Life Planning Tool for 2015

A couple of years ago, my friend Brian Howard shared with me a life planning tool to help me prioritize and set goals for my personal life. Businesses and churches have many resources to help people be more productive and focused on the job, but most of us live our personal lives on autopilot. It is no less important for us to know what to prioritize in our personal lives and have a plan of action than our professional lives. Over the last couple of years, this life planning tool has been very helpful for me to intentionally think through what are some of the most important things in my life and develop a plan of action for them. When I first used this tool a few years ago, I discovered an unexpected priority that I spent a year working on: patience. I prayed about this almost daily and saw God do some…

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Ten Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee (part 2)

Continuing this post from last week, here are three more ways to tell if you’re a Pharisee. These are taken from a sermon at Christ the King Church called “Barriers: Religion.” #4 Pharisees don’t extend grace to others. The Pharisees were not interested in restoring this woman who was caught in adultery. Grace was not part of the equation. They seized the opportunity to condemn her simply because it served their desire to trap Jesus. We can see this in our own hearts when we fail to forgive, or when we hold grudges, or we seethe with anger over things other people do. The Pharisee feels as though she has the right to be treated better and when this doesn’t happen she becomes angry and bitter and unforgiving. The Pharisee is upset by the sin of others because she feels that “I deserve better than this.” #5 Pharisees practice selective…

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Ten Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee

From a sermon at church yesterday, we discussed 10 Ways to Tell if You’re a Pharisee. I will post them all here throughout this week. The Scribes and Pharisees used a woman caught in the act of adultery as a pawn to get to Jesus in John 8:1-11. From this text, we can learn a few lessons about how the heart of a Pharisee works and how we can avoid these same traps. #1 Pharisees focus on externals more than internals. They look at what’s on the outside of a person rather than what’s on the inside. The Pharisees were more than happy to condemn this woman for her external, obvious sin. Jesus’ response to them was to force them to look internally at their own hearts. The Gospel empowered life starts with a heart that has been changed by God’s grace and works its way out to the external…

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10 Ways to Redeem Your Time

I gave a recent sermon at Christ the King Church regarding the Bible’s teaching that we should “redeem the time.” This means that every second of every day counts and should be dedicated to God. But how do we do this when time always seems so short? After some reflection, I’ve compiled a list of several things that have helped me to make the most of my time. Repent of wasted time. I needed to change my orientation towards time and realize that there was just way too much wasted time in my life. Ask yourself: how many hours per week do I spend using Facebook, or mindlessly touring the internet? How many hours a week staring glassy eyed at a TV screen? How much time reading mindless novels or magazines? Video games? I’m convinced that much of what we commonly consider “entertainment” can easily be refiled under “waste of…

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TV in the Home

One of my favorite blogs, Between Two Worlds,  has linked to Randy Alcorn’s advice regarding how to take charge of  television viewing in the home. Keep track of how much time you spend watching. Decide in advance how much TV to watch per week. Use a schedule to choose programs for the week–then stick to your choices. Keep your television unplugged, store it in a closet, and/or put it in a remote part of the house (prevents mindless flip-on). Periodically “fast” from television for a week or a month. Notice the “cold turkey” effects. (Avoids addiction, reminds you of all that can be done when TV off). Choose programs that uplift rather than undermine biblical values. Use the “off” switch freely. If it’s wrong and you keep watching, you’re saying “I approve.” (Unless it doesn’t present temptation and you’re critically analyzing it). Use the channel changer frequently. Watch and discuss…

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“Jesus is under my blanket.”

My daughter, who is 3 years old, starting crying during her nap. I went in her bedroom to check on her and to see what was wrong. “I need Jesus,” she told me. I was intrigued by this newfound theological insight from a 3 year old. We have been telling her over the last few weeks that she has sin in her heart and she needs Jesus, but I wasn’t expecting the moment to come this soon. “Where is he?” I asked her. “Jesus is under my blanket.” Perhaps she experienced a holy ghost baptism or something and saw a vision. I probed further. “What does he look like?” “I dunno. He’s under my blanket.” This time I pulled her blankets and, sure enough, out dropped a tiny Veggie Tale character from the Christmas nativity set. This was the Veggie version of baby Jesus that was so tiny she lost…

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Snowbound, Let’s Sleep In Today…

Do you remember that song from 1993 by Donald Fagen (circa Steely Dan) called “Snowbound”? Don’t worry, no one else does either. But I woke up and saw the snow and couldn’t resist the I-tunes $.99 it cost me to ride my magic carpet back to an earlier decade. Here’s some of the lyrics to accompany pics of my backyard. Snowbound Let’s sleep in today Wake me up When the wolves come out to play Heat up These white nights We’re gonna turn this town Into a city of lights At Nervous Time We roll downtown We’ve got scenes to crash We’re gonna trick and trash We’re gonna find some fun We hit the street With visors down With our thermasuits Sealed up tight We can beat the freeze And get saved tonight… Snowbound Let’s sleep in today Wake me up When the wolves come out to play Heat up…

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Reflections on my 33rd Birthday

Yesterday, according to Shire Reckoning, was Bilbo Baggins’ birthday. When he turned eleventy-one years old (111 for those of you who prefer regular numerals), he gave a very fine speech just before slipping on the One Ring and disappearing from sight before escaping from the Shire altogether. What a laugh. Today is my birthday. This is not always a fun day for me, because us brooding types don’t need special reminders that we are getting older and our bodies are dying every day. So what’s on my mind today as I turn 33? I’m glad you asked….

Of a Dangerous Prayer and a Meat Grinder

I’ve prayed on various occasions for God to reveal sin to me, that I might not sin against Him. This seems to be one of those prayers that God is always happy to accommodate. As a result, I have been shown new depths of sin in my heart over the last few weeks that can seem overwhelming at times. This is a good place to be, I suppose, as long as I don’t give in to despair. But I’ve been teetering on the edge of that for a little while.

demolition and construction

We finally redid our bathroom floor after a long bout with procrastination. The looming dread of another busy fall semester proved to be the cure. Before: Demolition: (the part that I’m really good at) The detail work: (the part that i really suck at. evidently, patience is a handy tool in such endeavors) The finished product: We had to actually destroy the floor down the the joists and install a new subfloor which would be perfectly level (thanks dad). I think i must have left a screwdriver under the subfloor, though, because my perfectly level subfloor somehow developed a bubble after applying the mortar. Fortunately, i didn’t notice this until the mortar dried so i had no choice but to leave it be. Otherwise, i would have felt obligated to pull the subfloor back up and level it, which would have ruined a perfectly aggravating day.