Jesus' Guide to Time Management

When I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People several years ago, the book illuminated for me the difference between urgency and importance.

It’s basic, really, but every item on your to do list can be any combination of urgent and important. Just because a task is urgent—Dancing with the Stars is on television right now—doesn’t mean it’s important.


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The problem is urgent tasks have a way of making themselves seem important, when in fact, they have no lasting significance. Mowing the yard, while urgent, is probably not all that important. In a few days, the grass will be tall again. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mow your yard; there are consequences to not mowing, like unwanted bugs, scorn of neighbors, lower property value.

But in a time-deprived culture like ours, often the important stuff gets neglected because the urgent items scream at us all day long. What kind of tasks am I talking about? Which ones are important?

2 Things You Should Ask for This Christmas

Did you ever really really want something, only to be left wanting when you actually got it?

One Christmas my brother and I begged my mom to get us a Nintendo Gamecube. She kept telling us no, but we kept persisting. Finally she said she would buy it, but she wouldn’t have any Christmas money leftover to buy us any games. We agreed, counting on Christmas money from grandparents. 


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Christmas morning we unwrapped the cube in ecstatic joy. We hooked it up to a television in my brother’s room and set the system clock and fiddled with other settings. We had managed to scrape together enough money to purchase a game for the system, but it would have to wait until stores opened the next day. So we sat on the bed, marveling at every detail of the console.

On December 26, Mom carted us to Walmart where we victoriously slapped down the $60 plus 8.25% sales tax for Luigi’s Mansion, one of the Gamecube’s launch titles. Mom wouldn’t drive home fast enough. We burst the doors open, furiously tearing through the cellophane packaging of the video game. We carefully clicked the mini disc in its spindle, fired up the system, and off we went. Our video game dreams had come true.

Sixty dollars was quite a bit of money for us jobless kids. But we thought it was well worth it to buy the game. The graphics, sound, and controllers were unlike those of any Nintendo system we’d seen before. We played the game all day, morning until night, making major headway in our efforts to rescue Mario from the ghosts. The next morning though, something awful happened.

Does God Really Have a Plan for Your Life?

[Limited time: Purchase Under the Sun and get three bonuses free! Read on for details.]

Do you ever wonder if God has a plan for your life?

You know so many people who seem to live life with a clear direction. They behave with a sense of purpose, with an unbelievably annoying amount of enthusiasm and optimism.


And dare you say it? They have the “c” word.

Calling.

These people know what they were made for, what they’re good at. They do it well. And they do it for God.

And you want that too.

3 Ways to Stay Thankful During Thanksgiving (And Have God’s Peace All Year Long)

Editor's note: please welcome Brad Andres to the blog today. I think you'll enjoy this post. -Andrew

Sale Thursday! 6:00PM! 8:00 PM! 11:00PM!

Friday follow-up sales and weekend manager specials!



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I remember the good old days when Thanksgiving sales did not start until early Friday morning.

But Black Friday is no more. Now, it seems, we should call Thanksgiving, “Black Thursday” when mainstream focus is on food, football, and fantastic deals. The largest sales end before midnight, and the weekend follows with lingering discounts and opportunities to spend more money.

It’s ironic. During Thanksgiving, when people should be happiest, they seem to become the most irritable. When we should be counting our blessings, we count our cash instead (and often spend more than we count). No wonder Americans get so stressed out.

So how can we stay thankful during Thanksgiving, and even all year long?

Want to Help Me Launch My Book?

You are probably aware that I published a book last April called Under the Sun: Discover Your Calling and Live a Meaningful Life.

What you might not know is that it almost killed me. In the weeks leading up to the release of the book I was scrambling to get everything finished on time, regularly operating on four hours of sleep.



I don’t tell you this for pity (although if you have any extra I could throw a party), but rather to point out the fact that I never really promoted the book. I never did a proper book launch. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed just finishing the thing, that I’ve been trying to recharge ever since.

Now that I’ve gathered myself, I’m ready to officially launch my book to the world. But I need your help!

I need people like you to help spread the message about Under the Sun. If you’re interested in joining my book launch team please email me at andrew @ andrewgilmore.net.

