A Few Lessons I’m Learning

Several months back, I mentioned that I’m writing a book and haven’t said too much about it since publicly. There are reasons for that, obviously, most of which amount to I haven’t had much to say.

However, I thought I’d give you a quick update on where things are at with it and what I’m learning through the process.

1. Having good friends and contacts is essential. The deeper I get, the more I realize that if you don’t have a good network to help, you’re going to have a hard time getting your foot in the door. On top of that, good friends and contacts who are willing to give you constructive feedback on what you’re doing will make the process that much easier. The feedback (and encouragement) I’ve received from Trevin,Tim, Dan, Andrew and Amber in particular has made even the process of submitting proposals that much easier.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Submitting to publishers is not for the faint of heart. It can really hurt to get rejected, particularly if what you’re working on is something you’re sure God has put on your heart to write.

3. Rejection can be really encouraging. I’ve sent a proposal to six publishers at this point and have already received my first rejection. Believe it or not, I was really encouraged by it as the editor (a friend of a friend, incidentally), let me down really easily and reminded me that I can write real good when I’m trying.

4. Get an established author to show you how they write book proposals. I had no idea how to write a book proposal when I started this thing. At all. Fortunately, my friend Dan Darling gave me the down-low. I am unbelievably grateful for this. So grateful, in fact, that I will hyperlink to himTwice. [Read more...]

Four Years In: A Word About Marriage

An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. . . .

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-30

Four years ago today I married my lovely wife, Emily.

In four years, we’ve seen some amazing changes in our lives.

Four years ago, we both worked at a printing company as graphic designers/production artists and (obviously) had no children.

Today, I work as a professional writer and Emily works as a stay-at-home mom caring for our two lovely daughters and dabbles in freelance illustration.

We’ve gone through some really joyful times, like the birth of our children. We’ve gone through some difficult seasons, including a miscarriage and learning how to really live on one income. And there have been some exciting adventures and challenges, like my joining Compassion’s staff, our finding a new church in Harvest Bible Chapel and some things that we’re not ready to talk about yet.

But in the last four years, there’s never been a day where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel.

There’s never been a day when I’ve gone to bed thinking, “I don’t know if I can handle spending the rest of my life with this girl.”

Because even when we’ve faced challenges, when we’ve disagreed (sometimes sharply), we come out the other side loving each other more than we did going in.

God has been good. He’s growing us closer to Him and closer to each other.

The last four years have been great. I hope for at least sixty more.

You game, Emily?

Are You In The Business of Busyness

I’m in the middle of a season of extreme busyness at the moment.

I don’t know if you have this problem, but when I get busy—I mean, really busy—things start to slip.

Sleeping properly is usually the first to go. Then my eating goes wonky. Then my exercise patterns get erratic. 

Even prayer and Bible study start getting a bit fuzzy if I’m not careful and my reading will turn into a quick skim. Like wolfing down a McDonald’s cheeseburger in the car because you’re in a hurry, instead of savoring it like a really good steak from the Keg.

Because there’s a great demand on my time at work, I find myself having to sacrifice quality for efficiency. Choosing function over form just makes my skin crawl, to be honest.

Whatever I’m doing, I want it to be the best it can possibly be; and because my work is all about communicating ideas, choosing the right words and narrative structure is essential. Sometimes, though, I have to template things. Sometimes I just have to do a slight polish on something that’s really not very good and just let it go. To make do.

It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it?

Race through reading the Bible, a quick prayer and away we go.

Race through work (often with a quick prayer), taking as little time as possible to complete as many tasks as I’m able.

It’s a bit of an assembly line approach to life.

It gets the job done, but it doesn’t bring joy.

Where can we, even in our seasons of busyness, find opportunities to savor life? To enjoy God, the Bible, friends, family… and even work?

In my case, sometimes it means just saying no. Turning down a meeting request, turning off my email, ignoring my cell phone and disconnecting from the internet for a while. Sometimes it means having to blow a deadline because the work is too important to not do with excellence.

Sometimes it means putting aside whatever else I’m reading in favor of spending some extra time in the Bible and hearing what God has to say.

Occasionally, it means a meandering post like this one. :)

But what about you?

Do you feel like you’re settling for the cheeseburger instead of the steak? Are you looking opportunities to savor?

 Life is too valuable to be wasted with the business of busyness.

I hope you’ll find an opportunity to enjoy it this week.

Aaron likes his bookie-books

Yesterday, Michael Krahn posted a fun top-ten list about one of our favorite subjects: Books! I liked it so much that I copied the idea.

The Bible fits well as the answer to most of these questions, but I wanted to make sure I had some variety.

With that said, away we go!

1. One book that changed your life:

Knowing God by J.I. Packer, which showed me the importance and beauty of good theology

Runner up: Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Humility by C.J. Mahaney. I’ve read this 3 times already and am on my fourth.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: [Read more...]

Considering The Year That Was

Yesterday, I mentioned that Michael Hyatt challenged readers to consider several questions about 2009. I figured I’d give the exercise a shot. I found the exercise to be really helpful and I’m glad to have done it.

So, for what it’s worth, here are my answers:

1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?

This year’s been a combination of things. Some tragedy, lots of drama, a bit of comedy… but a lot of joy at the end of it all.  We shared with our families this year that while it’s been a crazy one, we wouldn’t trade it for anything because of how much more aware we’ve become of God through our difficulties.

2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases. For me, they were:

  • Humility (my need for and lack of)
  • Patience (my need to grow in)
  • Repentance (continuing to build a lifestyle of)

3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.

  • Being a part of developing The Difference is Jesus.com and having the opportunity to craft gospel-centered communication for an organization I love.
  • Starting this blog has allowed me to improve as a writer and find a channel for much of what’s rattling around my head
  • Read through the entirety of the Bible
  • Preached my first sermon

4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

There’s a few things that come to mind, but the majority relate to my being prideful. A few are legitimate, but not appropriate to be shared publicly.

