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Dissent from the Kingdom of Noise

redeeming your time Sep 27, 2021

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)

Now more than ever, we are living in what C.S. Lewis’s devil Screwtape called “the Kingdom of Noise.” And I’m not just referring to the obvious increase in external noise created by nonstop news, entertainment, and the buzzing of the devices in our pockets and purses. I’m primarily referring to what all that external noise creates—namely internal noise that blocks our ability to be silent and reflective.

Our lack of solitude stands in stark contrast to the way of Jesus. The number of times the gospels mention Jesus withdrawing to “a solitary place” is staggering. In the third gospel alone, Luke mentions Jesus’s love of “lonely places” three times in just one and a half chapters (see Luke 4:42, 5:15,...

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Why the worst songs get stuck in your head

redeeming your time Sep 20, 2021

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your  ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)

Why is it that the worst songs are some of the hardest to get out of our heads? Is it because they’re uniquely catchy? That might be part of it. But there’s actually a scientific answer to this question. 

Dr. Roy Baumeister explains that if you “listen to a randomly chosen song and shut it off halfway through…the song is likely to run through your mind at odd intervals. If you get to the end of the song, the mind checks it off, so to speak. If you stop it in the middle, however, the mind treats the song as unfinished business….And that’s why this kind of ear worm is so often an awful tune rather than a pleasant one. We’re more likely to turn off the bad one in midsong, so it’s the one that returns to haunt us.”

Neurologists will...

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The 7 Habits of Jesus Christ

redeeming your time Sep 13, 2021

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

“I’m swamped.” I’ve said it, you’ve said it, we’ve all said it at one overwhelmed point or another.

The Bible tells us that Jesus’s disciples were once “swamped” in a different way. As they sailed across the Sea of Galilee “a squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger” (Luke 8:23). You know the rest of the story: Jesus “got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm” (Luke 8:24).

This passage perfectly illustrates the core premise of this devotional series—namely that the solution to the disciples being swamped by the wind and waves is the exact same solution to our being swamped by our to-do lists and hurried schedules. The solution is found in...

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Reading the Gospels as Biographies

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

I ended last week’s devotional with a question: If the gospel compels us to “redeem our time” (see Ephesians 5:16), where can we look for practical wisdom as to how to manage our time well? 

That question brings us to the fifth and final truth of this series: By studying the life of Christ, we can know how God would manage his time.

I know, this is a wild idea, so give me a minute to unpack it.

John 1:14 tells us that God, the author of time, “became flesh” in the person of Jesus Christ. During his time on earth, Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, meaning that he experienced the same day-to-day challenges as other mortals. He had a business to run, a mother and father to care for, hunger to manage, and the need for sleep. Oh yeah, and he faced the same twenty-four-hour time...

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“A Christian is something before they do anything.”

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored three biblical truths about time and productivity:

  • Truth #1: Our longing for timelessness is good and God-given
  • Truth #2: Sin has ensured we will all die with unfinished symphonies
  • Truth #3: God will finish the work we leave unfinished

But here’s the thing: Even though God doesn’t need us to be productive (see Truth #3), we often need ourselves to be productive in order to feel a sense of self-worth. 

So before we go any further, I want you to stop and let this truth sink in: The gospel frees us from the need to be productive. 

The good news of the gospel is that “while we were...

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Why God Doesn’t Need You to Finish Your To-Do List

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1, 5)

Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen that 1) our longing for timelessness is good and God-given, but that 2) sin has ensured we will all die with “unfinished symphonies.”

Where’s the hope? Our hope is found in Jesus Christ walking out of the tomb that first Easter morning with a redeemed body that could not be destroyed again. The resurrection was Jesus’s way of declaring that our longing for immortality has been right all along and that through him, we too can experience eternal life. 

But Easter wasn’t just the beginning of eternal life. Easter marked the inauguration of God’s eternal kingdom...

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The Truth About Our Never-Ending To-Do Lists

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

We’re in a series exploring 5 biblical truths about time and productivity. Last week, we saw Truth #1: That our longing for timelessness is good and God-given. Today’s passage reveals Truth #2: That while we still long for timelessness, sin has ensured we will all die with unfinished work.

When sin entered the world, death was ushered in alongside it. Human beings, who were created to be immortal, became mortal. Work, which was...

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5 Biblical Truths About Time and Productivity

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Deep in our bones, we know that we were created to live forever. It’s why we are drawn to stories like Narnia and Frozen in which death is ultimately a lie.

But we don’t just long to live forever, we also long to be productive forever. Now, we don’t feel like this every day. Sin has made work and our efforts to be productive difficult. But something in our souls (and God’s Word) shows us that work was meant to be very good (see Genesis 1 and 2).

I think we have all caught glimpses of what work must have been like prior to the Fall. You deliver a killer sales pitch and feel completely in your element. Or finish writing a great chapter and can’t wait to share it with your spouse. Or hammer the last nail into a table and step...

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3 ways to hustle less and trust more

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

As we’ve seen over the past few weeks, trusting is the difficult yet simple act of recognizing that we are not responsible for producing results through our work—God is. 

Once we understand that, it is certainly right to “hustle,” to, as the Apostle Paul said, “strenuously contend with all the energy” we have for the glory of God and the good of others (see Colossians 1:29).

The tension between trusting and hustling isn’t meant to be resolved. It is meant to be embraced. How do you know if you are embracing that tension well? I’d argue that the best indicator is whether or not you can rest.

Are you unwilling to close your laptop or stop checking email late into the night? Are...

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The absurdity of “letting go and letting God”

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

This verse is one of the most frequently quoted by proponents of the “Let go and let God” philosophy of life. But the context of this verse completely undermines this thinking.

The Israelites are standing at the edge of the Red Sea about to be obliterated by the Egyptians who are rushing in to take God’s people back into slavery. That’s when Moses utters the words of Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Watch what happens next: “Then the Lord said to Moses…Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16).

So, immediately after Moses essentially says, “Let go and let God, trust him and be still,” God says, “Move on,” get going, the Egyptians are about to destroy...

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