Creating A Championship Culture

Two weeks ago the third best basketball team in the world fired their head coach. Coach Blatt didn’t have a moral failure. His record was great. And last year he even took his team to the finals. So why fire him?

When General Manager David Griffin spoke to the press, he revealed three key principles about leadership that can help those of us who lead at home and at work to create championship cultures in our areas of influence.

Establish A Clear Purpose

Griffin began with this, “When you have the clarity of purpose we have as a franchise, decisions like these tend to make themselves. Every decision is made as an answer to the following question, ‘Does it put us in the best position to deliver championships to Northeast Ohio? And I go to bed every night thinking about that question.'”

Griffin is crystal clear about his mission – championships to Northeast Ohio. He and everyone else in their organization understand where they’re trying to head. It’s the one question they ask. The one sentence that motivates them.

My guess is that you’re not that interested in bringing home trophies to Northeast Ohio, but what’s your purpose? What’s your win? Have you distilled it down to a clear and memorable sentence? A clear purpose can be catalytic for a family, a business, a ministry, or a church. And it begins by asking the question ‘What are we trying to achieve?’ and then boiling it down to one clear sentence. To lead well you begin by having a well-crafted sentence that defines your purpose.

Build A Collective Spirit

Griffin went on to say, “We have a lack of fit with out personnel and our vision of how to use that personnel… What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, and a collective will. Elite teams in this league always have that. And you see it everywhere. To be truly elite we have to buy in to a set of values and principles we believe in.”

As leaders, it’s our job to unite our teams. We must live the values that we want them to have. We must choose the principles that will drive their character and behavior. How do champions think? How do they behave? What do they do and not do? Modeling and answering what this looks like will galvanize our team around  our purpose. Unity comes from clarity and clarity is our job.

Focus On Habits (not destinations)

Griffin closed his address by saying, “We don’t have to concern ourselves with expectations of a destination. We need to work towards tomorrow and honor one another with total commitment every single day. And if we can do that, if can learn to express collective greatness and the joy that brings, then we can dream about something more. Right now we’re a really long way from that.”

Once you’re clear on your purpose and values, it’s time to define your championship habits. What are the things that if you and your team did them over and over again would lead to greater success? What are the small steps that would produce to lasting change? Elite teams have elite routines. In life and at work it’s wise to identify your best practices, those key behaviors that will take you where you want to go and then find a way to hold yourself and your team accountable to them. 

Apparently Coach Blatt was doing a lot of things right, but he wasn’t creating a championship culture, one with a clear purpose, a unified team, and championship habits. 

How To Have Wealth Without Being Corrupted

How do you have wealth without being corrupted by it? How can you carry success without minimizing God in your life?

There’s a spiritual danger to wealth that doesn’t get talked about much because most of us think we’ve got it under control. “We’re not being deceived by wealth,” we think. “It doesn’t have power over me,” you say. But Jesus said rich men and women don’t enter the kingdom of heaven without a God intervention: “With man this is impossible” (Matthew 19:24).

So what’s the way out? Give it all away? Live as a monk somewhere? Take a vow of poverty?

The Great Exchange

The way out begins with an exchange. It won’t work to say ourselves, “Stop doing that. Watch out. Wealth is dangerous!”

Instead, we must recognize that riches are a kind of glory. It’s not just numbers in a bank account or bills in your wallet. According to Psalm 49:16, it’s glory. And in our world today, we see this everywhere. Riches are elevated and celebrated. We’re bombarded with images and messages telling us our lives would be better if only we had more money. If we had the glory, we’d be someone. Without it, we’re no one.

So to avoid the spiritual dangers of wealth, we need a remedy strong enough to cause our hearts to say, “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise.” We need a solution powerful enough to make the things of this world grow strangely dim. And into this wind God whispers, “I have something better for you.”

A Better Glory

We’re told in the Bible that God made us for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). On the surface it’s easy to see that means we don’t exist to serve ourselves or to accomplish our bucket list. But what is the glory of God? In 1765 Jonathan Edwards’s book, A Dissertation Concerning The End For Which God Created The World, put the glory of God in two helpful categories: internal and external.

God’s internal glory means God’s supreme value. It’s his intrinsic worth, beauty, brightness, greatness, excellence, and weight. Whether or not you and I give God glory, he is glorious. It’s who he is.

