Tag: Time Management

Spiritual Disciplines, Part 4: What is Biblical Meditation?

So far we’ve learned that spending time in Scripture must become a priority—a severe discipline—in our lives. We’ve also considered a few practical ways to make that happen. But we will keep ourselves from much blessing if we halt our discussion at the discipline of reading and don’t talk about the discipline of meditation.

The moment I mention the word meditation, however, it is possible that you are immediately drawn to images of people sitting in the Lotus Position: eyes closed, legs crossed, with palms up on one’s knees, with the thumb and middle finger on each hand slightly touching. That’s because our culture is fascinated with eastern-style meditation, and, most recently, something called “Mindfulness” (although mindfulness experts do not all insist on one specific kind of posture, even though they would say posture is important). Continue reading “Spiritual Disciplines, Part 4: What is Biblical Meditation?”

Blogging and Making the Most of Our Time (2): Two Important Clarifications

As I reflected on my post from Monday, I came to the conclusion that I was probably guilty of two faults: (1) Drawing a false dichotomy between blogging and evangelism and; (2) not emphasizing the goodness of Christian blogging as a ministry. Please forgive my carelessness. I will attempt to clarify these two issues in the following paragraphs.

Blogging and Evangelism
Under the heading Don’t Let Blogging Replace Clear, Biblical Priorities, I mentioned that one of those priorities that should not be set aside by blogging was evangelism. What I had in mind here was face-to-face evangelism like evangelism to neighbors, co-workers, family members and the like. This principle tied in to the previous heading, Don’t Let Blogging Outweigh Your Time With Others. However, I can see that this might be confusing because it almost sounds like engaging in dialog with an unbeliever through a blog, or through an email as a result of interaction on a blog, is not evangelism; or that true evangelism must only be done face-to-face. I do not think that is true. Evangelism does not necessarily need to be conducted face-to-face; it can happen through letters, blogs, email, phone, video, and other means.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that since we live in a digital age, where the Internet is almost a new kind of Piazza, Christians have massive opportunity to spread the gospel through their blogs. Our blogs can be a means by which we expound and proclaim the Christian faith, where we can interact with unbelievers about the content of our blog, and where we can provide spiritual resources to those who are under conviction and desire salvation.

What can happen, however, and what I am trying to guard us against, is that we can make the mistake of only doing virtual evangelism and gradually drift away from face-to-face evangelism. Why? Probably because it is easier to evangelize through the computer. The spears of anger, confrontation, and ridicule are significantly blunted when they have to pass from the keyboard to our monitors. We can take that, and even end up feeling pretty good about our “courage.” Let us not be deceived!

Blogging as a Ministry
As I tried to show in the previous few paragraphs, blogs can be used as a ministry to unbelievers. They can be used as a ministry to the Church as well. That is one thing I have tried to do with this blog: provide helpful spiritual resources to Christian men and women, both young and old. And there are a host of other blogs serving the Church with their book reviews, essays, personal thoughts, and links to other good websites. I believe this can be rich and effective ministry if done well and according to God’s Word. Again, my only warning is that we are careful to not allow our blog time prevail over our personal (face-to-face) interaction with others.

Yet, there are some precious members of the body of Christ who are relegated to a wheelchair, or who are mostly homebound because of disabilities, and who are rarely able to get out and about, who may find that they can have a fruitful ministry online hosting a blog or website. If this is your situation, and you have despaired of finding ministries with which you can serve others (or even if you have not yet despaired), then I would encourage you to pray and think about this as a possible ministry, while at the same time seeking out personal fellowship with other Christians as much as you are able.

