Reset: Reduce by Planning and Keeping Routine

Reset-DMurray-2017We continue to consider the helpful thoughts of Dr. David Murray in his newly published book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (Crossway, 2017).

Having us take the “car” of our lives into “Repair Bay 7” (remember, the author is writing mainly with men in view) Murray points us to the need to reduce the stress and busyness  of our lives by reducing our work and schedules.

There are many helpful thoughts in this chapter, but here are a few. The first involves planning:

It’s not enough to have a purpose [the previous point]. We also need plans; we have to figure out the steps we need to take to get to our goals. If we want to strengthen our marriages, what steps will accomplish that? If we want to visit all the seniors in our congregations, how many a week will we visit, what time in the week will we do it, and where will we record progress? If we want to have more time with our teenage sons, where, when, and how will we do this? It’s not going to happen without a plan. That’s why I make sure that my calendar has time set aside each week for advancing my life purposes. If it’s not on there, it’s not going to happen. If it’s not on there, I’m clearly not serious about accomplishing it.

Scheduling also helps us stop overpromising to ourselves or others. Overpromising is the fatal result of an overoptimistic view of our abilities plus an unrealistic estimate of our available time plus a well-intentioned desire to please other people. The result is megastress in the one making the promises and usually huge disappointment in the ones receiving the promises [pp.131-32].

The second thought involves keeping a routine:

‘Tell me your daily routine.’

Uh, I don’t have one. Every day is different.’

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation with burned-out pastors and depressed Christians. What came first – the depression or the chaos – is sometimes difficult to trace, but they seem to go together, each one feeding off the other.

That’s why one of the first things I do is to get them to draw up and commit to a basic routine of sleeping, worshiping, eating, working, studying, and so on. God is a God of order, not of confusion (1 Cor.14:33), and as his created image-bearers, we glorify him – and feel much happier – when we live regular, orderly lives. He made our world and us in such a way that we flourish when our lives are characterized by a basic rhythm and regularity. That’s why those who make the most progress toward their lives goals are those who work on them at the same time each day or week. That’s also why those who have the most routine in their lives are healthier and happier [p.133].

Now Batting: 14 New Baseball Books – The New York Times

Yes, it is the opening week of the Major League baseball season (in the U.S.)! And the now universally lovable winners – World Series champion Chicago Cubs – are set to defend their title (last night’s 2-1 game was a model victory – great pitching, superb defense, and timely hitting!)!

And it is Spring break week. So, we are going to have a mid-week breather from our usual fare and serve you the great American pastime – in books!

Just in time for the start of the season, The New York Times served up a menu of fourteen new baseball books, one of which is about the surprising turn-around of the Cubbies, featured at the beginning of this article by Daniel Gold. Whether that title becomes my summer baseball read or not (and there are several others out there on the Cubs’ amazing 2016 season, as you might guess, including some wonderful photo books),  there are good-looking baseball books here for all the die-hard fans.

Check out the books by browsing the article by Gold, the opening paragraph of which I quote below (click on the link with the image above for the full article and all the books).

Happy Spring! Whatever your hometown team is, have a great season! And yes, of course, Go Cubbies!

It happens every spring. It’s time to play ball, so publishers fill out a new lineup card of biographies, team histories and other baseball scholarship. This season must begin by acknowledging the surreality that after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are again World Series champions. “The Plan” (Triumph, $24.95), by David Kaplan, is a chronicle of the project to turn “one of the worst organizations in baseball” into “a dynasty in the making.” Kaplan starts with the 2009 purchase of the franchise by Tom Ricketts, and the subsequent wooing of Theo Epstein, the general manager behind two titles for the formerly cursed Boston Red Sox. Chicago’s farm system is stocked and Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays manager, is signed ahead of the 2015 season. Add youngsters like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, and free agents like Jon Lester, and a long-losing club is finally No. 1. There’s too much front-office esoterica — one appendix lists clauses from rooftop-seating contracts for buildings around Wrigley Field — but Cubs fans won’t mind.

Published in: on April 5, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

large_dad-enough-to-sing-uqaj3si9This fine post by David Mathis about the important place of singing in the home – especially by fathers! – struck a wonderful chord (pun intended) with me this week.

As you may know, I am a singing father (as well as husband and church member). I sing in two men’s groups, the Hope Heralds and the Voices of Victory, and I sing every Lord’s Day in worship. And, yes, I do sing in my home, formally (for quartet practice) and informally (including in the shower and on my mower). I sing alone, and sing with family and fellow saints (which I much prefer). I love to sing. And I love singing a variety of music.

