Cloud: Reclaim Life, Achieve Success

Henry Cloud, One Life Solution

Henry Cloud.  2008. The One-Life Solution:  Reclaiming Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success.  New York:  HarperCollins.

Reviewed By Stephen W. Hiemstra

I cannot ignore any book by Henry Cloud. Back in 2003, my pastor preached a sermon based on Cloud’s earlier book called: Boundaries. The sermon interested me enough that I bought and read the book. Applying prescriptions from the book to my life led me to perceive my call into pastoral ministry.

Introduction

The One-Life Solution is a book focused on constructing and developing better boundaries at work (19). Cloud observes that most people get caught up trying to control the things outside their control. Things like other people, circumstances, or outcomes. Meanwhile, they lose control of themselves (22). In this context, Cloud defines a boundary as a property which defines where you end and someone (or something) else begins (25).

Six Key Areas

In a work environment, Cloud sees boundaries bringing order to six key areas: 1. Ownership, 2. Control, 3. Freedom, 4. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences, 5. Limits, and 6. Protection (25-30). Interestingly, these six areas do not lend structure to the discussion that follows. Rather, the book mostly focuses on applying boundaries to establish structure and reduce anxiety.

A Henry Cloud Audit

Cloud suggests that a good place to start is with an audit. The purpose of this audit is to measure where you spend your time, disconnects between time spent and personal values, and what personal issues contribute to the problem (69).  This method of analysis is reminiscent of what Miller and Rollnick (2002, 38) referred to as gap analysis–highlighting the discrepancy between present behavior and …broader goals and values.

Assessment

An important point in assessing books with the character of movie sequels is: does the sequel add value to the initial book? Here the answer is yes. Henry Cloud’s The One-Life Solution contributed real value to my understanding of boundaries. For Cloud the key was seeing examples of how to manage difficult office situation with tact and grace. My favorite example recalls an obnoxious CEO who laid into him everyday at his desk at 4 p.m., which ruined his evening as well as his day. Cloud (152) simply made a rule not to talk to him after 4 p.m. I had a supervisor very much like that.

References

Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. 1992. Boundaries: When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Miller, William R. and Stephen Rollnick. 2002. Motivational Interviews: Preparing People for Change. New York: Guilford Press.

Cloud: Reclaim Life, Achieve Success

Also see:

Cloud and Townsend Set Limits; Heal Relationships; Gain Control 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Tension with God: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 27, 2020

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a  prayer and reflect on the Tension With God.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Tension with God: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 27, 2020

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

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Prayer for Godliness

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Father God,

Thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, into our lives to draw us closer to you.

Save us from our own evil thoughts and feelings.

Unstop our ears; open our eyes; and flood our hearts with the promptings of your Holy Spirit.

Forgive our sin; redeem us from our transgressions; and cleanse us from our iniquities.

Give us a heart for your word and grant us the mind of Christ.

Teach us to lean on your law and to share your grace that we might become true disciples: honored to hunger and thirst for your righteousness; honored to be merciful; honored to pursue godliness.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace available to us through Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Godlines

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

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Oración por la Piedad

Vida_en_Tensión_front_20200102Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Dios Padre,

Gracias por enviar tu hijo, Jesucristo, en nuestras vidas para acercar nos de tí.

Sálvanos de nuestras propios malos pensamientos y sentimientos.

Destapa nuestros oídos; abre nuestros ojos; e inunda nuestros corazones con las impresiones de tu Espíritu Santo.

Perdona nuestro pecado; redímenos de nuestras transgresiones; y límpianos de nuestras iniquidades.

Danos un corazón para tu palabra y concédenos la mente de Cristo.

Enseñarnos a apoyarnos en tu ley y a compartir tu gracia para que podamos convertimos verdadero discípulos: honrado a tener hambre y sed de tu justicia; honrado de ser misericordioso; honrado de persiguer la piedad.

A través del poder del Espíritu Santo y la gracia disponible a nosotros por causa de Jesucristo.

En el nombre de Jesús, Amén.

