Back to school and Back to blogging

sitting at desk with computer

The summer of 2016, where did it go?

During summer in Take TWO Family Ministries it was a whirlwind of incredible activity, and, a ton of fun.

Here are only a few of the fun times had by all.

Soccer Camp.
soccer camp 2016 503x503

Marriage Scavenger Hunt. (For the record my wife and I won this one with another couple from our church, the Underfers)
Marriage scavenger hunt 2016 503x503

Kids Camp
Kids Camp 2016 500x503

Family Service week with KidzTurn
KidzTurn at First 2016 503x503

Stay tuned as I will be getting back on a regular schedule for posting blog post.

The Wired Soul book review

the wired soul book cover

Tricia McCary Rhodes, an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary shares the same enjoyment and connection to technology as the rest of us. But she takes the time to investigate the cost we exchange for technology. What are our screens doing to our relationships, brains, and soul? This was a hard reality check for me.

This may have been why the book started off so great for me but felt like it fizzled out through the rest of the book. I started in with some gut check reality stats and as the book progressed for me I ended up in more known type information.

I cracked the book open and within the first 2 chapters I was completely drawn in and excited, not to mention all the new info that I was taking in during these first couple of chapters. I was telling all of my coaching students about the info I was learning and the lessons that I was putting together to teach them as well.

Then it happened, just as I feared. The book should have stopped there. The remaining of the book really was just drawing out my excitement from the first couple of chapters. I still picked up a gem here or there, but it never felt like the same book that I started reading.

Some good stuff did come from my time in this book. I am walking away with the new knowledge from the first couple of chapters but also other lessons. The importance of journaling and how even that writing on paper will slow us down so that we can become aware of the little things that God may be trying to get our attention with. Some simple breathing exercises, and slow reading and the importance of it.

I won’t be giving up my smartphone or laptop anytime soon, but this book has made me reconsider reading more books in print including my Bible.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I need to let you know that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing.

Very Influential Person book review

VIP

The Bible says that God has “assigned to you an area of influence” (2 Corinthians 10:13). What will you do with it? O.S. Hawkins takes readers through what it takes to create a life of Vision, Influence, and Purpose in his newest book VIP.

When I picked this book out as one that I would review, I began anticipating its arrival in the mail. Finally, that day came when I could see this box in my mailbox and then a bitter-sweet experience took place. The sweet part was when I opened the box it was this book, the not so sweet part was the box was big the book was small. I sat down and read the book in one sitting. The book comes in at 118 pages and that is being generous.

Small book as it is, it does have some large nuggets of goodies. I enjoyed how O.S. Hawkins starts the book off explaining the problem with the assumed definition of V.I.P. and draws you into his reason for a new definition of V.I.P..

I will keep this review short in the same style as I mentioned the book was written as well, short. All said, I did enjoy the book and think it would be a good Graduation gift for students entering the work force. This is the idea I wrote down that I am thinking about using it for in the future. Another idea I wrote down was using it if you have an intern program at your church, use this as one of the books you take them through.

Enjoy. Now go and discover what area of influence God has assigned to you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You don’t have because you have not asked.

boy and girl sitting on roof

It is amazing how many parents will tell their kids, “You don’t have because you have not asked”.

This should be a phrase that is internalized by many in church leadership. We often times complain that we don’t have any volunteers. We have no help. No one cares or people are lazy.

I am not sure this is completely accurate. Here is why.

In The Volunteer Revolution, Bill Hybels says, “Despite our efforts to publicly communicate needs and ask people to serve, by far the most effective ask is the personal one—and the more personal, the better. In fact, volunteers make the best volunteer recruiters.” I love those sentences by Hybels. Many today depend on the pulpit guilt trip, bulletin ask, or mass email being sent out to all the church asking them to volunteer. That is not an “Ask”, that is a “Plea or Begging”. People are not moved or wish to answer this.

So, instead, we need to “Ask” individuals.Social media has many advantages but it can never take the place of the real thing, the meaningful conversations, and the personal invitations to join us in ministry.

Keep it simple, “Ask” people to join you in the bigger picture that God has opened the doors for you to join Him in ministry.

You have no volunteers or a lack of volunteers because you have not asked them individually.

Big Red Bible Review

ICB artwork

The Big Red Bible from Thomas Nelson is formatted for children, ages 6-12. The BIG RED BIBLE is an International Children’s Bible translation. One that children can read and understand. I enjoyed the vivid 3-D pictures throughout the Bible. These pictures helped in visualizing Bible stories and gave the reference where they could be found.

There is a Bible dictionary at the end which is useful anytime if looking for meanings of specific words. I also liked the other helps at the end of the Bible including ‘Memory Verses for Life’. I can see this as a valuable tool in reading to children in devotional settings and more. Here’s a Bible that the even the younger age kids will understand right along with everyone else.