Maybe because I grew up in a singing family. No doubt that was a strong influence on me. So too the Christian schools I attended, where singing was a regular part of classroom as well as in the choirs in later years. Without question, the congregational singing in the churches I have been a part of has increased my love of singing. But it all starts in the home.

I don’t think my experience is different from many of yours. But we so take for granted the gift of music and the ability to sing, especially as Christians. And I do not doubt that we sell short the influence of the father in the home when it comes to singing.

And that’s where this article can help us, dads (and husbands). Mathis begins this way:

I want my sons to grow up believing that a grown man singing is one of the most natural sounds in the world.

It doesn’t have to be great singing. I’m no accomplished vocalist. Yet I don’t want my boys — or my daughter, for that matter — to ever think it’s strange for men to sing. Rather, it’s strange, and sad, when men don’t sing.

To my fellow dads, I’d love for you to consider with me what it might mean to put your fathering to song. What small but significant steps might you take toward making your home a more tangible place of happiness?

And goes on to give two main reasons why we “dadly” singing is good in the home (and outside of it too):

First,

When Daddy sings, the home is happier. Singing is the sound of joy in God. It is joy in God made audible. Singing around the house, in the car, and as we go through life fills the air with joy, and helps to establish a family fellowship of warmth, rather than coldness. Dads who are man enough to sing contribute in significant measure to making theirs a happy home.

And then second,

But not only do we make our homes happier through song. When Daddy sings, he inspires the hearts of his children to grow and flourish, not just their minds and bodies. As the sound of joy, song is a language of the heart. Filling life with music and song is a way to encourage and cultivate the heart, rather than suppress it.

So, how about it, men. Are we dad enough to sing? Read the rest of Mathis’ article to be further encouraged to sing in your home.

Source: Dad Enough to Sing | Desiring God

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Published in: on September 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM  Leave a Comment  

Note to Self: Love Your Wife

Sunday night in Faith PRC (my home church) Rev.C. Haak (Georgetown PRC) preached a powerful sermon from Prov.5:15-21 under the theme “Satisfied in One’s Own Marriage.” Whether you are married or not, you ought to listen to that sermon (Keep in mind that every believer is married to Jesus Christ and ought to learn over and over again how He loves and cares for His bride).

But especially if you are a husband, and especially if you are tempted to make excuses not to love your wife and begin to set your eyes, heart, and hands on a “strange woman”, listen to this sermon. And then listen to it again. And then again, from time to time. And let the Word sink into your soul and drive you to seek your satisfaction ONLY in the woman God gave you. That’s the way of wisdom, the wisdom of your Husband Jesus Christ. And that is the way of holiness and, therefore, of happiness.

Note-to-self-ThornIn that connection, the next chapter in Joe Thorn’s book is “Love Your Wife.” I post that too for your edification – and mine.

Begin by reading Eph.5:25-27 and praying about this calling.

Dear Self,

It is your calling and privilege to model Christ as husband to your wife through sacrifice and service. You are familiar enough with this passage to quote it and talk about it, but what counts is living it. Don’t you know Jesus? Haven’t you learned from him what love, sacrifice, and service look like? If so, you should be ready and eager to demonstrate this to your wife, because grace gives birth to grace. Because you know and follow Jesus, you are ready to truly love your wife.

That doesn’t mean love is easy. It isn’t This is why it must be commanded and why you must be reminded. And consider this calling. You must not only have warm affection for your wife, you must love her as Christ loves the church. This is sacrificial love – one that denies self and seeks the good of the bride.

…You should seek to be the brightest representation of Jesus she sees, as you represent Christ as Savior and servant to her. That would look like seeking her out when you get home from work, instead of seeking solace for yourself. It means affirming her calling and gifts, listening to her, speaking words of encouragement to her, and at all times working for her good. Jesus loves you this way, and in like manner you are called to love your wife.

Taken from Chap.16 “Love Your Wife” (found in Part Two, “The Gospel and Others”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.69-70.

 

Books That Influenced Abraham Lincoln | The Art of Manliness

While many of America’s presidents came from prominent, educated homes, one of our most famous — Abraham Lincoln — did not. So he became consummate autodidact.

Source: Books That Influenced Abraham Lincoln | The Art of Manliness

ALincoln-1It has been sometime since we last brought your attention to this fascinating series from “The Art of Manliness.” So on this Thursday morning we point you to the latest installment – on the reading habits and library of Abraham Lincoln.

