Daily Bible Reading at the Speed of Life: Announcing 14 Minutes a Day

14 Minutes a Day - Bible reading at the pace of lifeI’m thrilled to announce the launch of 14MinutesaDay.com!

Ever since becoming a Christian at the age of 14, I’ve been committed to reading the Bible. My family would read it every morning at 5 a.m., often snoozing over genealogies! When I went to college to be a pastor, I studied Greek and Hebrew to help my Bible reading. I even lived in Israel so I could better understand the Bible.

Reading the Bible–not just ABOUT the Bible

I was fine with my level of Bible reading until one Saturday when a group of guys teaching at The Stony Brook School invited me to breakfast. As we waited for food, the guys went around the table saying a number. “3.” “6.” “1.” “4.”

One of the guys explained that it was the number of days in the past week each of us had read the Bible, not just read about the Bible.

That’s when it hit me — somewhere along the way, I gave up reading the Bible in favor of reading about the Bible.

It was the same for each of us. We read devotionals, Bible studies, posts, and articles about the Bible. But we’d moved away from actually reading the Bible itself.

My conscience was pricked. But honestly, I still found it hard to hit a regular rhythm of devotionally reading the Bible. Reading the Bible as a way of listening to God. When I pastored a church, I read the Bible mostly in order to teach it. But reading the Bible for sermon preparation was different than reading it to personally grow in my relationship with Jesus.

The 7×7 Experiment

Then in 2012, my friend Jon Swanson announced a Lenten discipline called “7×7: Listening to God for Lent.”

He started an experiment of sending emails to help people spend 7 minutes every day listening to God. Each email contained a link to a passage of Scripture that would take 5 minutes of Bible to read, leaving a couple minutes for prayer.

Boom! This totally worked for me! All of a sudden, I was reading the Bible and listening to God on a daily basis. At some point, he started adding longer 14 minute passages. That was even more my style. I like reading longer passages of Scripture to get the context and see themes.

Soon I was helping him with the 14 minute passages. We didn’t go through the Bible in order of the books or in order of chronology. We chose to keep a mix of Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) and Christian Scripture (New Testament). Sometimes we’d do individual books. Sometimes we’d group books together like Deuteronomy, Malachi, Luke, Hebrews, and Romans because as Jon put it, it’s “the clearest statement of the law, the despair of ever filling it, Christ living and fulfilling the law, the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.”

14 Minutes a Day

After we’d worked through the entire Bible, we stopped the emails. And before long, I fell out of the habit of daily Bible reading. So I’ve created 14MinutesaDay.com for my own personal devotional use. But I decided to open it up for others too. I call it: “Bible reading at the speed of life.”

If a free, no-frills, daily email with just a link to a passage of Scripture that will take roughly 14 minutes to read sounds like something you’d want, sign up at: 14MinutesaDay.com

The balance has shifted

BalanceChessboard-ScotlandCommonsFlickr240wI was approached by a major publisher last week to write a book. Flattered, I asked what they had in mind. I figured they had a series of books that had a hole my expertise could fill.

Their reply? A generic book proposal form. “Here, think of something that you’re getting asked alot. Or something you want to write about. Then fill this out and we’ll see if we’ll work with you.”

Thanks but no thanks.

The shift is about access

I’ve written seven books now, two with publishers and 5 self published. It used to be that publishers had the access to readers. It was like that in every area of media:

  • If an author wanted to reach readers, they’d go through a publisher.
  • If a DJ wanted to reach listeners, they’d go through a radio station.
  • If a TV personality wanted to reach viewers, they’d go through a network.

Now that has totally changed. Authors can reach readers for free through blogs. DJs through podcasts. TV personalities through YouTube. Not only reach them, but grow a base of fans.

This shift has been going on for a while now. Since before I started blogging in the late 1990s. But it’s even more prevalent now.

Still a role for the “legacy” systems

There’s plenty of room for all of us in this game. One very important role for publishers, radio stations, and TV stations is filtering. Some call it “curating.”

Just because anyone can create content doesn’t mean all the content is great. Publishers and others can respond to the shift by focusing on credibility and trustworthiness.

