Three Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading Soon

Here are 3 books I’m looking forward to reading (the first one just recently released and the other two will release in October):

WhatIsTheBibleCover StoryBrand       OrtbergBook

PS: I also got the audio version of Rob’s book and have already listened to it. Really enjoyed it!

Your turn: What are you currently reading or looking forward to reading soon?

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Three Practical Suggestions to Help You Overcome The Divided Life

This is the last post in the series I began a few weeks ago (dealing with the problems that prevent us from living with a sacred rhythm). We will conclude this series by looking at The Divided Life (this post will be a bit longer than usual).

The Divided Life is living a life that is controlled by the “gods of this world” instead of the God who created this world. Too often, we allow the gods of control, significance, or comfort to have our allegiance rather than being fully devoted to God. We are shaped by a number of things that turn our hearts away from the one thing that matters most… but the good news is that there is a cure (you don’t have to live like this anymore…)

THE PROBLEM: Double-mindness (a life of divided loyalties). We fail to make an ultimate commitment to what Jesus spoke of as “seeking first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).
THE SOLUTION: READ YOUR BIBLE DAILY!  If you want to be saved from a life of double-mindedness, then you must be “transformed by the renewing of your minds” as Paul says in Romans 12:2.  The regular practice of REFLECTING ON SCRIPTURE can renew your mind. Reflect on these 3 truths and then we’ll close with 3 practical suggestions:

  • God’s Word has transforming power… We must hide His word in our hearts.  I love what Paul says about God’s Word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17– (MSG)  “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”  
  • God’s Word Washes Us Clean…  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27  What does it mean to be “washed” by the Word?  (Consider what happens when something doesn’t get washed like it should… imagine how it would be if we let our dirty clothes sit untouched for months – the stains would sit in and the blemishes would stand out; now contrast that to what happens when something does get washed on a regular basis… which clothes would you want to wear?)  God’s Word cleanses us and prepares us to live like Christ.
  • God’s Word should DWELL in you… “Let the Word of Christ–the Message–have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives–words, actions, whatever–be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”  Colossians 3:16-17 (MSG)   The NIV says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”   The Word of Christ cannot dwell in you until you dwell in the Word.

So, here are 3 practical suggestions to help you overcome The Divided Life (3 tips for reading & reflecting on God’s Word):

  1. Ask God to meet you in Scripture (be open to the possibility that God really is speaking to you through His Word).
  2. Read the Bible in a repentant spirit (read for transformation not just information).
  3. Take one thought or verse with you through the day (learn to meditate on God’s Word day and night).

Your turn… What are some other suggestions to help others overcome The Divided Life?

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Three Practical Suggestions to Overcoming The Hurried Life

The big question for today is this: Is the rhythm of your life sustainable?Most of us live hurried lives and hurry can keep us from living well. In fact, hurry can destroy our souls. One futurist puts it like this, “We’re hyper living–skimming along on the surface of life.” Does that sound like the pace of your life sometime? The truth is we all probably need to follow the advice that Dallas Willard once gave John Ortberg when he was about to make a big move, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life.”

John Ortberg provides a quiz that will help you discover whether or not you have the “Disease of Hurry Sickness” (see his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, for more thoughts on this topic and more).

  1. Do you live with a daily sense that there is not enough time to get done with everything you need to accomplish?
  2. Do you find yourself talking faster because there is so much to say?
  3. Do you nod a lot when a person is talking slowly in an effort to keep them moving along?
  4. When people are talking too slowly, do you ever find yourself wanting to (or actually) finishing their sentences?
  5. When you stop at a red light with two or more lanes with cars in them, do you ever try to anticipate which car looks faster so you can get behind that car and save a few seconds when the light turns green?
  6. Do you ever try to gauge which line at the grocery store will be the quickest and get in that line?  And, if it turns out you picked the slower line, does it bother you?

THE PROBLEM: Hurry Sickness (we live with a pace of life that is out of rhythm).
THE SOLUTION: SLOW DOWN! In Psalm 46:10, God puts it like this, “Be still and know that I am God”.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: Your life moves to a better place when you move at a sustainable pace.

So, here are 3 practical suggestions to help you overcome The Hurried Life:

  1. Take a day off on a regular basis (observe a Sabbath day and keep it holy).
  2. Let someone else go first (get in the longest line at the grocery store or at the traffic light… drive in the slow lane).
  3. Eat your food slowly and sit longer at the table (enjoy unhurried time with family and friends).

Your turn… What are some other suggestions to help others overcome The Hurried Life?

