squirrelA movie a few years ago added a new word to our lexicon, or at least a new meaning for that word. “SQUIRREL!”  When I hear that word, pronounced in a certain way, an image from the movie “Up” is immediately invoked.  It is shorthand for a person who is easily distracted from the task at hand.   It is easy to be easily distracted in today’s world.  We live in a visually driven culture and are surrounded by images and videos on our phones, tablets, pc’s, laptops and TV’s.  The old adage about, “Have you ever entered a room and forgot why you were there?” applies to the pastor entering the wilds of the internet.  I have had many times when I have gone on the internet to find a particular piece of information and noticed a half hour later that I had visited 20 different sites and forgot why I was on in the first place.  How do you avoid this?

First, when working on a project write down what you need to find.  Be as specific as possible. For example, “public domain picture of a squirrel”, “illustration about tithing” or “Greek meaning of word for ‘grace'”.

Second, accomplish everything you can possibly do without going online.  Doing this will give you a headstart in your work.  Even if you only manage to put down an outline you will find this helps progress enormously.

Third, set a time limit for yourself.  This will serve to keep you focused and goal driven.  If need be, set an alarm with a countdown timer.  there are many variations of these you can get for free at Google Play or the Apple Store for phones.

Fourth, find a quiet space where people can still see you.  This will keep you accountable, but still in a place where you can work.  You can also ask your spouse or a ministry partner to check on you occasionally.

Being in a high pressure position like bivocational ministry means that you have to use your time wisely.  Distractions can be a killer.  So keep your eye on the <SQUIRREL!!!!>


“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 3:14 (NIV)

calendarAround this time of year the typical pastor is getting eyeball deep into calendars.  First there is the personal calendar to take into account.  Second there is the work calendar.  Then there are the range of church calendars. Keeping them all in sync and with no conflicts can be a major hassle.  Add to that the fact that the public calendars need to be placed where people can get to them, such as on a website, and it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

I’d like to describe here one solution that I have found that works for me.  There are other ways to accomplish this task, but this one works.

First, I signed up for a Google account, giving me access to a number of tools.  One of those features is called ‘Google Calendar’.  Once signed up with Google, I created three different calendars.  One for the church, one for me personally and one for my secular work.

Second, I put dates as appropriate in each calendar. So far, so good!

Thirdly, I use the code generated by Google to embed my church calendar into the HTML of the church calendar webpage.  Any events put into the church calendar are now visible to our congregation, and dynamically update as the calendar is changed.

Fourth, I downloaded the Google Calendar app onto my smartphone.  I have set up a home screen on my smartphone that displays only this app so I can get to my calendar by only flipping between home screens.  In setting the app up, I specify that it displays all three of my calendars.  This merges the dates on the calendars so that I can easily see what I have, and when, coordinating all three areas of my life.

Fifth…and this is where the magic comes in…when I update the church calendar from my phone the church calendar on the church website is automatically updated as well!

If this solution works for you, then I am glad to have helped.  If it doesn’t work for you there are other solutions that can work just as well or better.  But in any case it is imperative that you get a handle on the issue or sooner or later you are going to find yourself scheduling a Board meeting when you were supposed to be at your child’s school event.

I pray you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a well-scheduled and conflict-free calendar of Christmas events…all filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit!

(source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GsLjECEPOHU/S13788TkgkI/AAAAAAAAAgA/sOcuchFBYEA/s400/readme.JPG"Finding and managing time is a top priority for bivocational ministers. Finding time to study the Bible is an activity we recognize as extremely important but which can be swallowed up by the ‘urgent’ matters of life and ministry. The fact remains, if your ministry is to be vital and fresh you MUST have a devotional and study life separate from simply reading to prepare your sermons. This is where technology can come to the rescue. I have listed here some of the best free resources out there for Bible reading. Most are usable anywhere you have a connection to the internet, be it a wi-fi connection or a cell phone data link. The great thing about these resources is that you can read any time and any where you get a few minutes break. In the doctors office. In the car. At lunch while at work. In church if you get bored (just kidding…)!

BibleGateway.com offers 18 different reading plans with options available for each one. These include such standby’s as the New Testament 24-week plan, plans linked to the Book of Common Prayer readings, and Chronologically arranged plans. My wife and I use the BibleGateway chronological one-year plan, in the NIV version. My wife uses her Samsung tablet, while I prefer to read using my cell phone. If we are offline there is a nearly identical plan available through Blueletterbible.org in PD format which we can reference.

Blueletterbible.org, mentioned above, has some excellent reading plans. The caveat here is that those plans are mostly downloadable PDF’s, not linked readings through an online Bible. Still, it is an excellent source of material and includes several devotionals such as ‘Morning and Evening” and Day by Day by Grace”.

Biblestudytools.com offers 17 different plans, including a one year thematic option whose stated goal is “to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish”.

Oneyearbibleonline.com has several versions of their reading plan, allowing you to select your own starting date and Bible version. You can also download a reading plan or customize a one year or chronological plan to suit your own needs.

About.esvbible.org  has a set of 12 reading plans available, is several different formats. Most are available as RSS, iCal, Mobile, print and email formats, although this particular site is limited to the ESV version of the Bible. IT is a good choice to check out if you prefer the ESV.

YouVersion.com offers Apps for Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices. Technically this is an ‘offline’ resource.  The good thing about this is that you can have your Bible and reading plan available even when you don’t have a wi-fi or mobile connection. One of the most widely used Bible reading apps, they currently claim to have 1,092 versions available in 780 languages.

Backtothebible.org offers a few unique plans including the 21-day, the 90-day and the 6-month ‘challenges’. There are 5 separate one-year reading plans.

Bible.com offers some reading plans, many of which are drawn from Youversion.com. However, they also offer some unique devotional studies such as the 15-day “Bill Graham’s ‘The Reason For My Hope'”, as well as devotional studies from Kari Jobe, Dara Maclean and the Newsboys.

Take a look through the resources here and see if there is something that can help jump-start your Bible reading. These are obviously not the only services out there, but it they are a good place to start. May the Lord bless you through His word as you faithfully cultivate your own spiritual life!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105