Friday, March 1, 2013

Margin- Chapter 1

(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)

Chapter 1: "Marginless Living"

- In introducing the topic, the author showed what margin and marginless look like.  He then pointed out that "Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture."  (pg. 13)  In starting this book, I found it helpful to be reminded that seeking to establish margin will go against the flow.  Therefore, it will be difficult.

- He correctly pointed out that marginless living is rampant despite all of our modern conveniences that make life easier.  My mind went to the Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder which Viola and I have been reading.  Laura's family worked hard and had to do many things by hand.  However, they found time to have quiet evenings together reading, sewing, and listening to Pa's fiddle.  Something close to that is my goal!

- He phrased it that he "purchased back margin," something "that cost me significant income."  (pg. 16)  It helped me to again realize that establishing margin in my life may cost me something that I think I want now, but in the end, I will be glad I gave it up.  The blessings will outweigh the cost.

- I'm sure each of you "fellows" has felt pressure because of all that needs to be done.  I certainly have as well.  For me, I think a lack of margin is often a big contributor to that pressure.  Hence, this book is for me.

- As ministers, part of our job is to apply the Bible to practical life situations.  I think it is important for us to understand this problem because we will be ministering to many who are facing it as well.

- I liked this: "Pain first gets our attention- as it does so well- and then moves us in the opposite direction of the danger."  (pg. 17)  Unfortunately, I often don't try to move the other direction; I just wiggle around to try to get it to stop.

I've had my say, what say you?
[For your information: Be careful of trying to add too long a comment.  (Don't think that'll be a problem for this chapter.)  In the last reading project a couple of guys found out the hard way there is a limit.  I tried to find out what it is, but couldn't.  You have been warned- don't come crying to me now if it happens!]

Discussion on Chapter 2


  1. I think Jacob has said it well, but here are my observations.

    The validity of a "marginless" society is obvious to any reasonable thinking person. It seems like the Bible principle of living a "quiet and peaceable life" applies to this discussion. What an opportunity we have as Christians to live that peaceable life for our LORD and be a tremendous light and testimony to this world.

    He makes a valid point that pain is our friend (in a physical and spiritual sense). I can see in myself the propensity to stay distracted with busyness and not taking the time to focus on the most important things, or rather, on how to live life more efficiently. This takes time and organization, which is something you cannot afford to do when you are running from one responsibility to another (living marginless).

    Paul J.

  2. 1. This author is not writing from a Biblical perspective. This does not negate his arguments, but we must remember his approach. Definitely we can learn things from medical doctors.
    2. Busyness is often equated with spirituality. "Burning out for God" and like phrases tell us that the more we work, the better of a Christian we are. (This can also occur by extolling the David Brainerds, David Livingstones, etc. who worked themselves to death.) This can be deceiving. Any busyness we have must be Spirit led. I believe Christ was quite busy during his 3 or so years of ministry. However, he still took time to rest. I also wonder how busy his life was before he was baptized (before his ministry). Perhaps God intends us to have seasons of busyness, but not a forever busyness.
    3. As Jacob said, there is a cost to any decision we make. We must weigh our schedule (and other) choices very carefully. Sometimes we get lost in the details and forget the big picture.

  3. FYI...I copy my comments before I publish them in case there is an error or they are too long. Better safe than sorry.

  4. The phrase that grabbed me was "Even those with a deep spiritual faith are not spared."

    It almost seems to be a badge of honor to be overloaded in the ministry. The amount of ministry is the goal and not the depth of ministry. Just imagine the reaction a preacher would get after saying that he wasn't busy to another preacher. It will be counter-culture even in fundamental Baptist churches to scale back your 'busyness'.

    It made me think that the root of our busyness is sometimes pride. We don't want to be perceived as lazy or apathetic, so we replace that with a volume of work. A missionary feels the pressure to put something big in his prayer letter, a pastor feels that he has to keep up with the church three states away with triple the membership and evangelists have to report an amazing revival every week. Busyness then must replace faithfulness.


    1. I agree with your thoughts, Alan. Our months here in Moldova have made us think alot about the quality/quantity battle even in regards to meetings of the church. Sometimes you hear people extolling churches who meet quite often through the week. However, that makes me wonder where the time is for them to invest in their families.

      We are not in a position yet to set up meeting times, but once we are, my goal will be to set things up so quality will be stressed, and not simply quantity.

  5. From the start, I appreciate the very conversational writing style of the author. Though a doctor, the first chapter shows this book is on a level for anyone. I can honestly say that the author has my attention already. I enjoyed laughing about the man with the glass eye. The author obviously has a sense of humor, too.

    He is addressing something I have been pondering for the past several months. I was wondering how life 2,000 years ago was so much more work to accomplish simple, everyday things, and yet it was a slower pace life than today. Moving this past December was another unpleasant reminder of how much "stuff" we have. The majority of this "stuff" was not even heard of in homes for the majority of earth's history. Though these are conveniences, they take a lot of time and energy to maintain. After the move, I really began wondering if having "stuff" really makes life better.

    When we look at the life of Christ, we never see Him rushed or late. He is always doing what needs to be done at the moment. On the other hand, we do see "pressure" (we might could even use the word "stress") in the life of Christ. In the Garden, the Bible states that Christ was "sorrowful and very heavy." Other instances recorded in the Bible show Christ expressing unpleasant emotions, too. There are times in life with stress and hurting emotions, so I know the author is not seeking to propose a life without the existence of these. Christ's difference was in how He responded to these stresses. I am looking forward to the author's insights and am curious as to his proposed remedy in correctly dealing with these pressures of life.

    I agree with y'all's points on busyness being an issue that those in ministry, including ourselves, must face. Alan, I agree with you on the danger of pride being a reason behind busyness.

  6. Well, there's not much left for me to say. You fellas have pretty well nailed the contents of this first chapter with your comments. While it is still quite early in the book I do perceive the author's approach is going to be a "tell-you-like-it-is" approach and that he may say things we don't WANT to hear, but rather NEED to hear. A doctor, I would presume, has to do this quite often in dealing with his patients, and I think such an approach would be helpful in dealing with this particular matter.

    We all have reasons for rationalizing away our busyness and fast-paced, stressful seasons of life but I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book and seeing what thoughts the author offers on this topic.

    Early in this chapter the author made a list of contrasts that started as "Marginless is ......; Margin is ......." I feel the need to add one more to that list but in a reversed order.

    Margin is having time to read your chapter for the week...Marginless is being the last to comment! This week, that would be me! :-)

    1. It's ok to be last, Thad. Had you not written anything, we would've talked bad about you (ESPECIALLY with the first chapter, AND it being so short!!) :-)