What does your schedule tell about you?

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One of the things that I’m very consistent at is getting a yearly check up with my doctor.  Before that visit, I’ll go to a nearby lab and have some blood work done.  Those results then, get sent to my doctor before our visit.

So, when I meet with my doctor, he’ll walk in the room.  We’ll enjoy some small talk.  Then, he’ll take a few minutes to look at my charts and my health records in the computer and we’ll proceed with the check up.

By looking at all my data and asking me how I’m doing, he is able to help me give me a better understanding of my health condition (the state of my health, if you will).

In a similar way to what I’ve just described, I’d like to challenge you to do a kind of “life management”check up,  but before you can accurately diagnose your data, you need to have data to look at.

My challenge for you today is to begin collecting data on yourself.  As a first step, try to intentionally document for a week, maybe even just for a few days, how you spend your time.  Maybe you could mark down in 15 minute intervals what you do with your time, so that when you are done, your summary looks something like this:

– sleep 7 hours

-driving to work 1 hour

-work 8 hours

-meals 1 hour

-reading from the Bible and praying. – 20 minutes

-walk with my wife – 30 minutes

-getting ready for work -20 minutes

-etc.

I think if you would be willing to do this exercise it might be revealing to you to actually see in black and white where you spend your limited, and precious time.

As you do this evaluation,  a few thoughts come to my mind:

  • do you see any trends occurring?
  • in looking at the data, do you see anything that surprises you (such as something you are doing that takes more time than you thought)
  • with the activities that you were doing, were they related to personal goals?
  • from the times you have logged, not including sleep and work times, which seem pretty much accounted for, what would someone else commenting on what they see think your priorities are?
  • did you see anything in the data that made you realize some adjustments needed to occur (if you do this project for a few days, the data might occur some things that are missing, or needing attention (like lack of exercise in your daily routine, lack of quality and quantity time spent with a loved one, lack of time spent with God, too much watching tv, etc.

Anyway, whether or not you go to the doctor every year for an annual check up is up to you.  It is unfortunate when I hear that if someone would have gone to the doctor earlier, a major health issue could have been dealt with avoiding serious consequences now.

In a similar way, if you don’t do this “life management” time survey, or something like it, you won’t know what you don’t see. No one really misses out, but you.

 

It’s up to you. What have you to lose by trying this project? What have you to gain?

to MOTHERS OF PRESCHOOLERS –advice from Charles Swindoll

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One of my favorite pastors and authors is Charles Swindoll. He is a very gifted individual, being able to communicate spiritual insights in very understandable ways.  Recently, I have been reading his book on Moses.  Its been a treat.

As he was writing about Moses’ mother, he brought home an application for all of us today.  I thought it was well worth passing on:

 

“Considering the example of Jochabed (the mother of Moses recorded in Exodus chapter two), before us, I feel constrained  to say that, if you are a mother of preschoolers, you ought to think  and pray long and hard  before you turn your children over to someone  else to rear…..  I’m not writing to single moms,  ..nor am I addressing every  working mother. I’m not really addressing working mothers with older children in school. I am writing especially  to mothers with preschool children.  I am calling you to think very carefully  about those crucial, irretrievable years  of your child’s life and development. If you must work, if no other option exists, then I strongly urge you to  work the bare minimum  and make sure your child enjoys the best possible care. Having said that, I still maintain  it is better  to sacrifice almost  any material  goal, short of  food on the table  and a roof overhead-than to sacrifice  those precious years of opportunity  with your little ones.

excerpt from “a man of selfless dedication – MOSES” by  Charles Swindoll

Book review: “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee

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What does your Christian faith look like?

Does your faith extend to just going to church each week?

Are you involved regularly involved in a ministry?

Do you have a joy in your life?

Do you find yourself living consistently in godly ways or do you find yourself struggling over and over again with the same temptations?

Do you hear sermons and think there is so much more to the faith than you are aware and living out?

If you are looking for an excellent book to read, let me suggest Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life”.   It is a classic!

This book is centered on Romans 6-8 offering some of the most foundational content for any Christian to understand and apply.

You will treasure this read.

