Thursday, May 21, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:05 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:13 PM
3. The Procrastinator Within
If I am busy, I must be productive, right? A busy man is a faithful and
Nope. Busyness is no guarantee of productivity, faithfulness, or
But why? What distinguishes a fruitfully busy schedule from a nonfruitful
I think it comes down to two important points: understanding our sin
and understanding our roles. Today we’ll look at our sin and later we
will look more closely at roles).
In the last post we looked at Walter Henegar’s candid account of how
he procrastinated in getting to the root of procrastination.
In seminary, Mr. Henegar noticed a three‐fold pattern of
procrastination in his academic life:
• If it’s not due tomorrow, then I’ll take my time and put off the
• If it’s due tomorrow, I’ll start the project, stay up late, and
drop all my other priorities.
• Once I’ve finished, I’m entitled to a reward.
And then Mr. Henegar enrolled in a seminary course on counseling,
where he began to uncover the hidden side of his procrastination. He
realized that “my prickly branches of procrastination were being
nourished by unseen roots growing deep in the chambers of my
heart” (p. 41).
He’s referring here to a diagram called “The Three Trees,” developed
by the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). The
diagram, based on Luke 6:43–45, presents the situations of life
(illustrated by sun or heat) that reveal the roots of sinfulness or
godliness in our lives. These roots reveal what we really want and
Under the heat of life’s circumstances, we sometimes respond in a
godly way, revealing healthy roots that lead to fruitfulness (illustrated
by a fruitful tree). Or these situations tempt us to respond sinfully,
revealing a bad root and a lack of fruit (illustrated by a fruitless tree).
The gospel is the centerpiece of the diagram, giving hope to the
fruitless (through repentance) and reminding us that all godly fruit is
a result of the gospel in our lives.
When he began recognizing the heart issues involved, Mr. Henegar
continued through his semester with a closer watch on the roots of
sin that nourished his procrastination.
This is how he describes his discovery:
I began to feel like I was really figuring myself out, and it was
still early enough in the semester to think I was staying on top
of things. I’d notice when I started slipping blatantly into
procrastination, and it was easy enough to stop—at first. But
soon midterms hit, and everything quickly fell apart. I found
myself pulling all‐nighters again, and it was back at square
one. Ironically, though, I still had to work on an assignment for
my counseling class. I reluctantly dove back, this time trying to
get at deeper issues. It wasn’ hard to begin naming things.
Pride was surely operating: every time I pulled an all‐nighter
to finish a job, I was protecting my reputation before my
friends and superiors.
Fear of others was closely related. When I had those mild
panic attacks, the fear of others’ disapproval was foremost in
Laziness wasn’t the main thing, but it definitely played a part;
sometimes I just didn’t want to do anything.
Pleasure‐seeking and escapism were big players, too, though I
generally confined myself to acceptable thrills like watching
movies and binging on Ben & Jerry’s. (p. 42, emphasis mine)
Mr. Henegar did the right thing after this discovery. He repented of
his sin. He repented to his wife for the presence and effect of his sin.
And he turned to a group of friends from his local church whom he
offered “a standing invitation to show me my sin—and to remind me
of the gospel” (p. 44).
What Mr. Henegar discovered was the simple truth that underlying
our procrastination—putting off the most important duties we are
called to accomplish—was not so much a busy schedule but a sinful
The good news for all of us who are procrastinators is this: The gospel
addresses these sins, provides forgiveness of sin, and gives us the
power to weaken sin and cultivate true diligence. In the gospel we
find hope to address the procrastinator within.
Read the whole 17-part article here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:04 PM
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
2. Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
In the past I thought that as long as I wasn’t idle, I wasn’t lazy. Not
true. In fact, my laziness often shows up in the form of busyness.
And this was the same discovery Walter Henegar made in his life, as
he explained in his candid autobiographical article “Putting Off
Procrastination” in The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Fall 2001).
“I procrastinate,” he writes. “I’ve been doing it most of my life. If a
particular task is even remotely unpleasant, my first and persistent
tendency is to put it off. It’s not that I’m lazy; I’m actually very busy. I
just wait as long as possible to do the really hard stuff. I always pull it
off in the end, but it regularly makes me miserable” (p. 40).
Here is a glimpse into his life:
When I got married, my uncle, who married us, joked about
my well‐known tendency right in the middle of the ceremony.
