Greg McKeown is the author of an excellent book entitled essentialism. Greg contends that the disciplined pursuit of less is a major key to success. Lin Yutang says, “The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” From this premise, McKeown lays out a compelling case which helps us understand why it is important to: say “no” and not overextend; prioritize our lives; exercise the power of choice; discern what is important; know when to make tradeoffs; know when to play and to sleep; know what to select and what to eliminate; set boundaries and focus; etc.
Have you ever wondered, What do I have to do to live a stable life, to not be twisted with every fierce wind of opposition or pulled from what is right to what is ultimately degrading? How can I have the kind of healthy fellowship with God that will bring joy and fulfillment?
Acts 5:34,35,38,39—A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men . . . And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him.
The Ascent Church in Monument, Colorado is in the process of selecting new elders. Two of us, who are currently on the elder board, recently met with one of two prospective elders to gauge whether he would be a good addition to our team. The process will continue with several more meetings with our pastors and elders and, then if nominated, the congregation will vote to bring them on as elders. It is a solid method and it works well for our church.
1 Timothy 5:22—Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Have you ever been in a situation where no matter what action you took nothing good was likely to happen? We call this “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” In 1917 a lack of funding caused by an earlier banking crisis led to a dispute between copper mining companies and mineworkers in Bisbee, Arizona. The workers, some of whom had organized in labor unions, gave their company management a list of demands for better pay and conditions. Management refused their request and many workers at the Bisbee mines were forcibly deported to New Mexico. “Given that the mineworkers were faced with a choice between harsh and underpaid work at the rock-face on the one hand and unemployment and poverty on the other” this is probably the source of the phrase.
Matthew 6:33—But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
I would imagine if you quoted Jesus’ advice above to a secular financial advisor he might laugh you out of his office after you explained that “all these things” referred to food, drink and clothing (6:25,31). “Are you crazy! Don’t put your trust in some ancient religious leader. After all, God helps those who help themselves. If you want to live the good life and be secure, you better make lots of money.”
In the book of 2 Samuel chapter 15, King David’s son Absalom decided to kill his father and take his crown. Absolom was not the firstborn, nor was he in line to rule Israel. But he was overly ambitious, handsome, popular, and disillusioned enough with his father to plot his ruin. In a four-year time frame he managed to form a loyal army of followers and recruit David’s top advisor, Athithophel, to his cause. So formidable was his rebellion that David was forced to flee for his life from Jerusalem.
Colossians 3:5,8,12,13—Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry . . . But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth . . . Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
According to our guide, if a person spent four seconds looking at each item in the Musee du Louvre in Paris, it would take four years to see everything! Ranging from paintings like Michelangelo’s Mona Lisa, Tiziano Vecellio’s Titien, and Antonio Puccio’s Pisanello, to amazing clay and marble sculptures, to the architecture and ceiling paintings on the edifice itself, the Louvre was both inspiring and thought-provoking.
The difference between a strike and a split is but a matter of inches. If the bowling ball hits the center pocket correctly, all ten pins fall down. But if the ball veers just slightly off its intended course all kinds of crazy formations can appear to include the dreaded split where pins are left standing on opposite sides of the lane. I had my share of splits last night as the bowling ball just missed the strike zone!
I met Russ in the Joint Reserves Officer Course we are both taking. We went to church on Sunday and had lunch together—both missing our families on Father’s Day. Russ is a Captain in the Navy and a Delta pilot. He and I found we shared many things in common. Our time fellowshipping was quite enjoyable.
Jeremiah 38:17-20—Jeremiah therefore said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD, the God of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘If indeed you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned down, and you and your household will survive. But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city will be handed over to the Chaldeans. They will burn it down, and you yourself will not escape from them.’” But King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am worried about the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans. They may hand me over to them to abuse me.”
“They will not hand you over," Jeremiah replied. "Obey the voice of the LORD in what I am telling you, so it may go well for you and you can live.
Have you ever gone through periods in your life where you knew what God wanted you to do but were afraid to obey because of circumstances? I have a friend whose marriage is going badly. He knows from the counsel he has received and from God’s Word that divorce is wrong and, in his situation, not an option. But his wife treats him badly and he is tired of trying to improve their relationship. He is reluctant to apply any advice he receives. He says it is time he took care of himself and was free to do what he wants to do. So he filed for divorce and bought a new car thinking now his problems should end.
The top supervisor position in a Brigade I will be commanding opens at the end of the month. A team of four of us conducted interviews with three job applicants. One of the individuals on the hiring team, Jack,* clearly favored one of the applicants and pressured the rest of us to hire her. His choice did the best job fielding questions and technically seemed the most competent for the job. By the end of the interviews the team leaned towards hiring her. Inwardly I did not feel comfortable selecting her. It felt like we were rushing to make a hire—squeezed by time and loyalty to select a woman who had served in our organization a long time. I silently asked God for His help that we would do the right thing. Instead of immediately offering her the position I gained approval from the other three leaders to conduct a more thorough background check.
Michael Savage, whose radio talk show grows in popularity, angrily decries the state of America. He bemoans the ascent of evil while he rudely blasts a caller he disdains. Psychiatrists in San Francisco recently met to propose that pedophilia should not be a crime and should become accepted as homosexuality was in the ‘70’s. The Voice of the Martyrs reports horrendous attacks against Christians across the planet. God’s children are horrifically tortured in China, Indonesia, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea . . . In Canada, a debate rages to outlaw portions of the Bible that contain “hate speech.”
Molly Unreliant works as a mechanical engineer for a firm in Duluth, Minnesota. She got the job through the recommendation of a friend at church and it was an answer to prayer. Her boss is a little cantankerous but overall she enjoys the work. So it came as a surprise to her friends when she announced that she was secretly looking for a new job. They counseled her against this. Why risk losing a position God clearly provided and was blessing her in? In truth, she also felt a check from the Holy Spirit to remain where she was. Even reading her Bible she sensed God directing her to stay.
1 Samuel 23:4--Once again, David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him: “Go at once to Keilah, for I will hand the Philistines over to you.”
Psalm 37:23—The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. (NLT)
Acts 20:28--Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.