Bible Reading Plan 2009

Bible Reading Plan

I know a guy that reads through the Bible each month. It’s crazy, but God uses him in great ways. I have tried a couple of times just to read the Bible in a month and have never made it. This year I got a head start and I have read about 15% of the Bible before January so I am hoping to get through the rest in the month of January. I purchased an ESV with journal portions on the side. I am not sure how I feel about this Bible translation yet since some of it seems to be so literal it makes it a bit funny to read but I know that I hate the 7.5 size font so I’ll only be reading and praying through this particular Bible one time and then putting it up on the shelf.

Reading through God’s word is probably the most important thing that you can do as a Christian to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. It really is easier than you think to read through God’s word and the benefits are probably a lot greater than you are aware of. To read without getting behind just read as much as you are able on a day and if you don’t get to read for a day or two don’t sweat it. Most people can easily get through the Bible in six months.

I have tried reading through in a chronological Bible, setting up a certain number of chapters a day to read and many different methods but the only one that has really worked for me is just creating a list like the one above with every chapter of the Bible and marking it off as I read along. That way if I don’t get to read one day I am not behind. Also there are days where I have extra time and read more than I normally would so it evens out. Sometimes I feel a little bogged down in the Old Testament so I will take that day and read in the New Testament or even read from a few different places.

Some of you that are very, disciplined might enjoy better a specific reading plan but I think most of the population does better with something like this. May I present a challenge to you? Shoot to read through the whole Bible in less than 6 months. You will find that you grow in ways that you never expected as you read through God’s word in this way. You might want to challenge a friend to read through the Bible as well and that way you can get together once a week or so and share with each other what God has been teaching you as you read through his word.

How to Read through the Bible and keep your reading fresh and life giving instead of a drudgery.

1. Read to hear from God. Don’t read to read.
2. Reflect on what God speaks to you about. When the spirit of God highlights something for you make sure you highlight it, underline it or somehow note it. Sometimes I stop right then and reflect. Other times I look over the two or three things the Holy Spirit has brought to the front of my mind and I reflect on those things.
3. Record in a journal, the back of your Bible or somewhere.
4. Respond to God in prayer and worship.

Bible Reading Plan 4X6 Index Card

You can also go to Bible Reading Chart to get the bulk of this post and the chart in a 8 1/2 by 11 printable format. If you can’t print the Index Card for some reason and would really like one to tape to your Bible email me with your mailing address and I’ll send you one. I hope and pray that 2009 is a year that will help you to become more like Jesus.

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Reading Right – How to Get the Most from a book.

readingrightforleaders

“Leadership development is synonymous with personal development.”
– Henry Blackaby

Effective leaders maintain an aptitude for learning throughout all of life. Show me a great leader, and I’ll show you a hungry learner. The old Irish proverb is true: “You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather is.” When a leader grows, he or she opens the door to organizational growth. In the words of Henry Blackaby, “As leaders grow personally, they increase their capacity to lead. As they increase their capacity to lead, they enlarge the capacity of their organization to grow. Therefore, the best thing leaders can do for their organization is to grow personally.”

One of the most basic expressions of a desire for growth and openness to learn is a leader who is a disciplined reader. Read any good books lately?

I routinely ask that question of leaders around the world as I interact with them. I find many of the books I read have been recommended to me by people I respect. But in asking this question – Have you read any good books lately? – I have learned that not all leaders are readers and that not all readers are learners. Let me explain.

Sometimes when I ask a leader what he or she has been reading, I’m met with a blank stare – that “deer in the headlights” look that makes me feel as awkward for a moment as they do. I usually try to bail them out by recommending a book I’m reading or one I feel could be helpful based on where they are in their journey. I want to gently nudge this kind of leader to become a reader because I know they will be vulnerable to “plateauing” if they don’t cultivate the discipline of personal growth. One of the most common barriers to finishing well is to plateau as a leader.

Other times I find leaders are quick to list the latest books they have purchased and begun to read. So I follow up by asking, “What was the most important new idea you gleaned from reading that book?” And now I have yet another deer in the headlights.

Still other leaders share in a straightforward and self-assured manner what they are reading and what they are getting out of it. That’s a leader who is both a reader and a learner. And if you dig a little deeper inside this kind of leader, you will almost always find a leave of proactivity or “intentionality” to their reading. So let me ask you again – have you read any good books lately?

