Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

For President, I want the guy who’s failed

A couple of recent articles on the Harvard Business Review Blog caught my attention. In For President, I want the guy who’s failed, Jeff Stibel proposes four unconventional questions to reveal how the Presidential candidates think and solve problems. The whole article is worth reading, but here are the four questions with a selection of quotes:

1. What’s your biggest failure?
“I won’t hire someone for my company who doesn’t acknowledge failure and I would insist on the same from our presidential candidates.”

2. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and would you do it again?
“Whether in business or government, the hallmark of a successful leader is often courage. The question is, which risks are worth taking and how are these decisions made?”

3. When have you taken an unpopular decision against special interest groups?
“I want a candidate who can demonstrate that he has taken a position that serves the broader public in the face of adversity.”

4. What’s the most unconventional thing you’ve done?
“It’s undeniable that the success of most entrepreneurs is connected to the fact that they were innovative and often unconventional. I am convinced that this is an important qualification for solving any nation’s problems.”

Read Jeff’s full exposition of these questions here.

Then there’s Julian Birkinshaw’s piece on the Seven Deadly Sins of Management. His point is:

I continue to be a little puzzled about why so many managers do such a poor job. We have known what “good management” looks like for decades, and enormous sums have been spent on programs to help managers manage better. And yet the problem endures: In a recent survey I conducted, less than a quarter of respondents would encourage others to work for their manager.

He proposes that instead of focusing leadership training on platitudes and mottos, we should “focus on the bad behavior we are trying to get rid of.” Again, here’s a list with some summary quotes, but you should really read the whole piece:

  1. greedy boss pursues wealth, status, and growth to get himself noticed.
  2. Lust is also about vanity projects — investments or acquisitions that make no rational sense, but play to the manager’s desires.
  3. Wrath doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap, Fred “the shred” Goodwin, and “Neutron” Jack Welch were all famous for losing their cool.
  4. Gluttony in the business world is where a manager puts too much on his proverbial plate. He needs to get involved in all decisions, he needs to be continuously updated, he never rests.
  5. Healthy pride quickly tips over into hubris — an overestimation of your own abilities.
  6. Envy manifests itself most clearly when a manager takes credit for the achievements of others….or does not promote a rising star, for fear of showing up his own limitations.
  7. Sloth…They are inattentive, they don’t communicate effectively, and they have no interest in their team’s needs. Instead, they focus on their own comforts and quite often, on personal interests outside of the workplace.

Birkinshaw provides a test for evaluating our own leadership sins, and then supplies questions for those who are brave enough to conduct a 360-degree assessment.

Application to ministry
And why am I blogging about this? Well, since my first years of working life were spent in finance, I’ve always had an interest in management and leadership. But I also think that there’s valuable material here for pastors and churches, both in assessing potential candidates for Christian ministry, and in ongoing accountability of Christian leaders.

Check out

The Psychology of Social Networking [Infographic]
9 out of 10 internet users are on social networks. 9 out of 10 Americans think people share too much. Go figure!

Jonah Lehrer’s Mistake…and Ours
At the Harvard business review Peter Sims compares the consequences of Jonah Lehrer “stealing” some words with the financial executives responsible for this devastating economic crisis. “The message seems clear. If you are responsible for large-scale financial collapse or fraud, you needn’t fear you will actually be held responsible for large-scale financial collapse or fraud.”

Five Features of Preaching in the Book of Acts
(1) God-centered (2) Audience conscious (3) Christ-centered (4) Response-oriented (5) Boldness

Best Numbers Commentaries
Adrian Reynolds recommends three books.

Does Everyone Brag Now?
Owen Strachan strikes a good balance here: “My tentative, personally driven recommendation: make your life about big things, as best you can.  Pray regularly to be humble and not promote yourself.  Invite feedback from family, friends, and fellow church members on “best practices.”  Here’s a controversial one: if you do use social media, strive to keep your “private life” (the very term sounds ancient) private.  Forget what the gurus say–if you’re going to use Facebook, make sure you prize privacy.  An inner life, whether personal, familial, or congregational, is in my view very healthy.”

10 Principles for Interpreting Old Testament Narrative

Honor to whom honor is due
Important article from R C Sproul Jr. in this election season.

Tweets of the Day

The Mailbox Mystery

It all started a few weeks ago with a bag of candy left in our mailbox. No name, no note. Hmm!

Then, a few days ago, I noticed colorful packaging sticking out of the mailbox. Moving closer, I discovered two boxes of candy and three packets of Kit-Kats. Again, no name, no note. Hmmmm?

When I brought the booty into the house, the kids got so excited, first at the candy, then at the mystery.

“Where did you get that, Dad?”

“I found it in the mailbox.”

“Who put it there?”

“I have no idea. There’s no note, no name, nothing.”

“DAAAAD! You put it there, didn’t you?”

I didn’t…honestly.”

Their cynicism eventually gave way to faith in my innocence, and the investigation moved to, “Well if it wasn’t Dad, who was it?”

The neighborhood was mentally scoured. “Well they wouldn’t do it….He certainly wouldn’t do it…She might have done it;” and so on.

Eventually my wife said, “Maybe it’s a Christian who just wants to bless you without you knowing his name.”

“But why would anyone want to do that?” asked my young daughter.

“Well,” said my wife, “Some Christians like to give things to other people without letting everyone know about it.”

“That’s dumb!” was the response.

She said what we think
There you go. Did she not just blurt what so many of us really think? “It’s stupid to do good and tell no one.” What was that about, “Out of the mouths of babes and infants…?”

But doing good without tooting your horn is not dumb. The wisest man that ever lived said it’s actually meant to be the norm: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1).

It’s never been easier to live so much of our lives “before other people…to be seen by them.” Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., allow us to “livestream” every detail of our lives with multiple readers, friends, and followers. In fact “sharing” has become such a “default” for us that, yes, not to share what we’ve done for others does seem “dumb.”

Coram mundus?
We witness, then Tweet about it. We visit a sick senior, then “share a prayer request.” We help a neighbor, then sprint to update our status. We even have to offer live updates when hearing God’s Word! Living coram Deo (before the face of God) is no longer the pinnacle of Christian experience; rather it’s living coram mundus (before the face of the world).

Ask yourself: When was the last time I did anything worthwhile and told no one about it? When was the last time I visited a lonely person and didn’t drop it into the next conversation I had? When was the last time I shared the Gospel and didn’t share that I shared the Gospel?

How about we try to strengthen that ancient virtue of doing good without telling the world about it. Try to do one good thing a day and tell no one about. And once we can lift that without screaming, add another weighty but secret good deed, then another, then another, and so on. It’s going to be hard at first. It’s going to feel so alien to do something without others knowing about it. I mean, does a good deed exist if no one knows about it?

Warning and Incentive
But let me offer a warning and an incentive to help us through the pain barrier. The warning first:Let’s remember that every time we do something good and tell everybody, we “will have no reward from [our] Father in heaven.” So we’ve got a choice: a few seconds of sinners’ “likes” and “retweets” on earth, or an eternal reward from God in heaven.

And the incentive? Sometimes it can be very hard to persevere in well-doing when no one else ever sees or knows. But, Jesus assures us, “Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matt. 6:4). What an encouraging promise! My Father sees, my Father knows, and my Father will reward me! Divine love instead of Facebook “likes.”

So, the next time you do something commendable and you’re tempted to stretch for your smartphone or computer to “share,” ask yourself: “Am I sacrificing a divine reward from my Father in heaven for the sake of a few seconds of social media crack?”

Mystery solved
And by the way, our young female detectives solved the mystery within 24 hours. Some door-to-door work eventually revealed that every neighbor had been similarly blessed with bags and boxes of anonymous candy. Well, not every neighbor, because they eventually found a house without candy, and a lady neighbor whose boyfriend works for a candy company!

A slightly edited version of this article first appeared in the August issue of Tabletalk. You can read more of the August columns and articles here. Or sign up for a free three month trial (US only).

Check out

Encouraging Leadership
Zach Nielsen with three ways to grow as an encourager.

Made in God’s Image: An Ingenious Artist
Zach’s blog put me on to this amazing story too.

It matters who you marry
How will your boyfriend do after the vows? Rebecca offers some pointers and clues.

The FRC Shooting and the Vocation of a Hero
Joe Carter reflects upon the heroic actions of the security guard he used to work with.

What should your first year as a pastor look like?
Brian’s answer is so simple and sensible. If followed it would save a lot of grief.

The iSeminary Cometh
And here’s another on Mapping the Future of Education Technology.