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Find Your “Happy Few” – Why Friendships Wither

Real FriendshipKey Bible Verse: Never abandon a friend—either yours or your father’s. Then in your time of need, you won’t have to ask your relative for assistance. Proverbs 27:10

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 18:24; 19:4,6; 20:6; 19:4,6;; 20:6

There’s a line in Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall where he says to Diane Keaton, “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we’ve got on our hands is a dead shark.”

Some friendships die because they aren’t moving forward—from stagnation or neglect. You meant to call but didn’t. You knew it was his birthday but were too busy to celebrate.

Friendships need to be nurtured. When we’re busy, we only do what comes easily, and even good friendships aren’t always easy. So if your friend has an annoying trait, if he’s loud, or cheap, or a habitual complainer, say, you’re more likely to neglect the relationship. Of course, the same is true when your friend is neglecting you.

But whether it’s you or him, neglect is sure to cause a rift. And when it does, it almost always catches us off guard, when we’re going through stressful times at school, work, or home that makes us less attentive and less able to respond. That’s why it can seem that the best friendships fail precisely when we need them the most.

—Les and Leslie Parrott in ChristianityToday.com

My Response: In what ways do I do “what comes easy” in relationships?

Thought to Apply: The most fatal disease of friendship is gradual decay. Friendships must be kept in constant repair. —Samuel Johnson (English writer)

Adapted from ChristianityToday.com (12/02).

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I invite you to work in my life through a real friend. And please use me in his life as well.

 

 

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Find Your “Happy Few” – Beyond Comfortable to Stretching

Real FriendshipKey Bible Verse: As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

Bonus Reading: Prov. 27:6, 9

There’s a certain “niceness” to friendships where I can be, as they say, myself. But what I really need is relationships in which I’m encouraged to become better than myself, developing to be more Christlike each day.

Stanley Jones, an American missionary to India, wrote of penning a response to a letter from a harsh critic. Irritated by the letter, Jones gave vent to his feelings of hurt and defensiveness. But before he mailed his response, he offered his friends a chance to read it and to offer judgment. When the unsent letter was returned to him, he saw that one of his “happy few” had written across the top “not sufficiently redemptive.” Wise man that Jones was, he destroyed the letter. His friends had held him to a higher standard.

Among my “happy few” are a couple of thinkers who are unafraid to poke and prod into my mind with different viewpoints than I have. They challenge my politics, my theology, and my self-confidence about life-direction. They won’t let me slide by with intellectual superficiality.

Looking back across the years, I’ve asked myself, Who were the people I’ve appreciated the most? Almost every one of them is someone who was tough with me, who expected me to rise higher in character and conduct than I might have by myself.

—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life

My Response: Have I given a friend permission to hold me to a higher standard?

Thought to Apply: To speak painful truth through loving words is friendship. —Henry Ward Beecher (minister)

Adapted from A Resilient Life (Nelson, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I invite you to work in my life through a real friend. And please use me in his life as well.

 

 

Find Your “Happy Few” – From Casual to Close

Real FriendshipKey Bible Verse: Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  –  Romans 12:10.

Bonus Reading: John 13:34-35

Some people make friends easily. It’s harder for the rest of us. Most friendships begin casually and will stay that way, because they’re based on a few things you have in common (like where you work, where you live, or where you worship). But with some casual friends, you’ll sense similar commitments in faith, character, and integrity. You’ll intentionally start spending more time together. That’s how meaningful friendships begin: slowly.

Close friends appreciate each other’s similarities, but don’t allow each other’s differences to divide them. They encourage each other. Overcoming their natural inclinations to hold a grudge, they’re quick to forgive each other. Why? Because they firmly believe the other would never do anything to intentionally offend them, and because it interferes with the relationship.

Your casual friends will be around whenever they need you. But when the going gets tough, shallow friendships evaporate. Your closest friends will be around whenever you need them. Tough times strengthen a close friendship because the bond of commitment to each is revealed. Difficult circumstances usually give one friend the opportunity to act sacrificially for the sake of the other.

—Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz in Simple Matters

My Response: Someone I could benefit from spending more time with is …

Adapted from Simple Matters (Promise Press, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I invite you to work in my life through a real friend. And please use me in his life as well.

 

Find Your “Happy Few” – Disposable Friendships?

Real FriendshipWho Said It…Jerome Daly

Jerome Daly pursues the passion of his life—intimacy with God and people—in partnership with his wife, Kellie. Through oneFlesh Ministries, the Daleys speak, write, and lead worship.

Jerome likes to return—with his three children or alone on writing retreats—to the house his grandfather built in a Blue Ridge Mountain town.

What He Said…Disposable Friendships?

We live in a disposable society—we change jobs, change cities, and change relationships with dizzying frequency. But that’s our culture, not our spiritual DNA. We’re designed for lasting relationships—lifelong marriages and, yes, even lifelong friendships.

I’m convinced that community ripens over time and only grows sweet and nourishing in the context of commitment and longevity. We mustn’t be such willing slaves to the dictates of this world’s system! The practice of replacing our friendships as regularly as we replace our wardrobes or automobiles assures us of an untested crew when the inevitable storms arise.

And these are just the personal deficits; what about the larger losses? The world is supposed to recognize us as Jesus’ disciples because of our committed love for one another; this uncommon selflessness will demonstrate the lordship of Christ in a way no preaching can. However, if we bail on one another as soon as we encounter difficulty, then we merely reinforce our superficiality. The Kingdom of God requires more of us.

