• How Did Our Culture Become a Consumer Culture?

    Where did our consumer culture come from? This is how the brilliant Seth Godin answers this questions:

    A huge concern among capitalists at the turn of the last century was that as factories got better and better at making stuff, there wouldn’t be enough people to buy what they made. The problem wasn’t production; it was consumption. The typical household spent a tiny
    fraction of what we do on everything in our budget.
    In the 1890s, the typical teenager owned only a few items of clothing, consumed virtually no media, and owned no cosmetics. Only the truly rich had rooms and rooms of
    belongings they rarely used. One of the wonderful by-products of universal education was the network effect that
    supports consumer goods. Once one person in your class or your town had a car, others needed one. Once someone added more rooms or had a second or third pair of shoes, you needed them, too.
    In the space of two generations, we created a consumer culture. There wasn’t one; then there was. Keeping up with the Joneses is not a genetic predisposition. It’s an invented need, and a recent one.

     

    Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, 41-42

     

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  • The Two Deadly Pitfalls In Our Thinking About Work

    When we get right down to it, it seems that most of the sins we face when it comes to our jobs can be boiled down to a couple of pitfalls. One the one hand, we can let our job become an idol. Our work can become the primary object of our passions, our energy, our love. We end up worshiping our job. On the other hand, we can slip into being idle in our work. When we fail to see God’s purposes in our work, we don’t really care much about it. We fail to give any attention to it, or we despise it and generally neglect our responsibility to serve as if we are serving the Lord. Unfortunately, idleness in work and idolatry of work are both celebrated in our society. We tend to praise those who make work the center of their lives, as well as those who have somehow pushed it out of their lives entirely. Both of these pitfalls, though -idleness and idolatry- are deadly misunderstandings of how God wants us to think about our jobs.

    Sebastian Traegar and Greg Gilbert, The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs, 18

     

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  • Steve Jobs, Death and The Life Well Lived

    I recently watched a Steve Jobs speech that he gave at Stanford university (check it out here.) In it he quite candidly talks about death. Here is a quote from it:

    “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
    Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
    Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

    Jobs is saying that the path to the life well lived is remembering you are mortal which is exactly what the Bible says in Psalm 90:2 where the psalmist says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

    It got me thinking, if I had only one week or month to live what would I do?

    Here are ten things that I would do if I only had a week or a month to live:

    1. Kiss, hug, play and pray with my kids and tell them about Jesus.
    2. Kiss, hug, serve and pray with my wife.
    3. Have the hard but good conversations I have been avoiding
    4. Pray for my family, church and those I loved
    5. Praise God for the gospel
    6. Put time into the leaders and future leaders of Resolved
    7. Preach the gospel with all my heart and strength and without fear
    8. Be fully intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually engaged in everything I did
    9. I would ignore Facebook, Twitter and my phone
    10. I would tell people how God has used them to encourage me in my faith

    But then that got me thinking what if I did those things all day every day? What if I lived life like that? That would be a life lived for the glory of God. That would be an unwasted life.

    So maybe the key to living life to the full is not trying escape death but embrace the fact that you and I are going to die and living in the light of that!

    If you had only one month to live what ten things would you do? What if you lived out this list every day? What would your life be like then?

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  • What The First Christmas Was Really Like

    It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment.

    As moments go, that one appeared no different that any other. If you could somehow pick it up off the timeline and examine it, it would look exactly like the ones that have passed while you have read these words. It came and it went. It was preceded and succeeded by others just like it. It was one of the countless moments that have marked time since eternity became measurable.

    But in reality, that particular moment was like none other. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.

    The Omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.

    God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.

    God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.

    God had come near.

    He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused, and dirty.

    No silk. No ivory. No hype. No party. No hoopla.

    Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And were it not for a group of stargazers, there would have been no gifts.

    Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diaper. The universe watched with wonder as The Almighty learned to walk. Children played in the street with him. And had the synagogue leader in Nazareth known who was listening to his sermons…

    Jesus may have had pimples. He may have been tone-deaf.  It could be that his knees were bony. One thing’s for sure: He was, while completely divine, completely human.