John R. Mott: A Historical Model

One of my favorite historical mentors is John Mott, the leader of the Student Volunteer movement for over thirty years. Mott was a reader and a learner. On one 17-day voyage to South Africa, he booked a second cabin on the steamship just for his books! Mott sat on the deck of the cabin on the ship reading one book after another. An opinionated leader, he was observed ripping pages out of books he didn’t agree with and “flinging them into the sea.” On at least one 10-day trip, John Mott read almost an entire book each morning before feeling up to writing letters and reports.

What Makes a Good Read?

Remember the last time you were disappointed by a book? What makes a good read, and how can I maximize my time and resources when it comes to learning through reading? I’ve been asking myself that question and sought to organize my thoughts. I believe the right combination of content, format, style, timing and approach makes the best opportunity to read and learn.

* Content. I know it is not very profound, but if the author doesn’t have much of value to say it will be hard to harvest a great deal from the book. You would think the publisher ought to be your ally in screening out poor content, but plenty of fluff gets printed and promoted these days. But what if you get going on a book that turns out to be disappointing from the perspective of content? I believe it is the author’s responsibility to engage my mind and stir my heart. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with a bad book. It’s amazing how many people feel some sort of moral obligation to finish a book, no matter how disappointing it may be, before they move on to the next title. Learn to find the balance between giving up on a book too early and bogging down in a quagmire of disinterest or disappointment.

* Format. Books come in a variety of formats including biographical, inspirational, devotional, instructional, recreational, etc. (By format I’m obviously not referring to fiction/nonfiction or hardcover/paperback) While it is ideal to develop an appreciation for a wide variety of formats, most people gravitate toward one of two. And authors tend to stick with a specific format as well. I prefer biographical and instructional formats. I don’t do much of any reading in the inspirational, devotional, or recreational formats. (By devotional I’m referring to a genre of writing, not the personal time spent in worship, prayer and the study of Scripture.) When good content is combined with one of my favorite formats, I know I’m building momentum for a good read.

* Style. Some authors use flowery word pictures and lots of illustrative material while others write in a more natural or conversational style. The format of the book often dictates to some extent the style the author will choose. I like illustrative material but not when it gets in the way of the content. I prefer a conversational style of writing where I can almost imagine the author speaking out loud to me as I read. I like charts and graphs in more technical books to give visual depictions of the concepts. I have found some very popular authors whose books have sold extremely well write mostly in an inspirational or devotional format with a style that is harder for me to digest. I don’t tend to buy this type of book although I know many other leaders who purchase everything these authors write.

* Timing. In some cases the only thing between me and a good read is the timing of what is happening in my life when I pick it up. We have all had people enthusiastically recommend a book as “life-changing” only to be disappointed upon purchasing it. Six months later the same book can become life changing for me too. Why? It’s all about timing.

* Approach. The people I know who benefit most consistently from reading books have an approach to reading that is intentional if not explicit and preconceived. Leaders who are both readers and learners have an approach to reading that enables them to get the most out of the material and develop systems that enable them to utilize what they learn well into the future.

One Approach to Reading Right

I have met very few younger leaders with a well-developed approach to reading books that maximizes the potential for learning. So let me share with you how I’m seeking to read and learn with the goal of inspiring you to develop a system that works for you.

Before you Read

As the following questions of a book before you get into reading it:

* Why do I want to read this and what do I hope to get out of it? (There is nothing wrong with reading a book for fun. That in itself is what you hope to get out of it. Knowing what your purpose is will almost always enhance the value that comes from reading a book.)
* What is the subject of this book, and how much do I already know about it? (Obviously if you are new to the subject matter you will need to process the information differently than if you have a lot of expertise in a given area.)
* For whom was this book written? Who is the target audience? (Knowing who it was written for helps you understand how hard you are going to have to work to apply the principles to your situation. A book written about marketing to corporate heavy hitters will require some careful processing when applying the ideas to a very small nonprofit organization.)
* What is the format of the book and the style of the author’s writing? (In most cases the title and flyleaf copy will answer this question but you may need to adjust your opinion after you get into the book.)
* Based on the above information, at what level should I interact with this book? (If you know a lot about the subject, you may simply want to scan or browse through the book looking for new ideas or helpful illustrations. If it is a subject you really need to dig into, you may want to read it word-for-word or even study it by reviewing portions of it several times.)

Note: In some cases you may decide not to read a book at all after answering these basic questions. I like to approach reading a book like I would attend a seminar. I’d never go to a seminar without giving some through to what I hope to get out of it, who it is for, and what I already know about the topic.