God’s external glory is the expression of God’s worth. It’s when the brightness of his glory is shown, like the breakthrough of the morning sun. We don’t make God glorious by glorifying him. Instead we begin to see and feel what’s been there all along.

Overflowing Hearts

When we come to see God as he really is, money loses it’s power over us. It ceases to be the controlling factor of our lives. Whether we have it or not, we’ve learned the secret of being content. God is our greatest treasure. We have him and nothing can separate us from his love. He’ll always be with us and never leave us or forsake us. He is our glory.

Once your face is set on the glory of God, once your soul feels his worth, then wealth can pass through your hands without possessing you. You’re not a cul-de-sac, but a freeway for God’s resources, not a swamp but a rushing river, not a barn for storage, but a bank for dispersement. Wealth not longer holds you captive. You are free to wield it for the glory of your King.

The Antidote

The antidote to wealth’s magnetic pull is to see and believe the glory of God. Therefore our most important priority every day is this: Meet with Jesus! Look to him again.

Be like the Greeks who came to Israel and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Join the wise men who said, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Hurry like the shepherds who said, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Reach out like the suffering woman who said, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Call out for him like blind Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Run to him like the children he took up in his arms. Cry out like the desperate father, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Run on ahead of the crowd if you must, for Zaccheus got to see Jesus. Come to him by night if you must, for Nicodemus found the Lord. Stumble home like the prodigal if you must, for the father runs to meet you. Ask big like like Moses who said, “Show me your glory” for God answered with all his goodness.

Let this be your main pursuit: to see and know our glorious God. Then, you’ll be free. Then, you’ll be faithful with whatever wealth God puts in your hand.

You Were Made For Glory

You may never have been told this before. Your parents probably didn’t say it to you. Your Sunday school teachers missed it. You probably even hesitate to accept it.

But you were made for glory. God created you as the final act of his creation, the stunning conclusion to his masterpiece, the designated hitter on opening day.

And on that opening day the first humans, Adam and Eve, were glorious. They were the shining image bearers of God. The ones who reflected him most beautifully. Until the day they disobeyed God. On that day they fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). They exchanged the glory of God for lesser things (Romans 1:23). They valued other things above the greatness, worth, and glory of God.

And since that day none of us have ever pursued glory again. The End. Is that how our story goes? No! Like our first parents, we still pursue glory, just the wrong kinds of glory.

The Glory of Men

One main way we pursue glory is by pursuing the glory of men. We want to be liked. We want to be praised. We want to be popular. We want others to respect us. And we’ll do crazy things to get approval. Do you remember high school? This is what high school is.

And Jesus said this pursuit of man’s glory is detrimental to our relationship with him: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)

Who are you trying to fit in with? Who do you hope sees how successful you’ve become? Whose words do you really want to hear say, “Well done good and faithful servant”? Your boss? Your parents? Your friends? Your church leaders? Your husband or wife? Your brother or sister? Watch out! Jesus says this is a form of pursuing glory and it’s a road block to believing in him.

The Glory of Money

Perhaps, the greatest way we pursue glory is by pursuing money. With money comes respect, influence, and approval. Culture celebrates and favors the wealthy.

And Psalm 49 woke me up to this idea that pursuing riches is a form of pursuing glory. It says, “Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him” (Psalm 49:16-17).

Did you see it? Glory was synonymous with riches. And pursuing it doesn’t end well.

Only One Glory

The Bible says we can only have one God. We can only chase one glory. “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

If we chase the glory that comes from money, the Bible says the deceitfulness of riches will choke out our kingdom fruitfulness (Mark 4:19). It says the desire to be rich is a temptation, a snare, that will lead us into many senseless and harmful desires and may even plunge us into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). The Bible also says the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils and many who have craved it have wandered away from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10).

Can you hear the alarm? Don’t hit snooze. Wake up! If you want to be choked, pursue money. If you want to walk into a snare and be plunged into ruin, chase money and it’s glory. If you want to plant a root of evil in your life and wander away from the faith, think about money all the time and make all your decisions based on money. Money is honored and celebrated now, but it is a dangerous and lesser glory.

Choose Your Glory

The fact that you will pursue glory is certain, but you must choose which glory. Your heart and mind must be made up. Will you live for the glory that comes from God or the glory that comes from men and money?

