Self Care Isn’t Selfish

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

It was February when I moved to Austin, TX, for a new job. This was not my first major move, but this move was different. See, my family stayed in North Carolina for several months to finish out the school year while I started my new position. I was learning both a new job and a new city while also flying back to North Carolina to see my family almost every weekend. On top of that, I was also finalizing and editing my first book for an Easter publication date.

12080370_1080201292005127_7062043521799463920_oWithin just a few months, I found that I was pushing myself too hard. I was worried a lot, and my family missed me. The pace of life did not slow down even after the book was released, and my family moved to be with me in Austin. As time went on, I found that I was getting run down and out of shape.

After more than a year of pushing myself, I was dealing with heart issues, high blood pressure, and serious depression. Thankfully, I make a few small decisions to prioritize what was really important. During that time, I realized that I needed to make some big changes that eventually led me to leave Austin, TX, and change my career focus.

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

Michael Hyatt is an author, speaker, and CEO of Michael Hyatt and company. He is also the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and a New York Times best-selling author. Hyatt has long been one of the premier leadership bloggers and podcasters.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 6.28.34 AMHis most downloaded podcast ever was the Leader-Cast Event in Atlanta, where he spoke to 3500 people live. This event was broadcast to over 20 countries and 100,000 people around the world.

The title of his talk was, “Self-care as a leadership discipline.” In this talk, Hyatt shared that he had some serious heart scares that caused him to trade in the “hustle fallacy” for self-care. 

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

“And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

Why do you think God rested on the 7th day of creation? The first place we tend to cut is self-care. Did you know that reducing your sleep to 6 hours or less reduces your cognitive processes to the equivalent of being drunk? Michael Hyatt says, “Self-neglect causes crises that cripple careers.” 

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

The Bible teaches that those who do no work are lazy. However, the Bible says that those who don’t rest are disobedient. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe.” 

CZgq0QQUYAE343LToo many people are burning out. Think of the last time you felt fully relaxed and imagine if that was your every day. The truth is that self-care drives success and significance in the life of a Christ-follower.

You need rest to be at your best. Self-care also fuels creativity. If you are looking for a breakthrough, you may just need to take a break. What Michael Hyatt calls “The Hustle Fallacy” comes with a HIGH price. It can be effective in short spurts, but sprint after sprint after sprint led me to burnout.

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

The first place we tend to cut is self-care because it seems like an unnecessary luxury. Daily tasks like sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, connecting with people we love, engaging with meaningful hobbies, and making time for personal reflection take a back seat to the busyness of life. But, we need rest to be at our best. You are all you have to offer. It is not selfish to activate self-care.

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 6.40.18 AMJack Nevison did a study that showed 50 hours on the job yielded only 37 hours of productivity. However, if you raised it to 55 hours on the job, it caused a drop to only 30 hours of useful work. When we push past 50 hours in a week, we don’t get more done. 

As a Christian, you may feel that you must always work to help others. But, self-neglect is not a Christian concept. It can cause crises that cripple you from doing the work God has for you. Years of self-neglect will catch up with you in the form of a divorce, physical crash, or spiritual brokenness.

ASK YOURSELF: Do I want one-dimensional career success?

ASK YOURSELF: Do I want momentary success or significance that lasts?

In order to make a difference, you must take care of yourself.

Are You Under Attack?

“Because I said so!” 

Did you ever hear this phrase as a kid? I did. If I asked my mom why I had to do something or why couldn’t I do something, she would often say, “Because I said so!” That used to drive me crazy, and I vowed never to say that to my kids when I grew up. 

il_fullxfull.1425469338_dhofHowever, I now understand exactly why she used those words, and I have said them to my kids. My mom knew what was best for me and wanted to protect me from painful or challenging consequences. What I was blind to as a young, naive child, she could see clearly from the wisdom of experience.

So what does our heavenly Father tell us to do? God says that you should “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5). 

Let me ask you, who or what do you pray for? 

