How the most undisciplined guy ever became a disciplined Bible reader

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 4 Comments

It’s a new year. This brings resolutions and renewed promises for change.

You may be resolved to become a more disciplined reader of the Bible.

bible

Bible. The most important words you’ll hear all day.

Ten years ago I had that same goal. Nine years ago, I also had that same goal. And then eight years ago. Do you see where this is going? The same goal year after year.

I tried all the systems “experts” told me would make me disciplined.

One system said it was all about what passages I chose to read. The theory was if I read just a little bit from here and some from there, then I’d be disciplined to read my Bible every day.

Another system said it was all about reading the Bible through in a year (which is a great goal). Just read and check the box. It was pitched that such an approach would provide the necessary incentive to keep pursuing the goal.

Still another system said it was all about the version of the Bible. There are versions more conducive to daily reading. Reading those would surely make me a disciplined Bible reader.

Then there was that one that told me to get up two hours earlier. Yeah. No. Nope.

None of it worked. I would read and then fall behind. I’d catch up only to fall behind again. By the end of January I wasn’t any more disciplined than before.

I’ve long since concluded that ingesting God’s word daily is a necessity. It is my compass, my true north. I couldn’t chuck it just because no system was working.

Then I stumbled upon a solution that has worked wonders for me. For years.

But here’s the funny thing, it likely WON’T work for you. I probably should have mentioned that at the beginning. Sorry.

Here’s the good news, the principle of why it worked for me will help you.

So what was the solution that worked wonders?

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 7.27.46 AM

It’s as easy as inserting your name and email address.

I started having my daily Bible reading sent to me through email. *fireworks shoot off in the background of your imagination as you think “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard in my life”*

That’s it. The most undisciplined guy became a disciplined Bible reader.

Why did this work for me?

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 7.32.24 AM

I count six emails. It’s getting a little out of hand.

It worked for me because my email inbox represents one area of my life where I am already disciplined. I have to have a clean inbox (see screenshot from my inbox this morning). Many of you may know this. So, by receiving my daily Bible reading in my inbox, I’ve channeled it to an area where I already have discipline. I don’t need to become disciplined in processing email. I’m already disciplined. And my discipline in that ensures I will process all emails including those that have daily Bible readings.

Did you catch the principle? Don’t start a new discipline. Instead, find an area that you are already disciplined. And somehow attach Bible to it.

Here are some possible examples where you may already be disciplined:

  • Do you always start the day with a cup of coffee or end it with a drink? Could you have Bible with your brew?
  • Do you always spend 10 minutes in the bathroom getting ready? Could you press play on an audio Bible so it’s read to you?
  • Do you always commute to work or walk to school? What are you thinking about? Would you have 5 minutes to listen to Bible? You’d still need to figure out weekends.
  • Do you always have a coffee/smoke/lunch break built into your day?
  • Do you always keep a clean inbox? My people! What I’ve described above really helped me. Give it a try!
  • Do you always sit in an endless line of cars outside your kids’ school at the end of the day waiting and waiting? Just me? Okay.
  • Do you always make dinner? There’s a window. If you eat cereal as much as me, that’s a very small window.
  • Do you always check your phone? What are you checking? Got time to check out Bible?
  • Do you always click through that news site or sports page? Can the Bible get clicked too?
  • Do you always keep up on your financial status? If you’re disciplined there, maybe, somehow, the Bible could get enfolded too.
  • Do you always work out? What do you listen to?
  • Do you always catch that favorite show? You’re disciplined there. How can Bible be enfolded into it? I have no idea. I’m just saying, you may already be disciplined in your tv watching.
  • Do you always keep up with a certain podcast? Can Bible be one of them?
  • Do you always make time in the evening to read whether on the couch or in bed? Boom. You got it.

Where are you the MOST disciplined? Is there any way possible to channel Bible reading through that disciplined area?

If you can somehow get the Bible enfolded into that which you always get done, you will become a disciplined Bible reader. At least, that’s been my experience.

Is modesty in the eye of the beholder?

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 10 Comments

The common phrase is “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

This means that beauty is not objective. It is subjective.

One person may gaze upon a piece of art entranced by its beauty. And another blithely walks by (I just used the word blithely).

Objective beauty requires a criterion of beauty to exist outside and beyond personal taste and opinion. Such criterion doesn’t exist (unless you play your God trump card).

Beauty is subjective. It’s based on personal feeling and opinion. One person’s eye is drawn toward while another’s turns away.

Does the principle hold true in regard to modesty? Is modesty in the eye of the beholder?

