Have You Changed Your Mind Lately?

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Earlier this summer I was having a conversation with a friend about a particular issue. We stand on opposite sides, but thankfully, our deep friendship allows us to actually talk about it…not debate or argue.

At some point in the conversation, we both realized the strength in the conversation lies into an openness to having your mind changed. Just debating for the sake of debating or allowance doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean you necessarily are changing your mind, but you respect the person enough to honestly listen and care about them. But this can only work in a predetermined relationship of trust.

Since then I have reflected often on the power of changing your mind.

How many times have we picked very small hills we were willing to die on?

Are you one of those people who has to always be right and are willing to destroy relationships to stay on top?

Do you realize the relational power of letting other folks “win”? Especially if you are a person in power…this is one of the greatest pieces of leadership and respect you can exercise.

I don’t ask these questions out of moral lassitude. I ask them because I want to be aware of when I might be trying to push myself on others and when I might refuse to let the Holy Spirit convict me.

As I continue to reflect on this, my prayer has been for Christ to always be changing my mind. Not to loosen things. To change my mind to constantly be seeking a deeper level of righteousness and holiness. To begin a life of always being willing for Jesus to change our minds.

I want to be confronted. I want to realize I have to change things internally. The moment I stop having this willingness notes a point has come where I am concentrating more on myself. This is about my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with other people.

When was the last time you changed your mind?

Pizza, Worship and Primary Spiritual Experiences

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I remember spring break in 1999. I was at South Padre Island with 80,000 college students having the time of my life. Nothing can beat the beach when you are young and spring break is in full spring. While 98% of the college students crowded into South Padre Island and were intent on substance abuse and casual relationships, I was one of around 400 there for a different goal. Yep, we were there to evangelize and reach out to our peers for the sake of Jesus.

I sorted out many things that week, and I had the very first life altering encounter with the Holy Spirit. I can look at many parts of my life which find their origin on the trip. Worship leadership, vocational calling, dependance on Christian relationships and prayer. They all found their beginning during spring break. It was the most important week of my life.

I truly believe most people have events such as these. They might not be as deliberate or even Christian, but they are primary spiritual experiences. And once we have them, we can easily base everything off of them for the rest of our lives. This especially holds true in the Christian life.

Primary Spiritual Experiences become our mold and model for what we think proper worship is.

I am a big fan of pizza. I like to frequent the slice blog. It is part of the seriouseats.com family. Part of the slice blog is a routine engagement with what they call the “pizza cognition theory“, the first pizza anyone remembers from childhood is their primary idea of what constitutes pizza. Every slice of pizza they eat will be subconsciously measured up to their childhood definition of pizza.

Sound familiar?

We have the potential to do the same with our primary spiritual experiences…after all, they are primary! We use these stories as the basis of our own personal story of God working in our lives. It’s downright biblical. Read the Old Testament and see how Israel always brings it back to a few key events; the exodus, the temple and Abraham. Think about how Paul relates his testimony to the experience on the Damascus road. Part of the Christian life is understanding these moments where we first met with God and allow them the proper place of shaping things.

The dangerous part is when we begin to think of primary as permanent.

When we think God will no longer move in our life. When we think the best has already come. When we think God can never do something like He did once before. We take every single experience and try to mold them around those first ones. We can slowly begin insisting on others spiritual experiences conforming around ours. I think this is the basis for nearly all conflict in church.

As a worship leader I think many disagreements stem from a projection of primary spiritual experience. Music selection, instrumentation and many other things. As a pastor I have seen it play a part in conversations regarding building usage, fiances, staffing and strategic planning. Our idea of worship isn’t necessarily the best idea of worship.

Please don’t hear me wrong. Primary spiritual experiences are the foundation of a life with God. We should treasure them. But we can no way let them be the permanent idea of what the spiritual life should be, especially as we get older.

It’s dangerous to not let Jesus be the God of our future. It’s terribly frightening to place radical dependance on the cross. The only thing is…we can’t have a faith existing and only grounded in the past. Belief in Jesus is a belief in the future.

So the challenge is to learn to tell the story. To tell the story of the past and to become people expecting to experience in the present.

How would you describe your primary spiritual experience.

Why I Keep a Prayer Notebook

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Prayer is quite possibly the spiritual discipline I have to give the most attention. Prayer really doesn’t come as naturally to me as reading does. Several years ago I really wanted to begin praying better and building a more prayer centric life. I have struggled in the past with keeping myself in prayer and I decided to start keeping a prayer specific notebook. After just over a year with the practice, it has proven to be very beneficial for me.

Let me explain to you my prayer notebook. I wanted something I could keep with me all the time. I am partial to Field Notes Brand notebooks. You can pick them up in tons of different colors. I wanted something I was excited about so I would actually use it. I found out the notebook started to get ragged out quick, so I picked up a leather cover on Etsy. The notebook now resides permanently in my back pocket as part of my daily carry.

I start each day with Wesley’s Covenant prayer. I keep a copy in the notebook marking my place. I write down the date and any requests I know I need to be praying for. I list peoples names. I can flip back through the last few days and make sure I am moving things forward.

I like to do this because I don’t like lying to people.

Preachers tell others “I’ll be praying for you” quite a lot. It is easy to forget. Instead, I tell people that now and immediately (in front of them) write it down. If I have told you I am praying for you in the last year…your name is in one of these books.