Oración por la Piedad

Ver también:

Oración del Creyent

Otras formas de participar en línea:

Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Sitio del editor: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Boletín informativo: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Tension with God

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? 

And he said, Who are you, Lord? 

And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 

(Acts 9:4–5)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The idea of tension with God surprises many Christians for at least three reasons. The first reason is that the church’s focus on the humanity of Christ and off of the divinity of Christ cloaks the urgings of the Holy Spirit leaving us ignorant of our distance from God. The second reason is that a focus on conversion and off of sanctification—the process of nurturing our faith—leaves us living secular lifestyles ignorant of God’s will for our lives. A final reason is that our indifference to sin blinds us to our true selves in Christ, to our neighbors, and to God.

It is not an accident that each of these three reasons is highly theological because postmoderns mostly avoid theology—a fourth reason which may be why tension with God may come as a surprise. The postmodern focus on the emotional content of faith and off of the implications of these three theological trends hides our tension with God and quietly robs our faith of its power, like a vacuum cleaner that has been unplugged. Oblivious to the tension, Christians are lulled into believing in a kind of tension-free, ersatz Christianity that provides individualized services, such as childcare, and generally promises to insulate them from the problems of life without substantial obligation. When life’s problems arise, their ersatz Christianity provides no substantive guidance for dealing with them, leading people to become angry with God, and leave the church. It is accordingly helpful to review the reasons that people are unaware of the tension between them and God.

Humanity versus Divinity of Christ

Our secular society questions Christ’s divinity but has no problem with Jesus’ humanity. If Christ is only human, then Jesus is no more than an interesting teacher, the church becomes another interest group, and conversion is as mundane as joining another club. If Christ is not divine, then Jesus’ teaching has no claim on us (1 Cor 15:17) and we can simply ignore any tension with God that Jesus’ teaching might signal.

Conversion versus Sanctification

Over the centuries, Christian leaders have debated the priority of conversion over sanctification. For example, Jonathan Edwards, often praised as the great American theologian, advocated that church members have a personal relationship with Jesus—a fruit more of sanctification than of conversion—only to have his Northampton church dismiss him in 1750 (Noll 2002, 45). If sanctification can be thought of as a series of conversion experiences whose consequence is a closer relationship with God, then tension with God can be seen as a sign of progress in spiritual formation and maturity.

Think about the tension with God in the life of the Apostle Paul. When God told Ananias to go and baptize Saul, he questioned God’s intentions:

But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. (Acts 9:15-16)

Paul was called as a Christian and an Apostle to the gentiles and to suffer for the Name. Do you think Paul’s calling created tension in his life, with God, and with others? Paul himself described the life he gave up as a Rabbi and a Jew as rubbish (Phil 3:8) compared to what he gained as a believer. Still, he met every sort of affliction during his  ministry (2 Cor 11:23-28) and struggled with an unanswered prayer—a thorn in the flesh—a euphemism perhaps suggesting a grievous sin over which he was not victorious (2 Cor 12:7). 

The point in this example is that if tension with God is a challenge even for the spirituality mature, then being unaware of our tension with God signals spiritual immaturity or, worse, spiritual lethargy. 

Ignorance of Sin

Spiritual lethargy starts with ignoring sin, which even a hardened atheist should worry about. Sin can be: doing evil (sin), breaking a law (transgression), or failing to do good (iniquity). Sin cuts us off from ourselves, from our neighbors, and from God, which leads to tensions in all three dimensions. Ignoring sin is like driving too fast on an icy road or throwing dirty sand in your gas tank—it can hurt others and messes everything up, including our relationship with God.

God’s forgiveness through Christ sets us right with God and relieves our guilt, but does not in most instances reverse the effects of sin on our person and on others. God can forgive the murderer, for example, but that does not bring the dead person back to life or relieve the perpetrator of punishment under law.