God made us and saved us for one thing: HIS GLORY! We are made to see, to know and to value God. To feel in our souls that God is worth more than all the wealth of this world. To believe with all our hearts that no one and nothing can compare with our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is supreme. He is deserving of our cries, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Worthy, worthy, worthy!”

And when we see God for who he is and live for his glory, the Bible tells us it’s the best thing for us. We will be transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). So set your face to seek the glory of God. This is what you were made for.

Teach Us To Number Our Days

How To Line Up Your Life With Eternity

When you’re in your twenties you have a busy social life. In your thirties you have a busy family life. When you’re in your forties your career and family demands are huge.

In your fifties you carry the responsibility to lead and manage other people. In your sixties you start looking towards the retirement clock and all the things you’ve been too busy to do before. In your seventies you think more about legacy as your career feels farther away and your everlasting home seems closer and closer. In your eighties a lot of your friends start dying and you battle health challenges you’ve never had before. And if you’re part of the rare few who make it to your nineties, you get to meet a few of your great grandkids.

There’s a cadence to this life under the sun, an imperceptible drum beat to which we all march. We have a beginning, a middle, and an end. And we can’t change that.

It’s easy to forget this in the day to day, but Moses knew it. In Psalm 90, he wrote, “The years of our lives are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” His conclusion is a prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10, 12).

Notice how Moses doesn’t pray, “God, just tell us what to do and we’ll do it.” His prayer acknowledges that we are participants in wise living. We could miss it and live an unfruitful life. Or we could hit it and bear thirty, sixty, and hundred fold returns.

God Knows Our Days

There are many days on the calendar, but we won’t live them all. God knows how many days you and I have left. The Bible says, “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me.” And again it says this about mankind, “His days are determined and the number of months is with you” (Psalm 139:16; Job 14:5).

We may plan our ways, but it’s the Lord who establishes our steps. He has complete freedom to interrupt us or change our course any time he pleases. He may even be shuffling the deck to better line up your life with eternity. He has the master plan and knows what’s best.

Some people you and I know won’t be here to see 2017. Their days will be up. As gloomy as this sounds, it happens every year and soon our year and our day will come. So we need to ask God, “What is this wise thing to do now? How can I best use this one life, this one year, this one day for you?”

Live In Light of Eternity

“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” is my prayer too. Teach us to live today in light of that final day. Teach us to use our money now in light of the coming then. Teach us to work for you while there is still time. Teach us to move towards the needs of the world. Teach us to live with urgency because of eternity.Teach us live like this world is not our home. Teach us to be faith-filled risk takers who attempt the impossible and put it all on the line for Jesus.

For those who believe in Jesus, our future is very bright. In God’s presence there is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11) Soon the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (Malachi 4:2). We will leap and dance when every tear is wiped from our eyes and death is no more. We will stand and sing when mourning, crying, and pain have passed away. We will be his people and God himself will be with us as our God. We will hear his voice. We will see God’s face. (Revelation 21:3-4; 22:4).

And we’ll be a part of that great multitude that no one can number surrounding the throne of Jesus. People from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages will stand before him. We’ll be clothed in white robes, with palm branches in our hands, “crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10) This is our story. This is our future.

You Ready?

Can you line up your life with this reality? Can you plan your year and set your goals to mesh with your certain future? The place to begin is by praying Moses’ simple prayer from Psalm 90,

“Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Stunning Generosity

Stunning is a word for a sunset, a beautiful woman, or a skillful piece of art. It’s not an everyday word. It’s more than that.

It’s the kind of beauty that arrests your attention and pulls you towards it. The kind that seems to slow time down and make you forget everything else.

Generosity is the language of a surprising gift. It’s more, not less than you expected.The kind that goes above and beyond. The kind that wows you.

But most of us don’t wake up thinking, “I really need to work on my generosity today.” Generosity is never a felt need, so why talk about it?

Why?

I want you to be really, really joyful… and giving leads to joy.

I want you to have deep and meaningful connections with people… and generosity paves the way for good relationships.

I want you to live a fruitful life… and giving is about making a contribution.

I want you to be free from the lies of wealth… and giving breaks the power wealth can have over us.

I want you to love God most… and giving helps us choose God over money.

I want you to obey God… and giving is his command.

I want you to live for eternity… and giving shifts our focus to our true home.

