Monday, January 31, 2011

Inspire Me: One Generation Away

If every Christian were to lead just one person to Christ every year, and disciple that person so that he would in turn do the same next year, it would only take about thirty five years to reach the entire world for Christ.
From Neil Cole in Cultivating a Life for God, page 122

He goes on to point out that this means we are one generation away from fulfilling the great commission.  (And only one generation away from extinction if we stop making disciples.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Building With Your Time: How many blocks do you use?

Of course you've heard this before, but it bears repeating:  Each of us has the exact same amount of time as everyone else.  60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year.  If time is money, we're all getting the same paycheck.

Recently, my wife and I started looking at time with the following grid:

Each day has three blocks of time; morning, afternoon, and evening.  Each week has seven days.  In one week you have 21 time blocks with which to build your life.  Pretty simple.

What really affected how we were using our time was starting to "X" out blocks in the above chart.  Each Sunday we looked at the coming week and gave blocks the X if they were particularly stressful or brought us out of our normal daily rhythm.  We learned that one X a day is about all our family can handle.  Similarly, if we're Xing more than 5 blocks in a week, we all get pretty stressed and it doesn't look good.

I purposefully am not going to define what an X looks like for our family.  I want you to think through what it looks like for you. What would cause you to X out a time block?

The next question is: How many blocks can you X out each week and still have a sane life and family that is glorifying to God?  (The question is NOT how many blocks do you follow Jesus with?  The answer to that question is ALL of them.)  I encourage you to think about it, because I guarantee you cannot X out 21 blocks and live to tell about it.

Thanks to John Pearson for sharing the 21 time block concept in his Management Buckets book.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How I Read It: Crazy Love

A few thoughts after finishing Crazy Love by Francis Chan:

Quotable: "Maybe life's pretty good for you right now.  God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but who is still totally obsessed with God.
Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle.  God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy even when life is hard." (p44)

My Title:  I'm not sure I would actually title this book Crazy Love.  A more content driven title would be something like "Because of our Relationship with God we Should Live Like the World Thinks Were Crazy."  (I suppose this is why Francis Chan is a published author and I am not.)  But really, I expected a bigger focus on God's love and how we should love.  Instead, it seems the main point of the book is living sacrificially because of our relationship with God.  (Which is still something I'm all for!)

All of the Hype That Your Money Can Buy:  So was it worth they hype?  I'll let you read it and decide for yourself.  But I think the hype surrounding this books says something about American Christianity.  Chan beings chapter five stating that he does not want to be "controversial or difficult to swallow".  And what is the concept that he is worried will be controversial?  "The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd." (p65)  Now I totally agree with this statement, but it did not seem controversial at all.  Suffice it to say, it's both sad and great that this book has sold over a million copies.  Sad because that many people did not know the aforementioned truth.  Great because now they do.

You Can Use This:  Chapter four contains a breakdown of what it looks like to live a 'lukewarm' spiritual life.  This section is a great tool for self examination as it puts in practical terms what it looks like to 'lukewarm' in different areas of your life.  I'll be using it for myself and probably to teach others as well.

I'm Still Wondering: How do I balance a Biblical desire to live sacrificially (giving as much of my resources to God's work as possible) with the desire to care for my family (both now and into the future)?  I know that I should give more away.  But I also know God has given me the ability to save money for cars, kids, etc.  This book pushed my thinking in that area, but I'm not sure where I landed.

If you read Crazy Love I'd love to hear from you.  What did you think of the book?  What did you think of how I read It?

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:  This is my ranking of how much personal impact each book I have read this year has on me.  It's pretty easy right now.
1. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BOOR January 2010

This is the first post in what I'm hoping will be a series.  The sweet title is an acronym for "Best of Online Reading."  (You're got to admit that BOOR is a pretty awesome acronym; I'm not even sure how to pronounce it.)

What it means is that I will be reviewing my online reading from the previous year and sharing the one item that I feel tops all of the rest.  So the winner for January 2010 is...

Acting surprised when God doesn't seem close from Stuff Christians Like.

The link is for you to go read it.  (It's not very long.) Here are a few quotes to wet your appetite:
"I’ve been watching shows on Hulu that I never watch. I’ve been aimlessly surfing online which is usually a deathtrap for me. I’ve been nudging my boundaries all over the place. I’ve been reading and listening to things I usually avoid. Hmmm, I wonder if any of that will have a consequence?"

"Let’s put aside our surprise. Let’s stop pretending. Faith is a day by day, decision by decision, breath by breath kind of thing. And when we spend those days indulging in poison, we get poisonous lives."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who's following who?

I was recently chatting with a college-age friend of mine.  He was lamenting that many of the kids from his high school youth group had stopped following Christ.  Not only that, but they were also involved in drugs, parties, and the like.

So I asked him, "Why not you?  Why are you still following Jesus?  What made the difference?"

His answer (loosely paraphrased) was intriguing:

Most of these guys who fell away were in leadership in our youth group and very close to the youth pastor.  I always wanted to be in that group but for whatever reason could not join.  After the youth pastor left, many of them quickly became discouraged.  But since I had to learn to follow Jesus on my own, I didn't stop once the youth pastor was gone.

Wow.  What do you think of that?  Re-read it if you need to.

One challenge that pops to mind from his explanation:

Who are the people in your ministry following?  Are they following you?  Or are they following Jesus?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I don't want to help people anymore

Yes the title is for shock value.  So now that you're reading, let's move on, because I think this is a good story.

For well over a year I have had a desire to get some sort of financial counseling certification.  This was born out of wanting to help parents of campers better manage their money.  The scholarship program at Camp of Champions provides an opportunity for nearly any family to send their kids to camp.  At the same time it often reveals how poorly the average American uses their money.  Sometimes we bless the kid with a scholarship to camp, but secretly shake our head at the parents use of money.

So I wanted to be certified to help people with their money.  You know, get them back on track so they can be better stewards of their resources and honor God with their money.

But not any more.  I don't want to help people with their money problems anymore.  (And no, one this isn't for shock value.)

It just recently hit me that what I really want to do is help people follow Jesus and be like him.

Money can be an outward sign of our relationship with Christ.  But if I only seek to fix the outward symptom, and not go after people's hearts and point them to Christ, have I truly followed Jesus' commands?  And if they truly become a follower of Jesus, the money will take care of itself.

I'm still thinking this through, but what 'symptoms' are you desiring to help people with, when what they really need is to be changed by Jesus?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inspired by Affliction

A week ago a friend of mine went through a legitimately horrible circumstance: His 5 year old daughter daughter Jada was found to have kidney cancer and had to have surgery to remove the football-size tumor.

As I was praying for them last Monday, I would literally get sick to my stomach thinking about a little 5 year old getting cut open.  (It was far too easy to picture my 4 year old son under the knife, which made it brutal to think about.)  I can only imagine what Jada's parents went through that day.

How's that for an inspiring post?  Luckily I'm almost done.

I'm so glad to say that the surgery was successful.  In the end though, it was the family's response to this suffering that should serve as a inspiration to us all.  I would pull a few quotes from Doug's blog, but the whole thing is worth reading.

Find it here.

So be inspired by affliction, it's making you more like Christ.

And pray for the Rumbolds as you think of it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My New & Improved 2011 Reading List

A few notes before we begin:
  • I was trying to whittle down this list to 12 books, but in the end I couldn't find a final two to take off.  It may be a stretch for me to read all 14 of these, but I'm going to give it a shot.
  • Remember, you can win one of these books from me!  Check out my NFL Playoff Contest.
  • I want to read on a variety of topics in order to improve multiple areas of my life.  So that's why this list may seem slightly random.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Do any of these grab your attention?  What are you planning to read this year?

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Pheaney's Second Annual NFL Playoff Contest (with Prize Pack!)

    Here's your chance to win a fabulous prize pack from me.  And all it takes is a little football knowledge and/or luck.  Read on for the details:

    Prize Pack
    Part 1: I buy you a book off of my 2011 reading list. (Find it here.)
    Part 2: After you read the chosen book, I'll take you out to lunch/coffee to discuss. 

    Contest Details
    Your challenge is to correctly pick the Superbowl Winner from the current playoff field of 12 teams.

    (That's it.  Pretty easy huh?)

    I'm also including the following tie breakers:
    Picking of the Superbowl Loser
    Predicting the total points scored in the Superbowl.
    Signing up for 'pheaney.com' updates over e-mail.  (This might be slightly shady, but as it is the third tie breaker you can probably get away with not doing it.)

    So what are you waiting for?  Here's where you enter your picks!

    Fine print: 
    Any remaining ties will be decided by a coin flip.
    If the winner is a female, my wife will take you out while I watch my three boys.
    Contest closes before the first playoff game begins.