Mar 06

Practicing the Presence of God

Was doing my morning reading today and ran across something that I wanted to share. It’s something that I don’t think we give much thought to, I could  be wrong, but…. It’s known as practicing the presence of God.  Here is what was noted in respect to that important topic as noted in the intro to “Tending to the Holy”…

“Foremost among our parents in practicing the presence of God is Brother Lawrence, who penned the spiritual classic, The Practice of the Presence of God….He saw all of life as a response to God’s ever-present and loving presence.  According to Brother Lawrence, “the most holy and necessary practice in the Christian life is the presence of God.  Whether in the kitchen, running an errand, buying provisions, or receiving the Eucharist, Brother Lawrence asserted that our calling as Christians is simply to be attentive  to God’s presence in our lives.  Following the apostle Paul’s counsel to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), Brother Lawrence advised that “whatever we do, even if  we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes – as  often as possible – to praise  God, to enjoy God there in secret”

I wonder how our lives would be different if we followed this practice? How it might change everyday decisions knowing that we are in the presence of God? In essence that’s what is already occurring, but we often fail to recognize that God is present – seeing all we do.

What decisions would  you have made differently if you truly recognized that God was present?

Now that you are acutely aware that is the case, how will it affect decisions in the future?

Practice the presence of  God…

Feb 28

The One Thing…And Sunday?

Over the last several months I’ve been studying the productivity concept of “multitasking”.  After reading “Deep Work” and “The One Thing”, I have reinforced my belief that multitasking actually hurts productivity.

These books actually land on a concept called “Block Timing”. In essence, you are more productive when you block off periods of time and remain focused on one thing. Cut off social media (there is actually software that you can use to block you from social media for a block of time – no chance of being interrupted.) Shut off all Email etc… Refuse to be distracted until you get your one thing done.

In “The One Thing” it suggests that you always center on this focus question:

“What’s the ONE THING you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

As I read books like this I’m reminded of the spiritual applications and ramifications when we transfer these principals to our spiritual lives.

in this instance I wonder what would happen if as Christians we made Sunday Worship our “One Thing” each week. What if we decided to block off that day to “Remember the Sabbath?” To not allow any distractions. To rest, and renew our minds and bodies? To quit multitasking.  What would the church look like filled with singing and praising God. What would our relationships begin to look like? How about our communities? How about ourselves?

Have we forgotten that remembering the Sabbath is one of the top 10? 10 Commandments that is.  It’s the only one that begins with “Remember.”  Could it be that God knew that we’d forget?  Could it  be that  God knew the renewing power of that day to renew our mind, body and spirit?

That commandment mentions Sabbath.  For Christians that has become Sunday. But if you work on Sundays, even as pastors we do that, find another day  to rest and renew. Attend an alternate night of worship as so  many churches offer.

I’m afraid that most of our Sundays are spent multitasking – working, sports, cleaning, grocery shopping, and maybe worship…

I hope that you’ll consider making Sunday a day of worship at your church.  That you might block off that day from distractions to find rest and renewal.  It will make a difference or it wouldn’t be one of  the top 10!

Remember the Sabbath…

 

Feb 20

Ages 25-35 Wanted!

More and more studies seem to concur that the Christian church is starting to experience a huge gap in the 25-35 age group.  Some would say that if we don’t have a course correction there will be a gap that will take quite a while to make up.  This age group has become affectionately known as Millennials.

Millennials:

  • Make up 25 % of the US. population
  • 53% already have children
  • Almost 50% like purchases that support a cause and 37% say they’re will to pay more for it
  • 46% reported 200 Facebook friends
  • 2.5 times more likely to be an early adopter of technology
  • 69% say they crave adventure
  • Read more here

More alarming is their dropout rate when it comes to church.

  • 59% who were raised in a church have dropped out
  • Only 4% are bible based believers
  • 96% don’t live out the teachings of the bible

So what can we do to reach this segment before it’s too late?

Faithit.com offers 12 potential reasons why this is happening ranging form:

  • We’re sick of hearing about values and mission statements
  • Churches with no desire to really help the poor
  • Distrust and misallocation of resources
  • and 9 others

Read the entire article, and it’s worth the read if we want to reach them, here…

Feb 14

What Would Jesus Have to Do?

What would Jesus have to do/prove, for you to reclaim Sunday worship on a consistent basis?

  • Be Baptized? Done!
  • Resist temptation in the desert? Done!
  • Convince 12 men who didn’t know him to follow him? Done!
  • Preach a moving sermon from a mount? Done!
  • Heal a leper? Done!
  • Heal a Roman officer’s son? Done!
  • Heal a sick woman and others? Done!
  • Calm a storm? Done!
  • Give sight to the blind? Done!
  • Remove sickness? Done!
  • Help the lame to walk again? Done!
  • Turn water into wine? Done!
  • Raise people from the dead? Done!
  • Love you unconditionally? Done!
  • Be crucified? Done!

