LIVING IN THE LIGHT

Am I the only one who has lived life out of my idea of truth? My truth about who I am? My truth about who I think God is? No, I’m not the only one? Okay, just checking…

When I think about truth, I think about two types of truth. There are small “t” truths and then there is Truth (big T). Small “t” truths are the things in our life that cause us to hide or feel insecure. Small “t” truths become an all too familiar voice in our head that we begin to listen to. We begin to listen intently and our lives begin to mirror that voice.

“You’re not meant to do this job.”

“Why don’t you look like that?”

“But you had an abortion.”

“You’ve been in prison. God can’t use a sinner like you.”

“But you’re divorced.”

“You caused _____ to happen.”

“If only you had ______.”

“If only you hadn’t ______.”

“You’re a horrible parent.”

Once these so-called truths begin to take root within our minds we unknowingly (or knowingly) begin to put on masks. Masks we so desperately hope will hide our beliefs about who we think we are. We overcompensate and try to appear like we have it all together. We put on the religious mask, the successful mask, the great parent mask, the good wife/husband mask, the good child mask, etc. But deep down inside, we’ve come to believe so many lies about ourselves that we’re barely staying afloat.

Sometimes our masks look like deep depression, fear, and anxiety. Oftentimes, it looks like addictions. Or it’s a combination of them all. You name it, there’s a mask for that.  

In our mess and masks, there is good news. The good news is Jesus. He sees the small “t” truths we believe and offers us real, steadfast Truth. He doesn’t want to leave us where we are, so as we begin to take off our masks, overcome our addictions, and face our fears; he offers grace and love along the way. He begins to speak to us in ways that silence the doubts within.

The Truth is that none of the small “t” truths change what God thinks about you. He is so wildly crazy about you that he longs to show you Himself. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When I read this I can’t help but think about how in the worst of my messes, Christ died for me. Masks and all.

Choose Jesus, friends. Choose the Truth. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If a truth in your mind leads you to hide, become isolated, or want to escape life, don’t believe it. If a truth causes you to feel anxious, worried, or fearful, know that that’s not from God. God’s Truth leads us to freedom in Christ, not more bondage.

Let’s be agents of Truth. Be real and honest about who you are and your life, seek out others who are hurting and invite them into what Jesus has done on the cross. If you’re not already on that journey, start today.

It’s hard to begin to unmask ourselves, but you don’t have to do it alone. Call a trusted friend, try a support group, start seeing a Christian counselor, begin (or begin again) to pray that God would show you the people in your life who need to hear your story.

Now, let’s purpose to focus on the Truth about who we are in Christ:

Nothing can separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)

There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1)

You are accepted by God. (Romans 15:7)

You are redeemed and forgiven by the grace of God. (Ephesians 1:7)

You have the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7)

You are an heir of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)  

You are righteous, redeemed, and holy. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

(And the list goes on and on…)


Redeemed In Forgiveness

 

 

I closed the front door behind me and collapsed to my knees in hopeless tears. Walking home from the bus stop each afternoon in 8th grade brought a new level of hurt and pain than I had ever experienced. One day I belonged, and the next, I was exiled from the lunch table and ignored by the very girls I thought were my friends.

 

It had happened so suddenly. As vile and hurtful words were hurled at me daily, the questions inside my head escalated from, “What did I do wrong? How can I fix this?” to “What is wrong with me? Why am I even alive?” High school brought with it new beginnings, yet the wounds ran deep as the lies sown in my heart were taking root.

 

I began walking with the Lord after I graduated college and it didn’t take long for Him to take me right back to that foyer carpet where He had collected every single tear of rejection. Jesus spoke truth into the lies that I would never experience meaningful relationships, never be loved, and never be of any value or worth.

 

It was absolutely beautiful! Jesus had come to set this captive free! And then, He asked me to forgive.

 

Immediately, I went into self-preservation as the walls flew up, “Shouldn’t those girls have to ask for my forgiveness? I was wronged!”

 

That was precisely why I had to forgive. My unforgiveness had held me captive in bitterness that was preventing me from walking in the fullness of God’s purposes for my life. Jesus had come to make His home in my heart, and if Jesus is God, and God is love, and love “keeps no records of wrongs,” I had to surrender to His love that has kept no record of my wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

 

Forgiveness is a choice. It isn’t easy. People hurt people, intentionally and unintentionally. We are all bound to offend, to be offended, to hurt, and to be hurt. But the best part? We get to perfect this demand of love “70 x 7 times,” (Matthew 18:22). There should be no end to our forgiveness.

