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Showing posts from December, 2013

The key to being a great student is also the key to growing spiritually

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This morning I ran across one of the fundamental aspects of growing spiritually in an unexpected place: a study of what makes the strongest students in school. If you want to grow spiritually, are or know a student, or both, read on...

You might think IQ is the best indicator of a student's track record in school. Not so. In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg references a major study performed in 2005 that tracked high school students:
Students who exerted high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and gain admission to more selective schools. They had fewer absences and spent less time watching television and more hours on homework... "Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not. ... Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.&…

Two small prayers for experiencing God today

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We are half way through the Christmas season. Has it been a frenetic race or a 25-Day Retreat? The latter is absolutely within your reach. I will explain more later, but first a brief bit of setup. Yesterday at Sanctuary we talked about the two most fundamental questions of the spiritual life:
Who's the boss? Who's in the center? Sin pushes us to answer these two questions in self-centered ways. My favorite boss is me. My favorite way to arrange the universe is to put me in the center. It has been said that sin means being addicted to yourself. (BTW, going to church and being nice isn't enough to end that addiction.)

Fortunately, sin isn't the end of the story. Through Jesus, we have free access to God's great recovery program for self-addicts. In this recovery program there is one path. No shortcuts. No VIP passes. It's the one path to freedom and greatness.

God's one path runs through the same territory for all of us. It goes like this:
Through Jesus, I w…

The gift of wise friends

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I just returned from an annual 4-day retreat with about ten other pastors, and it served as another reminder that having the right kind of friends is crucially important. One of the things we do on our annual retreats is gather in a circle and take turns talking about what's going on in our lives. We share the same vocation, but we get into real stuff rather than talking shop. In fact, this year more than one person shared things he hadn't opened up about to anyone else yet.
The words my friends spoke into my life were powerful and insightful. They were so important that later I took notes. Now I have a record of thoughts I can return to in the coming weeks and months. I definitely came away with a sense that God is present and invested in my life and ministry. And yet he was reminding me that he needs to be in charge. That's important because in the midst of feeling a sincere sense of responsibility for the church (his church), I often grab the steering wheel away from Go…