Below are the opening paragraphs of the article; for the rest, visit the AOM link above.

Welcome back to our series on the libraries of great men. The eminent men of history were often voracious readers and their own philosophy represents a distillation of all the great works they fed into their minds. This series seeks to trace the stream of their thinking back to the source. For, as David Leach, a now retired business executive put it: “Don’t follow your mentors; follow your mentors’ mentors.”

While many of America’s presidents came from prominent, educated homes, one of our most famous — Abraham Lincoln — did not. Growing up in the backwoods of Kentucky and then Indiana, Lincoln rarely enjoyed the privilege of full-time schooling. His formal education, in his own words, came “by littles,” “did not amount to one year,” and was thoroughly “defective.”

And yet Honest Abe rose in society to become a shop owner, lawyer, and of course, President of the United States. How did he do this without much in the way of formal education?

He taught himself, becoming the consummate autodidact.

End of Father’s Day Thoughts

FathersDay-2015I saw this quote on one the PRC bulletins today and thought I would end this Father’s Day with these words from one of our pastors. May they serve to remind us fathers of the influence we have on our sons and daughters. May we be men who pray for the grace to so prepare them for life in God’s church and kingdom.

The future elders, pastors, deacons, mothers, leaders of the people of God are your children. Our calling is to equip them, to equip them mentally, spiritually, in every department of their life.

You see, a father is much more than just getting a card on Father’s Day and getting a hug from your kid.

You have been entrusted with the nurture of God’s children. One day that little boy will be someone’s husband.

One day that little girl is going to be someone’s wife. You must nurture them that they may stand in this world strongly confessing, “God is my God,” and living to the glory of God in all that they do.

Whose task is that? That is your task, father. …

Instruct your son in what he is to be, as a man. The world is also going to try to teach your son what a man is. …Behind the advertising and TV is a philosophy, a teaching. Today the definition of a man is: how many women can he fornicate with? Or his car – he makes all the girls take a second look as he passes by? Fathers, you must instruct him that that is not a man. That is a vain show. You must instruct him that a man of God has integrity and honesty and is virtuous and faithful.

~ Rev. Carl Haak (Pastor of Georgetown PRC, Hudsonville, MI)

Published in: on June 21, 2015 at 10:58 PM  Leave a Comment  

Memories of Grundy Center (Iowa) Library – John J. Timmerman

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanContinuing some readings in John J. Timmerman’s “semi-autobiography”, Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987),  I read another chapter last evening. “Out of the Shell” describes Timmerman’s years in Grundy Center, Iowa (1916-20), when his father (CRC minister) took a call to begin a preparatory school (seminary) to train pastors to serve in Classis Ostfriesland.

This was another fascinating description of his early life among the Germans and Dutch (a few) in this community (as well as the Scotch and Irish). One of the paragraphs that intrigued me – and which I post here – is his reference to the Grundy Center library and the books and magazines to which he was exposed as a young boy. You will be able to judge rather quickly why this section of the chapter grabbed my attention and made me smile – but also frown with sadness (keep reading!).

The Grundy Center library was a good one for a town of its size, especially in two respects: an abundance of children’s books and a gracious, unforgettable librarian, Mrs. Holden. She knew books boys would like, and in my world at least, fortunately unfamiliar with radio and television, books were the frigate to take me lands away. I fought the Indians in Altsheler’s fine boys’ books [so have I!], the British redcoats in Tomlinson’s stories, lived in the woods with E.T. Seton’s superb “Rolfe in the Woods” and “The Young Savages”, had fun with “Penrod and Sam” by Tarkington, and, best of all, romped with “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.”

My parents also gave me books, the “Rover Boys” series, one after the other. These books and the excellent boys’ magazines of the time, “St. Nicholas Magazine”, which was not a Christmas magazine, “Boy’s Life,” and “American Boy”, brought a stir of adventure into my boyhood, where games, a rare fire, a runaway horse, or the drama of disease and death were about the only excitement around. These were the magazines of high quality and published stories by gifted authors, some of them famous in American literature.

The stories were rooted in human experience and human history, from drama in a small town to adventures in the forest, the frontier, the windswept coast, the buffeted ships, and the endless plains. The central characters were usually youngsters who dramatized virtues such as honesty, courage, loyalty, generosity, and simple decency in a harsh world. They were moral without sentimental stuffing and pompous lessons.  They were healthy books. When I think of the sexually sick world that I, as well as many little children, now see on the television screen, I am enraged at what our culture has done to the innocence a child deserves and needs (14-15).