While You Are Reading

Devise a system that works for you to identify the key concepts from the book so that you can readily process and utilize them later. I typically look for ideas, research/facts, quotes, and illustrations. (If the book is biographical, I look for process items – how God was shaping this person; pivot points – the key turning point moments in their journey; and heart-stirring vignettes-the biographical equivalent of an illustration.)

I mark these various items as I read and transfer the page number to one of the blank pages in the front of the book along with what is it – quote, illustrations, etc. This allows for a much easier review of what I want to harvest after I have finished the book.

After You Have Finished

If you have invested a few hours interacting with a book, it is important to bring closure to the process sin a n intentional manner. Here are a few questions to consider when closing out a book.

* Do I need to engage this material at another level? (Sometimes a book you intended to browse through may turn out to be work reading or even studying. Sometimes the author will quote another source that piques you interest and is worth pursuing.)
* What are the most important ideas I have gleaned from this book, and how can I apply them?
* What research, data, or facts have I gleaned from this book? How can it help me?
* What quotes have I gleaned that are worth keeping?
* What illustrations have I gleaned that are worth keeping?
* How would I rate this book against others dealing with the same subject? Would I recommend this book to others interested in this subject?

If you want to keep growing you will need to find a way to learn from what you read. My approach might not work for you without some modification. Find an approach that enables you to maximize the benefits that come from reading good books, and use it.

This article is reprinted from the book Leadership Insights, with permission from Steve Moore and Top Flight Leadership. To purchase Leadership Insights or subscribe to Leadership Insights Online, contact Top Flight Leadership at www.TopFlight.org or call 866-9LEADER

With that in mind…have you read any good books lately?

Leadership Development with ProScan

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The ProScan is a great tool for providing insights that you would never be able to see on your own. We brought a person over lead our team through a time of talking about our results and it was really helpful for team building and team harmony to see how God had created each one of us differently.

Most helpful for me was to see what specific areas in my life were causing me energy drain. Immediately I was able to make changes in my life to move in a direction of health.

The ProScan helps to measure the following things:

• How the person will generally come across to others
• How a person functions most naturally
• The role the person feels the best in
• Energy Givers
• Satisfaction Level
• Stressors and Levels of Stress
• Energy Drain
• Normal Decision Making Style
• Communication Style
• Leadership Styles
• Back Up Modes
• Stressful Environments
• Motivational Items
• Overriding Needs Survey

The ProScan is a quick (about 10 minutes) online tool that is very reliable having been normed by other 3 million users. My wife and I have both taken numerous inventories and assessments and were initially skeptical at the accuracy provided. For both of us, our marriage, my personal health and our team it was very helpful. So helpful in fact that I wanted to be able to use this tool with others.

The ProScan can help you pinpoint the things in your life that are causing you the most energy drain and help you to begin to create a life based on living out who God has made you to be rather the situation that you might find yourself in.

Some of the main uses for the ProScan are:

Leadership Development
Personal Awareness and Growth
Burnout Avoidance and Recovery
Dynamic Team Buidling
Effective Career Placement

When you take the ProScan you receive a full color 24 page report that will help you Grow as a Leader. If it looks like something that might be helpful for your current life situation and your own leadership growth path check out our services page today.

7 Signs of Burnout

leadership-burnout

Burnout is increasing in our culture and leaders and those in ministry are by no means exempt from the struggles of burnout. Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries reports that 1,500 pastors are leaving the ministry each month because of conflict, burnout or moral failure. Obviously that is way too large of a number. I do think that for some of them it is part of God’s design to bring them to a place where they can see what they were created for. For many though it is simply a situation of being defeated and walking away.

Check out these sobering statistics presented by Pastor Darrin Patrick from research he has gathered from such organizations as Barna and Focus on the Family.

Pastors

* 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or relational conflict.
* 50% of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
* 80%of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
* 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
* 80%of Bible College and Seminary graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry before they have spent 5 years in ministry.
* 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
* Almost 40% polled have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
* 70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

In March of 2008 year I was sitting on my living room couch when a self proclaimed Pastor to Pastors shared with me that I was on my way to burnout. When he began talking in terms of the effects of burnout he was saying that it often led to moral failure or depression. Both of those had me quaking, especially moral failure. I told him that I had not felt like I was heading down either of those roads but that I had dreamed of taking a job that I had been offered twice in 3 months to work for an internet guru and learn firsthand from him. “That’s the third area we didn’t get to.” He replied. Quitting outside of God’s timing.

