Aim for Heaven

What guides your life? If you’re like me, you want to glorify God in every area of your life and live life to the fullest. We get around 70 years (80 years if we’re blessed) on this planet (Ps 90:10-12). That may sound like a great deal of time, but when you consider that’s only 70 or 80 revolutions around the sun. Things get real, quick. So, how we manage our time is important.

“But above all pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33

To manage our time, we need to set goals. Goals give us a NorthStar to focus our efforts. We live in a world with more opportunities than ever before. Which translates to more distractions than ever before. How can we stay focused? Is there a principle given to guide our goals? I believe so. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave a principle when he said, “But above all pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NET, Mt 6:33). God’s kingdom and righteousness are the filter we should use to narrow our goals. Remember, we only have so many trips around the sun.

Goals give us a NorthStar to focus our efforts.

Ask yourself, how is this goal going to help you draw closer to God? Sometimes the answer will be obvious. For example, it’s easy to see, the goal of reading your Bible consistently will help your relationship with God. But what about career goals? It may not be as clear, but through prayer, and counsel from the Scriptures, God will lead you. He promises too.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.

C.S. Lewis

The sooner we realize God has not called us to do everything that comes our way, we’ll be much better off. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” Set God-glorifying goals and take a step of faith. The clock is ticking.

Ask yourself, how is this goal going to help you draw closer to God?

I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments. Subscribe to get updated on new posts.

A Full Day is Better

Pastor, are you busy or do you have a full schedule? I can’t remember where I came across the idea, but there is a difference between the two. Or at least there is a distinction between how I perceive them and how others received them. A full day is better than a busy schedule. Let me explain.

If I think of my schedule as busy, my cheeks flush, and my neck muscles tighten. The idea of busyness, in my mind, brings feelings of being overwhelmed by an onslaught of tasks with little chance of productivity. A busy day is a day where I feel like Lucy in the chocolate candy factory. No matter how fast I try to gobble up the things coming my way, the conveyor belt of life seems to increase its speed. I’m reacting to notifications, emails, calls, and other interruptions as they come at me. In the end, I only look back and regret all that I didn’t get done for the day. Then the next day I feel like I’m already in a deficit and need to dig my way out.

If my schedule is full, there is an appropriate amount of time allotted for each task. It is possible to distribute your workload throughout the day, but it takes planning. Every day, I take a few minutes to schedule my day by using a time management technique called time blocking. (If you’re not familiar with it, check out this video by Cal Newport here.). By taking a few moments to plan, I shift from being reactive to proactive. Of course, you can’t plan for everything, and you’ll always have interruptions, but you can even schedule time for unexpected delays. By taking a few moments to plan and fill my agenda, I can look at my schedule and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Another reason a full day is better that a busy schedule is how it comes across to others. We all have people vying for our time. Can you do this for me? Can we have a meeting? I’ve come to realize that all reasonable people with accept that you have a previous obligation on the calendar. But almost everyone feels a little hurt when you make them feel that you don’t have time for them. Although you may love them dearly and never would want to upset them, it’s inevitable if they feel you’re too busy for them. Remember, most people spell love, T-I-M-E.

You make think it’s semantics, but I feel a full day is better than a busy schedule any day! What do you think, pastor? I’d love to hear your thoughts on time management in the comments section.

A full day is better than a busy schedule any day!

3 Ways I Use My Journal to Examine my Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates

If you ever see me at the office, coffee shop, or around town, you will see me with a blue notebook in my hand (or at least in arm’s length). It’s my brain and heart on paper. My journal isn’t anything fancy. In fact, it’s an inexpensive Exceed Hardcover dot grid that’s available at my local Walmart. I’ve discovered cheaper notebooks serve me well. Some journals that are “too nice” keep me from writing freely in them, because I think I need to save them for a special purpose.

What would you see if you cracked open my journal? You would see a combination of the three following practices: morning pages, time blocking, and evening pages (or Examen). The three practices are fluid for me, and I don’t have a set time other than the obvious. Morning pages are at the start of the day and evening pages are near bedtime. I do time blocking throughout the day.

 1) Morning Pages

Almost every morning, while the coffee is brewing or short after, I grab my journal to free-write three pages. I came across the idea in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It helps declutter my mind and reveal what is percolating in my heart. Sometimes this practice erupts into a heartfelt inky prayer on the page. At other times, it allows me to process what tasks I need to accomplish for the day. If I don’t complete my morning pages, I feel out of step for the rest of my day.

2) Time Blocking

Soon after I’ve jotted my thoughts on the page–or it may be beforehand–I follow the practice of time blocking advocated by Cal Newport. It’s a two-page spread, with each page divided into two columns. I use the lefthand spread and respective columns to track my schedule. The left column I label “planned” and I block out the hours that I need to accomplish various tasks. The right column I label “actual” and this is where I record how my day played out. On the other side of the two-page spread, the columns are labeled “tasks” and “ideas.” This is where I dump anything that pops into my mind, so I can circle back to it later. Also, I use a modified bullet journaling technique to manage the tasks listed.

3) Evening Pages (Examen)

Finally, I try to carve out time before I turn in for the night to reflect and pray over the events of the day. The first two practices feed into this, so I can look back over what I wanted to accomplish and what I got done. Ed Cyzewski’s book Pray. Write. Grow., helped me start using the Examen created by St. Ignatius of Loyola to grow spiritually.

Conclusion

              A quick peek in my journal (something I don’t think I’d want), you would see morning pages, time blocking, and evening pages. These practices allow me to keep a check on my heart and analyze my life. Again, these practices are fluid, and I may or may not keep them perfectly, but I’m happy with my consistency. Do you keep a journal? What things do you include in your journaling? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.