I don’t ask simply for sake of conjecture. I think there are critical implications to our answer.

We set the culture for the next generation. How we think and converse about such things is illustrative. We need to process afresh God’s teaching as it relates to culture right here and now.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.08.53 PMA few weeks ago, several friends shared on social media a post on leggings. It struck a nerve beyond what the author expected (hint: to strike a nerve, simply go online and say something controversial in a declarative and universal fashion). She had to attach an extra note exclaiming, “who knew that leggings were such a hot-button topic! I’m the last person who wants to defend or debate them. No thanks! (That means no more comments will be posted).”

To summarize, the author states this certain type of clothing should be worn like this, not that.

She established an objective standard based on her subjective opinion. Debate ensued.

Now the Bible does esteem modesty (1 Tim. 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3). The version of modesty presented in the Word includes not dressing provocatively. But that’s just one piece (that’s punny!) of the definition.

Additionally, the Bible speaks against extravagance and vanity. To dress modestly, beyond just sexual considerations, should include a desire to avoid flaunting wealth or ourselves.

dress_codeOne could argue that past definitions and rubrics of modesty have been far too limited. Skirt lengths are this. Shirts of that are forbidden. This is okay. That is not! And don’t even think of wearing leggings unless they are accompanied by that.

Yet, even in our Bibles, we don’t have an objective criterion. “Dress modestly, with decency and propriety.” Decency and propriety are subjective terms. What is decent and proper changes. It changes over time and from place to place.

Just try walking into your public library in your swimsuit. They told me to put a shirt on. The nerve of that librarian!

What is proper is not an objective standard. Propriety changes. What is decent depends.

As we discuss, I think it’s important to consider what may lie behind these biblical qualifiers (modesty, propriety, decency). For me, I see deference (respect, honor, etc.) for God and others. It’s out of a desire to honor, not please or piss off, God and others that we choose what to wear, and when to wear it, and where to wear it, and how to wear it.

For me, examining the heart in regard to this topic is a much harder, yet more compelling, conversation than, “should I wear this?” A better question might be, “Why am I choosing to wear this?”

Modesty-is-so-much-more-than-conservative-fashion-It-encompasses-both-the-body-and-the-heart-sm-2Of course, this gets much harder within institutions who feel compelled to utilize dress codes. That’s another conversation for another day!

You must have opinions on this topic. I’d love to hear them. Feel free to discuss whatever is on your mind, even if it’s not immediately addressed herein.

Readers of this blog tend to be believers that want to help one another have conversations about Christ that intersect with real life (rather than just stir up controversy!).

So what do you think?

How to bring up sensitive topics

Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP | 7 Comments

sensitive_det_largeLife is filled with sensitive issues. Right?

At times, you need to bring up a sensitive topic with others.

Unfortunately, most of us have examples of how NOT to bring it up. We’ve tried to bring it up. And it didn’t go well.

That doesn’t mean we should stop bringing things up. But it does mean we should consider how to do it more effectively next time.

So how do you bring it up?

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

#1 – Let them tell you how to bring it up.

This is a proactive step in relationships. Before there is anything sensitive to bring up, ask them (your spouse, roommate, office mate), “If I needed to speak to you about something sensitive, how could I do it so you’d be receptive to hearing me and conversing about it?”

They may want to read it in an email and have some time to think before talking in person. Or they may want to talk face-to-face immediately.

They may want you to be forthright in your comments or they may ask you to first hear them out?

Ultimately, they may disagree with your perception. But, if you do this, they can’t disagree with the approach you took. Read more on how matter and manner matter

#2 – Resist the urge to NOT bring it up.

There is a time to overlook and just move on. Read more on how ignoring is not the path to redeeming

Most people do not truly overlook such sensitive things. Instead they bleed out their concerns and criticisms in unhealthy ways like gossip and slander.

My rule is three strikes. If I think about it three times that’s an indication I need to bring it up.

Then we should discuss it, work it through, and move on.

#3 – Seek clarity before rendering judgment.

Rendering judgment without all the facts is foolishness. It will also be painful and time-consuming.

Instead, hearing another person out often reveals the breakdown. Isn’t this the plot of every sitcom? Simple misunderstanding leads to a domino of crazy events before coming to resolution.

Here’s how you do it. Say, “Help me to understand…” and then finish the line with whatever you observed. Help me to understand “these words,” “that action,” or “that decision.”

Help me to understand will yield clarity, at minimum. But it may even bring resolution.

#4 – Be forward-looking in your criticism. 

If there was a mistake, don’t beat them up about it. They can’t change the past.