Tension with God is more critical than tension in a human relationship, because our existence depends on God—it’s like a diver at a depth three hundred feet discarding an air tank because life itself is threatened. Sin cuts us off from God, but when we it the channels of communication with God open and we can perceive the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When we obey the Spirit’s promptings we join God in his ongoing creative work in the world and become more sanctified like Jesus, which involves pain and sacrifice. In turn, our sacrifices signal to God, to those around us, and to ourselves that our transformation in Christ is real (2 Sam 24:21-25).

Jesus honors disciples who faithfully pursue godliness:

Honored are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Honored are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Honored are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt 5:6–8)

Notice that these Beatitudes mirror attributes that God uses to describe himself—”merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod 34:6)—and offer a key to growing as divine image bearers. These admonitions remind us that God is interested not so much in what we do as in who we become (Fairbairn 2009, 67).

References

Fairbairn, Donald. 2009. Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

Noll, Mark A. 2002. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tension with God

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

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Tensión con Dios

Vida_en_Tensión_front_20200102Al caer a tierra, oyó una voz que le decía: 

Saulo, Saulo, ¿por qué me persigues?

¿Quién eres, Señor?” preguntó Saulo. 

El Señor respondió: Yo soy Jesús a quien tú persigues. 

(Acts 9:4-5)

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

La idea de tensión con Dios sorprenda muchos Cristianos por al menos de tres razones. La primera razón es que la iglesia enfoca en la humanidad de Cristo y no en su dividad lo que oculta los impulsos de la Espíritu Santo y déjanos ignorantes de nuestra distancia de Dios. La secunda razón es que el enfoque en la conversión y fuera de santificación—el proceso de nutrir de nuestra fe—déjanos viviendo estilos de vida seculares y ignorante de la voluntad de Dios para nuestras vidas. Una razón final es que nuestra indiferencia a pecado ciéganos a nuestro verdadero yo en Cristo, a nuestros prójimo, y a Dios.

No es un accidente que cada una de estas tres razones sea altamente teólogico porque por lo mayor los posmodernos en su mayoría evitan la teología—una cuarta razón por la cual la tensión con Dios puede vener como una sorpresa. El enfoque posmoderno en el contenido emotional de fe y fuera de las implicaciones de estas tres razones teológicas tendencias oscura nuestra tensión con Dios y silenciosamente roba nuestra fe de su power, como una aspiradora que se ha desenchufado. Oblivia a la tensión, Cristianos  se truca a creyendo en un tipo de tensión-libre, diluido Cristianismo que proporciona servicios individuales, como cuidado de niños, y generalmente promesa a insularlos de los problemas de la vida sin obligación substancial. Cuando los problemas de la vida surgen, su diluido Cristianismo provee no guía sustantiva para tratar con ellos, lo que lleva a las personas a enojarse con Dios y abandonar la iglesia. Por lo tanto, es útil revisar las razones por las cuales las personas no son conscientes de la tensión entre ellos y Dios.

Humanidad Contra Divinidad de Cristo

Nuestra sociedad secular cuestiona la divinidad de Cristo, pero no tiene ningún problema con la humanidad de Jesús. Si Cristo es solo humano, entonces Jesús es nada más de un interesante maestro, la iglesia se convierte a un otro grupo de interés, y conversión  es tan mundana como unirse de otro club. Si Cristo no es divino, entonces la enseñanza de Jesús no tiene ningún derecho sobre nosotros (1 Cor 15:17) y simplemente podemos ignorar cualquiera tensión con Dios que la enseñanza de Jesús pueda señalar.

Conversión Contra Santificación

A lo largo de los siglos, los líderes cristianos han debatido la prioridad de la conversión sobre la santificación. Por ejemplo, Jonathan Edwards, a menudo elogiado como el gran teólogo estadounidense, abogó por que los miembros de la iglesia tengan una relación personal con Jesús, más una fruita de santificación que de conversion, solo a tener que su Northampton church despidalo en 1750 (Noll 2002, 45). Si santificación puede considerarse como una series de experiencias de conversion cuya consecuencia es una relación más cerca con Dios, entonces tensión con Dios pueda ser visto como un signo de progreso en formación espiritual y madurez.