A lesson learned from Nelson Mandela

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Ugh!   Don’t you just hate it when someone does something mean to you, or says something bad or unwarranted about you?

Yeah, none of us appreciate those experiences, but we all have a key decision that faces us- what do we do going forward with those negative thoughts we are feeling.

Yeah, you might have been wronged in some way by someone, but what good is it doing you to hold on to that bitterness?

Friends, forgiveness –it’s so hard to do, but so necessary.  Bitterness can directly lead to not only ongoing conflict with others, but it can cause us health problems and dampen our  joy of living.  I know, I’ve done that and it did me no good to keep it inside.

With all that in mind, I appreciate this excerpt and notes about forgiveness and Nelson Mandela from the book,  “Getting to Yes with Yourself” by William Ury.  It has been helpful for me to do a self-evaluation and I trust it will be worth it for you to consider  if you are harboring any resentment and bitterness toward anyone.  It really will do us no good to carry that weight around.
-“letting go of the past can be truly liberating. In a speech at the U.N. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton recalled a question he once asked Nelson Mandela. “Tell me the truth: when you were walking down the road that last time (as Mandela was released from prison due to a sentence from racial prejudice), didn’t you hate them?” Mandela replied : “I did, I am old enough to tell the truth. I felt hatred and fear but I said to myself, if you hate them when you get in that car, you will still be their prisoner. I wanted to be free and so I let it go..”
…By learning to accept and forgive his former jailers, Mandela inspired thousands of others to forgive too.
– Forgiving those who have wronged us does not mean condoning or forgetting what they did.    It means accepting what happened and freeing ourselves from its weight. The first beneficiary of forgiveness , after all, is ourselves. Resentment and anger tend to consume us and hurt us perhaps much more even than they that hurt us. Holding on to old resentments makes about as much sense as carrying our bags while traveling on a train; it only tires us out needlessly.”

Friends, Is there any one you need to forgive?

Is it time to let stuff that happened in the past, stay in the past and move forward in your life?

Is it time for you to experience freedom?

It’s not a question of how many steps you take, but…

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More and more it seems, I will find myself talking to someone where they’ll mention in our conversation how many daily steps they are taking. Although I don’t personally own one of these personal fitness devices, it seems like they are a growing in popularity kind of product.fitness-woman-using-fitness-tracker-wrist-over-gray-background-55764706

But, my point in today’s post is not about products measuring “how many steps” we are taking, but rather an encouragement to each of us to consider the quality of the steps we are taking.

Here’s what I mean:  in the Bible, we are told in numerous places that are relationship with God is a “walk”.  In the Garden, God is said to be walking there.  Enoch, a righteous man walked with God (Gen. 5:22) and so many others are described in that same way.  We are told in the New Testament that we should walk in the Spirit (as in Galatians 5:16).

Walking with God is a precious thing, but how well are we doing it?

For example, we can walk in the malls at Christmas-time.  Do you think this picture is a good one of what it means to walk with God?  I don’t think so.  The reason is that this kind of picture conveys no real purpose. It involves a lot of looking (and coveting of more and more stuff).  It conveys passing the time without a whole lot of purpose (sorry, shopping folks out there.  I don’t mean to be getting down on shoppers.  It’s just an illustration).  brussels-belgium-inside-old-shopping-mall-in-center-city-people-walking-ED588B

I think a better picture, actually two are:

  • one, a couple in love that is walking together, hand in hand–enjoying each and every moment being together, talking about the things on their heart.  I don’t sense an urgency or need to rush, but an enjoying the time together.  That to me is an appealing image to me about how intimate God desires our relationship with Him to be.  Enjoying each and every moment with Him.  Enjoying His creation. Listening to Him speak to us by the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit. Communicating with Him the deepest concerns on our heart.  As has often been said, true Christianity is not so much about being a religion, as it is a relationship.  How is your relationship with Him?

