Monday, May 15, 2017

How Not to Waste Your Life

Since it came out in 2003, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper has been on the top of my list of “Books I Should Read Before I’m Ninety."

From its title, I imagined a challenge to be involved in some charitable institution or to prioritize a neglected spiritual discipline.

While these are good and right and encouraged, I found something quite different.

The book warns that we waste our lives when we forget what life is all about.

Or Who it’s all about.

We avoid wasting our lives when we find satisfaction in God alone, no matter what our lives may include.

Imagine walking through an art gallery while constantly looking at the floor.

If the paintings could speak, they would shout at you to look up.

“Look at me! Look at me. Or you’re wasting your visit.”

Too often our gaze turns downward to the petty things of life. We’re distracted by the path, and like a sheep, we’re content to enjoy the puddles. We’re afraid we’ll lose our footing. We’re afraid we’ll miss something. We don’t want to waste our lives.

But, though our lives are built of paths and puddles and petty things, we waste them when we look only at the flooring.

Our God, Who created beauty, holds the world together, and knows our lives inside and out, says, “Look up!”

“Look at Me.”

“And be satisfied.”

An hour seemingly lost. A hard-earned paycheck quickly budgeted away. These weren’t wasted—our lives weren’t wasted—if behind our hours, our paychecks, our pettiness and puddles, we were looking up and finding our satisfaction in God.

Alistair Begg once said, “Life is a huge appetite that can never be satisfied.”

In other words, our deep down appetites won't be satisfied by life alone.

When we delight in the Lord—keeping our gaze on Him—the life we live won’t be wasted. To not miss Him, we need simply to look up. He will keep us from falling and is able to give us joy in the journey.

Before I’m ninety, I hope I’ll get it.

I hope I’ll grasp the truth that life isn’t measured by what we’ve accomplished, who we’ve been, or who we became.

Life is measured by the inner satisfaction we enjoy in the character and faithfulness of God--the One who holds our lives together while we walk the life we’ve been handed.

A true, unwasted life is one that looks up.

“Your lovingkindess is better than life.” (Psalm 63:3)

Next blog post (May 29): "Looking Up When It's More Natural to Look Down"

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Paradox of Christmas

If you had created the world and everything in it, would you have chosen to step into its history? Would you have lived among your created beings? Would you have lowered yourself to be one of them?

“By him were all things created,” Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus.

Paul repeats it again at the end of the same verse.

“All things were made by him.”

And yet the Creator of all things lived among us.

But should His life have looked like this?
·         “Jesus was born.” (Matt. 2:1)
·         “He was subject to them.” (Luke 2:51)
·         “They mocked him and beat him. . . they struck him on the face.” (Luke 22:63,64)
·         “They crucified him.” (Luke 23:33)

This was the paradoxical life of the Creator.

Why did the Creator of all things choose this life?

He humbled Himself to give us the greatest gift.
·         “He gave himself.” (Gal. 1:4)
·         “This is my body which is given for you.” (Luke 22:19)
·         “My blood which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20)

When John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, saw Jesus in His rightful place, he “fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:17)

But the Creator of all things laid His right hand on John and said, “Fear not.”

The Creator, who was born and lived among us; the One who was led away to a cruel death, mocked, crucified, and buried said, “Do not be afraid . . . I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” (Rev. 1:18)

The baby we remember at Christmas was the Creator of the world. He gave Himself for us, and He lives today.

Christmas gives us the opportunity to reflect on this truth.

But let’s not dwell on the manger.

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (see Phil. 2:10,11)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Of Nations, Corruption, and Remembering One Thing

In the last week, my feet walked the streets of three nations.

Korea, a land full of ancient history, taught me that time doesn’t really change people, and the old is often surrounded by the new. The old instructs us to consider wisely. The new tells us if we’ve chosen well.

Canada reminded me that we aren’t that different from each other, no matter where we meet.

As I returned to America, the news flashed headlines I could understand, telling me that people everywhere are in need of hope--whether they wear a hanbock, a red leaf, or a power tie.

We may observe ancient history, grieve over present corruption, and wonder about the future.

But our wandering mind can find refuge in this one thought alone.

“Know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:39

Wherever we travel, whatever we fear, whoever is making poor choices above us, a God more powerful is righting the wrong, moving in our midst, and pouring out His loving-kindness on the undeserving.

A silent Presence accompanied me to Korea and Canada—the same God who overrules all that is going on in America.

“He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath.”

He is not a God of the dead—someone ancient people relied on or rebelled against.

He is the God of the living.

He is the living God.

And He knows what’s going on today.

“Know this day and consider it in your heart. . .”

The LORD Himself is in charge.

"The LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you." (Deut. 7:21)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Today, I Forgot

My first thought as I woke up this morning was, “What day is it?!”

Happiness filled my heart as I realized it was my day off. I could go back to sleep. I had nothing on today’s calendar.

But today, I forgot.

I forgot I might see Him face to face.

Not the “him” I’m praying for, but the “Him” who has loved me longer than anyone else has.

I might see Him who loved me so much He took my punishment, and that’s why I don’t fear dying.

He loved me so much, He sacrificed everything, took rejection from His Father and followers, and endured pain and death.

He wants me where He is, so He’s preparing a place for me—a place with my name on it. A place where I can be with Him.

Today, I might see Him!

And you might too.

“I will come again and receive you to myself,
that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3

Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Turn Tangled Thoughts into Trust

I was planning to read Psalm 18 before falling asleep last night. A busy day, a weighty decision, concern for a loved one, and questions about the future. Sometimes we just need to come up for air.

But as I read, I couldn’t get past verse 2.

It took multiple readings to let its nine-fold truth about God sink in—a concept that left Him looming larger than my tangled thoughts.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

This verse begged to be read over and over again. God’s might is articulated in beautiful imagery and powerful repetition.

Then I noticed how many “my’s” are included in this array of God-attribute reminders.
                My rock.
                My fortress.
                My deliverer.
                My God.
                My strength.
                My shield.
                The horn of my salvation.
                My high tower.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to miss the fact that this powerful God is OUR God.

Our tangled thoughts in weakness never overwhelm our strong God. He wants us to lean them all against His strength.
One “attribute” in this list is different. Worded differently, as if the tables turn for a brief moment, it sits up from its middle position and makes an announcement.

Our rock, fortress, deliverer, God, strength, shield, horn of salvation, and high tower is also the One “in whom I will trust.”

I finished reading Psalm 18 today. As the Psalm continues, David beautifully describes how God came to His rescue when David depended on Him.

How should every tangled thought respond to such a powerful God?


“He is a shield to all those who trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30b)