Are You Crazy Busy?

I got and read Kevin Deyoung’s new book yesterday, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem which has since then dropped in price to $7.99. This is a very quick read, which is really helpful when I’m so busy!

The book is broken up into 3 main parts: the problem plaguing many in the Western world today (being too busy), followed by 7 plagues of busyness, and finally, a “what now?” conclusion chapter. The introduction set the stage for this current dilemma with some very helpful questions (like “Do you check work e-mails and phone messages at home?”) as well as some statistics that I had often pondered but never had concrete answers to (like the fact that our annual hours have increased from 1,716 in 1967 to 1,878 in 2000, which is an extra hour every day compared to the British, and 2 more hours a day than the Germans and Italians).

The meat of the book are 7 diagnoses Kevin suggests we need to use to self-evaluate. The most impactful for me were chapters 5 – ‘You Can’t Serve Others without Setting Priorities’ and 7 – ‘You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul.’ I far too often just say yes to everything that comes my way, and while this can be for very good things, is it always the best use of my time? Absolutely not! Kevin says, “Efficiency is not the goal. But if Jesus is any example, God does expect us to say no to a whole lot of good things so that we can be freed up to say yes to the most important thing he has for us.” I know for many people in my generation (early 30s even in to high school) the threat of technology invading our lives is a constant struggle. Even during youth group I see a majority of the students on their cell phones (always in their Bibles, right?). I just this week turned all the notifications off on my cell phone which has honestly been such a burden lifted off me (I’m planning to blog on that later).

The final chapter, while very good, seemed to be adding just one more mandate onto an already busy life – the need for prayer and devotions. While I agree this is something that needs to be the utmost priority in our lives, I don’t think it should be because we need to, but because we want to spend the precious time in communion with our God.

While this is a very good book about the busyness of our current lives, it felt a bit unfinished to me. As Kevin admits in the beginning of the book, “I’m writing this not because I know more than others but because I want to know more than I do.” David Murray has written a very good addendum to this book with some practical steps people can implement in their own lives in order to get rid of some of the busyness in their own lives.

“A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books, and make fine speeches, and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is serious.”

-J.C. Ryle ‘A Call to Prayer

Praying for Your Church

One of the things I’ve learned in my past year of ministry is that it’s not very much a job in the typical sense of the word. My last job I worked from 7 until 4 and then left my job there and tried not to think about it until the next day when I would begin work again. Now when I go home I’m generally thinking about issues related to church, reading books about church or spending time with people from church. This bothered me at first-even my personal times of prayer were dominated by praying for the church. God has recently been revealing to me that this should be the pattern for everyone in the church. We all should be praying for the church.

Many of Paul’s letters have this theme in them, “without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers,” Romans 1:9-10, “I give thanks to my God always for you,” 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,” Ephesians 1:16, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Philippians 1:3-4, “we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,” Colossians 1:3, “we give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1, “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy 1:3, and finally, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” Philemon 4. Reading trough this list I think it’s safe to say that Paul both modeled and encouraged prayer among the disciples for the body.

How can we pray for the body around us? The most obvious answer to that is to pray that God will keep us from sin. The world is constantly bombarding us with temptations to give in to sin (2 Corinthians 13:7, Hebrews 13:18). The second thing we can pray for the body is for physical healing (James 5:14). A third thing we can pray for in the body to grow in the wisdom and understanding of God, which means maturity (Colossians 1:9). One thing I don’t always see people understanding is that this also needs to be prayed for pastors and leaders in the church.

Paul repeatedly asks for prayer for where God is leading him (2 Thessalonians 3:1, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1). And the most explicit example is in 1 Timothy 2 where Paul writes, “I urge that supplications prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,” (italics mine). Pray for the pastors, elders and deacons who are in your church that we may faithfully lead the people that God has entrusted to us. May all of us remember to pray for our churches that God’s name may be made great and He would get all the glory.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Romans 8:26

Children’s Bible Reading

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while! December was a crazy month.

I found a fantastic guide today for children’s Bible readings here. This is something I was always told to do growing up, and even saw it modeling in my parents but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. This breaks the Bible down into very manageable portions (just a few verses at a time) and then asks a specific question about the text and includes room for prayer items. This would be a great way to give kids opportunities to practice writing as well!