Here’s what you are committing to:

-Sharing news about the book on your favorite social media site the day of launch (11/27) plus one or two more times.
-Eventually reviewing the book on Amazon (or your blog if you have one, or both). If you could post the review within the launch period that would be great, but I know it’s short notice.
-Helping me brainstorm ideas for promoting the book.

In return you’ll get:

-A digital version of the book (in all formats)
-All of the bonuses I’m giving away to people who buy the book during the launch period (11/27 - 12/27)
-A thank you and link to your blog, twitter, or whatever you like on my website
-Membership in a private Facebook group where we could discuss the content of the book, and book promotion strategies

Space is limited in the group so let me know right away if you’re interested.

If you’re up for it, email me now at andrew @ andrewgilmore.net. If not, here’s a video of a cat:







Andy

How to Read the Old Testament Without Getting Lost, Getting Bored or Giving Up

You’ve probably started reading Genesis many times.

You may have even made it all the way through, moving on to Exodus. Moses, the plagues, the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments. All interesting stuff.



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But then you hit Leviticus. You start reading about guilt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and offering offerings. (Okay I may have made that last one up.) Then you start nodding off. Your mind starts wandering to important things like how much toilet paper is left in the bathroom or who won the 2014 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

So you close up the Bible. The next day you flip to Matthew with a possible pitstop in Psalms and Proverbs. You’ll try the Old Testament next year.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s had this problem.

Why Doesn't God Speak to Us?

Friends and family wouldn’t have reacted so negatively had I been unable to speak. But I could speak; I just chose not to. Ergo ensuing frustration. But before I tell you the whole story, let me first inform you that I was in middle school at the time. That’s pretty much synonymous with insanity. So that's my defense. 

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You see, I was a big fan of the sitcom, Seinfeld, back in its heyday. In a certain episode the titular character’s cross hallway neighbor, Kramer, swore off speaking. “94% of communication is non-verbal.” He said, just prior to his vow of silence. Thinking it would be funny or challenging or whatever I decided to see if I could go an entire day without talking. 24 hours. A school day no less. Nods, hand signals, gestures, all acceptable. No words.

To All the Church Attendees with a False Sense of Security

Just because you attend church doesn’t mean you’re saved.

But how many of us operate that way? It’s the modus operandi: salvation by association. Redemption through osmosis. But it’s a myth. It’s a lie. It’s a false sense of security.



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We think that by belonging to a group or a particular church we’ll sneak our names in the book of life. It doesn’t work like that. (And that’s a good thing.)

Finding Grace: Overcoming the Perfectionism Trap

Looking over my son that night, I couldn’t find any bumps or bruises. I searched as thoroughly as I could amidst the ear-piercing shrieks of pain that elevated my blood pressure to dangerous levels. I tried to replay the event in my mind, to calculate exactly in what position, and at what angle, and with what velocity the two-year-old had hit the ground like an X-games analyst would do after an athlete missed a landing.

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One thing you should know about Abram is his propensity to destroy things. He takes special delight in ripping, tearing, throwing, popping or otherwise disintegrating whatever’s in his path. He’s perhaps the cutest child alive and has probably the best temperament of any of our four children as a toddler, but you can’t take your eye off of him for even one minute without discovering he has shredded another office curtain, dumped juice on the carpet, or yanked a wad of hair from his sister’s unsuspecting scalp.

The Lie Christians Everywhere Want to Believe

The moment I realized the blue lights in the rear view mirror were meant for me I could feel my body begin to tense.

It was as if I were suddenly asked to give a speech on a topic I knew little about. I felt two individual beads of sweat run from my armpit and down my side, giving me chills. Yet the temperature outside the vehicle was north of 90 so I couldn’t turn off the air conditioner but a few seconds. It is strange feeling simultaneously cold and hot. But that’s where I was.

No worries. The window would be down soon enough, equalizing the opposing forces of the AC and Oklahoma sun.


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Of course the wait from the time you pull over until the officer approaches your window seems longer than it is. I’m not sure what he’s doing in there. Probably running the plates to check for warrants, liens, and proper registration. But I also imagine him doing normal stuff you and I do at work like finishing the last bite of Snickers and texting his wife to remember to pay the vet bill. Besides that, all the cruisers have those laptops in them now, and it’s gotta be tempting to check up on Facebook every once in a while.

