Archive for March, 2007

Sanjaya Fever

March 28, 2007 2 comments

I have Sanjaya Fever. I can’t keep it to myself.

Categories: comedy

How to Stop Procrastination

March 26, 2007 3 comments

This is the second of a series of two blogs that explore the dynamics of procrastination. In a previous blog, you learned what procrastination is and why people do it. In this blog, you will learn how to change your procrastination behaviors and enable yourself to be more productive.

You will have the greatest success if you read the first blog and take some time to observe your own procrastination patterns. Once you have accomplished that, choose a few of the strategies outlined here. Keep working at it until you understand what you need to do to stop putting things off.

Set Specific Goals

The most effective goals are specific, measurable, and achievable. An example of a good goal is, “I will buy paint on Friday and paint the living room on Saturday.” This is better than saying, “I am going to get the house ready to sell.”

Set Priorities

Write down all the things that you need to do, and place them in order of importance. The most important tasks belong at the top of your list and the distractions go at the bottom. Start at the top of your list and work your way down.

Organize Your Work

Set up a system for yourself. Prepare a daily schedule and keep it within view during your working time. List the tasks for each day. Check things off as you complete them. When you are working on a project, lay out all of the needed supplies or materials before you begin.

Divide and Conquer

Sometimes a project is overwhelming if you think about all of the work that is involved. Do yourself a favor: Break the activity down into smaller steps and set progress goals for each of the steps. This is especially helpful when you are beginning a writing project, studying for a degree, or building a new set of skills.
For example, if you need to write a report, make an outline before you start writing. If you have to clean your house, make your goal to do the first two rooms by 10:00, two more by noon, and two more by 2:00. Check tasks off your outline as you complete them.

Make It a Game

Turn the temptation to avoid working into a challenge. Use your imagination. For example, if you need to study the first five chapters of your history book, pretend that you are a substitute teacher and will need to lecture on the material tomorrow. Take notes and organize the information into an outline that you could speak from. Sometimes changing the frame around a situation makes it more interesting and less of a chore.

Schedule a Small Amount of Time

Tell yourself that you will only spend ten minutes on the task right now, just to get your feet wet. Work on the task for the ten minutes and then choose whether to continue for ten more minutes. Continue doing this until you decide to stop, or when you are finished with the task. If you stop working on the task before it is finished, spend a few more minutes to plan a strategy for the next steps.

When you are tempted to substitute a fun but unimportant activity (such as reading a magazine or watching the weather channel) for an important project (such as finishing pages of your report), make the substitute activity your reward for doing the important task. Do the high-priority job first and reward yourself with the fun activity.

Ward Off Self-Defeating Thoughts

Telling yourself that you are going to do a poor job or even fail can seriously undermine your ability to function. It is important to realize that your negative statements are not facts. Keep your focus on the present moment and the positive steps you can take toward accomplishing your goals. If these thoughts are based on a need for perfection or low self-esteem, you may want to work on these issues.

Make a Commitment

Make a verbal and written commitment to completing the task or project. Write a contract and sign it. Tell someone about your plans and ask them to follow up with you.
One trainer wanted to create a how-to workbook and market it to other training professionals. After weeks of procrastination, she decided to motivate herself by creating a deadline. She wrote an ad for the workbook and placed it in the professional publication that she knew her colleagues would be reading. When her telephone began to ring with orders for the workbook, she suddenly became very focused.

Remind Yourself

Write notes to yourself and post them in conspicuous places. Leave them where you will see them—on places like the outside of your briefcase, the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, television, your front door, and the dashboard of your car. The more often you remind yourself of what you plan to accomplish, the more likely it is that you will follow through with action.

Reward Yourself

Reinforcement is a very effective way to motivate yourself. When you complete even the most minor task, be sure to acknowledge what you have done. This is especially important in the beginning when you are struggling with procrastination behaviors. After you have mastered these issues and have regained your peak productivity, don’t forget to celebrate the completion of the big projects. You worked hard for it and shouldn’t take it for granted.

Use this information to develop your personal program for accomplishing the things that are most important to you.

