From Head to Heart to Hands

Sometimes it takes a combination of events to get a message through my hard head. Motivated by the great weather my wife and I enjoyed a fun and active day yesterday. It seems I was busy “doing” all day. I observed lots of road work, but with many of the workers taking breaks, sitting or lounging on the side of the road, checking their phones. I read an article entitled “Why Sitting Too Much Harms Our Bodies.” All this got me thinking about how important it is to move from thinking about things to caring passionately about them, to doing something about them: from head to heart to hands.

Recently there has been renewed interest in  the life and writings of Francis of Assisi, principally because the new Pope chose to adopt his name. Francis shook up the church of his day with his emphasis on doing over meditating and contemplating.  As Richard Rohr has noted:

Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses the word doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to 5. Heart is used 42 times to 1 use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only 1 time. This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway from then on. Francis took prayer on the road and into the activity of life itself, . . .  [this] approach has been called a “performative spirituality” which means that things are only found to be true in the doing of them.

This is a media and communication age. We spend hours absorbing and producing social media, living in the cloud. We just seem to “do” less. “Christian” seems to say more what we believe than how we live. It’s why I’ve chosen the “do” word of “Follower.” It just seems to me that there is way too much thinking, and talking, even a lot of passionate feeling and believing,  and not nearly enough doing.

As an attorney I specialize in thinking and talking and convincing. As a blogger I love recording thoughts and conveying ideas. All that is great and has a place. I’m just feeling a great complusion to spend less time thinking and communicating. It’s just not even enough to feel passionately about all that needs to be done. It’s time to do. What do you say? Even better, what do you do?

What an Absolutely Glorious Morning

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What an absolutely glorious morning. I know this even though just the first hints of dawn are peaking through. I am doing something I almost never do. I’m sitting on our patio drinking a cup of coffee and absorbing the cool dry air. From where I sit I can watch as the light begins to fill the eastern sky over Bayou Tortue. I can hear the birds as they begin to stir. They must be female birds, talking so much so early. A day like this has to be filled with wonderful promise and all good things.

I didn’t feel like this when I laid my head down last night. I was tired, discouraged, and drained. I fell asleep wondering what new horror the next day would bring. I needed rest and refreshment. I get it by falling asleep with Christian radio playing through my earbuds. The night alternates periods of restorative sleep with minutes of encouragement and hope piped into my soul. The combination performs the miracle of night.

The prosperity teachers are such liars. The Follower isn’t promised an easier life. I have observed that the more we strive to follow Jesus the harder, not easier, life is. Richard Rohr’s daily devotional email contained this:

An overly protected life–a life focused on thinking more than experiencing–does not know deeply or broadly. Jesus did not call us to the poor and to the pain only to be helpful; he called us to be in solidarity with the real and for own transformation. It is often only after the fact we realize that they helped us in ways we never knew we needed. This is sometimes called “reverse mission.” The ones we think we are “saving” end up saving us, and in the process, redefine the very meaning of salvation!

If we aren’t tired, discouraged and exhausted at the end of the day, we aren’t living we’re just existing. If we aren’t encouraged, pumped, excited and challenged at the beginning of the day, we aren’t Followers, we are lost and off course, or worse, stuck in the harbor.

The first hints of day have given way to enough light to reveal just some of the things that need to be done. The time for contemplation is over. It’s time to get going.

Blessings.

Get Fantastic and Focused – You Follower You

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We began registration for the Focused Fantastic Follower series yesterday at Amana. I was thrilled with the response. We are going to have a great group. Registration isn’t necessary. Drop ins are actually welcome. It is helpful to know if  you are planning to come, even if not every week so we can have enough material for everyone.

Here are the basics again:

Focused Fantastic Followers

Beginning August 30 on Sunday nights from 6 to 7 at Amana Christian Fellowship, 310 Milton Highway, Maurice.  Here’s a map. 

The sessions will last for 12 weeks and will be loosely based on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

We are going to give Covey’s great work a Follower of Christ spin. There is no charge. We aren’t selling anything.

You don’t need to have a copy of the book, but you may want one. It’s available in paperback. There is a Kindle  version and an audiobook version. All available from Amazon or from local bookstores. I have even see it at Wal-Mart. Yes I shop at Wal-Mart.

Let me know if you would like to be added to the list. Nick@Nicksigur.com

If you can’t join us, your prayer support would be greatly appreciated.