 

I confess, there are days when my heart is so angry and my prayer is “Lord, I just can’t… help me to forgive.” Yet, God is big enough to handle our anger and will answer our cries for help. Forgiveness and mercy are at the very core of who He is and if we’re to be reflections of who He is, forgiveness and mercy ought to be at the very core of who we are.

 

As for my years of rejection, the Lord has redeemed them all. He has placed a passion and calling in my heart to share with others about our God-given value and unique callings upon our lives for His glory. However, I would have never stepped into this destiny without receiving God’s gift of forgiveness which has taught me to love.

 

 

 

-Lauren Ferguson

 


An Encouraging Word

Memories with Dad live long and strong. Playing ball in the yard. Twirling in his arms. Wrestling in the living room. Fishing in the pond. Shooting hoops in the driveway. Dancing. Laughing. Racing. Working. Building. Biking. Living.

Dads.

One of the most important relationships in this life, because it wields such power to shape and influence what we believe about who God is. A loving father can point us directly to the love of God our Heavenly Father, so clearly and directly.

And in the same way, a father who seems distant, angry, hard to please, or vacant, may, unfortunately, invite some difficult feelings in how we view God and his care for us. Many have lost fathers too early in life – due to death, divorce, or abandonment. Others still wrestle through hurtful memories of abuse and fear of the very one who was supposed to protect them.

No matter what our experiences have been growing up, or where we find ourselves now, God still reigns supreme over all. He cares. He loves. He is near. He is trustworthy. And his heart for you as your Daddy shines through every step of life. He is powerful enough to help you navigate through the most difficult of memories and experiences, sheltering, embracing you in it all. And giving you freedom, a blessing to grow, and healing to move forward. We can take every difficult experience and allow God to use it for good, by helping us to become the best parents possible for our own children. Pain is never wasted when God is Supreme over our lives. Where experiences have harmed us, even if unintentional, even if seemingly unfair, God can still use it for his purposes, to bring good through it all.

If you are blessed to be a Dad, you’ve been given a priceless gift in this life. The gift of pointing your children to Christ. The gift of leading. The gift of loving. Your actions matter, how you choose to live makes a difference in the lives of all you know.

We see from research through the years, that kids generally do better socially, academically, and emotionally, when dads are actively involved and participating in their lives. But it’s not just the fact that fathers are physically present that matters, it’s how they are present. Kids thrive most when dads recognize the need to provide a warm, understanding relationship under which their children can share life, learn, and grow.

Words matter. Our kids need to hear them. They thrive under encouraging, supporting, heartfelt words. And young children grow up into adults and yet they still need to hear, loving words from a father’s voice. Wisdom from a daddy’s heart, that lives on long in the lives of others.

Here are 12 things every dad should say to his kids, though there’s many more:

1. I love you. Period. No matter what. Unconditionally. And nothing will ever change that.

2.  I believe in you. You can do it. Anything is possible. You are a winner.  

3. Love God. Love your spouse.

4. I am with you. And even when you can’t see me, you can be assured I’m thinking of you.

5. I am proud of you. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You have great purpose in this world.

6. Respect yourself. Respect others. Respect your Mom.

7. Your character is always more significant than your reputation. Never forget who you are and that you first belong to God. Who you are in secret is just as important as who you are in public, because God sees both.

8. I am sorry. Would you please forgive me? I forgive you.

9. I am praying for you. You have my blessing in all that God calls you to do in this life.

10. Work hard. Save some. Spend a little. Give a lot.

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh. Have fun in life. Every day is an adventure.

12. Be brave. Be strong. But always remember that it’s OK to be afraid. And it’s OK to cry.

Whether or not you ever heard these words from you own dad is not the end of the story. Because God is both the beginning and the end of your story, and He speaks love over you today.

Dads, you are powerful in the lives of your kids. You are hero status. You are a solid foundation. You hold the potential for great influence in the generations to come.

Live wisely. Live well. Live strong. Live with grace. Your Father God is with you, always.

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

“…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 


The Unnatural Art of Contentment

 

 

 

It may be a cliche, but it’s true: We always want what we can’t (or just don’t) have.

One person may look at your life and think, “Wow, you have a nice car or a stable job or a great house, you must be content.” But at the same time, you’re probably looking at their life thinking the very same thing about something they have that you don’t. We are each continually longing for the next thing, be it a spouse or putting down roots somewhere or a better job or the next vacation.