Adapted from When God Waits (WaterBrook, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I invite you to work in my life through a real friend. And please use me in his life as well.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Authentic Christianity

Authentic ChristianityPaul devoted his first letter incorporated into Scripture to passionately refuting the claims of Jewish agitators.

They were telling converts from his first missionary journey that they must conform to Jewish law to insure right standing with God.

Paul insisted that, empowered by the Spirit, they had been set free from the power of sin, set free to love and serve Christ and others.

Interact with God’s Word:  Galatians 6:1-3

  1. After assuring his Gentile readers that weren’t subject to Jewish ceremonial law, Paul speaks (v. 2) of obeying the law of Christ. What do you think he is referring to?
  2. As Christians, how do we practically share each other’s troubles and problems?
  3. Why (v. 3) are we not excused from helping each other?
  4. How about being on the receiving end? Should any Christian ever think he is totally independent and doesn’t need help from others?
  5. Think of a Christian brother (v. 1) who needs correction or encouragement. How could you gently and humbly reach out to that person?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to help you to move beyond self-centeredness to the interdependent godliness that Paul describes in these vers

Galatians 6:1-3

1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Contagious Candor

Authentic ChristianityKey Bible Verse: So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we all belong to each other.  – Ephesians 4:25

Bonus Reading: Galatians 6:1-3

A team of Christian men recently conducted a Manhood Without Models seminar at Seattle Pacific University. Each of us on the team—two pastors, three laymen— honestly shared our own stories, including both failures and victories, and the lessons we’d learned from them.

Dwight, one of those who attended the seminar, was an elder from a prominent local evangelical church. “I’ve never heard honesty like this before,” Dwight said in one of the small discussion groups. He went on to share his own story of private pain about his rebellious son, who had run away from home twice in the last year.

“I haven’t told anyone else about this before today,” he admitted, “especially anyone at church. I was too afraid of what they’d think. But hearing you men share about your own struggles has helped me to see that I need to reach out for help too.”

I called Dwight a couple of weeks after the seminar to ask how he was doing. “Great!” he exclaimed. “My son and my wife and I have started working with a family counselor, and it’s going really well! I can’t thank you and the other men enough for modeling that it’s okay to reach out for help.”

—Patrick Means in Men’s Secret Wars

My Response: What experience of failure or victory should I share to help my buddies get real?

Thought to Apply: You can never establish a personal relationship without opening up your own heart. —Paul Tournier (Swiss psychologist)

Adapted from Men’s Secret Wars (Revell, 1996, 1999, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – What They Chew Over

Authentic ChristianityKey Bible Verse: I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.  – Romans 1:12

Bonus Reading: Romans 1:10-12

Jay’s men’s group has met at 6:30 at a coffeehouse every other Friday morning for the last three years. Long enough to get used to each other stepping into the hard spaces of one another’s lives.

Recently Shaun reported that he hasn’t been struggling with Internet porn at work. Ed said his business trip was “uneventful” and that he shared his faith with a guy on the plane. Matt described the “good flow” that he and his wife, Carol, have been enjoying—an answer to prayer after the previous week’s “doghouse” tale.

When Jeff announced that his sister was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, the guys just listened. Travis, who didn’t have anything dramatic to share, felt led to offer Jeff a frequent-flyer ticket to Denver to see his ailing sister.

As for Jay, he took advantage of the time to confess that he’s struggling to connect with his wife, Alene, and asked for advice on how to break through the resentment preventing him from loving her the way God loves him.

No subject is taboo as God’s Word is brought to bear on it. Advice from guys who care about one’s spiritual welfare can be trusted. And it feels good to have someone watching your back.

—Kenny Luck in Every Man, God’s Man

My Response: Who do I need to watch my back? Whose back could I watch?

Thought to Apply: We are born helpless. … We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually … if we are to know anything, even ourselves. —C.S. Lewis

Adapted from Every Man, God’s Man (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Masculine Matters

Authentic ChristianityKey Bible Verse: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 27:6

When we ask guys if they’re connected spiritually somewhere, they often reply that they’re in a couple’s Bible study. Then we ask them if, in their couples’ group, they’ve ever talked about their struggles with porn on the Internet or with hot babes at work. We’ve yet to hear a positive response.

When in the company of women—including our wives—we simply don’t discuss the things we need to deal with. Lust and temptation aren’t the only topics. We need to deal candidly with the dynamics unique to men in marriage, career, and parenting.

Most importantly, we need to be real with one another about our progress in commitment to Christ in all areas of life. Men become men in the company of other men. Ask any warrior in any culture.

Connecting with other men isn’t optional for men who want to do life God’s way. As they share their commitment to spiritual growth, they can sustain their momentum and achieve personal changes faster than if they attempt to go it alone. No big mystery; that’s God plan.

—Kenny Luck & Todd Wendorff in Being God’s Man by Pursuing Friendships

My Response: Have I volunteered for serious discipling in a male-only context? How could I get started?

Thought to Apply: We Christian men need each other. There is strength in numbers. When isolated and separated from our brothers, we are easy picking for the enemy of our souls.  —Robert Daniels (author pseudonym)

Adapted from Being God’s Man by Pursuing Friendships (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Banter Breaker

Authentic ChristianityKey Bible Verse: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  – James 5:16

Bonus Reading: Matthew 18:19-20

Years ago I was part of a group of guys who got together for breakfast every Saturday. We liked to think we had some deep relationships going, but our talk was mostly about “da Bears,” “da Bulls,” “da Cubs,” and “da Hawks.” (Hey, this was Chicago!)

