2017 Goal – Read 100 Books

2017 Goal – Read 100 Books

Today, over 20 people have given me the names of their recommended books and their recommended authors. I stated and personal goal and asked one simple question.

Does the goal seem impossible?

I bet to some it does. Just think about it; 100 books is almost 2 books a week for the next year! That is outrageous considering most people are struggling to read. (Check out this article from The Atlantic for more information.) I believe it can be done. As one of my quote says,

“The one who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the one doing it.” 

My 100 book goal will be a difficult one, but I am going to put forth my best foot forward and get it done. It you set goals that do not change or challenge you, then why set any goals? For me, it means some changes and taking advantages of opportunities to make progress every day.

Personal Note: This is not my only goal for 2017; it is just one of the many. I divide my goals into several categories: (1) Personal, (2) Family, (3) Spiritual, (4) Ministry, (5) Financial, (6) Home and finally, (7) Business.

First, understand that every book will not be a 200 page book. I will be reading from a variety of disciplines and each one will be different in many aspects. Currently, I am reading a 704 page book, more like a resource book, to get some personal improvement ideas in areas from finance to wellness to creativity.

Second, understand I have a lifestyle that encourages reading. Being in ministry, teaching, writing and speaking several times each week allows me the privilege of researching, reading and more writing. I know it is easier on me than others because of my lifestyle.

Below are some steps I am going to take to get it done.

Manage Opportunities – Too many people whine about not having enough time until they want to do something and then, suddenly, time appears. The fact is none of us manage time, we manage the opportunities we have in the time we are given. Each person is given 168 hours a week to do with as we please. However, not everyone will use time the same. (I will write more about this later.)

Several years ago, I stopped doing everything and start doing something. I have found that I do not have a gift for everything but I can do something. In fact, I have about three decent abilities and I try to stick with them instead of being a “jack-of-all-trades.” I will help others as much as I can, but there are things I cannot do.

As an example, there is a project that I undertook rather stupidly. I thought it would be an easy project and I would learn along the way. Instead, my brain has been friend and I have been frustrated with getting it done over and over. Finally, today, I outsourced the project using Fiverr. (This is my first experience with Fiverr so I will say more once the project is completed.)

For now, I am going to start by scheduling reading time every night before I go to bed; no more late night phone checking and falling into the Facebook, Social Media and YouTube Blackhole. Speaking of, have you ever wondered how much time people waste in the Social Media Blackhole? As of 2011, it was 6.9 hours a month. I bet the amount has steadily increased. It is amazing. (Go read Mashable’s article on Social Media and Time here.)

(Math Time) Figuring I can get in at least 30 minutes every evening, gives me 15 hours in a thirty day month. Since most people have a reading speed of 250 to 300 words per minute (source) that puts me at 270,000 words a month. The average book length is 64,531 words in length (source), that gives me 4.18 books a month. Remember, not every book will be 64,531 words; some more and some less. This provides a pretty good start.

Remember, that is only 30 minutes each evening. What if I added 30 minutes into the midday? What if I added 30 minutes in the morning? To do this, I would need to cut out several time wasters out of the day or I would need to maximize every opportunity.

Having an Amazon Kindle (affiliate link) will help to maximize reading time by allowing me to carry my electronic library wherever I go. Whether I am in line picking up one of my children from practice or waiting in line somewhere, I have the ability to spend a few moments reading. If do not have the Kindle with you, then you can at least have the app on your phone.

Speed Read – As stated previously, the average person reads between 250 and 300 words a minute, but some are much faster. Not all books, at least for me, can be glazed through at a high rate of speed. There are some books that need time to digest, others to be reread and still others to dive into deeper with time.

I started experimenting with speed reading a few years ago and found some success. A few weeks ago, a friend point to a few speed reading apps available for phones and tablets. He is an iPhone user and uses Spritz. For Android users, you can check out this list of Spritz-like speed reading apps. There are other speed reading apps found at the Spritz website for Android users.