I would guess that you pray for wisdom to deal with difficult situations you’re going through. You probably pray for people you love who are struggling with health issues or making tough decisions. I’m sure you also pray to thank God for the blessings He has provided you and your loved ones. 

Well, what about your enemies? 

bigstock-Man-Holding-Pray-Word-In-Palm-60692744-1-minHave you ever prayed for an enemy?

It takes an immense amount of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to manage situations in which someone is attacking you. Betrayal by others causes bitterness that can eat away at you. Your enemy’s words and actions aim at breaking you down and dominating the situation. 

If this is the case, why would I suggest that you pray for them? Well, because God says so! Praying for your enemies may not be an easy step to take, but it’s imperative and is the best way to guard yourself against the attacks of your enemies. 

We can see an example of this in the book of Esther.

Esther was a beautiful, orphaned Jewish girl. She was a God-fearing woman who was chosen to be the queen of a pagan king who didn’t know she was a Jew. The king was influenced by his right-hand man, Haman, who was an enemy of the Jewish people and was plotting to have them killed. 

1102016075_univ_cnt_2_xlEsther found out about this plot and chose to fast and pray in response. She also risked her life to approach the king and ask for his mercy on her people, God’s people. The king’s heart softened because of how much he adored her, which caused him to overrule the plot to kill the Jews and caused the downfall of Haman.

Now, if God has the power to use an orphaned Jewish girl to change the heart of a king ready to kill an entire race of people, he certainly has the power to change the heart of your enemy. He also has the power to change you through your circumstances because you pray. Focus on glorifying God, even with those who are the hardest for you to love. Imagine the emotional health and freedom that you would experience as a result of following His instructions to pray for and love your enemy. 

When you get angry or frustrated at the actions or words of an enemy, don’t let that anger poison your heart. Change your thoughts to prayers and use the situation to submit fully to God and show others His work in you. Pray not only for God to change that person’s heart, but also pray for Him to change yours.

“A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.” 

– Leonard Ravenhill

4 VISIONARY STEPS

Vision is powerful.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 6.16.49 AMAbout 350 years ago, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a townsite. The next year they elected a town government. The third year, the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.

Henry Ford said, “I’m looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what can’t be done.” Helen Keller said the only thing “worse than being blind would be to be able to see but not have any vision.” When asked what he thought about when he struck out, Babe Ruth said, “I think about hitting home runs.”

Vision is powerful.

Here are four visionary steps you can take today.


STEP 1: REALIZE HOW MUCH IS AHEAD

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.08.45 AMWhen you are young, it is easy to dream about all the things the future has for you. As we get older and have more life experiences, there are more things to think back on from our past. However, there is always much more ahead than behind for all of us.

The gift of God is eternal life. Anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ has received the free gift of eternal life and has tapped into the life that our Infinite God shares with us. What is ahead of us is an unlimited and unending experience of living with and in God. There is more ahead than behind. As Christians, we have a lot to look forward to.

Do you realize how much is ahead?

STEP 2: ASK GOD FOR GREATER VISION

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.04.45 AM“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5). Anyone who asks God for wisdom will receive it, but we would do well to understand the word wisdom in this context. Dr. Tom Constable writes: “Wisdom is seeing life realistically from God’s perspective.” 

Wisdom is vision. There is no better vantage point to see what is happening in our lives than from God’s perspective. He is the ultimate gauge for both physical and spiritual things. God can see the future in the same way that we see the past. He has infinite knowledge of both actual and potential things to come. How awesome is it that this all-knowing Being has a plan for you?

Have you asked God for greater vision?

STEP 3: HONOR YOUR PAST BY NOT LIVING IN IT

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.10.58 AMSometimes Facebook gives me the option to “share a memory” and it often causes me to reminisce and feel nostalgic. More often than not, I will choose not to share the memory, but it usually stays with me for a while after I see it. I think Facebook does this because they understand how much we like to remember things from the past.

