You Took Your Son Where?!

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Now, I have your attention I will happily answer that question. I took my son to a men’s Bible study. Every monday night (well most) for the last four or so years my wife knew where I would be. I was going to be with a group of guys who invest into me and I into them. There is a solidarity which takes place with this group of men I have never experienced anywhere else.

Over the last several months my youngest son Richard has been wanting to go with me to these meetings. At first I was rather hesitant, I mean come on he’s only six. Then I realized he’s only six and he still wants to spend time with his dad. He wants to do things like his dad does them. I am starting to appreciate that fact. There is going to come a time when he may not want to hang out with me as much and I will need to prepare myself for it.

When he first started wanting to go he was around four and he was just way too young. He has ADHD and has a hard time not getting into things. As he has gotten older he has gotten a bit better and I allow him to bring his Kindle Fire to occupy him while we have our study. Sure I would love to go back to when it was just me getting away from the family and having some alone time. But, I would be missing out on so much. This young man loves me dearly and wants to be around me.

He is seeing what male bonding can and should look like. He is getting a picture of brotherhood inside of Christ. As we get together around food and celebrate the Word of God. I will one day have the time to myself again but I will never be able to regain time spent with my son as a chid. By me taking him it is teaching me how to be less selfish and more of a role model.

While I long to take my oldest son, he has not desire to go and I am not going to force it upon him. I will take the opportunities the Lord is placing before me, to grow and nurture my little one the best I can.

Questions: What are somethings you can be doing with your child(ren) you have been avoiding? Is there a special way you spend time with your little ones?

The Importance of Developing a Schedule for Your Life.

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Over the past few weeks I have been muling over what to do with this up coming semester. I was not sure as to how I am going to handle it. What I decided to do was sit down and try and schedule out my days in a general format on how I would like them to look if possible. My day will look like this

Wake up- 7-7:30 except for Thursdays be up by 5:15-5:30 for Bible study
Eat Breakfast by 8:30
Pray and read the Bible before 9am
Study for classes from 9am-12pm
Eat lunch anytime between 12-1pm
Possibly resume study or take a break from 1-3
Kids return home 3:30ish
Cook dinner anywhere between 4-5:30pm
Eat dinner between 5-6pm
Monday and Weds (Men’s Bible studies) 6-9pm
Help with Boys as necessary 6-8:30
Put Boys to bed 8:30
Spend time either studying more or with Lory as possible.
Go to bed no later than 11:30 most nights.
Do laundry on Wednesday mornings.

It is not an exact science on how my days are going to always look, because I did not include Drs. appointments and other things which may arise. I have come to realize the importance of having a more detailed schedule for my life. If I don’t try to put order to things, certain projects will not be completed.

I need to make God a priority so it is the main reason why I have time for Bible reading and prayer scheduled in, it may go longer than the 30 minutes I have allotted for it, it may not. At least I have it down. Like Michael Hyatt has said, and I have quoted before “If it gets on the calendar it gets done.”

So I needed a daily calendar to keep track of what I should be doing when. The reason I am not getting straight to being with God in the morning is because my boys can be a bit rambunctious in the mornings so it is better for me to wait until they are at school. That’s time I can use on email and social media stuff which is not important and doesn’t require my full attention.

I wish I was able to schedule every minute of my day so I knew who everything was going to turn out. The truth is none of us can. We can only attempt to set up our days and hope God will allow us to follow the path we have laid out.

The Lord has his own plans for how our lives are going to turn out. We just have to trust in his sovereignty. I think it is prudent of us to make a schedule and try and keep it. It shows how we are trying to be good stewards of our time. Instead of letting time manage us we control it.

This is just an overview of what my days look like not in full detail.

Why do you think you may need to create a schedule for your life? It doesn’t have to be similar to mine, in fact it probably won’t be. But the question is can you create a schedule to make some positive changes in your life so that way you are mastering time and not the other way around.

I am not sharing this with you to show how I have it all together. I am sharing this with you to encourage you to think of ways you can make your life more efficient. So you can get more accomplished with the time we have been given. I want to be faithful with what I have been given so when the time comes I can be given more. How about you?

Question: What can you do to make your life more well managed?