Additionally, if you have the Kindle app on your phone, it also has a speed reading app built into it. Give it a try and see how you do. My friend has increased his speed reading time dramatically.

Comprehend More – While speed reading will boost the words per minute, there still must be something to hold onto after the book is put down. To be able to comprehend more, I will need to add notes to my journal and even highlight and go back and review my notes at the end of each book. This is where having a personal website will help. I have decided to make my notes and reviews available for a few books over the course of the year.

Be Accountable – One of the easiest things to do is not to hold yourself accountable for your goals. It is easy to let a goal slip by and make excuses for them. Being held accountable puts the burden of responsibility on your shoulders to get the job done. I have already thrown myself out there by stating my goals on Facebook and even writing this article.

I am hoping to compile my list soon and make it available to you.  If you need a list to start planning today, here are a few:

100 Must Read Books form the Art of Manliness

Popular 100 Books to Read before Your Die from GoodReads.com

Finally, if you want some motivation to read more, join the Better Living Book Club I am putting together next year.

Find out more by sending me a quick email with BETTER LIVING BOOK CLUB in the subject line. OUr first book will be the “Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. (affiliate link)

Anyway, the night is growing short and I have some pages of that huge 704 book to read, I better get moving.

Let me know what some of your goals are next year and how I can encourage you to keep them.

Just my thoughts,

A Voting Guide for 2016

A Voting Guide for 2016

This election has created friction between friends, family and even Christians. No matter who you are voting for, or even if you are voting, you will agree that our country is in a place of decline. Each day, the social media newsfeeds show a majority of politics and I imagine it will get filled up as election draws closer.

Since 2004 (I believe), I have provided a voting guide for you to consider and pray over. I decided to make this Voting Guide 2016 available before the weekend so you are able to spend time considering the choices and spend time in prayer.

Feel free to download and share this Voting Guide 2016.

(You may click the photo to open a PDF file you may save. You may also right click and choose “Save As” to save it to your hard drive.)

voting-guide-2016

Just some thoughts,

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The Gallagher Experiment

The Gallagher Experiment

This morning another aspect of the journey begins – The Gallagher Experiment.

The organized chaos which I create daily is brought to life through a few simple posts, photos and information on this page, but this experiment will take place on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/GallagherExperiment/.

There will be articles, week summaries and posts on every Monday on this site, but if you will to follow the daily happenings, photos, tips, tricks and mistakes, feel free to go to Instagram and follow it there – https://www.instagram.com/GallagherExperiment/

Background:

I am tired. Seriously. I am tired of knowing things and not putting them into daily practice. Over the past year I have read more on health, nutrition, life, business, history, productivity, creativity and of course, religion. Some of it has been good and others have been bad. Many of what I have read has become knowledge stored in the back of my brain without being used. The decision has been made to begin the process of putting this new knowledge to use in daily living.

Also, simply put, I am overweight from where I need to be. As far as I have seen in several blood tests, I am healthy and my levels are fine. The problem is, I need to lose some weight and get in better shape. (Round is not the shape I am talking about by the way.) Eating healthy has been a challenge, but it is not a challenge I cannot conquer if I put my mind to it.

Being a minister puts you in an interesting position because people want to feed you. A few years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Why are Preachers Fat?” and found that many preachers face the same dilemma. Preachers are associated with food and feeding them is something that finds its way into a minister’s life. Add the sedentary lifestyle of study and you see the waistline of many preachers expand throughout time.

Beyond being overweight, I have knowledge that sits in my minds and wastes away. Over the years, countless books have made their way in and out of my library and several have sat there never to be read. Today, this changes. The decision has been made to take this knowledge and apply it to every aspect of life.

Knowledge is only good if it is used daily. As you already know, once you stop using knowledge is begins to deteriorate and finally disappear.

Add my family medical history to the mix and you have a trifecta of background information to start.

Is This Only Health?

