Archive for “April, 2011”

Live As If It Really Matters

FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+PocketFlipboardStumbleUponDiggLinkedInInstapaperKindle ItBlogger PostWordPressTumblrEmailOutlook.comTypePad PostPrintDeliciousGoogle BookmarksShare

Sometime at the end of high school or the beginning of my college years, I began to understand how important life really is.

What is life?  What does your life consist of?

Life is the cumulative effect of every decision you will ever make. We can conclude, if this is true, that decisions are important. And not “just” important… they’re ultimate. Since they’re of ultimate importance, it’s a good idea to learn to make good decisions and every decision begins in the mind.

Because of the centrality of the mind in our decision-making, I want to challenge you to explore your own thought process to see if you can improve your ability to “live as if it really mattered.”

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living. Let’s take his advice and examine three things about our minds

Examine Your Decisions: Think about WHAT you DO.

You and I both know lots of people who live their lives as if it’s a game— like the stakes aren’t that high… never stopping to ask themselves, “WHAT AM I DOING?  WHERE IS MY BRAIN?”

The truth is that one decision you make in a moment can have lifelong ramifications— for good or bad. Those who don’t think about what they do end up making bonehead moves with a high price tag attached to them.

When was the last time you just weren’t thinking about your actions and harmed a relationship?  hurt a friend?  wounded a family member? violated another person?  dishonored your own body?  offended God?

Remember the advice of Colossians 4:5,  “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”  1 Peter 1:13 tells us to “Prepare our minds for action.”

Examine Your Assumptions and Beliefs: Think about WHAT you BELIEVE

Most people’s beliefs are like a patchwork quilt, a family heirloom. Passed down from generation to generation without much thought, they’re a hodge-podge of ideas from all kinds of different places. Without even realizing it, many Christians hold conflicting positions about political, social, moral, legal and spiritual issues.  Sometimes the views are so inconsistent it’s absurd, but they don’t realize it because they haven’t really thought about it.

You must have a workable philosophy of life… one that’s consistent with reality– one that’s in harmony with truth and the way things really are.  If you don’t, life will eventually cave in on you because you’re living a lie. That’s why the Apostle Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is within you.”

IF YOUR LIFE IS GOING TO COUNT FOR GOD, YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU BELIEVE AND WHY.

Examine Your Thought Process:  Think about HOW you THINK

Most people don’t think much about anything… they live on autopilot. Don’t veg-out and put your mind in neutral. Don’t get so lazy mentally that you don’t think critically

When you don’t think about how you think, before you realize it, instead of your mind being transformed into a powerful tool God can use, it becomes like a lump of clay that is molded and conformed into thinking like everyone else. That’s why the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2 not to let your mind (your thinking) be conformed to the world, but to be transformed— to undergo a metamorphosis so you’ll know how to live like God wants.

So that’s my challenge to you today:  Live As If Life Really Mattered by:

Thinking about WHAT you DO
Thinking about WHAT you BELIEVE
Thinking about HOW you THINK

The Golden Tongued Orator: What v. How You Say It

In Christian history, one of the greatest speakers was known to be Chrysostom, the fourth century Church Father and Bishop of Constantinople.  Chrysostom was known as the “Golden Tongued Orator.” 

Chrysostom was a champion of great speaking and was known to deliver the best content.

As a minister and professor, no doubt, I place a high degree of importance on the “content” of my message or lecture. 

But some speakers pay attention to WHAT they will say to the neglect of HOW they say it.  In fact, some speakers have consistently neglected the development of greater speaking skill and even criticize good speaking and good speakers AS IF those speakers are less serious about their content than the less-than-stellar speaker.  That’s too bad. 

Speaking prowess is more important than one may think.  Don’t take that to mean that HOW WELL we speak is “more important” than what we say… but it’s naive to neglect your speaking and to underestimate the importance of skill. 

Preparing to Speak

Lots of preachers, teachers, and speakers of all types spend a dozen or two dozen hours of preparation for their talk, only to spend all or nearly all of it on the CONTENT (exegesis, outline, etc.) without spending much on technique or method.  Why is that? 

A book I was reading on speaking a while back reported that 93% of our impact in speaking is related to the EMOTION-PASSION and PROWESS of the speaker.  Having said that, while the “raw material” itself is crucial and all-important, that content may or may not be heard and hindered by the listener if the speaker cannot deliver the goods so it can be heard and received, then applied

The truth is that a speaker simply doesn’ t have 10 or 20 minutes to sell the audience.  In fact, you don’t have even 5 minutes.  Your  first impression is made in seconds, not minutes.  So to command an audience, you need to sell your stuff up front– hook the listener quickly, then bring the bacon. 

In other words— as a speaker, bring the HEAT, then bring the MEAT.