His sermon was about the necessity of change in marriage,
and looking right at me, he said, “One who is a
procrastinator…will put that off as long as he can.”
And that’s exactly what I did, though married life made it
increasingly more difficult. My designated crunch times now
belonged to my wife as well, and I had to push her away to get
last‐minute work done.…an’ she just cut me some slack?
She did cut me some slack, but only as much as her chronically
ill body would allow. Repeated hospital stays and constant
bouts with pain forced her to lean heavily on me to take care
of her—nd our two children. If marriage is God’ cold chisel
for sanctifying us, then children only sharpen the edge. The
three of them drove my work responsibilities deeper into my
free time and farther into the hours of the night. I slept less
and less. I still managed to pull most things off, but the quality
of my work suffered, and my list of un‐done to‐do’ grew. I
was continually weary, discouraged, and feeling sorry for
myself. A couple of times, in the throes of last‐minute
working, I even experienced something like panic attacks. I
envied my more disciplined friends but saw little hope of
becoming like them. (pp. 40–1)
As he began studying his heart, Mr. Henegar discovered that his sin
operated from three predictable manifestations of what he calls his
“low chart of if‐thens”:
• If my task is not due anytime soon, put it off.
• If the task is due tomorrow, cast aside all other responsibilities
and focus on this one task.
• And after accomplishing a large task, take a break and reward
As he continued to study his own heart, he began to understand that
although his day was filled with busyness—and even with genuinely
good activities—he was procrastinating. “There I was, buzzing
diligently around the room, while that thing, the one thing I needed
to do most, sat unheeded in the middle of it. I wasn’t just a
procrastinator; I was a work‐around‐er”(p. 41).
Then came the decisive point in his life when he learned more about
this procrastinator within.
About two years ago, a counseling class in seminary
challenged me to give Scripture a shot at diagnosing my
problem and setting a course for change. What captured my
imagination was the biblical metaphor of a tree, and the
suggestion that my prickly branches of procrastination were
being nourished by unseen roots growing deep in the
chambers of my heart. A hope even flashed that I might
uncover the root, and somehow cut it out once and for all. In
retrospect, this second hope was a reflection of my
procrastinator’s heart, always looking for a shortcut or a silver
bullet. (p. 41)
But there was no shortcut.
Next time we’ll discover how Mr. Henegar confronted the
Click here to get the whole thing.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:31 AM
Monday, May 11, 2009
Al Mohler wrestles with this question from a biblical perspective. Interesting. Any thoughts?
See below or click here to go directly to his web-site/article...
(He also talked about it on his radio show today; likewise, Friday's radio show discussed the urgency of Motherhood)
Now that Mother's Day for 2009 is over, perhaps a bit of second-guessing is in order. Americans have celebrated Mother's Day for over a century, and the observance has grown to become one of the nation's most popular annual events. But is it good for motherhood?
Back in 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized the precursor to Mother's Day as a way to protest a lack of sanitation in rural Appalachia. Later, Julia Ward Howe would organize what became "Mother's Days for Peace" in protest of all war. Howe, who wrote the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," pledged: "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage. . . . Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience."
Then, as Ruth Rosen reports at Slate.com:
When Anna Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, also named Anna, vowed to honor her mother's political activism by creating a national Mother's Day. The gift card and flower industries also lobbied hard. As an industry publication, the Florists' Review, put it, "This was a holiday that could be exploited." In 1914, Congress responded and proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day.
As Rosen explains, the women behind Mother's Day were convinced that the moral superiority of women was grounded in the experience of motherhood.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation setting Mother's Day as the second Sunday each May. The focus was not to be on honoring all American mothers in common, but each family's mother in each home, thus Mother's Day -- not Mothers' Day. Wilson's statements reflected both moralism and sentimentalism.
Before long, however, the observance became commercialized. It came early enough to outrage Anna Jarvis, but she fought a losing battle against the florists, marketers, and other commercial interests. She died regretting that she had conceived the idea of Mother's Day in the first place.
Now, Mother's Day ranks number one among all annual occasions in terms of eating out. As for total spending on gifts, some analysts believe that Mother's Day has now pushed Valentine's Day into third place. While not everyone has a valentine, almost everyone has someone to honor on Mother's Day. Counting grandmothers, mothers-in-law, and assorted other maternal figures, this adds up to a huge consumer event.