Contentment—whether with our living situation, salary, relationship status or whatever else—doesn’t come naturally. It’s something we have to actively cultivate.

God has shown me over the past year what it looks like to fight to be content every day. I use the word “fight” because I believe that learning to be content is just that. I believe it to be one of the biggest struggles we face in life.

We all have legitimate needs and desires given to us when we were created by God, but because of The Fall, we have begun looking to fulfill those desires outside of the only One who can satisfy them. The more we search to meet those needs outside of Christ, the more unsatisfied and discontent we become.

So practically, what does it look like to strive to be content exactly where God has you today?

1. Be Patient With Yourself.

If you struggle with contentment, you are not alone. I believe most people wrestle with it one way or the other. Some people may not even realize they are searching for contentment, but they are constantly seeking after the “next thing” they can do or obtain in life. In Philippians 4, Paul talks about contentment and that he learned to be content. The verb “learned” indicates that Paul had to grow in his understanding of how to be content in all circumstances and this didn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself if you battle with contentment.

2. Cultivate a Thankful Heart.

You may be single, longing to be married. You may be married and want a nicer house or another child. You may want to escape the painful season you are in. You may also be in an abundant and sweet season. No matter where you are, focus on cultivating a thankful heart.

When we stop being thankful for what we have and focus on what we don’t have, discontentment creeps in and we start believing God is holding out on us. Psalm 116:17 says, “I will offer to you [God] the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” This reveals that having a thankful heart doesn’t come naturally to us, but rather it is a sacrifice. Strive to thank God in all circumstances.

3. Focus on Today.

When we constantly look forward to the next season or next vacation or even the next meal, we completely miss the moment we’re in and the blessings found in it. Our time on earth is short—much shorter than most of us would like it to be. Keep your eyes focused on today. Soak up every moment of it. Another day like it will never exist again.

4. Trust in God’s Provision.

The Lord knows exactly what you need when you need it. In the book of Exodus, after the Israelites were miraculously rescued out of Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness for a while. They began complaining to Moses about not having enough food. God told Moses that He would send bread from heaven to feed them, but every person needed to collect only the exact amount required to fill their stomachs each day.

God is in the business of providing for us. And He does provide for us everything we need each day. We need to open our eyes to the ways He is providing. Focus your eyes on all God has given you each day.

5. Contentment is Found in Christ Alone.

Many Christians have heard the popular verse found in Philippians 4 that says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” We often apply this to various activities we do such as a project at work or an obstacle we want to overcome, however, when reading this verse in context, Paul was talking about how to be content and endure any situation. He says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things him who strengthens me.”

At the end of the day, our circumstances will not make us happy. No matter how much money we have, what kind of house we own or what friends we surround ourselves with, nothing can fulfill us the way Christ can. Whether we eat an amazing meal or go without food, we will not be content based on anything material or circumstantial.

Christ is the only one who can fill the insatiable desire in each of us for something more because God created us for all our desires to be met in Him alone. Christ will help us learn contentment as we rely on Him through everything we go through. He will show us that He can satisfy our deepest longings and needs as we seek Him and a relationship with Him above everything else. Christ loves us so much and wants to meet our needs. As we lean on Him, we too can say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

 

by MELISSA CRUTCHFIELD | Relevant Magazine


I Loved That Car

My first real car, bought with my own life’s savings, was a 1958 Ford T-Bird—white with black leather interior. At $450, it cost everything I had but was so well worth it! When it was first designed, this model was very similar to the ’57, which only had two seats in the front, similar to its biggest competitor, the Corvette. However, the Ford people threw caution to the wind, putting two more seats in the rear while maintaining the low-slung look of its predecessors. Truly, my wheels were the talk of all my friends! I loved being able to cruise our town, all four windows down, rock-and-roll blasting through the speakers, drawing envious looks from young guys and old men alike. I felt like the king of the road every time I got behind the wheel.

But, as eventually happens to all of us, life intervened and through circumstances not of my own making, I was forced to put my “Little Bird” up for sale. Now, as I said, she was very unique and was quite popular in her day. Therefore, when I put her up for sale, I was quite confident that I would at least get most of my money back and maybe even a little profit to boot. I put her up for sale at $500. There was a problem though—my time to sell her was getting short and everybody knew it, so no one was willing to pay what I wanted. In fact, only one guy approached me with a cash-in-hand offer and that was for $400. Not happy at all, I accepted his money and watched him take my Bird away.