I want you to have true and lasting treasure… and giving is how we store up treasure where it will never be destroyed.

I want you to have the privilege of helping others know Jesus… and generosity creates partnerships with those who preach and teach God’s word.

I want you to stun the world by showing them what God is really like… and generosity is his true character.

What if?

What if we got this? What would it look like if we began to live lives of stunning generosity?

There would be a new generation of Gospel Patrons rising up – men and women, young and old, rich and poor who give themselves whole-heartedly to Jesus and then to his work around the world. We would not ask ‘How much do I have to give?’ but would instead ask ‘What will it take to get the job done?’

Churches would overflow in a wealth of generosity, giving beyond their means, even begging to be apart of giving to those in need and spreading the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

The spiritual leaders would set the pace as willing and joyful givers and all of us would learn to excel in this grace of giving.

People from every tribe and every nation would praise God for those who had given so much to help them hear God’s voice in their heart language.

We, who had been given much, would be faithful with much and brimming with joy for the opportunity to give.

We The People

We are the people of God. We know who God is, who we are, and where our true home is. Therefore we should be able to say,

“We believe in God. We are confident in God. God has been abundantly generous in my life. I didn’t deserve to know him. I couldn’t earn my way back to him. But 2,000 years ago in this miracle we call Christmas God broke through the dark clouds of my sin and shame. God came for me. To find me. To save me. His life for my sin. His blood for my guilt. God came to forgive me, transform me, and give me eternal life. My God is a God of stunning generosity. And I want to be like him.”

The Christmas message is the news of God’s stunning generosity. His arresting, halting, and surprising gift of his son. Could we join God in stunning the world with our generosity? I think so.

Two Things That Will Last Forever

Do you want to be effective in life? If so, ‘Begin with the end in mind’ said Stephen Covey in his classic book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Effective people think long term. They look at the finish line before they start running because the end shapes our beginning. But what does the finish line look like? What’s at the end?

I have a friend who has great clarity about these things and he loves to say, “There are two things that will last forever: the word of God and the souls of men.” But is that just my friend’s opinion? No, it’s exactly what we find in the Bible.

1. The Word of God

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

And again Scripture says, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

God’s word is unchanging and eternal. It will outlast heaven and earth and is one of the two things that will last forever.

2. The Souls of Men

Jesus said, “As for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31-32)

In this passage Jesus is saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they died, are still alive. Death is not the end. We must look farther still.

Perhaps the most clarity we get on this is found in Jesus’ most harrowing story. It’s a story about a rich man and a poor man. (Luke 16:19-31). In the story both of them die, but what we see quickly is that death is not their end. The rich man is said to be “in Hades, being in torment” and yet he is still able to:

  • See
  • Recognize people he knew
  • Feel his “anguish in this flame”
  • Speak
  • Hear
  • Reason
  • Beg
  • Remember his family

Death was not the finish line for the rich man. And death was not the end for the poor man named Lazarus either. Jesus says Lazarus “was carried by angels to Abraham’s side.” This is a picture of Lazarus joining the faithful followers of God who died long ago but remain alive in heaven with God.

Beyond death, the rich and the poor go on. Lazarus received comfort and eternal life. The rich man received torment and eternal death.

Each of us will face this is the end too — eternity with God or eternity apart from God, heaven or hell, eternal life or perishing.

The Link Between The Two

The end of Jesus’ story is that the rich man begs Abraham to send a witness to his five brothers who are still alive “lest they also come to this place of torment.”

But Abraham said to the rich man, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them… If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:29, 31)

Abraham’s reply shows us the surprising link between the two things that will last forever. “Moses and the Prophets” is a shorthand way of saying The Old Testament and Abraham shows us that how you and I listen to the word of God now will determine the state of our souls for all eternity.

Two things last forever: the word of God and the souls of men. To see this clearly will help you focus your life with the end in mind. So as we close out another week, remember to open the book and read.

God Is Looking For People To Use

Have you ever had a sentence change your life? Perhaps it was a timely word from a friend, a warning from a mentor, or encouragement that came just when you needed it most.

Many sentences have changed my life. Some were spoken, some were preached, others were written. But there’s one from nearly 3,000 years ago that still rings in my mind today.

