I can’t stop talking about it everywhere I go. Tim Challies’ book, Do More Better has revolutionized my life.
It’s a slim little book, which is probably why it’s the first book on productivity I’ve actually read cover to cover. Not only that, it’s such a practical book that I’ve been able to implement most of what I’ve read along the way! And oh, how drastically I needed someone to come alongside me and help me figure out how to change . . .
For years, I left untold emails unanswered. I have also been guilty of failing to return voicemail messages and asking for grace when returning a purchase a few days after the thirty- or sixty- or ninety-day return policy had ended. Piles around the house have remain untouched; great ideas of doing good for others have remained just that . . . ideas.
I have worked frantically, moving from one incomplete project to the next, attempting to keep my world from crashing down around me. As a result, I have not loved people well, I have not enjoyed life, and I have been a slave to work without ever feeling like I was getting anywhere.
This book has and is changing all that, though. When I read the true measure of productivity, I was stunned at its simplicity. I wrote in the margin, Could it really be this simple, God?
What Productivity Really Is
Productivity is not about crossing every task off our to-do list. It is about organizing our lives so that “you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God.” Matthew 5:16 summarizes this well:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Tim Challies writes, “Your primary pursuit in productivity is not doing more things, but doing more good.”
He then pointed out the “productivity thieves”: laziness and busyness. If you’re like me, you’ve come to normalize and even spiritualize busyness. But Challies puts an end to that with this enlightening paragraph:
Busyness cannot be confused with diligence. It cannot be confused with faithfulness or fruitfulness. Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. Busyness . . . probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.
Ouch! But it got worse. He went on to diagnose my condition perfectly. I have been “Busylazy”: I put tasks off until I absolutely can’t avoid them any longer, and then I work like crazy to meet the deadline.
With that foundation, Tim led me through some super practical exercises:
In chapter 3, he showed me how to define my areas of responsibility and then fill in the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each.
In chapter 4 he encouraged me to define my mission. In his words:
You haven’t begun to live a focused and productive life until you have said no to great opportunities that just do not fit your mission.
In chapter 5 he taught me a basic organization tool: “A home for everything, and like goes with like,” and he recommended a task management tool, a scheduling tool, and an information tool. Because . . .
Appointments always need to go where appointments go, information always needs to go where information goes, and tasks always need to go where tasks go.
In chapters 6–8 he honed in on each of these areas:
collect your tasks
plan your calendar
gather your information.
In chapter 9 he encouraged me to “live the system.” He writes:
Your day needs to have two phases: planning and execution. . . . While planning does not need to take much time, it is very important, and when done right, will dramatically increase what you are able to accomplish throughout the rest of the day.
And then in the final chapter he emphasized the importance of maintaining the system consistently. “Nothing in this world coasts toward order,” he writes. “You need to free yourself from thinking that organizing your life is a one-shot deal.”
Ever since, I’ve scheduled a “daily review” first thing each morning (Tim outlines how to do this in chapter 9), and I’m starting up weekly reviews each Friday as he recommends.
He closed the book with two bonus sections that were perfect for me. The first, “tame your email,” taught me to start at the top of my inbox and take action on each email before moving on to the next:
reply to it
or move it to my reply folder.
And then his final bonus section included twenty tips to increase my productivity. A few I especially appreciated:
Stop multitasking. Whenever possible choose a task, take it to completion, and then move on to the next one.
Move around. Sometimes a change of scenery is as good as time off.
Learn to delegate. What you do poorly someone else may be able to do with excellence.
Don’t send unnecessary email. Send sparingly, and you will receive sparingly.
It’s For Us All
With all this talk of email, you may think this book is just for someone with an 8:30–5 desk job, but it’s not. I believe this book will be revolutionary for the student, the housewife, the women’s ministry leader . . . for you.
That’s why I’m so grateful Tim has agreed to give away three copies. If you think you, too, could use some help thinking about productivity biblically and practically, log on to the giveaway widget over at ReviveOurHearts.com for a chance to win one of three copies of Do More Better.
Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com.
“How do you move a mountain?” the Chinese proverb asks. “One spoonful of dirt at a time.” Women of the Wordby Jen Wilkin is a book about moving mountains—mountains of biblical ignorance.
You might not think you have a mountain of biblical ignorance to move. When Jen was a teen, she didn’t think she had a mountainous problem either. After all, she was a regular church attender, had a “quiet time,” memorized Bible verses, read devotional books, and attended Bible studies.