All this was enough to make Anna Jarvis regret her idea, but consumerism is not the worst thing to happen to Mother's Day. The worst part of Mother's Day is the flood of sentimentality that masquerades as affection and honor.
Sentiment drives Mother's Day as a gargantuan observance. We Americans feel better about ourselves when we honor motherhood -- or when we spend a few dollars on overpriced greeting cards, flowers, and food and convince ourselves that this is honoring our mothers.
There is nothing wrong about sentiment in itself, but there is something pornographic about the bathos of sentimentalism that this observance produces -- a sentimentalism so often devoid of content.
The Christian vision of motherhood is more about courage and faithfulness than about sentimentalism. The mothers of the Bible are a tough lot. Jochebed put her baby in a floating ark of bulrushes, defying the order of Pharaoh that all Hebrew male children be put to death. Rachel, mother to Joseph and Benjamin, died giving birth to Benjamin. Hannah promised her son to God, and presented Samuel as a young boy for service in the House of the Lord. Mary, the mother of Jesus, risked shame and disgrace to bear the Savior, and to provide all Christians with a model of brave and unflinching obedience. She was there when Jesus Christ was crucified. As Simeon had told her just after the birth of Christ, "Behold this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." [Luke 2:34-35]
A corsage hardly seems appropriate.
Christians must resist the reduction of motherhood to sentimentality, and particularly that sentimentalism that undermines what mothers are truly to represent -- nurture, fortitude, courage, dedication, faithfulness, discipline, and trust in God.
Mother's Day is a bad idea because it subverts the reality of faithful mothering and robs faithful mothers of their true glory. Mothers deserving of honor are handed cards and taken to lunch, when songs of praise should instead be offered to the glory of God. Undeserving mothers, who abdicate their true responsibility, are honored just because they are mothers. Children, young and old, who ignore and dishonor their mothers by word and by life throughout the year, assuage their guilt by making a big deal of Mother's Day.
So, Mother's Day is a bad idea.
Then again, Mother's Day is impossible to ignore. What quality of ingratitude marks the son or daughter (or husband) who does not honor mothers on Mother's Day? There was I yesterday, with son and daughter, honoring both their mother (my dear wife, Mary) and my mother-in-law. Yes, we had a celebratory meal out and we passed out greeting cards with our own personal inscriptions. Gifts were delivered, and all the right things were said. Calls were made to my mother, several states away.
In the end, we are all like little children who push crumpled hand-made greeting cards toward Mom, who then accepts our grubby offerings with love and gratitude.
So much for avoiding sentimentality. Let's just make certain that there is more to Mother's Day than sentiment. The mothers we should honor are those who raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, who honor their marriages and live faithfully, who teach and nurture and discipline by the Bible. These are mothers who defy the spirit of the age, protect their children from danger, maintain godly discipline and order in the home, and feed their children the pure milk of God's Word.
These mothers deserve honor upon honor, and their reward will be great in heaven. Yet, in the meantime, a card and a kiss on Mother's Day won't hurt. It's just not nearly enough.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:23 PM
1. Are You Busy?
Lazy? Not me. I’m busy. Up early, up late. My schedule is filled from
beginning to end. I love what I do and I love getting stuff done. I
attack a daily to‐do list with the same intensity I play basketball. Me
lazy? I don’ think so!
Or at least I didn’ think so. That is, until I read about the difference
between busyness and fruitfulness, and realized just how often my
busyness was an expression of laziness, not diligence.
I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the
realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could
be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from
laziness, became a life‐altering and work‐altering insight. What I
learned is that:
• Busyness does not mean I am diligent
• Busyness does not mean I am faithful
• Busyness does not mean I am fruitful
Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition
to include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The
sluggard can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and
busy knocking out a to‐do list filled with tasks of secondary
When considering our schedules, we have endless options. But there
are a few clear priorities and projects, derived from my God‐assigned
roles, that should occupy the majority of my time during a given
week. And there are a thousand tasks of secondary importance that
tempt us to devote a disproportionate amount of time to completing
an endless to‐do list. And if we are lazy, we will neglect the important
for the urgent.
Our Savior understood priorities. Although his public ministry was
shorter than one presidential term, within that time he completed all
the works give to him by the Father.
The Father evidently called him to heal a limited number of people
from disease, raise a limited number of bodies from the dead, and
preach a limited number of sermons. As Jesus stared into the cup of
God’s wrath, he looked back on his life work as complete because he
understood the calling of the Father. He was not called to heal
everyone, raise everyone, preach copious sermons, or write volumes
responsibilities with Christ’s messianic priorities, in the incarnation he
entered into the limitations of human life on this earth.