Why You Shouldn’t Read the Bible in a Year

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I recently read a well argued article on 3 reasons why you should read the Bible in a year. While David does a good job in arguing his point I think reading the Bible in a year is over rated. So many people make it a resolution that they are going to read it through starting the New Year and fall off. I think it is easier to make a resolution that you are going to read for 20-30 minutes a day or set a number of chapters you are going to read.
Then you have those people who make reading the Bible in a year a legalistic act. Like somewhere in the Bible it says “Thou must readith me in a year.” While it is noble for you to want to read the Bible in a year don’t do it if it is going to make learning more difficult, or less enjoyable. I would say only do it if you know you can stay committed to the heavy reading that is going to be involved.
Also in the article he mentions biblical literacy. As you take your time to read you should be able to retain more information. Which in turn will help you to become more biblically literate. That does not mean you will not need outside help like commentaries or a study Bible to help you understand some of the nuances of Scripture.
He also says that is is spiritual food and with that point I do agree. You cannot survive as a Christian without feasting on the Word. But that feast doesn’t mean you have to take in more than you can handle because some plan tells you too. By taking in what you can you will have a chance of better retention.
And it requires discipline to read the Bible with any kind of regularity. While DAILY is BEST, reading it several times a week is better than just cracking it open for Sunday service.
So the points David makes I agree with that it is spiritual food, it increases biblical knowledge and builds discipline. Where we diverge is that it requires the Bible to be read in a year. I have read the Bible cover to cover 1x and have read it as a whole several times reading it 1-4 chapters a day.
What do you think should the Bible be read in year or is it okay to take longer?

Fighting Boredom

How do we fight boredom in life? We fill our time with things that are entertaining.
     That sometime is easier said than done. I have two boys, one is ten the other six. One of them also has Aspergers and both are ADHD. Which means our house is always a buzz with something going on. It may be the boys playing on their Kindles, playing a board game, or something else to try and consume some time. It is hard to keep these boys entertained all day everyday, and we have just started a 16 day stretch of them being home from school for Christmas break. They normally have cub scouts on Tuesday nights but that is on hold until the new year. 
     Why am I telling you all of this because as adults we can get bored easily too. Especially when it comes to reading the Bible. You know those genealogies where so and so begat so and so. Those are hard things to make it through and it is rather boring. It is not until we realize they are important to the plan of God then they can become interesting. I was reading 1Kings 7 the other day in my devotions and started to dose off because it was speaking on all the different things being built toward the temple. It was a hard section to get through with all the measurements being foreign to us. 
     I want to offer you this encouragement while these sections are hard to get through they are inspired and good for us (2 Tim 3:16). I understand your struggle and maybe reading those challenging sections in a different version of the Bible like the Message or the NLT or a paraphrase like those would be easier to read. Do what ever it take for you to help those boring sections come to life. Like with my boys it takes time and planing to do things well. So be prepared when you hit a bumpy section to go with your back up plan, what ever it is. Maybe using a good commentary and reading less than you normally would. I usually try and read from the OT history, Psalms, a Prophet and the NT. But when things are getting heavy I may cut out one or two sections in place of reading supplemental material. 
What suggestions do you have for when things get boring? How do you handle the difficult parts of Scripture?

Don’t Despise the Small Things!

   

The title of todays post comes from what was  gleaned from a church service on 12-14-14. That was the biggest take-away I got. Don’t despise the small things, because they can turn into great things. One thing that comes to mind are two of the biggest computer companies in the world, Microsoft and Apple. They both started out small, but with a vision. And they didn’t let anything get in the way of that vision. Because they new the potential that their product had. This is a lesson I am begging to learn. While I do not have a huge following right now, I believe I will one day as long as I continue to produce material people can use. 

     My hope for this post is to encourage you, maybe even challenge you! What do you have inside of you that you are about to let die because you are upset with your meager beginnings? When I first started this blog I was happy when I had 10 visitors a day. Now I am averaging around 140 a day. Which for me is great. Do I think we can do more yes, I DO! But, I know it depends on the plans the Lord has for me and this ministry of writing he has given me. Another reason not to despise small beginnings is because that is exactly how our Lord and Savior started out. He was not born in some fancy mansion in Jerusalem no he was born in a manger  in Bethlehem. He would go on to live a normal life until the time his ministry started. He was not drawing big crowds at first either. It wasn’t’ until people started to take notice of what he was able to do that he grew a following. The biggest problem with Jesus following is they were always in it with the whats in it for me category. Which is okay some of the time, we have to be willing to give back. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that make the largest impact. Looking ahead there are things we learn from Christ interactions with the disciples. 
     Christ tells the disciples a parable about the mustard seed being the smallest of seeds, yet when it is planted becomes the largest of all garden plants.(Mark 4:30-32) While Jesus was referencing the kingdom of God in this parable we can take a lot away from it.  There is another reference to a mustard seed I like for our context just a little bit more. Jesus is speaking to the disciples and tells them that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed  they can move mountains.(Matt 17:20) It lets me know that I can start out small in anything and still have potential to become more. I don’t know about you but I long to do big things for the kingdom of God. While my faith may be small, God says its all I need. It will grow over time as I exercise it.So for my faithful readers I am VERY appreciative of you and say THANK YOU for all of your support. If you have been blessed by this or another post would leave me a comment letting me know. It is just one small gesture to help me to continue trying to be a blessing to you all. 
Life is hard, but God is good!
Preach
What are you exercising faith in to see it grow? What is your small thing?

