What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains. Ecclesiastes 1: 3-4
II Timothy 2:3-6 speaks of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. The soldier is tempted by civilian life, the athlete is tempted not to compete, and the farmer is tempted to sleep in.
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”
Each example speaks of hard choices each one has to make. Each has their battle, but what else do they have? They have a strong hope waiting for them on the other side of their discipline. The soldiers’ hope is to please his commanding officer, the athletes’ hope is to win the prize, the farmers’ hope is a harvest that he can’t get if he sleeps in. Each one has a hope that’s stronger than their desire to give in to self and that helps them win the battle.
Motivation demands hope. If you do not have hope in life, you have no motivation. A good question to ask ourselves is, “what is my hope?”. Is it to get married? Get a new car? Have a rib eye stake? Play golf every day? Ecclesiastes 1:3-4 was written by Solomon, the richest man who ever lived. He had it all, and his words tell the insanity of his efforts. His life reminds us it is impossible to replace the God-shaped vacuum wired in us by performing like a dog chasing his tail. Our only hope is for all God has provided by his perfect love and forgiveness for each of us; the promise of our ultimate satisfaction of living forever with our every desire fulfilled. Life’s battle, as we know it, is over.
Thank you Father. You give true hope, total purpose and meaning for my life.
I have been kicking around this earth for 42 1/2 years and during that time I have made my fair share of difficult decisions. I am sure you have as well. Facing difficult choices and having to choose one path or the other is a constant in life, especially once you leave adolescence and venture into full blow adulthood.
Typically the older you get, the tougher the decisions. This is true for one simple truth: there is more to lose as you get older. If you are married you have to consider your spouse. If you have kids you have to consider them as well. Even if you aren’t married and don’t have kids, decisions still get more difficult because the margin of error is reduced as we get older. If you don’t believe me, tell me how you feel after a night of drinking in your 30’s compared to your 20’s (Just wait until you are in your 40’s!)
For those of you reading this who don’t know, I was laid off from my job in April 2016 and as of today I am still unemployed. Well, I have a job but it is a contract job. It has been a long and difficult journey with some ups but a much larger population of downs. It has been trying on my wife and I and of course on our marriage (as most situations like this tend to be.)
A few weeks ago I was presented with this opportunity to accept a long term contract position with a company in Minnesota (we live in Tennessee.) Being completely unable to find a job in Tennessee and with our money running out the job is a total blessing from God. It will make it possible to make our mortgage payments every month and help out a bit with other bills. We are grateful to God for the opportunity, even while we struggle to not understand why I can’t find something permanent to support my family.
My wife and I made the extremely difficult decision to take the job. However, it means that I get to see my family two days every two weeks. If the contract goes the full six or seven months without me finding a permanent gig, it is likely I will see my wife and daughter less than 20 days between now and the end of the year. TWENTY DAYS!
Tomorrow I am so excited to be going home so I can squeeze my little girl and kiss my wife. Yet I know how quickly these two days will go by followed by another two weeks before I get to see them again. It is rough. I don’t like it and I really struggle with being away. I need to be earning money for my family but at the same time I feel like I am completely abandoning them. It is a strange dynamic in my my head.
Anyway, that is where we are at here in Tennessee. Believing that God has our blessing around the next corner and that the corner is coming up quickly. Stay tuned and if you are of the mind to send up a prayer for us we appreciate it.
See you on the flippity flop!
“If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
In today’s post modern culture our determination and faith fly in the face of a culture that makes feelings and personal beliefs the only true indicators of right and wrong. Today only bigots, terrorists, or political extremists hold to strong beliefs,. But that’s exactly why we thrive in this age and will be successful wherever we land. Our ambitions, focus, and single–minded faith in the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment come from a grace awakening, not a brainwashing. I want you to stay strong in grace because what saved you will also sustain you as you embark on a pathway of leadership and service to God.
There is a long tradition of God’s leaders encouraging God’s men to live out God’s purposes single–mindedly. Jesus told His men of His upcoming suffering at the cross and then used that reality to motivate them. He was honest and clear. He would have to reject other pursuits, carry the responsibility of a God’s man, and follow Him loyally to the end. He modeled for us how to call men to a mission. The call to the multitudes was different than the charge to His men.
Paul’s style and approach was equally bold with Timothy in his charge, Paul knew he had just dropped a bomb on Timothy that would require some heavy reflection. “Pause” he advised. “Think deeply and continuously on what I have just said.” This is big, Timothy was going to have to take on a single identity, passion, and goal. He would have to train hard, work hard and focus on results. God has much to give a man of God, accept it.
Father, I’m your man, I’m your leader, I’m your God’s man.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6: 10-13
That’s the picture of suiting up. First, I have to put on the helmet of salvation; I need to be protected from my sin, from lies, and from my tendencies that go against God. I need the helmet of salvation.
We must admit our head is a pretty important part of our anatomy; it protects our mind which controls everything in our body. It protects every thought and feeling, every voluntary and involuntary action that takes place in our bodies and, for that matter, our lives. Can we agree that we are very, very vulnerable to defeat by simply not having our mind protected? There is nothing within yourself that can overcome this, except acting on the choice that God has given only to human beings. The choice is to accept or deny His helmet of salvation. As humans in the present and in the ultimate future, His desire is that you say yes to the perfect sacrificial love that He has for you. “Behold I stand at your door and knock.” By faith, take advantage of His desire to protect your thoughts.
Thank you Father, for the faith you have provided me to open the door of my mind, and by faith accept your protection of my thoughts.
“Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, and I groaned all day long. Psalm 32:3
Have you ever wondered if your child moonlights as a criminal defense attorney? I sure have, especially after hearing my kids’ creative excuses over the years, even when I’ve caught one of them with a hand in the proverbial cookie jar. I’ve heard some amazing defenses.
“Ryan did you hit Cara?” His older sister is holding her reddened face and crying.
“She started it,” Ryan says as he crosses his arms in defense.
“Then why is she crying?”
“We were just playing.”
I go for the kill. “Is something you did the reason she is crying? Yes or No?
Finally with no wiggle room left, Ryan caves in with a muted yes.
I’m not interested in a conviction; I want Ryan to take responsibility. I want him to confess to the mistake and own up to it more quickly the next time around. That’s why a dose of fatherly admonishment makes the exchange an uncomfortable but necessary experience for him.
I’m sure my heavenly Father stifles a laugh when he watches me disciplining my son. Talk about the blind leading the blind! But I’ve learned that what ultimately assuages my pain is the sincere act of confessing my wrongdoing to Him.
Father, Confession is good for the soul and bad for the reputation, but not with You! Thanks for loving me, sins and all.