Leading Family Worship

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Read a quote this morning that was a bit convicting:

Lead family worship It doesn’t need to be extravagant or long or particularly deep. But it does need to be consistent and it does need to be led by you. Set a time, sing some Psalms, read a Bible passage, ask each kid a question about the passage, and then pray together. Even if this wasn’t the Biblical pattern for Christian families, could you give me a decent argument why it’s a waste of time or unnecessary? – Read more here

Leading family worship has long been a struggle for me. One of those areas where I could easily lay blame on it not being modeled growing up–my parents did the best they could–. But at some point, I’ve learned, one has to forgive their parents and accept responsibility for what one is doing with their own family.

So what am I doing to lead my family spiritually? / How can I take the lead?

How are you leading your family spiritually? / How can you take the lead?

Away from the lights and fellow believers at church, in our homes, how are we leading?

I’m not sure what a family worship time looks like for my family. I can’t imagine us all sitting around singing songs. Sure, we’ve tried a few things in the past. When Wyatt was younger, we’d read Jesus Calling and pray before bed. More recently, we’d sit down and read scripture/pray in the evening. Consistency has always been my enemy. Kind of like with a personal quiet time. An evening would pop up that was out of our regular schedule and the first thing that would end up going were family devotions.

Jon Acuff, in his book Finish, talks about the day after perfect; the day after everything hasn’t gone 100% well. He asks what you will do after that day? Will you accept defeat or continue on?

I know personally that I often complicate things. Simple can be my enemy. And yet simple has to be the starting place for leading family worship. The simple acts of:

  • Taking/scheduling time for the family to sit down
  • Opening the Bible
  • Reading the Bible
  • Discussion
  • Prayer

I know that these are all things that I can do. I simply choose not to make them important nor do them.

It’s time to change that. Let’s consider this the day the family worship vehicle was put into gear.

Zoom, zoom.

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Finishing Well

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Estimating how long a project will take to complete can be tricky. A daily balancing act between management expectations and actual time needed. A decade into managing a front office, I hear these conversations throughout the day:

“How long is this going to take you?”

“About an hour?”

“Good. Do it.”

An hour goes by and the project is not completed; another hour goes by and the project wraps up over time. Interruptions, not wanting to displease management, all factor into unrealistic time estimates. We all want to make a good impression, so why do we low-ball ourselves with time?

In his book Finish, Jon Acuff writes:

Have you ever wondered why 92 percent of people fail at their goals?

Because we tend to set goals that are foolishly optimistic.

Scientists call this “planning fallacy,” a concept first studied by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. They described this problem as “a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed.” (page 21, Finish

Acuff continues with an example of college students polled to see how long they think it will take to finish their theses. With poll results showing the students undercut themselves by as much as half. We all do this everyday whether it’s underestimating time on a project for work or setting life goals. Optimism blinds us to the reality of time work takes to complete.

Where are you not giving yourself enough time to finish well?

At Church: Fear and Anxiety

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We all know the story. God compels Moses to go before Pharaoh and ask for the release of the Israelites. Pharaoh resists. Plagues ensue. Pharaoh eventually relents and Moses leads the people out of Egypt.

Once the Israelites left, Pharaoh suddenly has a change of heart:

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. – Exodus 14:5-6 (NIV)

Notice that the Egyptians are not happy about losing their slave labor. So Pharaoh leads his army forth to recapture what he believes is rightfully his. God has other plans.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? – Exodus 14:10-11 (NIV)

God delivers his people from the Egyptians. In the end, Pharaohs army is wiped out in the Red Sea.

Like I was going to have a post about Moses parting the Red Sea and not include Mr. Charlton Heston.

Like I was going to have a post about Moses parting the Red Sea and not include Mr. Charlton Heston.

This morning, my Sunday school class started a new series on fear and anxiety. My teacher pointed out the difference between the Israelites’ response (they thought they were going to be whole sale slaughtered) and the Egyptians’ response (they wanted their slave labor back). Fear often causes us to believe things that are simply not true.

Lately, I have been reading through Jon Acuff’s Start. In the book, Jon suggests writing down our fears when they occur/paralyze us. After writing down the fear, Acuff suggests then writing down the truth beside it. So something like:

Fear: I am going to lose my job and never find one again.

Truth: I have job security due to my position and even if that isn’t true, I will be able to find another job due to my degree and experience.

