2 Ways to Eliminate Hurry

Speed Limit.25One of the great books on spiritual disciplines is John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted:  Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.  You can read my review of the book by clicking here.

One of the spiritual disciplines he talks about in the book is the practice of “slowing.”  Have you ever thought about “slowing” as a spiritual practice?  One of his mentors told him that if he wanted to grow spiritually that he must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from his life.  Listen to a great quote from his book:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.  Hurry can destroy our souls.  Hurry can keep us from living well….Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry.  For many of us the great danger is not that we renounce our faith.  It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.  We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

Most of us battle the hurry sickness, but how can we treat it–how can we cure it?  There are two main practices that can help us swim against our culture’s current of hurry.

2 Ways to Eliminate Hurry from Our Lives

1.  Slowing.  Slowing involves cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.  Slowing will seem like such a “waste of time,” but it is invaluable.  Here are some examples.  Deliberately drive in the slow lane.  Chew your food slowly.  Get in the longest check-out line at the grocery store.  Go through an entire week without wearing a watch.  Read each sentence slowly–then read it again even more slowly.

2.  Solitude.  Solitude is a more traditional spiritual practice.  I’m not saying that we should take it to the extreme and join a monastery.  I’m just saying that solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us.  When we’re “alone” with God–He molds us!

We need some small measures of solitude every day.  A walk, a run, a short drive, working in the yard, sitting in the car before going into the office, a quiet time–all these serve as moments of solitude.  On occasion, we need longer periods of solitude.  Take an afternoon to yourself or even an entire day.  Go to a place where you will be uninterrupted and alone.  Spend the day relaxing, reading, walking, napping, etc.

Both of these practices have been vital to my spiritual growth and to my ability to hear from God.  By the way, if you haven’t read John Ortberg’s book on spiritual disciplines, you must do so.  Here’s a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book and get started.  I wish I had read this book as a new Christian and learned about the practice of “slowing” and many of the other spiritual disciplines that have helped me to grow in recent years.

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3 Keys to a Successful Year

Success

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14, ESV

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi, he gives us insight into his personal walk with the Lord.  You could call it a “formula for success” or as I prefer, “keys to success in our walk with the Lord.”

THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS IN 2015

1.  Release the past.  The Apostle Paul said, “….But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind….” (Vs. 13).  He is not saying that he actually lost memory of the past, he is saying that he put the past in the proper place–behind him!  He knew that the past can cause us to lose focus on the present and block our vision of the future.  He knew that the past can sometimes riddle us with guilt, lure us, haunt us, taunt us, rob us of intensity and passion, and even cause us to rest on our laurels.  Regardless of what we faced in 2014, let’s learn, let go, and move forward.

2.  Reach for the future.  Paul seems to say, “don’t look back, but BE SURE to look forward.”  He describes it as “…..straining toward what is ahead.”  I can remember running my first 10K race when I was 30-yrs.-old.  Because of my excitement, I started the race at a pace that was too fast for my fitness level.  As a result, my side began to hurt at mile 3 and I desperately wanted to stop and walk.  At that point, I saw my wife standing on the side of the road, so I didn’t want to quit in front of her.  Somehow, I kept plodding along and shortly after I passed the 5-mile marker, I saw the finish line about a mile away.  Something about seeing the finish line lifted my spirits and injected bounce in my step.  I finished fairly strong even though I had almost stopped to walk just a few miles earlier.  Paul seems to say that he keeps the finish line in view and it encourages him to do his best.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s set some goals for 2015–spiritual goals, financial goals, vocational goals, fitness goals, nutritional goals.  Let’s “reach” for those goals day-by-day throughout this new year.

3.  Run for the prize.  What is Paul talking about when he talks about “the prize”?  We know he is not saying that we can live in such a way that we earn salvation because he just said in Vs. 9 that righteousness is “through faith in Christ.”  I believe Paul is saying that he is running for the goal of pleasing Jesus with his life and running for the satisfaction of knowing that he gave his best.  He is saying what he later says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  If God tarries His coming and if He allows us to live to see 2016, I pray that we will be able to say the same about the way we served the Lord in 2015.

