Show resolve, not wishful thinking

Mat Perman, over at What’s Best Next, has a good post about why most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions — and how to keep yours. The idea of why people don’t is that they never envision how they will fit into their schedules. So, their resolutions never translate into anything more than wishful thinking. Something needs to happen. Perman explains:

Think of an Olympic athlete. They don’t simply say “my goal is to win the gold medal.” Instead, they adhere to a workout schedule. Without that concrete mechanism of action, the goal would simply be wishful thinking.

Now, what about those more intangible aims such as “lose 10 pounds”? How do you schedule that? Obviously you can schedule the exercise portion of that goal. But what about the “eating less” portion? Speaking from experience, it’s easy to get to the dinner table and forget (or deliberately neglect?) all intentions of eating healthy.

This is where reviewing your goals comes in. Mindsets that need to be more or less continuous (like “eat less”) tend to be kept in mind through regular review until they become second nature. The weekly review helps accomplish this; for things that tend to fall out of mind easily (like “eat less”), just pausing at the beginning of your work day to remember your aims can be helpful.

Which leads to one last thing: you have to keep your number of resolutions small. It’s not possible to create actionable mechanisms for or keep in mind a large number of new (or renewed) aims.

Also good to consider:

God approves of New Year’s resolutions

What if I fail?

A great site to aid your devotions

Devotional Christian

Tony Kummer has created a wonderful site to help your daily devotions. Here is a brief description of what it does:

Devotional Christian makes it easy to read your daily Bible devotional online. We list all the best Christian devotionals on one page. We aggreagate daily Bible devotions and present them in a user friendly format.

Here are just some of the devotionals that can be found there:

  • My Utmost For His Highest
  • Our Daily Bread Devotional
  • Pray for World Missions
  • Charles Spurgeon Devotional
  • A.W. Tozer Devotions
  • Max Lucado Devotion
  • Billy Graham Devotions
  • John MacArthur Devotions
  • Read Through The Bible Daily (ESV)

An alternative to Strunk and White, for you nerds out there

Merriam-Webster's Concise DictionaryBecause I am one of those nerds who cares about what is the right word to use, I have taken note that today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.  

I read this article a few days ago and have to admit was amused by the writer’s vehemence against EoS. I was also in agreement on some points. Abraham Piper, the Web content editor at Desiring God, today offers this helpful post over at Between Two Worlds that doesn’t come down so hard on Elements of Style but points to the usefulness of Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage.

If you care about presenting your words in a clear way and how they fit together, then this book is worth your time. You just may be a nerd, too, but that’s all right.

When a believer commits suicide

It is a tragic thing when someone commits suicide. A life ended prematurely leaves questions, raises doubts, shakes our beliefs. Suicide touches the lives of many, either through a family relationship or through acquaintance. It is so shocking that one cannot ignore it, yet it is something, because it is so disturbing, that is not spoken about widely.

A valuable resource to help that discussion comes from Desiring God and John Piper, who have published services that Pastor Piper has led for those who have committed suicide. For the families who have graciously shared what must have been one of the most painful moments in their lives, we can be grateful in that these powerful messages can give insight, comfort and guidance to those who have or who are struggling with similar circumstances.

From one of those services, the funeral message for Luke Kenneth Anderson, Piper says this about suicide committed by someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ:

[L]et me put a biblical stake in the ground and then fasten to it a banner of hope.

The stake is this: True Christians can commit suicide. Or to put it another way: There is nothing unique or peculiar about the final act of life that makes it determinative in validating or nullifying our salvation. Or let me say it another way: The final season of faith with all its battles and failures is not the only season of faith that will bear witness in the Last Day that we were born again.

Piper, in this message and others, explains with expositional precision why he believes this way. These are questions we don’t ask ourselves or perhaps don’t allow ourselves to ask. But nonetheless they are important because, like my daughter experienced this past week, there will be times when you are confronted with a tragic suicide by someone you knew and questions will come.

The messages are all available online to read or even listen to the audio.

Funeral Meditation for a Christian Who Commits Suicide

Funeral Meditation for a Christian Who Commits Suicide (1988)

Also, this may also be helpful:

Can Christians be depressed?

What to say to someone who is depressed, angry, doubting or skeptical

If we call ourselves Christians, then we are to take to heart the Bible’s instructions to bear one another’s burdens. And, in this day and age, there are many things we are burdened with whether it’s finances, relationships, family, health or career. At the Desiring God blog, pastor John Piper gives great counsel about what to say to those who are depressed, angry, doubting or skeptical:

1. Don’t be offended.

First, resist the temptation to be offended. Don’t pout or take your ball and go home. That’s what you may feel like. They wanted to talk, and here they are throwing my suggestions back in my face with a dismissive attitude. Don’t leave. Not yet. “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV).

2. Listen.

Second, listen to their responses. Part of your power is not only what you say, but how they feel about the way you listen. If your truth produces empathetic ears, it will feel more compelling. This listening will be a witness. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes the kind of engagement that may set people free from sin and error. One feature is “patiently enduring evil.”