So my angst grew minute by minute, primarily because of the unknown. Why had the police officer pulled me over?

5 Ways to Enjoy God's Word (Even If You Hate Reading)

Trust me, I know how it feels to be lacking in time.

At the Gilmore household, many days we're lucky just to have time to eat dinner. Were it not a biological necessity, we'd probably skip it (despite my love of food). But after work, school activities, homework, and all the other things we have to do when is there possibly time to read the Bible?

And even if time presents itself, if you don't understand what you're reading or why it's important how are you going to enjoy the process? 




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So too often we skip Bible time either because it's not urgent or because the process is boring and frustrating.

But what happens if you stay on such a course? What if you continue allowing your Bible to collect dust on the bookshelf?

Hey Christians: It's Okay to Be Awesome

Tell me if this ever happens to you.


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You do something well: sing in church, hit a home run, or cook a delicious bass. Afterward someone says to you, “Great job! That was awesome!” To which you respond:

aw, it was nothing.

Have you ever said that?

If so, it’s time to stop.

What Is the Meaning of Life?

What is the meaning of life?

The question kind of betrays itself, doesn’t it?


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The query implies there is meaning to be had in the first place. And inherit in that assumption is the affirmation that life has value. Because without value, there is no meaning. Therefore the question stems from our belief that life is precious.

But is it really?

How to Tell If You're about to Do Something Awesome

What’s the most significant thing you’ve ever done? The most awe-inspiring?

If you were to ask me I wouldn’t say, “Graduating college.” Although I consider that a great feat. I wouldn’t say, “Running eleven miles in a row.” Or, “Writing two books." 


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No, without hesitation I’d tell you that fostering and adopting two boys is the most significant endeavor Katie and I have ever undertaken. 

But it almost never happened.

Wisdom Won't Immunize You from This

I crave wisdom—the ability to discern right from wrong, to adopt a long view on life, to experience a peaceful existence, to prosper, and to raise delightful children.

But you know who else loved the idea of wisdom? Eve. When tempted by the serpent, she looked upon the contraband and "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6).



Dr. Wendy Longo (CC)





The irony, of course, is Eve’s desire to gain wisdom led her to act foolishly in disobeying God. The old saying, "The ends don’t justify the means" applies here. As Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10a) Translation: if Eve really wanted wisdom, she should have respected God's command not to eat of the tree. So the first lesson is this:

2 Reasons You Should Stop Yearning for the Past

1. Your Present
2. Your Future

What’s done is done. Yes, I know they were good times. I had them too. But they’re gone.


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Don’t forget them. Don’t forsake the past; it is important to understand the context of your life and the world at large especially within the scope of the Bible. But don’t yearn for the past or induce nostalgia of a time gone by.

Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.

What Every Christian Ought to Know About Being a Dad

As a ten-year-old I was an above average hitter but below average when it came to getting out of the way of inside pitches. Once in a little league game a pitch flew straight for my noggin and I barely ducked in time. But since I was slow in avoiding the concussion, I didn’t have time to pull my aluminum bat out of the way, and the ball hit the barrel for a called foul.

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So it was no surprise that when—on a different day—a fastball flew towards my head that it struck me squarely on the jaw. This time though, the pitcher was my dad.

Perhaps the Most Misquoted Verse in All of Scripture

People misquote scripture all the time, but there’s one verse that seems to rise above the rest in its errant rendering, and the misrepresentation goes multiple layers deep.


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The verse is 1 Timothy 6:10a. It’s actually half of a verse because most people only reference the first sentence. See if you can recite it. It has the words “money,” “root,” and “evil.”

Let’s see how you did. Here’s the verse in the New International Version:

The Secret to Seeing God Move in Your Life

Can I confess something to you? 

Most weeks I have no idea what I’m going to write about here. I have an inkling, a spark or inspiration, and even a list of ideas. But pre-planned blog posts? A pipe dream. Even when I settle on an idea, more often than not, the process of transforming that idea into something palatable and interesting is an agonizing task.