The past is powerful. For many of us, there is a fear of moving forward in faith. When an organization or an individual begins to look and move forward, it may feel as though the past is not being honored. However, it is the past that has brought you to where you are and has prepared you to take the next step. The past prepares you for progress. Our past was not designed to get us where we are. Our past was designed by God to get us where we are going.

Are you honoring the past by not living in it?

STEP 4: GLANCE BACK BUT GAZE FORWARD

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 4.13.16 AMHave you ever thought about why the windshield on your car is so much larger than the rearview mirror? I suppose it would be difficult to move forward if your vision was dominated by what is behind you. When driving, it is important to remember that we should glance back but gaze forward.

Imagine if you saw someone driving and they were staring into their rearview mirror the whole time. Unless they were driving in reverse, some bad things could happen. The past must be viewed with the proper perspective, or it can paralyze an organization and keep it from moving forward.

Are you glancing back and gazing forward?


Soon after the completion of Disney World, someone said, “Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?” Mike Vance, creative director of Disney Studios, replied, “He did see it; that’s why it’s here.”

Vision is powerful. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without a clear vision, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

Vision is powerful.

1

Are Your Valuables Safe?

What is your most valuable possession?

Think about it.

Where is your most valuable possession?

Are your valuables safe?

Copy of Copy of UntitledPerhaps the first step in answering these questions is knowing the real value of things. In a 1987 edition of The Atlanta Journal Constitution, there is a story about a rock collector named Rob Cutshaw. The article describes Rob owning a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. Like many in the trade, he hunts for rocks, then sells them to collectors or jewelry makers. Rob knows enough about rocks to decide which to pick up and sell, but he’s no expert. He leaves the appraising of the rocks to other people. As much as Rob enjoys the work, it doesn’t always pay the bills. He occasionally moonlights, cutting wood to help put bread on the table.

Here is where it gets interesting. While on a dig years ago, Rob found a rock he described as “purdy and big.” He tried unsuccessfully to sell the specimen, and according to the article, he kept the rock under his bed or in his closet. He guessed the blue chunk could bring as much as $500, but he would have taken less if something urgent came up like paying his power bill.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 6.37.14 AMThat’s how close Rob came to hawking for a few hundred dollars what turned out to be the largest, most valuable sapphire ever found. The blue rock that Rob had abandoned to the darkness of a closet decades ago is now known as “The Star of David” sapphire. It weighs nearly a pound, and could quickly sell for $2.75 million.

TRUTH: Things are not always what they seem.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus says there are two types of treasures. One is good, and one is bad. But we need to know which is which. Sometimes we get them confused. Location one is Earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.” Location two is Heaven, “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

I want to ask you another question.

What do you think happens after you die?

1 John 4:17 says, “We may have confidence for the day of judgment.” The day of judgment John mentions is a mystery worth explaining. The Bema Seat of Christ and The Great White Throne of Judgment are the two significant judgments mentioned in the Bible. The Great White Throne of Judgment is for unbelievers, and the Bema (Judgment) Seat of Christ is for believers.

8d280c3c88e416c00f2684cce453d590As believers, we do not have to fear the judgment of our sins. Christ took our punishment upon Himself at the cross. John says we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment. OUR SERVICE will be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ, not OUR SIN.

When we stand before Him, it will be for REWARD, not REPRIMAND. This believer’s payday is where we will receive the treasure Jesus taught about when he said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

The Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Life, the Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Rejoicing, and the Crown of Glory are five of the crowns of reward mentioned in the New Testament. Unlike the rewards we receive here in life on earth, the rewards we receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ for heaven are eternal and will never perish.

The thing that a person values most highly inevitably occupies the center of his or her heart. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotion, and will. What is your most valuable possession? Where is your most valuable possession? Are your valuables safe?

The body of missionary David Livingstone was buried in England, where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village, the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of the missionary they loved and respected. If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? In your pocketbook? Down in the office?

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your heart?

Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Are your valuables safe?

God Or Money. Make A Choice.

Who do you serve?

You can follow God or money, but not both.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 6.59.22 AMOn March 31st, 1999, a movie titled The Matix released. Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) can answer his question — What is the Matrix? Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill by this rebel leader, Morpheus. The red pill would free him from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allow him to escape into the real world. But living the “truth of reality” is harsher and more difficult.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 6.59.42 AMOn the other hand, the blue pill represented a beautiful prison, which would lead him back to ignorance. He would live in confined comfort without want or fear within this simulated reality of the Matrix. Holding out a capsule on each of his palms, Morpheus describes the choice facing Neo. “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 6.59.38 AM“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24

Make a choice. God or money.

You can follow God or money, but not both.

God has a lot to say about money in the Bible. There are more than 2,000 scriptures on tithing, money, and possessions in the Old and New Testaments. That’s double the number of references to faith and prayer combined. God has a good reason why he spends so much time talking about money. Money will be one of the fiercest idols you face in your relationship with God. When it comes to our relationship with God, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

You know what’s not exciting? Paying bills. You know what is exciting? Positioning your local church financially to accomplish what God is leading them to do in your community. In the words of the apostle Paul, “See that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, NIV).

The Bible teaches that Christian giving is an act of worship. Do you realize that giving is a part of worship? Is your worship in this area abundant or inhibited? I understand this topic is uncomfortable for many. But talking about money is essential to equipping us to live out our faith in Christ. Not talking about money is like not warning someone of impending danger.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 5.57.28 AMThink about this. Ships don’t sink because of the water AROUND them, ships sink because of the water that gets IN them. Get in the habit of giving things away. Jesus is the most generous person who ever lived. In response to Jesus’ generosity, we are called to be generous. We can’t take it with us when we go. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24). Christian giving must be willing and free.

Are you giving willingly?

Make a choice. God or money.

You can follow God or money, but not both.

ALL. (what God really wants)

Have you ever thought about what God really wants from you?

ALL. That’s what God really wants. ALL.

“All means all, and that is all that all means.” -Dr. Norman Geisler

allLet me explain. Christians are called to be great-commandment, great-commission, and great-commitment people. And all three of those are all-inclusive. They require an “everybody-in” as well as an “all-in” approach to following God. It is so easy to look cool when you have done nothing. But the Christian life is an “all-in” and “all-inclusive” deal.

“When the Creator of the universe tells us to do something, He expects us to do it — now. Delayed obedience is disobedience.” -Rick Warren


Dr. Wayne Bray illustrates it this way in his book, Inside Out.

Imagine a Navy Seal diving in dangerous waters to pull vulnerable victims from a threat of a raging storm. It is unfathomable to consider that such a sacrificial servant would stop to complain about how uncomfortable it was to get water in his ears. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 12.27.01 AMWhy? He is on a mission. It’s what he’s been prepared for, the purpose for his existence. What if the call for help came to the Navy Seal and he responded by saying he would head the victims’ direction immediately after the baseball game is over. “It’s just not a convenient time right now.”

This is a ludicrous scenario, but it’s because the man’s purpose demands a particular response. It’s why he exists, the reason he has trained and prepared. It’s not just a job; it’s the Seal’s identity. You too have been called to a sacrificial purpose. When someone is lost in sin, we don’t debate if it’s convenient or comfortable to attempt a rescue. Rescue is more than what we do; it’s who we are.


The Christian life is an “all-in” and “all-inclusive” deal in at least three ways.

1. THE GREAT COMMANDMENT IS ALL-INCLUSIVE

  • MATTHEW 22: And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind.”

2. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS ALL-INCLUSIVE 

  • MATTHEW 28: And Jesus came and said to them, “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you.”

3. THE GREAT COMMITMENT IS ALL-INCLUSIVE 

  • 1 CORINTHIANS 9: “I have become ALL things to ALL people, that by ALL means, I might save some. I do it ALL for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them (ALL) in its blessings.”

