fbpx

Slay the Beast, Unclutter Your Life

Just Do It!
     “Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.” Action words, right?

     I choose these words everyday because David Allen told me I had too many “non-action words” on my action list and passive words like these don’t help your brain, they just make you scratch your head in wonder. Words like “Mom” and “Bicknell Project” can’t really be “done” because they’re not discrete actions that can be completed. They’re just categories that need to be broken down into a list of “doable” steps. Bookmark that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Ever have 1,100+ emails in
your inbox?  Beastly.

Meet the Beast
     A few years ago, I looked at my inbox and it had over 1,100 items in it and I would nearly get a headache just looking at the computer screen because… well, where do you start with 1,100 emails? My inbox extended probably 50 screen lengths and had become a woeful Beast that would stare me down from the moment I fired up my computer.

     Since I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD), I’ve been able to get my inbox to empty two to three times a week. Caveat: “been able to” and “have done” are definitely two different matters. But, I can recall uttering the words “free at last” more than once over these years, simply because I knew the impossible could be done, and I’d seen it happen at least once myself.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
GTD, by David Allen, a field manual
for slaying the beast at work, not for
abiding in Christ.

    Today, I have Microsoft Outlook’s rules automatically re-route 80% of my incoming mail into reliable, categorized folders, keeping my inbox nearly clutter-free and with less than 40 items in my inbox at all times. Can you imagine the freedom I feel every time I sit down at my inbox to see that it’s less than one screen long? The Beast is, at long last, dead!

Same Beast, Different Face
     When I first grasped the concept of what sin really is and the fact that I could sin in my mind without taking any external {Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.} action, I could hear the familiar snarl of the email beast echo through my head. Suddenly, I realized that my average day was filled with far more sin than I’d ever considered. It was as if I was being brutally Spammed in my inbox… my “sinbox” was well over 1,100… million.

Word Problems, Again?
     Over the years, I’ve also realized there’s an enemy of God out there –  a deceiver, liar, and accuser – who knows that when I recognize my sin my natural propensity is to become overwhelmed by the massive clutter in my inbox. It’s usually spam in the form of guilt, shame, and condemnation. Sometimes, it’s even accompanied by a self written email like “Idiot! You know better!” Yet, Jesus is there, always, telling me to abide, to remain in Him. Now, “abide” and “remain” don’t really fit well on my “action words” list. It’s one of those words that makes you scratch your head in wonder. So, how does that work?

     Jesus gives us a key to reconciling this problem in John 14:16-17, Jesus reminds us that abiding is such an impossible task that He’s going to send the Holy Spirit to help us do it. In other words, it can’t be “done” because it’s not an item that can be completed. Instead, I want to encourage you today with a word that doesn’t appear in this passage – “reconnect”. It’s a simple word that in my GTD world means “get back on the wagon”. In Jesus’ terms it means – “get back into the vine”.

Refresh/reconnect – The key
to “abiding in Christ”.

    Sin is the natural result of disconnecting from the “vine” (read John 15). If we ever spent a day fully connected to Christ, truly abiding, two things are certain: 1) we’d never want to disconnect again and 2) we’d be so filled with pride that we’d immediately disconnect (1 John 1:8). Truly, it can’t be done… apart from the Spirit. Because of the cross, the beast is already slain. If we can, by the Spirit rather than by our own effort, wrap our heads around that concept, there is a freedom greater than any empty inbox can bring waiting in the next heartbeat.

Be Encouraged
     Jesus is the original “Getting Things Done” master: the beast is, indeed, dead – sin has been conquered and so have the enemy and the world. With our debt paid in full, our sinbox is clean. The clutter of guilt, condemnation, and shame can be deleted in an instant by simply refreshing our browser. In Christ, by the Spirit, to the glory of the Father, you and I can be clutter free in one keystroke: realign… refresh… reconnect.

Abiding with you,

AP

For a quick assessment (45 seconds or so), go to www.gtdiq.com. For one-on-one coaching in either GTD or in abiding in Christ, email aarron@seasonsoflifeministries.org.

Maintaining Momentum – Forgetting Father’s Day?

Note:
Today’s post is longer than a minute. I won’t apologize. If you take the break required to watch the linked video and still read the whole post, we’re into about 7 or 8 minutes. If you only have a minute today, bookmark this and come back to it when you have four more minutes to watch and three more to read.

     Normally the week leading up to Christmas, I notice how cheery people are. Even some who wouldn’t consider themselves “church people” are wishing others well and forgiving things they’d otherwise harp on for days. It’s around that time I wish what you probably wish – “can’t we have the Christmas Spirit all year long?”

     But, we forget. Don’t we?

     We forget so quickly, that even a day after Veteran’s Day or Mother’s Day, we’re back to ignoring the vets or taking the Moms for granted again. This year, I’m going to prolong Father’s Day not because I’m a father, but because there is something about the Lord we need to remember “all year long”:


He invites us to call Him “Father”… not for a day, but for always.
I’ve got no verse for you today. Just read the Old Testament. Look at how many times “remember” and “Lord” appear together.

     Let me tell you a story to illustrate this.

     A son is wheelchair bound. Cerebral palsy – can’t talk, walk, etc., but through technology, can communicate via computer. Google “Team Hoyt” or “Rick & Dick Hoyt” when you can.