Struggle to understand

I don’t know about you but there are just somethings in the Bible that I just don’ t get. Do you ever feel that way? When it comes down to the book of Revelation I have a really hard time. Reading commentaries and the usual study helps don’t really help because this is probably the hardest book for scholars to agree upon what it actually means. You get so many different stances on the interpretation that it makes it feel muddled and hard to get through. The best thing I know to do is pray your way through this book and others you are struggling to understand. 
     Ask the Lord for insights into His word, James 1:5 tells us that if we ask for wisdom God will grant it to us. So be bold in your asking of the Lord and see that he will not be bold in answering you! This is not a guarantee that you ask God for just any old thing he is going to give it to you were are specifically referring to seeking wisdom to understand His Word. In the book of Isaiah we are told that God’s  ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Isa 55:8. This verse helps bring me comfort at moments like this when I have been struggling to understand what Jesus is trying to teach me through His Word. It is not always easy studying the Bible or being the guys people look to for the answers when it comes to Scripture. I hate to admit it but I have not settled on an eschatological view. I am stuck between pre-mil and a-mil. I am not sure if I believe in the rapture because there just doesn’t seem to be enough scriptural support for it in my opinion, so I guess that does mean I have a view huh?
     It is not easy studying to be a pastor and not having answers to the tough questions people want to ask. However, I am always willing to try my best and give a balanced answer. IF you have any questions you would like to ask, please leave a comment down in the comments section and I WILL RESPOND. 
What do you struggle with? Where can I help?

What Makes You Giddy?

    I have to say that there are not very many things that get me giddy, but today was a good day. The blog surpassed 240 unique visitors in a single day. That is the best day we have ever had. I felt like a young kid again at Christmas time. Then I received a book for review I had been waiting upon since last week. For those of you who helped us reach our highest day average THANK YOU! We have decided to hold a contest for all of our Twitter followers that if we can reach 100 followers we are going to give away some books. 
     I also get giddy when I read the Bible and find a new nugget I had never noticed before. Take for example the story in 1 Kings 3:16 about two women who had had a baby and Solomon suggests cutting the child in half. Did you ever notice that it was two prostitutes living together and one of them had a child who died by being rolled over upon. This is just one example of the kinds of nuggets that make me excited as I read the Bible. 
     I often wonder did characters in the Bible get giddy about anything? We know that the NT believers were expectant of Jesus’ return but we don’t know that they were giddy with excitement about it. I can think of one time when giddy is the last thing on Jesus’ mind and that is when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane as he wept blood. He was to a point that he was exhausted and knowing he was nearing his end, he would tell his father, “not my will, but your will be done.” Matthew 26:39. While being one of the most traumatic scenes in the NT of how Christ endured on our behalf it can give us excitement to know that he loved us so much that chose the cross for us. And that should make us all very happy.
     He died for those whom he foreknew, and had predestined before the foundation of the world. While this is a time of year when we generally celebrate the birth of Christ, i think it is important to remember that while he chose to come down form heaven in the form of a helpless babe, he died a suffering servant and a brutal death at the hands of those he created. All because of Love, John 3:16. 

8 Tips for Better Bible Study

Who among us doesn’t want to study their Bible better. I know I do, and I’m a seminary student. So I can’t imagine how the average Christian may feel about studying the Word for themselves. Over the years there have been a few handy things I have learned to do when I want to get deeper into a particular section of Scripture. There are certain steps that I take that allow me to see more deeply into what is being said besides the mere words written on the page. 
  1. I copy and print out the section of Scripture I want to look at. 
  2. With highlighter in hand, I look for repeated words and concepts. 
  3. Locate important words or theological terms.
  4. Make notes about my observations. 
  5. Then I use a study Bible along with a commentary to help me understand the background of the book.
  6. Re-read the section several more times to see if I missed anything. 
  7. With the new tools I begin to go verse by verse and see what is meant by the author. 
  8. Re-write in your own words what the author is trying to say. 
Now with these ideas/tips I hope it will help you to delve deeper into God’s Word. If you need any suggestions on a good study Bible or commentaries please feel free to ask. 
What suggestions would you add to this list to help get deeper into the word? 