Dvm5dFFXQAEY3Vr 2So let me ask you a question. What are you willing to become in order to keep a person out of hell? What is your church willing to become in order to keep a person out of hell? Charles Spurgeon said, “Consider how precious a soul must be when both God and the devil are after it.”

Disciples have moved from being a recipient of the church’s mission to being responsible for the church’s mission. But we must all work together. Remember, Judas had the best pastor, the best leader, the best adviser, and the best counselor. Yet he failed. We, too, live in a time where division is celebrated more than unity.

So, what about you?

Have you ever thought about what God really wants from you?

Is there something you need to let go of today so that you can give Him your all?

ALL. That’s what God really wants. ALL.

TOP TEN BLOGS

Over the past three months, we have posted 45 new blogs. It’s a bit overwhelming to know that those posts have received 14,225 views and 12,238 audio downloads. We have also enjoyed hearing encouraging feedback from many of you in person and through messages on social media. We’ve already started creating new content for next month that we look forward to sharing with you. 

Here are the TOP 10 POSTS from the last three months based on your views.

  1. The Church Is Not Walmart
  2. 5 Lies I Hear as a Pastor
  3. God Told Me To Get Divorced
  4. Broken | The Example of Ruth
  5. Blessing and Cursing 
  6. Are You a Fraud Like Me?
  7. The 7 Deadly Sins 
  8. You Can Choose Joy
  9. Losing My Dad
  10. Dealing with Conflict

Looking back over the past three months, we see that your decision to share a post drastically improves the reach of the message. Would you consider being intentional about sharing the blogs as we continue in 2020? You could get started by clicking on any of the titles above and reposting one of the Top Ten now.

Thanks again for reading, listening, and sharing! We appreciate your support, and we look forward to sharing more with you in March. And don’t forget to subscribe now to never miss a post.

Missing God? Try Missing a Meal!



Have you ever missed a meal for spiritual reasons?

“Fasting is the deliberate abstinence from some form of physical gratification, for a period of time, in order to achieve a greater spiritual goal.” – Dr. Tony Evans

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 11.02.10 PMIf you are like me, I don’t like missing meals for any reason! However, some of us are living with spiritual handcuffs on; trying to serve and follow God when we can’t even raise our hands because we are handcuffed. Each time we walk out of church, we walk right back into the bondage and the sin that has us in handcuffs.

Satan knows that when we wake up in the morning, all he has to do is bring that one immoral thought into our minds, and he has us. But when we fast, God says He will break the chains of addictions and problems. Chains that we can’t break ourselves and that no one else can break for us begin to fall away because of God’s supernatural power. God says if we haven’t fasted yet, we haven’t been to the right program.

God is the program.

Whatever you are dealing with today, God is the solution, not the problem.

How do you feel when you think about not eating? According to Isaiah 58:4, the purpose of fasting is “to make your voice heard on high.” When we fast with the proper motivation, our voice is heard in heaven. We enter God’s presence, uniquely and powerfully.

Fasting is always “when” not “if” in the Bible. Jesus did not say, “If you fast.” He stated to His disciples, “When you fast.” He left no doubt that His disciples would miss a meal from time to time for spiritual reasons. Fasting is a tangible way of demonstrating to God that we are setting aside our own desires and physical needs to focus on spiritual matters.


THREE TYPES OF FASTING

1. ABSOLUTE FAST | Abstaining from all food as well as water

intermittent-fastingAn absolute fast usually is no longer than three days. For example, Luke records that Saul “neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9) for three days. The body cannot naturally survive much longer than three days without water. However, there are also supernatural absolute fasts with very long durations. For two separate periods of forty days and forty nights, Moses neither ate nor drank. Moses experienced a supernatural absolute fast without food or water that lasted eighty days.

