I watched with Canadian pride as our figure skating team won the gold medal at the 2018 Olympics in Korea. The announcer said this about Tessa Virtue, who skating with ice dance partner Scott Moir, sealed the deal for gold. “Curiosity drives her, not ego.” In my opinion, ego can only take you so far. Eventually, ego can corrupt and even crumble. Ego can cloud perspective and cause a loss of respect. But curiosity can bring innovation, resilience, and discovery. Curiosity can drive you into the unknown with anticipation rather than fear. It compels us to look for success around the next corner, to test drive the variables which will help us excel. Ego can end up imprisoning a person, and alienate those whom we want to serve and bring value to. Curiosity, conversely, is the activity of the truly free. Are you working and walking in the freedom of curiosity or in the slavery to ego?
From Doug’s Preaching Mentorship Notes:
Design2Delivery #7 – Wednesday October 26 2016 – Rev. D. Johns
More and more we are preaching to an audience that is ‘disposed to distraction’. I have preached outside and had to compete with animals, wind, rain and beautiful scenery. I have preached in old ‘steeple churches’ and had to do battle with rodents on the floor and bats in the air. I think my ability to raise my voice above babies crying and old men snoring scores high on the concentration scale. I have preached through power outages and natural gas leaks. All that being said, the biggest challenge these days is to somehow communicate with an audience accustomed to fifteen-second sound bites; an audience that lives with continuous visual stimulation much of their day. It’s an audience that doesn’t have much patience for a delayed punch-line.
But I think the built-in attention-avoidance to lecture and preaching so prevalent our culture runs much deeper than a quick fix of video or PowerPoint. Somehow we have to capture their interest at the outset in such a way that the subject we speak or teach about is so compelling, so essential, that minds are jolted into awareness that this moment in time could indeed be a ‘game-changer’. This means, though, that each time I speak, I have to be satisfied with the knowledge that my effectiveness is going to be measured in small numbers. I mean, not every Sunday will be a ‘game-changing’ experience for all who are present. It also means that the introduction might be of more value, and therefore demand more preparation energy and creativity than hitherto invested.
Caution: Don’t let the preacher off the hook too quickly. It is all too easy to label the audience as ‘low concentrators’ while elevating the speaker into the heaven-blessed thoughtful, reflective, meditative zone of super spirituality. The preacher can easily be led into ‘the land of lazy’ just as much as the listener. Attention spans for all of us need some serious re-training.
Matt Woodley recently wrote an article in Preaching Today, titled Deep Preaching in a Distracted Age: Will anything capture people’s attention and keep it long enough for God to do his work? You can see the full article here
Recent articles and books highlight what Microsoft researcher Linda Stone calls our “continuous partial attention.” Consider this trio of recent articles from The New York Times—”Addicted to Distraction,” “The End of Reflection,” and “Don’t Distract Me.” The stats don’t lie about our heightened distractibility. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. Little wonder, since an American on social media receives 54,000 words and 443 minutes of video every day.
I love what he calls a ‘counter-intuitive strategy’ to take face this challenge head – on.
In a distracted, outraged, shallow culture, people begin to hunger for something rare: the focused, balanced, deep. Because we chronically distract ourselves, we crave depth. Deep preaching is our best chance to change lives.
Matt’s plan is to foster four disciplines which impact the development of deep sermons. But be warned, there is no quick and easy solution to reverse the fall into distraction and diversion which has debilitated our society by depriving us of the power of vocal persuasion. Surprisingly though, a slow, deep, and thoughtful preparation on our part can lead to a deep, vibrant and substantial life-change – which in turn becomes noticeable in a loud world that is searching for reality beyond the superficial and transient, above the brevity and shallowness this world has to offer.
We see bumper stickers that say “I’d rather be sailing”
or “I’d rather be fishing” but no one says “I’d rather
be sinking”, “I’d rather be ship wrecked”.
The bottom of the ocean is strewn with the carcasses of ships that go down in the crashing waves and fog of sea storms. And the storms of life yield casualties as well. Are you ready? Are you prepared? Do you have an emergency plan, survival gear, and the instinct to face the storm head-on?
Perhaps you have experienced a plunge to the ocean floor a few times, and by grace and good fortune been able to rise back to the surface to tell the tale. But how will you handle the haunting ghosts of a personal shipwreck?
I want to suggest some spiritual anchors to keep life stable. I will lift these anchors directly from the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome found in Acts 27.
