Saturday, June 2, 2018

Last post, I wrote about the need to think before you speak. Interestingly, my devotions have recently walked me through Proverbs. Whether you have a relationship with Christ or not, Proverbs should be required reading for all leaders and people in positions of prominence. It truly is a gift of God's common grace to all people.

I am struck by Proverbs 29:11 "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." When I was a young Christian, someone told me if you think it, you might as well say it because Jesus knows what you think. No sense holding it in. This verse seems to say something different.

What we cannot forget is that God has given the believer a spirit of self control (2 Tim 1:7). We recognize that there are some things that when said aren't helpful. Things said in haste, anger, frustration and the like are all things that are best left unsaid.

As a husband and a dad, this verse has particular application for me. I realize that my words, when spoken out of anything but love, can damage my boys or my wife. Wisdom seeks the best for people which means we speak words that help them grow in Christ rather than tearing them down. If I want to help present them in full Christian maturity, then I need to heed the lessons of Proverbs 29:11.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Leaders, Stop and Think Before You Speak!

Recently, a well-known leader in an evangelical church has come under fire for comments he made some time ago. This is just the latest in a long line of prominent leaders, both inside and outside the church, who have had long forgotten comments come back to haunt them. And while I agree with the concerns expressed and as a pastor my first piece of advice to any person (male or female) who has been struck physically even once would be to leave that person IMMEDIATELY and call both your pastor and the authorities, that is not the point I want to get at today.

Today, I want to caution leaders to heed the advice given in James 1:19. "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger ...". Quick to hear and slow to speak. There is great wisdom in that verse. Always speak with the remembrance that what you say today is probably being recorded and can (and probably will) come back to haunt you many years from now. Even if there are no microphones present, there are generally people who are listening and will remember what you say for a very long time. 

To be clear, I'm not saying not speak! But, think before you do so. Consider the advice you are about to give. And, if you give poor advice or wish you could clarify something, don't hesitate to follow up with the person. Make sure you are speaking "good news" to the person (even if it may not seem like good news at the time). Paul's advice in Colossians 4:6 is helpful here, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."

So, whether you are a pastor, Sunday School teacher, small group leader or some other form of leader in the local church assembly, listen to the words of Proverbs 21:23, "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Stay out of trouble, guard your mind and tongue. Speak always as if someone is recording what you say. Chances are in today's world, they are.

Grace and Peace.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How To Get Unstuck

I will confess, I am a productivity addict. Managing task lists, trying new software, planning the perfect workflow and organization (although my house may not look like it now!) are all things that I enjoy. A couple of years ago, I read What's Best Next by Matt Perman which promised a Christian look at the arena of productivity and self-management. That book was one of the best things I read in the last 10 years and has made a spot in my books to read again (and again!) category. When I heard that he wrote a follow up to that book entitled How to Get Unstuck, I added it my must read list for the year.

How to Get Unstuck opens a door to a world that asks, "What could you accomplish for the glory of God if you were unhindered by all that weighs us down?" That sounds awfully lofty, to be sure, but that is the goal of the book. What if instead of sitting in the giant mud bog waiting to be towed out or sink to the bottom, you could flip a switch in your life to turn on your 4x4 and climb out. Even better, what if your life could avoid driving through the giant mud bog to begin with? This is what Perman strives for. "So," he writes, "being unstuck is ultimately a positive concept. It's not just about overcoming obstacles; it connects to broader principles of work and life purpose. It is ultimately about the positive side: flourishing." I have wrestled with what it means to live a fruitful and flourishing life in Christ for sometime and this book has helped clarify some things.

While How to Get Unstuck is not revolutionary in the sense that What's Best Next is, Perman has taken many wide and far sources and distilled them into one volume that should serve as the launching point for anyone who wants to take the next step in learning what it means to live a fruitful life of influence for the glory of God. That said, I found his chapters on flourishing and deep work (approximately 1/4 of the book) to be worth the price of admission alone. If you have not read What's Best Next yet, start then and then read this book. Some books you read once and then move on. In How to Get Unstuck, Perman gives us another book to add to a small group of books to read again (and again!) to continue to mine the depth of his research. I highly recommend this book!

Disclosure: I did receive a promotional copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have since purchased the book in electronic format with my own funds. My thoughts are my own.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The obligatory first post

Introductions are always a difficult thing. In one sense, I need to give you a reason for reading this blog and what you can expect. However, I'm not entirely sure where this blog will end up. How's that for honesty?

I'm a pastor. Well, I'm a Christian first and foremost. One of those fundamental, evangelical, I think the Bible means what it says and says what it means sort of fellows. That affects everything else. My marriage, my parenting, my vocation, my friendships - pretty much everything. I view this blog as an extension of who I am and what I'm thinking about at any given moment. I view this blog as a way to get the thoughts of my relationship with Christ out of my head and out there in order that it might glorify Jesus and maybe help someone else.

I'll do some book reviews. I'll do some theological reflection. But the focus will always be on Jesus and what he's teaching me at any given moment. I don't know that I'll have a "set schedule", but that's the joy of RSS - you can add this to your feed reader and it will notify you. No ads, no selling your data to the Kenyans (yes, that's totally a thing). Just honest reflection of someone who is still trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus and help others do the same.

I hope you'll find it helpful and a blessing.