New Hope Heralds CD – 2014 Season

HH2014CS-frontIn the past week the new Hope Heralds 2014 season CD was released, with Hope Heralds members being the first to receive it. My wife and I had it playing already in our car this past weekend, and I must say – with some bias – it is spectacular! We had a wonderful collection of songs again this year – from familiar psalms and hymns to some old and new “classics”.

 

For those unfamiliar with the Hope Heralds, the group is a men’s chorus made up mostly of Protestant Reformed brothers who enjoy singing together. Our season is typically from May to September, withe the summer months spent ministering God’s Word through song

The theme of this year’s CD is taken from one of the  songs – “By Mercy Made Holy” (“Let It Be Said of Us”). I have scanned the cover and back, so that you may see the title and the song selections (click on the images to enlarge).

HH2014CD-back

If you would like to obtain a copy (a bargain at $10!), you may do so through the Hope Heralds’ Facebook page (linked above), or by contacting Dan Van Dyke (director) or Karen Daling (accompanist) at Heritage Christian School. There are also copies at HCS and at the PRC Seminary, if you wish to stop by and pick one up. ‘Tis the season of giving – why not purchase one for a friend or family member as well?

No, I do not receive any royalties for this promotion. I just love spreading news of good music. Buy one, and you will understand why. 🙂

*P.S. If you wish to watch and listen to a preview of the professionally-recorded CD (from our live concert in September), visit Nick Kleyn’s YouTube channel.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

holding handsMen, this is for you (Wives, you may read this and pray that we take this to heart.) – from one man to another. From a fellow husband (R.C. Sproul, Jr.) who lost his beloved two years ago.

If this doesn’t move (convict!) you to think about one small but significant way to show our wives we love them, then something’s wrong – with us. And let’s admit, we don’t do this enough. But we can learn. Before it’s too late. So, be brave and manly – and take her hand from time to time.

Read on, but here’s how it starts:

That is likely my deepest regret, that I did not hold her hand more.

It’s not, of course, that I never held her hand. It is likely, however, that I didn’t as often as she would have liked. Holding her hand communicates to her in a simple yet profound way that we are connected. Taking her hand tells her, “I am grateful that we are one flesh.” Taking her hand tells me, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” It is a liturgy, an ordinary habit of remembrance to see more clearly the extraordinary reality of two being made one. It would have, even in the midst of a disagreement, or moments of struggle, communicated, “We’re going to go through this together. I will not let go.”

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Word Wednesday – Muscle (Be a Mousy Man!)

UnfortunateEnglishLet’s return to the book Unfortunate English: The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use (Bill Brohaugh, Writer’s Digest, 2006) for our Word Wednesday feature (See this post for our last one from this book.). The next section (after the food one) is about “words of the birds and the beasts” and titled “I am not an animal! I am an etymologist!” And yes, it is filled with lots of fun associations between words origins and animals.

This is how Brohaugh introduces us to this section:

Animals are by technical definition living things that move. Insects, amoebas, orangutans. Words are, in a sense, themselves animals. They are figuratively living things. They feed off one another, and they grow. And as we’ve seen, they move about.

Some words are even born of animals. At their origins are creatures of the Earth, though we no longer hear them bark or moo.

Here, then, is a petting zoo of words that, true to their animal origins, have moved from one meaning to another (p.142-43).

His third entry in this section is the common word “muscle”, and it is our featured word today. And no, muscle is not derived from the crustacean by that name (but spelled quite differently), but from the wee (mighty?!) mouse. For “muscle” literally means “little mouse”. And here is how Brohaugh describes this word’s origin for all you etymologists out there:

Though mice are not generally known for their muscles, muscles are somewhat known for their mice. Etymologically speaking, that is.

We’ve all heard the cliche’ ‘rippling muscles,’ and indeed in certain types of muscular action we can see movement underneath the skin. There’s an earthy poetry in noticing, in early observations of the body, that these ripples look a little like a mouse scooting around beneath the skin. Thus, the cause of the ripples was referred to as a ‘little mouse’ – in Latin, a musculus, the diminutive form os mus, or ‘mouse.’ That meaning was well in place in Latin by the time it was adapted into Late Middle English.

(Kind of makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it?)

So, in answering the question, ‘Are you a man or a mouse?’ our friends the bodybuilders might actually opt for the latter (pp.145-46).