How To Read More

I love to read.  As a pastor, I find my time reading more non-fiction, but I love to escape into a good piece of fiction at times.  In fact, for every 2-3 works of non-fiction I read, I squeeze in a work of fiction.

At times, my friends ask me, “How do you read so much?”  Hopefully, this will help you as you seek to read more books.

1. Schedule a time to read.

Make sure you schedule a time in the week in which you are going to read.  First, schedule the days you will read.  Monday through Friday? Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s? All 7 days?  Schedule it.  Second, schedule how long you want to read each day. I try to squeeze in one hour a day to read.  You may find that to be difficult.  Try 20 minutes a day, then work your way up! Thirdly, schedule when you will read within that day! Will it be when you wake up? During lunch? During break? Before bed? Set aside the time, and do it!

2. Be intentional about what you read.

Time is valuable and there’s nothing I hate more than wasting my time on a book that isn’t worth reading! Be intentional about what you read. As a pastor, I pick between Pastoral leadership, theology, religious biography, and specific fiction when reading.  I am not just picking up a random book.  If it’s something I need to learn or focus on, I pick it up.  If it doesn’t capture me within the first 2 chapters, I set it down.  Be intentional! I tend to read books that are recommended by authors and pastors I respect.

3. Set a goal.

A couple years back, my goal was to read one book a week! I barely made it. I failed at scheduling a daily time to read.  Make your goal reasonable at first! Maybe it’s to read 10 books in a year, or 1 book a month.  Set a goal that is reasonable to reach at first, then after that goal is reached, set a new one.

4. Read without distractions.

Find a time to read where you can set your phone aside, where you have no responsibilities, and where you won’t be distracted.  I tend to read in the mornings while my family is still asleep, but if I can’t in the mornings due to meetings or visits, I’ll make time in the afternoons to read.

Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day.  Keep reading, keep going, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day! It’s possible to read more. Good luck!

7 Things I’ve Learned In 7 Years of Marriage

Today, my wife and I are celebrating 7 years of a wonderful marriage!  Not every year was a “wonderful year.”  We had a rocky start, but we pushed through it, learned many lessons, and are much closer today than we were 7 years ago.

Here are 7 things I have learned in 7 years of marriage:

  1. Marriage takes sacrifice.
  2. Marriage takes selflessness.
  3. Marriage takes strength.
  4. Marriage takes sentiment.
  5. Marriage takes surprises.
  6. Marriage takes support.
  7. Marriage takes softheartedness.

1. Marriage takes sacrifice.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… – Ephesians 5:25

I have learned through the past 7 years of marriage that I need to put my wife’s needs, desires, and self before my own.  Marriage is always about sacrifice.  You will find yourself not always able to do the things you want to do for the sake of the happiness of your wife.  But, more importantly, marriage takes sacrifice in the fact that, we may need to give up things for our spouse.  Maybe it’s our jobs, possessions, lifestyles.  We make sacrifices.  We need to be sure we love our wives in a way that says, “I’m willing to give up everything, even my very existence, for you.”

2. Marriage takes selflessness.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church… – Ephesians 5:28-29

It’s not about me.  I am here to serve my wife, not expect her to serve me.  I learned how selfish I am, and still am, and I am daily learning how to be more selfless.  If I were to take my selfishness, and turn it to selflessness, imagine what I could accomplish as a spouse!  I’ve learned that I need to be more selfless.  I need to make sure she’s taken care of, that she’s happy, that she’s not burdened with too much to take care (especially since we have a kid, now).  I fail at this, often, but I’ve recognized it, and I’m learning.

3. Marriage takes strength.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. – 1 Corinthians 11:3

In order to lead a home well, the husband must be under the headship, and lordship, of Christ.  Husbands, are you leading your wives towards Christ, or away from Him?  Are you praying with them (something I am still learning)?  Are you reading your Bible with them?  In order to lead, we need strength to do so.  We find that in our own prayer and devotion.  We must be seeking Christ, following Him, in order to lead our families towards Him.

4. Marriage takes sentiment. 

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, – Ephesians 5:33

I love my wife.  There’s nothing in this world I love more than my wife (except Christ, of course).  My love for my wife is expressed through not only my words, but my actions as well.  Love is a verb.  Marriage takes a strong kind of love, a sacrificial kind of love, a love that surpasses all other kinds of love!

5. Marriage takes surprises.

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love… – Ecclesiastes 9:9

I love to surprise my wife.  It gets harder as the years go on because you seem to get comfortable with the way things are, but surprises are always special and keep things alive.  Husbands, we need to strive to surprise our wives.  Even if it’s by cleaning house, or cooking dinner, or taking her out to dinner, marriage takes surprises.

6. Marriage takes support.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. – Ephesians 5:31

Marriage is a team.  You work together in the good things and the bad.  Your spouse is placed above all other people (even your own parents).  You fight for your spouse.  You are now one.  You fight for her holiness, for her health, for her happiness.  You fight to make sure that your marriage is where it needs to be.  Men need to be fighting on their knees in prayer for their wives!  I’m learning this more and more.  You’ll never understand how much you grow to love someone until you begin praying for them, daily.

7. Marriage takes softheartedness.

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. – Colossians 3:19

Marriage is going to be filled with mistakes.  You are going to mess up as a spouse.  Marriage takes grace, forgiveness, and softheartedness.  There needs to be room for that.  Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect (mine is!) because they aren’t.  Give room for mistakes to happen.  I’m speaking, not as a husband who has had to forgive his wife, a lot, but as a husband who has needed grace for the mistakes he has made in his marriage.  I am thankful for my wife and the love and grace she gives me.  Marriage is definitely an expression of the Gospel in the fact that we are two sinful people expressing the same grace and love that God has given us through Jesus Christ.

Devotion: Gospel Overflowing

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” – John 7:37b-38

Devotion: Gospel Overflowing

Daily devotion to the Gospel should overflow in three areas of our lives:

  1. Worship
  2. Works
  3. Wonder

1. Worship

As we seek daily devotion to the Word of God and the Gospel treasure within it, it should drive us to worship.  As we seek the Face of God daily, it should draw us to our knees in thanksgiving, in confession, in repentance, and in awe.  It causes us to raise our hands and lift our hearts to the all-sufficient God, the Sovereign King of the Universe.

The Gospel shows us that we are wretched sinners in need of a Glorious Savior, and as we meditate on that daily, we begin to see, more and more, how awesome God is.  Our daily devotion to the Gospel should overflow in our singing to God, in our praying to God, and in knowing God more.

2. Works

Daily devotion to the Gospel should overflow in our works.  As we live each day outside the Church walls, our lives should be an expression of the Gospel that has captivated it.  The way we talk to people, the way we treat people, the way we respond to people, should all express the Gospel within our lives.

We don’t seek to do good works to be saved.  We seek to do good works because we are saved.  The Gospel shows us that God has taken our stone-cold heart and given us a heart of flesh with new desires and a new look on life that should be expressed within our works.  The way we work at our jobs, at our schools, in our families, should all show the Gospel overflowing within them.

3. Wonder

Our daily devotion of the Gospel should drive our wonder towards the awesome God that has mercifully saved us by His amazing grace alone through our faith alone.  Our daily devotion of the Gospel should overflow into our wonder by giving us a desire to draw nearer and nearer to this Sovereign God.

The Gospel is like a drug that once it has hit our veins we can’t get enough of it.  Our addiction to grace should drive our wonder for the Gospel.  As we continue to seek God more and more, we realize we can’t get enough of Him and we want more and more.  We become a glutton for the Gospel.  We begin to crave God and that is when our devotion leads to a desire for Doctrine.