On Tuesday, February 26, 2008 Starbucks closed all of its American stores at 5:30 PM so that employees nationwide could receive a three hour retraining of sorts on the intricacies of making the perfect cup of espresso. Customers were turned away at the door as employees were trained and had their skills refined. CEO Howard Shultz urged employees to work to regain the original soul of the company and to restore the customer experience.
What lesson can we learn from the coffee shop turned world domination machine that is Starbucks? Time away to focus on our core principles makes us better. Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus would often withdraw to isolated places to pray. In a world of constant contact and the expectation that we will always produce, it is ever more important that we take time to refocus and retrain. Jesus needed time alone, how much more do we need time away from distractions (whether good or bad) to be strengthened for the ministry tasks to which we have been assigned?
Of course getting away is often easier said than done. I myself struggle with scheduling these quiet times away, but I also struggle with a false sense of guilt for not being in my office and accessible by the people of my church. I need to be reminded regularly of my primary responsibility to equip the saints. I often confuse equipping with resourcing. By being constantly available, I am a great resource to the people of Malvern Hill, but unless I am getting away on a regular basis to pray, study, and grow then I will do a terrible job of equipping the people of Malvern Hill for the ministry ahead of them. In short, I can pour into others … Continue reading
Crowdsourcing, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” It is a relatively new phenomenon and one that has great merit in certain situations. One of my favorite crowdsourcing campaigns was for the Coolest Cooler (honestly, this thing looks amazing.) Interestingly, their Kickstarter campaign was for funding, not for design ideas. Maybe they didn’t want just anybody giving design input. Wikipedia stands as another great example of successful crowdsourcing.
Unfortunately, I see crowdsourcing taking a very negative turn through social media. Many people are using their Facebook, twitter, and Instagram pages as a sort of crowdsource parenting (or marriage) page. I want to go on record as saying that crowdsourcing has its place and is obviously a neat idea for fundraising or market research, but it is a terrible place for you to turn for advice on loving your wife or husband or raising your kids. Here are a few reasons why crowdsource parenting is such a detrimental idea:
You need REAL community. I know that online community is a reality, but it cannot replace face to face encounters with people you know. You want to know how to discipline your child, then turn to someone who has intimate knowledge of both you and your child. Perhaps those who know you best recognize that the issue is not the form of discipline, but the person enforcing the discipline. I know that is a hard truth, but no one reading your four sentence description on Facebook has actually witnessed your kid throwing a tantrum or you losing your tempter. You need REAL community, not the false … Continue reading
The Integrity of Words and Our Confession of Faith– Al Mohler has some insightful words of warning. “Rarely does an institution decide, in one comprehensive moment of decision, to abandon the faith and seek after another. The process is far more dangerous and subtle. A direct institutional evasion would be instantly recognized and corrected, if announced honestly at the onset. Instead, theological disaster usually comes by means of drift and evasion, shading and equivocation.”
What is Your Exit Plan?– This is one of two articles I read yesterday on the necessity of protecting our kids from us online. “At some point you need to evaluate when and why you post those pictures, and who they are really meant to serve. At least in my case, I know that so many of them were meant to serve only me. I could portray myself as a great dad or a good Christian, and use my kids as little more than props. They were props, not people, and it revealed something ugly within me.” Here’s the other link from USA Today: Do You Overshare About Your Kids Online?
Who Was St. Patrick?– In his inaugural podcast, J.D. Payne shares some information about St. Patrick and dispels some common myths.
How to Look Organized– Here are some good practical tips if you are suddenly overwhelmed by the number of requests on your time.
I’m sure that there are probably enough blog posts on Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life already, but I feel the need to add one more. I’m re-reading through Whitney’s book with a friend and was reminded this week of the necessity and value of meditating on God’s word. Meditation is something of a lost Christian art, but one that every Christian would benefit practicing.
Christian meditation is different from Eastern meditation. Eastern meditation focuses on clearing your mind. Christian meditation insists that we fill our mind with God’s word and allow it to shape us. Eastern meditation is built off the premise that the divine is present within us all and by clearing our mind we can tap into that divine presence. Christianity recognizes God outside of us and acknowledges the need for God to invade our conscience for our own good.
Whitney defines meditation this way,
“Deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”
Paul urged believers to “renew your minds.” The mind is renewed through infusion from God’s word. Whitney writes that this renewal is accomplished in a way similar to brewing a cup of tea. The water is transformed into tea as the tea bag is allowed to steep fully for a period of time. Likewise, minds are renewed by God’s word as His word is allowed to “steep” for extended periods of time.
Here are several suggestions Whitney offers for how to meditate on Scripture:
- Select and memorize a particular text.
- Rewrite it in your own words.
- Look for specific applications.
- Don’t rush–take your time.
- Pray through the text.
How are you meditating on God’s word?
I recently proofread a paper for a friend (some of you will get the joke there) where he talked about a certain theological position being less of a positive position and more of a negative reaction against a different theological bent. This struck me as a concerning commentary on our current cultural situation. Inside and outside of the church peope seem to be known more for what they are against rather than what they are for. Politicians opine against other politicians rather than presenting their plan for balancing the budget. Sportscasters react to quarterback decisions and Christians formulate opinions and positions as protest against that which they do not like.
My challenge to you (and to me) is to be an advocate rather than an adversary. Rather than parenting by reaction and explaining what you do not want your children to become, decide what you want them to be and build your parenting around your future hopes and dreams (and ideally a biblical model). Rather than builidng your personal theology against the theology of another (Calvinism, Arminianisim, environmentalism, etc…), work to proactively develop a robust theology of your own. Instead of protesting against the wrongs perpetrated toward children, advocate on behalf of children.
I have found in my life that it is much easier to be an adversary than an advocate. It is easier to determine what I am against rather than what I am for because I can simply sit back and wait for the things I don’t like to rear their ugly head and then protest agasinst them. It is far more difficult to go to God’s word and pursue wisdom and guidance to help me determine a proactive worldview. It’s harder for me to identify what I want my children to become and then teach them and … Continue reading