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Three Practical Suggestions to Overcoming The Distracted Life

Last week I mentioned 3 problems preventing us from living with a sacred rhythm. Today I want to offer a solution and 3 suggestions for the first problem (The Distracted Life). Many of us live distracted lives. We spend so much time thinking about the past or our future that we fail to live in the present.  Worry is one of the key things that keeps us from being fully present.

THE PROBLEM: Worry divides the mind; it keeps us hostage to our past and fearful of our future (both of which prevent us from fully living in the moment).
THE SOLUTION: STOP WORRYING! Jesus put it like this, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). As someone else once said, “Wherever you are, BE THERE and not somewhere else.”

So, here are 3 practical suggestions to help you overcome The Distracted Life:

  1. Unplug electronic devices that interrupt relationships (turn off notifications on your devices).
  2. Devote time and attention to others without interruption (put your phone on “do not disturb” when your with others).
  3. Turn your anxious thoughts into prayer requests (“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6)

Your turn… What are some other suggestions to help others overcome The Distracted Life?

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Three Problems Preventing Us from Living Well

We were created to live with a “Sacred Rhythm” that goes all the way back to how God made the world. The created order of life was designed with a certain rhythm in mind (day & night, work & rest, six & one). Here are 3 problems that often prevent us from living in flow with the sacred rhythms of life:

  • The Distracted Life: Sometimes we are so distracted by what we just did (our past) or the things we need to do (our future) that we fail to be fully present in the moment.
  • The Hurried Life: Most of us struggle with what John Ortberg calls the “disease of hurry sickness.” We live very hurried lives…and hurry can keep us from living well (hurry has to do with the state of our souls–it is a disordered heart).
  • The Divided Life: It is the failure to make an ultimate commitment to what Jesus spoke of as “seeking first the kingdom of God.” The Danish Philosopher and Theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, refers to this as “Double-mindedness” (a life of divided loyalties).

Erich’s note: in the next 3 posts I’ll offer a solution and at least 3 tips for each of these problems. These posts are from my archives (first appeared on the blog in 2014).

Your turn… Take a moment to share how these problems sometimes get you out of the sacred rhythm you were meant to live with.

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Three Books That Will Help You Care for Your Soul

Caring for our soul is the most important thing a person should do. Notice the significance Dallas Willard places on the soul:

What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, or your thoughts, or your intentions, or even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. It is the life-center of the human being. It regulates whatever is occurring in each of those dimensions and how they interact with each other and respond to surrounding events in the overall governance of your life.

Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other element of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream. — Renovation of the Heart

With that in mind, here are 3 books (including the one referenced above) that will help you better care for your soul:

reno     SoulKeeping         StirBookCover

Erich’s notes about these 3 books…

  • You absolutely must read every thing Willard has written. In this book, Dallas outlines the  general pattern of changes in the six key aspects of a person’s life (thought, feeling, will, body, social context, and soul). You can find more great resources by Dallas here: Dallas Willard Ministries
  • Outside of the Bible, Soul Keeping by John Ortberg is the second most significant book I’ve read to date (The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard is number 1). You can connect with John and his resources here: John Ortberg
  • I had the chance to meet Mindy Caliguire at a recent Groups Conference. Her 2 classes focused on the importance of Soul Care. You can connect with Mindy and her resources here: SoulCare

Your turn… What are some other resources you’ve found helpful on this topic?

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Three Books that Will Help You Love People Better

Sometimes I think we over complicate most things. In the grand scheme of things our job is to Love God and Love People. These 3 books by Bob Goff, Maria Goff, and Tim Sanders will help you do that better…

LoveDoesCover      LoveLivesHere      LoveIsTheKillerApp

Your turn… How have these books helped you to love people better?

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Three Books by Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon is a best selling author and keynote speaker known for developing positive leaders, organizations, and teams. He has written more than a dozen books. Here are 3 I recently picked up (read the first two last week while on vacation):

  • The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy
    This book takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!
  • Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else
    This book follows the story of Martin Jones, an un-drafted rookie trying to make it to the bright lights and big money of the NFL. He’s spent his whole life proving to the critics that a small guy with a big heart can succeed against all odds. After spraining his ankle in the preseason, Martin thinks his dream is lost when he happens to meet a very special coach who shares eleven life-changing lessons that keep Martin’s dream alive-and might even make him the best of the best. Whether you play sports or the piano or work with numbers, a computer or a scalpel, these lessons apply to everyone who must climb the mountain before reaching its peak.
  • You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life
    This book draws on the extraordinary experiences of Coach Mike Smith and Jon Gordon—consultant to numerous college and professional teams—to explore the seven powerful principles that any business, school, organization, or sports team can adopt to revitalize their organization.

