The Hit of a Finished Task List

A month ago I started using a new planner. It promised increased productivity and goal setting. I suppose it has been helpful. The first day I used its system of planning and executing I felt super efficient and accomplished. The high has worn off by now but I still love a finished task list.

The feeling of finishing what the day required. The burden of responsibilities lifted as they are handled ahead of schedule. The freedom on the other side of the lists action items.

Funny thing is that I set the list. I generate the tasks so how hard I work, or the amount of “productivity” is determined at my whim. Some days are easier to feel accomplished!

But when the list comes to an end there is a hit of success. Sure there is some chemical reason, maybe dopamine or something. The sense of relief of coming to the end. It feels good.

I wonder if this is why we are so list oriented when it comes to things best lived without a list. Like relationships and faith. In both we think we need to accomplish a set of items to earn love or approval. And I suppose that makes sense to an extent. But who wants to live a “love” relationship where everything is tit for tat? Transactional relationships miss the good stuff, the unconditional stuff.

Same thing in relationship to Jesus. i am convinced he will love me more if I finish this list of discipleship tasks, or if my church is bigger (my struggle), or if I share the gospel with at least three people a day… you know your list. And it gives us a hit of self righteous accomplishment but it misses the good stuff.

I want to dwell in the unconditional more because that is what I see when I encounter Christ in Scripture. Redemption received not because we finish a list, but because he loves. It’s true for you too.

So set your task list for the day, and maybe make one item to “enjoy the grace of Jesus today” knowing that he accomplished the list required for eternity, for life with God.

Worthwhile: July 26, 2019

It has been hot here in San Diego County… and much of the country. So as you find some AC to stay cool why not punch up these worthwhile bits of the internet to get you through?!

Three huge gospel influences in today’s pile. What it means to be a pastor, equipping disciples and why we should follow Jesus. Get some.


Jared Wilson’s post this week on pastoral ministry as a job has been getting a lot of attention and it should, it is a good piece. I know firsthand how well-intentioned people can still be confuse as to the actions (other than preaching) and responsibilities of a pastor, and in turn wonder if they are worth the expense.

Wilson points out some key differences that are worth noting and thinking more about.

But the truth is that good pastors are not able to take the pastor hat off at the end of the day or leave their heart for their flocks in the office when they clock out. It’s just not something you can turn off.

For all these reasons and more, it is fine and proper for us “regular” church members to acknowledge that our pastors are special. They aren’t better Christians because of their ministry. They aren’t more justified. They don’t have a special connection to God that we don’t have. And yet their office is unique and brings with it challenges and burdens that most of us do not share.

Jared Wilson

Read it on The Gospel Coalition.


Still in the realm of pastoral ministry is the biblical requirement of equipping the church for ministry. All of the saints.

Jeff Vanderstelt lists five ways to equip in his post on Saturate. If you are in ministry and thinking about how you are to be equipping, Vanderstelt provides a good starting point.

Give it a read and act on it.


Finally, let this truth from Ray Ortland wash over you. Why should you love Jesus?


That’s it. Have a great weekend and remember who loves you. Jesus and me!

Worthwhile: July 20, 2019

Already we have hit the tail end of July and we are beginning to think about all those projects we want to tackle this fall. Let’s not waste today though, there are many worthwhile things out there!

This week I have been a hermit. My family is in Oregon for some summer fun but like most of you I only have so much vacation time to use… so instead I am terribly lonely! Not in a bad, depressive way, but in a “the house is quiet and the dogs don’t talk back” kind of way. I have been able to give undistracted time to at least one project, but mostly I am just going through the motions and paying keen attention to the difference. The results of my “study” so far are that I really miss my tribe and look forward to their return!

Some of the things that have filled my time are these worthwhile bits that I am happy to share with you.


First up from Jonathan Dodson is a needed reminder on the way grace works backwards. How grace doesn’t just cover the present, and as he puts it, your “gospel-awakened” future, but it also deals with our past. The lingering shame of sin.

I know I have experienced the very thing Dodson describes and like him I am forever grateful for the grace of Jesus. “God doesn’t wag a finger of shame at us because of Jesus. We are not defined by our failures because of Jesus. We are wildly loved and unflinchingly accepted because of Jesus.

I need this, and you probably do too. Read it here.


The next two probably go together because they hit us where it counts, our minds. John Mark Comer, Portland pastor and host of the wildly popular This Cultural Moment podcast, has a forthcoming book on the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.

Turns out a significant obstacle to spiritual and emotional health is hurry. We all suffer from it, some of us by choice. The full list, the short windows of time we have to accomplish it all. Running from place to place. In fact if we are not hurried or “busy” what then are we?! Maybe less anxious…

The books appears to make the appeal to slowness for health sake. Intentional living unhurried. I haven’t read it yet but the first two chapters are available free so I plan to read it today, you should too and whet your appetite for the elimination of hurry.


Fittingly then comes the call to leave social media behind. Justin Taylor shared the TED talk video from Cal Newport, a 37-year-old professor of computer science at Georgetown, author of five books, and family man that only works until 5 most days.

Newport has never had a social media account and he suggests that yours are disrupting your life in the worst way, leaving you distracted and not at all productive.

In fact it is when we can give intense concentration to those things we endeavor to develop that we find success. I know this firsthand and you probably do too. I have even taken steps to lessen the noise of social media by removing Twitter from my phone and blocking notifications from others.

So whether it is incremental change or a wholesale escape from social media, Newport’s thirteen minute exhortation is worthwhile.


Lastly, if you are in San Diego and interested in studying Gospel Fluency with other dudes, hit us up at hello@reservoir.church and join us on the third Monday of every month in Escondido.


Have a wonderful weekend. Slow down. Don’t hurry. And listen to the blue birds outside, not the ones on you screens.

Vitality found with brothers

Today I found myself again. I was given tremendous grace from Jesus as I met with a group of dear pastor brothers first at a coffee with two important friends and then the cohort at San Diego Church Planting. The cohort is a group of pastors and planters with a desire to do ministry in our city together for a long time. To support and care for one another.

The day began for me juggling the many needs of our small church and a lamenting session with elder Bill about how tired I was shouldering the responsibilities as a lone staff member. Added to that feeling a headache and pinched nerve in my back, I was a grumpy Gus.

But the Lord used these brothers to administer his grace and goodness to my weary soul. First over coffee I was reminded that my struggles are not unique to me and as we talked about the challenges and hopes of our churches I felt the keen reminder of God’s grace for our work and the need to rely on the Spirit for the power to do the work he has called us to.

Then over lunch connecting with other men doing ministry in our city I found myself thanking the Lord for the support this group has been for me. As we rose to sing together the presence of God was noticeable and the singing was such a rich reminder of the grace we all preach of each week and are in desperate need of ourselves.

From there we heard a gentle exhortation on gentleness in ministry and we studied Scripture together to affirm the call toward it for us as pastors. And we ended our time praying for one another.

I left refreshed. Where I had entered the day with bitterness, Jesus was gentle to me through the love of brothers and he gave me rest. It was like catching my breath and reclaiming the vision for ministry the Lord has given me.

This is the reason I am so passionate about encouraging pastors in our city and county to form groups to pray for one another. And it is why I think it is so vital for churches to partner with doctrinally aligned networks so pastors have this type of encouragement from those invested in their ministry and church.

Pastor, please find other pastors that can support you and pray with you. It is vital and a way to vitality.