Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for your beautiful words of life, your Holy Bible full of wisdom, examples, guidance, instruction, promises, enlightenment, and life-giving knowledge. Thank you that your Word is such an encouragement at times, and a chastisement at other times. It helps me find answers to life questions that arise and gives me peace when I am confused. It teaches me about your power and love and reinforces the importance of following Jesus, my Savior, and of being a living testimony in this world.

Please forgive me for not spending as much time in your Word as I should. Give me a thirst for more of it. Instill in me that desire for studying and learning and appreciating your Word. And please, ingrain your Word in my heart and mind that the Holy Spirit might bring passages to my remembrance whenever they are needed.

Thank you, so much, for caring enough to provide your Word in print.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Presbyterians to Address Risks of Churches Leaving, Property Disputes

The departure of congregations from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) poses major risks, including the threat to both church unity and independence from the state, says one leader in the denomination.

Kears Pollock, moderator of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, has invited fellow Presbyterians to join an "informative" convocation, titled "Our Freedom of Religion at Risk – A Presbyterian Crisis," next year amid an exodus of a growing minority of congregations from the PC (USA).

"The unity of the church is at risk from within and from without," Pollock states in his invitation to the Feb. 19, 2009, event. "The current activities of some congregations and ministers encouraging division within the church can lead to subordination of the church to the state particularly when congregational sessions/trustees file civil suits against Presbyteries."

Pollock was addressing the court battles between congregations that left the denomination and their presbyteries – regional bodies of the PC (USA) – over church property ownership.
According to a June report by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, 40 presbyteries face, or have faced, legal battles or similar challenges.

Pollock believes involving the courts threatens the religious practices of the denomination. "Court orders to prevent presbyteries from dealing with division, disorder, disobedience, dismissal and determination of the true church threaten the beliefs and practices of our denomination," according to a promotional flier for the convocation.

"The evolving civil law in many jurisdictions appears intent on adopting a default condition of requiring all non-hierarchical denominations to be treated as congregational in character ignoring the Biblical and historical nature of Presbyterian ecclesiology," Pollock stated.
"It weakens the constitutional barrier against government interference in religion."

Conservative Presbyterians who have left the PC (USA) have argued that the denomination has abandoned its Reformed roots and biblical foundation. Controversy was stirred in 2001 when the General Assembly – the denomination's highest governing body – did not affirm the "singular" saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. Conservatives became even more discontent when the 2006 General Assembly adopted a resolution that some believe allowed leeway for homosexual ordination.

Furthermore, this past summer the high governing body voted to remove from the denomination's constitution the requirement that clergy live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness." The proposal has been relegated to the presbyteries for approval.

The Pittsburgh moderator suggested that Presbyterians in property disputes are practicing "me centered" religion.

"We have not emphasized fully that Christ’s church is not the building where one worships. Nor is the church the congregation of one’s membership. Rather, we are one church united by the shared covenant through Christ and ultimately, through ecumenism, connected with the whole church, catholic," Pollock stated.

The Feb. 19 convocation will be webcast on the Pittsburgh Presbytery website.

[from The Christian Post RSS Feed by Lillian Kwon]

Tips for a More Productive Day

Those of you familiar with Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will recognize the term Quadrant II manager. This ideal manager recognizes that time spent on the important but non-urgent aspects of her business are the most vital for success. The Quadrant II manager spends time during the work day on long-term planning, developing relationships and training staff to take on delegated tasks. Note that she spends virtually no time answering email, plowing through an inbox or attending meetings.

Many leaders operate solo; they're the cook, maitre d', busboy and bottle washer. Many have families to attend to and are desperately trying to keep all the plates on the tray without dropping any. I believe that's why so many fail. There's no way to manage that kind of chaos the way most of us try to manage.

If you find yourself working night and day and still feel you're accomplishing nothing, stop, take stock and try a new approach.

Measure Productivity

I'm going to assume that you have a long-term (five years) and shorter-term (six months to one year) vision. Your daily activities and actions are guided by this vision, so it's critical to start with a solid blueprint.

This big vision will be accomplished in small steps, taking action consistently over time. Once you acknowledge that you can't possibly do everything you think you should do, have to do or want to do, ask the question "What is the best use of my time and energy today?"

Beth and James Hood, co-founders of "Where's the Map" a site that helps high school and college students make their transition into the working world, have one- and five-year plans for their income, products and impact.

They break down that vision into smaller pieces that I call spokes, and these are what determine their daily actions. For example, they have a long-term goal of being sought-after speakers on college campuses. The spoke they are working on is "Build a national platform for speaking." Activities that might flow from that spoke include: Create a speaker and press kit, schedule 10 radio interviews a month, add 1,000 people per month to the Web site, and refine presentation skills.

Each day they make a list of the six most important things they can do to move forward on their spoke. The actions are simple, small and measurable. They put no more than six on the list at a time. Then they schedule a two-hour chunk of time during the day when they can turn off their phone and focus on taking those six steps. If they don't finish, they roll the items over to the next day, making sure to finish the carry-over items first.

They also have spokes that relate to the deeper values in their lives: their marriage, their home and physical environment, service to the community, spiritual practice, etc. Each of these has action items as well.

In this way, the Hoods accomplish six steps toward their long-term goal in a short period of time each day. At the end of the day, they can measure their productivity in small, consistent actions. The list becomes a sort of diary of accomplishments, and they can refer to it for motivation.

Juggling Your Projects

Take an inventory of everything you do in your day. If you're like most leaders, you didn't consciously choose those projects. Take 10 minutes right now, and make the following lists:

- The projects I'm currently working on.
- The roles I'm handling (parent, spouse, manager, thought leader, accountant, mail clerk, etc.) Be honest and list them all.
- All the things that are on your mind that you aren't getting to (unfinished business, creative pursuits, new project ideas, etc.).

Now, looking through the filter of your long-term goals, which of these roles and projects emerge as priorities? Which are the ones that if you paid full and consistent attention to would make the biggest difference in your feelings of vitality, your relationships and your success?

If you take these top priorities and apply the method outlined in the section above, you'll see an immediate increase in energy and productivity.

Doing "enough" is a decision, not a thing. If you're clear on your VISION, have balanced your priorities to include health, relationships and inner work, and you are taking small, consistent actions each day, you are doing the best you can. Act as if you've done enough, acknowledge yourself, rest and rejuvenate, and watch your results expand.

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