David Brooks says we’re in a valley…

Take 15 minutes to watch, then take another few to think and take stock.

watch

In this talk he gives an interesting description of happiness and contrasts it to joy.

He is vulnerable about his own experience and uses it to describe the disconnectedness many live in.

It is a thought provoking talk that is worth your time and consideration.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Help is near…

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Obey Jesus? Pray NOW for Muslims around the world.

If you are someone who seeks to obey Jesus, you should pray right NOW for Muslims around the world to follow him. There are a bunch of biblically and culturally relevant reasons that tonight (which in some time zones is almost over) is a key night in Islam. Ask our Father in heaven to use his Spirit to draw them to Jesus. 🙏 NOW!

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A Memorial Day reflection…

In the midst of all that we may be doing on this holiday, let’s pause and remember those who have sacrificed for others. Women and men who have given their lives in service to our country deserve remembrance. Also, the many, many women and men who have sacrificed mobility, sanity, their families and, well, the list goes on. Yes, I know it’s Memorial Day, not Veterans Day, but there are many who didn’t die, yet they made great sacrifice nonetheless. Let’s remember them as well. Finally, for we who are citizens of heaven, let’s also thank God for our King Jesus who sacrificed his own life for our citizenship in the true and everlasting kingdom. So, let’s pause and give thanks to the glory of God.

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How can we exalt God more?

The longer I live, the clearer it becomes that I need to exalt God more and more and complain about my circumstances less and less.

Don’t misunderstand, complaining is natural. We all do it. But here’s where complaining becomes crippling: when I’m so focused on my complaining about my circumstances that I’ve forgotten about God’s faithfulness.

How do I tell if I’ve begun to drift into forgetting God’s faithfulness? When contentment has fled and despair lingers. This is a signpost that I’d drifting into the debilitating bog of self.

“Set your mind on the Father instead of your circumstances (good or bad).” This is the way I might give a blunt paraphrase to Paul’s urging to the Colossians.

So, when we catch ourselves drifting in the the bog of discontent, let’s pause, exalt God, and remember his faithfulness to us over the eons!!!!

Use the urge to complain as a call to exalt!!

Then, with a fresh recall of God’s faithfulness, we may renew our hope in him.

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Creating a check list?

On a plane recently I read a business article about the importance of pilot’s checklists to flying. The author asserted that we could learn from their use of checklists in our daily work life. What I took with me was this: Rhythm in daily life is important. This is as true to personal spiritual development as anything else.

I’ve been trying to urge personal spiritual development in fellow disciples for a long time. Recently, in conversations with leaders younger than I, they have asked: “So tell me what you do.” This (and a lecture I just heard*) has happened enough to cause me think it worth writing down.

We’re all different, and work in different ways. But, by sharing what has helped me, perhaps some adaptation of some part(s) of it will enrich your own spiritual development.

For a good long while now, in the morning, before all else [1], with coffee in hand, I have tried to practice the following, or some variation:

First, I sit in a familiar place and just read my Bible reading plan. [2] I’ve found that reading the Bible moves my soul into a place where I’m better prepared to meet my Father in heaven. These are his words, they are his prayer language.

Then, I go to a list of very familiar Bible texts (it’s a list I keep on my phone). These texts point me to the Lord’s greatness. These are particularly God focused verses chosen to point me to him. Here is my first verse of meditation that I slowly read to help me look to him: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬) There are numerous others that I collect and add to my list that point my focus to him.

I slow down. (Sometimes I sing or chant them.) This adoration / worship using Scripture begins to turn my focus to him. I’m beginning to adore him.

Then, I pray prayers of adoration using these same familiar texts. [3]

Now, I’m ready for a set prayer of confession. (I personally use an Anglican general prayer of confession.)

I follow this with a moment of silence.

Then, I recount with my Father some of what I am thankful for.

I pray for my family.

Then, I give My Father more glory by telling him of his greatness and wonder, contemplating his attributes.

Then, I pray for my friends and colleagues.

Finally I ask him to guide my thoughts and words through the day.

Every day is not the same. Some days my worship takes precedent. Others it’s confession. Another day the focus is on praying for some need that I’ve heard about. But, my variations come after I have focused on him through reading his word and worshiping my Father.

It’s like starting the engines in the correct sequence, pushing out from the gate, taxing to the runway and then taking off… this is on the take off checklist.

Then, once airborne, the focus of my time with my Father varies each day, because I’m with him, and he can carry me where he wishes, all day long.

_____________________________

* Tim Keller – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/preaching-christ-in-a-postmodern-world/id378879885?mt=2&i=1000084252405

[1] Both Spurgeon and Mueller taught me to converse with my Father before any human, every day. Bob Alderman taught me not to read so much from man and more from the Bible. So I never read human writing in my time with God. (I do read human writing, just not in my dedicated time with my Father – I want no distractions.) Sometimes he will bring something from Lewis or someone to mind, by my focus is on him through his word. We ought not substitute even the greatest theologians or devotional writers for time in God’s word as we worship our Father.

[2] There are a million of them. I’ve follow M’Cheyne for years. There are many plans that are less intense that will help you get started.

[3] In the lecture mentioned above, Keller points out the importance of familiar texts. I need to be resonating with the Scripture, not trying to figure it out as we do with Bible Study. This is really important if you’re just learning the Bible and are often unsure about something you read. That investigation to figure stuff out is important to do, just not at this point in morning worship.

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Comparing is seldom, if ever, helpful…

There’s a lot of comparing going on. I guess this is nothing new. Helpful comparing and contrasting of methods and ideas can be healthy and helpful.

But too often, our insecurities cause us to not compare methods and ideas, but compare ourselves – our person – to others who we thing better than we.

This is not helpful. Indeed it is counter productive and can be debilitating.

We should always be thinking about ideas and methods, but recognize that those ideas and methods are not us.

We disciples of Jesus are created, gifted and guided by God. When we replace relationship with our Father and wisdom from above with a book, a blog or a podcast, we’ve begun to learn leadership from the led, not the leader.

I remind myself of this:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Consider the great accomplishments of Paul. He recognized it was the guiding hand of God he followed.

So, fellow disciple, as you love to read books and blogs about leadership and ideas and methods, be sure to balance that input with input from a healthy dose of your Heavenly Father through a disciplined life of personal spiritual development.

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