     The point for today is this: the son can’t run, bike, or swim, but His dad can – and at his son’s urging, went into training in his late 50s to do a 5K, and eventually a triathlon. This means he puts his crippled son in a raft and swims with son in tow, gets out of the water and onto a bike carrying his son in a seat on the bike, then runs, pushing a wheelchair that carries his son. For an Iron Man race, it’s a 2.5 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run – hard enough for one man to do on his own, but somehow this dad does them all for two.

     Father’s Day is a week behind us. Christmas is months away. Both can call us to reflect on our relationship with God in a unique and personal way. I’m not here to bother the single guys with thoughts of what it will be like, or isn’t yet like, to be a dad. I’m not here to challenge dads to “try harder”. My hope is that you’ll watch the video above and meditate on a couple of questions:

Q: What does the son really bring to the table when it comes to running an Iron Man Triathlon?
A: Could it be the same thing that you and I bring to the table when it comes to living righteously?

     It’s been said that the only thing we bring to the equation of our salvation is our need for a Savior. What do you think? Some of us suffer from the “liability of ability”: the more gifted we are the more we think we made it all happen. This only leads to self reliance. Smaller package than what God desires for us.

     In reality, we’re beggars telling other beggars where to get some bread. We’re quadriplegics being dragged, carried and pushed across the finish line of life. My favorite moment in this video is toward the end of the run where the son appears to be egging the crowd on as if to say “Look at my Dad! Give it up for my Dad!!!” His dad carried himself and his son through every mile of the race. What has God carried you through?

Humbled… How about you?

     What if it can be Father’s Day everyday, beneath the wings of the Father of all creation who loves us enough to reach out to us even we are enemies of the cross? For the rest of the year, can we do better than the “Christmas Spirit”? Can we have the Father’s Day Spirit all year long? Can we all, everyday, just shout “Look at my Dad!”?

Much love,

AP

Monday Morning Momentum Minute

Why?
     Every week, I hope God squeezes some truth out of my fingertips and onto our blog that may encourage you. Often, He has given me the dubious honor of telling you about landmines in the road by pointing to the limbs I’ve blown off as a living mine-sweeper. Here’s a lesson that cost me an arm and a leg in a very figurative sense. I hope you don’t step in the same spot now.
 -AP


The End of Superman
     Last year, I believe God Himself brought me to a low point. Through a season of conflict in our home, confusion in our marriage, near-crisis in ministry, and crushing exhaustion, He made me keenly aware of my own weaknesses and limitations. I looked at my wife one afternoon, actual tears streaming down my face as I grieved the loss of a favorite illusion.
     “What’s wrong?” she asked.
     I pushed four, feeble words out of my mouth: “I’m not Superman anymore…”
     I fought God for years, on this, but had finally begun the process of submitting to Him “one last stronghold” in my life – busyness. I’d heard the Mary/Martha parable for years and reacted the same way every time – “that’s a great story, Jesus.” and walked away from it each time thinking “but, that’s a story for women. It’s not about me.” I’d even preached it to other men… Ironic, isn’t it?
     Oops. Only last year did I realize how narrow was the gap between “busy” and “burnout”.
Desperate for a Word
     Only in that low, exhausted, “feeling like butter that’s been spread over too much bread” time could I become so starkly aware of the fact that I was running on my own steam, my own agenda, and allowing the noisy world to drown out the clear and present voice of my Lord. I recall crying out to him for relief many times over a period of weeks only to run into the same wall again only days later with what seemed like no reply from the Spirit. “I’ve gotta hear from you, Lord.” became the preamble to my every prayer.
    Early one November morning, reading through Psalm 33:16-22 (roll over for reference HT: reftagger) came a reply from the Word and, I believe, a Word from the Lord.
   For some reason I paused at this like a flashing red light – looking both ways to see what was coming – and I swear, I heard the Lord say a bunch of thingsanswering question’s I’d laid out in prayer for the preceding weeks, capped off by three words: “Respond. Rely. Rest”
  1. Are you in a season where you’re so busy doing so many things, putting out so many fires, that the majority of what you do falls in the bucket of “react”? “Respond” carries a far more calculated and prudent meaning with it than “react”, wouldn’t you agree? Are you, somewhere, trying to save yourself by a large army or great strength, when a more calculated, wisdom-based approach could yield smarter, compounded results?
  2. My friend Steve’s favorite question to ask headstrong, overachieving men is: “who ya’ depending on?”  So, “who are you relying on, right now?” If your answer now, like mine then, is anything other than an immediate, resounding “God”, God is your co-pilot, when He’s offered to be your pilot. Switch seats. Rely. Really.
  3. Watching the movie “Grace Card” the other night, I was dumb-struck by a scene where a doctor tells a father he can’t donate his kidney to save his son’s life because he has hypertension. I thought of how badly I’ve treated my own body with lack of rest and a “sleep when you’re dead” mentality, not considering how heart-broken I’d be if a doctor told me I was ineligible to save my own son’s life because I’d abused my own body into some one of those self-inflicted “old people” diseases. Are you stuck in the performance track with no discernible periods of regular rest? Who is standing in your shadow right now that would be impacted by your demise, even if you were “merely sidelined temporarily”?
Be Encouraged:
     You’re not the first idiot to fall into the undesirable place you may be at. You’re not even the first smart, seasoned person to fall for it, either. God’s eye is on you, but you’ve got to fear Him, depend on His faithful love, and position yourself for delivery by waiting on Him, not relying on you, your strength, or false hope in your horse or large army. None of this is based on how long you’ve been following Jesus or how convoluted and confusing your current circumstance. It’s all based on the simplicity of hope in God.
Exhale.