So join me over the next few days as we discover the root and nature
of laziness, so that we might devote ourselves to biblical priorities and
join our Savior in one day praying to the Father, “I glorified you on
earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:12 PM
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Interesting. Check it out here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:28 PM
Jonathan Dodson offers some great advice for being intentional with the Gospel where we live:
"Missional Living 101"
Eat with Non-Christians
We all eat three meals a day. Why not make a habit of sharing one of those meals with a non-Christian or with a family of non-Christians? Go to lunch with a co-worker, not by yourself. Invite the neighbors over for family dinner. If it’s too much work to cook a big dinner, just order pizza and put the focus on conversation. When you go out for a meal, invite a non-Christian friend. Or take your family to family-style restaurants where you can sit at the table with strangers and strike up conversations. Have cookouts and invite Christians and non-Christians. Flee the Christian subculture.
Walk, Don’t Drive
If you live in a walkable area, make a practice of getting out and walking around your neighborhood, apartment complex, or campus. Instead of driving to the mailbox or convenience store, walk to get mail or groceries. Be deliberate in your walk. Say hello to people you don’t know. Strike up conversations. Attract attention by walking the dog, carrying along a 6-pack to share, bringing the kids. Make friends. Get out of your house! Last night I spent an hour outside gardening with my family. We had good conversations with about four of our neighbors. Take interest in your neighbors. Ask questions. Engage. Pray as you go. Save some gas, the planet, and some people.
Be a Regular
Instead of hopping all over the city for gas, groceries, haircuts, eating out, and coffee, go to the same places at the same times. Get to know the staff. Smile. Ask questions. Be a regular. I have friends at coffee shops all over the city. My friends at Starbucks donate a ton of leftover pastries to our church 2-3 times a week. We use them for church gatherings and occasionally give them to the homeless. Build relationships. Be a regular.
Hobby with Non-Christians
Pick a hobby that you can share. Get out and do something you enjoy with others. Try city league sports or local rowing and cycling teams. Share your hobby by teaching lessons, such as sewing, piano, knitting, or tennis lessons. Be prayerful. Be intentional. Be winsome. Have fun. Be yourself.
Talk to Your Co-workers.
How hard is that? Take your breaks with intentionality. Go out with your team or task force after work. Show interest in your co-workers. Pick four and pray for them. Form moms’ groups in your neighborhood and don’t make them exclusively non-Christian. Schedule play dates with the neighbors’ kids. Work on mission.
Volunteer with Non-Profits.
Find a non-profit in your part of the city and take a Saturday a month to serve your city. Bring your neighbors, your friends, or your small group. Spend time with your church serving your city. Once a month. You can do it!
Participate in City Events
Instead of playing XBox, watching TV, or surfing the net, participate in city events. Go to fundraisers, festivals, cleanups, summer shows, and concerts. Participate missionally. Strike up conversation. Study the culture. Reflect on what you see and hear. Pray for the city. Love the city. Participate with the city.
Serve Your Neighbors.
Help a neighbor by weeding, mowing, building a cabinet, or fixing a car. Stop by the neighborhood association or apartment office and ask if there is anything you can do to help improve things. Ask your local Police and Fire Stations if there is anything you can do to help them. Get creative. Just serve!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:23 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:56 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:52 AM
But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, And sends water on the fields. Job 5:8-10
If you said to someone: "My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number," and they responded, "Really? Like what?" would you say, "Rain"?
When I read these verses recently I felt like I did when I heard the lyrics to a Sonny and Cher song in 1969: "I'd live for you. I'd die for you. I'd even climb the mountain high for you." Even? I would die for you. I would even climb a high mountain for you? The song was good for a joke. Or a good illustration of bad poetry. Not much else.
But Job is not joking. "God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number." He gives rain on the earth." In Job's mind, rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (= meditation).
Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?
Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.
That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.
What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?
Well it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.
How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.
I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful - lots more thankful than I am.
Grateful to God for the wonder of rain,
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:45 AM
Friday, May 1, 2009
I came across a great Twitter contact to follow called @incompletetweet. Throughout the day it will offer scriptural thoughts that leave strategic blanks in order to properly help you think through and apply scriptural truths and passages. Very unique and helpful.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:22 PM