2. NORMAL FAST | Abstaining from all food but not from water

Jesus fasted for forty days before facing the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). This was a normal fast where Jesus abstained from all food but not from water. It says that Jesus “after fasting … was hungry” (Matt. 4:2) but not thirsty. The Bible records that “He ate nothing” but not that He drank nothing (Luke 4:2).

3. PARTIAL FAST | Abstaining from a specific food or item

During his early days in Georgia, John Wesley adopted a “bread diet,” that is, he lived exclusively on dry bread. Others have partially fasted by omitting a particular meal each day, which strictly limits the quantity of food consumed.

In two separate seasons of my life, I completed a 40-day partial fast. During those times, I removed all solid food  from my diet, focused on prayer, and was able to hear more clearly from God. A partial fast has real value, especially when circumstances make it impossible or inconvenient to undertake a normal fast. A partial fast may serve as a step toward a normal fast.

“In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks” (Daniel 10:2-3).


WHY SHOULD WE FAST?

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 11.03.40 PMSince about 1937, airplanes have been pressurized so they can fly above the clouds. Before then, planes had to fly low so they could stay in the atmosphere. As soon as you start fasting and praying, Satan and his demons are going to line up at the cloud level. And they are going to try to keep you below the clouds, so you don’t fly high and reach the heights God has for you. Fasting and praying give you the power to break through the clouds. So don’t let Satan  keep you on the ground. It is time to fly.

Some issues can only be resolved by prayer and fasting. For example, Jesus’ disciples attempted to heal a boy, and they failed. After his disciples tried and failed, Jesus himself healed the boy. The disciples later asked Jesus privately why they had failed. His answer was that it could not happen “except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21).

Fasting channels power.

Where in your life are you trying and failing because you don’t have the power of God? If every Christian fasted, the results would change our lives for the better and shake our culture. If you are missing the power of God in your life, try missing a meal.


FOOD CONNECTS

Would you like a simple way to improve your life?

Take a break!

There once was a young lumberjack who had become quite proud of his speed at cutting down trees. He got to the point that he felt he was ready to challenge an older lumberjack, who was also known for his ability, to a tree-cutting contest. 

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 2.40.49 PMSo they began chopping. The younger man went at it with all his vigor. He chopped down one tree after another without stopping the whole day. He thought things looked pretty good for him because he noticed that the older lumberjack took about a fifteen-minute break every hour. He would sit down, eat a snack, and talk with his friends. 

But at the end of the day, the older lumberjack had chopped down one-third more trees than the younger man. Somewhat miffed and puzzled, the younger man went to the old master of forestry and asked, “How in the world could you cut down more trees than me taking a fifteen-minute break every hour?” The wise older lumberjack looked at him and said, “Because when I stopped cutting, I took time to sharpen my ax.”

A lot of us chop away all the time, and then wonder why the trees aren’t falling. We look at other people who don’t seem to be working half as hard as we are, yet they seem to be making a lot more progress. Maybe the difference is they have taken time to sharpen their ax. We all need to take a break. We all need to take time to sit down, have a meal, and connect with people.


Food connects. 

bigstock-141658667-800x526Did you know that the word “companion” comes from the Latin “cum” (“together”) and “panis” (“bread”)? Companionship literally means coming together for bread. Companionship is a big part of sharing a meal. Someone we share food with is more likely to be our friend, or at least on the way to becoming one. Food connects us with family, turns strangers into friends, and connects us with people around the world. 

Robert Putman reveals that there’s been a 33 percent decrease in families eating together over the last three decades. And more than half of those families are watching television as they eat. Over the same period of time, there’s been a 45 percent decline in people entertaining friends in their homes. You are what you eat, people say. Tim Chester says that we express who we want to be through food. When things go wrong, food becomes a place of comfort. Food is so much more than fuel. 

Food connects. 

Our life at the table can help us encounter the mystery of God and His desire to know us. Jesus was serious about eating and drinking. His enemies even accused him of being a glutton. “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at Him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'” (Luke 7:34).