Marks of Maturity

Getting older and being mature are markedly different activities. There is a belief that maturity comes with age, but this is not always the case. In view of the church, the assumption is that if you are older then you must be spiritually mature. This sounds good in theory, but in reality it would mean that I would not be a mature servant of God until I got old. This also carries the thought that if you are young then spiritual maturity is not something that can be grasped. In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are character qualities that God possesses and that the Holy Spirit imparts to us as we live in trusting obedience to Jesus Christ. It is in this manner that someone can begin the process of maturity in their spiritual lives. Paul mentions love, joy, and peace as three maturity markers in spiritual formation. These three markers describe how the believer is to relate to God and others.

Tina Turner once asked the question “What’s love got to do with it?” I believe Jesus would say “Everything!” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that without love we are “nothing.” I can be the most talented, Spirit filled, Scripture reading, Bible toting, cross wearing believer, but if I do not love as Jesus commands then all of those activities really do not mean a thing. There really is no other way of explaining this passage. Those who are mature in the faith are able to love others regardless of race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or any other differences. How do you deal with someone who stole from you? How do you talk to someone you know will twist your words and try to use them against you? How do you pray for your enemies? The answer can only be found in love.
The next natural question is “What is the source of this love?” Romans 5:8 states that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” God loved us so much that He cancelled our sin debt because we could never pay for it ourselves. Since He is the source of everything that points to love then the natural reaction must be to freely give love as it has been given to us.
Joy is a deep sense of well-being that is not dependent upon favorable circumstances, but rooted in a fundamental acceptance of, and confidence in, the will of God. Joy does not come by pursuing joy. Joy comes as a result of pursuing God and the good of others. A spiritually mature person has the ability to experience joy regardless of the situation they are currently facing. You can be on the verge of losing your job and experience joy. You can find out that you have terminal cancer and experience joy. You can be the poorest person in the entire world and experience joy. James 1:2 is a reminder that we are to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” This statement can be only be lived out when one understands that God is in control of all things and because of this confidence they allow God to control their life instead of their situation controlling it.
Peace is the absence of anxiety and the presence of trusting assurance in the promises of God. If we have peace then we realize that the same God who created life in us can be trusted with the details of our life. Matthew 6:25 states “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” This means that worrying about the future hampers our efforts for today. It is impossible to gain peace when your mind is focused on worry. Worrying is more harmful than helpful because it keeps the mind focused on problems instead of praise. Those mature in the faith realize that God does not ignore those who depend on Him. He is a faithful and just Father who only wants what is best for His children. This understanding of God should wipe away any doubt or worry that we have about Him.
Spiritual maturity is more than just a great goal in life; it is required by God (Hebrews 5:12-14). As we become more mature we become better equipped to face this world that is plagued by sin. Many people want to grow spiritually and be mature, but it will not happen by itself. This process will happen only through the work of the Holy Spirit and the individual’s dedication toward following the will of God. This process is an excellent journey that God is eagerly waiting for everyone to begin.
Categories: spiritual formation

Life of a Procrastinator

March 23, 2007 4 comments

The first in a series of two blogs.

All of us procrastinate on occasion. For some people, it’s a chronic problem; for others, it’s only a problem in certain life areas. Procrastination is always frustrating because it results in wasted time, lost opportunities, disappointing work performance, and generally feeling bad about yourself.

When you procrastinate, you allow less important tasks to take up the time and space that should be devoted to more important things. You do things like hanging out with friends when you know that an important work project is due soon, or going shopping instead of doing your homework. It can also be evident in behavior such as talking about trivial things with your partner to avoid discussing important issues in your relationship.
Most people don’t have a problem finding time for things they want to do. But once they see a task as too difficult, painful, boring, or overwhelming, the procrastination behaviors begin. You are not alone if you have ever made any of the following excuses to yourself:

1. It’s too cold to exercise outside today. I’ll wait until tomorrow when it’s warmer.
2. I’ve got too many other things to do first.
3. I’ll do a better job when I can concentrate on this project.
4. I still have lots of time to get this done.
5. They don’t pay me enough to do a more complete job. This is good enough.
6. This problem is too hard to talk about. I wouldn’t know where to start.
7. I work better under pressure.
8. It’s too noisy to work while my teenager is at home.
9. I can eat this pie tonight, because I’m starting my diet tomorrow.
10. My tooth doesn’t really hurt that much. The pain will probably go away tomorrow.

