What if God wants your plans to fall apart?

FI Plans Crashing

I had plans. They were good plans, intended to bring good things about. Plans for my church, like how we could grow and become of great influence in our community. Plans for my family, how things needed to look for a comfortable and peaceful home life. Plans for my writing, so that I could reach more people, and maybe even start making some income! They were good plans. Sigh.

Then life, and circumstances and God didn’t cooperate with my plans. After depression and nearly burning out, I started growing emotionally and spiritually. I found myself questioning some of my motives and plans. Then my wife ran out of steam. She’d been carrying me emotionally for too long. She needed her own recovery. The plans I had for how my family ought to look disolved. Some wonderful, gifted, and impactful people moved on from our church. The plans I envisioned no longer seemed possible.

Even these last three months, my plans fell apart! Circumstances were out of my control. All my discretionary moments, the ones I had planned on using for writing, were called into service. No forward motion on my book. No forward motion on my online course. I couldn’t stay on top of my blogging schedule or my Facebook page. I felt like I fell off the rails.

This week I found an unexpected reminder that has entirely shifted my attitude. If you’re feeling like life and circumstances and God aren’t cooperating with you, maybe it will encourage you too.

[Read more...]

Weekend Wisdom / The Always Prayer

FI Index Weekend Wisdom

Life comes at us like a freight train, a thundering sequence of commitments, obligations and information that demand our attention.  In the rush, it’s so easy to lose track of our spiritual focus.  How do we keep our hearts and minds aligned with the new life we’ve been given? The Apostle Paul offers direction about a new way of praying–all the time, and in every way.

This presentation tackles this Always On Prayer, and what it means to bring every circumstance of our life into our relationship with God through a mindset of prayer.

This is a part of a long-term series studying the book of Ephesians, but you don’t need what’s come before to find the benefit in this content.

[Read more...]

Read & Grow / How to be a Christian without Going to Church

FI Christian Without Church

Surf to Google. Type the phrase “Can I be a Christian…” into the search box. Helpful as ever, Google will start suggesting popular queries. The top search?

“Can I be a Christian without going to church?”

This is a question people are asking. They are asking it a lot.

I’m a Pastor’s Kid who grew up in Church World1. Growing up, I knew there were people who asked this question, but it was always for bad reasons.

They didn’t want accountability. They didn’t want to quit their bad behavior. They didn’t want people to know they were Christians. That meant they were “ashamed of the Gospel.” The idea that people could become Christians without becoming like us made no sense. One of the things that defined us was gathering together weekly for worship and service. That was church.

Fast forward more than three decades, and Kelly Bean’s (Website / Facebook / Twitter) new book hits the shelves with a pot-stirring title: How to be a Christian Without Going to Church. The sub-title? The unofficial guide to alternative forms of Christian community.

So, what have we come to? Were my childhood assumptions true? Are Christians wanting out of accountability, community, and mission? Are they just wanting to be like the culture around them? Slope-sliding into a world of grey standards and compromise? Is this “unofficial guide” a handbook for Christianity light?

[Read more...]

How a $280 Treadmill Desk helped me be more intentional.

FI Make Goals Easy

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Those are J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, in the mouth of Gandalf. They also perfectly describe the intentional life.

You’ve got a certain amount of time. It happens to be exactly the same amount as the people around you: 24 hours in a day. You have hopes and goals. The most important tool you have for reaching for those goals is your time. How you spend it matters. In fact, this is the chief difference between you and the people you see reaching their goals. They spend their time differently than you do.

The problem, of course, is that some things are fun or easy or have an immediate pay-off. Then there are things that are hard, or slow, or don’t seem to make an immediate difference.  In many cases it is that second category that move you toward your goals.

The intentional life is really about setting yourself up for success in getting those hard things done. Here’s one example. I have two goals that are important to me. Both require hard work. I needed something that would help smooth that uphill climb for me. Craigslist and $280 gave me the answer I needed.

[Read more...]

Weekend Wisdom / Living with Open Hands

FI Index Weekend Wisdom

The first thing generosity brings to mind is giving — giving of time, or money. Talking about giving in church is notoriously awkward.  The conversation is usually laced with oughts and shoulds, and focuses on obligation and obedience. But that’s a stunning misunderstanding of the point.  Our attitude toward giving is a direct window into our faith and our fear.  And if we want to grow in our trust for God, we can start by practicing giving.

This is the 2nd presentation in the series, “A Generous Life.”

[Read more...]