Piensa sobre la tensión con Dios en la vida del apóstol Pablo. Cuando Dios le dijó a Ananias que fuera a baptizer a Saulo, el cuestionó a las intenciones de Dios:

Pero el Señor le dijo: Ve, porque él es mi instrumento escogido, para llevar mi nombre en presencia de los Gentiles, de los reyes y de los Israelitas; porque yo le mostraré cuánto debe padecer por mi nombre. (Acts 9:15-16)

Pablo fue llamado como cristiano y apóstol a la gentiles y a sufrir por el Nombre. ¿Crees que el llamado de Pablo creó tensión en su vida, con Dios, y con los demás? Pablo mismo describió la vida que abandonó como rabino y judío como basura (Phil 3: 8) en comparación con lo que ganó como creyente. Aun así, se encontró todos tipos de aflicción durante su ministerio (2 Cor 11:23-28) y luchó con una oración sin respuesta por una espina en la carne—una eufemismo que quizás sugiera un pecado grave sobre el cual no salió victorioso (Rom 7; 2 Cor 12:7).

El punto de este ejemplo es que si tensión con Dios es un desafío incluso para la espiritualidad madura, no ser conscientes de nuestra tensión con Dios indica inmadurez espiritual o, lo que es peor, letargo espiritual. 

Ignorancia del Pecado

Letargo espiritual empieza por ignorar el pecado, del cual incluso un ateo endurecido debería preocuparse. El pecado puede ser: hacer el mal (pecado); infringir una ley (transgresión); o no hacer el bien (iniquidad). El pecado separanos de nosotros mismo, del nuestros prójimos, y de Dios, lo que gener  tensiones en todas las tres dimensiones. Ignorar el pecado es como conducir demasiado rápido en una carretera helada o tirar arena sucia en el tanque de gasolina—es puede dañar a otros y arruinar todo, incluso nuestra relación con Dios.

El perdón de Dios a través de Cristo pone nos bien con Dios y alivia nuestra culpa, pero en la mayoría de los casos no revierte los efectos del pecado en nuestra persona y en los demás. Dios puede perdonar al asesino, por ejemplo, pero este no le devuelve la persona muerta a la vida ni aliviar el autor de castigo baja la ley.

Tensión con Dios es más critical que tensión en una relation humana, porque nuestra existencia depende de Dios—es como un buzo a una profundidad de tres cientos pies desechando un tanque de aire porque la vida misma está amenazada. El pecado separa nos de Dios, pero cuando lo evitamos, los canales de comunicación con Dios se abren y podamos percibir los impulsos de la Espirito Santo. Cuando obedecemos los impulsos de la Espíritu Santo, compartimos con Dios en su trabajo creativo continuo en el mundo y se convertimos más santificado como Jesús, lo que implica el dolor y sacrificio. En turno, nuestros sacrificios demuestran a Dios, a quienes nos rodean, y a nosotros mismos que nuestra transformación en Cristo es real (2 Sam 24:21-25).

Jesús honra los discípulos quienes fielmente persiguen la piedad:

Honrados los que tienen hambre y sed de justicia, pues ellos serán saciados. Honrados los misericordiosos, pues ellos recibirán misericordia. Honrados los de limpio corazón, pues ellos verán a Dios. (Matt 5:6-8)

Observe que estas Bienaventurados reflejan los atributos que Dios use para describirse a si mismo—“compasivo y clemente, lento para la ira y abundante en misericordia y verdad (fidelidad)” (Exod 34:6)—y ofrece una llave a crecer como portadores de las imágenes divinas. Estas admoniciones nos recuerdan que Dios  está interesado no tanto en lo que hacemos como en quienes nos convertimos (Fairbairn 2009, 67)

Referencias

Fairbairn, Donald. 2009. Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

Noll, Mark A. 2002. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tensión con Dio

Ver también:

Gospel as Divine Template

Otras formas de participar en línea:

Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Sitio del editor: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Boletín informativo: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Stanley and Jones Preach Communication

Stanley_and_Lane_review_08312016Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. 2006. Communicating for a Change. Colorado Springs: Multinomah Books.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

In my last year at Iowa State, out of obligation I took a speech class. At the time, it seemed like a wildly irrelevant class—why does an economist need to learn how to give a speech?  By the time I reached seminary, preaching was not only on my mind, I credited my preaching experience as an elder with helping me to understand my call as a pastor. In a world so desperate to know the love and salvation of Christ, where else can you get 20-40 minutes of people’s undivided attention—especially knowing that your own kids could be sitting in the front row?

