What Is Important To You?

And the next question, “Does your life reflect that?”

Have you ever done a time audit? I have. It’s like looking at a bank statement for your time. A time audit is when you record every activity you do during the day and how long you spend doing it. Sleep 8 hours. Eat 10 minutes. Facebook 2.5 hours. Etc. A time audit gives you a picture of how you spend your days. Because as Annie eric-rothermel-23788Dillard said, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” After completing a week long time audit I saw a disconnect between what I believed was important and what I actually spent time on.

 Show me your calendar and I’ll tell you what you really believe is important.

Some examples of this disconnect might be:

  • I believe a relationship with God is important, but spend 10 minutes in prayer and Bible reading and only goes to church when it’s convenient.
  • I believe my family is important, but I spend my time with them on my phone
  • I believe my friends are important, but I never call or meet them.
  • I believe my health is important, but I fill my life with stress and busyness giving myself no space for a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t write this to impart guilt. Well, ok maybe I do. Because I have been guilty of all of the above at some time or another too. Without some guilt, we don’t change. And, to be true to how God has made use, our lives need to reflect what He has told us important. There are only two things that God holds as important: To love Him. And to love others. In short, relationships; with Him and with others. We can’t play lip service to that. We can’t say, “I believe relationships are important and have precedence in my life.” while acting a different way.

So, honest question: How do we help each other keep the important stuff a true priority in our lives?

Stay sharp,

Matt

Human Beings

HumanBeings Have you ever really thought about the name given to our species? Human beings? It’s quite a bit different than how it seems we are living life here on earth. If we’re honest… we probably should be called Human Doers!

Here’s a tough question for you to ponder as you read this post… when was the last time you let yourself just “be”? You know… not having to accomplish anything, nothing new to learn, no agenda, no expectations, not having to measure time as worthwhile in the world’s eyes… just watching, listening, and moving as the circumstances lead. I don’t know about you, but sometimes thinking about just “being” gives me cold sweats! But sadly, we’ve been taught… and we teach those around us… that just “being” isn’t the way to live.

But that’s what people need. We need it in our relationship with God, with our spouses, and especially with our kids. Even outside of our immediate families, people need to be heard and given uninterrupted, focused attention… to truly feel care. Being fully present with no agenda except to “be” is an amazing gift that we can give to everyone around us. What a difference it makes and how little it really costs.

I’d like you to think about a time when you experienced or gave that gift of uninterrupted, fully present time. What happened? Every time that I’ve experienced or shared that gift, everything changed. There was more hope, more joy, more peace, more contentment… a true sense of not being alone no matter what the circumstance.

I would encourage you this week to just “be” with someone you care about. What a blessing that will be to both of you!

Something else I’d like you to consider. We’ve been given a great example and model in Jesus. He came to earth… gave up all it meant to be the Creator and the Lord of lords just to “be” with us… so we could have life. While He walked on this earth, we saw him spending time with the Father, taking time with the children, listening and responding to the cries for help, and being patient with people who just didn’t get it. Thank goodness He did that for us! It’s in His strength. It’s in the knowledge that He is the one that gives us strength and insight that we can just “be” for others. Try it this week and then please share your story. It will make a difference!

Some scriptures to ponder…

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 37:7 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;    

James 1:19 (ESV) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

-Gerry

May 2017 Newsletter Friendship

Plutarch Quote

Plutarch Quote

I have a confession to make, I am a horrible friend. Some of you know that first hand. I don’t call often, and who writes anymore, and since I hate social media I don’t connect well there either. But, I have a feeling that I’m not the only bad friend out there. If what I see is true in the men around me, a lot of us don’t do friendships well. To be clear, I’m talking about male friendships that go beyond, “Did you see the game?”, “What’d you do to your yard to make it green?”, or “We need some rain.” I’m talking about friendships that are deep enough that the one knows when something is going on with the other without being told. Where help is given without being asked to help. I’ll say it; Where there’s LOVE. Brotherly love. So this month’s newsletter is focused on manly friendship.

Read

The History of Male Friendships | The Art of Manliness

It has been said that female friendships can be pictured as two women facing one another, while male friendships can be symbolized as two men standing side by size, looking outwards. So here’s to having a buddy, a brother to take on the world with. Long live man friendship.

Male friendships today do not look like they used to. There are several reasons in the article for the difference; the modern shift in the idea of homosexuality from an act to an identity, workplace competition, and increased mobility have driven us apart.

Breaking the Male Code: A Guy’s Guide to Friendship The Good Men Project

Your commitment to a friend is better demonstrated by staying in regular contact. Face-to-face meetings are best, but scheduled phone calls will work if you’re living far apart.

Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Texting is little better. Twitter, nope, not going to do it either. Face to face time is the best way to connect with anyone, especially if you consider them a friend. Yup, it takes time. But, time well spent. Time will pay infinite dividends in the future for both.

10 Reasons Guys Need Male Friends in the ChurchChuck Lawless

We can model godly friendships for teen males. Young men (and older men, for that matter) can quickly move conversations and actions in ungodly directions. They need to see that it’s possible to enjoy time with other guys without compromising God’s standards.

Where will our sons find examples of how men should be? On TV? Ha. The internet? Good Lord, NO! They need to watch you. When they watch you, Dad, they will also see your friends. You having good friends will help your son navigate life that much better.

Watch

Francis Chan: Guys don’t need friends as much as you think

You know what I think about Jesus and his focus like the greatest command is loving the Lord your God and so that relationship with him has to be first. Because we have we have to be careful, that while I agree men primarily under emphasize relationship and friendship we can also overemphasize it and expect so much from each other that’s things that only God can give us.

So, every relationship begins with sinners. Broken people. We bring our sinfulness into every relationship. So, we need God in the midst of that relationship. We will need grace, forgiveness, and mercy.  The cord of three strands verse isn’t just for marriage, it’s for friendships too.

Listen

Middle-Aged Men Need More Friends – On Point

“As mapped out in my article, disconnecting from friends is incredibly bad for your long-term health. Shockingly bad. Like ‘this reporter sounds like he’s laying it on thick’ bad. I was not. Study after study after study all tell you the same thing.”

Get good friends or die early. As simple as that. Read the article HERE.

 

Here are my takeaways from researching male friendships:

  • It is God-honoring to have and nurture intimate relationships with other men. (If you read a sexual connotation into that you have been brainwashed by our society. Intimacy does not equal sex)
  • It will help you live longer
  • It will make you a better husband and father
  • It will have a positive impact on your sons when they get older
  • Most men are to “busy” to nurture friendships. By the way, “You’re Not Too Busy.”

Do you need to connect with a friend? Reconnect? Sign up for the Whetstone Backpacking Trip. For a limited time, sign up with a buddy and you each get $25 off your registration. Get signed up HERE. Choose the “Buddy” option.

Stay Sharp,

Matt

What is Truth?

An image of a religion concept - Questioning the truth ** Note: Shallow depth of field

That question still haunts us today as much as it did when Pilate asked it of Jesus some 2000 years ago.  Pilate, of course, was responding to a statement Jesus made while being interrogated before his crucifixion:

“You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

I imagine Pilate’s question as more of a dismissive retort than one honestly looking for an answer.  No different than today in our modern (or postmodern, or post-postmodern?) society.  In a world of “I’m ok, you’re ok” and moral relativism, we seem to have collectively given up on trying to answer – or ask – this question of “What is truth?”

But I believe it’s a tremendously important question.  Don’t we all want to be on the side of truth?

Truth, by definition, is the quality or state of being true.

Seems simple enough, especially when the truth you’re referring to doesn’t carry significant implications: “Yes, it’s true that I like BBQ ribs (mmm, ribs…)”, or “Yes, it’s true that 2+2=4”.  Or there are truths that can have significant and immediate consequences if ignored: ”No, gravity does not apply to MEeeeeeeee…__!”  Truth objections of this sort tend to be short lived and self-limiting.  These are examples of what I would call “small t” truths.

But what about “capital T” Truth?  By that I mean universal, foundational Truth that transcends time, location, culture, and people.  Truth that does not change, regardless of circumstances.  To be sure, physical laws such as gravity could be classified this way, but I’m interested in Truth that relates to human thoughts and behavior.  Truth that pertains to who we are as human beings.  Truth that carries significantly more weight and importance than our likes and dislikes, answers to math problems, or even effects of physical laws.  Truth that is Truth whether we like it (or believe it) or not.

Does such Truth exist?

Well, let’s look at who we are as human beings.  As I see it, there are only two possible scenarios.

Either:

–          1) We humans were created by an all powerful, all knowing, sovereign God.

or

–          2) We’re simply the result of a series of cosmic organic accidents.

And if we’re cosmic accidents, then I would submit there is no universal “capital T” Truth.  Whatever truths that appear to exist are simply opinions/desires or perhaps societal patterns that have proven to be beneficial over time.  We’re only subject to our own will and to people or groups of people that are strong or persuasive enough to impose their will upon us.  In this scenario truth is simply what works or what you can get away with.  Really no truth at all.

But what if we humans are the product of a divine creator?  If we have been created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God, then we are subject to our creator and to what that creator has established as truth.  God as the creator is, by default, the standard of truth.

And this is exactly what the Bible claims.  Consider the Gospel of John, which contains several truth claims made by, or about Jesus.  And remember that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  He is God the Son; God in human form.

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the only and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This last statement is the key that unlocks our question.  It changes the question from “what is truth?” to “who is truth?” and then answers it with everyone’s favorite Sunday school answer.  Jesus.  Jesus is the truth, with a capital T.

Look, left to our own devices we’ll always miss the mark when it comes to truth.  As sinful, imperfect people (and that’s all of us by the way – no exceptions), we’ll always bend, change, manipulate, and re-interpret the truth based on our circumstances, desires, and skewed perspectives.  So instead of trying to pursue truth as an intellectual concept or even a list of rules, let’s look to the one that is the essence of truth and pursue Him.  Pursue Jesus.

And how exactly do we pursue Jesus (and by extension the truth)?  Start with the Bible.  Remember that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, and Jesus is the Word (the Bible) made flesh.  The Gospels are a good place to start, especially the Gospel of John with his focus on what Jesus said and who Jesus was while he was here on earth.

And as we come to know Him and trust Him and put our faith in Him, see that through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus did more than just show us the truth.  He becomes the Truth (righteousness) for us.  The great exchange – my sin for his righteousness!  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

May God bless you as you seek Him and His Truth.

Peace! Ken