Absolutely not. This experiment will encounter things beyond food. There will be trips, events and chances are, more chaos than first intended. Also, guaranteed to be known is the mistakes along the way. If we fail to learn from our mistakes, then we are destined to repeat them.

I am going to try some new things throughout this experiment. Some will end up successful and others might end up in the Gallagher Comedy Hall of Fame. So, just sit back and enjoy.

Why Now?

Why not now? As previously mentioned, over the past year I have been reading more on a variety of subjects and the knowledge sits in my mind. It is time to put it to use. Something I consider as well is the countless things I have learned while listening to podcasts. I am an audio-visual leaner. I must hear and see something to be able to begin to understand it. When I read a book, I must picture it in my mind as a movie, or a cartoon. Then I combine audio-visual learning with action, then the experiment of life takes place.

What is the Purpose?

My purpose is simple, to help others create a better life. I thought about keeping this experiment until I succeed, but what fun is that? Who wants to always read about the success of someone? Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and the like) have provided many unreal expectations of success. A few months back I read the story of a mother who said she thought she was a good mom until she got Facebook. Her house was clean and in order, her children were doing well and her marriage was thriving…then she got Facebook. She said she started seeing pictures of people posting pictures of their children doing amazing things and she saw her family in a different light. She saw families traveling all over the world and everyone seemed happy, but her life was happy too, just not as “amazing” as the others. She was hurt.

Social media has an effect on others. We see all the things people do and comparisons begin to take place. I have heard statements like, “I am not like them” or “I wish I could be like them.” This is where the problems exist. Here is my solution – STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS! You were created to be a blessing with your own gifts and talents. Start doing it!

This is my purpose – to show the good, the bad, the ugly and the chaotic.

What Can You Do?

First, go follow the Instagram page and watch the chaos ensue. Further, if you have questions, ask. Most people who know me know that I am an open book; sometimes too open.

Personal Disclaimer:

You already know this, but do not try this at home. Seriously, do not. I am crazy enough to try it on my own, and with the help of my family, but I would seriously think about some of the things. Do your own research and consult a doctor. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, the internet or have I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express.

OK, I am done for now. Stay tuned for more.

Just my thoughts,

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42 Things I Learned at 42

42 Things I Learned at 42

Today I turn 42. In my feeble years on the this dirt clod we call Earth, I have made many mistakes but also done some fun things. I have been blessed with people in my life who have pushed me to keep going and have been blessed with great critics who tried to bring me down. I have had successes and failures. I have made friends and lost friends. I have been hurt and I have hurt people. I have regretted parts of life and gloried in others.

I have lived because I have been given an opportunity. I am not perfect nor will I be until I close my eyes and open them on the other side. I decided long ago to live a life of no regrets. I decided this so I can live now and no one will have to lie about my life later.

I know you did not ask for any other this, but here are 42 Things I Learned at 42

  1. When someone offers you a breath mint, take it.
  2. When you have a choice between friends and truth; choose truth. In truth, you will find your true friends.
  3. Buy for quality, not for price.
  4. Always family before work. You can find more work, but you only have one family.
  5. Your best relationships happen over time.
  6. Eat to live, not live to eat.
  7. Invest in memories more than investing in money.
  8. Spend so much time complimenting others you do not have time to criticize them.
  9. A handwritten card means more than 1,000 text messages.
  10. Stop whining about failures and write them down to learn from them.
  11. Do not simply be religious, be a Christian.
  12. Many times, the best thoughts are not the newest thoughts.
  13. Put your marriage before your children.
  14. Dr. Seuss was a pretty smart guy.
  15. Time is more valuable than money.
  16. 99% of fights are not worth it.
  17. Plan the week ahead or someone will plan it for you.
  18. It is better to be strict on your children now, than regret not being strict later.
  19. Start retirement early.
  20. Be a student of learning not a student of television.
  21. Many times, the best thing to say is nothing at all.
  22. Learn to read and read early.
  23. Write every day, no matter what the day brings or what the day brought.
  24. Turn off technology during the week.
  25. Stop whining and start doing.
  26. Your past does not determine your destiny, you do.
  27. Remove the words “I wish I would have” and “I should have” from your vocabulary.
  28. A few small great things everyday leads to a greater life tomorrow.
  29. Apologize often.
  30. Read every day.
  31. Learn to have a discussion.
  32. Strength is not found in how much weight you can lift, but how many people you lift up.
  33. Get some sleep. It is important for your health.
  34. Life is not about making other people happy, it is about helping them become better.
  35. Embarrass your kids. They will thank you later.
  36. Stop worrying about what people think and live what you know is right.
  37. Do not always tell others what they can’t do, tell them what they can do.
  38. Learn how to breathe.
  39. Some of the best things you will ever learn will not be from school.
  40. Collect memories not things.
  41. Do not be a problem finder, be a solution seeker.
  42. Love people; whether you think they are unlovable or not.

