Owned

This is a passage that, if you consider it honestly and seriously, will rock your world and radically change your priorities:

Luke 12:31-34 

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  HCSB

I’m praying for the courage to take the hard look necessary to be a faithful disciple and change where change is required. 

Demonic Distraction

I’m not likely to elicit the services of a prostitute. I’m not likely to get a bottle of scotch and polish it off in a sitting. I’m not likely to hunt down someone I dislike and take them out with one, ridiculously accurate shot between the eyes. There are probably a thousand different things I can list here that I probably won’t do (though, because of my sin nature, I can never say I’m incapable. There’s nothing a sinful heart is incapable of). However, there are simply things that don’t tempt me very much; tactics the soldiers of darkness would be foolish to engage me in.

What I’m coming to realize more and more, though, is that there are some things that I seem to be predisposed towards. Things that always seem to cause me a great fight and, sometimes, I just can’t seem to hold up. Of course, some of these are shrouded in clouds of deception; covert attacks in which I am outflanked and hit without even so much as knowing I’ve been outwitted, outlasted or outplayed.

“Squirrel!”

Take my most susceptible area of weakness: distraction. I have rarely been able to detect this one, mainly because there’s nothing particularly “evil” about the things I’ve been doing. It’s not like I’ve jumped online to check out the latest porn features or spent time chatting with “lovely Korean girls who are waiting for your call”. In fact, many of the things that have been used against me are quite inoccuous. We’re talking watching a funny video that someone posted on Facebook or “cute kittens at play (after all, I’ve been told that laughing at cats falling off of slippery cars and jumping into screen doors is therapeutic) and not realize that I mindlessly just let the next 5 or 10 funny videos that follow autoplay. Maybe I do a “quick search” for something I’ve been wanting to check out only to get lost for the next half hour in the endless tree of links that are related. Simple stuff. Innocent stuff.

Not So Innocent

It’s crazy how easy it is for the “innocent” or morally neutral to cause me to sin. Now, I know that to call it sin might be debatable by some, but it’s certainly not for me. Here’s why. If there is anything that has kept me from making the things of God primary in my life, I am guilty of idolatry. After all, idolatry is, most simply, anything that takes the rightful place of God. When I let anything detract my affections away from the primacy of Christ, idolatry has been birthed and will not stop until it is full-grown and has become a major sin in my life.

Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with pursuing interests, spending time on Facebook or anything else that can be either good or bad, but I know me. I tend to get sucked in and all of the time I’ve been given to pursue that which I SAY is of primary importance in my life is now gone because of all the little things that have robbed me of the opportunity I had. Man, I’m telling you, if I was out to get you to take your eyes off of Jesus, I wouldn’t need to make you bad so long as I could make you distracted; if I could make you too busy or preoccupied with the mundane.

Taking Back the Land

Military history all the way back to biblical days has shown us that, even after terrible defeats, if an army can manage to rally and take back even a little previously-lost territory, it can lead to greater confidence to take it all back and win the war. That’s what I have determined to do, even though it’s surprisingly difficult!

I’ve only been off of social media for 24 hours and I feel like an addict going through withdrawals. I was so accustomed to mindlessly picking up the iPhone during moments of down-time and seeing what everyone was posting, that I find myself wanting to re-download the apps. I’m starting to realize just how frequently I was checking those stupid things. Why? I allowed myself to be fooled into thinking it was no harm, but little by little, the joy of the Lord in my life was fading because I wasn’t pursuing it. How could I? Every spare minute was spent trying to see what everyone else BUT God was saying.

So, I will work through the withdrawals, endure the cold sweats and refocus my time and attention on the most important things in my life. I will retake the land and determine that I will no longer allow demonic distractions to rule my life. I will practice the skill of self-examination and submit my free time to the freedom I have in Christ to grow into the design God has for me.

Maybe God isn’t calling you to give up social media, even for a season, but are there “demonic distractions” in your life that are secretly keeping you from living up to your potential? Is there something or even someone in your life that has quietly and slowly led you into idolatry? Time is fleeting, the moments are passing…grab them! Take control of your time and submit it under the control of the Holy Spirit. Do it now while you still have TIME.

Peace.

Saving Daylight

(You can watch the message from March 10, 2013 here, called….yeah, Saving Daylight)Image

What are you doing with your time? If I were to ask you where your time is spent each day, unless your life is simply consumed by just one or two things, you probably would have a tough time accounting for all of it. Don’t feel too bad (yet), most people are “wasting” away with the same time-killing disease.

If I were to ask “if you had more time, what would you do in your life that you currently aren’t doing? Learn a new language? A new skill? Become more involved in missions? Write a book?

Our biggest excuse for not doing these things is that we simply don’t have enough time. We use that one a lot, don’t we?  Think about what French philosopher, Jean De La Bruyere said:

Those who make the worse use of their time are the first to complain in of its shortness.

Ouch, huh?

Time is one of those things that we take for granted until we become aware that we’re running out of it and all of us are, it’s just that those advanced in years or who are in an advanced stage of some disease or who have had a brush with death seem to realize it more keenly.

Is there a way for us to redeem our time? To take full advantage of the life we have been given and put the reigns around our time so that we know longer waste time, not even spend time, but, as Stephen Covey says, invest it? Think about the difference in terms:

wasting – To throw away with no return; nothing to show for it.

spending – To get something you want, but that’s it. When it wears out, it’s gone.

investing – To use something in such a way that you get a valuable return on what is used.

