DoMoreBetter3DCoverGetting more done. Siggghhhh. Bring on the low-grade guilt, memories of shipwrecked New Year’s resolutions, and the “I-am-so-lame” feeling as we watch productive people owning their to-do lists.

Productivity is a huge topic and major cultural itch. A search of books on the topic in Amazon yields some 36,000 hits. And it’s not a new issue. Fairly productive guys like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin had their secrets. Jonathan Edwards, a time-management guru, preached an excellent exposition of Ephesians 5:16, entitled, “The Preciousness of Time, and the Importance of Redeeming It.”

In our day, veteran ninja-blogger, Tim Challies, also knows a few things about productivity. In addition to doing normal human things, ministry, and writing books (e.g. The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, Sexual Detox, and a Theological Critique of The Shack), he is probably best known for feeding the Christian world from his A La Carte and Blog for about 12 years now. So, his new book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, comes from real testing.

Challies writes to help us “do more of what matters most,” and “to do it better” (5). From the beginning, he avoids a pixie-dust solution to giant a problem. Some productivity books throw out commands that may work for some, but without discussing a lot of the necessary plumbing to implement the change. And that’s the problem. Anyone can tell you what they’re doing that works. It’s quite another thing to shepherd someone through change. I think this book does a fine job of that and I recommend it for a few reasons:

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Pope Francis, in a sermon preached in front of many Muslims at a mosque in the Central African Republic, expressed very clearly his thoughts about Islam. He said that Muslims are our brothers and sisters. Later that day he posted this on Twitter:

It is time for born-again Christians to come to grips with the fact that this man worships a different God. Continue Reading…

lady soldierNews from America fascinates me. Living in South Africa affords me a vantage point of detachment from local US news. But I nearly choked on my newsfeed last week when I heard President Barack Obama commend the Pentagon for opening all combat military positions to women. So now my two little girls, who are US citizens, will one day in all likelihood be required to register for the draft. (If you don’t think that’s the next station this equality train is heading for, you’re not following its trajectory closely enough; see this New York Times article on drafting women)

Objections to the announcement that we will soon have lady SEALs à la GI Jane have focused mostly on pragmatics and physiology. For example studies have irrefutably proven that unit cohesion will be diminished, and that male platoons have 69% more success in completing combat tasks than their co-ed counterparts, and that the 40% less upper body muscle mass of women will impede their ability to drag 200 lb wounded men from a burning tank, etc, etc, etc.

The problem with that reasoning is this: we all know that some women can physically outperform some men. Anyone who has visited a Crossfit box knows that. I know gals who can clean & jerk not only their own bodyweight, but mine too.

The real issue isn’t can a woman cope with combat, but should she have to? Women can and do competently step in if and when men neglect their duties. But do we really want to make this the norm rather than a sad necessary exception?

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Hey Christian! Please stop talking about gun-control, just for a second, and think.

At least fourteen people were shot in San Bernardino, Ca. and Terrorism has not been ruled out.

keep-calm-and-close-your-mouthIf your first thought in reading that first line is something like,

“Ha! So much for strict gun control laws! or “I thought California was a liberal state!”

then I just have one request. I beg you: Please don’t talk to anyone! don’t update your status on Facebook. Don’t talk to anyone at work. I don’t care what you have to do, whether it’s take a cold shower, turn off your internet, go on vacation, or whatever it is, please don’t say a word.

14 people just died, and if they didn’t know Christ they are suffering divine judgment in hell. 

Do you realize that? Do you believe that? Sometimes I wonder whether Christians truly believe in hell. It’s so important to train our minds to think eternally!

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This week Karen Swallow Prior, part of the Southern Baptist “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,” wrote an article for Christianity Today called “Loving our Pro-Choice Neighbors.” She appealed for Christians to be more loving to those who practice abortion, and one practical example she gave was that we should stop referring to abortion as murder.

Here are her words:

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universal-diagnosis

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It’s about as puzzling as it is pervasive. Especially in our nation, people assume the label, “Christian,” for themselves as easily as a food preference. A 2014 survey revealed that about 70% of Americans consider themselves Christians. Often at funerals (in an understandable grasp in grief) individuals—even clergy—will proclaim with certitude the individual’s presence in the eternal place for Christians, despite an absence of Christianity in the individual’s life. Some of the more common answers to the question, “How do you know that you are a Christian?”, are things like, “I have always been one,” “I believe in God,” “I was baptized or confirmed,” “At camp I came forward,” “I just grew up that way,” “I prayed a prayer,” “Because I am a decent person,” or, “Because I grew up going to/go to church.”