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 2.49.25 PMThe problem here is not that heaven will be a party. The Pharisees knew God’s kingdom was going to be a party. Their objection is with the guest list. Tax collectors were social outcasts who commonly used their position to cheat people. Robert Karris notes, “In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal or coming from a meal.” The meals of Jesus represent a new outlook on grace, community, and missions. 

Food connects. 

Even when Jesus is not eating, references to food abound throughout the Gospel. In Luke 14, Jesus tells a parable of a great banquet. In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son, which ends with a party. In Luke 16, he contrasts a rich man “who feasted sumptuously every day” with a beggar “who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table.” 

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, Luke tells about a woman who provided food for Jesus. In Luke 22, Jesus tells His disciples: “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” Meals are used to describe salvation and judgment. Even people are described in terms of good food and bad food.


06052018-GraceGodsUnmeritedFavor-DrAdrianNaidooThe meals of Jesus represent a new outlook of grace. The meals of Jesus show us His message of grace and the way it defines His community and its mission. After being questioned about who He spent time eating with, this is how Jesus explains Himself: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31–32). 

Would you like a simple way to improve your life?

Take a break!

Take time to sit down, have a meal, and connect with someone. 

 

Talk Less! Pray More!

What happens when you pray?

GettyImages-170636630-5a076b6de258f80037f48d72Dr. Tony Evans gives a powerful illustration of prayer. He talks about all the things in your house that will only work because of electricity. Electricity is an invisible power that gives you visible privileges. It turns the lights on, turns the TV on, turns the toaster on, and turns the oven on. All that stuff is working in your house because you’ve got one invisible power shooting through there called electricity.

But none of those things work even though they have access to electricity until you flip on a switch. It is not enough just to plug something in; you have to flip the switch. You’ve got to make a connection and flip the switch before the stuff that’s there works. Every believer in Jesus Christ has stuff that works. But that stuff won’t work without flipping the switch of prayer. 

Talk less and pray more.

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In his book, Why Revival TarriesLeonard Ravenhill said, “A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning.” Here are two more powerful thoughts from Ravenhill.

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.”

“The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer—the highest ministry of all human offices—is open to all.” 

Talk less and pray more.

Now, this is not meant to say that we should not talk at all, just that we should talk less and pray more. He who kneels before God will stand in any situation. There is a big difference between information and inspiration. Talking leads to being informed. Prayer, real prayer, leads to being inspired. Leonard Ravenhill suggested that “Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the businessman.”

E. M. BOUNDS — “Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails.”

imagesWe should talk less and pray more because prayer cleans you up when you are dirty. Now you may be reading this, and you think you are squeaky clean. YOU ARE NOT. “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10). “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). You don’t have to be Catholic to confess. Confession is a part of everyday Christian life and a part of prayer! I remember growing up in the Baptist church and thinking that confession was just for Catholics. The Bible does not command us to confess to a priest, but we are to confess.

We should talk less and pray more because prayer provides power when there is weakness. God is the ultimate source of comfort. Paul describes Him as the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor. 1:3–4). Peter wrote about, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). From the stomach of a great fish, the disobedient prophet, Jonah prayed, “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple” (Jonah 2:7).

depresionWe should talk less and pray more because prayer gives life when things are dying. Jesus did not die on the cross for people to go to church for one hour a week. We need to get saved from that kind of thinking. Unfortunately, the younger generations may never have seen the powerful move of the Holy Spirit. I want my kids to pray. I want to leave a legacy of the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to know where you are going, just who you are going with. The way God works, you have to stay slightly disorganized at all times. Some hard problems are only solved by hard prayer. When people pray, things happen. Don’t give up. Do you hear me? Don’t give up. God does not leave you high and dry when you pray.

Talk less and pray more.


Would you like a simple way to pray? Think of the acronym BLESS to remember five healthy ways to pray. I have attached a guide to encourage you to and pray five blessings for five people for five minutes a day for five days a week for five weeks.

Talk less and pray more.

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