Posts Tagged ‘Living Well’

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“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter…..God led the people around by the way of the wilderness….”  Exodus 13:17-18

This Scripture tells us Israel was going from Point A (Egypt) to Point B (the edge of the Red Sea/Sea of Reeds).   Now, we all learned in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  And, generally, we all like to get where we’re going in the least amount of time/distance as possible.

What is true in travel, is true in life.  We make our plans and we think we know the best way to achieve them – the “straight line” to getting there.  But sometimes, God gives us a detour.  A life detour is an unexpected event that changes your life’s course.

The election of 2016 represents a detour for many in the country today.  For some, it is a devastating detour; for others, a detour pointing to promise and validation.  For most of us, regardless of who we voted for, the 2016 election is a detour we will be coming to terms with, and impacted by, for some time to come.

But God may be using this detour for good to get us to the right destination.  I suspect God could be at work bringing better unity to the church in this detour.  Better unity by using this detour to cause us to see differing, valid perspectives; to be transformed individually and as a whole as a result in order to bring about positive impact for eternity.  For our Point B is not “to make America great again,”  but to “seek and save the lost”.

Can we make a difference?  Does your life matter?  Absolutely.  If we are willing to take the way of Romans 12:2 and take Philippians 2:1-8 to heart, we will leave a lasting legacy and impact.



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Psalm 116:9 – “I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”  (NASB)
Psalm 111:10 – “The good life begins in the [reverence] of God…” (The Message)
Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days…teach us to live wisely and well” (NASB and The Message)
How a man walks in life (how he lives) reveals his heart, his passion, his love.  Some live only in regards to the judgments and opinions of other people.  Others are concerned with living in light of the fact that abundant life, meaningful life, a life that leaves a lasting legacy for others is found in walking with God and in light of Him as our Creator.
An article I read a few years ago highlights this well.  From Dr. Jim Denison (with some slight editing):
A Tale of Two Armstrongs
Lance Armstrong is one of the most remarkable people of our generation.  Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25 and given only a 40% chance of survival, he went on to win 7 Tour de France cycling titles.  But with them came accusations of cheating through doping (taking performance enhancing substances).  Recently, after years of fighting these accusations and proclaiming his innocence, he decided to stop fighting the allegations; in response, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from professional cycling for life and recommended ALL his Tour de France victories be vacated.
In spite of the many things he has done, and is doing, to raise money for cancer research, it’s hard not to be shocked at the way his amazing cycling career has ended.

Another Armstrong made the weekend news as well: Neil Armstrong died Aug 25 at the age of 82.  When he set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he made the statement heard around the world: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  The Apollo 11 moon mission was his last space flight.  He left NASA a year later to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
Armstrong refused all offers to use his fame for personal advancement.  Life magazine described his legacy well: he “was one of those rare, genuine heroes whose legend grew larger with passing years not because he nurtured the myths that attached to him as the first human to walk on the moon, but because he quietly, resolutely refused to play the role of the publicly lauded Great American.”  His humility was both genuine and remarkable.
One Armstrong finished well; the other may yet forge a great legacy but today lives in the shadow of scandal.  Their stories prove the truth of the old adage: it’s not where you begin the race that matters, but where you end.  The same is true for us.  Jacob stole his brother’s birthright; Moses killed a man and fled as a felon; David was a murdering adulterer; Peter three times denied knowing his Lord; Paul persecuted Christians to the death.  But try writing the story of human history and redemption without them.
Their common secret: they learned to define success by faithfulness.  Our culture defines it by fame and fortune, popularity and possessions, but God knows better.  If we live in light of the truth of God, confident of His calling on and purpose for us, abiding in Him and our identity in His Son … when our days are done we will say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Whose race are you running today?

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958038-whitney-houstonMany know of Whitney Houston — a marvelous singer who came of age in my college and early work years.  She had it all: beauty, a fantastic voice, a winning personality, and seemingly a good head on her shoulders.  She had a string of #1 hits, did movies with Kevin Costner and Denzel Washington, sang the National Anthem as the 1991 war with Iraq (Desert Storm) began which actually went #1 I believe.