To the content creator, they can emphasize the credibility they provide. Sometimes that is internal. It’s great to know I’ve been published by a publishing house. That makes me feel more “legit.” And there is still the external credibility, that to readers, of having a publisher’s name on your book. That is the trustworthiness. Legacy systems could say, “You don’t need to sift through the chaos of information out there. We’re saving you time by doing that for you and bringing you only the best.”

But I’m not seeing that shift yet. Instead, I’m seeing legacy systems trying hard to make what worked last century work today. And being surprised to find that it no longer works.

It used to be that they held the upper hand. It seems to me that we’re now closer to being peers. But I wonder how the legacy systems will adjust to realize they now need to market to both the content consumers and the content creators.

Much is about marketing

I wonder if that is the key. If much of the shift in balance has to do with marketing rather with access. Access alone isn’t enough. We all have access to each other. But only those who market well get heard.

If the legacy systems like publishers were good at marketing, then going through them would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, they’re not. A couple years ago, I was excited to write a book with a publisher because I wanted to learn how to launch the book. I knew there had to be a system for marketing books and I wanted to find it.

I did work with three rounds of editors. That was an important process for me to experience as an author. But the “launch” never happened. Rather than having a marketing system, they seemed to be making it up as they went along. All that access I thought they had? They appeared to think I’d had it all along and were looking for me to give them access to my audience. Worse, I don’t own the content I created with them and they won’t even send me copies of my book despite repeated promises. (Copies I’d be charged for.)

Still room for a mix

I still believe there room for a mix of legacy systems and whatever we call the new reality. Micro-publishers? Content creators? Free range publishers?

But it needs to start with us playing the game more as equals. What about you? Have you found legacy systems that realize the shift of balance has changed?

Would you help me build a 2014 “over the top” love playlist?

Frederick Beuchner on God's astounding loveThis quote from Frederick Buechner was on one of my Facebook friends streams around Christmas. (Sorry I don’t remember who’s!)

The full quote is:

“Once we have seen Him in a stable, we can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths He will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of men.” – Frederick Buechner

I love the phrase “ludicrous depths of self-humiliation.” I too often forget this about God. This Hosea-like seeking and giving second chances over and over again. This love that makes you look totally foolish.

That’s our God. And I want to remember that in 2014.

Crazy love playlist

Honestly, it’s an aspect of God that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’m reminded of the line in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, about Aslan being good but not being tame. But I think David tapped into it when he danced his clothes off.

How would I live my life if I was firmly convinced that God is crazy in love with me? That he delights in my quirks and individuality? That, like Zepheniah says, He will rejoice over me with singing?

To help me remember this in 2014, I’d love to build a Spotify playlist. Would you help me? I’m looking for songs that celebrate this aspect of God’s love for us.

I immediately think of songs like John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” with lines like “He is jealous for me” and “Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss.” Especially: “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” Kim Walker and David Crowder have also done versions of this.

I also think of songs like Alanis Morissette’s “Everything.” I can’t help but think of God when she sings about how human she is and then sings, “…you’re still here.”

What other songs should be on the playlist?

If you were building a playlist about over-the-top love, what other songs would you add? Worship music, pop music, I’m not really particular where the songs come from.

Leave them as a comment here, tell me on Twitter @marcapitman, or send me an email marc@fundraisingcoach.com. I’d love to know the song, the artist you prefer, and the reason you think it fits.

After it hits 5 or 6 songs, I’ll share my list on Spotify. I plan on continuing to add to it throughout the year.

(If you’re on Spotify, check out my “Kingdom in Unexpected Places” playlist. It’s a list of songs that remind me, unexpectedly, of God.)

Setting Goals for 2013

image of the cover of The MagnetGoals Goal Setting Program WorkbookI love this time of the year. These next two weeks are a time of family, fun, introspection, celebration, work, and goal setting.

I’m one of those people that have been setting goals since I was a teenager. Probably even before that.

Now that I’m 40 (41 on January 6th!), I’m thrilled that goal setting has become a habit. I’ve gotten to do some pretty amazing things so far. I firmly believe setting goals helps me seize the opportunities that Life (I’d say God!) puts my way.