Introduction

In their book, Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley and Lane Jones focus on seven points needed to communicate effectively. In the first part of the book, they outline the seven points in a truck driving analogy. In the second part of the book, they drive down into the seven points in more detail.

Seven Points

The seven points are:

  1. Determine your goal—what do you hope to communicate? (33)
  1. Focus on a single point—if you provide too much information, your audience will not remember anything (39).
  1. Make a map that helps you travel from information to relationship (44). Stanley talks about ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE as the map or outline of how to structure a sermon.

This ME-WE-GOD-YOU-WE map requires some unpacking.  The ME section explains who you are. The WE section moves from what I am thinking and feeling to what we are thinking and feeling. The GOD section introduces biblical truth into the discussion. The YOU section is about application—what are you going to do about this biblical truth? The final WE section casts a common vision (48-49).

  1. Internalize the message—“until you can deliver it with no notes, from memory, then it’s not your message” (52).
  1. Engage your audience emotionally—“You have to connect with your audience around a real need in their lives. Something they feel.” This involves reminding the audience of “tension that they already feel” (58-60). You look for memorable points and go slow on the transition points to keep people engaged (63-64).
  1. Find you voice. Stanley and Jones observe: “You are not talking to people. You are talking at people.” Your voice is the authentic you—present, vulnerable, the real you. The goal of finding your voice is to be able to take people on a journey, rather than give them a sermon (70-72).
  1. Find your traction. Delivering a sermon on time every week is hard if you get stuck in the preparation. Stanley and Jones suggest a checklist of questions: 1. What do they need to know? 2. Why do they need to know it? 3. What do they need to do? And 4. Why do they need to do it? (80)

In parsing the first point, Stanley and Jones observe that pastors have really three primary approaches in preaching:

  1. Teaching the Bible to people;
  2. Teaching people the Bible;
  3. Teach “people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible.” (94-95)

Expert multiple choice test takers always go for the longest answer—Stanley and Jones clearly favor the third approach. Their incentive is captured in this brief statement:

“How would you communicate this message if your eighteen-year old son had made up his mind to walk away from everything you have taught him, morally, ethically, and theologically, unless he had a compelling reason not to? What would you say this morning if you knew that was at stake?” (98-99)

Stanley and Jones’ point is compelling and one of the points of the book that I remember most vividly.

Background

Andy Stanley[1] is the founder of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and he author of numerous books. Lane Jones[2] is also of North Point Ministries and a graduate of  Dallas Theological Seminary and a Christian author.

Assessment

Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones is a book recommended to me by my pastor when I started entered seminary and began preaching for myself. The book is engaging, easy to read, and proved to be a great help in preaching.

Footnotes

[1] http://www.AndyStanley.com.

[2] Getting to know Lane Jones (https://vimeo.com/24570550)

Stanley and Jones Preach Communication

Also see:

Cloud and Townsend Set Limits; Heal Relationships; Gain Control 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Tension Within: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 20, 2020

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a  prayer and reflect on the Tension Within Ourselves.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Tension Within: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 20, 2020

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Prayer to Bridge the Gaps

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Father God,

We thank you for your willingness to break into our little worlds.

Break our obsession with ourselves—the person that we know so well, but have trouble being truthful to.

Shine your light into the darkness; drive the cloud of despair away; help us to accept your Gospel by engaging it, living it, and sharing it.

Bridge the gap between our false selves and our true selves in Christ; bridge the gap between us and others; bridge the gap between us and you.

By the power of your Holy Spirit, re-create us again as whole people.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer to Bridge the Gap

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

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