Close The Open – Ended Tasks

In the ministry — and — I am sure — in almost all areas of life — there are tasks that never seem to be completed. It could be that the reason for this is that they are what Scott Young calls “Open – Ended Tasks” — tasks that have no real specific goals.

Here’s what he writes about open – ended tasks:

Stop working on open-ended tasks. These waste your time, cause procrastination and accomplish little. Open-ended tasks are any tasks that don’t have a clear end point. They are activities like “studying”, “working” or “putting on finishing touches”. They don’t have a stopping point where you can clearly say, “I’m done.”

He suggests you “close” your ‘open – ended” tasks.

1. Define exactly what needs to be done. Know what your end result looks like. If your studying, an end result could be getting an A in your course. If this is blogging, it could be getting a certain traffic volume in six months, or sustaining a certain posting rate.
2. Define exactly what you will commit to. With open-loops there is always more that can be done. Close those ends by defining the amount you are willing to commit to. If it takes four hours a day for you to reach that A, then commit to four hours.
3. Define exactly the tasks that need to be accomplished. What steps do you need to take in order to learn to get an A? If you just set aside four hours without a clear to-do list, you’re wasting time. Make a to-do list for each day and week.

Closing open – ended tasks.

It can help you be more productive — and give you more time to relax!

Read Scott Young’s post here.

The Soil For Growth

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight had another good post today about what he sees as one of the major jobs for a Church leader — creating a culture of growth and acceptance in a church. Quoting from John Burke he writes:

“As leaders in a post-Christian society, our job is not making people grow or change. God is responsible for the growth, for changed hearts, but the soil is the responsibility of the leaders. Our task is creating the right soil, a rich healthy environment, in which messy people can come as they are and God can cause the growth over time. But have we considered the cultural soil needed for a healthy Christian community in a hard-packed, post-Christian society?”

God indeed supplies the growth — but the soil — or the culture — should be fertile and prepared. I’ve been reading a lot about Church Transformation lately — and one of the major themes that is emphasized is that people have to want to change and be transformed before change will take place. It’s the culture of change — the soil for growth — that pastors and other leaders need to help create.

There are many ways to do this. Read Todd Rhoades’ ideas here and John Burke’s here.

What are some of your thoughts?

Get More Done — Get Top Heavy

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight has a great post today on how to get more done! Quoting from Scott H. Young he suggests we adopt a “top heavy approach” to projects — getting more done “at the top” — or the beginning — than “at the bottom” — or at the end.

This can work for how we organize our work days also — working on things that require more attention early in the day and things that are less intense later in the day.

Get top heavy — and get more accomplished!

Read Rhoades’ post here— and Young’s here.

Sermon: Genesis 12:1-4(a), John 3:1-17

I have posted my sermon for today on my sermon blog. It’s the second in my Lent series on the question: What Does Jesus Mean To You? — today’s sermon based on Genesis 12:1-4(a) and John 3:1-17 and entitles “Jesus Means We Can Change”.

Here’s a portion of it:

So – the question before you is — Are you changed by God’s love?
God’s love made a difference in Abram’s life.
Does it in yours?
Do you say new things because God has called you to say new things?
Do you act in new ways because God has called you to act in new ways?
Are you a new person — a changed person — because God has called you to be a new person?
The amazing truth is that – as difficult as it may be for us to change – to live a new life – to say new things – to act in new ways –
Jesus means that we can.
Jesus means that we can change.
Jesus means that we can change.
There is a story of a sergeant in Napoleon’s army who took Napoleon at his word — and lived the life Napoleon called him to live.
In the midst of battle Napoleon noticed that this sergeant was performing with unusual bravery under fire. His efforts not only helped win the battle — but saved many lives in the process. After the battle Napoleon wished to express his gratitude to this sergeant. He walked up to him and said:
“Well done, captain.”
On the following day, this man took his place among the officers, just like he belonged there. One of the officers demanded an explanation.
He replied:
“Yesterday, Napoleon himself praised my actions by calling me captain. I take him at his word that I am now a captain — and will act like one”
God has called us.
God has called us to new life.
God has called us to live in new ways.
God has called us to act in new ways.
God has called us to act differently.
And – friends – as difficult as it might be – as hard as changing might be – as hard as it may be for us to be the new people God has called us to be —
Jesus means that we can change.
Jesus means that we can change.