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My process is usually the same. Come up with a clever title. Stew and stew and stew over the content. Pace the room. Stew some more. It’s only after all of this stewing and then bumping up against my deadline (every other Tuesday) that I remember how I’ve done it so many times before.

Two Traits You Must Embrace if You Want to Succeed in Life

Everyone defines success differently. For some it’s money. Others? Family, stability, titles, degrees.


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But no matter how you define it, there are two traits you must possess in order to achieve your definition of success. What are they?

For the One Who Wants to See Miracles

You need a miracle.

You need a job. A cure. An intervention.

You need a savior.


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So you keep looking and searching. You keep watching. Waiting. But what if there’s a better way? What if the best way to see miracles is with your eyes closed?

The Good Thing about Evil

When you first walk into the sanctuary of College Church of the Nazarene, the room seems smaller than it is. The back rows of pews have a claustrophobic feel since the low ceiling also serves as a base for the balcony above. But continue onward several paces and you leave the balcony behind, entering into a breathtakingly large and beautiful place to worship the LORD.


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As an eight-year-old, it seemed even larger than it is. I used to lay on the pew—my chin on its rough red fabric—and stare at the ground. The tall ceilings boasted hundreds of light bulbs, and when the lights hit my parents' feet, they cast multiple shadows. There were at least four distinct shadows forming an X on the crimson carpet. Each was a different shade, as some shadows were layered upon others. This optical phenomenon intrigued me, and I would wave my hand over the ground to try and figure out which lights were casting which shadows. That is until my parents thumped me and told me to sit up.

When Comfort Puts Pressure on Your Faith

There’s a sense of urgency tied up in the word, “harvest.”

When you hear it, you probably think as I do of beautiful foliage, delicious produce, and the cooler temps that come with the impending onset of winter. It’s winter that drives this urgency. Winter equals death for so many things: perennials, birds who don’t fly south, and my supply of vitamin D. But it also spells death for the fruits and vegetables planted many months prior.

Aside from this pressing nature, harvest also connotes hard work. Picking produce, reaping crops, and all its associated tasks are not for the faint of heart. There will be sweat.


Jim Wrigley Photography (CC)


When you combine these two elements the result is anything but comfort. Reaping is stressful, laborious, painstaking, but despite all this the harvest is intrinsically good. It represents months of hard work and the promise of surviving the frost until everything begins growing again in the spring. As such there is nothing to be done in the days of summer and autumn but to work the fields. And yet some have other ideas:

Why Solomon Couldn’t Take His Own Advice (and Why You Should)

Did you ever wonder how a man so wise as Solomon could have such a sad ending to his story?

Here’s a man revered by the world: the son of David, rich, discerning. Christians and Jews alike still admire his proverbs, and just to tip my hand: Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible.


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Yet in his latter years we get this from 1 Kings:

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. (11:9-10)

This is the same man who, essentially, discovered the meaning of life:


The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc. 12:13)

So this man King Solomon, son of David—the wisest man ever to grace the planet—sought out and actually discovered the meaning of life, yet he, himself, didn’t actually do it?

What gives?

This Woman Taught Her Daughter-In-Law a Powerful Lesson in Selflessness

Do you ever wonder why Ruth gets all the credit?


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She was a great woman, sure. Sticking with her mother-in-law when she could have split. But to name the whole book after her?

What God Wants You to Do When You’re in Distress

I was never happier to be awoken at 2 AM than on a particular night a couple of years ago. My daughter was screaming bloody murder that pierced the low hum of white noise through the baby monitor.


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But it wasn’t her fear of some she-beast in the closet or some gnome under her bed that made me happy. That would just make me the worst dad ever. No, it wasn’t her screaming that made me happy, but what she was screaming that did:

Why You Can’t Cook a Baby Goat in Its Mother’s Milk

The Old Testament is so quirky.

Perhaps you’ve come across this immortal passage from Exodus or Deuteronomy in your own studies:


Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Exo. 23:19b)

This mandate actually occurs three times, so it’s probably important. But what does it even mean? What a bizarre command.



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It seems superfluous, unimportant, out of place. As if Moses had ADD and just threw it in there for fun. But as part of the Holy, inspired word of God, it’s there for a reason.