One day one of the guys was quiet. We routinely asked him how things were going, expecting a smile and a “Fine, how ’bout you?” Instead, he blurted out, “Guys, my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do!” I was so shocked that I almost dropped my toast. With one outburst he’d shattered our group’s veneer.

Suddenly we found ourselves rallying around him, praying for him, and revealing things about ourselves we had suppressed in the past. The experience drew us together like we’d never been before, and it changed the dynamics of our group forever. One person’s risk-taking had revolutionized our relationships.

Going deep requires disclosure. Transparency should be appropriate, equal, and gradual, and it should come after trust and confidentiality have been established. But at some point it has to come, or the relationship will remain shallow and ultimately unfulfilling.

—Lee Strobel in God’s Outrageous Claims

My Response: My guys group fellowship would go deeper if we agreed to …

Thought to Apply: When friends stop being frank and useful to each other, the whole world loses some of its radiance.  —Anatole Broyard (literary critic)

Adapted from God’s Outrageous Claims (Zondervan, 1997, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Cut and Run?

Authentic ChristianityKey Bible Verse: The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  – 1 Corinthians 12:21

Bonus Reading: Hebrews 10:23-25

I can’t believe I’m doing this, Clayton thinks as he maneuvers his Ford Taurus through the early-morning rain. At least there’s no traffic at this hour. Well, in 90 minutes it’ll be over. And if it’s weird, I’ll tell Ted, “Sorry, but it’s just not for me.” What had Ted called it? “A men’s accountability/prayer group”? Clayton just can’t picture a bunch of guys sitting in a public restaurant (okay, a private room, but still!) talking openly about their problems and asking each other personal questions.

As Clayton switches lanes, he toys with turning around and heading home—or fleeing to the office. How safe is it to share your problems with a bunch of guys you barely know? Besides, I don’t have any real crises. What if I say something innocent and all of a sudden they want to pray for me? … put their hands on me? If they do that, I’m outta there!

Through his rain-streaked windshield Clayton sees the restaurant ahead. Moments later he finds himself inside the small meeting room. Guys are smiling and introducing themselves. Ted comes over and says, “Hey, Clayton, glad you decided to join us!”

Clayton smiles weakly. “Good to be here,” he mumbles, slipping into the chair closest to the door.

—Len Woods in Tough Choices

My Response: When does opening up seem most risky to me?

Adapted from Tough Choices (Multnomah, 1998)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

 

Hold Back or Open Up? – Marks of Authenticity

Authentic ChristianityWho Said It … Jamie Bohnett

Jamie Bohnett directs the Redmond, Washington-based Fathering Forum (and its sponsoring foundation established by his own father). Earlier, he partnered in a family restaurant, managed a meat market, developed community relations for a Bible college, and served in a Christian discipleship organization. Jamie and his wife Cindy are big on short-term mission trips. And he’s into weight training, biking, and kayaking.

What He Said … Marks of Authenticity

“My father collected pistols,” said Bob, a small-business owner. “I inherited from him a rare 1848 pistol. Since there are less than 50 of them in the world, it’s worth thousands of dollars. How can you tell it’s authentic?” he asks, and answers, “By the gun’s imperfections: its scratches and nicks.”

Bob led the launch of a men’s ministry in his church based on simple authenticity. “Men are either going to be performance-based or trust-based,” he insists. “Once we realize that we’re loved by the Father, and that nothing we’ve ever done or will do can cause him to love us less, we’re set free to be real with each other.”

Bob leads by example, creating an atmosphere in which men can safely take down walls of attempted self-sufficiency. Openly sharing burdens, weaknesses, and struggles with sin fuels prayer focused on real spiritual battles.

What happens when men stop trying to cover up those scratches and nicks?

Authentic, joyful Christian fellowship!

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to live an authentic faith for all to see.

 

Life Is Too Short – Living the Christian Life

Living the Christian LifeWhat was Jesus’ life too short for?

Answering that question makes sense of passages in which Jesus urges people to keep mum about being healed by him, or (in Matthew 16:20) about discovering his true identity.

Following the Father’s timetable first meant resisting going to Jerusalem (John 7:1-10), then (Luke 9:51) making it a priority.

Interact with God’s Word:  Luke 4:42-44; 5:12-16

  1. The people of Capernaum (4:31) wanted Jesus to remain as their synagogue’s resident rabbi. What (4:43) was Jesus’ response?
  2. What (4:42; 5:16) appears to have been behind Jesus’ decision to move on?
  3. Jesus found it essential to lay his plans and goals out before the Father for frequent evaluation. Have you ever submitted your plans and goals to the Lord like this?
  4. How (v. 43) did Jesus define the Father’s calling for him at this time?
  5. Why do you think Jesus told the cured leper (5:14) not to tell how he’d been healed? How could excessive demands for miraculous healings have restricted his ability to accomplish his primary goal?
  6. Why do you think Luke juxtaposes reports of Jesus’ mushrooming following and reputation (5:15) with his making time (5:16) for solitude?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for the insight and strength to resist being run ragged by the expectations of others or by your own misplaced priorities.

Luke 4:42-44; 5:12-16

42 Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. 43 But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” 44 So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.

12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 14 Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

Life Is Too Short – Go for the Gold!

Living the Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: “I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich.”  – Revelation 3:18

Bonus Reading: Revelation 3:14-22

In the 1984 Summer Olympics, Carl Lewis won four gold medals. Despite his outstanding performance, some critics accused him of holding back in the long jump. Instead of going for the world record in that event, he stopped competing after his first jump, confident that he’d win the gold. He stood by and watched as other jumpers tried unsuccessfully to best his distance.

Lewis later said that the Olympic trials had taken more out of him than he had expected, so he decided to save his strength for the other events. He was there to win gold medals, he explained, not to set records that would probably last only a short time.

Mart De Haan, president of RBC Ministries, notes that the Bible has something similar to say about choosing to devote our time and energy for pursuits that have lasting value. The believers at Laodicea failed to do this. Our Lord perceived their misplaced values by the pride they took in their riches and their self-sufficiency. He warned that they were lukewarm spiritually and not relying on him. They had to decide, he told them, whether they’d keep pursuing temporal things in order to impress others, or go for the eternal gold of his approval.

—Harry Genet

My Response: What am I pouring my strength into? What eternal value does it carry?

Thought to Apply: The man who is always available isn’t worth much when he is available. —Elton Trueblood (author & university chaplain)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Life Is Too Short – Holy Ruthlessness

Living the Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: “I must preach the Good News … in other places, too, because this is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

Bonus Reading: Luke 4:42-44; 5:12-16

I hadn’t studied very hard my junior year at college—and had the marks to prove it! Now it was summer. My senior year would determine if I could go on to grad school and an academic career. But I’d also committed to lead my university’s Christian fellowship, gotten engaged, and was teaching the church high school Sunday school class. How to cope?

I learned of a theologian who graduated from a Canadian university while leading an InterVarsity chapter. So I wrote to him for guidance. I received a page-long reply he’d typed himself: “You should focus on that to which you believe God has called you, even though others might misunderstand, even resent, your priorities. Some might think you ruthless, but you must obey God, not other people’s agendas.”

That holy ruthlessness, I now realize, is key to the successful Christian life. Jesus modeled it. Regardless of what his disciples, family, or the crowds wanted him to do, he obeyed his Father—often in ways that astonished, even dismayed, his associates.

Taking this scholar’s advice, allowing my own agendas to be overruled, helped me through that crucial year. I’ve tried to follow it ever since.

—John Stackhouse Jr. in FaithToday

My Response: My focus is ____, and I will avoid distractions by …

Thought to Apply: Don’t take on things you don’t believe in and that you yourself are not good at. Learn to say no. —Peter Drucker (business consultant & trainer)

Adapted from FaithToday (9-10/02)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Life Is Too Short – Opportunity Mindset

Living the Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. … Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15, 17

Bonus Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Are today’s Key Bible Verses about overloading your schedule with church events and obligations? … or turning normal relational moments into abnormal witnessing encounters?

No!  They’re about committing daily life to God’s purposes.  So …

  • Make the most of every area in which God has placed you. Are you single, married, retired, parent, child, friend, employer, employee, student, or grandparent? See these callings and seasons of life as opportunities to display the grace of Christ.
  • Avoid a “get through this season” mentality. We say to ourselves, If I can just get through this busy season of life, then I’ll be okay. This is an ungodly understanding of our current responsibilities and opportunities. I tend to do this with parenting: If I can just get through the diaper phase … Next it becomes: If I can just get through these early years of elementary school, then I can minister to others. But if I’m not careful, I’ll wish my life away and miss many opportunities to love and serve my children … to die to self and grow in grace. God wants us to see the daily struggles of life as critical moments of redemptive opportunity rather than hindrances.

—Tim Lane & Paul Tripp in Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

My Response: A current redemptive opportunity I need to grab hold of is …

Thought to Apply: Every day is a day of reckoning.  —John W. Gardner (educator, government & philanthropy administrator)

Adapted from Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (New Growth, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Life Is Too Short – Skirmishes Decide Wars

Living the Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: “Awake, O sleeper …” Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Ephesians 5:14, 16

Bonus Reading: Ephesians 5:14-17

“Redeeming the time” is how today’s Key Bible Verses were traditionally translated. The Greek word for “time” used here isn’t chronos, referring to the passing of time in hours and days.

Instead, kairos is employed, which in the Bible refers to the time between Jesus’ first and second comings. An appropriate rendering would be, “As you go about your life in this in-between time, use it to its fullest to display the grace of Christ to others.”

What is Paul urging?

  • Seize the little moments of life (where 95 percent of your life is lived). Suppose a husband and wife are upset with each other. Will they turn toward each other or remain angry? This redemptive moment is huge! Imagine if this couple misses thousands of these over the course of their marriage. Where will their marriage be in 20 years?
  • See the context in which the details of life take place. Paul says, “Because the days are evil.” You live in a war zone. Every morning as you get out of bed there’s a battle raging for your soul, your life, your friendships, and your marriage. You can’t afford to waste these moments. The war is won in the little skirmishes that take place throughout your life. “Wake up!” Paul says, “you’re at war.”

—Tim Lane & Paul Tripp in Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

My Response: What “redemptive moments” have I been failing to take advantage of?