You can read the sermon here.

A Dog’s Death

This is a picture of the Youth Group from the Church on a camping trip last year. The fuzzy dog in the middle is our dog, Casey, a beautiful Bichon Frise who loved people — especially kids. She was always in the midst of trouble — but was so sweet you overlooked it!

Casey was hit by a car and killed this afternoon.

Sally and I will truly miss her.

Who Will Be 20,000?

I will probably break the 20,000 “visitors” to this site mark either today or tomorrow.

Look at the sitemeter window on the right hand side and — if it says 20,000 — let me know.

No prizes — it’s just fun to know!


Valentine’s Day– the day of love!

While it’s origin is is in question, most feel it is related to Saint Valentine. Regardless of how it got started, it has become “the day of love” when love notes, cards, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged. I enjoy Valentine’s Day — I enjoy the cards and the candy (especially the candy :) ).

Sally and I won’t be celebrating a lot today (I will be writing my sermon, etc. — but we’re planning to go our tomorrow night.)

In the midst of the excitement and sentiments, I hope we all can remember that love is something we should feel and express every day — and not just on “special days”. As 1 John 4:16 reminds us:

God is love,
and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them

In other words, love is something to feel and express every day!
After 24 (almost 25) years of marriage, my relationship with Sally is the way I gauge how well I am doing with loving others. When I am showing love to her, I am usually doing pretty well with showing love to others. When I am grouchy and not very loving to her, then everybody else catches it also! I found this quote about marriage that — for me — describes marriage and love very well. It was written by an Italian priest and writer Romano Guardini :

Marriage is not only the fulfillment of the immediate love that brings a man and woman together; it is also the slow transfiguration of that love through the experiences of a
common reality. Early love does not yet see this reality, for the pull of the heart and senses bewitches it. Only gradually does reality establish itself, when eyes have been opened to the shortcomings and failures revealed by everyday life. He who can accept the other then, as she really is, in spite of all disappointments, who can share the joys and plagues of daily life with her just as he has shared the great experience of early love, who can walk with her before God and with God’s strength, will achieve second love, the real mystery of marriage.

The secret is God’s strength — which helps us to love!

Sermon: Genesis 2:5-17,25-3:7, Romans 5:12-18, Matthew 4:1-11

I have posted today’s sermon on my sermon blog. It’s based on Genesis 2:5-17, Genesis 2:25-3:7, Romans 5:12-18, and Matthew 4:1-11 and entitled “Jesus Means We Have Another Chance.”

Here’s a portion of it:

At the convent of San Bernadino in Ivea, Italy there is a a startling fresco entitled “The Expulsion From The Garden” — a powerful portrayal of the event of Genesis 3 — what we have come to know as “The Fall.” It depicts Adam and Eve walking away from the gate to the garden that is being guarded by an angel with a sword. Behind the gate is a beautiful light and lush greenery – but Adam and Eve are now and walking towards an area of darkness – rocky soil – and sinister looking creatures. They can no longer go back through the gate to Eden – the angel will not let them pass back through the gate.
Adam is covering his face with his hands — unable to bear the pain of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden — while Eve openly expresses her anguish — all the while trying to cover her nakedness with her hands.
This fresco gives a powerful image of sin and it’s consequences.

You can read the sermon here

Ash Wednesday. 2008

Today is Ash Wednesday — the beginning of the 40 day Season of Lent that leads to Easter.

For many Christians, Lent is seen as a time for reflection on the sacrifice Christ made for us — and a time to recommit to Christ and His will for our lives. This is done in a variety of ways, but committing yourself to a renewed emphasis on prayer, worship, study, and service to others in your personal life can be one of the best ways to renew your commitment to Christ and His will.

However you choose to observe the Season of Lent, may it be a blessing to you.

This Week’s “Would You Rather”…

Last week I posted about a new feature over at Monday Morning Insight called Would You Rather …

In last week’s edition, the question was:

Would you rather confront your worst critic or have a root canal?

Today the question is:

Would you rather tell one of your worship team singer (who is a big tither, by the way) that they won’t be able to sing on the team anymore because… well, they can’t sing; or would you rather drink a half dozen raw eggs?

Go read some of the responses. Several have suggested making the member of the worship team who can’t sing drink the raw eggs. My response is that — while you want to include everyone and help everyone use their gifts — you sometimes have to help them identify what those gifts are.