Soul on Fire

I was working on the Fantastic Focused Follower program, listening to praise music, when the song, Soul on Fire began. It summarizes what the Fantastic Focused Follower concept is all about, a Soul on Fire.

Consider the first verse:

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

The essence of being a Fantastic Focused Follower is not just having a desire to know and share the heart of God,  but to do so with such enthusiasm that it’s best described as “running” for that heart. It’s not just wanting to have the heart of God, sharing His desires and His thoughts but “longing for Your ways.”

I don’t know why we think that we can have the heart of God without action.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do. Acts 13:22.

We have to run after the heart of God and long to do the things God would have us do. Perhaps most important of all is to realize that we can’t run ahead of God. We can’t have the enthusiasm, the motivation, the longing, and certainly not the action without the intervention of God himself.  I’m waiting for the day, when I am a soul on fire. We have to want, earnestly desire and run after being a soul on fire for God, but only God can light that fire.

Why is having a soul on fire for God so important? Because without it we are joyless, purposeless, lost,  wandering and in darkness. We are distracted by all the world has to offer, unable to see the God who loves and created us.

Lord, restore the joy I had
I have wandered, bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Focused and Fanatical Followers

I love Kyle Idelman’s Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. It convinced me that we are called to be more than fans of Jesus. It lead me to stop being satisfied calling myself a Christian, a term which has lost real meaning. Folks call themselves “Christian” if:

  • Their mom was a Christian.
  • They go to church.
  • They’ve been baptized.
  • They live in a “Christian” country.
  • They are a good person.
  • They believe in Jesus.

I can claim all of those criteria (well maybe not the Christian country), so what? That doesn’t define who I am in Christ. I’m a follower of Jesus. The problem is I’m not always a “Completely Committed Follower of Jesus.”

A Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, it seems to me, needs to be focused and fanatical.  Isn’t that what it means to be “Completely Committed?” I am sometimes unfocused, sometimes unenthusiastic, and sometimes drift. Sometimes I’m all three simultaneously.  I don’t think I’m the only one.

We should be called “fanatical.”  I agree with Idelman that it’s not enough just to be a fan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be fanatical. That means we are zealous, extremist, extreme, militant, dogmatic, radical, diehard,single-minded, blinkered, inflexible, uncompromising, hardcore. It means the same as enthusiastic, eager, keen, overkeen, fervent, ardent, passionateobsessive, obsessed, fixated, compulsivewild, gung-ho, nuts,crazy, hog-wild. Okay, so some of those words might be a bit over the top but they capture the truth of what we should be.  We can’t be fanatical and expect to live a “normal” life.

A fanatical focused follower doesn’t rely on the rightness of his beliefs or the goodness of actions. His reliance is completely on Jesus. He is, however, identified by how he lives, loves and looks like Jesus. His walk is minute-by-minute and impacts every thing he does.

That brings me to the 7 Habits. They are practical guides on what we do, how we act, how we relate. Our habits are what we do every day. They are the practical elements of our focused fanatical following. We are guided by proper principles, but not just what we determined are proper, but the principles Jesus taught and lived. We are focused on success but we don’t measure it by what we have or achieve but by how closely we follow and mirror our leader.

That’s why I am excited about 6 pm on Sunday nights at Amana. That’s why I’m pumped.

Are you?

 

 

Fall’s Fresh Focused Fantastic Fans

I love the fall. To me it’s the season of new beginnings. I guess this goes back to beginning the new school  year as a kid. I loved the fresh start of new books and empty notebooks. The break in the summer heat is welcome. Every football team is undefeated. Every football fan loves this time of the year.

I know its only mid-August but the daily rains seem to have broken the back of the oppressive heat and at least a few leaves are falling. I’ve already started acting like it’s fall. I’ve planted seeds for a fall garden and the new plants are emerging.

Fall seems to me a better time for fresh starts than the days of New Year resolutions or the “new life” season of spring. That brings me to Fall’s Fresh Focused Fantastic Fans. I’ll be leading a group on Sunday nights at my home church, Amana Christian Fellowship in Maurice. It’s a project I’ve had in the works for years.

In the 90’s I was fascinated by Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change which was first published in 1990, and it continues to be a business bestseller with more than 10 million copies sold.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most influential audiobooks ever recorded. It presents a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. The 7 Habits have become famous because they work. The project was rekindled for me this summer when I heard by first grader great grand child reciting the 7 habits. She had learned them in school.

Wouldn’t it be great to combine the principles of Covey’s book with the potency of change that comes with a life transformed by the new birth that comes with following Jesus? The essence of the 7 Habits is the substitution of a “character” ethic for the “personality” ethic which the author sees as the current ethic of our culture. In the “personality” ethic, appearance trumps substance. Self help courses teach manipulation of others and “effective presentation.” Covey says: “our problems and pain are universal and increasing and the solutions to the problems are and always will be based on universal, timeless, self-evident principles common to every enduring, prospering society throughout history.”

The Fantastic Focused Follower sessions will energize many of the principles of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  which are already generally consistent with scripture, by solidifying them with biblical truth. Covey’s principles, while a great improvement over an unprincipled life, are vague and subjective. They lack the clarity and power of “absolute truth” and the authority of God-given law. Covey provides “universal” principles trying to help everyone, regardless of spiritual belief. But as we Christians know, there is absolute truth and only through the new birth in Christ is a real permanent “character” change possible.

Image internationally acclaimed principles empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s what Fantastic Focused Follower is about. I hope you will consider joining us at Amana at 6 p.m. on Sunday evenings for 12 weeks beginning August 30. The sessions will only last an hour. Some of us with eat supper together after the meetings at various eateries around town.

Between now and the beginning of the sessions, I will use this “bully” blog to try to entice you to join us. Hope you will join us in this exciting way to become one of Fall’s Fresh Focused Fantastic Fans of Jesus.

My New Wallet

I got a new wallet. It seemed like a good idea. My old wallet was really old. It is kind of big and bulky. It was just inconsistent with my new perceived lighter and slimmer image.  The new wallet was really cheap, but is “genuine” leather. It holds one picture id. It has three slots for various cards. It has a really cool magnetic clip for cash. It’s just perfect for my new quick and lighter life style.

When it arrived I excitedly pulled out my old wallet and began the transfer process. That’s when the trouble started. I had to decide which cards would make it to my new slimmed down wallet. I put my cash in. I don’t carry much cash so that was pretty easy. Then I slipped in my driver’s license in the slot designed for that purpose. My debit card was next. It’s the reason I don’t carry much cash.  I was feeling pretty cool and modern.

I just had to decide what would go into the other two slots. That’s when things got real serious. What about my medicare card, my medicare supplement card, my drug supplement card. I solved that one with an app on my iPhone. I took pictures of those items and put the originals in my old wallet. It was then I realized I would have to keep my old wallet.

What about my Bar Association card? I’m not that proud of being a lawyer. I took a picture of it and into my old wallet it went. Same thing with my notary id.

What about my handicap id? Yes I have a handicap id. I got it before my knee surgery. It expires next month and I haven’t needed it for a long time. I just keep it for emergencies, like needing a close place to park at Wal-Mart. Into the old wallet it went.

Then there’s that stack of credit cards I kept in old wallet, just in case. In the old wallet they stayed. All except the Sam’s Club Card. It’s a credit card but I also need it to get into Sam’s. Got to have that. The older you get the more  you need Sam’s. I’m not sure why.

What about my AARP card? Sadly I don’t need proof I’m over 50. In the old wallet it stayed.

What about my award cards, my Starbucks card, my Walgreens, my Smoothie King (part of my new lighter life style). Turns out there are apps for that. What did I do before I had an iPhone?

So now I’m ready for my new life style. I have my new wallet with one empty slot. I have a place hidden in my truck for my old wallet. If I lose my iPhone I’m really in trouble. I wonder if my wife has an old purse I could use.

Come on world, I’m ready for you.

 

 

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I am excited  about a new ministry opportunity I will be involved in this fall, AMI Kids Acadiana Prayer and Share. AMI Kids Acadiana has a residential facility in Branch, Louisiana. AMI Kids provides an opportunity for teen age boys to separate a troubled past from a bright future. These boys have been placed in the AMI Kids program as an alternative to incarceration. The AMI Prayer and Share group will provide a weekly prayer and share experience for the boys as well as individual mentors for each boy. Our ministry group consists of men of varied races and denominations. It’s a great group of Christian guys.

On August 29, we will have a kick off event. It will be a barbecue at the facility to give the kids an opportunity to met the men and learn about the ministry. We could use some help with desserts and side dishes. If you would like to assist please let me know.

We will also need, of course, prayer support. I will try to periodically report on the ministry through this blog.

You may contact me at 337-205-2353 by phone or text or nick@nicksigur.com.

Thanks for listening.