Just my thoughts,

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When the Minister Goes Forward…

When the Minister Goes Forward…

Scrolling through my Facebook feed this past week, I noticed one of my minister friends had gone forward and asked the congregation to pray for him as he struggles in life. There is no need to mention his name, nor his struggle. All that is necessary is to ask that you pray for him and his family.

As a minister, I have found myself in the same position from time to time. A few weeks ago, I stood in front of the congregation, my spiritual family, after my own lesson and asked them to pray for me. There are things that I struggle with constantly and I need the prayers of my righteous, congregational family. To stand before a congregation you have just spoken to and request their prayers is a humbling, pride swallowing and can be a terrifying experience.

For a minister, someone who is supposed to be one of the most holy people around, to acknowledge sins, faults, struggles and to request prayers can be viewed differently by many people.

Consider the “Minister Perception…”

Quick, when you heard that a minister went forward, what was your first thought? Was it, “Oh no, this must be BIG.” Maybe it was, “Well, another preacher has fallen.” Or maybe you started to pray for him even before he started talking. How did you respond to his response?

For the world, when they hear that a minister has asked for prayers, the likes of Jim Bakker come to mind from the 80’s. The drastic fall of television preachers has brought many views to minds that are not reality. Over the past year there are many megachurch preachers who have fallen because of deceit, alcohol and personal issues. Each of these men has struggled in a particular area or area in which many people constantly struggle. Just because a man is a minster does not mean his problems start; it might mean Satan tries harder to accelerate the battle against him.

The perception that a minister is perfect is a stereotype which is unreal in the spiritual world. While ministers, strive to be perfect, no one can be perfect without Christ and no one will fit the image of perfection while walking on this ball of dirt we call Earth. Life is filled with struggles, frustrations and difficulties; even for the minister.

There is a perception regarding ministers, that they are perfect and without sin. A “perfect minister” perception is completely wrong. This idea of constant perfection is overwhelming and frightening. Many times ministers will not go forward because they do not want people to think “less of them.” They believe if they ask for prayers it shows weakness and weakness for a minister means you are not doing your job. Ministers, after all, are to be the if not one of the strongest people in the congregation. They are not supposed to struggle, have personal issues or even sin. This stereotype of ministers is just…well, wrong.

When you think of a minister it brings a stereotype of not doing wrong, having done wrong or even struggle. The fact is, ministers struggle. We struggle in the same area as members. Why? Because ministers are human. Ministers are human just like the people of the Bible.

Consider the Old Testament Priests…

In the Old Testament, the Levities were to offer sacrifices for their own sins before they offered sacrifices for the people (Hebrews 7.27), this was something that Jesus did not need to do because He was sinless (Hebrews 4.15). The instructions for the sin offering also included a stipulation when the priest sinned (Leviticus 4.3ff). The Levites were people just like you and I. Even though their status was one of a priest, they were still men with desires that could lead to sin. (See Leviticus 10.1,2)

A quick read of Leviticus 4, the discussion of the sin offering under the Old Law, will lead one to read these words, “When a leader sins…” The implication is that even the leaders of the nation of Israel were men who would fall short (sin) during their life. Why do leaders sin? Simple, they are human with human desires. God’s words tell us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

Even the Old Testament priests, in their constant working to assist the people in staying true to God faltered. To think of what it must have been like to deal with millions of people and their faults, sins and personal problems, must have been overwhelming.

