Monday, August 24, 2015

30 things that might help you finish strong

What gives me the most hope every day is God's grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.

'Charisma News previously reported that 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don't have a close friend.'

I read an article (from which the second quote above comes) about a pastor I respected who left his wife recently and it, yet again, made me see the need for mercy and grace if  we are to complete the race that lies before each one of us. I will never forget reading Steve Farrar's life changing words in Finishing Strong that if you're a Christian and you think that could never happen to you then you are precisely the person it is likely to happen to. If it already has- there is still grace and hope. I am not sure I have any silver bullet for how to stay on the road but here is a not very comprehensive list of things things that I've learnt thus far about how to cultivate a healthy soul:

1. Remember it relies on God and not you. We have been singing the words 'Sovereign over us' all year and I hope they are getting into our DNA.

2. Read the Bible for yourself every day. Phil Moore's BiOY tweets are blessing me. Do watch 'Coffee with God' again and maybe buy the new NIV Study Bible as new kit can sometimes kick start a flagging habit.

3. Have a few people in your life who you can be real and share things with and be in a Community Group.

4. If there is an order for things it's this: God, marriage, kids, work, everything else. Notice where work comes on the list. Someone in our church was really blessed recently reading Keller's book about work called 'Every Good Endeavour'

5. Fly fish.

6. Keep reading (listening to) books and the list of those that can bless, grow and encourage you will never exhaust. I found a new list only today.

7. Cultivate the habit of regular time with God. Mine is called 'Going to the wilderness' which is a place I go regularly and have done for 20 years with my Bible, journal, a book or two, some music where I walk, pray, listen, write and think. Someone in our church is going for the first time and I think this resource might be a help to them.

8. Eat curry.

9. Keep listening to good and challenging teaching. There is lots of it around- just find some (and a variety) and sprinkle your heart with it.

10. Try not to worry about your kids. Piper has some advice on this one.

11. By all means have people who inspire, teach and encourage but always remember God has called you and wants you to be you not ....(fill in the blank of the person, church, pastor, friend or work colleague you are subconsciously trying to emulate  or compete with)

12. Remember it's not what you do that matters it's who you are. I'm still reading 'A Road to Character' and may well not get through it this year but its got some helpful truths to impart.

13. Be brave and never forget you have an enemy. I've been watching the very poorly reviewed and ridiculous film Troy and a line in this clip has really stuck with me.

14. Tribes are imperfect things but work out which one your part of and do what you can to serve and encourage it. Try not to expend energy dissing everyone else's or bigging up yours. There are 12 and they all have good bits and bad bits.

15. Tell stories. We are all part of a story and are writing them with our lives so take time out to tell bits of yours to encourage others.

16. Two sets of words that I constantly return to in the Bible: a. 'Follow me b. 'But now'

17. Read though Romans with a pen in your hand at least once a year.

18. Take your day off and 'Date your wife'

19. Learn how to make chutney

20. Personality types are all very well but never forget you're the child of a king.

21. It may not be 'Men on Mountains' but if you can come up with a better reason for why I'm still standing then do let me know.

22. No one cares how big/trendy/ sound/ visionary/ happening/ respected/growing/ cool and radical your church is. It's a church and there a lots of them. Join one, love it, give to it, pray for it, encourage whoever leads it and pour yourself out for those who are part of it until Jesus returns. Nothing will prevail against it and that's because the church is not yours it's Jesus' and it's the only thing that's going to last.

23. Listen to this talk once with your husband or wife or friend and reflect on it. If you are are single (which I was for 45 years)  this talk is a help.

24. Start a journal and this book might help get you started.

25. Make love to your wife/husband

26. Give some money away and open a bank account to enable you to do it (and get the tax back).

27. The line from this talk that stuck with me was 'What amazes me is old people who are still buying things. What's the point?'

28. Have a worship album on the go  and a song (below) and read an un-challenging novel.

29. Sometimes I order a book that I know will have a nugget or two that could have a lasting impact on me but will also have things in it that make me shout 'Nooooooooooooo'.

30. Laugh and, whatever you do, don't take yourself too seriously.

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