Free Download– 5 tools to help you in your Bible study. It is a word document.

A Special Place

 

    We all need a place that is special to us. Jesus had a couple of places that were special to him. He would go to the garden, or the mountain top and pray and be alone. Where are you going to be alone? Do you have a special place? I would recommend that you find a place where you can be alone and get refreshed. This should be a place where you feel a special connection with God. For me it was in the woods, sitting in a tree stand during hunting season. I know that is only a few months out of the year, but for me that was my special place. I know some guys who go out on the water fishing to get that stillness that is needed. 

     You may be asking yourself why do I need a special place to meet with God? Because in the Bible there are certain places God showed up. He would meet his people at the tabernacle, and later in the temple. But apart from that there is one meeting in particular when God showed up in the middle of the night to wrestle with Jacob (Gen 32:22-32). Sometimes it takes this place of wresting with the things of God for you to gain the blessing he has in store for you. But you can’t do that just anywhere. God planned on meeting Jacob at this particular spot. According to Genesis 32:30, “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.””

     There are just certain times in life where you can really sense the presence of God. Some people call this practicing the presence of God. I am not saying that God won’t meet you where you are, let’s make sure that is clear. What I am saying is when you meet him at your special place, you can hope for a more intimate experience. 
  1. Pick a place that is special to you.
  2. Make sure that it is quiet. 
  3. Remember that you don’t have to be alone.
  4. Find ways to encourage others to find a special place. 
  5. Clear your mind of distractions. 
Once you use these quick tips you have set yourself up for a meeting with God.  

Where do you go to meet with God? What suggestions would you add to finding a special place?

Let’s Talk About…

     Let’s talk about the Bible for a little bit, shall we. The Bible is an awesome book, it is inspiring, it is helpful and most of all it is the inspired Word of God. That last fact alone should make you excited, especially if you are a Christian. Now I know we all have our preferred versions of the Bible(for me it’s the ESV). Yours could be the KJV even though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone personally. That is for another  post. What I do want you to think about is your Bible and how often you are reading it. Not only how often you are reading it, but for how long and how much of it? 

Now lets not become legalist here and say that every person should be reading their Bible for at least a half an hour each day, reading from mall the genres of the Bible. I do not recall anywhere in Scripture where that is commanded. What I do know is David speaking to God says I have hidden your word in my heart (Ps 119:11 NIV). Now how can one hide something in their heart when they don’t spend anytime with it. Take marriage for an example, a married couple cannot do well if all they do is live together, then they are nothing more than roommates. We have to take the time to speak with our spouses so we can know their hearts and how to love them well. God is no different in that respect. We cannot know about God if we are not spending time with him in prayer and reading his word. Prayer is our communication with God, while the Bible is God communicating with us. I don’t mean to sound like God cannot use what ever means he chooses to speak to us, trust me I always remember Numbers 22 when the donkey speaks to Balaam.

     
     Why do you think some people become so dogmatic or legalist about Bible reading. I would recommend the habit of reading it everyday even if it is just one chapter a day. You will get through the entire Bible in just about 3 years(give or take a few months). Again nowhere is it written that you have to read the Bible in a year! If that is something you are interested in there are several different programs out there for reading the Bible in a year, they even have Bibles specifically designed just for that goal. My suggestion is to go about it at a pace that is comfortable for you. I personally love the NT and generally read it more than the OT. But of late I have been reading bits from different portions of the Bible. Just as and example I am reading from 1KIngs, Psalms, Micah, and Revelation. I generally read one chapter from each book, except for the Psalms I may read several depending on how i feel at the time. This will usually take me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to read. There are several things you can do to develop a good habit of daily Bible reading. 
  1. Pick a certain time each day to read. 
  2. Have a certain spot you like to read.
  3. Set a plan for what you are going to read.
  4. Decide how long/much you are going to read. 
Like our post from yesterday said, consistency is key to anything. If you want to become good at something you have to work at it. The same goes for Bible study, make a plan and try and stick with it. If you miss a day don’t beat yourself up about it just pick back up from where you left off and keep going! 
What things would you suggest for making Bible study easier to keep up with?