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  • the other image that comes to my mind is that of walking on a rocky beach.  This image is becoming increasingly meaningful to me because it conveys the image of being very careful how we are taking each and every step.  If we are not careful when we walk on a surface like that, we can easily stumble or sprain an ankle, etc.   Our Christian walk should be similar in that we are being very mindful of how we are doing at putting in the efforts to know Him better. Are we regularly going to church? Are we consistent with our worship of Him through our financial giving? Are we associating with other believers regularly? Are we reading our Bible daily? Are we praying daily?
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In addition to these things, how careful are we to check our attitudes and motives in doing the things we do?  How careful are you to evaluating how you communicate with others?  Do you talk with humility? Do you convey concern for the other person?  etc.

 

So, to those physical fitness people out there measuring how many steps you are taking daily–good for you!  Keep it up.

But, for all of us, let us be mindful to frequently evaluate ourselves for the quality of our walk.

 

2016- top ten posts – #4 – Can I be thankful for this?

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#4 post of 2016  top-ten

 

At a recent church camp out  where about 650 men (maybe more) spent the weekend in northern Michigan (what an awesome time!),   I was working on building our campsite.

During our building time, I got a little impatient as we were putting together a wooden swing set and a loose 4″x4″x 12′ beam fell and clipped my face.  Ouch!

Actually, very fortunately, it hit my face just above my lip.    injury on face

 

What is the positive in a situation like this. Well, I can think of four:

1) it could have been a lot worse. If it would have fallen a few more inches on my head, with the weight of that post,  I could have experienced a very serious injury

2) I was reminded once again of my need to be more careful when doing construction projects like this (and yes, accidents like this have happened to me before)

3) As this injury happened above my mouth, I was given a prompting to be careful with my mouth.  I think maybe I’ve gotten a bit careless in the usage of my words.  What I say(and you as well) can be so positive and uplifting to someone else, or they can scar by the way they cut down and demoralize someone)

4) I am thankful for the activity of a Sovereign God in this case, who allowed me to benefit from these valuable insights and at the same time, protected me from an injury that could have been severe

 

Let me encourage you as well to be attentive to experiences that happen in your every day life.  What insights can you gain from these moments?

 

What I can learn from an ancient story

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An interesting series of events takes place in the life of Moses that I found to be very relevant.

After Moses experienced God speaking to him in a burning bush in the desert where God gives Moses a call to go back to Egypt to speak to Pharaoh, and deliver the Israelites from that land.

After considering the impossibility of that charge and Moses’ frequent excuses to why God had made a mistake in choosing him, Moses obediently,  but with some reservation began his travel back to Egypt.

But on the way, there are some interesting verses in Exodus chapter 4, verses: 24-27

24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah (Moses’ wife) took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

WHAT?  God says to Moses to go to Egypt because He had a job for him to do,  and then on the way, He sought to put him to death.  What’s up with that?

Back in Genesis, God declared to Abraham that He was going to begin a covenant relationship with him and his offspring. He would be their God and He would call them to live blamelessly before Him.   God also gave the act of circumcision to be a visible sign of this covenant relationship with Abraham and his offspring.

Moses was supposed to go to the Israelites with a message that through Moses, God would be delivering His people and that they were to walk blamelessly before Him.

However,  as Moses went on his journey to Egypt with his wife and two children, God dramatically showed up with an implied message to Moses, “how are you going to act as my representative when you are not serious enough in your relationship with Me to obey Me? Remember what I said to Abraham, “Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Gen. 17:14 esv)

Moses’ wife then stepped up and seemed to perform this act of circumcision on her sons, while Moses had to wonder to himself, “how had he overlooked this act of obedience?”

My point in sharing this lesson is the need for all of us to conduct our walk with more than just enthusiasm.   We need to be careful to walk in obedience ALL the time.

On a recent business trip, one night out of sheer boredom, I was flipping channels with no real intent to land on any program as I knew it was getting late.  But, for a few minutes I continued flipping any way.

Then, in such a wonderful way, the Holy Spirit brought back to my mind, this passage about Moses from Scripture and I thought –“right on.  How could I have a close relationship with God when I am making provision for the flesh and setting my mind on things of the flesh, rather than on things of the Spirit?”  I knew I had to be more careful.

I love the privilege of having the Holy Spirit live within me and being able to count on Him to guide me, convict me, teach me, and encourage me.

Anyway, the TV went off, I went to bed in peace knowing that, at least in this one experience, I was walking in the Spirit.