How Anyone Can Read Two Books in One Week Without Adjusting Their Schedule

There are lots of good books out there and it can be difficult to find time to read. It can be especially challenging if you are a student and your plate is already loaded with assigned reading. Great books get published every month and it is easy to fall behind.

2 books a week

I found a great way to increase my reading volume to about two books a week without making any major adjustments to my schedule. I opted to use the time I was already doing something else to read. At first I took a book to the gym, but it was incredibly difficult to read while I was bouncing up and down on the treadmill.

Finally I found that the kindle app on my i-phone could read out loud to me while I read along with the screen. This worked great and It wasn’t as distracting as trying to read a regular paper book. With the Kindle app you are also able to highlight text, post to FB, send tweets, etc. I usually knock out an extra book per week via the kindle app on my iphone, the great thing is that it syncs across all my devices and even into the cloud so I can go back and see what I’ve highlighted.

I’ve used this method to read source books for a few of the papers I wrote for my masters degree. The best thing is that the kindle app is FREE on most smartphones, tablets, etc. and books are generally cheaper than buying in print.

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

I also found audible, a book service that has audio books for reasonable prices for audio books. I like audible because someone is reading to you and the flow of the text sounds more natural. Of course the trade off is that you are listening to a book rather than reading it, but it’s still a great way to get a book in.

I grew up listening to books on tape when our family would take long drives in the car and so it wasn’t a big adjustment to sync with my phone and listen to a book while driving to and from work. Audible is a great resource for reading fiction or books that you don’t need for academic purposes. Audible always seems to be running deals for new members so if you’ve never subscribed to the service before you can usually get one or two free books out of the deal.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Of course there are other ways that I have streamlined my schedule to include more time to read. You can catch some of those ideas and tips over at my blog article entitled: If you Want to Be a Leader You Need to Be a Reader

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”

Review: “Using Old Testament Hebrew in Preaching”

Ok to be perfectly clear on this and up front.  I do not enjoy Hebrew, but I enjoyed reading this book.  Using Old Tesament Hebrew in Preaching did challenge me to be dilligent in continuing my Hebrew studies as well as give me hope that I might use my Hebrew skills for years to come.  It is a very down to earth, practical and motivating book.  I applaud author Paul D. Wegner for bringing  such a relavent and timely book to my aid when I was doubting the relavance of Hebrew in my future ministry.

The book is made up of five brief chapters that are full of encouragement and motivation for Hebrew students to press on in learning the language.  All along the way Wegner is sure to provide tools, references, and recomendations to support and encourage the student in his or her pursuits.  Above all else, he challenges the reader to press forward in studying and using a language that can be very confusing and tricky (at least to this student).  He does a great job of taking a very large challenge and stripping it to bite sized chunks.

The retail price is $17.99 (Paperback). It is also available at places like Amazon.com for $7.70 (Which is a great deal). I give it 4 stars.

Every Student, Every Neighbor

It was 4 AM and I couldn’t sleep.  So I just laid there in bed with thoughts racing through my head about prayer, how to pray, why we pray, why we don’t pray enough and who would be at their flag pole in the morning.  I was worried because I am not normally compulsive about simple events like asking students to show up and pray at their flag pole.  So I eased my mind and began to call out to Jesus for clarity and  for focus.  In my heart he began a burden that was more fully realized later at the flagpole that day.

Flag's at Ransom Middle School (iphone)

I stood around with a crowd of about sixty teenagers at a flag pole as they prayed.  I watched from my huddle of adults as hundreds of other kids piled around the court yard wondering what was going on at their flag pole.  My heart broke for the students.  Sixty at the pole and about three hundred on the outside watching, more arriving each minute.  As I stood there I could see it like a sign over thier heads.  People lost like sheep without a shepherd.  Words about addictions, struggles, and issues that lead to death filled my mind. Words like anorexia, school violence, drugs, depression, peer pressure, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, bulemia, abortion, suicide, rape, racism, bullying… lies that people believe.  My heart was broken knowing that many have never even heard the name of Jesus other than a cuss word.

Then I called out to God from the noise in my head and pleaded for him to empower these sixty, these few to reach their school for Jesus.  Though much of the freedoms once afforded teachers and other adults on the campus were coming under attack in our area, one thing was clear… students still have the freedom to share the gospel and tell their friends about Jesus.

Yet peer pressure stands in the way.  That is what kept sixty around the pole instead of in the crowds.  Its also what kept students from finding their way to school on time and praying at the pole.  The older I get, the easier it is to see.  Like going on a mission trip and seeing the need in another culture, I look at students, now that I am a generation removed, and see more clearly than ever their need for the gospel.  Indeed, I am a missionary to another culture.