But how do those reasons match up with the Christian manual—the Bible—on what it means to be a Christian? Are 70% of 300 million Americans characterized by the Bible’s definition of Christian characteristics? What does the Bible say about what it means to be a Christian?

It’s critical that we use God’s objective word when evaluating whether or not we are a Christian, and not our subjective opinion. Scripture, not experience or sentiment, is the say on the status of our soul. After we die, when and we stand before God in the judgment (Heb. 9:27), he is not going to ask, “So, did you think you were a Christian in life? You did? Oh, OK, come on in to heaven.” He will judge by his standard. And, according to Jesus, on that day many will be surprised when they are shut out from heaven for all eternity (Matt. 7:21-23).

So, this matters. Eternity is at stake. This is a matter of our own souls and those of people we love. Thus, it is inappropriate, and even more, perhaps, spiritual suicide, to respond, “Who are you to question me?” The answer, of course, is, someone who cares about you and your eternal well-being.

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Today is December 1. That means there are only 25 days until Christmas.

Visit your local coffee shop, take a trip to the mall, or just drive through your neighborhood at night, and it’s easy to see that the so-called “Christmas spirit” is alive and well in American culture.

Some of the ironies of our culture’s fascination with Christmas are especially evident where I live in Southern California.

• It hasn’t snowed in Los Angeles in years, but snowflake decorations are everywhere.

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compassIt’s not uncommon for me to hear of Christians claiming that God led them to this or that by means of a dream or vision or word from the Lord. When I probe what they mean by that, more often than not it’s just their way of saying they had an idea or imagined a scene.

Only occasionally has the person insisted that they literally had a supernatural experience of direct revelation like Paul going to heaven (2 Cor 12) or Peter’s trance (Acts 10). Dismissing those claims as spurious hogwash is fairly uncomplicated (see the cornucopia of articles on this blog by searching “Strange Fire” or “prophecy” or any other charismatic sounding term).

What deserves more leniency is the acknowledgement that the Spirit prompts us and guides us in our everyday lives. After all, those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom 8:14).

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Garrett Swasey was the officer killed trying to rescue people at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. Swasey was shot while saving people at a place he abhorred. He was an elder of a church that believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, and that abortion is evil.

Let that sink in.

A man who hated abortion and hated murder–who gave his life helping others–didn’t hesitate about going to Planned Parenthood to save lives.

Garrett Swasey was also a preacher. He was an elder at Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs.

garrett Swasey

In his last sermon (you can listen to the whole thing here), he encourages his congregation to consider Christ and the Gospel. He seems to be a pretty humorous guy, with a low view of himself and a high view of Jesus. But one thing he said in his last sermon stuck out to me. He said he never seemed to be quoted on the things that he’d like, but he always got quoted on the things he said that he didn’t like (every preacher probably knows exactly what he means by that).

Well, in honor of his heroic effort and our common love of Christ, I’d like to honor the Lord by quoting things Swasey said in his last sermon. I hope they bless you as they have me.

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November 25, 2015

A Thanksgiving Pause

by Eric Davis
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It’s almost Thanksgiving. But, there is still today, which is considered the single busiest travel day in the US. AAA estimates that 47 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles for the holiday. Airlines report that over 90% of their seats will be filled today.

With all the hustle and bustle, thankfulness may flee a bit. It doesn’t always come natural for various reasons. Some of us may be immersed neck-deep in immense trials. Perhaps giving thanks right now seems impossible. Others of us may be struggling to have a thankful heart towards God for no apparent reason at all. Whatever the case, Thanksgiving is an opportune, and, perhaps, a necessary time, to grow in the grace of God-ward thankfulness. In Christ, we are never without reasons for gratitude, even in the darkest of life’s valleys. But thankfulness is less of a pixie-dust emotion felt, and more of a grace cultivated through discipline.

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So, whether you are standing in the TSA line, running to catch a connecting flight, in between trains, or on your way to grandma’s, here are a few of my favorite quotes and meditations on thankfulness which I hope will prepare our hearts for tomorrow’s wonderful holiday; Thanksgiving Day.

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