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.
My good friend Dan moved from Tigard to Albany Oregon to work with Dana, another mutual friend. Unfortunately, Dana’s business experienced a downturn and he had to let Dan go. In 2012 Dan felt led to stay in Albany and serve as an Associate Pastor in a Calvary Chapel.
Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a significant book entitled Necessary Endings. Cloud wrote, “When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.” He shares observations why pruning may be essential for an organization to move forward; why many leaders struggle to understand that endings are a natural season in life; the difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason; hoping versus wishing; three kinds of people; creating urgency and motivation for change; how to handle resistance; and, many other excellent insights that best position leaders to succeed in the future.
Lisa was quite frustrated with Jacov. He and his wife were not in agreement when it came to living sensibly. She wisely stewarded resources while he grew up living lavishly. Their arguments over finances and possessions put significant strain on their marriage. His lack of preparation and impatience often caused them unnecessary challenges. Finally, in desperation to bring peace, Jacov found a marriage counselor that he and Lisa could go to for help. To their surprise, the counselor actually made their sessions pleasant and more importantly, he equipped them with ten guidelines to help them live sensibly. He encouraged them that if they both observed these recommendations they should have less friction and fighting in their marriage
My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The dictionary uses the following definition for the word discretion—“1. the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice . . . 2. The quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum.” Discretion seems to be an increasingly neglected concept in our society. More and more people freely express their opinion or take action either with little prior thought to the consequences or with the deliberate decision to cause harm. For example, on Columbus Day, a national holiday, police in New York City have to protect statutes erected for Christopher Columbus for fear that people will vandalize or destroy them. Instead of taking into account the pride that Italian Americans have in a famous explorer, protestors feel justified in defacing or tearing down his monuments because of the perceived harm he caused to native Americans.
Ezra 4:1-4--When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple for Yahweh, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we also worship your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the time King Esar-haddon of Assyria brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel’s families answered them, “You may have no part with us in building a house for our God, since we alone must build it for Yahweh, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.” Then the people who were already in the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.
Jackie called her friend Sandy and informed her that she was going to quit her job. When asked why, she said that her company changed management and the new boss was unfriendly towards her and very critical of her work. Rather than try and figure out the profile of her new boss and how she might modify her behavior, it was easier for Jackie to leave. Jackie does not like conflict. Not many people do.
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
Kinshasha is a city of 9.5 million (the third largest city in Africa) situated on the banks of the mighty Congo River. As our plane flew down to land at the airport, this city of 3,848 square miles seemed endless. Les and I deplaned and processed through customs but as we headed to pick up our luggage we were stopped and asked to produce shot records. Les had his and was waved forward. I did not bring my record and was therefore motioned to go sit in line with others of the same plight. When it came my turn the medical official asked me why I did not bring my card. I explained my reason and he said I would have to pay a fine of $60. This seemed not only excessive but ridiculous since I had already mailed it in to the Democratic Republic of Congo Consulate as part of the process for getting my visa.
Romans 13:14—But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
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.
How often do you seek answers from the Bible so as to know what to do? For years Kathleen and I have not been able to sell our home and because of this our equity is tied up. Not having the ability to free up this money is frustrating. I wonder how many hours I have spent trying to identify a solution to our situation. Recently, I read in Psalm 16:5, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (ESV). What a great reminder that He is in control of my lot (in context lot refers to the future but here it makes a nice property statement)! He will resolve our housing situation when the time is right. Occasionally finding answers is not the issue. What I need is to be at peace with the Answer.
West Point graduates celebrate around the world an annual banquet called Founder’s Day. Within this fellowship tradition is another tradition in which the youngest and oldest graduates in attendance are asked to give a short speech. Recently at a Portland, Oregon gathering, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Knight, class of 1952, delivered the “old grad” speech. He shared a story of “but for God’s grace,” he should not even be in attendance. His soft spoken delivery gave all of us pause to consider the simple importance of asking the right question.
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.
She said I should go back home to my mother. It seemed like the logical thing to do. I mean why travel to a place I’ve never been to live with people I don’t know? My husband, Kilion died. Life was tough. It was like all my dreams just disintegrated into tiny, bitter ashes. I wanted to do the right thing but what was the right thing to do?
Samson amazingly typified the nation of Israel. He was specially chosen by God, and empowered with eye-popping strength. Yet, like his countrymen, he chose the cravings of his flesh and failed miserably. What prompted the man set apart for God to make decisions set apart from God?