Consider the New Testament Preachers…

Already, you have thought of Peter. You know Peter, he is the one who’s mouth is shaped like his foot. I wonder if every time Peter stood to speak the rest of the apostles got nervous. Whether you like Peter or not, you must acknowledge his zeal for the life of following Christ. It was Peter to which Christ said, “Get behind me Satan…” (Matthew 16.23). Jesus calls Peter, “Satan” right after Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God; what many call the Good Confession. Peter sinned.

Remember when the rooster crowed? The moment the rooster crowed, the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22.61). Peter went out and wept because the words of Jesus were true…Peter did deny Christ. In fact, Peter’s denial of Christ was not just in words, but also in actions. When Peter was recognized as having been with Christ, he quickly denied the allegations by saying, “Woman I do not know Him.” (Luke 22.57). A few moments later, Peter denied Christ again by saying, “Man, I am not” after he was called out for being one of the followers of Christ (Luke 22.58).

The last denial of Christ from Peter was not just seen in his words, but his attitude. When recognized as being one of the followers of Christ and even his accent giving him away, Peter says, “I do not know the man.” (Matthew 26.74) Before saying those final words, Matthew records Peter invoked a curse upon himself and even began to swear. (Matthew 26.74)

Some believe the words “invoke a curse” can mean that Peter was calling upon God to strike Him if he was lying. Others believe the words mean,

“…but he cursed himself; “he began to imprecate himself”, as the Arabic version renders it; he made dreadful imprecations and wishes; wished that all the miseries and calamities he could think of might fall upon him, if he was one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, or knew anything of him…” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible; Dr. John Gill (1690-1771); E-Sword Electronic Edition)

“Then began he to curse and to swear (tote ērxato katathematizein kai omnuein). He repeated his denial with the addition of profanity to prove that he was telling the truth instead of the lie that they all knew. His repeated denials gave him away still more, for he could not pronounce the Judean gutterals. He called down on himself (katathematizein) imprecations in his desperate irritation and loss of self-control at his exposure.” (A. T. Robertson; Word Pictures in the New Testament; E-Sword Electronic Edition)

“To curse (καταθεματίζειν) A new development of profanity. Hitherto he had merely sworn. Now he adds imprecation; invoking curses on himself if the case be not as he says.” (Vincent Word Studies; Marvin R. Vincent., D. D.; E-Sword Electronic Edition)

Peter, when pressed on the issue of knowing Christ, during a turbulent cultural time and being directly question, faltered. He messed up. He lied. He spoke against Christ. He failed. He sinned. It would later be the same man who stands on the Day of Pentecost and proclaims before the audience a risen Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Peter sinned as Christ was being tried, but he overcame the sin to proclaim Christ as risen Lord.

Later in Peter’s life he faltered again. This time he faltered on a cultural elevation of status among the brothers in Galatia. Peter chose to avoid certain men because of fear. Peter was scared. Even Paul acknowledges Peter’s fear when he says,

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” (Galatians 2:11-13 ESV)

Peter had a human desire to be liked and as a result, he had an influence on the people around him, including Barnabas. Earlier in the text, Paul mentions Peter’s name as a person who seemed to be a pillar (Galatians 2.9). Peter was a strong-willed person, but his human side was much like ours. Peter had his issues which hindered him spiritually just as ministers, and others, do today.

Even the strong men throughout the Bible messed up. They faltered. They fell short. They sinned.

Why?