But when she was asked to lead a Bible study as a senior in college, Jen suddenly realized she had a problem: a problem of biblical ignorance. She writes,
I carried a secret not uncommon to people with my background: I didn’t know my Bible. Sure, I knew parts of it—I remembered stories from vacation Bible school and I could quote verses from all over the New Testament and Psalms—but I didn’t know how the parts that I knew fit with each other, much less how they fit with the parts I didn’t know yet.
So what did she do? She took the “spoon” someone handed her and began to dig and move that mountain “one spoonful at a time.” Listen to her tenacity:
I intend to go to my grave with dirt beneath my nails and a spoon clutched in my fist. I am determined that no mountain of biblical ignorance will keep me from seeing him [God] as clearly as my seventy or eighty years on this earth will allow.
Did you catch that? Her goal is not to master this Book so she can feel good about all she knows. Her goal is to see God, to know God, to enjoy God. In her words,
Our study of the Bible is only beneficial insofar as it increases our love for the God it proclaims.
As her subtitle indicates, this book is about learning how to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds. Because, as Jen writes,
If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about Him. The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.
Yesterday I shared three takeaways from the book The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile. It’s a thin book (yay for books that don’t overwhelm!) with two sections. The first section covers the basics of the gospel and how Muslims’ beliefs compare, and the second is filled with practical tips for how to share the gospel with Muslims (chapter titles like “Be Filled with the Spirit,” “Trust the Bible,” “Be Hospitable,” and more).
I didn’t realize until I picked up the book that Thabiti converted to Christianity as a sophomore in college. Get a copy for yourself to learn why he became convinced that Islam couldn’t be true and how God finally drew him to Himself. It’s intriguing!
Thanks to one of Thabiti’s practical suggestions, I’m going to be baking all week. I invited the woman in the hijab from across the street over for tea, and she said yes! Thabiti shares that only women have the opportunity to reach Muslim women for Christ (they can’t interact with men), and he suggests spoiling them like crazy when they come for tea. So I’m planning to do just that.
I have a bad habit of collecting good books on my shelves, in my attic . . . all around me, really—without ever reading lots of them. I’m always prepared, though, as you never know when one might come in handy.
The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile is one of those books. It has always intrigued me (and not looked too thick and daunting!), but it took a move to a new city for me to find the motivation to pull it from its cardboard box and prioritize it above other books.
When I moved into our new home, I was thrilled to learn a Muslim woman lives directly across from us on one side . . . and another Muslim family lives directly across from us on the other side. (This is pretty exciting for a girl who grew up surrounded by cornfields!)
So I started digging into Thabiti’s book in earnest, especially because I’ve been praying for an opportunity to connect with the woman in the hijab across the street and that God’s light would penetrate her darkness.
You may not be surrounded by Muslim neighbors, but maybe you go to school with a Muslim or work with one—or will one day. So I want to share three takeaways I’ve gotten from this book so far that I think will help you, too:
1. It’s okay to feel afraid to share the gospel with Muslims.
Even Thabiti, who had experience doing so, shares of a time he was scared to death heading into another public debate with a Muslim. Here’s the thing: We don’t have to conjure boldness up from deep within us. Boldness comes from being filled with the Spirit of God. “In the book of Acts,” Thabiti shares, “the activity most frequently associated with the Spirit’s filling is speaking with boldness.” Here are just a couple examples:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).
Don’t keep silent when you are afraid. Pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you and give you the boldness you don’t have in order to be a witness for Him.
2. You have everything you need to share the gospel with Muslims.
You are equipped, even if you don’t feel like you are. The same message that saved you—the gospel—is the message that can profoundly transform your Muslim neighbors and friends. Seriously. Thabiti got me with this zinger on page thirteen: “In my experience, Christians know the gospel. They simply lack confidence in its power.” Ouch.
Share the gospel with Muslims. You don’t have to share it perfectly, without stumbling. You’re not responsible for whether they believe it; it’s simply your job to share with them the good news of Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection on their behalf.
3. Don’t try to minimize truths about God that you know your Muslim neighbor or friend won’t like.
For example, Muslims do not believe in the Trinity. The chief confession of Islam is, “There is only one God, and Muhammad is his messenger,” so they have a problem with one God in three persons. But rather than seeking to downplay this truth, Thabiti encourages us to “go there.” Why?
For one reason, we don’t get to create a God we understand. God says His “name” (singular) is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Also, Thabiti explains, “We must cling to the Trinity because apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is no possibility of eternal salvation. . . . The Father chose us (Eph. 1:4–6), the Son offered the only sacrifice without blemish that is able to purify us and satisfy the Father (Eph. 1:7), and the Spirit seals us and produces in us new birth” (Eph. 1:14).