Thought to Apply: We speak of spending time; the Bible speaks of buying it.  —source unknown

Adapted from Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (New Growth, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Life Is Too Short – Life at Full Throttle

Living the Christian LifeKey Bible Verse: There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.  – Mark 6:31

Bonus Reading: Mark 3:20-21; 6:30-32

As Robert pops out of bed and hits the floor, he knows he’ll have to run full speed just to stay up with the pace of life. Breakfast is three big swallows of orange juice and a granola bar he grabs as he rushes out the door at 7:00 A.M. …

At 7:30 P.M. Robert rolls into his driveway. He sits at the dining room table and shovels down a reheated dinner while cranking out a couple more hours of work. Finally, exhausted, Robert flops onto the couch, turns on the TV, and shifts into neutral. Eventually he drags himself to bed and tries to put his frazzled mind to rest. But in numb desperation he admits to himself that he can imagine no way out of this daily cycle.

Is Robert the protégé of some Fortune 500 company? Hardly. He’s a normal high school freshman who works hard to get good grades, plays an instrument in the school band, and excels at two sports in the school year. By the time he gets home from his soccer game after a day of school, he still has homework for three classes.

—Kevin Harney in Seismic Shifts

My Response: Our culture cheers for those with breakneck schedules. Am I ready to break ranks on this?

Adapted from Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Life Is Too Short – You the Man! Oh Yeah?

Living the Christian LifeWho Said It … Dennis Swanberg

Dennis Swanberg travels widely from his home in Louisiana, performing stand-up comedy with a Christian message. A pastor for 21 years, Dr. Swanberg now hosts his own television show, Swan’s Place.

What started him doing impersonations? “Most moms yell at kids to go outside and play,” he chuckles. “Mine said, ‘You sit there and watch that TV. Your daddy worked hard for it!'” So the first voice he nailed was that of Don Knots as Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show.

What He Said … You the Man! Oh Yeah?

Admit it: You like being the playmaker, getting things done, the guy who comes to the rescue, fixing what’s broken. Getting things done is good, of course. But when you take on too many jobs, you simply can’t do them all well. If you become overcommitted—at home, work, church, or anywhere in between—you’ll burn out faster than a match in a wind tunnel.

You must learn to say no to things you don’t have the time or energy to do. I know what you’re thinking: Sometimes saying no can be tough. Why? Because well-meaning guys (like you) genuinely want to help other people. But if you never do, pretty soon you’ll start underserving—and disappoint just about everybody, including yourself.

Guys who overcommit and underserve lead lives filled with frequent foul-ups and endless complications. They find themselves feeling overworked and underappreciated. So simplify your life. Pledge to take on only those things you can do—and do them well.

Adapted from Man Does Not Live by Sports Alone (Howard, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: I want to devote my life to Your purposes, Lord. Help me work that out in my responses to the situations I face every day.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – Serving Our Neighbors

Serving Our NeighborsOccult practices were rampant in Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia (western Turkey today).

As Paul planted a church there, God validated his message by giving him “the power to do unusual miracles.”

Itinerant exorcists attempted to mimic his Spirit-given power by adding Jesus to the deities they named in their incantations.

The stage was set for a power encounter between the power of Satan and that of God.

Interact with God’s Word:  Acts 19:8-20

  1. How does God view sorcery and all occult practices? (See Deuteronomy 18:9-14.)
  2. How do powers in the realm controlled by Satan stack up (1 John 4:4) against God’s power?
  3. What do the evil spirit’s words (v. 15) tell you about attempting to use the name of Jesus as a magic charm?
  4. What spadework had Paul done (vv. 8-10) that culminated in the events of verses 17-20?
  5. How (v. 17) did learning about the disastrous experiment by the sons of Sceva impact the populace?
  6. What were the effects (vv. 18-19) when individuals responded to the gospel?
  7. Would you say the overall effects (v. 20) were primarily individual, community-wide, or both combined?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to use you as a change agent for His kingdom in your community.

Acts 19:8-20

8 Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. 9 But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.

11 God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. 12 When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. 15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

17 The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. 18 Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. 19 A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. 20 So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – A Neighborhood Revived

Serving Our NeighborsKey Bible Verse: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor” … to proclain that captives will be released.  – Luke 4:18

Bonus Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-12

In his book, Just Generosity, Ron Sider offers one of the best definitions of justice I know: “restoration of the things people need for dignified participation in their community.”

Mark Gornick and Alan and Susan Tibbels moved into Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester community in 1988, then perhaps the city’s most broken neighborhood. The three came armed with little more than their certainty that Jesus, who announced good news for the poor, was far more passionate about justice than they.

They began New Song Community Church. Today that congregation is nestled among the church’s other ministries: Sandtown Habitat for Humanity (which reclaims 17 houses a year), Eden Jobs (jobs and economic development), New Song Health Co-Op, Martha’s Place (transitional housing for women recovering from drug addiction), New Song Arts, and New Song Community Learning Center (a new 28,000-square foot facility that houses a preschool-through-eighth-grade school).

They never felt the burden of having to change the world, but they knew they could claim Christ’s rule over 18-plus city blocks and watch the gospel breathe life again into a neighborhood of dry bones.

—Robert Lynn in BreakPoint WorldView

My Response: How could I help promote “dignified participation” in my community?

Thought to Apply: A ghetto can be improved in one way only: out of existence. —James Baldwin (author)

Adapted from BreakPoint WorldView (9/05)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – Happy Urban Campers

Serving Our NeighborsKey Bible Verse: “I have been a constant example of how you can help the poor by working hard.”  – Acts 20:35

Bonus Reading: Acts 20:31-35

Larry Mendelsohn leads an oncology-hematology practice in plush West Little Rock. As Larry and his wife, Sonya, grew in faith, our church challenged them to serve the community. They settled on helping an established-but-struggling inner-city social service.