3. End with hope.

Third, when you have spoken all the experiential counsel you can think of, and they seem to have demeaned it all, don’t let them have the last word of despair. You leave the last word of hope.

Read the whole thing.

What do CC and BCC mean in e-mail and why it should matter to you

There are no written rules on how to do e-mail. At least there are no set of requirements you must fulfill before you can send mail electronically. But, that said, there are ways you can send e-mail that would be more gracious than others.

When it comes to e-mail etiquette, there may be many who aren’t aware that not everyone wishes to have their addresses forwarded along with the latest funny joke or picture that’s being passed along. Perhaps it may be due to the fact that the senders (or forwarders) are unaware of what the “CC,” “BCC” and “Reply” buttons or commands do.

The “CC” field stands for “Carbon Copy,” which in this day and age may have next to no meaning for most e-mail users. Carbon copy refers to the old days of typing when an actual carbon page was placed between two pages when typing to insure that one page would be carboned (or copied) to the other. Thus, the idea is that putting an address — or addresses —  in the CC field copies that message to that (or those) addresses. The recipient(s) will see those addresses when they receive the e-mail.

The “BCC” field stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” Understanding what CC does, you can see how BCC works. Basically it allows the sender to copy a message to another address or addresses without the recipient seeing those addresses. You can send an e-mail with the “To” field empty and addresses in either the “CC” or “BCC” fields and the message will still be sent.

So, why is this important? Well, consider the fact that sending a forwarded e-mail that is filled with addresses is a) rude to the recipient and b) possibly opening those recipients up to spammers. After all, did the people in your address book actually ask you to send their address all over the Internet? Even on a basic level, how much will your recipient enjoy your message when they have to scroll through a long list of addresses before they get to it?

That being said, it would probably be better to learn how to use the CC and BCC fields if you absolutely must forward that joke or picture. This is how it would work: Uncle Larry sends you a hilarious joke and you want to share it with your entire address book. When you hit forward and the message field opens up, you can leave the “To” and “CC” fields blank and then put your addresses in the “BCC” field and then hit send.

On a somewhat related note, suppose you’re replying to a message. Again, the same principles hold. Don’t clutter the message by filling up the “To” and “CC” fields unless you want to document to the group who saw the message and reply. Also, if you want to reply to just the sender and not the entire group, don’t hit reply all but rather just reply.

This might seem like a lot of work for something that works pretty easy already. But, like saying “please” and “thank you,” a little politeness can go a long way.

A call for endurance of the saints

A Call For the Endurance of the Saints" is a collection of messages from the 2007 Desiring God National Conference
"Stand: A Call For the Endurance of the Saints" is a collection of messages from the 2007 Desiring God National Conference.

As they have done in past years, the folks at Desiring God have collected the talks given at the national conference and put them in book form. The 2007 conference, Stand: A Call For the Endurance of the Faith, is now being offered as a book.

Here is what it says about the book from the DG site:

Many people seek to better their lives by leaving, changing, swapping, or modifying their commitments.  But God’s Word holds up a beautiful value that, while difficult, leads to deep satisfaction and great reward: endurance. Such long, steady, hold-the-course perseverance is especially needed within our vacillating generation.

This thoughtful series, taken from the Desiring God 2007 National Conference, not only elevates the virtue of godly endurance but bears witness to its power in the Christian life through the exhortations of John Piper, John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn and Helen Roseveare.  Each contributor represents a different kind of endurance: from MacArthur’s longtime, faithful shepherding of a church to Alcorn’s radical obedience in the culture wars, from Bridges’ unswerving patience through suffering to Roseveare’s courageous constancy on the war-torn mission field.

Stand will awaken and solidify rugged, Christ-exalting endurance in people who are weary in their faith journey or who simply long to remain firm to the end.  And for everyone who dreams of a Christian culture-shift from brief trial runs to lifelong commitments, this latest offering is a watershed that will serve to seal that vision in people’s minds and hearts.

You can order the book here or, if you want, you can go here to listen, view or download the messages. The topics include:

  • Certainties that Drive Enduring Ministry, Part 1 (John MacArthur)
  • A Conversation with John Piper and John MacArthur
  • Four Essentials to Finishing Well (Jerry Bridges)
  • Certainties That Drive Enduring Ministry, Part 2 (John MacArthur)
  • Today’s Decisions Determine Who You’ll Be Tomorrow (Randy Alcorn)
  • Speaker Panel Q&A (Various)
  • A Call for the Perseverance of the Saints (Helen Roseveare)
  • Getting Old for the Glory of God (John Piper)

Fight to go forward or you will regress

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. — I Timothy 6:12

John Piper spoke at New Attitude over the weekend in Louisville, Ky. His two messages were Fighting for Faith with God’s Word and William Tyndale: A Life Transformed by God’s Word. New Attitude is a conference that has been going on for a few years, promoting something called humble orthodoxy. Of particular interest — and benefit — is his how-to for studying your Bible regularly.