Restart

RestartIn my day job, when I am asked to assist an employee with a problem, I often ask them a very important question. If their response is in the negative, I nearly always ask them to do this one thing before we go any further. This one thing has solved more problems in the type of work that I perform than anything else. Recently, as I asked an employee this question, she looked at me with a sheepish grin (one of those grins that said, “I know I should be doing this more often, but I’m not) and told me “no.”

Before I finish that story, I think the first time I remember seeing a verse next to his signature was during high school. You see, my dad’s company had gone out of business and for a period of 3-4 months, he had to go out-of-state for employment to provide for our family (if you only knew my dad – he is the best Christian I know). So, he got on a plane in Missoula, Montana and flew to southern California to work with my uncle in his construction business.

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Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders | Encouraging Words

via Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders | Encouraging Words

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Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders

BY CARY SCHMIDT

I believe in the millennial generation—perhaps because I worked with young adults for over two decades! Because of my age, I regularly find myself on the receiving end of “concerned” conversations from two generations. Those older than me are fearful of where the millennial’s will take the gospel and biblical Christianity. Those younger than me feel they aren’t being given a fair shot—they are discouraged by and often feel compelled to run from unbiblical attitudes and hostile dispositions of previous generations.

I’m not referring to doctrinal concerns—the millennial’s that I know are committed to gospel purity and biblical integrity. They are grounded doctrinally. They aren’t evolving their theology. But they ARE learning their culture and their ministry “style” just as every generation has. They are rediscovering how to actually and effectively DO gospel ministry in a world that is VERY DIFFERENT than it was just 25 years ago.

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“Hey – I Need Your Help…”

Serve2“Hey – I need your help,” he says to me as I walk by him and a few of his co-workers in the hallway.

I think to myself ‘I do have a name’ as I cringe and try to continue walking.

“You see, my PC has not been functioning properly ever since the new updates have been rolled out across the network,” says Joe Smith (name for anonymous employee). “You aren’t busy are you?”

Of course not, I just walk around the workplace all day.

“This has really been bugging me and has really hampered my productivity for the past week.”

If it has been this bad, why didn’t you call the help desk??

“I’ll just let you work on this and will be back in a bit to check on you.”

Hey buddy – don’t you realize I have a bunch of other things to do today?

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They (the Olympians) Do It To Obtain a Corruptible Crown…

medal 2The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ended last weekend. My family and I couldn’t get enough of them! For the most part, our family enjoys sporting events and when the Olympics rolls around every two years (summer/winter), we watch, cheer, and “oo & ah” on a nearly daily basis. You’ve got to hand it to the Olympic athletes – here are people who have trained much of their life for this moment (or in the case of the 50K cross-country skiers – an hour and 45+ minutes). I always feel bad for the skater who falls on her first triple-axle during the long free program or the speed skater who is nudged on the first turn and goes sprawling into the boards. They have trained for countless hours for this moment.

I admire the Olympic athlete in any sport. They train and train – countless hours are spent honing their muscles, their balance, their strength, their resolve – all with one goal in mind. They want to win to stand on the medal podium. Hear their nation’s anthem. Make their country proud. Win the gold medal. A very noble pursuit indeed. I applaud every athlete from this recent Winter Olympics.

But I couldn’t stop thinking of a certain phrase of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul refers to some type of Olympic Games in I Corinthians 9:25, Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. Paul is not denying, denigrating, or demeaning the efforts of the Olympian. No, he just puts it into perspective. And what a perspective for the Christian! Verse 24 we are admonished to run, that ye may obtain! In verse 26, Paul tells you what he is going to do. Whether you join him or not he says, I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.

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How My Long Commute Has Helped My Walk With God

CommuteFor most of my life, I had managed to stay out of the “long commute” club (I define long commute as anything longer than a thirty-minute drive). However, in the fall of 2012, I joined hesitantly as my commute from Northwest Indiana to Chicago began on a daily basis. After a fifteen-mile drive, I would get on a train (NICTD) for a forty minute ride. After hopping off of the train, I then walked approximately 17 minutes (1.2 miles) before I would arrive at my work place.

At first, I couldn’t believe that I was commuting 75-90 minutes each way every day! In addition, I would moan and bemoan the fact that nearly three hours of every day was wasted with my commute (whine, whine). However, it wasn’t long before I realized what a blessing I had been given. It was during that commute that I was beginning to spend a good amount of time reading, re-reading, and meditating on God’s Word each day. Many of the books that were “shouting” at me to be read were now being consumed in a rather quick manner. In addition, I was constantly meeting new people which led to many different discussions about God, the Bible, and eternity.

