Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Best Question Ever

So last night brought about the end of "The Best Question Ever". It's a course that I've been helping out with at my church for the last six weeks.

The series is presented by Andy Stanley and it's one of those things that you can watch over and over again because there are just so many valuable truths in it. In fact this was my third time going through it and it hasn't tired on me yet.

Andy's "Best Question Ever" is "In light of my past experience, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?" He says that by asking this question in our decision making we can truly foolproof our lives and I believe it.

I've gone through many DVD series in small group settings and on my own and honestly, this is the best one I've ever participated in. No matter where we are in life, we all have decisions to make and since the series is all teaching us to make wise decisions, it's one of the most applicable things I've ever watched.

Some of my favourite quotes from the series:

"No one plans to mess up their lives, but we don't plan not to mess up either."

"We can talk ourselves into anything and make a bad idea sound like a good idea."

"We make bad choices because our hearts deceive us."

"Unwise decisions set us up for moral failure... we justify our unwise decisions by saying there's nothing wrong. That's why we need to ask not 'what is the right thing to do?', but 'what is the wise thing to do?'"

"For most of us our greatest regrets were at a time when we were consciously running from God. We knew 'I'm not going to listen, I'm going to say no' and then we wonder why that's the chapter of our lives with the most regret."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Emotionally Spiritually Healthy

Right now I'm reading a book called "Emotionally Spiritually Healthy" by Peter Scazzero (and I highly recommend it). Through reading the book one of the things I've been challenged the most about is facing things head on. As he wrote in the chapter I'm reading now: "When we deny our pain, losses and feelings year after year, we become less and less human."

In my own life often the temptation has been to sweep things under the carpet, especially when it comes to pain and hurt. But through the pages of this book and my own spiritual journey as of lately, I've been learning that denying the pain or dismissing the hurt is not the quick way to joy. Often it's only through embracing our feelings about something that we fully do come alive.

But this is something that takes courage. It's not easy to reopen wounds or look unpleasant things in the face. It takes a heart that is ready to be challenged in order to be healed. But when we arrive at that place, we do find something unexpected there- life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What About Today?

Recently I re-read my copy of "No Compromise", a book that tells the life story of Keith Green, a radical Christian musician who passed away in a plane crash when he was only 28 years old.  Just one year older than I am right now.

One of the things that inspires me most about Keith's story is that while he could have never known that his life would be tragically cut short at such a young age, he lived like a man who was very aware of his mortality, making sure every day he had on this earth counted for something.  It challenges me and causes me to question myself because I certainly don't always have such passion and drive.

Isn't that sadly the way it goes?  We often get so busy thinking about tomorrow that we forget about today.  And in forgetting about today, we forget that tomorrow is no guarantee.

So the question that I ask myself, that we all need to ask ourselves, is "if today was it, would it have been enough?  Did I really make it count"

None of us are born with an expiration date stamped on our foreheads.  We don't know when our time on earth is coming to a close, so that makes it that much more important that we live life to the fullest everyday, leaving nothing undone.  As Paul instructed us, 

"Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out.  Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11)

So how do we live embracing today, knowing that we aren't promised a tomorrow?  Well  I believe it comes from sharpening our focus and getting serious about making a mark everyday.  That manifests itself in a variety of ways- of leaving nothing unsaid with friends and family and making sure that everyone in our lives are well aware of where they stand with us.  Of not putting things off for tomorrow that can easily be done today, whether that's talking to those around us about our faith or reaching out to the person who's been tugging on our hearts for a while.  And ultimately it means not allowing today to slip by without realizing its purpose and significance in the grand scheme of things.  

If satan can convince us that today is just another day and really doesn't amount to much in the end, slowly our purpose slacks and we become a people satisfied with saving everything for tomorrow and then the next day and then the one after that.  Soon our lives turn from being ones filled with passion and zeal into ones defined only by our lack of direction and motivation.  As Donald Miller once wrote: "It occurs to me it is not so much the aim of the devil to lure me with evil as it is to preoccupy me with meaningless."

We all have a choice of what we are going to fill our time and our minds with.  And I'm not saying that we always have to be doing something- there is also great purpose found in "being still and knowing that He is God".  But it comes down to the daily choices we make and often the smaller the choice appears, the bigger impact it can have in the long run.

Are we going to choose to spend hours in front of the television?  Or tonight are we going to turn off the tv early and pick up the Word of God to see what He might have to say?

Are we going to spend yet another evening reading status updates from people we might otherwise pass by on the street?  Or are we going to call up that person who could really use some company right now?

Are we going to join yet another activity, sports team or club to occupy and invest in ourselves?  Or are we going to take the talents we've given and use them to invest in other peoples lives and eternity?

Are we going to choose to continue in a cycle that finds us trapped in sin?  Or are we going to stop being complacent and do what we know needs to be done so that we can walk in freedom?

These are the choices we're faced with everyday and they are the choices that define what today means for us.  This day is not just another one on the calendar- during these 24 hours God could literally change the course of your own life or someone else's life through you.  So are you going to give it everything you have?  You might as well- there's no use holding back for a day that isn't guaranteed to come anyways.  As Theodore Epp said "Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from the grave today and is coming back tomorrow."