Just want to encourage you today to kick fear in the face. Start by realizing that sometimes the things that we hear whispered in our heads are lies. So write them down. Capture them. Confront them with the truth. We can do this.

Where I Have Been/ Where I Am Going

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There comes a point where words must become actions in ones life. Failure to turn those particular words into actions will lead to those very words holding you captive; Haunting your waking thoughts with regrets of “what if” and “if I had only”. Trust me, I know.

For over five years I have worked for a company that offers me zero chance of career advancement. Short of going back to school and obtaining a degree in something I have little interest in, I simply cannot go any further in my current place of employment. I am in a way stuck due to the current job market and salary. Compound that frustration with frequent poor treatment, and you often have an irritated and sometimes depressed individual. I feel like I lost myself somewhere when I was told in a mocking tone, “this is so easy a third grader could do this”. Whatever level of college graduate optimism died within me the day those words were uttered. In my mind, I had become another worthless cog in the system, one that could be replaced on a whim. Reality had drop kicked me at the door.

Sometime last year, shortly after my Grandma died, I came up with a plan to move forward. I excitedly told others about this plan and began to set it into motion. I was going to go into web/graphic design. In the midst of the frustrations of learning/ moving toward my goal (acquire skills, get hired), I abruptly quit. I learned that letting go of a new found dream is easy when you lack the will to really work towards it. In a way, I hadn’t quite hit rock bottom yet. I was still comfortable pressed up against the glass ceiling of my job. What I needed was some fresh perspective, some truth spoken into my life. Little did I know that an email, a link, and a purchase were about to radically shift my way of thinking.

One morning, I received an email from Dave Ramsey. Well not a personal email but an email from his site. A link and a click later, I found myself reading about a book entitled Quitter. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this book was about to change my perspective and my life.

Quitter, by Jon Acuff, is all about pursuing your dreams while remaining firmly planted in your day job. Your day job, no matter how terrible it may be, provides a firm financial foundation for you to move towards what you want to do with your life. Truthfully, I had never thought of my job in this way. I had always seen it as something that brought in a paycheck, that had to be endured.

Jon Acuff goes even further in talking about how your attitude in your current place of employment will carry over into your future job. In other words, practice today the attitude you want for yourself in the future. This was a revelation for me.

The Bible talks about how Christians need to be faithful in the small things:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10 (NIV)

Which got me thinking about my attitude and how I needed to be thankful for all that God has given me. This has required me to shift my perspective, which I admit is not always easy. It is easier to give into the norm and not rise above it.

In the midst of God working on my perspective, He also reminded me of my web/graphic design dream. I was finally ready for it. Almost a year after I first set out to change my career, I was finally in the right frame of mind to pursue it.

Two weeks ago, I started on the first phase of “moving forward”. I began working once more on redoing my churches web site. I have set rewards in place to help me achieve my goals. I have also limited the distractions in my life (video games) that I felt were keeping me from working hard.

My goal right now is to finish the church web site, show the church what I’ve done, and give them a list of possible hosting options for the site. Then, I’m going to find a new project and continue working/refining my web/graphic design skills.

Changing our perspective is hard. Words must become actions; actions must become a lifestyle.

  • What dreams and ideas do you have that you keep putting on the back burner for later?
  • What do you need to change so that you can move forward?

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. Thanks!

The Onion Layers of Time

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As I posted yesterday, the book Quitter is really make me re-consider different things in my life. Amazingly, Jon Acuff has been able to put into words things that I have thought about but have never been able to articulate.

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2am, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a videogame every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about videogames and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?

Quitter

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A few weeks ago I downloaded the audio book Quitter by Jon Acuff. Ever since then, I have been slowly making my way through the book. As each chapter unfolds, I have found God using it to attack lies I have accepted as truth. Quitter has made me re-realize that:

  • Our American culture celebrates those who quit their jobs to pursue their dreams. What about those that stay and persevere? What about the day-to-day realities of supporting oneself and family?
  • Blogging at work, doing anything besides what your paid to do, is stealing from your employer. Not sure I’ve ever thought of it like that, but Jon tells it like it is.
  • When pursuing a dream, coming up with a plan is not always the first step. Jon talks about  the importance of looking at what your passionate over, practicing on that, and then charting out/ planning where you’d like that passion to go. Makes sense to me.

I have really enjoyed what I have listened to so far. I have also enjoyed listening to the book being actually read by the author. Seems to add more authenticity to what is being said.