Man, you could have thrown that one in too don’t you think! As I sat there on the couch and he shared some of the symptoms of burnout I realized I truly was heading down the road to burnout.

I was experiencing a lack of desire for the ministry, putting off tasks because I was tired, working on my days off to get things done and feeling like I was only accomplishing 3 days worth of work in 6. My wife was really supportive but she was definitely feeling some of the stress of my situation.

We had clearly heard the call of God to come back to the mission field and God had provided in huge ways to get us to the field in record time (God raised up our needed additional $2800/month in 7 weeks) so now why only 9 months later would I feel like God’s call had been wrong.

I realized I had gone about fulfilling God’s call in the wrong way. I had always had a great team of student leaders and staff but I had walked back into a ministry that had very few strong leaders and experienced leaders. In the beginning I felt like I had to clean up a lot of relational situations. We had been told that the ministry might not be allowed to continue so in some sense I had a Messiah complex feeling like I needed to “save” the ministry so that God could continue to work in the lives of military students on the base where we are working.

Since I had spent time in the past doing strengths coaching for ministries and youth pastors and had spent much time thinking about my own gifts, passions, strengths and weaknesses I knew immediately the changes that needed to be made in my life and my ministry. Even though I knew the step that I needed to take it still wasn’t easy making the change. Especially the change to rest more and not be working as hard. It was so good though.

Every week or two through the summer and the fall I would think I was at about 90% and then a couple of weeks later I would feel better and think, “Maybe I have been drained far longer than I was aware of.” I still don’t feel like I am back to 100% but I am on the road and it is good.

If you have these signs you might want to look deeper into your own heart and life and see if you are really humming along at 100%. Many people can sense if they are starting to be drained but if you have never experienced burnout before you might not be aware of your true spiritual and emotional health. Because many leaders have greater energy reserves and drive than the average population they are more apt to run at 100% until they crash and burn seemingly without warning.

7 Signs of burnout:
1. Lack of desire to connect with God.
2. Letting deadlines slip and putting off projects
3. Less desire to be with people, withdrawal
4. Depression
5. Less Energy
6. Working harder without seeing an increase in output
7. Living in a fantasy world, especially of new places or foreign countries

If you are experiencing some of these you might want to have a PDP ProScan done. Click on services today if you would like experience greater health and understanding of yourself and your current life situation by having a PDP ProScan done.

Leadership Training in the News

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When growing as a leader there are many places that you look to learn from. Good Bosses, Bad Bosses, Good Books, Good Blogs and sometimes even the news.

I try to keep informed of world events but not spend too much time watching or reading the news. Today I read an article with a great lesson for all growing leaders. This article on President George W. Bush encouraged me. In today’s political photo-op climate too much is done for the camera. While I think the George Bush has been fiscally too generous and much maligned by the media I think there are some really cool things about him as a man and as a leader.

In the article a story is told of a wounded veteran who President Bush scrapped the planned schedule to spend a couple of hours with. I think one of the greatest things about President Bush is that from a distance it appears that he is doing what he believes is right without regard to what is popular or how people will respond to his decisions. That speaks of leadership character that is growing less common each day. We all want to be regarded of highly by those around us. Those who truly are great are the ones who entrust themselves to the judge who really matters. In 1 Peter 2:23b we read, “Instead, he (Jesus) entrusted himself to him (God the Father) who judges justly.”

If we desire to lead like Jesus we will entrust ourselves to God, realizing that he alone is the one whose judgment we should be concerned about.

Charles Spurgeon, a great spiritual leader in his own right, and his wife, according to a story in the Chaplain magazine, would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, “You may have them if you pay for them.” As a result some people labeled the Spurgeons greedy and grasping.

They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. All the profits from the sale of eggs went to support two elderly widows. Because the Spurgeons where unwilling to let their left hand know what the right hand was doing (Matt. 6:3), they endured the attacks in silence. (From Bible.Org)

I don’t know President Bush’s motives for keeping his visits and letters away hidden from the press. But I know this, one leadership lesson I learned from the news today is to do you good deeds in secret entrusting Christ to reward you.

Passing on Values to Your Kids

Earlier this week I watched the mission and was challenged to fight injustice in the world around me.  At first my thought was that there aren’t any big injustices that I can see right in Okinawa.  Then I remembered that we go to the beach by our house nearly every day and there is a homeless guy (or not so homeless since he built a little house) but still I don’t think he has any source of income. 

homeless man

In the past he has readily accepted drinks and I have seem him on collecting cans around the beach.  So I decided that I it would be no big deal to bring the coke cans that we collect in our building to him each week. 

So Tuesday I brought the cans home and told my kids I was going to be giving them to the homeless guy on the beach.  I asked the kids if they wanted to give him anything.  Adrianne and Megan both dug into their piggy banks and pulled out the bulk of their YEN to give to him.  Jack grabbed a plate of food that Jen made of our left over dinner that we had just finished. 

homeless4

We walked over to the homeless man’s house and the kids were asking what we would do if he wasn’t there.  “We’ll just leave it for him to pick up later.”  Thankfully he was there.  Jack offered him the food.  Both of the girls laid their YEN on a crate that was sitting at his feet.  I offered him the cans which he took and placed in his can pile  He was very grateful and offered lots of thanks to us.  He focused on the cans.  I think it gave him a little dignity in the midst of his situation.  It’s a lesson I learned from my Dad 18 1/2 years ago when I was 16.  My Dad was trading one of our cars for a pool table.  I remember asking why we would be doing that when the pool table would take up all of the garage and we were moving soon anyway. 

My Dad took me to the man’s house when we picked up the table.  Even though the car was probably about 10 years old or more it had been immaculately kept.  I remember the man telling us that he had never owned a car that nice.  As we left the house my Dad explained that taking the pool table in trade allowed the man to “pay” for the car instead of just giving it to him which my Dad probably would have been glad to do.  I caught the value of helping someone keep their dignity even when helping them out. 

Hopefully my kids will catch some of the value of serving others whenever possible. 

We left the beach and played at the park for a while then we stopped by one of my coworkers houses to drop some stuff off.  About 20 minutes later we were heading out to get donuts.  My kids were wondering if they could get a small toy instead of a donut that evening.  I reminded them that Christmas was only two weeks away and they would be getting gifts.  At that point they all agreed that with presents coming it would be a good day to get a donut. 

homeless

As the car got quiet Megan asked if she could get a Japanese Big Person Bible for Christmas.  “Sure, Do you want to learn Japanese?” I asked.  No she replied.  I want to give it to the guy on the beach.  Megan has always been giving, but I was especially proud that she would want one of her presents to be one that she would give away.  Hopefully she continues to catch our family values and take them as her own. 

Ronald Reagan the Servant Leader


I think one of my favorite stories of President Ronald Reagan is the time shortly after he was hot and was still in the Hospital. He woke up in the middle of the night he woke up and went to the bathroom.

“He slapped water on his face, and water slopped out of the sink,” Noonan relates. “He got some paper towels and got down on the floor to clean it up. An aide came in and said: `Mr. President, what are you doing? We have people for that.’ And Reagan said, oh, no, he was just cleaning up his mess, he didn’t want a nurse to have to do it.” (From the Modest Giant, Jeff Jacoby, June 10, 2004).

I think one of the marks of a great man is caring for others. I run with my friend on occasion who had the opportunity to meet President George W. Bush in the oval office. This week he was telling me that President Bush, aside from having really long ear hair, was really engaging and interested and just talked to them like normal people. They didn’t feel ill at ease at all.

The President was cleaning up his own mess (The Own it All Principle from The Little Book of Big Leadership Principles) because he cared about the nurse who was taking care of him and didn’t want her to get in any trouble from her supervisor. We need more leaders today who are willing to humble themselves and serve those around them. A President who cares for the nurse. That’s a great man. This actually fits a bunch of the leadership principles. Other’s First, Be Humble, Kill Your Ego.

The Best Leadership Question Ever

best question for leaders

A few weeks back in an email exchange with Dr. Ray Wheeler, found of Leadership-Praxis.com, he told me to ask this question to the people I was responsible for leading.

“Based on the time you have known me…what do I believe about you?”

As I asked the members of my team this question it reavealed a lot of things both about my leadership and their beliefs.  I found for the most part they were worried that I viewed their perceived weaknesses as larger than I actually did (in some cases I did not even see the issue they were concerned about or if I did, didn’t see it as a weakness)  Also they were reticent to share what they thought I thought of their strengths.  It is a little bit of an awkward question to ask but it was very valuable for my own insight as well as being able to correct the misperceptions that others had.

Since most of what people believe comes from what we say I realized I need to do a much better job of encouraging my team.

So next time you have the opportunity with a team member, close friend or someone else that will be honest with you ask them,  “Based on the time you have known me…what do I believe about you?” and remember no matter what they respond with don’t be defensive or you’ll probably never get a truly honest answer from them in future.