Should Following Jesus Be This Comfortable?

FearGodDuring my time studying the Bible I was drawn to the account of King Saul in 1Samuel 15.  Samuel the prophet tells Saul a specific instruction from the Lord :

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.  Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. 1Samuel 15:3

Saul gathers the men, attacks the Amalekites but spares the king of the Amalekites as well as the best sheep and cattle, fat calves and lambs “everything that was good”. Anything that was weak they destroyed, but kept all of the good animals.  (1Samuel 15:9)

The Lord was angered and sends Samuel back to Saul to find out what happened,  which King Saul says:

“The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” 1Samuel 15:13)

WHAT?!  I look at that and think how deceived Saul was and how misguided his decision to do almost the opposite of what the Lord told him to do.  I can almost hear Saul, in a proud voice say that he had carried out the Lord’s instructions.  However he has missed the mark! Samuel tells him of his sin, to which Sauls eventual response is

I was afraid of the men, and so I gave in to them. 1Samuel 15:24

Fear of man crept in and derailed the Lord’s plan and it cost Saul his kingship and blessing from God.  During the battle Saul thought he hit the bullseye of God’s plan.  He was comfortable and deceived.

This account is not far off of the fear of man that is prevalent in my own life.  Too often I am reminded of the commands of God, or hear a specific prompting from God but choose to modify or ignore Him or modify His prompting to remain comfortable.

I chose not to share the Gospel with the auto parts clerk whose life seemed to be in shambles. I encouraged her, but did not share that there was hope in a life with Jesus and left the store with the part I needed, but left her missing the greatest joy in life. How much do you have to hate someone not to share the love of Christ with them? (…love your neighbor as yourself – Leviticus 19:18)

I chose not to help the homeless men this month who were encamping under the bridge again in downtown South Bend during the summer.  I thought that our ministry over the winter was good enough. How easy it is for me to think I’ve hit the bullseye in God’s plan yet miss the mark.  (For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… Matthew 25:35)

Those were just two recent examples highlighting my fear of man instead living out of a fear of the Lord.  I was concerned that others in the auto-parts store might be bothered and I was concerned about my own time and my families time so I chose to be comfortable.  As I share this I have this thought:

“Should following Jesus be this comfortable?”

It’s time to re-evaluate my (our) priorities and my (our) focus. Where in the Bible does it say that following God’s plan isn’t going to hurt and be uncomfortable? Paul’s answer to this is pretty clear:

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11:24-28)

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Advanced Calendaring – How to Manage a Complex Calendar

FrustrationYou likely have heard it a million times, and maybe even repeat it daily – “There’s a lot going on”.  In a world of work commitments, personal appointments, keeping track of where the kids need to be, trying to schedule some fun in your life and working on planning in a complex world, having some type of calendaring system is critical.  I’ve spent a few years developing my “system”.

Individuals typically have a work calendar and a personal calendar, but I’ve found that creating multiple calendars to help organize and plan are a key to success.  My office uses Office365 and Outlook for it’s calendar and I use Google Calendar for all other needs.  In total I have 5 calendars and hers is how I break them down.

Calendar #1 – Outlook Work Calendar – I use this for work appointments and it is a requirement so my coworkers can seamlessly busy search my calendar.

Calendars #2-5 are powered by Google Calendar from my personal account.

Calendar #2 -Personal calendar – This calendar lists all personal appointments that I need to be at or birthdays that I should remember.

Calendar #3 – Prayer calendar – This lists all major prayer requests and my daily “all day” repeating prayer categories.  If someone says they have a doctors appointment at 3pm on Monday I enter it into this calendar and pray at that specific time.  For every day I have a prayer theme to ensure I am praying for my teams and various aspects of the church regularly.

Calendar #4 – Planning calendar – This is the calendar that I use to log any major anchor event that will require extra planning for that day.  Any item in this calendar is listed in the “all day” category that shows at the top of the calendar.  There are no scheduled events for this calendar.  The scheduled events that go with these items are listed in my work calendar.

Calendar #5 – Family Fun calendar – Any event that we might attend at a whim is on this calendar.  Car shows, movie release date that we learn about, parades, fireworks, fairs, etc. are entered.  We may not go to them, but it is handy to have at a glance if we just want to run to an event.

I use Fantastical to manage all of my calendars into a single view that is color coded.  Here is a sample screen shot of Fantastical with my calendar setup:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 9.04.00 PM

My Application Mix 2017 Update

UnknownIt has been a year since I posted my application mix 2016 and it is time for a refresh.  I am asked frequently what applications I use to stay productive and organized.  Here is my 2017 application mix:

Evernote Premium – This continues to be the go-to application for all note taking needs.    I have thousands and thousands of notes and use this application regularly.  I’ve organized all of my folders, shortcuts and haven’t changed my note taking process in years.  This is definitely still worth the premium subscription cost.

Fantastical – This also has not changed since my 2016 application mix listing.  I have multiple calendars I use for planning and organization and there just isn’t another calendar app that creates the flexibility I require.  I have a main “work” calendar, a personal calendar, a planning calendar, a “family fun” calendar that lists all of the festivals and events near us and a prayer calendar.  All of these are color coded and rolled up into a since weekly fantastical view.  There just isn’t another application that works this well for my complex calendar needs.

Olive Tree Bible Software – Again I’ve not changed my electronic bible software and my previous investment in books is used regularly.  Over the last year I did request that all of my notes and highlights be reset so I could “restart” my note and highlighting in my electronic version of the Bible through this software.

Things 3 – This was a substantial change from 2016.  I think I have tried almost all of the major brands of task management systems, including paper, and have landed on the simplicity of Things 3.  I was not sure it would keep up with the requirements I have for a task management system, but the simplicity is deceiving as there is a powerful engine behind it that allows for tagging, searching, categorizing, etc.  It is well worth the price!  Highly recommended!

DayOne – Yes I realize they changed their pricing model to subscription based.  Yes I realize it can be expensive, but in my opinion it is entirely worth it.  I would easily fork out $50/year in paper journals and having the flexibility to quickly post a picture and a journal entry is worth it.  It is BY FAR the easiest journaling workflow that I’ve come across and it sits separate from all other apps, which in my opinion is a must.  I’ve tried using Evernote for personal journaling, but I find myself getting distracted and having the formatting tools available is a huge plus.

I continue to use Office365 and heavily rely on Onedrive.  They are almost “requirements” for what I do daily.