Faith, Life, Time

Is The Devil Making You Too Busy?

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

Ever heard that before? I have, and boy if it isn’t true…

Sometimes I can get so busy doing good things that I forget to do what I was supposed to be focusing on.

What about you?

Between work, taking the kids to practice, studying for the next test, trying to keep the lawn looking good, trying to exercise, catching up on laundry, church activities, and parent-teacher meetings, our schedules look less like a family plan and more like a complex algebraic equation.

If I have to be at x by y and then I have to take child 1 to location b, will I have time to go through the drive through or will we all be eating those gummy fruit snacks for dinner for the second time this week?

And we know we need to cut things out, but what? I mean, it’s not like I am running drugs or killing puppies. If I was, it would be a no-brainer to cut those things out. “Hey, honey, if we stop stalking the neighbors, I think we’ll have time for a date night.” Hopefully that’s not the text message you send. I say text because you don’t have time to talk to your spouse. In fact, if it wasn’t for the picture of the two of you on social media, you may forget what they look like.

We’re too busy. I know, you’ve heard it before. But what do you cut out? Our schedules are full of good things. Sports are good. Getting your kids to youth volleyball, dance, and the traveling basketball team is good. Actually showing up to work is good. Folding laundry, that’s’ good. Studying for the exam coming up is good. It’s good. It’s all good.

And I think that’s’ the problem. Let that sink in. The problem is our schedules are full of good things.

And that’s bad.

Confused yet? Do I have your attention? Good. Perfect. Here’s the point: The Enemy of Great is Good.

The enemy of great is good. See, I believe that God has created us for great things that will bring Him glory (see Eph. 2:10). And if you’re a follower of Jesus, God has a task for you to do. And if the devil can’t cause you to walk away from faith, he’ll try to keep you so busy that you’ll be distracted from your faith.

Distraction. It’s a dirty word. It’s perhaps the most commonly committed sin in the North American Church today. In fact, it’s perhaps the root of almost any other sin we struggle with. What’s the first of the 10 Commandments? “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
When we’re distracted, we’re either putting something else ahead of God, or at the very least, we’re regulating God, and His call on our lives, to equal footing with all the other stuff we have going on.

You say: “Ok, Adam, since you seem to have all the answers, what am I supposed to do about it?”  

Well, first of all, you’re not alone. I’m guilty of this too. I get distracted by good things. My schedule is full of good things; things that need done; needs that should be met; obligations that I signed up for. I’m in this too. This post is for me as much as for you, maybe even more so.

But here’s what I am learning: God has some simple steps to stop being so busy and refocus.

Nehemiah was a guy who got things done. And just a quick scan of the Book of Nehemiah gives us 3 steps we can take to reclaim our mission and focus on the great things God wants us to.

1. Realize the Need.

If you don’t see the need to do something different, then you’re not going to change, and the situation is simply going to get worse. In Nehemiah 1, we see how Nehemiah heard about the bad shape Jerusalem was in. The city wall was destroyed, the citizens were discouraged. It was a mockery of God.

We need to realize that there is a problem in our lives. It may be our schedule reveals some deep needs in our lives that we’re trying to meet apart from the redemptive work of Christ, like trying to earn acceptance or praise of others. Or it could be that we just need to realize we’re not making enough time for what really counts. And that’s what leads me to the next step.

2. Reflect on priorities.

The first thing Nehemiah did when he got to Jerusalem was he took a trip around the city to see for himself what was really going on. He checked out the city, inside and out. He did this in secret, not making a show, so he would get an unbiased outlook.

What are you really doing with your time? Have you ever added up the time each week you devote to each task? Have you identified the absolute essentials? We often say “I need to do this or go there…” But that’s not really accurate, is it? Is anyone holding a gun to your head saying you MUST sign the kids up for dance, intro to yoga, softball, and concert band at the same time, in the same week? Did anyone really force to you say yes to helping with the Committee to Appoint More Committees to Do Nothing?

I’m not saying those things are bad. In fact, I think there is a lot of value in those things. What I am saying is that you and I need to reflect on what is most important.

When Nehemiah went around Jerusalem, I’m sure he saw lots of things that needed attention. Streets needed cleaned of debris. Markets needed set up. Wells needed re-dug. Civic institutions needed revamped. But first and foremost, the walls needed built. It was only when Jerusalem was secure could they deal with other important things.
Focus on the priorities before you commit your time to lesser things.

3. Refuse to get distracted.

In Nehemiah 6, some bad dudes named Sanballat and Tobiah were trying to con Nehemiah out of finishing the work on the wall. They didn’t like what was happening. Because when Nehemiah realized the need, reflected on what needed to get done first, and started focusing on the most important things, amazing things happened.

Nehemiah 4:6 tells us that they had completed half of the work in what seemed like record time, because they were focused on it.

So Sandy and Toby didn’t like this. They thought, “Hey, lets get Nehemiah to come to a meeting. He’ll get distracted and then the work will stop.”

Satan and his minions will try to keep you from the most important things. Sure, take another meeting, it’s just one more night away from home. Yeah, sign up for the community group project, it’s just one thing. They need help with coaching Little League? Well, I mean, my kids on the team, so sign me up. Again, good things, but if they take us away from our main goal, they could be distractions.

Nehemiah told his tempters, “Sorry guys, I’m busy doing a GREAT work and I can’t come down and talk. If I stop now, I may not get back.” (Nehemiah 6:3, paraphrased).

It’s so difficult to do this. People will get disappointed. You will feel like you’re letting down your friends. But perhaps they just don’t understand how GREAT the work you’re doing really is.

Next post, I’ll outline some simple ideas to free up time in your schedule.
Epilepsy, Faith, Family, Life

Walking A New Path

A New Path

Today our family begins a new chapter in our story. It’s an unexpected chapter, one we never saw in the Table of Contents, one we didn’t choose or wish for.

Today, Sophia, our middle child, was diagnosed with epilepsy. She had a seizure on Monday morning, three months to the day since her first and up to now only episode. It has been a long week, but now we have some answers. And yet, at the same time we have even more questions. I’d like to say that this post has some great point, but frankly at this point I am just processing.

Epilepsy? Really? Isn’t that when you have convulsions frequently? My mind is running with stories of people I know with epilepsy. Interestingly, Christina told me that she learned from the doctor that Epilepsy is kind of an automatic diagnosis when there is no other known cause of seizures. Epilepsy is not a one-faceted disease. It is varied and encompasses numerous and diverse symptoms and reactions.

So, we’ve begun a medical regimen that will last at least two years. Two years! That’s half of the life she has lived so far! Hard to fathom.

But I’m glad we have an idea of what’s going on. I’m thankful for all the love and support our family has received just the past few days. The texts, the calls, the visits, the offers of help. They mean a lot. Frankly, we’re tired. Christina and I are at just drained. Trying to understand this as best we can, while raising three kids and all while in the midst of the busiest week of the year for me (Holy Week). It’s an adventure that I don’t recall having signed up for.

But that’s the way it goes. Life is a continual unfolding of God’s story for us. He’s not freaked out by this. He knew what He was doing when He formed Sophia. He knew this would happen before time began, and somehow He will be glorified in all of this.

Sophia obviously doesn’t have a grasp of what is going on. But she’s brave. So many kids her age are scared of doctors and hospitals. But not Sophie. Oh, she’s not the biggest fan of them, but she has been a real trooper this week. 

By the way, I’m not going to call Sophia an epileptic. She will not be defined by this. This doesn’t change who she is, it just affects her. She is defined by God’s love for her. She’s defined by her piercing blue eyes, her love of animals, her love of families, and her love of all things purple.

It’s only fitting that the color of Epilepsy Awareness is Purple… It’s her favorite.

Each of my kids have taught me so much. May Sophia teach me to be brave. And to trust God more each and every day.

Faith, Ministry, Money, Sermons

Twisted: The Root of All Evil

This past Sunday at Mount Hermon Church we finished the series “Twisted” where we looked at the most some of the most commonly misunderstood Bible passages. 
You can listen to Sunday’s message here: Twisted: Root of All Evil.

One of the key thoughts I shared was this: When we think “What I really need is more money,” we’re deceived. Money is not the answer to our deepest needs. JESUS IS! We don’t need more money, we need more Jesus.

So as you go through the week, and maybe think, “I need more money. More money would make my life easier right now.” Remember, Jesus is the answer to your greatest needs. Money isn’t bad. But loving it is more dangerous than you can imagine.

So let’s pursue Jesus instead of money. He’s the real answer to our problems, the real source of our joy, the genuine provider of security and forgiveness.

Hey, are you a pastor, church leader, or Bible study facilitator? You need to check out Open.Church! They are a group of several churches who give away everything they do for free! From sermon outlines, to teaching videos, to church graphics, to original worship music. Open.Church has saved me countless hours of detail work. For this series, Twisted, I was able to use graphics and other media to give the message some extra oomph. I was able to take the outline for this series, and customize it to make it my own. Again, you need to check them out.

