Monday, November 25, 2013

Symptoms of Disorganization

Gordon MacDonald shares the symptoms of disorganization in his helpful book Ordering Your Private World.

There came a time in my own life when I wanted to make sound decisions about the budgeting of my time, and I wanted to be free of that frantic pitch of daily life in which one is always playing catch-up. 

Symptoms of Disorganization

1)         My desk takes on a cluttered appearance. 

2)         The symptoms tend to show themselves in the condition of my car.

3)         I become aware of a diminuition in my self-esteem.

4)         There are a series of forgotten appointments, messages to which I failed to respond, and deadlines I have begun to miss.

5)         I tend to invest my energies in unproductive tasks.

6)         Disorganized people feel poorly about their work.

7)         Disorganized Christians rarely enjoy intimacy with God.

8)         The quality of my personal relationships usually reveals it.  I may become irritable.

9)         When we are disorganized in our control of time, we don’t like ourselves, our jobs, or much else about our worlds.

Time must be budgeted!  We must resolve to seize control of our time.  The disorganized person must have a budgeting perspective of time.

MacDonald’s Laws of Unmanaged Time

Law #1:          Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses

Law #2:          Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world:    

Law #3:          Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies

Law #4:          Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation

Friday, November 22, 2013

Quote of the Day - Indiscipline

Coleridge is the supreme tragedy of indiscipline.  Never did so great a mind produce so little.  “Coleridge had every poetic gift but one – the gift of sustained and concentrated effort.”  The books were never composed outside of Coleridge’s mind, because he would not face the discipline of sitting down to write them out.  No one ever reached any eminence, and no one having reached it ever maintained it, without discipline.  – Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World, on Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quote of the Day - Disorganization

The world is full of disorganized people who have lost control of their time.  Behind the talk can be a lot of wasted time and energy.  And so sometimes we meet people who do not keep their promises, finish what they start, or back up their verbal intensity with dependable performance.  Reason: They do not know how to match their time with appropriate performance.  . . . .[T]o prevent that from happening, it is necessary to understand how we can command the time God has given to us.  - Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World, "Symptoms of Disorganization"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

The articles and books that will be read decades from now were written by men and women sitting at a desk and forcing themselves to translate profound ideas into words and then to let those words lead them to even more ideas. Writing can be magic, if you give yourself time, because you can produce in the mind of some other person, distant from you in space or even time, an image of the ideas that exist in only your mind at this one instant. - Michael Munger

10 Tips On How to Write Less Badly

The following contains some excellent advice for people who want to improve their own writing and thus bless others!

"Most academics, including administrators, spend much of our time writing. But we aren't as good at it as we should be. I have never understood why our trade values, but rarely teaches, nonfiction writing.

In my nearly 30 years at universities, I have seen a lot of very talented people fail because they couldn't, or didn't, write. And some much less talented people (I see one in the mirror every morning) have done OK because they learned how to write.

It starts in graduate school. There is a real transformation, approaching an inversion, as people switch from taking courses to writing. Many of the graduate students who were stars in the classroom during the first two years—the people everyone admired and looked up to—suddenly aren't so stellar anymore. And a few of the marginal students—the ones who didn't care that much about pleasing the professors by reading every page of every assignment—are suddenly sending their own papers off to journals, getting published, and transforming themselves into professional scholars."

Read the entire article by Michael Munger.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Three Habits of Healthy Church Members

Hebrews 10:19-25

Last week we saw that giving up our preferences and serving others is the essence of discipleship. 

Church membership is about being a born again follower of Christ who understands that church is about glorifying God through obeying Jesus, serving others, and growing with God’s people.

Life-Lesson:   Healthy church members pray for their pastors, trust God, and worship together.

1)         Healthy Church Members Pray Regularly (10:19-22)

Healthy Church Members Pray Regularly for their Pastors and Leaders 
Col.    1:9-14

70% of pastors battle depression regularly; 80% of pastors believe the ministry negatively affects their families; the pastoral profession has one of the top 3 suicide and alcohol-drug abuse rates of any profession; 56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends; 23% have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their ministry; 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month; #1 and #2 reason they are leaving - #1 – tired of trying to meet the expectations of others, #2 – difficulty in providing well financially for their families (Sources: Pastors at Greater Risk by H. B. London; Barna Group; Focus on the Family)

* The South CarolinaBaptist Convention (SCBC) has the single-highest rate of forced terminations and suicides of pastors of any state in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

God, in ways we don’t understand fully, works through the prayers of believers.  We are church members.  We will pray for the protection of our pastor and other church leaders.  We will do all we can to keep our pastor out of the devil’s traps.  – Thom Rainer

Healthy church members need to pray daily for their pastors and spiritual

The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out
the life of a man if he attends to it as he should.  – Charles Spurgeon to his pastoral

So, who will love God, the church, and the pastor enough to pray the life back
into him? 

a) Pray for them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (9)
b) Pray for their walk with the Lord (10).

                                    - a fruitful walk                      - a maturing walk
c) Pray that they will be strengthened with God’s power (11).
                                  - patient endurance                 - power for joy
d) Pray for them to be protected from and strengthened through Satan’s attacks.

2)         Healthy Church Members Trust God Regularly (10:23)

            The church needs examples of real people trusting God.

