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.
Ross, gave me a book entitled, Why Pray? by John DeVries. It is a 40-day devotional packed with thoughts on prayer. I thought Day 4 titled, “Prayer is filling the gas tank” was particularly profound. John tells the story of a man pushing his car that ran out of gas right past the gas station. When asked why he didn’t pull in and fill his car with gas the man replied that he was too busy as he had just 10 minutes left to get to the church. Can you imagine the absurdity of his reasoning?! John’ s point is that when Christians say they are too busy to pray this logic is as convoluted as a man pushing his car past a gas station.
Pastor Brady Boyd walked over to an old radio he had set up as a prop for his message. After turning on the battery-powered machine he slowly moved the knob in search of stations within range. The point he was making is that often we seek God’s voice but all we hear is static. And so he asked a rhetorical question: What keeps us from hearing God?
Luke 22:36-38—Then He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me. And He was counted among the outlaws. Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.”
“Lord,” they said, “look, here are two swords.”
“Enough of that!” He told them.
The cockpit of a C17 military transport aircraft is amazing. As the two young Air Force Captains went through their preflight checklist, I was astounded by all the instruments they and their crew chief had to monitor and operate before we could taxi down the runway in Stockholm. While I watched from my rear perch, I listened on headphones to the tower. The chatter from the air traffic controllers to incoming and outgoing aircraft was virtually nonstop. As our pilots were busily engaged the tower called their call sign and passed instructions. The male captain asked his female copilot if she heard what was said and she nodded no. Because I was undistracted and heard the message, I was able to convey what they missed. Each time they received instructions they repeated them back to the controller to ensure the transmission was accurately understood. This was a great fail safe for everyone involved and reinforced how important it was to listen.
Kathleen and I are trying to find the right company to help us refinance our home. Each of the four brokers we spoke with gave us compelling reasons to refinance with his or her particular company. We were uncertain as to who was really giving us the best option. Finally, we sat down with a broker in his office and listened as he explained why his option was the best for us. Before he went into his pitch he told us about his family and about a solar energy project he was working to help people bring their energy costs down. At some point in the meeting, I distinctly in my heart “heard” the Lord tell me that this was the man who would help us refinance. It was sort of a surreal moment. Yet, I instantly had peace about our choice and course of action.
I am convinced that I have found one of the causes of cancer—it’s a small mass of cells that when left on its own rapidly grows into a destructive monster. The cells are called assumptions.
Kathy’s birthday was last Sunday. I’m sure she resigned herself to a lonely day, after all, her husband was in Minnesota and none of her children live close. Cissy, Charlie, Brian, Chad, Roger, Sharil and Paula bought a cake, wrote her a poem, gave her a plaque and took time to come to her apartment and spring a wonderful surprise. She cried so hard they cried!
John and Denise had to leave their home and find a place to store their stuff until they could get into another rental. Charlie and Cis, Will, John, Kevin and Kendy sacrificed their time to help make the move happen.
Spring is a tremendous spiritual illustration. Outside my window buds are bursting. The grass grows at a weekly clip but those green blades are in slow motion compared to the weeds. Winter is over. The great plant race is on and the God Who saw that creation was good is still watching.
Leaning against the gymnasium wall, Bob and I talked about our children and their involvement in sports. Between carting his kids to Cub Scouts, his work and everything else, his life sounded complex. Life in our land is like walking into Circuit City and seeing 15 different channels at the same time in the television section, while we talk on our cellular phones and wave at the sales clerk we know across the room. Isn’t it comforting that no matter how fast the globe spins, no matter what level of activity we engage in, Jesus remains the same!
Malachi 2:1-2—“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.”
There are mornings when I wake up when I don’t want to read my Bible. I don’t want to pray. Surprised? No you’re not—‘cuz you have the same feelings. Admit it. There are days we get out of bed and put on our selfish clothes, brush our selfish teeth, shave our selfish whiskers, eat our selfish breakfast, drive our selfish car so we can sit at our selfish desk to be consumed with all those thoughts of what we feel like doing the whole selfish day. And we feel justified in skipping the time we ought to spend with our Lord. Why? Because we are busy! And if you’d care to go deeper, because at the center of our gnarly bodies is a heart that pumps: thump, thump, rebel, thump, thump, rebel! It’s a whole lot easier to do meaningful work than it is to meet with an invisible Friend.
I once lived in Point Loma, a beautiful community in San Diego. The condominium my family lived in was located below the flight path of airplanes taking off from the San Diego Airport. Often during the day we would have to stop all conversation and wait. It was useless to talk because all words were buried beneath the explosive roar of jets fighting to gain elevation. Pausing became a necessity for effective communication. There is a lesson hidden somewhere in that reality.
1 Timothy 6:11,12--But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.
Is there anything mankind cannot accomplish? Pick up a newspaper and you are likely to find an advertisement for a seminar hosted by a professional motivator who will take your life to new dimensions with his or her “can’t lose” methods. Christianity is not immune from this phenomenon. The hot message today revolves around “You can do it—and we’ll show you how!” There is a subtle danger to this approach . . . The how or what takes priority over the who!