The church-sponsored group Larry and Sonya put together planned parties and retreats for the kids. Then they got the idea of sending them outside their harsh environment to a summer camp. That year they worked alongside the kids in car washes, raising enough money to send 20 young people to camp. “Gang members were saved, and lives changed,” Larry said.

The next year they conducted a five-kilometer road race to send even more kids to camp. A radio personality donated his time. Corporations gave money. A black choir sang by the river. Forty young people were sent to camp. Leftover money funded special needs and sent 12 inner-city kids to the Christian high school or college of their choice.

In 2000, the race generated more than $60,000 and made the front page of the newspaper. They sent 55 kids to camp and distributed more than $30,000 in scholarship money. And it just keeps growing.

—Robert Lewis in The Church of Irresistible Influence

My Response: What could my church do that would win community support?

Thought to Apply: The height of our love for God will never exceed the depth of our love for one another. —Patrick Morley (men’s ministry leader)

Adapted from The Church of Irresistible Influence (Zondervan, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – Out of Business

Serving Our NeighborsKey Bible Verse: The Pharisees … complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Luke 5:30

Bonus Reading: Acts 19:13-20

Raised in the hard part of Chicago, Harvey Carey managed to graduate with honors from high school and move on to college, where he encountered Jesus.

After his conversion, God called him into pastoral ministry, so he went to seminary in Dallas. While there, the Lord gave Harvey a strong desire to start a church in Detroit. First he married a sweet girl and became a youth pastor in Chicago. Then he headed for Motor City, planting Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Michigan’s poorest zip code.

On his arrival, Harvey learned about a crack house operating near a park where children played. He made it his personal mission to go there daily, from morning until late evening, hanging out with the drug dealers. Whenever a car pulled up to pick up drugs, he’d start witnessing to the prospective buyers before the dealer could make an offer. Unwilling to hear anything about Jesus, they’d screech away—no sale!

Then Harvey got his church involved, holding prayer meetings in front of the crack house on its busiest nights. It relocated twice. But each time the Citadel family found out and showed back up!

Now that the crack house is no longer in business, the park is safe, the neighborhood kids free of that up-close influence.

—Craig Gross in The Gutter

My Response: What community transformation would I go out on a limb to achieve?

Thought to Apply: Whatever makes a man a good Christian, also makes him a good citizen.  —Daniel Webster

Adapted from The Gutter (Relevant, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – The Power of Six

Serving Our NeighborsKey Bible Verse: When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me”  –Matthew 25:45

Bonus Reading: Acts 17:1-9

Dave Kella moved to Little Rock when he was promoted to lead IBM-Arkansas. He and five other men from our church began exploring how to connect the deep needs of the inner-city poor with the metropolitan area’s enormous resources.

Touring a private Christian school in one of the worst sections, they observed how well-mannered, hungry to learn, and hopeful these often-neglected children were. As important as the funding and programs were, they concluded, the key was changing people.

These six soon became a board, unleashing their bent toward creativity, management, and networking to do the work of the kingdom. The same school—once crippled by poor infrastructure and inability to fund teachers and parent tuition discounts—is now blossoming with an enrollment of more than 1,000. The efforts of Dave and his partners, down to one-on-one mentoring of some students, lie behind the progress.

In 2000 the board—now the Christian Educational Assistance Foundation—hired a full-time director. In 2001, in tandem with a national scholarship organization, the foundation gave away more than 1,500 educational scholarships to poor children throughout Arkansas.

—Robert Lewis in The Church of Irresistible Influence

My Response: What can I learn about stimulating change from Dave’s example?

Thought to Apply: There is only one, very uncomfortable test of the extent of our love for him: How have we handled the poor?  —Michael Green (British theologian)

Adapted from The Church of Irresistible Influence (Zondervan, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

Front-Yard Fence and Shed Project Completed!

Central - Front-Yard Shed 1 - 8-8-2016

Our band of hard-working Trustees has finished assembling and installing a new storage shed in our new fenced-in area on the Church’s front lawn. 

Our new shed is intended to store supplies and materials (such as a snow shovel, bags of salt, buckets) for use by folks from the community who are not affiliated with Central Church who are hired to help with shoveling snow or cutting the grass.

 Central - Front-Yard Shed 2 - 8-8-2016

The shed can accept a padlock, so we can secure the supplies and give a padlock key (instead of a key to the entire Church) to non-member workers and still protect the supplies stored in the shed from any acquisitive passers-by.

 

 

 

Central - Front-Yard Shed 3 - 8-8-2016The shed fits sideways at the top of the fenced-in area next to the Church and can be accessed from the side gate to the enclosure while still leaving enough room for others to enter the enclosure from the side gate or the front gate.

The Trustees specifically selected a shed with a restricted height so it would not be visible from outside the fence or from the side with our neighbor’s hedge, and they mounted a new LED floodlight in the enclosure at the perfect height so the light would flood the entire enclosure over the shed without shining over the fence or the hedge.

The shed has a retractable roof that slides back half its length, as well as two doors on its front face to enable access to all of the shed’s contents without stooping or crawling.

Our thanks to our dedicated trustees for their continuing work to both maintain and improve our Church building and grounds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Community Changer – No Child Left Behind

Serving Our NeighborsKey Bible Verse: “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted. Acts 16:20

Bonus Reading: Acts 16:16-23

Most middle-class white people are conditioned to avoid vulnerable places. Moving toward people in need—finding ways of being available, alert, and responsive to them—is a challenge.

