Intentional living

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by Brian Sharpe

Intentional living is tough. It is easy to make plans…it is hard to carry them out. In life we are thrown many curve balls that take us out of our routine and often messes with our intentionality. Even good things can take us away from intentional living.

Recently Tomina and I went on vacation. While on vacation we wanted to make sure we didn’t take a vacation from being intentional so we talked through what we would like to do on this vacation to keep being intentional. I have a friend who has been an unbelievable model of intentionality with his family. He went away with his wife and while they were away for their anniversary they read a book together, they studied the same passage in the bible for devotions and they walked through some goal setting. Remembering this, that was what I talked to Tomina about. Tomina looked at me and said “Thanks for leading.” Men that was an amazing feeling to feel for what seemed to be the first time like I was leading my family well.

Well, we read “Radical Together,” which was a great book. We also studied Hebrews. Those were the easy things to do. The setting of family goals seemed to be the hard part. We finally did it, but it wasn’t till the 18 hour car ride home. Now that the goals are set we need to keep them in the forefront of our minds, so that they can be accomplished.

I write this to encourage men and families to take time to get away from the norm, not to just get away, but to get away and reflect, plan and set goals as a family. We don’t just become the people God wants us to be without a consistent refocusing time where we make sure we and our families are on the right trajectory. It is way too easy to think that we are living for God without asking God if we are living for him. When we take time away and seek him, he will reveal who he wants us to be and who he wants your family to be.

Jesus modeled this throughout the gospels. Jesus would leave the crowds. He would leave the disciples. He would go off to be alone with the father. It is something we need to do. Vacation is a great time to do it because we are away from the everyday demands of life.

My challenge to you between now and the end of the year is to get away for a day and seek God and ask him what are some things he wants to do in you and your family in 2012.

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On wasting time …

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By Larry Short

Because I had a lovely a four-day vacation last week, I have been thinking about a recent blog from one of my favorite technology writers, Seth Godin: “Wasting Time Is Not a Waste.”

Basically Seth defines (with tongue in cheek, I’m sure) “wasted time” as any time that’s not directly devoted to productivity (working). And then he says, while we certainly can “waste time” poorly, it is so much better to “waste time” well.

Wasting time well (which is not a waste!) is measured, Seth says, by the extent to which our investment of “wasted time”: 1) brings us needed rest, 2) brings us important discovery, or 3) brings us joy.

I like that! It also got me to thinking about a biblical view of “wasted time.” From the very beginning, God ordained a cyclical 24-hour period of rest for we weak and frail human beings who don’t know any better (and that’s apparently all of us), and He called it “Sabbath.” In Sabbath, we were obviously to rest, that was a fundamental part of the fourth commandment as revealed in Exodus 20:8-11 …

 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The impetus for the Sabbath was resting from our work, while resting in God’s work. Jewish scholars took the “resting from our work” part very seriously and exhibited great pains in defining exactly what “rest” meant. But there is so much more when it comes to the “rest” we should observe as Sabbath. There were also elements of discovery … and if you dig deeper, elements of joy!

Over and over again in Exodus, the Sabbath is referred to as a day “holy unto the Lord.” Ch. 31:16 says the Sabbath was to be “celebrated.” It was an occasion for joy, even in the midst of “denying yourself” (Lev. 6:31). And a denial of self, in Scripture, is always portrayed (as Stan alluded to on Sunday) as a refocusing from self to others. First and foremost, denial of self means refocusing upon God.

This is why the Jews attended synagogue on the Sabbath. Lev. 23:3 calls it “a day of sacred assembly,” a day in which to show reverence for the Tabernacle or the Temple as God’s dwelling place. Discovery of who God was and how to draw near to Him, in the sacred assembly, was a part of the “rest” that God required, a refocusing upon the person and work of God (and off of ourselves and our own desires).

Such discovery of God results in joy, as Jesus assured us in John 17 when (in the midst of His greatest trial) He prayed that we would experience His fullness of joy.

So, I think Seth hits it right on the head. If vacations are simply wasting time in empty pursuits of self-gratification and “entertainment,” then they are truly a waste. But if during your vacation you can truly get rested up, engage upon a discovery of who God is and who we are in right relation to Him, and experience as a result the joy that knowing God and loving Christ brings to our hearts, such “wasted time” is far from a waste!

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