Christmas in July . . . and August

Last year at this time I wrote a column about the concept of taking time during this final week of the year (or, if you still need it, the first week of January) to plan for the new year.

This period has become quite meaningful to me, and I have grown to love the idea of investing time in reading, reflecting, scheduling, goal setting and generally preparing for the year ahead.

As I am engaged in that exercise this year, however, I realize that my schedule is still too cluttered with things that must (or at least should) be done during the old year, but which could easily have been done earlier.

One thing I wrote about in last year’s article was my desire to enter into the fall and holiday season with confidence, focused on implementing the things I need to do—and enjoying them. I would like to expand upon that idea briefly here.

It seems to me that a successful plan for the new year ultimately involves setting the end of August as the cutoff for everything that I can possibly fit in before the last four months of the year descend upon us.

You see, in my role as a church ministries representative with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, those four months are probably the busiest time of the year—and should be among the most productive, as well as meaningful, for me.

Each year, I plan to attend and exhibit in at least three ministry conferences in September and October, and one of them (the Shepherds 360 Church Leaders Conference) involves a trip to North Carolina.

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Bit-by-bit Bible Reading Plan

Monsieur Mangetout

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Two weeks into 2019 and I’m guessing some of us are already behind in our yearly Bible reading plan. If you’re like me, getting one or two days behind in January can be discouraging enough to want to call the whole thing off.

That’s what happened to me last year. I had an ambitious 10-chapter-per-day plan to get me through the whole Bible twice, and the New Testament three times. But this plan also meant that missing a day or two made catching up a major undertaking.

After falling behind and catching up, and repeating that cycle a few times, I shelved my plan… but not my Bible. Instead of insisting that I complete all ten chapters every day, if I could only do two or three, then I did only two or three. And if I skipped a day or two, I just picked up where I left off. The result: I got through the whole Bible…once.

That feat was not as satisfying as the former plan would have been. But it had the advantage of being realistic and realized.

The principle I learned is that the task was more enjoyable and effective when tackled by simply chipping away bit-by-bit, without the crippling guilt and self-loathing of falling short of a particular, overly ambitious plan.

The mascot for this approach to achieving goals is Frenchman, Michel Lotito (1950-2007). You may know him by his delightful sobriquet, Monsieur Mangetout (pronounced mun-jê-toot), meaning “Mr Eats it All.”

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Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions

With appreciation to A Puritan’s Mind and the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Jonathan Edwards was born in the American Colonies in 1703 and raised in the Puritan and Congregationalist tradition. He entered Yale College just shy of 13 years of age and graduated at the head of his class in 1720. He wrote the resolutions below from 1722 to 1723, at age 19. At the time, he was studying theology at New Haven and serving as pulpit supply at a small Presbyterian church.

Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week. 

1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

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