Critics, Faith, Life, Ministry

What About the Lies?

As the church where I serve, Mount Hermon UB, has grown, so has the amount of criticism that I and our church face. And while I’m all about constructive criticism, because I want to get better at what I do, there is one thing I don’t handle as well: lies about me or the organization I serve.

I’m not talking about differing opinions, or even differing interpretations of the facts. Those aren’t lies, those are opinions, and like bellybuttons, nearly everyone has one. And like bellybuttons, just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you need to tell and show the whole world. Congrats. We get it.

But lies. What do you do about the lies? In our era of social media, they go viral, are shared dozens of times, or at least seen dozens of times by people before you even have time to see them for yourself, let alone react. Don’t we have a duty to correct, to rectify an injustice?

When the lie is about you, or even your organization, I’m going to say, under most circumstances, NO. Yes, that goes against every instinct we have. That goes against our pride, our righteous indignation. But it’s usually the right call.

See, getting into an argument with someone who is lying about you is like wrestling a pig. You both get dirty and only one of you is going to like it. Reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (ESV) I know that may not be the proper exegesis of this passage, it just reminds me of what happens when you engage a person spreading lies about you.


So what do we do? Here’s 5 STEPS to deal with lies and the lying liars who lie.


1.  Recognize This Isn’t Personal, But Spiritual.

“But Adam, of course it’s personal, they’re talking about me!” While technically correct, remember the words of Paul the Apostle to the church at Ephesus: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (NLT)
I know Billy Bob may be telling a lie about you, but the issue isn’t Billy Bob himself. It’s the forces of the enemy, Satan, trying to take you down or to discourage you. See, if the Devil can get you to give up, or to sin while trying to defend yourself, he wins. The problem isn’t the person who’s lying. It’s the underlying spiritual issues.
Is that person saved? Is that person going through some sort of traumatic life circumstance? After all, hurting people hurt people. I’m not saying that they have a pass to say whatever they want. No one ever has a pass to say whatever they want (including you). But the issues are deeper.

2. If There is a Specific Accusation or Attack, Refute It Once And Move On.


But if it’s specific enough, refute it ONCE. Don’t be constantly trying to defend yourself. Again, then you find yourself in an argument that you can not win. But if you refute it, then the people whom are closest to you can say, “Nope, Jane didn’t do that. She refuted that charge.” I believe that your character will show the truth, at least to those open minded enough to give you the benefit of the doubt.

We have to be very careful about continually insisting on our innocence, because it then becomes very easy for us to think we are fighting the battle. It becomes easy for us to insist on our own righteousness. It becomes about our justification.

And for the Christian, we recognize that a, we’re not always innocent, in fact we have sinned just as everyone else has. B, It is God who is to fight for us. Vengeance is His. He promises to deal with it. C, apart from Christ, we have no righteousness. Sorry but without Jesus you might as well be guilty of what they’re accusing you of. And lastly, your justification comes only from what Jesus did for you on the cross, not from the opinions of others or the reputation you or your organization enjoy.

3. If You Have a Personal Relationship with Them, Reach Out. 

Now this can be tricky. But if it’s someone you have had a decent report with in the past, someone whom you have been in relationship with before, try to reach out to them. Humility is key here. Don’t reach out with a “What the heck are you doing” attitude. But humbly, kindly, ask them what is going on. Do they have a misunderstanding of what occurred? Perhaps they aren’t mentally well, and are lashing out? Ask them to correct the matter to the best of their ability.

They likely won’t listen. But you have fulfilled your obligation as stated in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all.”


4. Keep Going. 

If the enemy can get you distracted, he’s won. You’re likely getting attacked because you are doing something worthwhile. Keep reaching people for Jesus. Keep being kind to others. Keep making the difference in people’s lives.

In the Book of Nehemiah, there is a guy named (wait for it) Nehemiah who is rebuilding the walls around the desolated city of Jerusalem. And people don’t want him to continue. They try to discourage him by trying to scare him and his workers. That doesn’t work so they resort to telling lies. “Hey Nehemiah, come down from the wall so we can talk about all the stuff you’re doing.”

Nehemiah’s response is great: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you.” (Nehemiah 6:3b ESV)
Did you catch that? “Sorry guys, I am too busy to play your game or get caught up in your little drama.”

Man, if more of us would keep going, imagine what we would get accomplished!