Then it struck home.  What about the place where I live?  What about my culture?  What about my neighborhood just a few blocks away?  Do I see the need there?  There is a need.  Though my neighbors have houses like mine, cars like mine, kids like mine, and experience the same weather I do, many do not know, or have not heard about Jesus.

So I transitioned out of thought and into thoughtful action.  Rebekah (my 3 year old) and I are out walking the streets in the evenings meeting neighbors and developing relationships for a bridge to the gospel.  My aim is to meet and find opportunities to share the gospel with all of my neighbors.

I am still burdened for our schools and the student culture (and their parents) that I have been called to pastor and be a missionary to.  My prayer is that as we pray and ask God to send laborers that students and families would catch a vision for God and He would use them to share the gospel with every student, teacher, and faculty member by the end of the school year.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”(Romans 10:13-16 ESV)

What about you?  What is your strategy to reach your neighborhood, school, or workplace?  Are you partnering with others to see Jesus proclaimed where you are?

Why Asking Her Dad Was Easy

Avia and I decided that we were ready to be married.  Now all I had to do was ask her dad.  I know for most guys this kind of thing seems scary.  I generally don’t think it is easy to ask another man if you can marry his daughter.  I can think of a lot more comfortable situations.

Engagement Pictures

What paved the way to make this an easier situation for both her father and I was that we knew each other (though I can’t ever imagine being completely prepared for another man asking to marry my daughter). I had been hanging out at his house three or four times a week for years.  I had been getting to know Avia in the context of her home.  Not to mention that before we started dating, I asked her parents, particularly her dad, if we could date with the view toward marriage.

So when it came time to ask, though I was nervous, it wasn’t hard or difficult to muster up the courage to go see her father.  It was natural and easy.  I really respected Avia’s dad and I knew I was asking to take responsibility for his daughter.  Such things demand man to man conversation.

The details of the discussion we had are private, however, it is sufficient to say that two men met that day and discussed life.  The advice I received and continue to solicit from time to time was excellent advice not only on marriage, but on what marriage would be like with Avia.  I’ve come to the conclusion that no man, before her husband, knows a woman like her father.

With the blessing of her father, mother, and even her brother (after all I had inadvertently used him to get to know Avia better), I set out to propose.  I had the ring in hand, a bible passage to examine, and an anxious girl friend who couldn’t help but wonder when and how I would ask (it was hard for her to ignore that I had gone out of my way to talk with her father, mother, and brother individually).

Finally the time came to go to a Thursday night college Bible study that I was co-leading.  I drove by Avia’s house and picked her up.   On the way, I remembered that I had left a book in the sanctuary of the church and needed to go by and pick it up.  As we came into the sanctuary I had already arranged for all the lights to be off, except for one spotlight shining down on the altar.  The altar was empty except for a large bible open to Ephesians 5 and in between the pages there was an engagement ring.  I got down on one knee and said, “I’ve been reading this passage.  I am scared and I am humbled by it because I don’t think I am everything I need to be.  But it does describe the type of man that I want to be and will work the rest of my life to become if you answer yes to my question in just a moment.  Today I have a ring for you and I want to put it on your finger.  It is a promise, a promise that in a year from now we will stand together in this same place before God, before our parents, before a room full of witnesses and declare our love for each other and accept each other in marriage.  Avia, will you marry me?”

She said “yes” and something to the effect of “you talk too much.”  We embraced and read Ephesians 5:22-33 talked about how we would try and fulfill that passage and prayed together.  Then we went to a Bible study and she showed off her ring.  Eight months later we were married.

Grandpa’s Secret Strategy for Successful Dating: And Why it Worked

I have this Bible at home.  It is worn out and falling apart from years of use.  It belonged to my grandfather.  The notes and circled verses in the Bible tell of his conversion to Christianity, his love for his wife, and a few other details.  He was one of the greatest men I have ever known.  Though he wasn’t perfect, he was consistent as a role-model.  I used to love to sit with him for hours and hear stories about him and grandma.  I figured if anyone knew how to live out what it means to be a Christian in the context of a marriage, it was him.  So one day, a year or two before he passed away I had the opportunity to ask him to reflect on what it takes to build a strong marriage.  I learned a lot that day, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was that he was genuinely friends with my grandmother.

Grandpa's Bible

He shared about how in each venture they undertook, from the farm, to owning a grocery store, to working together in a retirement home, that he loved having a work situation where she was never far and could be by his side.  They were truly great friends and worked well together. If I was going to use my grandparent’s blueprint for a successful marriage, one thing was clear, Avia and I would need to work well together.

This is really an important issue when it comes to picking and evaluating a future spouse.  Men and women were meant to compliment one another.  That is the gist of Genesis 2:18. God did not intend for Adam to tend the garden alone and made Eve to be his helper.  Men and women were made to work together.  So the question was, would Avia and I work well together?