Seriously, what would it take for you to take back Sunday worship on a consistent basis?

What if Jesus was willing to die for you? Oh yeah, done!

So, fill in the blank…. I would give Jesus my Sunday worship consistently if he would only ______________.

Reclaim the Sabbath, Jesus has already done everything possible for you.

Now it’s time to reclaim the Sabbath and worship him for all He’s ALREADY done for YOU!

You got this! You can do it! You can do it this Sunday and start doing it consistently.

One day He’ll thank you for it! 🙂

Feb 08

Mini Retirements – a new trend?

Are you familiar with the new trending concept of  Mini Retirements? Odds are you’re like me and have never heard of the concept, much less know that the concept is actually getting some traction.

In a nutshell, people aren’t waiting for the traditional retirement ages, to retire.  They’ve made a decision to take mini-retirements while they’re still young. Retirements in bursts throughout life, not just at the end when health factors may limit choices.

To sum it up as stated on the blog, Bren on the Road…

You can experience the joy of retirement during your youth

There are certain things that you can’t do (or can’t do as well) when you’re 65 and up, especially physical things such as kite-surfing, climbing mountains, enduring 20-hour train rides, cliff jumping – the list goes on.

When you take a mini-retirement at 30, you can still do all these things with your youthful body. Your hips won’t die on you when you sit on a bus for hours, your back won’t buckle when a wave throws you off your surfboard at 20 miles an hour. It’s not only more fun, but it’s safer and healthier.

Your mind is also young. You learn things easier, you remember things better. You get the chance to become a student again while your brain is still fresh and clicking. I’ve met many older folk in my language classes that talk of difficulties in remembering vocabulary and conjugations, and I’ve also experienced this as the years click on.

As the old saying goes, youth is wasted on the young.

If you would like to learn how to take your first mini retirement then you can read more from Bren on the Road blog here – it’s a great read!

Jan 31

10 Tips to Becoming a Better Adult Sibling

Having a sister 8 years my junior…  I probably wasn’t the best brother she could have hoped for. No, I can drop the “probably”, I could have been better!  I remember one of my “blue ribbon” experiences that left a scar!  On her not me! I chased her around a swimming pool aggravating her…  It was hilarious for me watching her and hearing her scream her head off…  Funny right up until her leg fell into the pool drain, her shin skin being ripped up her leg to the actual bone where it rubbed the concrete going in, etc…  She still reminds me of that one!  And that’s just one of many incidences.

Before you get all holy on me, you probably have a similar story!

Luckily, as we got older we became closer but there were some gaps in those years!  Unfortunately, for many, they remain adversaries once they become adults.  They only grow apart as siblings.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It doesn’t have to end that way.

If you would like to have a better relationship with your sibling then maybe you need to be the one to initiate the move. If you would like to do that then you might want to read this article that has 10 Tips to Becoming a Better Adult Sibling.

Jan 30

Bet you didn’t know this about God!

Ok, it’s not a real bet so keep reading… And if you already know this stuff then consider it a refresher.

Here is how it started for me… Early in seminary was when I first learned this about God. But as I was recently reading about this was when I realized I should probably share it as it was shared with me.

As noted by N.T. Wright in his book “Simply Christian”…

  • Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament has no vowels
  • At some point the ancient Israelites came to know their God by a special name
  • This name was so special that they were not allowed to say it out loud
  • Even today we’re not sure how it is to be pronounced,the consonants are YHWH
  • Our best guess as to how it was/is pronounced is Yahweh
  • Orthodox Jews won’t speak the name, they often refer to God simply as “the Name,” HaShem
  • Neither will they write it. Sometimes they write the generic word “God” as “G D”
  • Yahweh seems to have meant “I am who I am,” or “I will be who I will be”
  • Israelites developed a way for avoiding the name when reading scriptures by using the word ADONAI, which means “my Lord”

Well, if you didn’t know, you do now!  If you did consider it a refresher.

Ultimately let it be a reminder of how seriously we are to take our God!

Jan 28

18 Decluttering Tips for Everyeone

If you walk into my office at the end of the day you’re likely to find my desk totally clean!  When people see it they sometimes remark, “You know what the sign of a clean desk is?, don’t you?”, I quickly reply, “It’s the sign of a brilliant mind!”.  Of course if you’ve held a conversation with me for more than 2 minutes, you know that’s not the case.  I do however subscribe to many simplistic things in my life.

Simplicity over the last few years has started to really catch on.  People seem to just be tired of clutter in their lives.  That is nothing new, the difference is, now more people seem to be willing to do something about it.

So, if you’re one off those people who want to get on board and declutter your life then you might try micro decluttering, decluttering in micro chunks.  I recently read a post on this very topic that was very interesting and just might be the catalyst of actually delcuttering your life just 5 minutes at a time.  Seriously, who doesn’t have 5 minutes.

