Throwdown Thursday: Preoccupation

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Note: I wrote this back in 2011 and still find it applicable today. I want to encourage you to read through the scripture and not gloss over it/skim. Enjoy!

 1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. – Esther 3: 1-6 (NIV)

Notice how distracted Haman is with Mordecai. Instead of focusing on what he had been given, Haman became preoccupied with a single man. This preoccupation with Mordecai and the annihilation of the Jews would eventually lead to Haman’s downfall.

In the age of social media and instant/constant communication, I find it easy to get preoccupied with other peoples lives. I end up wondering why I can’t:

  • Buy a new house, car, toy, etc.
  • Travel with all expenses paid by parents or relatives
  • Eat out five times a week (not that I’d want to)
In looking at everyone else, I fail to realize that God created something special in me. I am not like everyone else nor meant to be.
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Interesting thought: The word preoccupation has the word “occupation” in it. Now, we all work different occupations, there is certainly that definition of the word. But the use of occupation related to Haman’s preoccupation makes me think of this dictionary definition:
possession, settlement, or use of land or property.


W
hen we become preoccupied with something not of God (like lust or greed), we are giving up pieces of our very hearts and souls to things that shouldn’t be entrenched in our lives. We end up becoming occupied territory; slaves to our conquerors.

A Book Review – Open by Craig Gross

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The first time I heard the word accountability was shortly after high school. A good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be accountability partners with him. This meant that we would talk about the deeper things that boil beneath the surface; things that hold most tightly to themselves. I am not sure if I was scared or what, but I quickly declined his invitation. I did not want anyone getting closer. I was an island.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent…

– No Man Is An Island, John Donne

Open, by Craig Gross, is a book that encourages living a life in accountability to another. The book is divided into three parts:

  1. Part 1: Why accountability is…(Good, Safety, Deep, Necessary)
  2. Part 2: What you need…(Honesty, Courage, Help)
  3. Part 3: How – Get…(Involved, Intimate, Effective)

Open by Craig Gross

The Good:

Starting in Chapter 8, I love how Craig breaks down exactly how to establish an accountability relationship and exactly what that looks like. He talks about the small things such as:

  • Picking someone of the same gender.
  • Finding someone you are compatible with (preferably someone who knows you).
  • Having an accountability partner whose views are slightly different than your own (this way you avoid someone who is simply going to be a yes-man and will instead challenge you).
  • Choosing someone who you can trust. I have found point to be especially true. If you don’t trust your accountability partner you will never go below the surface conversations that you have with everyone else.
  • Taking into consideration whether you want someone in the same stage of life (income, age, marital status, kids, etc.) as yourself.

Though Craig’s background is primarily in dealing with pornography through XXXChurch, in Chapter 9 he goes beyond porn in asking, “What are you seeking accountability for?” (p146). This is a fantastic question because accountability can be for almost anything from exercise to the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible. I know that when I hear the word accountability I automatically think of someone needing to overcome some sort of terrible sin.

Finally, in Chapter 10, Craig discusses scheduling, deciding on a meeting place, and what the format for an accountability meeting looks like.

“Honesty can be spontaneous, but spontaneity often arises from planning.” (p171)

He suggests:

  • Five minutes of small talk
  • An opening prayer
  • A series of staple questions you ask each other each week (“How was your week? Were you honest and truthful in all you did? State one lie you have told someone in this past week or a secret you are keeping from someone else or the group.” (p173))
  • Asking specific questions that apply directly to you (Did you steal from the cookie jar?)
  • Closing prayer
  • Further discussion/ small talk
  • Close

The Bad:

I dislike the tone that Craig writes with at the beginning of Open. The first few chapters paint a picture of a man who is all about self promotion/himself. This turned me off to the book and caused me to skim until I found material that was actually helpful and worth reading (the back half/practical end of the book). This is a shame as I can see this as a turn off to other readers.

In Closing:
Despite a poor beginning, Open features useful discussion on the why’s, how’s, and what’s of going beyond the personal island and seeking out others to walk through life with.

I was given a copy of this book by BookSneeze. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.