Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

The Word of the Lord Proves True

Though pain is present and confusion is nigh,

Though fear comes calling and worries stack high,

Though skies be cloudy and hearts be blue,

The word of the Lord proves true.

 

Though friends forsake and kin turn back,

Though answers are gone and finances lack,

Though tears run rivers and wisdom’s askew,

The word of the Lord proves true.

 

Though understanding is hard and answers don’t compute,

Though explanations are goofy and reasons are moot,

Though doubts are rising and answers are few,

The word of the Lord proves true.

(cf. 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30; Proverbs 30:5)

The Two Most Important Minutes of Your Life

None of us knows precisely how much earthly life we have left.

God set a limit of 120 years to human life (Genesis 6:3). Moses said for most of us, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty” (Psalm 90:10). Some will be shorter and others longer.

Whatever the length may be, Jesus urged us not to fret about it, asking “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25). Answer: not one of us.

Yet we are counseled to “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). And if days matter then so do the hours that make them up. And if hours matter then so do minutes of which they are composed. And if minutes matter, so do moments. After all “we bring our years to an end like a sigh” (Psalm 90:9). Just what will you exhale with your final “sigh”?

In light of these realities I want you to consider the two most important minutes of your life.

Any idea what they might be? The two minutes just before you make life’s biggest decisions? The two minutes it takes you to exchange marriage vows and say, “I do!”? The last two minutes before death?

Those are all very important. But they are not the most important minutes of your life.

Are you ready to consider these two minutes? Are you eager to rethink their strategic nature? Are you willing to change how you use them?

What are the two most important minutes of your life?

Answer: the last one and the next one.

The minute immediately behind you and the one standing immediately before you are the two most significant, impactful, and strategic minutes of your life.

Consider the minute that has just passed. It possesses disproportionate potential to shape the rest of your life. Just how it will do so is largely a matter how you deal with … regrets, wounds, revenge, forgiveness, failure, success, disappointment, discontent (and a host of other issues).

How you deal with that minute and what filled it will go a long way in answering such foundational questions as: Who I am? What am I worth? What difference will my life make? Where am I headed? What matters most to me?

Now consider the minute that stands immediately before you, next in line in the succession of your unfolding life. That singular minute is the only minute of which you can have any assurance. Fact is, you have no guarantee you’ll make it to the end of it. So we better live it well. Doing so requires making some decisions about things like … reality, truth, faith/trust, hope, purpose (among other key matters).

How will you view the minute that has just passed? In light of it, how will you engage the minute that is just now beginning? Answer these two questions and you’ll be well on the way to determining where you’ll end up and what the ride will be like.

The Apostle Paul said, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

All “arguments”; each “opinion”; every “thought.” The minute behind you and the minute before you all speak “arguments,” offer some “opinion” and form some “thought” about what reality is, who you are, what you can do in the face of what stands before you. All of them must be taken “captive to … Christ.”

How are you doing in dealing with the two most strategic minutes of your life right now? What’s the pattern for how you do so? Is it helpful? What determines what you do with those minutes and what you let them do with you?

This next minute might be a good time to consider again these words: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

Are you simply letting the minutes slip by? Or are you “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16)—specifically, the only two minutes of which you can be certain.

He is Able — a new review

Here’s a new review of He is Able by pastor, blogger and voracious reader, Ernie Bowman:

He is Able by John Kitchen is a book about your inability and God’s ability. You can’t, but he can. You probably already “know” this, but do you believe it and do you demonstrate that belief by your actions and thought patterns? In short chapters that make for perfect reading length, John Kitchen walks us through the process of learning to rest in the power and sovereignty of God. If you have ever felt spiritually helpless, frustrated, alone, or incompetent, this readable and relatable book is perfect for you. It makes a great choice for someone who is not a reader because Kitchen breaks things down in short chapters with a conversational tone. Highly recommended!

You can follow Ernie with great profit here.

Christmas Story 2019

Each year I write a new story to share with our congregation on Christmas Eve. Here is this year’s story: Advent Armies

Good AT and Good FOR

We all want to figure out what God wants from us. What is His will for your life? What does He require of you? What ought you to be and do?

It struck me not long ago that in pursuit of answers to these kinds of questions we each must consider not only what God has made me good at, but also what has God made me good for.

The answer to the former is found in discerning what God has done in imparting to you spiritual gifts, natural talents, and shaping experiences. Figuring out what you are good at is a matter of competency and skill. You might be good at car repair, football, sewing, computers, baking, nuclear physics, etc.

The answer to the latter is found in discovering and discerning what God has done in shaping your heart. Discovering what you are good for is a matter of calling and character. It is harder to quantify this isn’t it? In fact it might be easier to describe what you are no good for – things for which you just don’t have the heart and for which you just can’t sustain the passion.

What you are good at, we might say, is a matter of the hands. What you are good for is a matter of the heart.

Both are vital. But it seems to me that a person might be good at certain things, but also only good for doing that in a certain arena or for a certain cause or purpose. You can use gifts, talents and the like for many things. After all a great writer could compose cheap and bawdy literature that debases the human soul or she could write with style and substance that imparts life and hope to her readers.

Does it make sense to say that what you are good for has to define and direct what you are good at?

A person who has discovered what God has made them good at is a person who has direction and a future to pursue. But a person who has also discovered what he is good for finds the field of possibilities drastically narrowed—not because he doesn’t possess the skill for some matters, but because God has spoiled his heart for anything other than what He has made him for.

So are you asking more questions about what you are good at or what you are good for? Some people would settle to know what they are good at. They would love to be the best in the world (or even in their school or family or on their block) at something. But that can be an ego-driven matter. We need to know what God has made us good at, but we can’t stop there.  We must know what God has made us good for. For then we can not only do our best, we can do it for the glory of God and with all the passion and purpose for which He gave us the abilities in the first place. When we discover what we are good for we begin to move from just doing, to doing as doxology.

The longer I live I find myself asking more of the second level questions than the first level. I’m wondering if that’s the case for you too.

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