To evaluate this and make sure we were building a relationship on trust rather than emotion we took several practical steps.  We didn’t kiss for the first several months that we dated.  We searched for common interests.  We babysat kids together.  We cooked meals together.  We played indoor games like Scrabble.  We played tennis together (and learned its better if we don’t play on the same team).  We worked on crafts together (like sewing identical teddy bears and painting small ceramic houses).  The point was to work on common projects and see how we related.  Most of this we did in her parents kitchen or living room where they could see us interact.

During this time we also sought out the advice of couples of all ages.  We sat down with newly wed couples and asked what they wished they had done to prepare for marriage.  We interviewed older couples with grandchildren and asked them the secret to their success.  We watched them interact.

Through this process we learned a lot.  We learned to communicate.  We learned it was okay to disagree.  We learned what we liked and didn’t like.   We learned how to express our feelings.  We learned our weaknesses.  We learned our strengths.  We learned that we were growing more in love with each other.

Then one night as we were reading the Bible we came to Ephesians 5.  I told her we should study that passage and really start preparing for marriage.  She told me that she didn’t have a ring on her finger and I hadn’t talked to her dad.  She was wise to put a hold on the emotional commitment that such an action would bring until their was a serious commitment toward marriage.  It brought us to a serious point of reflection to see if we were ready to start making preparations for marriage.

It helps to be Mr. Right when looking for Mrs. Right: otherwise it’s all wrong

So often when it comes to dating and looking for a future spouse,  the focus is on finding the “one person who was made for me.”  I’ve even heard speakers talk about developing a list of qualities you are looking for in a future spouse and stick to the list. That is really not that bad of an idea (depending on how picky your list is).  I actually had a list but the thought occurred to me, “what if I found someone who fit my list, but I didn’t fit theirs?”

At the time  I was being challenged to discover Biblical manhood and womanhood.  It also helped that near the same time I overheard a girl at one of the local colleges talk about her list.  After hearing her list and evaluating her lifestyle I  thought, “there is no way that someone who matched that list would marry her.”  She was just dreaming because her lifestyle wouldn’t attract the guy on her list.  She would either have to change or change her list.

Such thoughts had caused me to come to some serious introspection and I decided to take some time away from the dating scene (because of my failure to come more introspection before dating, I had proven myself a dismal failure as a boyfriend in a relationship throughout college).  I didn’t want to come to the table looking for Mrs. Right and not be Mr. Right.  It was evident there were things that had to change in me.  I was looking for needs to be met by a girlfriend or future spouse that were meant to only be met in God.

I was  unable to obtain Mrs. Right’s list (I didn’t know God would be so kind as to let me marry Avia) and I thought it was a little arbitrary to blindly make a list of qualities in myself that I needed to submit before God.  So I simply asked God for guidance.  In his kindness I was able to rediscover the books of I Timothy and Titus.  I began to use these books as guides to understanding how to become a godly young man. I also began searching out role models in my life.  Men of character and wisdom who would be wise guides and would give me honest feedback about things I needed to submit before God.

In the midst of this I discovered that one of the qualities of leadership is to be a one woman man (I Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:6).  God broke my heart of the disillusionment that I had been keeping this standard because I wasn’t married.  Though I wasn’t even dating at the time, I was putting on pretense in the form of flirtation that lead several young women to think I was interested in them.  Though I was single and not in any type of defined relationship, my failure to clearly define my friendships and my willingness to lead others on was evidence that I was not a one woman man (part of me loved the attention).  The details about what God worked in me and how it came about probably deserve its own post at a later time.  I only bring it up only now because I see many young single men (and women for that matter) who like I did are casting nets of wide spread flirtation in search of someone rather than baiting the hook with godliness.

    Choosing to Date Differently

    I remember the day that I called my mom and said, “Had I known it would be like this, I would have never dated.  I would have skipped every prom, homecoming, and barn warming dance (a Missouri thing).  I am hopelessly in love with the woman I want to marry and I just now realized that I have wasted my life  trying to be some other girls’ hero… I am ready to be a husband.” That statement represented a huge paradigm shift that took place in my life from being a serial dater to dating with the intent for marriage.

    Over the years God has blessed my wife Avia and I with the opportunity to share with many single people about how we dated (some would call this courtship).  Sadly the story I will share over the next few blog post will sound completely contrary to the dating culture.  I remember my own years of looking for “love” and going about it in all the wrong ways.  I have sat across the table from enough lonely and desperate people to know that things haven’t changed much.

    If you are single and looking for the right way to date hopefully these blog posts will be an encouragement to you about how God can guide you through this time of your life.  My aim is 3 fold.  1. I will be sharing in a story format how Avia and I came to be married.  2. I will be sharing practical principles and steps we took. 3. I will be sharing the scripture that lead us to those principles and steps.

    Stay tuned…. Here are some of the titles of upcoming blog posts