How do we learn to invest our time so that there is a return on what we use?  Ephesians 5 talks a lot about the way in which we walk.  It lists several sinful practices like sexual immorality and covetousness and others of the “really bad stuff” we’re to stay away from.  These would be categorized as “sins of commission” or things you do that you shouldn’t.  However, just as serious are “sins of omission” or failing to do things you should.  Both have an impact on how you live your life and can prevent you from “walking as children of light…taking no part in unfruitful works of darkness.  So, in light of this, verses 15-17 gives us three principles in how to redeem our time for the glory of God and then I want to follow with six practical steps of application.

Principles for Redeeming Time

1. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise”

You need to examine your life.  It is imperative that you take inventory of how you spend time to determine if the things you are doing are wise or if you are living your life unwisely or foolishly.

2. “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Determine not just to use your time, but to invest it wisely. You will not use your time wisely by accident. It will be intentional or it will not be done at all. Because of our fallen nature, our inclination is, generally, not towards good but towards evil. However, for those of us who have been redeemed from our sin nature through believing in and trusting Christ and by repenting of our sins, we have a new nature that is being formed in the image of Christ. Through sanctification (the process of becoming like Christ), we can choose to live differently through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it’s going to take effort!

It’s funny how we say we don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish all that we want to but we’ll spend 2 hours at a time on Facebook! It’s a matter of prioritiesCharles Richards once said, “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”

People throughout history who have made great accomplishments in their lives are not people who had more time than we do today, but people who did more with the time they had. H. Jackson Brown put it this way:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

OK, ouch, again.

We must take time to determine what is the best use of your time because the days are evil. If we are not actively pursuing Christ, we will look for things to “entertain us” and too often those are things that feed our lusts and desires of the flesh.  That is, things that can ultimately destroy us.

3. “…do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Very simply, this is knowing the revealed will of God through the study of it and hearing how that applies to your life through prayer and meditation. To fail in this is foolishness.

We often use the excuse that we don’t have enough time for Bible study and prayer. Setting aside time for spiritual growth and listening to what God wants you to do during the course of the day is never a waste of time.

We need the attitude of Martin Luther who is famous for saying, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

We will not accomplish anything of lasting and eternal value if we don’t first power up through prayer and getting into the Scripture!

Alright, those are the principles.  Here come the practical steps to apply them:

1. Determine your priorities

What has God called YOU to do? This takes time to determine. Set aside blocks of time to do this. I do this at least twice a year, setting aside at least a half a day at a time.

 2. Determine HOW you will glorify God through your set priorities.

Get into the habit of asking, “How will me investing time in doing this bring glory to God?”

This should be asked of every area of your life, including hobbies and free time/rest time. Depending on what you’re doing, consider these possible responses:  “I’m glorifying God through painting by reflecting His creativity.” “I’m glorifying God through playing baseball by developing the skill and ability to learn He’s given me.” “I’m learning this new language to prepare myself for opportunities to share the Gospel in other cultures.” “I’m taking this time to rest to reflect God’s priority to let by body and mind recover.”

This might sound crazy, but this is intentional living. This is the process of making sure that time is invested!

I’m not being an extremist here. There are things that you do just because you enjoy them. That’s fine, too. At that point, I would simply ask these two questions: “Is this something that pulls my affections away from Christ? Is it something that will control me (become an obsession) or is clearly sinful?  If not, enjoy it in its proper time and place!

Here’s the bottom: if you’re not doing something that is obviously productive or ministry-related or what-have-you, if you are a disciple of Jesus, you still have the responsibility to glorify Him in your life and most certainly to make sure that what you’re doing is not bringing dis-honor to Him.

 3. Decide what steps are needed to take in order to accomplish your priorities.

Count the cost!  Take a class. Invest a certain number of hours each day. Cut out some other activities, etc., but put together some practical steps that will move you down the road.

 4. Structure your day around these priorities.

Invest some time each week or even each night to put them on your daily calendar. This is one of the only way you’re going to prevent being controlled by idle time that will be wasted on Facebook…or reading blogs? Yikes.

I suppose a disclaimer is in order since I’ve been slamming the lord of the social networks: Facebook is fine as long as it’s during time you’ve determined is free or leisure time or during a limited amount of time.  Don’t let yourself be hijacked by a social site.  If you have to, set an alarm to get off in five or ten minutes and then get off!

 5. Measure your progress.

Journal as you go. Set a date on the calendar when you will look back over the time since you’ve started and honestly evaluate how you’ve done and then alter your strategy, if necessary. Change what doesn’t work!

 6. Maintain balance

Find the middle ground between sloth and workaholic.  Enjoy a variety of activities that will keep life interesting and allow you to continually explore all the incredible Truth and beauty that can be found in God’s world.

So, how are you using your time? Spending, wasting or investing it? We need to determine to redeem our time starting right now!  Do you have other tips or suggestions that help you with time management that you would add?

Balance

This year for me is all about balance.  I’m trying very hard to seek “moderation in all things” and imbalance in none.  That’s a huge challenge for me!  So far, though, I’m eating right, working out regularly, finding consistency in Scripture reading, and working towards balance between work, family and personal time.  That last one may be the most difficult challenge for me thus far…not sure why.

The cool thing is that I’m enjoying life this year more than ever.  Living life intentionally makes all the difference in the world.  Actually, intentional living (based on 1 Corinthians 10:31) is when real living happens.  Is this easy?  No, not really, but I am committed.  Hopefully, if and when I waiver, some of my loving friends will gently help me get back on track! 🙂  So, how are you doing this year?  What is your area of biggest challenge regarding balance?

True Friends

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook this morning.  It resonated with me so much, I have to post it here, with all my heart:

It’s the people that disappoint you most in life that really make you appreciate the loyal people that don’t. To those who are true, and you know who you are, thank you!

This is especially true when you are the leader of people.  I recently heard a very well-known, respected leader make the following statement:

“There is no way you are going to be able to please everyone, so make sure you anger the right people.”

Good advice.

%d bloggers like this: