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Friday, January 8, 2010

Help! Panic! Time control and me!

When addressing time we need to also consider what to do when we get in a mess we can't seem to control.

Yesterday I was addressing how time and how military advice on decisions could help us in our lives. (maybe you want to read the thread of the last few days first?)

Today I want to explain that the military realized that sometimes pilots needed a "reset" button to clear everything away and start again at a clearly identified system state.
 

We also sometimes need to have a reset button.

God has advised us to do this daily. He wants us to take time away from life’s events, and switch them off and switch into a state where we spend time thinking of him, what he has said (in that bible) and going over our concerns, desires and things we have to be thankful for. This is also advised when we get into states where turmoil seems to be creeping up on us. He has said that prayer and communication with him is a reset button in our lives. Without this life can become a runaway situation at times!

Military pilots also need to practice decision making and train on the mission scenarios.

Similarly Christians need to read the sacred texts and work through these "mission scenarios", thinking of how we would react in similar situations and how we should perhaps modify how we typically react. This will help us react correctly in decision in the future. It’s not a perfect solution but reduces anxiety and decision making time considerably!

Pilots make good decisions most of the time but not always. This is why they are supervised with someone always looking for when the military pilot is going in a "bad" direction or making bad decisions. At this point the supervisor control kicks in to warn the pilot to correct the situation before they get into trouble.

Christians need this supervisory control and have it! Holy Spirit speaks to the Christian in various ways, God puts angels around the Christian, and these unseen beings guide events to the correct conclusion for God’s people, even if the Christians are not aware of this all the time. Its a cool place to be, that place where decision making is supported and we can feel cared for in the most stressful of life’s circumstances.

It’s great to be a Christian! In fact I am not sure how folk who don’t have God manage! It’s got to be hard! No wonder so many people say "life sucks". It’s a pity so many people have yet to find the cure!

So, to increase the time we have, we also need to improve our decision making and not get locked into cycles where we cannot stop thinking of the same issue over and over again.

God has offered to take the load from us. The bible in basic English reports Jesus as saying

"Come to me, all you who are troubled and weighted down with care, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and become like me, for I am gentle and without pride, and you will have rest for your souls"


We need to let the supreme mission controller guide us through our lives.

He after all made, us, everthing, and is the only one who sees past, present and future together.

Isn't that the type of mission controller you would like to have guiding your life?
Fri, January 8, 2010 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Time and Decisions. . . lessons learnt from the military!


Over the past while I have been addressing how we should take our time and use it correctly to reduce our stress and to enable us to complete God's plan for our lives each day. Today I want to talk about time and decisions. A factor in failure to use time effectively is the amount of time and anxiety that occurs as we have to make decisions.

We all have to make decisions, but some of us seem to take more strain than others. How does the Christian approach differ from others? Is it any better? Why would it help? Let’s see if we can get some idea of the answer to these questions and use our time a bit more effectively.

 

To get some help on this I am referencing an article, “Decision-Support Systems: Lessons from the Military” by John Parkinson where he describes lessons gained in training military pilots to make decisions. These decisions are often needed urgently with ambiguous or little information. Sometimes it requires people to operate only with the approval of others, sometimes it requires that they decide by themselves. The consequences of the decisions are life and death, so the stress of the decision is significant. This is probably more stressful than most of us endure. Let’s see if we can use some hints and compare the lessons learnt against decisions in our lives.

 


The first thing that was learned was that information overload decreased the capability to decide effectively. We all have experience at one time or another that paralysis that comes from trying to get hold of all the facts about a situation and finding we cannot do it and as we focus on one, others seem to slip away. When we try and grasp the content that is evaporating, another thought comes in and another thought starts to slide away. This is a recipe for a nervous breakdown! The military had to overcome this problem with pilots by teaching them to work through sample mission scenarios, and interpret the information in terms of these scenarios. They also reduced the information in each scenario and permitted the pilots to make assumptions of what the aircraft would take over and do in certain scenarios so they got given less information.

 


So how does this apply to us if we are Christians? Well, we have a supreme “mission controller” that we always have contact with. There are no faulty radio links in this relationship. Next, God has preset up hundreds of mission scenarios for us to consider ahead of time and in his infinite wisdom, has shown us the correct way to deal with them. The Bible is full of examples of what people did and the consequences, and how God assists in the situations.

Instead of having to face these decisions on our own each time, we have a whole support pack of pre-worked out situations. Now, like the mission scenarios don’t exactly provide all information to the pilot, we also don’t get exact mappings for our situations. God leaves the flying of our lives to us, but helps us reduce the information overload and gives us contact with his Holy Spirit to call out to for help in emergency and other situations. Without this guidance our anxiety would be very much higher.

How does this apply to us and our situation? What is our mission control and how confident are we in the knowledge of the “mission scenarios”? Do we need to read the bibles sacred writings to increase our reservoir of “mission scenarios”? Too much information can degrade our decisions as can too little and only the person who planned our human capabilities can tell exactly where that performance band is.

How much do we trust him to help?

More on this tomorrow. . .

Reference:
http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Past-Opinions/DecisionSupport-Systems-Lessons-from-the-Military/

Thu, January 7, 2010 | link          Comments

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We get the exact right amount of time to get everything done!

In Ecclesiastes 12, the writer who is believed to be Solomon, supposedly the wisest man that ever lived, says:
 

      “Remember your Creator

       in the days of your youth,

       before the days of trouble come

       and the years approach when you will say,

       "I find no pleasure in them"


As we get older, he points out life is less pleasurable. They may be as satisfying, but pleasure decreases with age. This is a natural process that is part of the journey towards death that every person that’s alive today takes. To make it easier and make the best use of our time, we are advised to start early with listening and remembering God’s advice. That way we make the best use of our time!

Solomon concludes with these words which have stood the test of time:


“Fear God and keep his commandments,

       for this is the whole duty of man.

  For God will bring every deed into judgment,

       including every hidden thing,

       whether it is good or evil”

Let’s look into cultural meaning here. The word “Fear” had additional meanings in Solomon’s time. It meant “Respect” or “honour”. God wants our respect. This is our duty, and the sooner we give God respect, the quicker we start to use our time effectively.


So how do I get to manage all the work I have to get done each day?
Start your day with getting your attitude right! Since we have shown attitude impacts our perception of time, this will impact how we experience the activities of our day. Christians in general seem to start their day by spending time with God. Relaxing and getting into a peaceful attitude of mind, reading God’s words in the sacred books, and chatting to God about what they are doing, and how they would like him to help (they call it praying), is a technique used to establish the correct daily environment.

This is based on the statement in the book of psalms, psalm 5 that says

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”

So that starts the day! One way to establish a time control is to list the activities that we need to do and pray through each one with God. Take time to explain all the issues and what the concerns are and after you have done this, spend some time reading God’s word. Then re-prioritize those activities and mark down which ones you have to do during this specific day. Mark those that need to get done this week, and those you would like to do this month. That will focus your time on the key activities for the day. Now if you pray about each of the activities for the day and ask God for help in determining how to plan the time for each one, you will find you can enjoy and address the items far easier.


Many years ago I was doing a human computer interaction course with a man who advised the American military regarding this type of activity and he pointed out a fact that has stayed with me, and I have tested this, for years and found it true. Now, this is not biblical information, it is some advice I have discovered so you must feel free to disregard it totally if you wish to. This man explained that as human beings, we perform best at 70% utilization.

This means we need to plan to use 70% of our time or more accurately, plan not to use 30%. This takes into account the normal surge of activities that occur due to emergencies and unforeseen activities.

This is a factor used in planning pilot time in multi-million dollar aircraft so it should be applicable to us lesser mortals I guess?

Another part of time control is addressing fear. What has fear got to do with time?

It’s what drives a lot of us to overuse time in areas that we don’t need to, and so we then don’t have the time to spend elsewhere. Our perception of what others will think of us if we say “no” to a piece of work is often driven by fear. God says we should love and trust him and not pick up fear. If we trust God to supply our needs, it becomes easier to say “no” when we have to. Over-commitment is avoided in this way.


Does this mean we try and do as little as possible? Not likely! God wants us to do a full days work and be honest in this. Procrastination is also not something that God wants for us. An open and honest approach to getting the work done daily according to the priorities and guidelines God helps us establish at the beginning of each day is what is expected.


Try this out and I think you will find that the time given us is exactly right!

Wed, January 6, 2010 | link          Comments

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

“I don’t have enough time”. . . or do I?

Managing Time God’s way

 
Life is a busy existence and so often we hear people saying “I don’t have enough time”. Sometimes we say it ourselves. Strangely enough, it seems that almost everyone from all walks of life can be heard to say this. Another way this gets put is “If I just had more time I could do ….” 

We all have 60 seconds in every minute, 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day. That’s all we get to do the tasks for that day. Nobody gets more or less time.

This means the statement “I don’t have enough time” is not about time, but about the activities we are trying to complete within time. So, it’s not really time that’s the issue, it’s what we do, our activities that is what impacts our experience of that time.

 

There is also another part to time and activities that is interesting. When we are doing things we enjoy, we tend to find time goes quickly, but when we are doing tasks we dislike it seems to drag.

This can make the experience of time differ for people doing the very same activity.

A person who loves golf, finds the game is over too quickly, but another who may have a back problem and is playing only for charity or some other reason who doesn’t really appreciate the game, may be finding it takes forever and wishing it would be over from the second hole. They may be playing in the same group and the game takes the same for both. Their reports of the game could vary considerably however. This means our attitudes influence our perception of time as well.

 

The bible has an interesting piece of writing about time. It goes like this:

There is a time for everything,       
and a season for every activity under heaven: 
 
a time to be born and a time to die, 
      
a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
 
a time to kill and a time to heal, 
      
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
 
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
      
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
      
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
 
a time to search and a time to give up, 
      
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
      
a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
 
a time to love and a time to hate, 
      
a time for war and a time for peace. 
 

What does the worker gain from his toil?

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
 
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

God does it so that men will revere him.”
[1]


It starts with “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” This says that we have to try and identify what we need to be doing at a specific period of time. There is no rule as to what is right all the time. What we do is dependent of the situation we find ourselves in!

If we are wise, we let God guide us in what to do in each situation, since he has the best understanding of time.

 

Strangely it also points out that we are eternal creatures and want eternity and that we will not ever understand time from God’s perspective. “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We have to deal with the moment in which we live. The past recedes and cannot be changed, and we don’t really know what the future brings. We think we understand time but we don't. Scientists tell us time is relative and most of us cannot understand them. How could we understand God's view of time since scientists are still discovering what God knows?

 


Happiness and satisfaction in what we do is an objective for most of us. In order to achieve this, the bible says need to accept this gift from God and we must have an attitude of doing good in this world of ours. It says “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

Having enough brings satisfaction and the best usage of time. Having too much or wanting much more than God chooses to allow us to have is one way for messing up our time and building dis-satisfaction with our life.

Hey, enjoy your time today!



[1] NIV Bible, Old Testament, Ecclesiastes chapter 3.

Tue, January 5, 2010 | link          Comments


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