Because they are human. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2.16) are from the world and they are current struggles with many today; whether ministers or members. Paul struggled throughout his life as he says in 1 Corinthians 9.27,

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Paul knew the struggles and knew what it was like to be in the world, persecuting Christians and then to stand before them and proclaim the risen Lord. Paul knew his weaknesses and his strengths, but Paul still struggled. He even struggled with the continual thought of being the chief of sinners. (1 Timothy 1.15)

How Does a Congregation Respond When the Minister Goes Forward?

If your minister comes forward, he does so because he trusts you. Over my short time in ministry, I have seen a handful of ministers go forward and ask for the prayers of the congregation. The perceptions to be a perfect minister are a great, but they need to know what no matter the issue, you have their back.

First, remember your minister is not Jesus. He is not perfect; he is a man trying to live the same life as you live and make it to heaven. The same struggles you have are the same struggles he has weekly, monthly and yearly. He is trying. He is not lording his perfection over you, but he is trying to help you. As he helps you, he will need help himself. Why? Because he is human.

Second, remember he is part of your family; he is not an employee. Just because he is supported as a minister does not mean he is to be treated like an employee; he is a brother in Christ and should be treated as such. God wants those who are spiritual to bear the burdens of those who are week (Romans 15.1,2) and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6.1,2). God wants use to depend on one another as the body depends on itself (1 Corinthians 12.12-34)

Third, pray for him. Our society is one where words can be mentioned but no actions are done. It is easy to say the words, “We will pray for you” but it is another thing to do it. Spend time praying for him. As with anyone responding, pray for them immediately, then pray for them continually.

Fourth, realize he is forgiven. If he has brought his struggles, faults and sins before you, God has already forgiven him. He needs you to forgive him as well. He needs your forgiveness as a “regular member” needs your forgiveness. The forgiveness shown to a minister is sometimes different and it need not be. He is a leader, he is a servant and he has been forgiven, just as you have. If we bring our sins to God, He forgives us (1 John 1.9).

Fifth, support him. He has brought a need before his spiritual family, because they are his spiritual family. He could have easily moved on to a different location, but he needs you to support him. He needs your love, your care and your concern for his life and his work.

Sixth, keep checking up on him. As ministers know, there are things we know and burdens we help bear that we will take to our grave and no one will ever know. There are things shared in confidence and people helped that many people never realize. Ministers need your continual prayers.

A Side Note for Ministers…

It is ok to respond and many times we need to ask for prayers. As we have shed tears over others responses, we need to shed tears for our own. We need to humble ourselves. Leadership is not about being perfect; it is about being real.

Stop holding yourself to the perfect model of a preacher and beating yourself up when you fail. Ministers are their own worst critics and they need to realize the same forgiving, loving and merciful God they proclaim to others is the same God who has given His Son to save their lives as well. The same forgiveness God offers to members is the same forgiveness God offers to ministers.

Final Thoughts…

The scene played out like a Hollywood movie, but this was real. A woman stood with no friends but enemies. Those around her waited for the signal to bring down her punishment with crushing blows. The leaders were proclaiming her guilt by proclaiming only half of the truth. They had examined and judged her sin without considering the harshness of their own. Her name is one no one will ever know, but her account is one we all remember.

Jesus bent over and wrote on the ground. Head down, finger in the dirt and almost acting as if they were not there. Slowly he rises to his feet and speaks.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

After speaking, Jesus bends down and writes on the ground again. What he writes, like the woman’s name, will never be known.

As the hate filled, punishing ready accusers heard the words, they walked away. From the oldest to the youngest, they turned from Jesus, and the woman, and they walked away. They were not ready to help; they were there to hurt. Their own anger had callused their hearts to the truth, the whole truth.

The law called for both parties to be brought (Deuteronomy 22.22) but they only brought one. They wanted to hate someone, but Jesus wanted them to realize their imperfection of judgement. The scribes and Pharisees were after personal glory, not the glory of God.

When someone brings to use their sins, are you ready to punish or are you ready to serve?

Let us, as a saved people, seek to save others through the message of a loving, merciful God who first loved us.

Just some thoughts,

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