Obviously there are other ‘anchors for life’ that we could add to this list. But this is a good start. None of the four really work unless God is at the centre of each one.
Oh – one last theme: Paul is on his ‘death march’ – Rome will be the end of the road/voyage for him – yet he is concerned for others, does not try to escape, and displays a confidence/acceptance of God’s plan. Perhaps a little reminder of Jesus in all of this?
Two verses to keep in mind with all of this:
Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.“
Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
For Sunday July 27, 2014 Acts 27
Jesus speaks in times of doubt. “If it is you” we say to the Lord in moments of fear, hesitation, and doubt. Of course Peter should recognize his master’s voice by now – as sheep recognize their shepherd – especially after so much time of personal and public instruction as well as private conversations while walking with the Rabbi day after day. But when fear and uncertainty barge into our experiences, it is not only our courage level that is challenged. It is then that our ‘voice recognition’ technology begins to fail as well. Jesus had said to his terrified disciples “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” This is Jesus speaking the very words of God (an indirect allusion to his divinity) – encouraging words that are repeated time and time again in the Scriptures. Yet in troublesome times we are often deaf to that theme.
Jesus speaks in times of opportunity. “Come” – he invites Peter to obediently demonstrate the power of faith. Peter seized the opportunity, but just for an instant. And then Jesus commented on his lack of faith, his unlasting faith. What a challenge it is to sustain faith over time, especially when the circumstances breed doubt and fear. Wind and waves are either the enemies of faith or the motivators to exercise increased faith. Jesus always seems to have an inviting voice: come follow and fish; come when you are tired and burdened; come when you are hungry and thirsty.
Our Prayer: Jesus, in the times of stress and struggle help us to hear clearly your voice. Help us to pray and not panic, trust and not test. Help us to proceed in your power. Help us to seize the opportunities so that when all is said and done, our water walking is a power walk that praises you. Amen.
He doesn’t get the answer he was hoping for. Surely he hoped this guy Jesus would make him feel better – but it didn’t happen. The rich man went away feeling even worse. Disappointed that he could not bring himself to do the one tough thing that would assure him of eternal life.
Encounters with Jesus do not always come with ‘happily ever-after endings’. Some leave grumpy, some leave offended, some leave still searching. (I’m thankful for all those who meet Jesus and leave healed, forgiven, freed, inspired – but in Mark 10 we read about a rich ruler who leaves disappointed.
The story raises a few questions for me – how about you? What are the dangers of wealth? What one thing holds us back from receiving and entering God’s Kingdom? What one precious item do we cling to that prevents us from clinging to Jesus? …… and what has the camel got to do with all this? Hey, it’s all there tomorrow morning, Sunday August 04 2013 as we take a good look at Mark 10.
for years i have been trying to figure out exactly what is behind my Christianized ‘bah-humbug’ ‘Scrooginess’ … this blogger has carefully put together some good possible explanations that i could never quite articulate: a good read – dj
Christmas is right around the corner, Isaac’s about to be spoiled beyond appropriateness, and many are crossing their fingers, hoping to avoid a big holiday debt.
I don’t mind the holiday season: it is nice to listen to the Christmas music, see the lights and continue family traditions, but there are a few things that just don’t sit right with me and that may change the way our little family treats the big day in the future.
I think we all know that December 25th was not the birthday of Christ, but ask any believer and the more important reason to celebrate this unusual day, is simply the representation of the birth of our Savior. That seems innocent to me and a noble idea, except that leads us to a few more problems: 1) the actual origins of Christmas are less than admirable and hardly “Christian” 2)
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Psalm 6:3 “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?”
No one likes a trial. And tests are for school, not life – right? Yet, somehow in the sovereignty of God, these ‘ t’s ‘ (tests, temptations, trials, tribulations) are allowed. These ‘ t’s ‘ can tease us into turncoat rebels, ready to fire all our violent, aggressive complaining heavenward; OR, they can promote strength and health, dependency and devotion.
Lest you think you are the only one crying out to God, lest you think your chosen path in life should be solely smooth and sweet, fuel your faith today with some words penned by C.H.Spurgeon:
* Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction
* Temptations and trials lurk on all roads
* By them we may illustrate the power of divine grace, test the genuineness of our virtues, and increase our spiritual energy.
* Worldly ease is a great enemy to faith. It loosens the joints of holy valor and snaps the sinews of sacred courage.
* While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husks, it is useless. It must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known.