5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year? As leaders, we naturally have high expectations of ourselves and others. Where did you let yourself down? Where did you let others down?

  • Being too quick to speak and lacking grace in my language
  • Inconsistency in prayer

6. What was missing from last year as you look back? Again, look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it. For now, just list each item.

  • Gentleness in speech when I would have been better served to speak gently
  • Patience
  • More time in prayer individually and within groups about life and work

7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements.

  • God is sometimes most obviously present in the midst of suffering
  • God may have good things in store for us, but we might have to go through hell to get them

2009 is done. That chapter is closed.

On to the next one.

Glorifying God in the Body

glorifying-god-body

First Corinthians 6:19-20 reads:

[D]o you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


Contextually, these verses are related to sexual purity within the church; because God has purchased us with His blood, we are not our own. Therefore, we should honor Him with our bodies by abstaining from sexual immorality.

This isn’t, however, a post about sexual immorality.

It’s about how I’m learning to apply the principle of stewardship that exists within this passage.

Because our bodies, like everything else, are not our own, we have a responsibility to steward them well.

Growing up, this is a principle that I never understood. Partly because of genetics, but mostly because of poor eating decisions, I was a very, very heavy kid. You know how with babies and toddlers, they get really chubby then grow into it?

I was kind of like that, except 18. When I was 12, I was about 5-ish feet tall and 185 pounds. When I was 18, I was 6 feet tall and… 185 pounds. Except then I stopped growing. So I stayed 6 feet tall, then just grew out.

I touched on this topic back in March in relation to reading the Pursuit of Holiness, so I’m going to try to not rehash too much. Sufficed to say, I’ve always struggled with living a healthy lifestyle in terms of physical fitness.

This week, I was reminded of the necessity of even my physical health as a stewardship issue after our pastor preached through John 3:16-21.

God has chosen to love me, despite my hatred of Him. And because He has shown me pure, unmerited favor, I want to worship Him!

And that includes how I treat my body.

I’m now a week into my new gym membership, and I’ve got to say, I’m very pleased. My physical memory is good. My strength and endurance are already improving. My eating habits are getting better. My weight has even dropped a teeny bit.

But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to glorify God in my body.

God is its owner; I want to steward it well.

By Grace Alone: My Story

grace-alone

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I tend to shy away from talking about it too much because people might think I’m nuts. Then, I remembered that I worship Jesus and most people think I’m nuts anyway. So, for better or for worse, here’s my story:

A Bit of History

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, or one that really practiced any sort of religious belief (unless watching Star Trek religiously counts). From what I recall, the only time someone said “God” or “Jesus” was when someone was exasperated. I learned a couple years ago that apparently I went to Sunday School a few times when I was about six, but the only thing I remember is making a guitar out of yarn and styrofoam plates.

I suppose that’s an indicator of what I learned there, isn’t it? [Read more...]

Driving for Jesus

So we’re going on a bit of a road-trip today.

This morning, we’re heading up to Harriston to drop Abigail off with my Mom for a couple days, and hopefully pick up some delicious baked goods at the Harriston Bakery. From there, we are off to Toronto for a high-school friend of Emily’s wedding, which will be outdoors and a potluck (hence the need for delicious baked goods). Then, we will drive back home to get some sleep.

We’re looking at about 6 hours of driving.

But here’s the thing: I really hate driving that much. Other drivers make me angry. They’re selfish, impatient and won’t get out of my way, dangit! (After all, I have places to go.) And like a good Canadian, I hate Toronto.

Because I get frustrated on the road often, especially whenever I have to drive to Toronto, I frequently find myself meditating on 1 Cor. 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Imagine driving to the glory of God. What does that look like? For me, it means finding ways to redeem the time. For six hours, I get to spend time with my wife, four of which are just the two of us. We can listen to some good teaching via the iPod or an audio book (I’ve got three to listen to – Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Crazy Love). We can talk about what God is teaching us through our study of the Bible. We can talk about what we hope the future will bring.

Just looking at the short list above, there are some pretty great ways to use the time and drive for Jesus.

What about you, dear reader? What are some ways you redeem your drive time, and drive to the glory of God?

A Great End to a So-So Day

Today was, in large part, a day I’d like to forget altogether. But there’s something about spending some time playing with my little girl that’s refreshing. It’s amazing what a few minutes of fun can do.

Praise God for toddlers who want to do nothing more than “Daddy run!”

aaron-abigail

A Great Gift

This weekend, my wife is giving me a most wonderful gift: She’s letting me sleep in on Saturday morning and (hopefully) Monday as well.

I am extremely grateful for this, because sleep is a wonderful gift from God that I don’t appreciate nearly enough.

So let’s all give thanks to God for whatever sleep you get this weekend.

See you in the (mid)morning.

Happy Mother’s Day

The day’s almost done, but it’s not complete without saying Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and especially to the most important mom in my life, my wife Emily (photo circa 2007—both my ladies are even lovelier today).

EmnAbi

For some of the many reasons I love my wife, please read this post from April.

10 Things We Don't Mention in Worship Songs…

A while back, Abraham Piper wrote about “10 Things we don’t mention in worship songs but that I’m happy God saved me from.” I liked it so much that I’m blatantly copying him, although not his 10 things.

Here’s my list:

  1. Rage
  2. Children out of wedlock
  3. Divorce
  4. Adultery
  5. Pride (though I struggle with this constantly)
  6. girls with low self-esteem
  7. Self-esteem
  8. Satan (long story)
  9. Candy and things that taste like candy (again, I struggle with this constantly)
  10. Emergent theology

What’s yours?