Your turn… If you’ve read any of these books take a moment to share your impressions.

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Three Resources to Help You Connect with God via The Bible Project

Thanks to a good friend of mine, Craig Tatum, I discovered The Bible Project a few months ago. They create some great resources to help you connect with God and better understand the Bible.  Here is more about who they are in their own words, “The Bible Project is a Portland based non-profit that utilizes short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design. We are committed to understanding the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom for the modern world.”

So, check out these three resources that will help you connect with God:

  • Read Scripture Bible Reading Plan
    Spend quality time reading the Bible daily while learning how to read it with contextual videos from The Bible Project.
  • What is the Bible?
    This new 14-part series that explores the origins, content, and purpose of the Bible. Part 1 released in February 2017 (keep an eye out for the others later).
  • Video Library
    This page will point you to their whole archive of videos (make sure you check out their video for every book of the Bible that outlines its literary design and main ideas, showing you how it fits into the entire biblical story). You can also find them on their YouTube Channel.

Your turn… What are some resources that help you connect with God?

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Three Books by @DallasAWillard that Everyone Should Read

For the past year or so I’ve been going back through a lot of the writings and teachings of Dallas Willard (some great messages are available on YouTube and on this website). His teachings have impacted my life more than any other writer outside of the Bible. This week I’ve been re listening to a biography of sorts called Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard’s Teaching on Faith and Formation. With that in mind, this is a re-post from a few years ago that highlights an incredible trilogy of books.

This trilogy of books by the late Dallas Willard focuses on the spiritual life. The first one was written to make real and clear the intimate quality of life with God as “a conversational relationship with God.” Since that is something that doesn’t automatically happen, the second book “explains how disciples or students of Jesus can effectively interact with the grace and spirit of God to access fully the provisions and character intended for us in the gift of eternal life.” The third book presents “discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel.” This is a must read trilogy (I hope you’ll invest the time to check them out — not easy reads but well worth the time and effort):

“Being close to God means communicating with him, and this communication is a two-way street—telling him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what he is saying to us. It is this second half of our conversation with God that is so important but can also be so difficult. How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The key is to focus not so much on individual actions and decisions as on building our personal relationship with our Creator. Hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship, and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God. This updated classic, originally published in 1984 as In Search of Guidance, provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with him in the work of his kingdom. The reader will learn that divine guidance goes beyond the anxious, sometimes neurotic, quest for “what God wants me to do,” to having a critical role in my becoming a responsible co-laborer with Him, the kind of person He expects me to be. God is inviting us to reorganize our lives in a way that keeps us walking so closely with him that it becomes easy to know his mind and hear his voice.”

“To perform appropriately in the moment when you’re “on the spot” you must be preparing when you’re “off the spot.” We understand this principle when we think of great athletes or musicians, but rarely see it’s application in our own efforts to be a “good Christian.” The Spirit of the Disciplines presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to join with God and realize their highest aspirations of well-being and -doing. The key to this self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Readers will learn why the disciplines work and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest.The Spirit of the Disciplines places solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, meditation upon God’s word and ways, and service to others at the heart of the gospel. “We can increasingly resemble Christ in character and in power by following him in his overall style of life … This was the method of his earliest disciples, and it is as valid today as it was then.” After all, if Jesus regularly engaged in these activities, how is it that we simple humans expect to get by without them? To enter into the spirit and practice of the disciplines is to move toward the authentic life of faith in Christ and active participation in the Kingdom of God around us.”

“Is Jesus part of your daily life—here and now? Or, by failing to take him seriously, have you relegated him to the realm of the “hereafter”? In The Divine Conspiracy, biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice are weaved together to capture the central insights of Christ’s teachings in a fresh way and show the necessity of profound changes in how we view our lives and faith. Christians for the most part consider the primary function of Christianity to be admittance to heaven. But a faith that guarantees a satisfactory afterlife, yet has absolutely no impact on life in the here and now, is nothing more than “consumer Christianity” and “bumper-sticker faith.” In an era when so many consider Jesus a beloved but remote savior, readers of The Divine Conspiracy will explore a revolutionary way to experience God—by knowing Him as an essential part of the here and now, an integral part of every aspect of our existence. The Divine Conspiracy calls us into a more authentic faith and offers a practical plan by which we can become Christ-like. It challenges us to step aside from the politics and pieties of contemporary Christian practice and inspires us to reject the all too common lukewarm faith of our times by embracing the true meaning of Christian discipleship.”

Erich’s note: You can read more about my thoughts on this book in the post Three Books That Have Impacted My Life the Most.

Your turn… If you’ve read any of these 3 books take a moment to share your impressions.

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