Reviewing 2012’s Goals

Each year, I write out at least 100 things I want to accomplish or do in the coming year. You read that correctly: one hundred.

I find the first 10 or so are relatively easy. But to get to 100, I really need to dig deep. And to dream.

This morning I reviewed the 100 I wrote for 2012. I accomplished about 50% so far. (There are still 8 days left in the year!) I still get thrilled to see those 50%. Some of them seemed so pie-in-the-sky twelve months ago!

Some of the things that haven’t yet happened will probably make it to my 2013 list. (I still write “Be favorably interviewed on Oprah” even though she’s no longer on regular network TV.) But others were worth the process of working on. I’d hoped to speak profitably in Poland in 2012. Those plans fell through. But the relationships I created or strengthened as a result of the trip planning are priceless.

Will you join me in 2013?

Will you join me on this journey? I call my process the “MagnetGoals Goal Setting System.” It’s my take on a couple of decades of studying goal setting. (Yes, I even studied goal setting as part of an official leadership program in college.)

You can get all the steps of the process as a free e-course (classes delivered by email) by going to http://fundraisingcoach.com/magnet-goals/. Or you can buy the PDF, complete with printable worksheets.

MagnetGoals isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a way to accomplish more in 2013, it just might be for you!

Self Sabotage

The Path
Got a call earlier today from a joint venture partner. My first thought was:

“He’s calling it off. The project is over.”

Why do I do this? I’m pretty much an over-the-top optimist. The glass is always full: sometimes full of liquid, sometimes full of air. It’s always full.

There really is always a silver lining. There is always a seed of equal or greater benefit in even in the worst experiences.

So why do I do automatically jump to the negative?

Deeply rooted pattern

This pattern of thinking has gotten me in trouble before. I’ve had it with just about every boss over the last couple decades. When they asked to see me, I just knew they were going to fire me.

Totally irrational. They may have been wanting to say something good for all I know!

The problem is, I come to the meeting radiating defensiveness rather than collaboration. Not the best mindset to approach any meeting (other than one that you really do need to be defensive in!).

Paths

I’ve heard that with the brain, a thought pattern is like a path. The more it’s traveled, the more worn the path gets. Eventually, the path is a paved city street.

It takes a lot less energy to travel a paved street than a dirt path. So in a way, the brain is gravitating toward the path of least resistance.

Bushwhacking

I guess the only way to solve this is to force myself to think good thoughts when I see the doom-and-gloom start to raise its ugly head.

When I start thinking dark thoughts, I will have to take out my mental machete and force myself to think of a great thing that could happen.

If I get another call that leads me down the thought path I mentioned above, I could add:

…perhaps…He could be calling to call this off. OR, he could be calling to celebrate a breakthrough.

What do you do to retrain your brain?

Honored to be one of Maine’s 40 under 40

Last month, I was honored to be chosen as one of Maine’s “Forty under 40.” They went across the state looking for leaders under the age of 40 who were having an impact in Maine and in the world.

Glad I made it! Especially since I turn 40 in January! 🙂

Since it looks like this only went into the Portland Press Herald, here’s the text of the profile:

Love of family, trust in God, positive thinker and an unparalleled focus on getting things done and helping others achieve their goals.

These are just some of the traits that define Marc Pitman, 39, of Waterville, whose skills at writing and speaking have served him well in his travels around the world teaching fundraising and social media marketing.

The married father of three and founder of FundraisingCoach.com has indeed accomplished much and earned the recognition of many, including his latest selection as one of Forty Under 40 in Maine who are making significant contributions in their career and community.

“In such a challenging economic time, many nonprofits have lost a significant portion of their funding. Marc’s work is helping many of these organizations continue to achieve their goals by giving them the tools, skills and ‘permission’ to ask for funding help,” says Lynnelle Wilson, founder and president of Bold Vision Consulting, in nominating Marc, who points to his family – “an amazing wife of 16 years and three wonderful children” – as his proudest accomplishment.

