The Effect of a Small Change

Every week, Alex and I write 5 posts for our daily "Connect Devotional" that we put out through Chatham Church (you can sign up for it here: http://chathamchurch.us9.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=9a87a1def430704074142eb1f&id=d3b12cc7d8). The posts are 300 or so words long and have a little bit of formatting (bold at the top, italics at the bottom, paragraph breaks throughout).

Every week, I need to load the posts onto our church website and into Mailchimp (a site that sends the posts as emails every day). It usually takes me about an hour to post everything.

But then I made a small change.

I switched something in the order of my workflow and ... like magic ... cut the hour in half.

I won't bore you with the technical details. What's important to know is that that half-hour's savings has held. And it's had a small but noticeable impact on my work.

First, the small change has given me additional flexibility. I have many more 30 minute gaps in my day than hour-long gaps. This means I can get the task done earlier in the week.

Secondly, the small change has made me more willing to do the task. For some reason, an hour of rote computer work seems more than twice as miserable as 30 minutes. I'd have to fight that procrastination urge to get it done. Now, that urge is much weaker.

Thirdly, knocking the task out earlier in the week frees up mental space and energy for all of my other work.

Take a look around you, around your workplace or around your house. Is there some place where you can tighten a process and shave off 20-30 minutes? Give it a try. See if it makes a difference in your week.

Father, Creator or Rule-Maker ... Which comes first?

At the core of God's identity, we discover that God is the Father-Son-Spirit God. This is the God that Jesus revealed to us. This is the God in whose name we get baptized. This is the God we worship and serve and follow.

But I've recently found myself wondering why the Bible doesn't start with stories that highlight this identity of God. If all you had was Genesis 1 and you wanted to describe God, you'd call him Creator or Rule-Maker. And although both of those are facets of Fatherhood, I don't know that you'd get to "Father" very easily or naturally.

I wrestled with this as I prepared to teach my Systematic Theology class this month. If God is the Creator and the Rule-Maker primarily, how much room is left for him to be Father? Why doesn't the Genesis put the Father stuff up front?

My answer came from a strange direction. This winter, Alex and I preached and wrote devotionals and small group questions out of Exodus. We dug into the story of God's rescue of his people and reflected on how this story was told. And this helped me untangle my Father-Creator-Rule-Maker puzzle.

Moses and his scribes sat down and recorded the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) while the people of Israel wandered in the desert on the other side of the great exodus. Day-by-day God fed them with manna from heaven. Mile-by-mile God kept their shoes and clothes from wearing out. To their left and to their right, God kept them safe from armies and tribes that would destroy them.

When Moses and his scribes sat down and wrote about the Creator and Rule-Maker, they were writing to folks who already knew God as Father. Creator and Rule-Maker shaped the way these folks understood what it meant for God to be Father. He's not just a doting Father who gives us everything we want ... he's a Rule-Maker who gives us boundaries for our good. He's not just our Father ... he's a Creator who made all and who's involved with people of every ethnicity and culture. Our Father is the Creator and Rule-Maker.

This is my biggest, most recent theological insight. What's yours?

The First Theological Question

A decade ago, Gary Deddo taught our Systematic Theology class what he called "The First Theological Question" ... "Who is God?"

This questions shows up over and over again in Scripture. Moses movingly asks the question as he contemplates his calling and Pharaoh asks it sardonically before his kingdom crumbles. David's answer to the question launches him at Goliath. And, most significantly, Jesus asks his disciples to answer the question for themselves.

Who is God?

Answer that question wrongly and a lot of things will fly off the rails.

Many of the people who don't believe in God would answer the "Who is God?" Question in ways that would be unrecognizable to those of us who love Jesus. They see him as an absentee landlord or an angry warmonger. When they tell us about the God they don't believe in, we say "We don't believe in that God either!"

How do you answer the "Who is God?" Question? Where would you even start?