In economics, there are two main values: face value and real value. These may sound similar, but they are quite different in real life. For example, the “face value” of a nickel is five cents, nothing more and nothing less. However, the “real value” of something is not the same. The real value is based on what someone is willing to pay for what you’re selling, sadly like the guy who bought my Bird. To me, its “real value” was at least $450 if not the $500 I was asking for it. However, because he was only willing to pay $400, that ended up being its “real value.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (NLT). Your “real value,” that is, what God Himself was willing to pay for your freedom, is nothing less than His very life’s blood poured out on a wooden cross!

So, let’s look at this truth from the perspective of the Garden Wall: Since Christ died for all people—His blood being the price that God was willing to pay for all people—that is the “Real Value” of all people, saved and unsaved. That’s why love’s demands in I Corinthians 13 must extend to all people, because, to God, all have a “Real Value” worthy of them.

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Jerry Gongwer is our guest blogger this week. Jerry is 74-years young, a retired postal worker and has been married for 45 years to his lovely bride, Jill.


Truth And Love

 

 

 

Truth and Love

Think with me for a moment about education and relationships. Some of you care deeply that EDUCATION FOR EXULTATION not ignore or marginalize relationships of love. They are essential in real, lasting, life-changing education. Amen.

So I turn to the Bible. I find in place of the words, “education” and “relationship,” the words, “truth” and “love.” So what does the Bible say about how truth and love relate to each other? There are at least four ways of talking about this relationship.

  1. Truth aims at love.

“The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Note: instruction is not the goal, love is. Instruction is the means. It is subordinate. Truth serves love. Education serves relationships – mainly the relationship between us and God, but also between Christian and Christian, and between us and unbelievers. The “goal” of all our education is love.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider one another how to stir up to love and good deeds, . . . encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:23-25, literal translation). The aim of our “considering one another” and “encouraging one another” is that we stir up love. We mingle insight into “the confession of our hope” with insight into “each other,” and the effect is stirring each other to love. The truth of doctrine and truth of people-watching unite to aim at love.

  1. Love aims at truth.

“Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love is glad when truth is spoken. Therefore love aims at truth. It supports truth.

“Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). Here is an example of how love aims at truth. Paul is filled with love and it compels him to write a letter that was hard, and caused sorrow in him and in the Corinthians. But it needed to be said. So love said it. Love speaks the truth personally and doctrinally.

  1. Love shapes how to speak the truth.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). There is an unloving way to speak the truth. That kind of truth-speaking we should repudiate. But there is a way to speak the truth in love, and that we should seek. It is not always a soft way to speak, or Jesus would have to be accused of lack of love in dealing with some folks in the Gospels. But it does ask about what is the most helpful thing to say when everything is considered. Sometimes what would have been a hard word to one group is a needed act of love to another group, and not a wrong to the group addressed. But in general, love shapes truth into words and ways that are patient and gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

  1. Truth shapes how to show love.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2). It is not always obvious which acts are loving. So John tells us some truth will help us know if our acts are loving. One truth test for our love is whether we are keeping the commandments of God toward people, In other words, love cannot be cut loose from the truth of God’s will. Truth shapes how to show love.

Let us pray that God will cause his love and truth to abound and mingle in us in all these ways for the glory of his truth-filled love and love-filled truth.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.


Love Is Kind

 

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Kindness sounds so easy doesn’t it? If you ask me whether I’d describe myself as kind, I’d say, heck yeah, of course. I think most of us would. But when I stop and reflect on it, maybe I’m not so kind after all.

 

I’d definitely describe myself as not, UN-kind, which is certainly easier than being kind, but that doesn’t make me kind. For me, being kind takes effort. It’s something I need to be intentional about. Whether it be on I4 when someone wants to merge into my lane and nobody’s letting them in – I can let them in. Or at work when someone seems overwhelmed and could use a little help or encouragement – I can offer to help. Or at lunch when someone’s eating alone – I can sit with them. Or at home when you know your wife’s had a long day and it’s her night to cook – clean the house up and have dinner ready when she gets home. These are all little, easy acts of kindness that may go unacknowledged, or unnoticed, and maybe you won’t even see their impact, or perhaps they’ll change someone’s day. Maybe they’ll give hope to hopeless. Love to the unloved. Maybe someone will see Jesus.

 

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Like when the person in front of you in the Starbucks line pays for your coffee, or some unknown guest at a restaurant picks up your bill, or even when your boss lets you leave a little early? Feels good, huh? You instantly feel special. You feel loved. And usually, at least for me, it encourages me want to do something similar. It’s contagious.

 

This week I’d challenge you to be intentional about loving others through kindness. Do it daily. Do it at home. Do it at work. Do it where it’s toughest. And don’t do it for the attention, or to feel good about yourself. Do it because Christ calls us to love through kindness, and people need love. Your kindness might be the only love someone sees all day or all week.

 

“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak,

be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,

but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.”

– I Thessalonians 5:14 & 15


The Benefits Of Being Patient

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Patience is one of the greatest signs of maturity in the life of a Christian. Think about it:  when do you see an eight-year-old demonstrate any amount of patience?

I’m afraid the eight-year-old version of Jeff manifests itself far more often than any mature form of me that I long to be.

So I may be the absolute worst person to write a blog post about patience. Which means I’m probably the absolute perfect person to write a blog post about patience. If even I can see the beauty and blessing of patience, you’ll already have a great head start.

Patience may be the most fading human characteristic on the planet today. In fact if you’re even pausing long enough to read this blog post (or any blog post), you’re in an incredible minority. And if you’re actually still reading this one to this point – well you deserve a trophy. Or something. Seriously, reach around and give yourself a pat on the back. But hurry… We got things to talk about and stuff to do.

Patience and rest seem virtually inseparable. Which is likely why we find both so difficult to experience.

So a request: rest for a moment, pause with me. Please?

Because I’ve been reflecting on those moments and windows in my life where I’ve truly slowed down enough to experience and demonstrate patience. And I’ve come up with a short list of things I’ve seen happen as a result:

  • Patience causes me to more readily recognize and taste this beautiful thing called grace.
  • Patience gives room for miracles to happen. And it gives room for me to see the miracles that are already happening all around me.
  • Patience gives me space to heal. When I get impatient and try to rush the recovery – from a failure, from a hurt or betrayal – I never heal properly. What is true physically is true spiritually. And emotionally.
  • When patient, I can recognize beauty. Because of God’s presence, provision and protection, I can actually see beauty in the messy, in the pain, in the heartaches – if I’m just patient enough.
  • Wait, stay with beauty for a moment. Patience allows me to slow enough to see to beauty of creation. The song of a bird, the wisp of a cloud, the sound of kids laughing, the tenderness of a momma cat caring for it’s baby kitten, deer prancing across a field, the explosive colors of a sunset. That’s not just a random list: patience resulted in me experiencing each of these just tonight!
  • When unhurried and patient, I can actually smell the fragrance of the flowers. Seriously – have you done that lately? It’s amazing! I can also see the weeds that attempt to choke out the flowers. Patience gives me the ability to recognize the difference between the life giving flowers and the life choking weeds in my life, and the resolve to choose to pick the flowers (pun intended).
  • Patience lets me enjoy the puns (additional attention to the pun intended).
  • Patience helps me experience peace. Just typing that makes me take a deep, restful breath. That alone makes me wonder why I don’t embrace a restful patience in every single moment.
  • When I’m patient my wife sees a man of faith. (What does she see when she see’s the opposite of me being patient?)
  • When I’m patient my kids see a man of faith. (What do they see when they see the opposite of me being patient?)
  • I’m also less carnal. That’s church talk for “worldly”. Almost supernaturally (almost?), patience causes me to see and celebrate life from God’s perspective.
  • I’m less manipulative. And I don’t try so hard to impress others.
  • I’m more forgiving. And more aware of how badly I need forgiveness.
  • When I’m patient I’m less narcissistic. My thoughts go more quickly to the welfare and joy of others. And I get intentional about serving and encouraging them.
  • Patience also means I frustrate others less. Except for the guy behind me who is almost as impatient as I am. Seriously man, the light just changed – breathe!
  • I’m more enjoyable to be around when I’m patient. And I find others are more enjoyable to be around. Which means not enjoying others is really more about me than them. But not in a self centered way.
  • I’m more creative. And productive. By being patient? It’s such a paradox, isn’t it?
  • My heart softens. Yes, figuratively. But I think even literally. Who knows, I’m not a doctor.
  • Patience allows me to hear the stories of others. It absolutely drives me crazy that as hard as I try, sometimes I can’t remember names. OK, often I can’t remember names. But when I hear people share their stories? Oh, man. My joy grows and my heart expands at learning who they are and what God is up to in their lives.
  • When I’m patient I smile more. A lot more. Like I’m guessing I smile around 27½ times more when I’m patient then when I’m not. Oh, and I laugh a whole lot more.
  • I trust others more when I’m patient. And I don’t work so hard to convince other’s that I’m right and they’re wrong.
  • Which means patience often results in the space to recognize that it was actually me that was wrong. And returns me to recognizing and tasting this beautiful thing called grace.

But maybe you already knew all of this. Maybe you already have this one mastered.

If not, perhaps we can seek to grow in this together. I mean right now! Let’s do it – let’s go, go, go!

Shoot…see what I did there?

Please be patient with me.

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Jeff has been married to his bride and best-friend, Leslee, for 21 years. They have two amazing children together (Lauren and Garrett) and one adorable puppy (Potato). He loves spending time with his family, hiking, Notre Dame football and enjoys the great outdoors. Jeff serves as the Pastor of Connections at Northland Church.


“Don’t Take This For Granted!”

Dont take this for granted

They say that “admitting it” is half the battle, right?

 

Ok then, I’ll admit it.  I love football.  I mean I really love football.  When you cheer for the ultimate college team – Notre Dame – you love football, right?

 

And since I love football, I’m super excited about a super game this super weekend (ya, pun intended). As is the case every year, there are some pretty special storylines around this weekend’s Super Bowl: who will win the 50th playing of the game? Which team comes out on top – Denver’s number one defense or Carolina’s number one offense? And of course, incredibly important – who will have the most amazing, “you gotta be kidding me” commercials this year?

 

But the biggest story line no doubt has to center around Peyton Manning. Everyone knows Peyton Manning. Even my dear wife who (cover your ears…) can’t stand football knows who Peyton Manning is.

 

An incredible student of the game, most fans recognize Peyton as having one of the greatest football minds ever. No one has passed for more yards or throw for more touchdowns in their career. No starting quarterback has more wins. He’s the only quarterback to take multiple teams to multiple Super Bowls. Holds dozens of NFL records.

 

One of the most prolific passers of all time, Peyton is now closing in on 86 years old (well, give or take a few decades). I read this week where he sought out some personal time with the first year players on his team. While preparing for his fourth visit to the Super Bowl, in what may be his final season of an incredible career, what advice did Peyton have for these rookies as he met one on one with each of them?

 

“Enjoy it. And don’t take this for granted.”

 

Don’t take this for granted.

 

There’s wisdom that can only be gained when one has journeyed long and experienced much. The exuberance of wins, the heartbreak of failures. The celebration of the touchdown! The agony of the interception. Fans that cheer, fans that boo. Great seasons. Losing seasons. Peyton’s experienced it. He knows.

 

Don’t take this for granted.

 

I’ll never be a professional football player, but I need this advice as well.  And so do you. I need to be reminded that there is no promise of tomorrow, no guarantee of a second chance. So don’t squander this one.

 

I see this call to not take things for granted from two angles:

 

  1. The greatest gift you experience came at a very high price. The rush of getting to the Super Bowl? It’s such hard work; it takes blood, sweat and tears. The joy of knowing true hope and life eternal? You can’t afford the price.

 

Ephesians 2:11-15 says, “But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, (but) now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. Dying that death, shedding that blood…The new life that Jesus offers didn’t come cheap. Don’t lose sight of the great cost he endured so you could experience.

 

 

  1. Capture the moments. I was reminded of the quote recently: “One of the most expensive things in life is a wasted moment.” Ephesians 5 prompts us to “be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”. Colossians 4 echoes that by telling us to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity.” That opportunity to demonstrate kindness. To express thanks. To go the extra mile. To say and show I love you. Don’t pass on it. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We may not get to the Super Bowl again.

 

Live intentionally. Live tenaciously.

 

Aware of a need? As Paul reminded us in Galatians 6:10, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Been given chance to share what’s true, what gives life? Speak up in love. Sitting with your kids at a stop light? Take moments that feel like an eternity and make a difference for eternity. Sensing your spouse needs comfort? Offer your ear, and a shoulder. A chance for reconciliation to take place? Make the phone call. Have the conversation.

 

Don’t take this for granted.

 

As Jesus followers, we live for eternity. We have our hearts and minds fixed on it! But we get there moment by moment. One day at a time. One breath at a time.

 

Peyton is right. This day, this opportunity, this moment. Don’t waste it. Refuse to take it for granted.

 

 

Guest Writer: Jeff Bell – Pastor of Connections, Northland, A Church Distributed