifully simple” is it? While the programs and systems suggested in Shift may not be as “beautifully simple” as it claims to be, what Haynes and his team have done is found some biblical principles that can be adapted to fit in any church context.

Shift suggests several key elements to reaching families: an Old Testament model, 7 milestones of a faith journey and a fundamental shift in the way we think about family ministry. Recently, there has been a cultural shift to the Old Testament model. Churches, pastors and ministry leaders don’t want the entire weight of bringing up children into devoted followers of Christ anymore. That’s what Shift is all about, empowering the church and the family to work together in raising children up in the way of the Lord. Haynes quotes Deuteronomy to help drive his point home.

“Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NIV)

Ministry to children starts at home and the church should be an aide in the process. Since raising children in the way of the Lord is such an incredible challenge for most parents, Haynes suggests using faith Milestones as a way to educate parents and create teachable moments for parents to capitalize on. The Milestones are: The Birth of a Baby, Faith Commitment, Preparing for Adolescence, Commitment to Purity, Passage to Adulthood, High School Graduation and Life in Christ. What I like about Shift is that the milestones remain fluid. If a family enters into the church while their children are in High School, they may go through Milestone 2 and then skip to 5. Haynes does not suggest that every person needs to start at 1 and go in order all the way to 7.

Every church needs a streamlined strategy of how they are going to reach families and equip them to be the primary spiritual influence in their children’s lives. If you feel like your spinning round and round, not getting anywhere and need direction, this book can certainly point you in the right direction. You may not think that this specific strategy will work in your context, but that’s okay. Haynes is just sharing what he and Kingsland have discovered through trial and error.

Shift is a thought-provoking book that can start a much-needed discussion among your team. Buy the book here and read what others are saying here.