Best Bible Reading Plans

What is the most important spiritual discipline? What is the one thing that is paramount when it comes to maturing as a follower of Christ? I believe the Bible is the key. I’m not saying that it is the only thing that is important, but I am saying that it is most important!

Many Christians have followed Christ for decades, yet have never read the Bible in its entirety. There are several printed plans, web-based plans, and Bible apps that make it easier than ever.

4 Types of Bible Reading Plans

1. Printed plans. There are numerous ways to print off a Bible reading plan online. One of the best sites is the The Navigators. They utilize the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading plans which are some of my favorites.

2. One-Year-Bible. This Bible is designed for those who want to read through the Bible in a calendar year.

3. Online plans. Dozens (probably hundreds) of sites exist online that are dedicated to reading the Bible through in a year. Some will even email you each day with the assigned reading. Here are three good ones:  Christianity.com, BibleGateway.com, and BacktotheBible.org.

4. Bible apps. I utilize several great Bible apps for Bible reading and study. They all have Bible reading plans that are very helpful. My favorite Bible apps include: You Version, ESV, and Logos.

For more similar topics, you might also read:

Resolutions

Are You Spiritually Healthy?

Start with Good Ingredients

Revitalization Pastors – Part Two

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In the post, Revitalization Pastors – Part One, we looked at the first 5 characteristics possessed by pastors who lead churches to experience significant revitalization and health.  In this post, we will look at 5 additional characteristics.  These 10 characteristics are listed in random order and all are equally important.

10 CHARACTERISTICS OF A REVITALIZATION PASTOR

6.  Revitalization pastors demonstrate dependence on God.  This should not surprise anyone!  The Scriptures clearly teach our need for the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives.  Revitalization pastors seem to understand this fully because they consistently spend time with God in Bible reading and prayer, they often cry out to God for His blessing on the ministries of the church, and they lead the church to give God the glory when they experience a spiritual “win” as a congregation.

7.  Revitalization pastors are Lifetime Learners.  You’ve heard the saying “leaders are learners.”  We would add the saying “revitalization pastors are readers.”  Even those who are not avid readers find other ways to learn.  They often listen to other pastor’s sermons, attend conferences, participate in state convention growth opportunities, and meet with other pastors to learn best practices.

8.  Revitalization pastors develop leaders and laborers in the church.  Revitalization pastors agree with the Apostle Paul that one of the main roles of a pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, ESV).  As a result, they develop a leadership development strategy for the church, regularly delegate ministry responsibilities to trusted people, and personally mentor a group of men in the congregation.

9.  Revitalization pastors lead the church to celebrate wins.  They celebrate wins by showing appreciation to church volunteers who serve faithfully.  They sometimes ask for testimonies of where people recently saw God at work.  They regularly focus on positive things that happen in the life of the church.

10.  Revitalization pastors lead the church to implement change.  Revitalization pastors spent time thoroughly explaining the reason behind a needed change and invested extra time with people who were slow to accept a needed change.  They bathed proposed changes in significant prayer and resisted moving too quickly when making a major change.

We discovered that revitalization pastors come in all shapes and sizes, but they share these characteristics.  We also discovered that there is a desperate need for Godly leadership in the local church.  It is not enough for a pastor to develop a vision for revitalization, but he must LEAD the people to fulfill that vision.  In many cases, it takes years to see stagnant churches become vibrant and healthy, so revitalization pastors tend to have longer tenures.  Many studies show a relationship between pastoral tenure and church health.

Here’s a survey that will help you determine how well you are doing as a Revitalization Pastor.

 

 

Kentucky Baptist Convention Holy Land Trip


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Laura and I led our first trip to the Holy Land in November, 2011. The best way I can sum up the trip is that it changes you. I am not the same guy I was when I left. I will never read the Bible the same, I will never preach the same, and hopefully, I will never live the same!

Dr. Paul Chitwood and I have decided to lead a Kentucky Baptist Convention trip to the Holy Land on March 11-20, 2017. We are partnering with Jerusalem Tours out of Columbus, Ohio. David and Sara Chay, the owners, are a wonderful couple who know how to put together tours to their homeland. Our guide, Kobi Kimhy, has been voted the #1 tour guide in Israel a number of times. His knowledge, personality, and genuine love for Israel cannot be matched.

We are almost at full capacity, but we have a few spots left. We want to invite pastors, church staff, church members, Directors of Missions, along with any believers to join us as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We have negotiated a great price of $3,869 per person that includes flights from Louisville, hotels, touring, meals, tips, fuel charges, etc. We encourage churches to consider sending their pastor(s) and his wife on this trip of a lifetime.

If you are interested or if you have any questions, please email me at [email protected] or contact me at 502-489-3434. Reserve your spot before the trip fills up completely!

Churches & Car Dealerships

Car SalesmanIs there anything in life more frustrating than buying a car? Last week my wife and I attempted to replace one of our vehicles. It seems that every time I step on a car lot it tests my Christianity–that day was no exception. At one point during the “trial,” while the manager was making a dramatic last-ditch effort to make a sale, I wanted to ask “do I have the word stupid tattooed on my forehead or something?” I kept my cool, but I sent him back to his secret manager’s lair without a sale.

Don’t misunderstand, I realize dealerships are in the business to make money and salesmen are just trying to earn a living. I don’t fault them for that, but the truth is, buying a car is about as much fun as having your fingernails pulled out with a pair of needle-nosed plyers. Through the years, I have owned various brands: Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda, but my experience was usually the same. I believe both car dealerships and churches might benefit from some of the things I wanted to say to the dealership that day:

  • I’m not the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Believe it or not, I actually have a brain. I’ve done some reading and research in my life. I can think, evaluate, and make decisions. Don’t talk down to me.
  • Give me some space. Sometimes I like to window-shop a little before being bombarded with the “sales pitch.” I expect a “sales pitch” and I’m ok with that, but just give me some space first. Let me just “kick the tires” for a while. If I really like them, I will buy them from you and a car to go with them!
  • Be honest with me. We all know the stereotype that car salesmen are dishonest. In many cases, they probably earned that reputation. The church is sometimes viewed the same way, so honesty is paramount to me.
  • Don’t play games and don’t play me. There’s nothing I hate much more than “being played.” Almost everyone I know feels the same way. Car dealerships, churches, salesmen, and preachers should be transparent and genuine.
  • Give me the facts and give them to me fast. How long can it possibly take to calculate the value of my trade-in? I looked up the Kelly Blue Book price on the internet in 5 minutes before I left the house! Don’t go on and on–it won’t change the facts. Give me the facts and I’ll make a decision.
  • Sale, but don’t oversale. I came expecting a sale, but don’t go overboard or you will turn me off for sure.

Boy oh boy…..I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest. Thanks for allowing me to vent. Let me end with this question, “how often does an unchurched person want to make these same statements to us after he visits one of our churches?”

Transitional Interim Pastor Training

Untitled-1We are offering a Transitional Interim Pastor Training at the Kentucky Baptist Convention building on November 23-24, 2015 that will equip men of God to provide leadership for worship services, supply basic pastoral care, and guide a congregation through the inherent complexities, challenges, and opportunities during the interim time.

The workshop will help participants focus on:

  • The role and responsibilities of a transitional interim pastor
  • The transition process
  • Assessing the church’s history
  • Assessing the church’s current realities
  • Strategic preparation for the church’s future
  • Preaching and teaching during the interim
  • Conflict management and congregational healing
  • Supporting the search committee
  • Preparing the church for the next pastor
  • Leaving gracefully

Cost is $100 per person. For more information please contact me at [email protected] or at 502-489-5731.

4 Steps Churches & Pastors Should Take Now

Like me, you may be asking, “What steps should we take as a church and what steps should I take as a pastor in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex marriage?” Here are four steps every church should take to safeguard the church and the pastor.

  1. Update church wedding policy documents. It is very important for the church to develop a document that addresses the issues of marriage, human sexuality, & gender. Here is a Church Wedding Policy sample that you can use as a starting point.
  2. Update facility use policy. It is equally important for the church to develop a comprehensive policy that addresses the use of church facilities. It is not necessary for the church to eliminate all facility use by non-members, but it is important that a governing policy is in place. Even if the church eliminates facility use by non-members and only allows facility use by members, a policy is still needed. Some of the challenges in the area of facility use may come from those who are members or from family members of those who are members. Here’s a facility use sample.
  3. Update membership policies. It is important to have a document that clearly defines how a person becomes a church member; what the expectations are for a person to maintain church membership; and specific circumstances that lead to membership discipline and/or dismissal. Here’s a Church Membership Policy sample.
  4. Update Pastor’s Personal Wedding Policy. For added clarification and protection, it would be wise for every pastor to develop and adopt a personal pastoral wedding policy. In this policy the pastor should share his Biblical views on marriage giving Scriptural support, personal requirements for officiating a wedding, pre-marital counseling expectations, and a fee schedule. Here is a Pastor Wedding Policy sample.

For more information and help, please check out our Kentucky Baptist Convention resource page. Also, feel free to contact me personally at [email protected] or at 502-489-3434.

True Satisfaction

Untitled-1In 1965, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards released a song that gave the English rock band, the Rolling Stones, their first #1 hit. One of the unique features of the song was the repetitive, three-note guitar riff throughout. The song was titled “Satisfaction.” Here are the words to the chorus:

I can’t get no satisfaction. I can’t get no satisfaction. ‘Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try. I can’t get no satisfaction.

This was one of my favorite pep-band songs in high school because the trombones played that three-note guitar riff. You can probably guess that I played trombone in school. BUT, at the time, I didn’t know how sad the song’s lyrics were.

When I think of these sad lyrics, I think of King Solomon. He spent most of his life searching for satisfaction. Listen to his frustration:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiates 1:2

“All life is far more boring than words could ever say. Our eyes and our ears are never satisfied with what we see and hear.” Ecclesiates  1:8 (Contemporary English Version)

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiates 1:14

As a pastor, I have learned that many people in life are just like Solomon. They are seeking true meaning in life, but don’t know where to find it. Fortunately, our search can end well if our search brings us to Christ. Listen to what the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians:

“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible…everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him (Jesus).” Colossians 1:16 (Msg)

If you are reading this and have an emptiness in your life, then I encourage you to give your life to Christ. Find purpose and meaning in a personal, intimate relationship with Him. Pray and invite Him into your life. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins. Follow Him, love Him, serve Him. If I can help you in some way to that end, please contact me at [email protected].