Most of the time, these excuses seem fairly innocuous. However, they’re not as innocent as they seem, because they cause us to postpone important duties and projects. Ultimately, these excuses can keep us from accomplishing important goals and make us feel bad about ourselves.

Why People Procrastinate

If you were hoping for a simple answer to this puzzle, you will be disappointed to learn that there are many reasons why people put things off. Here are a few of the most common (check those that apply to you):
 Avoiding discomfort. Wanting to avoid pain makes lots of people shift into procrastination mode. However, the longer we delay, the worse the uncomfortable problem usually becomes. The rash gets bigger, the tooth hurts more, or the brakes squeak even more loudly.
 Perfectionism. Those who believe they must produce the perfect report may obsess about uncovering every last information source and then write draft after draft. Their search for the perfect product takes up so much time that they miss their deadline.
 Laziness. Sometimes people delay tasks that involve fairly slight inconvenience or minor discomfort.
 Thinking you’re not good enough. Some people are certain that they are incompetent. They think that they will fail, and procrastinate to avoid ever putting their skills to the test.
 Self-doubt. If you second-guess yourself, you probably suffer from procrastination. You may avoid new challenges and opportunities unless you are certain that you will succeed. Perhaps you make feeble attempts to begin a project, and you tell yourself that you could do a better job if you put in more effort.
 Workaholism. At the other end of the spectrum, many people who work excessively also fall into this category. They drive themselves ruthlessly, fearing that if they stop working, they will not be able to start again. Most self-doubters are driven by the belief that they must meet strict standards in order to see themselves as successful.

Why Don’t We Just Say No?

Since procrastination produces mostly negative outcomes, why don’t we just change our behavior and eliminate these undesirable consequences? The reason for this is that procrastination reinforces itself. For some reason, it is more difficult for most humans to start change than to keep it going. We avoid getting started by cleverly diverting our attention from the things we really should be doing. We do something else instead or make up a story about how we will accomplish the task in the future—when we are inspired, or when we have completed a preliminary step, or some other trick.

Although recognizing how these diversions work won’t automatically cure your procrastination, being aware of it is a good place to start working on the problem. Once you are aware of the ways that you procrastinate, you can start to change your behavior. In my next blog, I’ll offer some tips to help you get started. Until then, begin the change process by thinking about which causes apply to you and writing down examples of these behaviors as you observe them.

My First Mega Church Experience

March 20, 2007 4 comments

I am currently taking a graduate class in Spiritual Formation and we were given the assignment of attending a church outside our spiritual context and then report on our experience. This is a look at some of my thoughts.

In an attempt to not offend anyone, I will not use the name of the congregation that I attended for this assignment.

My family and I attended a local, non denominational, mega church in the area that has around 7000 members. I have previously been a member of a church that had 1000 members, but was not prepared for what I experienced that night. The congregation was big enough to support three separate worship services. We attended the Saturday night service. Their auditorium seated approximately 2300 people. It was very encouraging to see that very few seats were empty. We were met at the door by greeters carrying very professionally designed programs for the service. There were ushers at the end of every row to insure we found the right place to sit. I was a bit bothered by the fact that the announcements that appeared on the big screen proudly stated “No cell phones or children allowed in worship.” I am sure that there was a good reason behind the message, but as a visitor it was a big turn off.

The worship band came on stage exactly at 5 p.m. The music played was well performed, totally focused on the theme of the day, and pleasing to listen to. This was quite different from my spiritual context, but I adjusted quickly. There was a light show accompanying the music with some videos playing to help set the mood. It was an experience to see people raising their hands in praise and singing along with the band. It was great to see people actively participating in worship, but it did not feel like worship at all. I believe I felt that way because it did not feel personal. I did not feel the communion of spirit with those I participated with because I felt like just another face in the crowd. I felt like something was missing and I could not put my finger on it.

The minister came up about 20 minutes into the lesson and began his sermon. Being a minister I have a habit of evaluating the speaker. I am sure the members of my church do this every week! I sat and listened for about 20 minutes and not one time was any Scripture being used in the lesson. The lesson was obviously based in Scripture, but God’s Word was nowhere to be found. It took until the last 10 minutes of the lesson before Scripture was used. This made me very uncomfortable. It was also hard not to focus on the fact that the minister looked as if he was reading the message to the crowd. I know that each speaker has their own style, but it did not look as if he was prepared to speak to the congregation that night. It did not seem like his material because he was not familiar with it at all. This was disappointing, but coming to worship is not all about the preacher now is it.