    For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He was susceptible to wooing women. He got colds, burped, and had body odor. His feelings got hurt. His feet got tired. And his head ached.

    To think of Jesus in such a light is—well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.

    He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.

    But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out.

    Max Lucado, God Came Near, 26

     

    Have a Merry and Jesus glorifying Christmas!

     

  • What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing A Career?

    What are you going to do when you grow up? This was a question we asked each other all the time when we were kids. The answers were usually cute “An astronaut” Johnny might say or “A ballerina” Katrina may gush. But when you are an adult choosing the right job is a very hard task. Tim Keller has some great wisdom when it comes to choosing a job:

    We are not to choose our jobs and conduct our work to fulfill ourselves and accrue power, for being called by God to do something is empowering enough. We are to see work as a way of service to God and to our neighbor, and so we should both choose and conduct our work in accordance with that purpose. The question regarding our choice of work is no longer “what will make me the most money and give me the most status?” The questions must now be “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of the greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of Human need?”

    Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, 67

     

    What job or career would you choose if you asked “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of the greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of Human need?”

    Christians serve a king who has far different priorities than those of the world. Let us have our whole world shaped by those priorities, especially when it comes to choosing our careers.

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  • The Distinguishing Mark of a Leader

    When you come across ideas worthy of your time and energy, it is important to know which assurances you need – and which you don’t – before you decide to take the plunge. You don’t need (nor will you ever have) all the answers, but you do not need to feel that the risk of giving it a go is less than the risk of not trying. You don’t need to see a finish line in sight, but you do need enough momentum to stay afloat.

    In Anne Lamott’s international best seller Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Lifeabout the art of writing, she cites a quote by the award- winning America author E. L. Doctorow on what it is like to write a novel. “It’s like driving a car at night,” Doctorow proclaims. “You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

    Along the journey to turn ideas into action, you must keep up the momentum, even if you can only see a few yards ahead. Most entrepreneurs will admit that having a masterful business plan is overrated. What matters most is your ability to keep moving and pushing your ideas forward, yard by yard.

    Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, 212-213

     

    What makes a leader? Many things. But one of the distinguishing marks of a leader is that you make things happen, or, as Belsky says “What matters most is your ability to keep moving and pushing your ideas forward, yard by yard.” You can have the right theology but if you cannot build structures and strategies so that theology can impact others that theology won’t help many people. You may have a great plan but it is no good if that plan isn’t executed. You may be able to see the flaws in everything that comes across your desk or computer screen but if you don’t make anything happen you will just be a critic and critics aren’t leaders.

    Leaders make things happen

    Leaders execute

    Are you a Leader?

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  • The Most Important Thing You Can Know About Your Work

    You do work for someone  beyond your boss. You work for Jesus. That fact is the most important thing you can know about your work and remember about your work. It’s much more important than the job itself, regardless of whether you’re a homemaker, a banker, a political staffer, a construction worker, a barista, or a corporate executive. No matter what you are doing, you are doing it to glorify Jesus.

    If you keep that one idea in mind, it will change the way you think about your work and engage in your work. Why? Because when glorifying Jesus is our primary motivation, our work – regardless of what that work is in its particulars – becomes an act of worship. We are freed completely from thinking that our work isn’t without meaning and purpose, and we are equally freed from thinking our work holds some ultimate meaning. Even more,  we discover anew the connection between our jobs and our primary identity as disciples of Jesus. We stop disengaging from our role as disciples from nine to five each day . On the contrary, our engagement with our jobs becomes one of the primary ways we express our discipleship to and love for our lord.

    Work matters. Nobody disputes that. But working for the King matters more.

    The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg D. Gilbert, 17

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  • My Best Books of 2014

    Hey there people, the end of the year is coming and everyone is publishing their lists of the best books of 2014 so I thought I would too.To be clear,  I am not posting a list of the best books published in 2014 but merely a list of the best books I read in 2014. And so here we go:

    Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

    This is the best book I have ever read on preaching. It is very practical and it comes from a distinctly reformed perspective where grace is emphasized. This book helped me see (again!) how, in every sermon, grace needs to be flowing through it and how I can do this and still apply the Bible in creative and engaging ways. A must read for anyone who preaches.

    Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul Tripp

    This is a book which really helped me understand my people better and also helped me understand pastoral ministry in a new a fresh way. Underlying this book is a very biblical view of man as created in the image of God and yet fallen. What we need, Tripp argues, is to come grips with the ways that sin mars everything and see how the gospel restores us. Buy and read this book if you are a christian leader.

    Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin Deyoung

    Kevin Deyoung has written a book that I hope everyone at my church, Resolved, buys and reads. He talks about the problem of busyness and shows how sin and idolatry my be underlying our crazy busyness. He also casts his discerning eye to issues around parenting, the  use of the internet and rest in theologically helpful and practical ways. Buy this book and read it!

    Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

    Ever have issues with getting things done in a work or team environment? If you have answered yes this is a book for you. Belsky breaks down making ideas happen into three sections; an execution method, community and leadership and shows how each of these components are vital in getting ideas to happen. Buy this book if you are a leader!

    Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

    This book is inspirational! Dweck is is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and so, even though this books may sound like a trashy self help book, it is in reality far from that! Dweck argues that there are two mindsets; the fixed mindset which says that things like intelligence, abilities, and other aptitudes are inbuilt and you can not become better at them with hard work. Whereas the growth mindset says that through hard work and determination you can learn, grow and become better in any area no matter if it is in the academic or sporting fields. This is a great book if you are a counselor, pastor, teacher, coach or parent.

    The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy by Bill Simmons

    If you are a basketball nerd like me you will love this book. It is huge (almost 1000 pages) but it is a great fun read. Simmons goes into detail about things like, what would have happened if the Orlando Magic never traded Chris Webber? Or if there were aliens that were going playing a basketball team of the best players from earth in a game for the whole earth who would be on the earth team and why? Or who would be in a list of the top 100 players of all time? If you are not a basketball fan why are you still reading this review? But if you are, go out and buy this book, you will not be disappointed!

    What about you, what were your favourite books that you read in 2014?

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  • Why We Procrastinate

    There are many reasons for procrastination. Aside from the desire to generate more ideas rather than take action on existing ones, another factor that discourages action is fear. We have fear of rejection or premature judgement. Many novelists and other artists admit that they are sitting on half-baked projects that have not been shared with anyone because they’re “just not ready yet.” But what if one never really feels ready?

    Sometimes, to delay an action even longer, we resort to bureaucracy. Bureaucracy was born out of the human desire for complete assurance before taking action. We don’t want to take action, we find reasons to wait. We use “waiting” nicknames like “awaiting approval,” “following procedures,” further research,” or “consensus building.” However, even when the next step is unclear, the best way to figure it out is to take small incremental action. Constant motion is the key to execution. Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, 72

    How is fear holding you back from executing? What incremental action can you take to push your next project forward?

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  • The Myth of The Perfect Parent

    There is massive pressure on parents to be a perfect these days. Into this pressurized culture we need to hear these sane words from Kevin Deyoung:

    It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.

    It’s all so involved. There are so many rules and expectations. Parenting may be the last bastion of legalism. Not just in the church, but in our culture. We live in a permissive society that won’t count any sin against you as an adult, but will count the calories in your kids’ hot lunch. I keep hearing that kids aren’t supposed to eat sugar anymore. What a world! What a world! My parents were solid as a rock, but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%. And sometimes, if we needed to take the edge off a rough morning, we’d tempt fate and chug a little Vitamin D.

    As nanny parents living in a nanny state, we think of our children as amazingly fragile and entirely moldable. Both assumptions are mistaken. It’s harder to ruin our kids than we think and harder to stamp them for success than we’d like. Christian parents in particular often operate with an implicit determinism. We fear that a few wrong moves will ruin our children forever, and at the same time assume that the right combination of protection and instruction will invariably produce godly children. Leslie Leyland Fields is right: “One of the most resilient and cherished myths of parenting is that parenting creates the child.”

    Kevin Deyoung Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, 65-66

     

    Parents need to work hard yes but not be stressed to the point of panic. God is sovereign, he loves your kids more than you do. Love you kids, discipline them, tell them about Jesus, pray for them and trust in God for them, not in your parenting ability.

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