Instead, consider a future reality (ideally, one they’re excited about) that is impossible if this pattern continues. Such an approach situates you alongside them rather than opposed to them.

This doesn’t mean that hurt should never be expressed. Expressing hurt is appropriate. But it should never be done where the main intent is to counter-hurt the other.

#5 – Reaffirm love and commitment to the friendship/relationship.

If I’m assured that at the end of the conversation this person will still love me and is committed to me, I can listen to just about anything, no matter how sensitive.

Make clear it’s your love and commitment that demand you bring up sensitive topics. It’s not because it’s easy. Or you like it. Or you like to make them feel bad. It’s for long-term health and vitality.

Those are a few of my tips.

What do you got? Seriously, add your thoughts. This is a conversation!

How that next thing keeps you from God

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 1 Comment
This is a picture of an urgent message. There's no urgent message. Even though I say that, you still are tempted to click on it.

This is a picture of an urgent message. There’s no urgent message. Even though I say that, you still are tempted to click on it. Aren’t you!

Have you ever experienced this?

The project deadline is two weeks away. Between now and then there will be little time for anything else. This includes God. The thinking is, “when I’m done with this, then I’ll get my relationship with God back on track.”

University finals loom on the horizon. Earlier in the semester God had a prominent place. But there’s just no time right now. On the other side of finals, then there will be more time and space for God.

Including God during this season just isn’t feasible. Things will slow down come next season. At least that’s the hope. Then God will become a priority.

Sound familiar? Me too.

If we pause for a moment, we know that there’s always a next thing. There’s always something that we can deem critical. And often this comes at the expense of God. Right?

Listen to C.S. Lewis,

“I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources.”

For a day or two. That resonates.

There’s always something that should or could get done.

It may even feel like the next thing is the most important thing.

But it’s not. At least not more important than God.

So how do you prevent the next thing from delaying God’s active involvement in your life?

And how do we maintain this for more than a day or two?

Do you have any practical tips or wisdom?

This is intended to spark conversation. But it requires your collaboration. Share your comment below.

Apathetic God? How God’s view of himself helps us resist apathy

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 5 Comments

“I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy.

It’s not giving a damn.”

Author Leo Buscaglia

It happens.

There are times when we won’t desire God.

It’s not just you. It’s me too. And I’m a pastor. Apathy is to pastor what incompetence is to teacher is what Keanu Reeves is to acting. They shouldn’t go together. But sometimes they do. And that’s unfortunate.

Apathy (a – without/not, pathos – emotion) is literally translated “without feeling.”

apathy-300x187Picture God in your mind. What do you see? And what’s your response to what you see? Apathy responds with a disinterested “meh.” There’s no excitement, no joy, no love, no feeling, no nothing.

In such moments, what do we do?

Before answering that question, consider this: God has never been apathetic toward himself.

Have you ever thought about that?

God’s thoughts about himself always result in passion and joy. In all eternity past, he’s always had strong feelings of love for himself. He’s never been without passion for who he is.

It’s remarkable.

How different I am. It’s easy to be apathetic about some part of me. My thoughts? Meh. My looks? Meh. My heart? Meh. My choices? Meh.

Is that ever true about how you view yourself?

But it’s never true of God.

Nor is any person of the triune Godhead ever without passion (i.e. apathetic) for the others. This means the Father has never once tired of loving the Son. And the Son has never wearied in loving the Father. There’s never been a time when God the Spirit has grumbled toward Father or Son. There’s been no apathy. Ever.

And it’s not just that God has loving feelings about himself. It’s that God is love.

To be God is to be passionate. He is strong desire. He is feeling. Love is who he is deep within his character.

So it seems accurate to contrast God and apathy. They appear to be polar opposites just like the opening quote suggests.

What does this mean for us? If it’s inevitable that we’ll feel “meh” towards God, what should we do?

#1 – Recognize God for who he is. God knows himself perfectly and there is ZERO apathy. God is love. He is not without feeling. He is never apathetic about himself.

#2 – See his passion for you. What do they call the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross? The passion of the Christ! God has not been “without feeling” in expressing his love for us.

#3 – There is more of God for us to know. We must see, acknowledge, feel, experience, desire, appreciate, and worship. Look at his character of love. Look at his passion on the cross. Keep looking. Keep seeking.

Why?

Because if we seek him, he promises us that we’ll find him. And when we do, we will not find apathy but love.

Questions: What do you think? Is any of this helpful? How do you fight apathy in your relationship with God?

Tweet: @pastorcor: consider this – God has never been apathetic toward himself. full post: http://ctt.ec/5daU8+

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