The text is larger, which makes it a little easier for even some of the earliest readers to read. This also makes it a ton more fun for kids who can now follow along in their own Bible as people read out loud in theirs. Kids begin to build comfort in reading along in their own Bibles, they will want to keep taking them to church.

This Bible was a good one for our group. The main thing we would have wanted is more of the graphics that are in the Bible already.

Feel free to check out these links to continue to aid you in falling in love with this Bible.

ICB YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2YEOvzN1_4
ICB Link: http://www.tommynelson.com/kids-can-read-the-bible/

Herm Edwards speak on leadership lessons that must be learned

The following are Leadership Lessons That Mist Be Learned according to Herm Edwards. All quotes are from Coach Edwards.

“The only thing you can control, you be ready to go…” Take Personal Responsibility For Your Preparation

There Is A Limited Amount Of Opportunity. Take Advantage Of It. – “1,900 football players are professional football players. That’s it.”

Talent Is Never Enough – “Right now they got more experience than you. Nothing you can do about that.
You might have more talent but they have more experience.”

Providing For Your Family Is A Privilege – “It’s not a right but a privilege to play and coach in the National Football League.”

Unto Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required – “Talent, expectations, and production can sometimes be a curse. You’ve got so much talent you don’t live up to it.”

God Gave You Your Talent – “Talent, you didn’t earn it. God gave it to you.”

“You got talent but does the production equal the talent?..If you’re not a productive player then it becomes a curse.” Parable, of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30.

Don’t Waste Your Talent – “You’ve got an opportunity. Don’t waste your talent.”

“Expectations. A goal without a plan is a wish…What’s your plan to be a professional football player?” Take time now, to make a plan for your future, your career, your family.

“Nobody’s going to play for you. Nobody’s going to practice. You got to do that. You got to do all the work.” You won’t just happen to fall into your ideal future. You need to present it to God. Take time to listen to Him, ask Him what are the plans. Then prepare!

“This is where young players struggle. Priorities. Your habits create who you are.” Habits are serious. Little ones or big ones, they all shape you.

“If you’re not willing to change your habits, you’re not changing.” Be a change agent not just with your work or ministry, but with yourself.

“My priorities are real simple – My Faith. My Family. My Occupation.”

“When you leave this room today there are cameras watching you wherever you go.” You Are Always Being Watched. You are part of a larger team and we were paid for with a huge price. We are not our own. 1 Cor. 7:23

“It’s embarrassing (when a player gets in trouble).” Immature Behavior Is Embarrassing

Your Immature Behavior Affects All Of Us – “You think it only affects you. It affects everybody.”

“You think, ‘I’m all this.’ You ain’t all that.” Stay humble.

“When you get that jersey it’s rented. When you come out of the league they’re going to take your name off and give somebody else your number.” Lead and manage with an open hand.

“Everything you do on the field, and now off the field, it becomes news.” You Have More Influence Than You Know

“Nothing good happens after 12:00 o’clock…After midnight, something bad’s going to happen.” Don’t allow yourself to get into any compromising positions. Live above reproach.

“You get one girlfriend OR you get one wife. You can’t have both.” Stay faithful to your spouse.

“If you play for the Dallas Cowboys and you go to Philadelphia, you still got that one girlfriend or that one wife. Don’t screw that up.”

“You’ve been told.”

Love my INCM DISPATCH. 

Every time when I see this brown box sitting outside my mailbox, I know it’s going to be a great day!

Dispatch box

I am so thankful to INCM for allowing me to be part of the dispatch writing group. Thanks, Matt Guevara, for allowing me the honor to take part.

This dispatch as always is filled with some great goodies that would be a blessing to anyone in children’s ministry. Here is a sneak peek:

Dispatch contents 5_16

The Gospel Truth about Children’s Ministry

7 Family Ministry Essentials

Jonah Comic

ICB Big Red Bible

Strong In Me CD

Growing in Grace CD

Now do you understand my excitement? Click on these links and go get yourself some of these wonderful tools for your children’s ministry.

My ministry day with my iPhone


I still get amazed what we can accomplish today with just our phones. 

Today, I’m going to take us on a brief trip of my day in ministry with just using my iPhone. 

  • Started the day off with using my Bible (YouVersion). 
  • After that I went into my weather app to see what kind of weather I was going to get today. 
  • Easily.Do to check for birthdays and send out text or email cards to them. Also get to see the status of all my packages coming and going. Then get a quick overview of trending Instagram pictures from my friend and the Instagram community. One of the last nice things I enjoy about Easily.Do is it gives me an update of any emails I need to respond to. 
  • Next I move into Trello to check on all my group projects. This handles all my project management. 
  • Throughout the day I am in and out of Evernote. It serves as my electronic brain. 
  • Dropbox is the same with me going in and out all day long as it is my sharing tool with others. 

I am amazed at all that I can and do with my iPhone daily. The apps mentioned are just a couple that I use first thing in the morning. This post would turn into one very long list of I was to mention everything that I use. Even this post was made on my iPhone.

What apps do you find the most valuable to your day? 

Tools, systems, and ideas that aid me in a productive day

computer and coffee

Over time, I have developed some systems and ideas of how to have a productive day. The discovery of some great productivity tools as well.

Start the night before.

My wife has tried to work with our 5-year-old on this lesson as well. Whenever our 5-year-old does this her next morning is great for her and the rest of the house. The same is true for us. If you start the night before with setting out your clothes and going over the calendar.

* Then schedule your big items in your most productive time of the day. I use to use my mornings which are my most productive time of the day, for meetings, computer work etc. By time my energy was gone then I was in the early afternoon, my least productive time, trying to do big items. Poor idea!

* Get a good night of sleep. The new iOS 9.3 has a new setting to control the brightness of your screen. This new setting is so your iPhone brightness wont keep your mind too alert at the times it should not be.

* Turn off your notifications. I can’t tell you how many times a notification has interrupted a coaching call of mine. I’m coaching someone and their attention leaves our conversation to look at an alert. Same is true when you’re prepping your next day. It is always going to be an interruption in your attention.

Now for some tools that I enjoy. I am going to leave out the ones that all should use and know about by now. Some of those would be Evernote, Dropbox, Google,

* Trello. Here is a tool that keeps me plugged in with all my many teams and their projects.

* IFTT. IFTTT, standing for If This Then That. You craft “recipes” that allow for various apps and services to connect together. I can create an IFTTT recipe that automatically uploads my Instagram photos to my Google Drive account. Create awesome integration with zero programming experience! If you can think it, you can IFTTT it.

* Rescue Time. Rescue Time will track what programs and websites you spend the most time on. Showing what hours are your least/most productive. along with your best and worst days of the week (and month).

* Unroll.Me. This tool will help hide email clutter. It will list out all your email subscriptions. Use the Unroll.Me unsubscribe option to kick some of those suffocating newsletters to the curb.

* StayFocused. A free Chrome extension that restricts the amount of time you can spend on “time-wasting websites”. The tool is customizable. You choose which websites (or specific pages) to block, how long to block them for, etc.

* Easily.do. Here is an add-on that was not posted with this post originally but I was reminded of the importance of this app when I woke up. I woke up and was told of the status of deliveries, birthdays of friends coming up, some duplicates that made it into my contacts along with some new contact info that it picked up from some emails that were sent to me. Then it soon reminded me of some emails that still needed to be responded to, and ave me a pick into my Instagrams top pics.

Don’t hold back your better process for reading

iphone and coffee cup fuzzy 633x422

Let’s focus on improving the reading that we do. My goal each year is to read around 100 books. But the bigger goal is not the number, but, to learn and keep the great nuggets from those books.

Rudi Guliani wrote in his in his book, “Leadership”, that “great leaders lead by ideas”. I have experienced how great ideas from books have helped me develop my leadership over the years. Books are an accumulation of years of life lessons gleaned from the author. Those years are conveniently bound in each book for the use of developing others who will have a systematic process to harvest the nuggets.

That is what I want to lay out today for you, my process for book nugget harvesting. This is not the only way, it is only, my way.

To read and digest a book I now use the following process:

Book Selection

When selecting a book it’s important to remember the impact that a book can have on your life. It’s necessary to choose the books you read wisely. The books you read must be worth the investment of your time and energy. Some of the criteria I use when selecting a book to invest my time and energy in are:

• First, based upon what do I need to learn or develop, given where I am in my personal journey.

• I select books from authors that have already affected my life and I connect with. Authors like, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Carey Nieuwhof, Posner and Kouzes, etc.

• Books that will help me grow in areas critical to my role.

• Using Goodreads and Amazon for recommendations from friends.

• Key subject areas I’m interested in. Some would be, leadership, communication, task management, technology, and strategy. I do not read books just because they are popular or make the bestseller lists. My time is valuable and so reading a book is an investment of my time from which I expect a return!

Prepared Environment

The best productive reading environment for me happens when:

• I remove all distractions!! Humans cannot multitask. Multitasking is worse than a lie.

• Have a regular place to read. I enjoy what Steve from Blues Clues does, he has a “Thinking Chair” that he uses.

Keep in mind your primary purpose for reading, to grow and learn. This requires focus and concentration.

Be an active reader

Being an active reader you need to engage with the book. Better to read a book in many short sessions, and not in a single sitting. Other ways to be an active reader:

• Use a highlighter, or a pen to underline.

• Using a pen or pencil to make notes in the margin.

• Use Evernote to take notes and pictures of marked up pages.

Actively reading keeps you focused and helps find important concepts for use later on. If I find myself not making several notes or highlighting, it usually means, at least for me, that the book is not worth completing and I put it aside.

There is part one of my process. I’ll post the rest of my process later, but, I’m very interested in hearing if you have a process, what is it?

Do you see how important it is to set yourself up wisely for the best reading experience? Don’t hold back creating a process for better reading for yourself.

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