Marc’s drive to get things done also might explain how he’s been able to accomplish more in four decades than many have achieved in a lifetime, such as “international speaking, pastoring a church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, writing books, teaching at the college level and raising millions of dollars for charity,” he said.

“The mission of his business is helping nonprofit and philanthropic organizations become self-sustaining,” says Wilson. “Outside of his business, he is very active in his local and statewide community. He’s actively involved in making Maine a better place by getting involved managing political campaigns (Peter Mills) and serving on area boards like the Mid-Maine United Way and actively serving the local public libraries. In fact, his third book Ask Without Fear! for Librarians is inspired by his work with Maine librarians.”

Here are just a few other notable achievements, according to Wilson:

  • His book, “Ask Without Fear!” has sold more than 4,000 copies
  • His blog is listed as one of the top 10 nonprofit blogs in the world
  • Having the Association of Fundraising Professionals list his “The Rule of 3’s” (on nonprofit marketing) as one of the top 10 downloads of 2010 and another articles is in the top 10 downloads of 2011
  • Speaking around the world, including Bermuda, and a three-week book tour in New Zealand while also speaking across the U.S. and Canada as well as in Maine, especially to Rotary Clubs across the state
  • One of the co-founders of www.501MissionPlace.com, an international community for leaders of social change.
  • Being featured in FundraisingSuccess magazine, in the UK’s Fundraiser magazine and on About.com
  • The global fundraising coach for this year’s international Twestival fundraising event
  • Getting listed on IMDB for his “Ask Without Fear!” DVD training

Marc has had a number of mentors in his life, people who have had a lasting impact such as his parents, his first boss in fundraising, Bob Grinnell, and David Dunlop, “one of the most famous people in the field of philanthropy you’ve never heard of,” and his wife – “She has an amazing ability to inspire me, whether that inspiration is a word of encouragement or a kick in the pants.”

Marc draws inspiration from not only his family, but also from his religious convictions and beliefs. “Jesus. As cheesy as it sounds, I owe everything I’ve accomplished to Him. I’ve dedicated my life to discovering how He’s created me and being the best I can in honoring His trust. I could go on and on, but I’ll just say He has had the most impact.”

Still, even with all that he’s involved in, Marc finds time to enjoy the good life at his favorite place in Maine – Waterville, his home, where he often can be found enjoying a book and a satisfying cup of coffee, brewing his own beer, or singing out loud in the car.

“If you see me in a car, I’m probably singing ’80s tunes loud enough to embarrass my family.”

Looking to the future, in 10 years Marc would like to be known as “the Tony Robbins or Tom Peters of fundraising training.”

“There are so many amazing causes that are struggling simply because well-meaning volunteers don’t know how to fundraise effectively. As a certified Franklin Covey Coach, I love helping people discover their potential and design their lives around it. Having a larger platform will allow me to help more people fully fund their cause.”

52 hours without Google+

picture of leaves from Peaks-Kenny State Park

I just finished being off the grid for 52 hours. Yep, no Google+. Or Facebook, or Twitter, either.

And I survived.

In fact, I highly recommend trying it.

Honestly, I freaked a little before hand. Having an internet connection seemed incredibly important. As I drove away from our house, I heard myself thinking thoughts like, “What will happen to Fundraising Coach? What if people want to hire me? What if I don’t answer an email or tweet all Friday?”

That’s when I knew I needed the break.

We all have triggers. One of my “I need to get out of this place” triggers is when I think my job will completely end without my hourly nurture. When I think that the world really does revolve around me, I know something is incredibly warped. So it’s great that I got to get away!

Looking back on the weekend, the lack of internet connection was sort of releasing. But what was really distracting, a complete surprise to myself, was not having brought a book along! *sigh* I got over that too. (And picked up the second Bourne book at a local bookstore on Saturday afternoon!)

I’ve now checked into Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. I am grateful for the connections. But I also love hanging out with my family by a fire and getting to look up at leaves like these.

I encourage you to try unplugging between now and the end of August. If you’re of the camping persuasion, I highly recommend a few nights at Peaks-Kenny State Park here in Maine. But if you do, go for 3 nights. Two wasn’t long enough. 🙂