If you’re interested, you can read more here.

 

Jan 24

The Power of Affirmation

You’ve probably never heard name Scott Adams, but you probably know his cartoon – Dilbert!  I like to read about successful people and I would say that Scott fits that description however you might want to define it.

I recently read where he had a lady suggest to him to try this thing called affirmations. He said it worked liked this, “All you do is pick a goal and you write it down like 15  times a day in some specific sentence form, like ‘I, Scott Adams, will become an astronaut;’ for example. And do that every day. Then it seems like the universe just starts spitting out opportunities. You’ll think it’s all coincidences but they will keep popping up.”

Adam decided to give it a try, what do you have to lose? Right? His first affirmation was to become a number one best selling author – before he’d ever written a book or ever taken a class in writing – The Dilbert Principle became that number one best selling book!

Before you dismiss the power of affirmation, there’s no science behind it, let me tell you my own story with the power of affirmation.

Since I can remember, after becoming a Christian, I have had a love of people. One of the ways I showed that love in a hurting world was/is to encourage people to visit and get involved in a church. Many people never make the connection that introducing someone to Christ through a simple invitation to church is an act of supreme love.

Here is where the power of affirmation collided with my love of people. One day long ago my wife and I decided to begin each day holding hands with our daughters and having prayer before school. Julie and I have kept that tradition to this day long after our girls have left the house.

But, several years ago we decided to do what Scott Adams suggests even without knowing we were doing it. Heck, I’d never heard the name Scott Adams until last week. During our morning prayer time as we hold hands, we pray that God will place opportunities to invite someone to church today. Then we usually follow that up with give us the wisdom to recognize it when it happens. This is very similar to what Scott Adams is talking about. It’s an affirmation of sorts. I will invite someone to church today.

Once we started praying this daily, it seemed like opportunities just started popping up all over the place, at Wal-Mart, restaurants, community events, ballgames, etc…

It’s become a very powerful experience and many people have been our guests because of those prayers.

There is really nothing quite like inviting someone to church and see them actually come.  When is the last time you had a guest come to church? When is the last time you extended an invitation? When is the last time you prayed that God would place someone in your path to offer an invitation to? When is the last time you prayed that God would help you recognize those opportunities?

I want to encourage you to start praying that prayer today and everyday for the rest of your life. The world could become a better place if you do.

The power of affirmation!

Jan 17

What the Church Can Learn from Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart has its lovers and haters! But let’s lay that aside for a moment.  Wal-Mart has made a strategic decision that could change the size of future stores!  Have you been in a Wal-Mart Supercenter lately? Maybe the better question is how many times you’ll visit this week!  You are probably already aware that they place items like milk at the back of  the store so you’ll have to pass other items that you might impulse buy.  Well, some of that may be coming to an end with the introduction of the new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

In a Business Insider post the CEO of Wal-Mart explained what the future will look like and why… ”

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon says the company’s supercenter stores got way too big.”We just found out how big was too big, you know, and some customers don’t want to walk all that far,” McMillon said in an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose. The retailer’s largest supercenters are over 200,000 square feet, which is about the size of four football fields.”A few years ago, we recognized and started adjusting the supercenters down to a smaller size,” he said. McMillon said Wal-Mart stores will continue to get smaller in the future as its e-commerce business grows.”

So what could the church learn from Wal-Mart? Maybe that the future of the Mega-Church is something that will give way to the Hub Church model. The Hub Church model has a lot to offer the church. Not familiar? This concept has a “Main Campus” that serves as a hub. From that hub other smaller campuses are added that can be looked at as spokes coming out from the hub. This model has a lot to offer in my opinion. The hub allows for stability for the new campus plant in the form of leadership and training to name a few.  With this philosophy the goal is not to just keep getting bigger – well it is, but only to a point.  That point is always site specific of course. But, once that point is met, then the search begins to plant a new campus. This can then can be replicated to add spokes to the hub. Each time a new campus is added it should become easier as more experience is gained. Thus, replication could happen at a much quicker and efficient rate than the first.  Another advantage could be the expense or lack thereof. Knowing that the new campuses are never intended to grow into a really large church, costs can be kept lower than a traditional church start. Storefronts, public schools, movie theaters are all possible first location possibilities. These can all be rented with shorter term leases. With this in mind, if the new campus doesn’t do well, you can close and move to another location without the threat of a huge mortgage that a traditional church start would carry. This makes it easier to take a risk that the new campus will work while knowing not all is lost if it doesn’t. This would hopefully encourage more churches to take a risk and be willing to fail knowing that there could be big gains made for the kingdom.

The ultimate advantage is new church plants often grow at a faster rate than older established churches. With this model church growth really happens as each spoke is added and not necessarily at the hub. That seems to be a win-win situation.

So maybe Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market downsizing philosophy can also benefit the church.

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