Book Review: What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

What’s the best book that you should read next? I would have to suggest Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. 

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This is the most important productivity book that I have ever read. It approaches productivity from a Christian view in light of eternity and exposes the global mission of the individual.

This introduction offers this thesis:

“The essence of gospel driven productivity is this: we are to use all that we have, in all areas of life, for the good of others, to the glory of God-and that this is the most exciting life. To be gospel driven Christian means to be on the lookout to do good for others to the glory of God, in all areas of life, and to do this with creativity and competence. Further, being gospel driven also means knowing how to get things done so that we can serve others in a way that really helps, in all areas of life, without making ourselves miserable in the process to overload, overwhelmed, and hard to keep up systems.”

Matt Perman doesn’t just give us a philosophy of productivity. He gives us a practical process. Like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, He helps you build an entire productivity system that can be adjusted to suit your personality and work style.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is the author’s use of the Scriptures in proving his productivity philosophy and process. Never have I seen the topic of productivity so closely tied to the Gospel. It is God’s desire for His people to be productive in expanding the Kingdom of God.

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Book Review: The Deeper Life by Daniel Henderson

Every person on earth has a desire to understand their purpose and place in this life. In The Deeper Life Daniel Henderson identifies and explores the “eight vital longings of your soul,” establishing the questions and providing guidelines for arriving at the appropriate answers. Those eight longings expressed in the form of a questions are:

  1. Who Is God? (My Theology)
  2. Who Am I? (My Identity)
  3. Why Am I Here? (My Purpose)
  4. What Really Matters? (My Values)
  5. What Shall I Do? (My Priorities)
  6. How Shall I Do It? (My Goals)
  7. When Shall I Do It? (My Time)
  8. How Will I Finish? (My Legacy)

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This book is divided into two parts. The first part is very informational. Henderson reviews these eight longings, giving guidelines to properly answering each question and guiding the individual to arrive at answers that are uniquely their own. As you read this section you will discover that your theology is the basis of your identity. Your identity is expressed through a clear purpose. Your purpose is guided by values. Your values determine your priorities. Your priorities are implemented by your goals. Your goals are accomplished by your stewardship of time. And all of this, when understood clearly and embraced daily, results in a legacy that really matters.

The second part of the book is very practical. It is the application of all that was learned in parts one. Henderson guides the reader through a series of exercises to answer the eight questions satisfying the eight vital longings of the soul. The combination of information and practical application in this book make it a wonderful read for anyone who struggles to find their identity, understand their purpose, and establish and accomplish their goals. When we prayerfully answer these questions we begin to understand and fulfill our life’s purpose.

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review of the book. All opinions are mine.

Book Review: 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. Smith

Teach us to number our DAYS, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

How old are you? I am 10, 307 today. Tomorrow I will be 10, 308. I’m not the oldest person alive, I’m simply changing how I measure the length of my life. We measure our lives in years but the Scriptures clearly teach the wisdom in numbering our days.

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This is the powerful practice that author Robert D. Smith conveys in 20,000 Days and CountingI have read many books on purpose, goal-setting, and time-management but the impact of this concise book was much deeper than others. It is written so that it will take the average person about an hour to read but you will want to read it twice and slow down to let every sentence sink in.

The chapter titled Motivation is a Myth (just one page) is worth the price of this book.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you find yourself in a rut. You will be encouraged to remember how short and fragile life is and how important it is to employ every day for the purpose God has intended for your life.

Today is a gift. Make sure you celebrate it by doing something important and worth-while.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Outlast the Stars

All Christians and all churches are engaged in one of three activities: guarding the dead past, creating fleshly trifles that will perish, or working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the constant creation of eternal treasure that will outlast stars. – Tozer

This quote has been on my mind and in my spirit for a while. It has caused me to take an honest look at my life direction. It is an irritant that is buried deep down in my soul and I am hoping it produces a pearl.

Photo by Adam Foster

Which activity are we engaged in?

Are we content with guarding a dead past? I am thankful for every blessing, every miracle, and every soul saved. I thank God for every great revival that has swept through this world but I am not satisfied with staying here. I’m not satisfied with guarding the gift that God gave us as if someone could come and take it away. He didn’t give us the gift to guard it, He gave us the gift so that we could share it. We must move forward from here.

However, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the second group; a group that is especially prevalent today. The plans that God has for us, the work He has called us to do, the revival that He wants to send, cannot be sustained by our own talent and creativity. Yes, God gave us the talent. Yes, God gave us the creativity. But these gifts can only be maximized when used under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot go forward without His leading.

I’m not interested in staying where we are and I’m not interested in moving forward on our own. I’m listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where He leads me, I will follow. It is my prayer that as I go, His will is accomplished and His Kingdom is advanced through me.

I’m going to be a part of something that outlasts the stars because I am going with Him.

A Man With A Plan: Reviewing Michael Hyatt’s “Creating Your Personal Life Plan”

I recently tweeted that I had downloaded Michael Hyatt’s first e-book, Creating Your Person Life Plan. A good friend of mine responded by asking my opinion of the book, asking if I thought Mr. Hyatt’s approach was Biblical. I’ve had other friends who suggested that goal-setting and life-planning of any kind were directly opposed to God’s Word.

I can understand the concern. After reading through Mr. Hyatt’s book, I must confess that I am not comfortable with all of the verbiage that he uses. For example, the subtitle of the book is “A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing the Life You’ve Always Wanted.” If I am responsible for designing my life, I’m afraid it will fall incredibly short of what it could be if I allow God to design it.

Also, Mr. Hyatt prioritizes his “life accounts,” stressing the importance of taking care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. His list looks like this:

1. God
2. Self
3. Gail (Spouse)
4. Children
5. Friends
6. Career
7. Finances
8. Ministry

Others would argue that “self” should come after others as we are called to be servants to all. The problem is in trying to list these accounts in order of importance. Rather than a list, I suggest we put our relationship with God at the center of our life. When our relationship with Him is correct, the other accounts are a natural outflow of this relationship.

That being said, Let me tell you why I love Mr. Hyatt’s book and how I have been using these ideas and resources for the past year.

If you know me well at all, you know that I am task oriented. I am a planner. I set goals and strive to meet those goals. I have been using the Life Plan format and the Weekly Review and Quarterly Review for the past year and I can honestly say that it has increased my focus and productivity by leaps and bounds.

The key is in how you use tools like these. Planning and goal setting can be dangerous or it can be beneficial depending upon your starting point. When I set goals, they are based on the vision and purpose that God has already revealed to me concerning His will for my life. I don’t use a Life Plan to design my life. Rather, I use it to move me forward in God’s revealed plan for my life.

And that has made all the difference.

Download a copy of Michael Hyatt’s e-book here.

Just Do Something: A Book Review

I recently read Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, author of Why We’re Not Emergent. I had to laugh at the subtitle to the book; How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. As you have probably already guessed, the book is about making decisions and ‘discovering’ the will of God for your life.

DeYoung points out that we tend to have three different meanings of ‘the will of God.’

  1. God’s will of decree. God’s will is always going to be done because He decrees it.
  2. God’s will of desire. God gave humanity a choice. It is His desire that we choose to obey the Word of God.
  3. God’s will of direction. Which, according to DeYoung, is mostly bunk (especially in terms of how we often use it.)

He makes the point that if we would have faith in God’s will of decree and obey God’s will of desire, then God’s will of direction will be taken care of.

God’s will for your life is already spelled out pretty plain in Scripture; it is God’s will for you to be sanctified, it is God’s will for you to go, teach, and baptize, and the list goes on. It is all there in the Word of God.

So what’s the problem? The problem is, we want answers about who to marry, what job to take, where to live, what college to go to, and this list goes on. In waiting to ‘find God’s will’ we delay making any choices and often believe that we are more spiritual when we are actually being indecisive.

What should we do? Have faith in God’s will of decree and obey God’s will of desire. Do those to things and then pray for wisdom and make choices about all the other stuff.

What are your thoughts on DeYoung’s thoughts concerning God’s will? I am still trying to sort it all out but I certainly think there is a lot of truth to what he has said.

The ‘How’ and the ‘Why’

I was intrigued by this poem today.  It may provide some inspiration for those of you who are reviewing 2010 and praying, planning, and preparing for 2011.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

I am any man’s suitor, If any will be my tutor: Some say this life is pleasant, Some think it speedeth fast: In time there is no present, In eternity no future, In eternity no past. We laugh, we cry, we are born, we die, Who will riddle me the how and the why?

The bulrush nods unto his brother The wheatears whisper to each other: What is it they say? What do they there? Why two and two make four? Why round is not square? Why the rocks stand still, and the light clouds fly? Why the heavy oak groans, and the white willows sigh? Why deep is not high, and high is not deep? Whether we wake or whether we sleep? Whether we sleep or whether we die? How you are you? Why I am I? Who will riddle me the how and the why?

The world is somewhat; it goes on somehow; But what is the meaning of then and now! I feel there is something; but how and what? I know there is somewhat; but what and why! I cannot tell if that somewhat be I.

The little bird pipeth ‘why! why!’ In the summerwoods when the sun falls low, And the great bird sits on the opposite bough, And stares in his face and shouts ‘how? how?’ And the black owl scuds down the mellow twilight, And chaunts ‘how? how?’ the whole of the night.

Why the life goes when the blood is spilt? What the life is? Where the soul may lie? Why a church is with a steeple built; And a house with a chimney-pot? Who will riddle me the how and the what? Who will riddle me the what and the why?

– Alfred Lord Tennyson (The Suppressed Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson)

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