Randy Roth pastored an Evangelical Covenant church located in Oakland, California, that served a diverse group of people. He became increasingly aware of the needs in the Oakland schools. Among its many other crises, the school district had been in state receivership for several years. Randy came to feel God’s call to respond to the needs of all the kids falling behind in their academic lives.

In time Randy took the bold step of leaving his secure position as a pastor to launch Faith Network, a ministry that provides volunteer tutors in needy schools. What started as a small grass-roots effort has steadily grown, winning the trust and support of the large and diverse school district. Randy’s courage and faithfulness has in turn led people from our congregation and many others to find their place in making a real difference in students’ lives.

Now our church has begun to partner with Faith Network in launching the same kind of effort in Berkeley schools.

—Mark Labberton in The Dangerous Act of Worship

My Response: Have I ever made myself available to make a difference in the life of a disadvantaged person?

Adapted from The Dangerous Act of Worship (InterVarsity, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Be a Community Changer – Brokenness-Inspired Breakout

Serving Our NeighborsWho Said It … Steve Mayer

Steve Mayer is the pastor of Strategic Initiatives at Mars Hill Bible Church, housed in a Grandville, Michigan mall.

He leads young adults in studying how the Church can make justice a reality locally and internationally.

Mars Hill has committed to serve the homeless and underemployed in its Grand Rapids area, and to fund small business startups in Burundi.

What He Said … Brokenness-Inspired Breakout

While serving an internship at a small evangelistic church, I led a team to Alaska to share the gospel with villagers. That trip forever changed my passion for ministry. We thought we could just come in for a week and change the lives of these Native Americans with VBS and other evangelistic programs.

But as I saw the effects of alcoholism, suicide, depression, hopelessness, poverty, and broken families, I realized that the programmed evangelistic method I’d been trained to follow was selling a pre-packaged Christianity out of touch with the brokenness of these Native Americans.

I balked—and broke all the rules of the program. I stayed out very late at night talking to people on the street, often alone, often in co-ed contexts.

For help, I turned to the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. From King, I learned that Christianity could be passionate about souls and passionate about the “slums those souls reside in.” For me, caring about souls and the real-life situations in which those souls move became authentic evangelism.

Adapted from World Magazine (4/10/04)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help us believers serve our neighbors in ways that make them thirsty for the Gospel.

 

 

Battling the Blues – Spiritual Encouragement

Spiritual EncouragementC.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, imagines correspondence between an old devil, Screwtape, and a young demon, Wormwood, whom Screwtape is mentoring.

In one letter, Screwtape writes, “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human … looks round upon a universe from which every trace of our Enemy seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Interact with God’s Word:  Psalm 119:81-83

  1. The image of a shriveled-up wineskin (v. 83) is from a different era, but do you get the picture? Have you felt like this?
  2. How does the writer feel (v. 81) about the prospect of God rescuing him?
  3. How does he choose to deal with the God’s apparent absence?
  4. Does the fulfillment of God’s promises (v. 82) seem far off to you?
  5. What is the psalmist’s big question for God?
  6. How might God respond to a question like this: dramatically? In a still, small voice? Not at all?
  7. What conclusion would a person who trusts appearances draw?
  8. How is it possible to respond the way the psalmist did?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for strength to cling to His promises when you can’t feel His presence.

Psalm 119:81-83

81 I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
When will you comfort me?
83 I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke,
but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees.

Prayer for the Week: When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.

 

 

Battling the Blues – Cure Cultivation

Spiritual EncouragementKey Bible Verse: You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

Bonus Reading: Psalm 112:1-10

Psychiatrist Milton Erickson was a guest in the Milwaukee home of a man concerned about his very old, wealthy, and depressed aunt. At this friend’s request, the doctor visited her.

The blinds were closed throughout her Victorian mansion—except for one room full of gorgeous African violets. On entering, it Dr. Erickson abruptly exclaimed, “I see what your problem is.”

“Oh?” she warily replied.

“You’re not really a very good Christian.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have this great gift for growing African violets,” the doctor explained, “yet you keep it all to yourself. If I were you, I’d get your church bulletin, and whenever someone had a birthday, death, wedding, anniversary, or whatever, I’d take them one of your plants as a gift.” He soon left and never encountered the depressed woman again.

As he told this story to a group of students, Dr. Erickson pulled out an old newspaper clipping: “African Violet Queen of Milwaukee Dies, Mourned by Thousands.” A student raised his hand. “Why did you have her give out plants instead of treating her depression?” he asked.

“It would be easier, I decided, to grow the African violet part of her life than to weed out the depression.”

—Greg Smalley in HonorBound magazine

My Response: What gift have I kept to myself that I should share with others?

Thought to Apply: I’ve learned that the best way to lift one’s self up is to help someone. —Booker T. Washington

Adapted from HonorBound magazine (4-5/02)

Prayer for the Week: When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.

 

 

Battling the Blues – Swallowed Pride

Spiritual EncouragementKey Bible Verse: Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for … my people?  – Jeremiah 8:22

Bonus Reading: Psalm 142:5-7

Lewis Smedes, a teacher of mine in seminary, was one of the best writers and preachers I’ve known. Although he was brilliant, accomplished, and devoted to God, he suffered from a sense of inadequacy that at times grew into deep depression.