So in even in above case, I realize I need to be careful to not draw such a hard and fast line with blogging. Some may sense a leading to spend more time working on their blog or website, some may choose to spend less. In either case, what is important is that we are being guided by biblical principles (like those I have tried to lay out, though somewhat clumsily, in the last post) as we think about blogging.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for evangelism and ministry; may we use it wisely, purposefully, fruitfully, and above all, for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Photo: David Lofink

Blogging and Making the Most of Our Time

Time is precious. God intends (requires!) His children to plan and spend their time wisely. “Make the most of your time, for the days are evil,” Paul exhorts the Ephesian church; “Help me to number my days so that I may present to you a heart of wisdom” the Psalmist pleads before God (Ephesians 5:16; Psalm 90:12).

Yet if we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we do not always spend our time as wisely as we should. Our time is often carelessly tossed aside by watching television, taking part in fruitless conversations, procrastination, poor (or no) planning, laziness, lack of discipline, web-surfing, and a multitude of other trivial activities that so easily creep into our day.

Blogging, unfortunately, can become yet another time waster. We can spend an inordinate amount of time in the comment sections of other blogs, engage in long and tedious debates with other bloggers; or we can allow our blog writing to consume our lives and push out other, more important, priorities. I hate to break it to you, but unless your livelihood is derived from blogging, or unless it is a duty that you owe an employer, then I would say that blogging is not a high priority. It is only a hobby.

This is why it is important as Christians who have been entrusted with a stewardship of precious minutes and hours and days, to make the most of our time in regards to our blogging. Let me suggest a few principles.

Don’t Let Blogging Outweigh Your Time with Others
This is very important. Our time in virtual interaction should never replace personal fellowship. It is unwise and unhealthy to neglect person-to-person relationships for computer-to-computer communication. While the Bible does not forbid socializing through computers (or other technology), I would argue that the tenor of Scripture upholds face to face fellowship as the norm. Sometimes this is not possible, but where it is, it should be sought and cherished.

Spend Your Blogging Time Purposefully
It is good to have time of recreation and blogging can be a fruitful time of recreation if it is spent purposefully. In America, however, we have bought into the misguided notion that leisure means laziness and the absence of discipline. True recreation, I would contend, is neither laziness or the absence of discipline, but rather a time set aside where we take part in a different kind of activity than that which characterizes our regular activities.

So set aside a certain time that you will spend writing and stick to it. Plan what you are going to write about. Have a plan for how you will visit other people’s blogs and the amount of time you will spend there. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending much more time than you ever intended to spend.

Don’t Let Your Time Blogging Replace Clear, Biblical Priorities
Clear, Biblical priorities like taking care of our families, fulfilling our duties at home, spending time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading, fellowship with other Christians, serving in our local church body, evangelism, and working at our jobs and our studies with excellence. We will find abiding satisfaction when we seek faithfulness in the work God has laid out for us to do. On the other hand, experience tells us that the neglect of our responsibilities usually leaves us dry, frustrated, and unfulfilled.

So exercise discipline when it comes to your blogging. Consider the stewardship of time that God has entrusted you with and establish your priorities. And follow the apostle Paul and “make the most of your time for the days are evil.”

Photo: Frankieleon

Don't Lose One Moment of Time

Advice to Young Converts - Jonathan EdwardsCurrently I am taking some high school guys through the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.  Each Friday we gather together in my office and talk about the resolutions we had read and meditated on the week prior.  We are going at a slow pace – last time we read the first six resolutions, and this week we will only do four – but we are finding that this is the most beneficial way to read through such spiritually nourishing material.

This past week we read through resolutions 1-6.  What a blessing to see Jonathan Edwards’ diligence and passion for the glory of God.  One particular Resolution that was especially convicting was #5.  Edwards writes,

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

The context of the previous resolutions gives evidence that Edwards considered “that which tends to the glory of God” (#4), the good of mankind, and his own personal good (#1) to be his definition of ‘ most profitable.’  The resolution itself is simply an application of Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time for the days are evil.”

There are two things that are convicting about Edwards’ resolution: 1) he was diligent not to waste time and 2) he gauged the use of his time by whether or not it was used in the most profitable way.  There are many things I can do in order to not waste time, and many that are profitable; but the question is: is it the most profitable thing I could be doing at that time?  More specifically, does it tend toward the glory of God, the benefit of others and promote my own personal good?