Share who God is without feeling the need to apologize or “cover” for Him. God is not an idea; He is a Person—be true to who He is and what He shares to be true.
I’d love to hear. Do you know any Muslims?
Come back tomorrow to hear a bit more about The Gospel for Muslims and for a chance to win a copy!
Today, a blockbuster romanticizing BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) will hit the big screens near you. In case you’re not familiar with these terms, a sadist receives sexual gratification by dishing out pain; a masochist receives sexual gratification by receiving pain.
A Strong Woman’s Dilemma
At first glance, it appears downright puzzling that women would consider this to be enjoyable entertainment . . . and flock to it in droves. Dr. Juli Slattery asks,
In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, do you find it strange that a book about bondage is spreading like wildfire? All of a sudden, words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable but sexy.
In a conversation about Fifty Shades on The View, Barbara Walters suggested that the reason women love this book so much is because, “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”
Well, yes. Women want strong, confident men . . . and we want to be in control. But unfortunately, through insisting on control, we’ve contributed to the very thing we despise: a culture of increasingly weak men.
Christian Grey to the Rescue
Enter counterfeit solution Christian Grey and the dark world of BDSM. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Slattery write,
Although Fifty Shades is fiction, we assure you that the world of BDSM is not. Since the book’s release there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of bondage gear. What was once viewed as a strange, aberrant practice is becoming increasingly mainstream for married couples and for those looking for an exciting affair.
But, they warn,
Solving the “weak man” problem with BDSM is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. The true answer is for us to grasp what health looks like.
So what is healthy in the bedroom?
Great Sex Is Not Grey
First, a couple of basic reminders about sex. Because, while E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, would have you believe that sex is grey, God is not grey on this topic. He’s black and white, so that you might catch a glimpse of His unrivaled beauty:
Great sex was God’s idea (Gen. 1:18–25)! If that blows your mind, that’s because, as Dr. Slattery says, “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” Oh, and “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman.
Great sex is not ultimately about us; it’s about God. God designed marriage and sex to tell the story of His loving sacrificial leadership toward His Bride, the Church, and of the Church’s joyful submission to Him (Eph. 5). Again, I appreciate Dr. Slattery’s reminder:
Christ taught and modeled that authoritative leadership is for the purpose of loving sacrifice, not domination, control, abuse, or humiliation.
Submission is all about power—not weakness. . . . God’s design for women to submit is not to take away her power but to channel it in a way that builds a courageous lover and leader in her husband. God’s plan works!
Christ Jesus to the Rescue
So what if you don’t have a strong man to love and serve and lead you?
Actually, you do.
Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, left His powerful position and riches in Paradise to stoop low to serve you. He became a man so He could receive the righteous blows of God’s justice as the willing Substitute for your sin.
Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.
Christ Jesus became a man so He could bleed, so that His blood might wash your dirty heart and body white as snow. He experienced physical and emotional pain unlike any you will ever know—so that you, through His wounds, might be healed.
He did all this to restore your broken relationship with God, so that you might glorify and enjoy Him forever, “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).
Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.
Calling Out the Hibernating Strong Man in Your Husband
Until you are with Him in person, God has given you the means to fulfill your sexual desires, married woman. Not through dark, harmful, twisted sexuality, but in the God-blessed, sanctified context of biblical marriage.
Some of you are experiencing this joyful gift right now. Others of you wonder if your husband even has a sex drive.
I’ll share a secret with you that I learned from reading Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart. Great sex will not begin in the bedroom. Here are a few excerpts that speak to this:
Becoming a great lover requires you to exercise the muscles of temporarily suspending what you want in order to understand and bring joy to your husband. . . .
Sex in marriage will always take on the form of the relationship, even for couples that try to use it to cover up other problems or to think of it as a separate issue. Many couples come to counseling complaining of problems sexually. Almost invariably, their sexual dynamics are a perfect illustration of what is happening throughout their entire relationship. . . .
If God created and defines sex as a “deep knowing” (“yada”), we can reason that the ultimate sexual satisfaction will be found when we are truly known by one another. If you want a satisfying sex life—to truly experience yada—friendship with your husband is the pathway to achieve it. When the deep knowing is given priority in our love lives, the physical aspect of sex just works better. . . .
Regardless of whether your sex life is sizzling or hibernating, my challenge to you is this: How can you begin to call out the strong leader in your husband?