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A Monday morning word for my fellow preachers…

Take heed, therefore, brethren, for the enemy hath a special eye upon you. You shall have his most subtle insinuations, and incessant solicitations, and violent assaults. As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves, lest he outwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant: he can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive: he will get within you, and trip up your heels before you are aware…You shall see neither hook nor line, much less the subtle angler himself, while he is offering you his bait… O what a conquest will he think he hath got, if he can make a minister lazy and unfaithful, if he can tempt a minister into covetousness or scandal!…If you will engage yourselves against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places; if you will undertake to rescue captive sinners out of the devil’s paws; do not think that a heedless, careless course will accomplish so great a work at this.

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, pages 74-78.


My new favorite song

I found this song over the last month or so. I downloaded it from NoiseTrade for free, which was pretty great. The song is called Farther Along by Josh Garrels:


The ‘Busy’ Trap

I feel like everyone is busy. Some busy people are busy for obvious reasons, others I simply cannot believe they are busy. I am a pastor, so if I tell people I am busy, they aren’t going to believe me anyway. The question is, Am I busy with the right things? Sometimes we need to be busy resting. Other times we need to be busy praying, or thinking, or talking, or eating, or laughing. Some people need to be busy fixing, building, assembling and others need to be busy writing, speaking, creating.

Being properly busy takes a tremendous amount of discipline and self-awareness. Rarely are we to be busy watching TV, yet I find this is the source of why most people say “I just don’t have time.” If I am too busy with the wrong things, then boasting in being busy is an indictment against my morality, not a confirmation of it. Remember that the next time you say “I’m busy”.

What we need is perspective. We need to say “no” to some things so we can say “yes” to other things. We need to know how to make the important things take priority. If relationships with friends and family is the most important, then why do we not structure our lives accordingly? If worship, Bible reading, or church is so important, why are we so busy we exclude it? There are some good diagnostic questions we can ask ourselves: Does my busyness lead to profit/desired results? Does busyness stem from disorganization/inefficiency? Is busyness caused by the need to justify a job/position? Are we creating work to feel meaningful? As a Christian I believe the best perspective is found in knowing and following Jesus. We develop a hierarchy in our schedules based on what we deem most important and typically ourselves are that determining factor. Knowing and following Jesus means that he takes that position, not me. Our schedules will probably look vastly different, just make sure you are busy the way you should be, not the way you shouldn’t be.

Today I read an engaging article called “The ‘Busy’ Trap” that got my mental cogs turning. You should read this whole article, but if you are too busy, here are some excerpts:

It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”

They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

It’s hard to find anything to say about life without immersing yourself in the world, but it’s also just about impossible to figure out what it might be, or how best to say it, without getting the hell out of it again.

The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done

Perhaps the world would soon slide to ruin if everyone behaved as I do. But I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle. My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play. My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.

He mentions Thomas Pynchon’s essay on Sloth, which is certainly worth reading. It can be found here. Now go get busy doing what you must do…or get busy not doing what you should not do…whichever.


What should we name our baby girl?

Tara and I will welcome our fourth child at the end of the summer. This time, the doctors tell us, the baby is a girl. Fourth time’s the charm. So, we are having a terrible time choosing a name and we need some help. Here are ten names we are considering. The spelling is subject to change and the names are randomized. The other day, our son Zak said it was his turn to name the baby and he has chosen one of the ten names. So, we may go with that one anyway. But, please help us decide!


Seth Godin for Pastors – Part 4

In his blog post on Worldliness, Seth Godin defines “Intelligence” as knowing a lot about a little and a little about a lot. He talks about how knowing a little about a lot has become exponentially more difficult as the internet gives us access to nearly everything that is known. (If only it gave us access to the unknown!)

Thinking about “worldliness” along with him, of course he doesn’t mean in the biblical sense, but in what we might call being shrewd, wise, or intelligent. It’s an important quality to possess. With all the talk in church circles of “engaging culture” and the like, this means we need to know at least a little about a lot.

However, Godin challenges, in our endeavor to know a little about a lot, we have to know a lot about a little. Pastors presume to understand the Bible and speak on God’s behalf from his Word. As a pastor, this is the one thing we must get right. I may not understand reality TV shows, modern art, or survival skills, but if I fail to plumb the depths of biblical knowledge, I have neglected my calling. After all pastors, Paul reminded Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely.


Artifacts from the biblical era of King David

I read an article today about a significant find for Biblical Archaeology. An archaeologist has uncovered a site that existed near to the time when the Bible says King David ruled Israel. This find showed no idols nor any remains from pigs. This is significant, because all over Palestine, sites are found with idols and pig remains. It may not seem like much, but it’s evidence of people living like the Bible says they did during this time period. They didn’t eat pig meat, nor did they worship idols, or “graven images”. I think this is pretty cool!


Old Man and The Sea

One of my favorite stories of all time is “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. Today I read a very similar story with a couple of differences: 1) it is true, and 2) there is a happy ending for the fisherman.

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