Archives For Personal Commentary

You Are My Son, and I Love You

Tim Brister —  February 22, 2015 — 2 Comments

Today was the start of baseball season in Southwest Florida. After opening ceremonies, my two boys played a double header as part of the festivities. It was the first time my 5 yr old son to go head-to-head with the pitching machine. At his first at-bat, he surprised himself with a line drive past the third baseman, and I was super excited and proud of him. The following three at-bats did not fare too well as he struck out all three times.

As someone who has always been highly competitive, I always want my boys to do excel in whatever they do, including playing baseball. The downside to that, and the temptation I have struggled to avoid, is responding to them based on their performance. If they perform well, they see the pleasure of their dad. If they make mistakes and struggle, they hear the disappointment of their dad (“c’mon son!).

As a Christian who believes the gospel should permeate every area of my life, there are more and more blind spots that I’m learning to see more clearly. When it comes to baseball, I realized that my sincere attempts to make them better players was not honoring the gospel. My response to them was based on their performance (good works), and their identity as a baseball player was more dominant in their thinking than being my sons.

Today, I started to make a change and repent of this legalistic approach to coaching my boys. I want my boys to know, more than anything else, that they are my sons, and I love them. And that love is not based on what they do or do not do, but because of who they are. They are mine. So every time they get ready to play the game, I pull them aside and have a talk with them. Before when I stressed a litany of techniques, I am learning to look them eye-to-eye and tell them, “Son, I am so proud of you. No matter what happens, how well you play today does not change how much I love you and delight in being your dad. I just want you to have fun and enjoy the game.” After a kiss on the forehead, I sent them off to do their best, and the smile that begun on my face transferred to a shy grin on theirs.

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a huge success by any standard. I don’t think there has been a more viral fundraising strategy that has saturated the streams of every person on social media. However, along with this success, there has also come some scrutiny over how this non-profit allocates its money for the causes it represents.

For example, as I came across my news feed on Facebook, someone had posted this article from Red Flag News where it is reported that 27% of the donations to ALS actually goes to research and cures. This, of course, is intended to be unacceptable for nonprofits. Then they proceed to do the financial breakdown of the salaries of organizational leaders to add fuel to the indignation, along with the mention that 14% of their incomes goes to fundraising.

Of course, what this is supposed to do is question the integrity of the organization, raise suspicion about its legitimacy, and call for more accountability and probes into its operations. In contrast, the article proceeds to talk about other organizations where the overhead is remarkably low, and one even where it is said that 100% of the money you give goes directly to the cause (high quality foods). Ah, yes, this is what we want, right?

But wait.

You see, that is exactly what I thought.

Until I started leading a nonprofit organization of my own.

Have you ever considered what an organization looks like where 100% of your money goes to the cause with nothing going to the organization? Have you ever wondered how the organization supports itself? How the leaders get paid? How the word even gets out that this organization exists and why its causes are worthy of your support? Most often we don’t because we are stuck with the “we want nonprofits with low overheads where all of our money goes to the cause” with little thought to the capacity of the organization or its ability to actually solve problems, change lives, and make lasting change.

Would you want a gift to an organization where 100% of your gift goes to feeding the poor if the organization making it happen only feeds a few children? Or would you want to give to an organization where a smaller percentage of your gift goes to the poor but the organization has a scale exponentially larger because you not only invested in the cause but the high-quality organization that is making it happen at massively larger capacity than the 100% gift organization? What matters most? The giving purist with little to no change or the powerhouse changing the world?

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DELIGHT

Tim Brister —  February 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

  • In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. – Psalm 119:14
  • I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. – Psalm 119:16
  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. – Psalm 119:24
  • Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. – Psalm 119:35
  • for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. – Psalm 119:47
  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:77
  • If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. – Psalm 119:92
  • Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. – Psalm 119:143
  • I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:174

What’s your relationship to God’s ways? Delighting in His testimonies.
What’s your relationship to God’s Word? Delighting in His law.
What’s your relationship to Christ’s kingly rule? Delighting in His commands.

May our Christian lives be marked with a dominant delight in God!

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I grew up in a churched culture. From the time I left the hospital until I graduated high school, I was put through every program, participated in every activity, and was faithful to every event our local church had to offer. Children’s church, R.A.’s (Royal Ambassadors), Bible Drill, Children’s & Youth Choir, Puppet Ministry, Youth Group/Ministry, Sunday School, Discipleship Training, Christmas/Easter Dramas…you name it, I was in it.

I was converted at the early age of 8, right in the middle of all the busy life a committed church-goer. Looking back, however, one of the most glaring (and I would add scandalous) omissions is that my church never taught me how to live. I knew how to do a ton of religious things, not the least of which was checking off the boxes on my tithe envelope, but when it came to living out my faith as a disciple of Jesus, I really had no clue. I just knew how to get in the system and let the system do its thing.

The System and Spirit Within Christendom

What this system has produced, rather unintentionally I might add, is a spirit of consumerism through the culture of Christendom. In this system, who you are (identity) is defined by what you do (performance). I am a Christian because I go to church, and the fruit of my faith is manifested in my participation and religious performances. This system works within Christendom because Christianity and culture has been syncretized so that being religious or good is tantamount to being a disciple of Jesus.

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My World of Mind Mapping

Tim Brister —  September 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

I get asked about this all the time. I have referenced my mind maps in the past here on the blog (and a lot more on Twitter), but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to explain what I do or why I do it. I started using mind mapping software when I purchased my first iPad several years ago. Like many of you, I’m a visual learner. Those who work around me know that if I could have an 8 foot whiteboard with me everywhere I go, I would use it all the time! Given that I often work in places where whiteboards don’t exist, I had to have another way to develop my thoughts. Enter the world of mind mapping.

When I started mind mapping, I didn’t consult with best practices or read blogposts like this on what and how to do it. I simply needed a place to explore and develop my thoughts, especially in a non-linear way. For linear thought development, I use my Moleskine journals (which I still use on a regular basis). However, I have come to find that most of the work that I’m doing requires non-linear thought development that is more organic and free flowing. Over time, I have come to see how mind mapping has served as a useful tool in just about every area of my life.

Looking over 100+ mind maps, I have use if for all kinds of things, including sermon notes, project planning, gear inventory, vacation planning, book outlines, ministry systems, baseball training (for my son), neighborhood outreach, Bible study, charting transitions in life and church, life assessment, conferences/retreat outlines and talks, and so on. Rarely a day goes by that I’m not mind mapping something! Basically, if there is something you need to think through, you ought to consider using a mind map.

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