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Live For God’s Approval

If you choose your wardrobe upon what others might think of you, you are living for man’s approval.

If you choose not to attend a certain leadership/ministry conference because of what some might think of you, you are living for man’s approval.

If you choose not to post a helpful article or quote online that you just read due to the name of the author and what others might think of you, you are living for man’s approval.

If you choose not to make ministry changes in your church due to what fellow brethren might think, you are living for man’s approval.

If you choose to sidestep certain topics in your preaching ministry, you are living for man’s approval.

If you choose to elevate preferences above convictions, you are living for man’s approval.

Running: My Enemy, My Friend

“Why in the world am I doing this?”
“I feel pretty good right now!”
“I feel like I am going to die.”
“That was a great run.”
“That was a…well, rather exhausting run.”
“I feel like I could run for miles!”
“I feel like I couldn’t run for another ten feet!”

Anybody that has picked up running as a sport has felt and expressed all of the above statements and more. Growing up, I played nearly every sport imaginable: soccer, basketball, football, floor hockey, tennis, racquetball, hacky-sack (is that a sport?), skiing, snowboarding (a bit), biking, etc. And although many of these sports involve running, some of them quite extensively, running is not the goal. It is one of the many components of that sport.

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Help Me Reach These Goals in 2014

j0439558I have been all over the map concerning resolutions or goals (I prefer the word goals) for a New Year. Some years, I set very concrete goals; others, I had no goals. And some years I had very generic goals (which are quite hard to measure). Closing out 2013 and charging into 2014, I have pondered the subject of setting goals for the New Year.

When I think of great men and women of the Bible, I cannot help but think that goals were a major part of the life of many of these people. Take Joseph, for instance. He had to be able to set goals and see those goals through to fruition as the second in command of Egypt while gathering grain and corn during the seven years of plenty. Solomon set goals for both the building of the temple of God and his own house. I am absolutely convinced that the apostle Paul was a goal-setter. He did not wander aimlessly going wherever his journeys led him. He was a man of passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and set high goals in starting churches and visiting the churches he started during the various missionary journeys he took. Philippians 3:14 is often quoted in support of setting a goal –  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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Books I Read in 2013

Okay, I did it. At the start of this calendar year of 2013, I set a goal to read twenty-four books by the end of the year. Having just finished the thirty-seventh book as we near the end of this year, I am thankful for many things:

1. For the teachers who taught me to read – it is one of the greatest gifts a person can be given.
2. For my mother who instilled in me a love to read as a young boy. My wife and I are trying to do the same for our children.
3. For friends (specifically ministerial friends) who encouraged me in my reading by recommending a book or sending me books.

Before I share the list of books that I read, allow me to give you general thoughts I had as I set goals for my reading. First, due to much of my commute being on a train, I decided to set a goal higher than I had reached previously. I have never had the luxury of having so much reading time, so in hindsight, my long commute did end up being a blessing. My thoughts were that reading a book every two weeks was quite aggressive, but doable. Second, in Evernote, I compiled a list of books in order that I wished to read them. This did several things for me. It kept me on track. It also helped me order them in categories and not read too much of one genre of a book. Although I did add a few books throughout the year that were not on my list, the list helped me focus on my goals. Third, I always tried to keep a highlighter on hand to highlight those items and truths that stood out to me.

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Halftime Is Important

Its-Half-Time

According to the most recent report (2011) by the World Health Organization, the average male in the United States lives to the ripe old age of 76 years. That is almost 10 years longer than in 1960. Now I realize that not everyone will live to be this age. That is the average – some will live longer and some will die much younger. The Word of God makes it very clear that our life is like a vapor (James 4) – here today and gone tomorrow. King David of Old Testament times stated that he realized “that there is but a step between me and death.”

Not long after I turned thirty-eight years young (yes – I am still young), I resigned the pastorate of New Life Baptist Church in upstate New York. I had pastored there for nine wonderful years. Due to several mitigating circumstances (that is for another post), I felt it best that I step away from full-time ministry. A young preacher friend of mine called and asked me some questions concerning my decision. I remember telling him the following: “Nathan, I am thirty-eight years old. I consider this to be the halftime in my life. The average man in the US lives to be somewhere around 76. There are some areas in my life that I need to make adjustments before I start the second half.”

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