God came to him through two avenues. One was a three-week experience of utter solitude, where he so vividly heard God promise to hold him that he felt lifted from a black pit straight up into joy. The other avenue he describes this way: “I have not been neurotically depressed since that day, though I must tell you that God also comes to me each morning and offers me a 20 milligram capsule of Prozac. He clears the garbage that accumulates in the canals of my brain overnight and gives me a chance to a fresh morning start. I swallow every capsule with gratitude to God.”

I used to think that taking Prozac would be a sign of weak faith in God. But what if Prozac might be his gift? What if refusing might be spurning his hand because of pride? Maybe God is present in wise doctors and medication that makes synapses and neurotransmitters work right. Maybe weakness is really refusing—out of our own blindness and stubbornness—the help that God is offering.

—John Ortberg in God Is Closer than You Think

My Response: How might I benefit from the help of a counselor?

Thought to Apply: The Christian’s chief occupational hazards are depression and discouragement. —John Stott

Adapted from God Is Closer than You Think (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week:When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.

 

 

Battling the Blues – Brilliant Plan Backfires

Spiritual EncouragementKey Bible Verse: Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise … promises a reward in both this life and the next. 1 Timothy 4:8

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31

Kenneth Cooper, M.D., famous for popularizing aerobic fitness, tells about a fellow who was depressed.

It seems this poor guy didn’t want to live anymore, but he knew that if he committed suicide, his wife and kids wouldn’t be able to collect his insurance. So he decided to “jog himself to death” so it would look as if his death was accidental.

The first evening, he put on his jogging clothes, kissed his wife and kids goodbye, and ran out the front door. But because he wasn’t in very good shape, his legs gave out before his heart did. Disappointed but not dissuaded, he limped home, showered, and went to bed.

The second evening it was the same story: his legs gave out, but his heart didn’t.

Every evening for the next month the fellow repeated his ritual of kissing his family goodbye and running out the front door. Then something began to happen that he hadn’t expected—his depression disappeared.

If you’ve been feeling a little ragged, see if you can make time before a meal to go for a brisk walk or jog. Or find some other activity you enjoy. The best thing to do when you’re feeling down in the mouth is get up on your feet.

Hope Heart Newsletter

My Response: What enjoyable activity takes your mind off your troubles?

Thought to Apply: When you’re depressed, the worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.  —Charlie Brown

Adapted from Hope Heart Newsletter

Prayer for the Week: When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.

 

 

Battling the Blues – Un-Slump Yourself

Spiritual EncouragementKey Bible Verse: I think of the good old days … I search my soul and think about the difference now. Psalm 77:5-6

Bonus Reading: 1 Kings 10:9b-18

[continued from yesterday]  I realized that I’d grown accustomed to sleeping on my arm. My soul had gone past the tingling stage; it felt numb and listless. Dr. Blakeslee had more to say: “Bill,” he told me, “sometimes you need to let go of an impure form of security in order to grab hold of a pure form of insecurity.”

It was like suddenly solving a mind-twisting riddle. In a flash I saw his meaning. I realized that I’d held on to work and ministry for security. My stubborn unwillingness to let go of one or both had corrupted my soul. I had believed the lie that a growing ministry and financial security would lead to contentment.

I was resolved to leave the dark, lifeless world of depression, but rolling over would mean taking the risk of grabbing something less secure. Frankly, I didn’t know if I had the courage to walk away from my job. It seemed almost like bungee jumping without a harness and cord. What if God didn’t stop my fall?

Eventually I took the leap and embraced a new direction that offered no financial security and uncertain success. I quit my writing job and later resigned from the church I pastored in order to launch a national men’s ministry. I knew I had grabbed a pure form of insecurity.

—Bill Perkins in Six Rules Every Man Must Break

My Response: I need to let go of ____ and then grab hold of ____.

Thought to Apply: When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  —Dr. Seuss (children’s book writer & illustrator)

Adapted from Six Rules Every Man Must Break (Tyndale, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.

 

Battling the Blues – When Life Tingles

Spiritual EncouragementKey Bible Verse: You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray!  – Psalm 77:4

Bonus Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-9a

I am not by nature a depressed guy. But several years ago I suffered a bout of clinical depression—meaning I was depressed for more than two weeks. How did I get into such a dark place?

My therapist, Dr. David Blakeslee, helped me realize that I’d developed an unhealthy ability to persevere. That’s right, I didn’t know when to quit. Twenty years earlier I’d resolved that once I started something I’d never throw in the towel. After all, if I hung in there long enough I’d outlive most of my problems and a lot of the competition.

I was writing over 500 words a day for publication as well as preparing a sermon every week. I was also leading a church and caring for my family. These activities provided me with a growing ministry and a sense of financial security, and—oh, yes—burnout.

“Bill,” Dr. Blakeslee asked one day, “if you were sleeping on your arm and it began to tingle, what would you do?”

“I’d roll over.”

“That’s right,” he said. “Yet when you’re involved in something that’s causing you mental and emotional pain, you refuse to roll over. You believe God wants you to hang in there even when it’s destroying you.”

As he spoke I heard a mental gear fall into place, cla-clink!   [continued tomorrow]

—Bill Perkins in Six Rules Every Man Must Break

My Response: What area in my life is “tingling” right now?

Adapted from Six Rules Every Man Must Break (Tyndale, 2007)

Prayer for the Week: When I feel discouraged, Lord, help me make positive adjustments and pour myself into others.