PRAYER:  “Lord, please help us remember the lessons you taught us in 2014, but Lord, help us to release last year and not relive it.  Help us to see Your plan and goals for 2015 and strain towards them in the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Help us to cherish your divine approval as our highest prize!  Be glorified in our lives!  Amen.”

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Resolutions

My friend, Dr. Paul Chitwood serves as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  He recently published a very well-written challenge that I would like to share with you.  I echo the following words of Dr. Chitwood as we seek to magnify and honor the glorious name of the Lord Jesus in 2012:

With this first 2012 post, I’m hoping a New Year’s resolution list for Kentucky Baptists will be well received. I offer no earth-shattering new insights. I simply challenge us to be faithful to the basic call of Christ upon our lives and obedient to the fundamental teachings in God’s word. If every Kentucky Baptist would commit themselves to the following resolutions, our churches would flourish, every lost person in the Commonwealth could hear the gospel, and the cause of the Great Commission would be rapidly advanced.

First, would you resolve to walk closely with Jesus through concerted prayer and daily Bible reading? Our Lord exhorts us in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” The first call of the gospel is the call to be in Jesus Christ. He is the source of spiritual life and spiritual power. Apart from him, we will remain powerless.

Second, would you resolve to obey Jesus in all things? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). Matters like sexual purity, financial stewardship, personal honesty, sobriety, and refraining from gluttony are not negotiable for those who have confessed Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Third, would you resolve to share Jesus with at least one lost person each week? The command to be witnesses and the promise of the Spirit’s empowerment to that end are clearly stated in Acts 1:8. As for the lost, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard” (Rom 10:14)? Yet, multiple studies and surveys reveal most of us never take the initiative to tell lost people how to be saved. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to share the gospel with just one person each week.

Fourth, would you resolve to love and serve Jesus’ bride with more passion than ever before? Your church isn’t perfect but it needs you. And you need the church. We simply cannot be faithful followers of Jesus apart from his church. Love and serve her.

Fifth, would you resolve to commit more of your resources to Jesus’ Great Commission? The sin of greed has captivated us. Rather than starting with a tithe and giving generously beyond that, the average church member gives less than 3 percent of their income. If we merely gave a tithe, church ministry budgets and the Cooperative Program mission budget would triple, resulting in an exponential harvest of souls in Kentucky and around the world.

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Governor’s Prayer Breakfast

This morning I rose early and drove to Frankfort to attend the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. I met some interesting people and enjoyed some excellent music. The Kentucky State University Concert Choir sang several selections along with a Jewish folk singer named Dan Nichols. Governor Steve Beshear spoke of his faith as did several Kentucky leaders. Here are a couple of quotes I jotted down as the Governor spoke:

Faith is the force that should unite us, but many times we use faith to divide us.

We have never needed unity more than we do today.

Dan Nichols closed the gathering with a Susan Werner song called “May I Suggest.” As Dan sang, it was a very powerful moment in the Frankfort Civic Center. Werner’s lyrics led us to consider the current moment as “the best moment of our lives.” Here’s a video of Susan singing that powerful song:

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24:Jesus

One of the most popular television shows the last few years has been a show called 24. 24 is a drama presented in real time, with each season depicting a 24-hour period in the life of Jack Bauer who works with the U.S. government as it fights domestic threats.

In my new sermon series, 24:Jesus, we will use John’s account in chapters 13-19 to focus on the 24-hour period in the life of Jesus leading up to His death. In this series that begins March 1, we will deal with the following topics:

  • Greed
  • Arrogance
  • Heaven
  • Vineyards
  • Prayer
  • Death

If you have any suggestions for any of these sermons, I would certainly welcome them.

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