Time is precious;  let’s follow the example of Jonathan Edwards and not waste it, but use it well, so that we might someday hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Have a Productive Day Off

What is a day off?  Well, usually, it is a day where we don’t go to work.  Usually, it is a day where we decide what we are going to do, rather than laboring over things that are, for the most part, obligatory.  Usually a day off is a day of freedom.  Or is it?

What can tend to happen with a day off is that it can often times be wasted-wasted by undisciplined TV watching and aimless browsing of the internet.   But why does this happen?  Most of the time, it is because we have nothing to do.  There are no assignments that are due the next day; there are no emails that must be responded to immediately; there are no structured times for meetings, phone conferences, and other responsibilities that our jobs entail.  Some kind of productivity (unless you are really lazy) is almost a given if you have a reasonable amount of work to do at your job. On the other hand, a day off can be viewed as a day that is inherently without responsibility and structure.  This, I think, is the problem.

I experienced this problem last week.  I had a day off.  My days off are Thursday and Saturday, and my wife is at work on Thursday so I had the day to myself.  There were a few things that I needed to attend to: laundry, oil change, writing a blog, and a personal phone call.  Plus, I had planned to lift weights sometime that day, so I fit that in toward the end of the day.

However, there were massive chunks of time that I did, well, a whole lot of nothing.  In the morning, after I had the oil changed in my car, I sat down to write a blog.  After the blog was finished I started to peruse the internet.  What started as a harmless few minutes of checking the news on my Google home page, turned into a couple hours of touring the internet: reading blogs, looking into news article, etc.  Some of it was helpful, a lot of it was a waste of time.

After I wasted a solid wedge of time, I thought that I should probably do something productive, so I started the laundry.  Needless to say, however, after the laundry was taken care of, I found myself with little to do; so I meandered back up to the computer: checking the news, reading blogs, etc.

Well, all that free time certainly did not satisfy like I thought it would.  After wasting more than a couple hours on the internet, I felt drained, frustrated, and burdened with the feeling that I had wasted the Lord’s time.  However, the more I pondered my negligence, the more the solution became clear.  I had forgot one small (yet tremendously helpful) little detail: I forgot to make a plan.

Make a plan?  What are you talking about, Derek?  I thought we were supposed to relax on our day off?  We are.  But relaxation doesn’t necessarily mean that we are supposed to chuck all sense of structure and healthy productivity.  In fact, the most relaxing and refreshing days I experience are when I plan how I am going to rest and relax.

For example, if I could go back and redo last Thursday, I would have made a list that would have looked somewhat like this:

1. Have oil changed (back at 8:30am)

2. Write blog (8:30-9:30am)

3. Do Laundry (start at 9:30am)

4. Clean study (during laundry until 10:30)

5. Clean desk and file articles (10:30-11:30am)

6. Eat lunch and watch some of ‘Two Towers’ (11:30-12:30pm)

7. Finish Laundry (12:30-1:00pm)

8. Work on Book Catalog (1:00-2:00pm)

9. Lift weights (2:00-3:00pm)

10. Talk to PJ on the phone (3:00-4:00pm)

11. Read “No Place for Truth” by David Wells (until Amy gets home)

Notice that I scheduled a long, leisurely lunch, coupled with some good ol’ Lord of the Rings.  I even scheduled a fun project that I have been working on: my book catalog.  Far from being restrictive, approaching days off like this is not only productive, it proves to be more refreshing at the end of the day than merely flipping channels and nudging the mouse around.  I do things I enjoy; I do things that I need to do.  But things are accomplished and I trust that this pleases the Lord more than purposless meandering through the day.

So, make a list.  Plan your day off.  And, if you do want some time to read the news, surf some blogs, etc., schedule time for that, and stick to the schedule.  This, I believe, is a good way to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16).