Is your day your property or someone else’s? (Why you need a FTF routine.)

FI Power FTF

Turns out my blog is probably not for people who have an idyllic, peaceful life. If you’re living in a cabin somewhere reading, hiking, and build relationships with woodland creatures all day, this may not be for you. At least if Google analytics is to be believed.

It seems like you have found yourselves in the middle of a fast-paced life over-full with responsibilities and obligations. In the middle of this whirlwind, you and I are trying to live a life that matters, that makes sense, and that connects with Jesus and His heart for the world

But the whirlwind doesn’t stop for our good intentions. Circumstances shift unexpectedly. People collide into our agenda with needs, opportunities, and demands. The result? We spend most of our days in reactive mode, scrambling to respond to the agenda of other people.

The boss, the DMV, the kids. Everyone needs our time. Often we relent. How many days in recent memory have you slid into bed at day’s end, wondering if you accomplished anything of value at all, even though you never stopped moving the whole day?

The problem? When you live reactively, your time becomes the servant of someone else’s agenda. Your time gets spent on the urgency and demands of others. But how can you change this? You need a FTF Routine.

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Are you hiding your shame with contempt?

FI Contempt

Today’s post is a special contribution from a guest, Sharon Mavis. She and her husband Rick are fascinated by the connection between spiritual and emotional maturity, so her writing is right up the alley of what we talk about here.  You can find more about Sharon below the post.

“I need to hide. There is something fundamentally wrong with me. I am a freak.”

Those ugly thoughts used to be triggered when I was around attractive, confident women wearing expensive clothes. If they were arrogant, the effect on me multiplied exponentially. The feeling was shame. I knew exactly where it originated.

Elementary school for me was in rural southern Indiana in the 1950s. My dad was a farmer who also worked a full time job, driving a truck for minimum wage. In the middle of my eighth grade, our family moved 500 miles to Michigan for my dad to work in an automobile factory. I transferred into a sophisticated high school. I could not have felt more out of place: like a Beverly Hillbilly, except I was poor.

My Hoosier accent and handed-down clothes branded me. Plus, the culture was a shock: I had never seen a football, balance beam or indoor swimming pool, or eaten pizza. This new world was as foreign to me as the farming world was to my classmates. Picture the contrast: cheerleading and pep rallies versus rendering lard on an open fire in the driveway on butchering day – radically different.

I went from seeing myself as an “A” student from a family with little money to someone who was a freak. I was ashamed of who I was. Do you relate?

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How do we learn from Jesus when Jesus isn’t around?

FI Learn From Jesus 2

Be a follower of Jesus, we’re told. Learn from Jesus how to do life. Get to know Jesus. Sounds good right? But how do we do it?

Think of the people you know best. How did you get to know them? You shared experiences with them. You talked with them. You got to know them by how they treated you. You listened to them talk about their experiences.

That’s how relationship-building normally works, but how do we do this when Jesus isn’t physically, bodily sitting across the table from us at the coffee shop? Is it just learning more facts? Is it all about doctrine? Is it just fuzzy-headed thinking about being loved and accepted?

If we really want to be apprentices of Jesus, how are we to go about learning from him?

(note: This is a follow-up to the previous post. Hey Follower of Jesus, Do you know who you are really following?)

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Hey follower of Jesus, do you really know who you’re following?

FI Jesus Puzzle

You know some things about Jesus. I mean, you have a picture in your mind. A visual image, perhaps. A sense of what Jesus was like. How he treated people. His tone of voice, maybe. Certainly, the issues that he cared about most.

As a follower of Jesus that mental picture is vital to you. It probably motivates you. It may inform your decisions about politics, or vocation, or parenting.

Now stop for a moment. Have you ever really thought about where that picture came from? Where did you learn about Jesus?

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Read to Grow / Radically Normal (or Are you suffering from Spiritual Accomplishment Urgency Syndrome?)

FI Radically Normal

There’s a particular sickness you might have if you grew up in Church World1.  The sickness? Spiritual Accomplishment Urgency Syndrome. The symptoms often include:

  • You feel a need to be at all church activities. Even if you don’t go, you feel guilty about it.
  • You feel guilty because you don’t pray enough, or read the Bible enough.
  • You feel guilty because you haven’t taken on a new ministry role at church. (Maybe you’re even avoiding going to church because you don’t want to have the conversation about not being willing or ready to serve.)
  • You secretly believe that pastors, evangelists, Christian writers and musicians are a little bit more committed to their faith than other people. After all, they are the ones who really have gone “all in.”
  • You hate the idea of witnessing (it feels so invasive) but feel guitly for not doing it.
  • You doubt God’s care for you sometimes, and then feel guilty because of it.
  • You don’t pray at meals in public, but feel a little anxious and guilty because of it.
  • You’ve not read the latest powerful Christian book that everyone at church is reading, and you don’t really want to (and you feel a little guilty about it.)

Do you notice a theme? Are you feeling a little guilty about it?

There’s another way this illness manifests itself. For a season, you actually do all these things. You serve, and pray, and read, and give, and witness, and study, and you do it with all your might—and yet, when you catch a moment alone with your heart, you fear that God doesn’t really love you or accept you or forgive you.

This sickness is draining all the joy out of your life. It’s leading you away from a more engaged and intentional spiritual life.

In his book, Radically Normal: You Don’t have to live Crazy to follow Jesus, Josh Kelley (Website / Facebook / Twitter) tackles this sickness, and offers a perspective that may help you find healing and a much more meaningful, and enjoyable spiritual life.

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