And yet, at 48 years of age, Whitney Houston died after having spiraled down for years in drug and alcohol abuse.  Her funeral was today.  Remembering the Whitney Houston as she was coming into her own and the Whitney Houston she became is very sad — and it reminds me of the poem, “The Dash” a portion of which is below:
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For the dash represents all the time that she spend alive on earth
And now only those who loved her know what the little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?
I’ve been working my way through the Bible this year in concert with our church (goal is for congregation to read through in a year, but real goal is to learn to abide in Christ as a habit).
The reading today (Deuteronomy 7 – Deuteronomy 10) is all about how we spend our “dash” well.  Below is my journal resulting from this reading:
What if they said this about you at your funeral:
“She did not trust God or obey Him.  In spite of His delivering her from bondage and saving her, she grumbled and was ungrateful.  In fact, she was rebellious against the Lord for as long as I knew her.”
How grievous and heartbreaking that would be!  To be loved by God, shown grace and mercy beyond belief, led and blessed throughout, but to have shown no faithfulness in return.
And yet this is Moses description of the Israelites in the reading today (see especially Deuteronomy 9:7b and 9:23-24).
How terrible!  And terrifying – because I see so much of me in the Israelites.  “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love….”
How to avoid such an obituary?  The answer to that question is also in today’s reading.
1) Make no compromise with the world.  In today’s “religious conversations,” we often hear we are to “be in the world, but not of it.”  And that is true.  But often, I wonder if we twist that a bit to justify practicing some of the same behaviors of the world in the name of “being missional.”  After all, Jesus hung out with sinners, didn’t He?  Yes, but He didn’t sin.  In fact, He called them on their sin, challenging them to repent, turn, and come to Him  — and to “go, and sin no more.”  (NOTE: He did this in love and not in an “us against them” mentality we sometimes see in Christianity today).
When we compromise with the world, the world often turns us away from following God completely.  Oh, we will follow to some degree (that’s what makes this subtle sometimes), but we also take the parts of the world we like and can rationalize.  God says, “Make no treaty with them … for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods….”  (Deut 7:2b and 4a).

2) Remember the Lord.  Several times in chapter 8, Moses urges the Israelites to “Remember how the Lord God …” (8:2); to “be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God” (8:11); “Remember the Lord your God” (8:18).
We become especially vulnerable to forgetting God when we experience success and “satisfaction.”  We start to “believe our own press” and fail to continue to abide in Him (unfortunately, our natural tendency is to place self on the throne – “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do” – Romans 7:15).

God warned about this: “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

3) Accept and learn from the Lord’s discipline.  In chapter 8 we learn much about why God did what He did with Israel in the wilderness wanderings.  “…to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart” (8:2); “to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” (8:16b).
As a loving father disciplines his son in order that the boy might grow into a responsible man of character, so God disciplines us for the same reason – that we might learn there is more to life than material possessions and pleasure – that we are made for relationship with and calling from God.
Deuteronomy 8:5, 3b, 16b – Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you…..to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes form the mouth of the Lord [and] so that in the end it might go well with you.
4) Revere and love the Lord.  In doing this, we lead our heart in the right direction with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit and His word.  We begin to treasure God as our inheritance, become more like Christ, and can carry out the good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Deuteronomy 10:12 – And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…


It is so easy to compromise with the world – or in trying to be holy (set apart for God and His calling) that I become “holier than thou” or insulate myself completely.
It’s only by abiding in Him, by learning to love Him, by learning He is my true inheritance can I hope to have a legacy in which people recognize and come to know God and that it would be said of me that I acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Prayer Response

I stand in awe of You and everything You’ve done for me
You speak Your words into my life and where You are is where I wanna be
I stand before You, Lord, humbled by the love You give away
A widow’s mite, my will and pride is all I have to offer anyway
Help me hold onto You and Your love God.  Help me let go of myself and become more like Jesus, moving ever closer to Your heart.
In Jesus name,  Amen.

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