A Realization, A Reminder & An Experiment – January 21-22, 2023 (26-27/365)

Psalm 21/22 will probably be in another post. Here, though, I’m just trying to put all I have in my mind into one post. Feel free to skip this. It’s really just for me.

So this morning I hopped on a Zoom call, celebrating the 6th year anniversary of a ministry group focused on what I’m perceiving is church growth and expansion, specifically here in the Philippines. Of course, there was the conventional worship and testimonies, but in the style of this particular group, they couldn’t avoid getting everyone involved by way of grouping people, face to face or online in breakout groups, to discuss certain points relevant to the celebration.

I was sweating like a pig (I was working out as the event just kept going) as they pulled up two questions for discussion: (1) How would you encourage discipleship wherever you are? And (2) what gifts has God given you in particular when it comes to discipling others? If you don’t know these gifts, pray to God to reveal them to you. (Note that these questions are not verbatim.)

Anyway, I didn’t bother to turn Audio or even Video on to give my answer. There were only two of us in the breakout room, and whether the other person was aware of it or not, I posted the following in the chatbox:

(1) I believe that one way for us to create disciples is to engage in discipling ourselves as well. This just means that we take whatever methods and best practices have been passed on to us, and we own them by applying them and enjoying them in our own lives. This way, there would be the distinct possibility that those within our spheres of influence would naturally notice Christ in us… And when they see Christ, they would naturally be drawn to the goodness of God, the same goodness that would lead them to repentance (‘metanoia’, or changing of their mind/the way they think), resulting in change, and more importantly, growth.

(2) I couldn’t say I know what gifts I have precisely for discipleship, but I do know that I enjoy talking and writing and just overall communication. Ironically, I’m not very social, but I suppose that’s what I’m to pray to the Lord about.

At the very last minute the other person I was in the room with responded by saying that discipleship begins with the family… and while I would like to think that this is a no-brainer, fully under anyone’s sphere of influence, I am also reminded of how other people grow up alone, or otherwise away from their own families.

But regardless of if we have access to our families or not, I suppose the collective point I’m clarifying with myself here is that we would do well to disciple ourselves before we even think of discipling others. We help ourselves to help others. And we in the body of Christ would make the most time in helping ourselves by recognizing that, first and foremost, we’ve been helped by no less than the Son of God, who was born as one of us, lay down His life, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, fully reconciling us to God.

The more we preach this to ourselves, the more we are not only able to preach explicitly to others, but, surprisingly, we are also able to spread the Gospel indirectly, through the lives we live. In the process we discover more of and about the gifts God has given us, more of and about how God designed us specifically to add value to this world.

So that was done this morning. After bringing my Mom to where she needed to be before lunch, I headed straight here, to church. I had the car washed up front before parking inside the compound, and here I am, writing, in between trying to figure out how I’m going to hit 12000 steps today.

See, the workout plan I’m following had me doing a grotesque number of burpees, but I was supposed to do them after a 60-minute run. I barely had enough time to finish the burpees, and now I’m just thinking 12000 steps today will more or less cover the running requirement.

Anyway, I did say I was writing; And though I did want to share what I did in the first section of this article, I did want to sort of evaluate how I was doing, considering what I set off to try doing on a daily basis on the first days of this year.

Off the bat I’ll say that while I was surely compliant with what I needed to do, I’m (1) taking a whole lot more time in getting it done, and (2) I’m not necessarily getting it all done as I intended do, at the first hours of the day. What I said ought to have taken me 2 hours is taking my entire morning, and I’m not doing it between 5-7 in the morning as I wanted… I’ve actually been getting out of bed a full hour later, just to quickly click on what I need to click on the main computer right before 8am. I’ve definitely been stepping up with my 1000 words a day, my exercises, and my stretching, but I haven’t been praying, nor have I been helping my cousin out with chores in the morning as I wanted to.

The one thing I think that will help me get back on track with regards to doing what I want to do within a fixed amount of time, in the time period I prefer? I think it’s probably more of me sleeping earlier. And that’s probably another area of improvement: I keep saying I shouldn’t be using my phone right before I sleep, and that’s precisely what I’ve been doing since the start of this year. I know that I have books at my bedside, and I think I should be more firm with myself in signing off from the world at an earlier time in the evening. It’d be ultimately be good for me and Ann.

I’m realizing how much of an improvement it is in terms of consistency, to consider iterations not as contributing to a streak, but to averages. When I was trying to quit smoking, I tried counting the number of days I was without a puff and was amazed but at the same time intimidated as days turned into weeks… Because I was sure that as soon as I lit a cigarette, this gargantuan number would easily be brought back to zero, just like that. Then came the time I had a strong realization which led to my prioritizing my health – a realization so strong that I chose to stop smoking cold turkey. I wasn’t thinking about keeping a streak. I wasn’t counting.

When I was trying to quit porn, I found that I needed something more than a streak to keep me going, and apparently I needed something stronger than a realization to stay consistent – and, again, that’s where the thought of averages came in. If, say, I was porn-free for 9 days straight, but then I fell short on the tenth day… in terms of a streak, I’d be back to zero, but if I was to think in terms of averages, I’d still be up 90% in terms of consistency.

So considering everything I wanted to do since the start of the year, well, I’ve been holding higher consistency rates when it comes to my working out and my writing. However, I’m still at close to zero when it comes to the other stuff. And there’s the downside to thinking in averages, I guess.. One good day all of a sudden, after weeks of nothing, is not going to make much of a difference. But if you take a step or five back, you’d realize that if you were consistent in your holding off on it, it just makes sense that you need to be consistent in putting your numbers back up.

And in the bigger picture, I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that, if you’re trying to quantify your productivity, you might as well do it in a way that would actually get you to be productive, instead of bringing you that much closer to self-condemnation, leading to binges and similar self-destructive activities.

I decided earlier this week that I would continue talking about movement this coming Sunday. The precise theme I rolled out to my team was, ‘The more you focus, the more you move, and the more you move, the more you focus.’

Off the bat I remember Jim Kwik talking about how, when we drive, the faster our car goes, the more we’re focused. We keep our eyes on the road, we keep our eyes out for any possible obstructions ahead. We evaluate each and every movement within our line of sight and make sure that we wouldn’t be hitting anyone or anything.

When we’re in heavy traffic, we’re good with staying pretty close to the car in front of us… but we don’t make the mistake of staying that close when we’re all supposed to be moving at a minimum of 60 kilometers an hour, and a maximum of 100 kilometers an hour. Lanz, a friend of mine, reminded me that in the expressway, you shouldn’t even be a car’s length away from any car in front or behind you… His standard is to maintain one bus’ length.

It’s the same when we’re concentrated in any other sort of effort or endeavor. The higher the stakes, the more we focus on what matters, and the less we care about what doesn’t affect our immediate movements. And, in fact, if we don’t find ourselves in those high-stake situations often, we find ourselves in a unique learning opportunity that would have us clearly seeing what’s more important, and what isn’t as necessary.

Now if I’m being honest I’m not really sure how this ties into ministry… perhaps if we get more involved, and if we do as CB Samuel would suggest – that is, to focus more on the people within our influence, we would naturally discover how the sound system of our church facilities don’t hold as much priority as, say, simple travel funds to get to a family Bible study.

The more we move and involve ourselves in actually reaching out to people, online or face to face, the more we focus – that is, the more we place priority to their related activities and resources. Consequently, the more we focus on the word and the Gospel that we set out to preach, the more we are inspired and motivated to move out and reach out to our families and to more communities.

And if I’m being honest, it shouldn’t take me a half hour to present and elaborate that point…

…and here’s where I’m appreciating ChatGPT. See, I asked it a specific question: “Create a sermon outline with the theme, “The More You Focus, The More You Move”. Cite verses from The New Testament.”; I was impressed at what the AI produced from this, so I decided to push it further, adding the other side to the coin: “Create a sermon outline with the theme, “The More You Focus, The More You Move, And The More You Move, The More You Focus”. Cite verses from The New Testament.”

What follows is an actual outline combining the results of both responses by ChatGPT, complete with verses… but with some commentary from me. And some re-arrangement.

Announcements: Mama Nitz’ Birthday, GLI on January 28

I. Introduction

  • Introduce the theme, “The More You Focus, The More You Move, And The More You Move, The More You Focus”
    • When you move, you focus.  The faster you drive, the more focused you are.
    • When you focus, you move. The more you learn about something, the more you’re inclined to move to try it out.

II. On Focus

  • Cite Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
    • Focus involves forgetfulness. Or, rather, setting things aside. Making space.
  • Cite Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
    • Focus involves intention. Or, concentrating on things. Devoting energy to something.
    • Focus involves purposely looking away from things, and intentionally looking at things.

III. Focus, unto Movement

  • Discuss how movement, or taking action, is necessary to achieve our goals
  • Cite James 2:17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
    • You cannot talk about faith without talking about works. This is not to say that you have to prove your faith by your works. But rather, I see it the same way we say that we do not work for our salvation, but we work OUT our salvation. We work from our faith. We work out of our faith.
    • If you’re having trouble working, then you need to work on your faith.
    • In the same token, if you’re having trouble moving, then you need work on your focus.
    • But how do you work on your faith? How do you work on your focus?

IV. The Focus That Matters

  • Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
  • When we focus on things above, we are able to tap into a greater power and achieve things that we never thought possible.
  • Show how focus and movement are interconnected, and how one cannot be achieved without the other
  • Cite Proverbs 4:25, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”; This verse reminds us that when we have a clear focus, we are able to move forward and make progress in our lives.

V. Conclusion

  • Summarize the main points of the sermon
  • The more we focus on our goals and the things that are important to us, the more we will be able to move forward and achieve them. Remember to keep your focus on the things above and you will be able to tap into a greater power and achieve your goals.
  • Cite Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Let’s try this out, now.

Until the next post, God bless you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: