Friday, January 20, 2012

A Year in the Life of Organization

In 2012 I am on a mission to organize my life more completely. I am using the Friday section of this blog to announce tools I plan to use and chronicle the changes I am making. Here is one…

Ever sense I have had a smart phone I have always wanted a note taking program that would automatically sync with my computers without having to use a cable to do so. Even when using the syncing cable, which was a lot more work than it was worth, there were always problems with what was being synched. But last year I was turned onto an amazing program that did exactly what I had been dreaming of. I am so thankful that Evernote came into my life.

Evernote is a note taking software that you can access multiple ways. You are able to access Evernote simply by going to their website and logging in, or you can download their software right onto your computer, and finally download it to your smartphone or tablet. The beauty of it all is you are able to sync Evernote across all the platforms. This has been truly revolutionized the way I take notes. While I use it primarily as a note taking software, there is much more you can do with Evernote, and I have only taped the basic possibilities of all it offers. Below is just a glimpse of what Evernote in action looks like.

I have used Evernote in a plethora of ways. Whether it is for creating grocery list, to writing down blog ideas, or even sermon notes while listening to a preacher, it has revolutionized my notes. They are now organized, all in one place, with no pieces of paper to loose. It has truly been great.

As I move forward in 2012 and really try to hunker down on organization, one area I am working on is in my daily Bible study. I have been reading the Bible using a reading plan through YouVersion, and I have begun doing something truly cool with Evernote. I have known for a long time that many of the people groups the Israelites fight against as they come into the land were far distant relatives. So as I have been reading this year, I am going through and charting the genealogies of these families. Evernote has been an amazing tool for this process. Look below at the chart I have created.


With Evernote and YouVersion I have been able to do something I have longed to do for a long time. I will now have a chart that I can  go back to and look at in the future to see where these people groups have come. I encourage you to give Evernote a try, you will be thankful when you do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lesson’s From a Church Builder

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“Do you know what ministry involves?” “Do you know the sacrifice it takes?” “Is this really what you want for your life?” These were the questions asked of me when I sat and talked with my parents about going to Bible college and going into ministry. Its not that they didn’t want me to become a preacher. I think they were ok with the idea of it. Its not like I was wanting to be a missionary and move over seas, so that wasn’t their concern. But they wanted me to be aware of what I was getting myself into. They knew that it wasn’t always going to be the beautiful dream that I had floating around in my mind.

At that time I thought of ministry as preaching, as doing weddings and funerals, as leading missions trips, and going on youth outings. When I answered their questions confident of my decision, these were the thoughts filling my mind. While all these things are part of the ministry of a preacher, there are so many other parts. This was not a lesson I would learn until I entered my first ministry. 

It was in my first ministry that I learned how the life of the church really becomes part of who you are. How the church is doing, whether good times are rolling, or you are suffering through the fires, it is something that is constantly on your mind. I can’t take a vacation, visit my family or Crystals, or just hang out at home without thinking about what we have going on here at church. This was something new for me. In high school when I worked for Yard Works, David’s Catering, or the movie theater, when I was done with day, I was done with work, and for the most part was done thinking about it. But from the time I have entered ministry, my mind has been consumed with the life of the church.

How can we lead people to a life changing relationship with Jesus? How can we get people involved in small groups? How can we get our giving up so that we don’t just barely meet payroll and bills but can afford to do ministry? How can reach out to the community? How can we change the culture of our church to answer these questions? These are the thoughts that consume my mind constantly. These are thoughts I lie awake at night going over. These are thoughts I try to remove from my mind when I watch TV in the evenings. These are thoughts I try to not bring up when eating dinner with my family.

So if the questions were going to be asked of me again by my parents, my answer wouldn’t be much different. I would still be excited, but my excitement would be completely different. I would understand that the struggles of ministry, the demands on my time and my family, the role I serve, is all worth it because it points people to the cross, and it is through the work on the Cross that Christ was able to offer us salvation. For no better calling could I preach. And so, I will go on learning this year what it means to grow a church, maybe not always numerically, but to grow the lives of the people who comprise the church. I am excited to be a part of helping love and lead people to a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. To that end I will continue learning.

Join me this year as I continue learning and sharing about it on Thursdays.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Year in the Life of Organization

In 2012 I am on a mission to organize my life more completely. I am using the Friday section of this blog to announce tools I plan to use and chronicle the changes I am making. Here is one…

As I continue the beginning stages of my journey through organization something became very apparent to me this past week. I always knew this, but sermon writing is very time consuming. In the past I have been very unstructured in my approach to it, and because of that, I am finally putting pen to paper late Thursday and finishing up on Saturday morning. I think this is due to me changing my preaching style. I also have been working harder to study better for my sermon’s and grow in my theological understanding. This is leading to longer preparation time.

This week I made a concentrated effort to get an early start on my sermon. By doing so I was able to finish my sermon Friday morning instead of Saturday, so that is a big win for me. But in my effort to do so, I let several other things go. So while my sermon is finished, many other things are not, and that in itself is not good. So I continue to work out my weekly system, because very soon I will be writing sermons weekly with all of the others stuff still going on. So glad to be learning this all now.

On another note, I have really concentrated my effort to loose weight this year. This being 315 lbs. can no longer be the norm. So along with everything else I am doing, I am working on loosing weight. This had to happen. I haven’t felt well, I am always tired, and I have poor productivity. I knew that if I got this part of my life in order some of these other organizational things will work themselves out.

On this front I have done really well this week. I am up to eight pounds that I know I have lost. This is only the beginning, but I am having a lot of fun using an app for my phone along with its website to control my caloric intake. I have even been getting really creative this past week with the meals I am planning and the way I am eating. So far so good, however I am only two weeks in.

This has also been a good spiritual week for me. I am making a really concentrated effort to spend time in the word and in prayer. It has been very beneficial to me. I am also thinking about bringing back the daily blog post about what I am reading. I haven’t made a decision on it yet, but we will see in the near future. I think it will be very positive if I do and many may benefit from it.

I am excited to see the real changes that are taking place in my life through this endeavor. With God’s help I know I will be able to overcome and succeed in this mission.


Friday, January 6, 2012

A Year in the Life of Organization

In 2012 I am on a mission to organize my life more completely. I am using the Friday section of this blog to announce tools I plan to use and chronicle the changes I am making. Here is one…

One of the areas I have struggled to gain control over is with my relationship with God. I have never struggled with my belief. I have never had a situation that has caused me to be angry at God. I have never felt he has left me alone all by my self. He has always been a part of my life, but sometimes …  actually more often … he has been distant. I don’t blame him for not being there. I know he is not at fault. The fault lies completely on me.

Over the years our relationship has been like a tapestry, we weave back and forth with moments of strength and times of utter failure. That’s not my desire for my relationship with God. I desire a relationship where we are growing closer each and every day. Life lived together were I spend time hearing from him in his word, where I spend time sharing with him through prayer, and time where I spend in worship. There has been moments of this throughout my life, but those moments tend to last for a few days, and then I get distracted and move back to where I was.

I have written about this before. This isn’t a new thought on this blog. If you have read me in the past you have seen very similar words. While these are similar words I really want this to happen. Its not that I didn’t before, I really did, but I have had a new realization. The reasons these times failed before was because I was completely unorganized in life. I wasn’t ready or able to follow through on my desire because so much else was taking precedent. It is my desire that my Year in the Life of Organization will help me to also grow deeper in my relationship with Christ.

I am fully convinced that organizing many areas of my life will help to draw me deeper where I want to be spiritually, physically, socially, in my ministry and with my family. I am also fully convinced that living deeper with Christ will also radically change all those areas as well.

I love what Jesus says in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” Now Jesus isn’t asking us to really hate our family members. He is simply asking us to love him so much, to need him so much, to follow him so much, to serve him so much that it makes our love for our family look like hate. But here is the beautiful part, as our love for God grows, as we follow Christ closer, our relationships change. When we love like Christ loved, when we have compassion like Christ had, when we face anger like Christ did our relationship with our family is enhanced.

That is why I am convinced that getting my spiritual life in order is paramount to me being successful this year. So how do I plan to do that? Well I plan to use a couple of tools. The first is YouVersion. YouVersion is an online Bible. It is an amazing tool that allows the user to see and use multiple translations at one time. It also has several Bible reading plans that users can choose from. Most if not all will provide you a reading plan that will take you through the Bible in one year. I am currently doing the Chronological plan that uses what scholars believe is the order the books of the bible fall into historically. The best part of YouVersion is it has app downloads for Androids, iPhones, iPads, iTouch, and many other smartphones and tablets. This allows the user to sync their Bible reading plan across devices. This has really organized my Bible reading. Try out YouVersion and explore its many features.

For me my Bible reading is just the beginning. I am also carving out a time each day to spend in worship and prayer. How I am doing that I will share in a future date. This is beginning to become an amazing adventure in my life.