5. Bless Them.

 Yep, you read that right. Bless them. Jesus told us repeatedly to love our enemies. Bless those who curse you and lie about you. Why? Because that demonstrates the genuineness of our faith in Christ. It shows the world the power of God’s love.

Paul tells us to repay evil with good in Romans 12:14-21. In verse 20-21 Paul says, “To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I hope I have given you some steps you can take when people say false things about you. It hurts. And it’s okay to hurt. But allow God to use this to shape your character to more reflect the image of Christ. He is for you. And you are never alone.

Be sure to share this post if it has helped you, and leave a comment.

Faith, Songs, writings

Master, Savior, Friend

I used to write a lot in my “younger” days. Mostly sappy stuff to impress girls with how sensitive I was. Yeah, I burned most of that stuff.

But writing is often how I process things. I’m a visual guy, so while I may be a speaker by profession, I often manuscript out my talks, speeches, and thoughts before hand.

But I’m learning that writing may also be one of those ways that I draw closer to Christ. Today as I was cleaning up around the house, in the peaceful quiet of a fall afternoon, some thoughts just came to me:

Jesus is so much! He’s my King. He’s my Redeemer or forgiver. And He’s also one who cares. He’s my Master, Savior, and Friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Emphasis mine) Jesus is that friend. And for some reason lately, that particular attribute of Christ has meant so much more to me than it has for a long time.

So to took out a word doc and typed what just came to mind and then edited it for clarity’s sake. Maybe this blesses you. Maybe it inspires you. Or maybe it does nothing for you. Either way, here ya go:

There’s a name that I call
When I’m just about to fall
There’s king who left heaven for me
There is One who won’t delay
He’ll guide each step of the way
He’s my master, my savior, my friend

Chorus:
So I cry Jesus, lead me
Jesus, forgive me
Jesus, come lead me home
I will love you
I will obey you
I will always draw from you.
You’re my master, my Savior, my friend

You lead me from empty cisterns
That no water can hold
You bring me to fountains with water untold
You renew, You restore
You’re the Way, You’re the Door
You’re My Master, My Savior, My Friend
(Chorus)

 There are days I am afraid
That I’ll lose my way
But You come and lead me towards home.
You bring light, You bring life
You lead us on through the night
You’re Our Master, Our Savior, Our Friend

(Chorus)

Bridge:
So We cry, Jesus Lead us
Jesus forgive us
Jesus, come lead us home.
We will always love you
Help us to draw from you.
You’re Our Master, Our Savior, Our Friend.

No matter what we go through
The same old same old or brand new
You will center us in your will
So be our Master, lead us onward
Be our Savior, forgive us forward
Be our brother, our closest friend

(Chorus)

Faith, Life

Welcome… Let’s Try This Again

Let’s Try This Again…

After reading the blogs of several of my friends I have decided it is time to try this blog thing again. So here we go. Fasten your seat belts. Welcome.
I’m not new to this blogging thing. I did it before. You can click on my profile to view my previous blog “Out of Eden”. It was a double play on words– my name being Adam as well as the fact that at the time I was the pastor of Eden Church.  Because SO MUCH has happened in the YEARS since I last blogged on Out Of Eden, I thought I would start afresh instead of trying to fill in all the gaps.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, lets get to a few basics. My name is Michael Adam Edward Will, but please call me Adam. I never really liked my first name and have rarely used it except for legal and/or identification purposes. And please, don’t call me Mike. Whenever I hear Michael Will, I usually think of my father, that being his name. Fun fact- There has been a Michael and an Adam Will in every generation of my family as back as about 1650. As far as the Will’s that I am in close connection with, I am the only one with either. But anyway…
My wife Christina and I recently bought our first home, which happens to be just down the road from my family farm where I grew up and my family has lived for nearly 200 years. I am surrounded by my history, which in some ways is haunting and yet encouraging at the same time. The geography reminds me of some things in my past I’d rather forget, while I am also reminded of how blessed I have been. 
So let’s try this again.
I like that idea of trying something again. Don’t you? See, whether it’s blogging, marriage, finances, or any aspect of our lives, we make mistakes and want to start over again. That’s why I am so grateful that Jesus offers us second chances. As I get ready turn 30, I have been evaluating many life choices and priorities. I have been blessed to be the owner of a small business that is really starting to take off, at least for me. I have two beautiful daughters. I have a wife that loves me unconditionally and makes  me want to be a better person. Life is full right now. Maybe too full. So if nothing else, maybe this blog will help me to sort life out and hopefully provide some entertainment and encouragement along the way.
So Welcome- Let’s Try This Again.