I also write down short, one sentence prayers during the day or in the evening.

I like my prayer notebook because it is an extremely tactile practice. It keeps prayer right in front of me. It is a constant reminder of the Holy and also of the holy practice of going to God in prayer throughout the day.

As I have journeyed into the discipline of prayer, I can’t imagine doing it without my little notebook. It keeps me centered. Using a notebook reminds me prayer is a terribly practical activity. It is something we actually should be doing, paying attention to. Prayer takes time and effort.

I hope you are a person of prayer. If it is a hard thing for you I really hope you would consider the idea of keeping a prayer notebook. I like to think it has been a big help to me making prayer part of a normal, every day life.

Beginning Prayer: Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

7828492212_2410c889faWhen anyone intentionally decides to start building a life of prayer the first honest question is “How?.” Through my life, I have had moments where these decisions have to be made. Prayer, like any other part of the Christian life, means constantly pushing forward…going deeper and deeper. What counts is finding moments and different practices which continue to push this journey forward.

A few years back at the meeting of the Louisiana Annual Conference of the UMC, Rev. Adam Hamilton led several sessions and discussions on church vision and vitality. At several moments along the way he either pointed to or lead us through Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. Traditionally this prayer is used at the beginning of the year as congregations recommit towards holy relationships and mission. What Rev. Hamilton illustrated was this prayers place in the everyday life of individuals and congregations.

For anyone looking for a new way point in the life of prayer, either beginning or reinvigorating, the covenant prayer is an excellent addition.

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

I have found by making multiple copies and placing them in both intended and surprise location, I pray the prayer several times during the day. I have a copy in my bathroom and I pray it almost first thing in the morning. I pray it when I transition tasks during the day or when I start a time of devotion or study. It provides a wonderful embedded space in my life.

Yes, the language might be old fashioned, but I decided to not update it. It marks things as “special” for me.

I encourage you to practice this prayer. Make it part of your day at least once. Find the best place to put it into your devotional life. Trust me, it will be a blessing. So share this prayer. Make it part of your life. Above all, pursue a deep life of prayer.

Up Your Productivity With Templates | Productive Pastor 6

Up Your Productivity With Templates | Productive Pastor 6

 

In today’s podcast I talk about my new favorite productivity trick. I use templates for EVERYTHING. I cannot imagine not having access to them. They are super handy for several different reasons and I will share those with you later on.

The List:
Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Evernote from Timemanagementninja.com
Consider this to be a great introductory post on how Evernote can change the way you do life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to not have to constantly be trying to remember everything all the time and have instant access to all your thoughts, lists and other information?

Mikes on Mics Podcast
This is another great producivity podcast I have really been enjoying over the holidays. I powered down several episodes while traveling and Mike and Mike do a great show.

You’ve Got 25,000 Mornings as an Adult: 8 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine: James Clear wrote a fantastic article about why mornings really matter and how they can be the best time of day for anyone. If you haven’t taken advantage of mornings yet, I hope this convinces you.

Organize Your Life in 21 Days from Michael Lukaszewski
Michael, CEO of The Rocket Company, has put together a great free resource. I went through this email series late in 2013 and it is full of really practical tips to getting life more organized. It is done through quick email messages and gives you a few days to complete each task. I highly recommend it.

Up Your Productivity With Templates

How many times have you realized you missed doing a really simple task a couple of days back? For me, it was always sends the exact same email every Wednesday. I had to find a way to automate it, but it had to be customized every week. I tried putting a calendar reminder, but that didn’t work either. It would go off at the wrong time and I would still forget.

I also like to evaluate regular events (like Sunday) and wanted to go through the same questions every time. This was a little bit more familiar. I realized I just needed to start setting up templates to organize many of the same tasks I do each week. Here are a few reasons templates can nearly instantly up your productivity.

1. They focus life. If anything is important in our life, personal or work, it has to be part of our habits. We focus so much of what we do around regular tasks, like exercising, reading, prayer and even event preparation, committee emails and other communication tasks. Templates help us with consistency.

2. They help us complete unnatural work.
There are certain tasks I need to accomplish weekly I am not naturally wired for. But that doesn’t mean I can drop the ball. Having a template set up helps me to know it is coming and when it needs to be done.

3. They help us grow.
Templates keep us focused on what absolutely must be done. But they also help us track things. I use templates for many different things. Some are extremely task focused. Others tasks are template based because I want to build regular routines and rhythms. Doing the same thing over and over helps me with that.

My Weekly Tasks Template (pdf).

Tool Box Tip :
How many times do we know when we are worthless? I can tell you, without a doubt, I can’t get anything done around 2;30. So I don’t plan on it. I schedule really mindless tasks for this time. Or I take a quick nap or read a book. Getting over this 30-45 minute hump in my day the right way really affects what I do for the rest of the day.

Mentions:
I want to thank David Franks for winning our Christmas give away. He reviewed and rated The Productive Pastor on iTunes and shared on twitter. Thanks David!

I talked about the Evernote Essentials ebook on the episode. I highly encourage you to get this resource. If you have every wondered what you really should be doing, or could be doing with Evernote, this is the best way to learn.

A few episodes back I interviewed Jonathan Andersen and he gave us his template for Exegesis. In the shownotes I shared his template plus another one I was already using.