3)         Healthy Church Members Worship Together Regularly (10:24-25)

Why go through the trouble of getting ready each Sunday morning when we could relax and take the day off?  It’s not because of a preacher, a teacher, or because we may see our closest friends.  It’s because we gather to worship our Great High Priest.  We should have a convictional desire to gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship God. - Travis Fleming

The early Christians yearned to arrive at the Lord’s Day, knowing that if only they could survive the week, they would once again hear the preaching of the Word of God and fellowship with the saints of God.  They thought, “If we can only survive the week, we will make it to the Lord’s Day together.” 

One problem with much of our thinking about the Lord’s Day is that it is natural for us to think of it as an imposition in our busy schedule.  And yet we are to be faithful to gather together, making it a priority of our lives to be with God’s people.  We gather together to prepare for eternity, to be confronted by the Word of God, to edify one another, and to yearn for that eternal rest that is promised to us by the mercy and grace of God.        - R. Albert Mohler, Words from the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the Ten Commandments

We meet Christ in a special way in corporate worship. – Kent Hughes

Love for Christ and His church should compel us to gather regularly.

We are a family that must gather for worship.

We are a family that must help one another persevere in Christ.

Hebrews 10:25 instructs us not to neglect the assembly of the saints.  Instead, we are to gather and encourage one another more and more as we await Jesus’ return.  The public assembly is meant for edification, the building up, the growth of the Christian.  Neglecting to participate in the corporate life of the church or failing to actively serve and be served is a sure-fire way to limit our growth.  When we serve others in our church, bear with one another, love one another, correct one another, and encourage one another, we participate in a “spiritual maturity co-op” where our stores and supplies are multiplied.  The end result is growth and discipleship.  – Thabiti Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member?, 9 Marks

We need to meet regularly so that we can encourage one another to continue in the faith, to keep trusting God, and to be encouraged so that we do not give up.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Studying the Bible as a Family

Parents who are serious Christians want to influence their children positively for the Lord and impart the basics of biblical discipleship.  Larry Fowler shares excellent, practical advice for teaching our children diligently from God's Word.

"My first church service in Kazakhstan was an eye-opening experience. For one, the gathering lasted three hours and included three sermons! As a guest preacher, I sat on the stage facing the audience. I could see up into the balcony, where all the children sat. A few adults sat scattered among them. I wondered why the children weren’t learning in a more age-appropriate setting.

Later, I asked my hosts, "Don't you have a Sunday school for the children?" Their blank look revealed that they didn't understand my concern. "Their parents teach them" was their simple explanation.

At the time, I thought that answer was . . . well, weird. Didn't the church want to teach kids the Bible? But maybe their approach wasn't really so strange. After all, the Bible states that it is the responsibility of parents to impress God's Word on children."

Read the entire article here from Focus on the Family's Thriving Family.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Main Reason People Leave a Church

Thom Rainer writes an excellent blog post on this important subject.  I believe the problem he addresses is one of the main sources, if not the main source, of lack of health in the church in America today.  I have seen for years in the Southeast that there is a deeply ingrained entitlement mentality among many people who go to churches.  Rainer hits the nail on the head in this one.

"Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.

But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met.

But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality."

Read the entire article here.

Ten Things Pastors Desire in a Church Member

1.    Vibrant prayer life. “While I do want church members to pray for me specifically, I really want them to pray faithfully in all matters."
2.    Spirit of unity. “I want our church members to be uncompromising on cardinal issues, but I also want them to be willing to yield to others on minor issues and issues of preference.”
3.    Respect of pastor’s family. “It’s okay if my family is not given preferential treatment by the church. We really want it that way. But I don’t want church members to have unreasonable expectations on my wife and kids just because their husband and dad is the pastor.”

Read the rest of the list here on Thom Rainer's blog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Southern Baptists and Mormons - Discerning the Times

You really should take the time to read the following.  It is a copy of the address that Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently made at Brigham Young University (a very Mormon school).  It was actually a historic moment worth noting, when the leaders of the Mormon University invited one of the most visible and articulate Southern Baptists to speak to them.  This has rarely happened in history.
Two things worth noting. 
1) Because of the peculiarity of our times - the increasing resistance to people of faith who have traditional beliefs about marriage and the impending waves of persecution (whatever form or intensity we don't know) against these people of faith who hold to the traditional view of marriage - peoples of very different faith such as evangelical Christians, Catholic Christians, Mormons, and Jews, are beginning to understand the need to band together in these times for political-social reasons.  This has hardly happened in the past 100 years, when these people of faith have tended to keep their distance from each other.  Now, BGU asks Dr. Albert Mohler, who some consider to be the most influential evangelical thinker-writer of our day, to speak to them!  That is really amazing.
2) Please notice Dr. Mohler's apologetic - his defense for the gospel.  Given that opportunity, he knew that the secular media could easily begin saying that Southern Baptists now accept Mormon theology.  Knowing that and knowing the great differences in the two theologies about salvation, Mohler very respectfully, lovingly, and truthfully address the differences.
The most notable quote from the address is as follows.  It is truly a moment worth noting in our changing times:
This is what brings me to Brigham Young University today. I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.
I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences. Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.
In this city, I am honored to come among those who, though of a different faith, share common concerns and urgencies. I come as a Christian, and I come as one who is honored by your kind and gracious invitation. I come in the hope of much further conversations, conversations about urgencies both temporal and eternal. I am unashamed to stand with you in the defense of marriage and family and a vision of human sexual integrity. I am urgently ready to speak and act in your defense against threats to your religious liberty, even as you have shown equal readiness to speak and act in defense of mine. We share love for the family, love for marriage, love for the gift of children, love of liberty, and love of human society. We do so out of love and respect for each other.