Category Archives: Christian Living

SMART, SMARTER, and SMARTEST Goals

It’s fairly well known that SMART Goals are:

  • S -Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Actionable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time-Bound

Michael Hyatt adds ‘ER’ to make them even smarter:

  • E – Exciting
  • R – Relevant

And, finally, yours truly offers this approach to make them the smartEST goals for your life:

  • E – Exciting
  • S – Significant
  • T – Tied to God’s Glory

Resources for Responding to the Tragedy in Newtown, CT

It’s hard to come up with words to describe the pain and sorrow and confusion surrounding an event like yesterday. I’m posting some recommended resources to help those who want answers for how to cope in the aftermath of such a tragedy.

ARTICLES

Russell Moore > “School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare”

Excerpt… “Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.”

John Piper> “How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?”

Excerpt… “The God who draws near to Newtown is the suffering, sympathetic God-man, Jesus Christ. No one else can feel what he has felt. No one else can love like he can love. No one else can heal like he can heal. No one else can save like he can save.”

John Piper > “A Lesson for All from Newtown”

Excerpt… “Murdering a human being is an assault on God. He made us in his own image. Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged. Murdering God’s human image-bearer is not just murder. It’s treason — treason against the creator of the world. It is a capital crime — and more. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).”

Ed Stetzer > “Three Ways Christians Should Respond to the Horror of a Broken World”

Excerpt… “Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.”

Jen Wilkin > “A Day for Hatred”

Excerpt

“There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.

Nor should we want to.

As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior.”

BOOKS

A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada

From Grief to Glory: A Book of Comfort for Grieving Parents by James W. Bruce

When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes

PRAYERS

Lord, we tremble, for we know
How the fierce malicious foe,
Wheeling round his watchful flight,
Keeps them ever in his sight:

Spread Thy pinions, King of kings!
Hide them safe beneath Thy wings;
Lest the ravenous bird of prey
Stoop and bear the brood away.

– William Cowper (1731-1800)

A prayer from Scott Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church of Franklin, TN (written the night of the tragedy)…

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight —we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.

Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.

But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.

We cry out on behalf of the children of Newtown, those most directly affected by this evil, and for children throughout our country and the world, whose little hearts are reeling with fear and terror. Give parents wisdom and kindness, as they seek to love their children well, this night and in the coming days. Raise up gifted counselors and care givers to serve those most traumatized.

Lastly, Lord Jesus, we cry out with a loud voice, How long, O, Lord? How long before you return to eradicate all evil, redeem all tragedies, and make all things new? How long, O, Lord, how long? Your Bride weeps and waits for you. In your merciful and mighty name we pray.

LINKS

Chris Brauns has a very helpful list of links regarding the role of forgiveness in human caused tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

J. C. Ryle On Fleeing Sexual Immorality

Young man, I urge you, “flee sexual immorality” ( 1 Cor. 6:18) if you love life. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). Flee the occasions of it, – the company of those who draw you into it, – the places where you might be tempted to it. Read what our Lord said about it in Matthew 5:28. Be like holy Job: “Make a covenant with your eyes” (Job 31:1). Flee talking of it. It is one of the things ought not so much as to be named. You cannot handle tar and not be defiled. Flee the thoughts of it: resist them, mortify them, pray against them, – make any sacrifice rather than give way. Imagination is the hotbed where this sin is too often hatched. Guard your thoughts, and there is little fear about your deeds.

– J. C. Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men, pp. 30-31.

Slay the Dragon Early…

We all face various dragons in life. Michael Hyatt shares his wisdom on how to slay the dragon you might be facing today:

 I have learned by experience that my only chance at victory is to slay the dragon while it is still dark. Before the first rays of sunshine strengthen his already substantial advantage.

Fortunately, once again I prevailed. But my victory is short-lived. I will face him again tomorrow. And the day after that.

Although this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s not. It’s my reality, day after day. I face a dragon named Lethargy every morning. It has three heads: Pneuma (spiritual), Soma (physical), and Nous (intellectual).

If I don’t slay this dragon before breakfast, he usually gets the best of me. After breakfast—when the day’s activities are crowding into my life—my chances of doing battle and winning drop dramatically. Sometimes I can emerge victorious. But rarely.”

Read the whole thing HERE.