After the sermon we were led in song by the worship band, took up collection, and then were sent on home. There was no time given for responses to people who needed prayer. If someone wanted to be baptized they would have to wait till their monthly baptism service. If you were interested in communion you had to wait 2-3 months until the next communion service.

Overall I did enjoy my time there, but quickly realized the blessings of a smaller fellowship. The music was excellent if compared to a Christian concert, but the performance took away the simplicity of just listening to each other sing out.

I did learn that all churches are there for a purpose. They are obviously meeting a need in their community or they would not have that size of membership. People are being fulfilled in some manner or they would not return. A part of our spiritual formation is to recognize where God has called us to serve. I thank Him for calling me to my particular fellowship and am thankful for this assignment because it helped me to see how others are approaching God also.

Categories: church

A Biblical View of Suicide

March 17, 2007 1 comment

We looked earlier at some myths that are often carried concerning suicide. Today I want to discuss a Biblical perspective on suicide. This is needed because there is a belief that suicide is an unforgivable sin. For the purpose of this blog I will define suicide as willingly taking your own life or allowing someone else to do it for you. I want to look at a few examples of suicide in the Bible to get a better perspective on this topic.

Abimilech (Judges 9:54)
Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his servant ran him through, and he died.

Abimelech was the son of Gideon who had himself proclaimed king of Israel. He besieged Thebez and was struck in the head due to a woman dropping a rock on him. He knew that he was injured severely. He commanded his armour-bearer to slay him because it was a disgrace to be killed by a woman. His armour-bearer followed the order. He chose his own method of death instead of having his legacy tarnished.

Samson (Judges 16:28-30)
Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Samson had been dedicated to God since birth. He became a judge and lived faithfully toward God. He made a mistake by trusting Delilah and lost his power. He then became a slave. Samson prayed to God for strength to pull down the temple. This caused the death of many of the leading Philistines but it also caused his own death. He did this in revenge. He was attempting to make things right with God. It appears that his thinking was clear when he made this decision and he knew that his life would end in this action.
Judas (Matthew 27:5)
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
Judas betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He appears to feel guilty about this and hangs himself in shame.
I chose these three examples specifically because each man took his own life for different reasons, but the result was still the same. Each man died through their own will and by their own choice. Since God is the giver of all life, then their actions should be questioned. Does God give us the right to end our life when we want to? Just looking at these three examples I would have to say no. I believe that since He forbids us to take another’s life that He would not be pleased by us taking our own life. Although Samson prayed for the strength to get revenge it does not clearly state that he had the blessing of God to kill himself. I think the natural assumption then is that suicide is a sin. I believe the sin is in the choice to end a life that God has blessed us to have. He has given us dominion over the Earth and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. God is in the business of bringing life, so to do the opposite would seem to go against His will.
Is this a forgivable sin?
The main reason people believe that suicide is an unforgivable sin is because you cannot repent of this sin once it is committed. The person who commits suicide in essence has died with unrepented sins. This almost seems like an “open and shut” case but the reality is that EVERYONE dies with sins that they have not been forgiven of. If I die in a car wreck and curse before I die I have unrepented sin. If I drown one day, but forget to apologize to my wife for being mean to her that morning then I die with unrepented sins. Without the grace of God in our lives we are all out of luck and have no hope. So this argument alone will not stand.
Please do not interpret this as me saying that suicide is a good thing to do. I believe it is a terrible way for someone to end their life because they always leave their family and friends behind as vicitims. If you are considering this path I urge you to talk to someone you trust about your feelings so that you can receive the proper help.
I realized a long time ago that I am not God. Due to this revelation I do not make it a practice of deciding who will and who will not make it to Heaven. It is important for all of us to understand that we do not know what is going on in someone’s life or mind when they take their own life. I have no idea if the person is dealing with depression, anxiety, feels trapped, or thinks this is the only way to fix their problem. Since I do not have that information and since God does I will leave it to Him to determine where they spend their eternity. I would love to hear your comments about this.

State of Confusion

It was 70 degress on Wednesday. It was great! Today we got 12 inches of snow. How does that happen? I will return to the suicide post on Saturday.

Categories: Uncategorized