A Man of Courage

This sentence was spoken by a courageous man I know very little about. But he had the choice for courage or cowardice and he chose courage. His name was Hanani and one day long ago he had a tough job to do. He was a counselor to Asa king of Judah on the day Asa made a big mistake.

Asa was threatened by his enemies and instead of calling out to the Lord for help, instead of relying on the God who rescues, Asa bought his way out of his trouble. He took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and paid off his enemy.

Have you ever tried to buy your way out of a problem? Have you ever turned to your friends Visa, Mastercard, and Amex before turning to the Lord your God? This was Asa’s sin: his trust was in the wrong place.

A Sentence That Changes Everything

Hanani, Asa’s counselor, saw all of this clearly and rebuked Asa for not relying on the Lord. And it was right in the middle of his rebuke, that Hanani spoke the single sentence that I remind myself of almost ever day. Here it is from 2 Chronicles 16:9,

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”

God’s eyes look down from heaven on the chaos and busyness of our world and he sees us. Isn’t that amazing? God’s eyes see us. And God is looking for people to use, people to bless, people to strongly support. He is eager to support those whose hearts are his… so eager that he’s looking.

Don’t you want to be one of those people?

A Choice That’s Yours

The choice is yours. Before you pack your bags. Before you board the plane. Before you step into the meeting. Before you write the email. Before you call your broker. Before you make the decision. Before you involve a lawyer. Before you pull out your credit card. Before you give it all up. Turn to God. Rely on him and not you.

God has made you to rely on him, to seek him, to turn to him amidst your stress, when the pressure is on, when the storm is raging. Don’t devise a strategy to get yourself out. Don’t count your days till you quit. Don’t add up your money and try to buy your way out.

Seek Jesus. Get close to him. Spend time with him. Get hungry for God again like you once were. Take your purity seriously and aim to be a person whose heart is blameless toward him. This is the path to usefulness. This is the path to God’s strong support.

God is looking for people to use. Will you be one of them?

God Loves Rich People

Who among us wouldn’t enjoy a little bit more money? And yet when we come across people who have that little bit more, it can be far too easy for our hearts to whisper things like, “Well that’s not how I would use the money,” and “They could definitely be more generous,” and “If I were them I would…”But is this how God thinks about rich people?

He Loves Them

One truth we see in the Bible is that God loves rich people. Now, I am not saying God loves rich people more than poor people or that God loves rich people and not poor people. I’m just saying, he loves them!

The book of Daniel confronted me with this recently. If you remember the context, God’s people were taken from their homeland by a foreign king named Nebuchadnezzar. And they find themselves exiled in Babylon, not a place known for it’s biblical worldview.

But amidst the exile, God continued to make himself known in miraculous ways to these rich pagan kings. First Nebuchadnezzar, then Belshazzar, and finally Darius. It would be easy to think, “God doesn’t care about these guys. They don’t even believe in him.” But over and over we find that God positions his people to point these kings towards him.

Where God Hangs Out

Let me ask you, where in the world right now could you think, “Surely, God would not hang out there?” North Korea, Syria, Yemen? A few thousand years ago we would have said Babylon.

And yet in this beautiful behind-the-scenes memoir Daniel, subtitled, “Counselor to Kings Tells All” the storyline is that God loves these kings and meets them right where they’re at… in Babylon. They’re rich, they’re powerful, they don’t even know God. Yes, yes, yes… and God loves them.

Why? Because they too are image bearers of God, created in his likeness, made after his kind. He knit them together in their mother’s womb. His eyes saw their unformed substance. He knew the number of hairs on their heads. He saw when they sat down and rose up. Before a word was on their tongues, behold, he knew it all. And looking on them, he loved them as people he had made.

What we see in Daniel points forward to what we find in Jesus. Do you remember how Jesus treated the rich young ruler? This guy was a religious, successful young man who approached Jesus with a question, and the Bible says, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21).

Way Too Important

But I’m afraid many of us are not very much like Jesus. We don’t love rich people. We envy them. We covet what they have. We compare ourselves to them. We favor them. We try to guess at their net worth. We hope some of it comes to us someday.

Or we despise them. We assume their money came from some kind of compromise. We feel morally and spiritually superior to them. We don’t befriend them. We avoid them. We’re not ourselves around them, we change.

All of these are signs that we’ve made money way too important and forgotten that rich people are people just like us, just like everyone, made in the image of God.

God, would you forgive me for the sinful attitudes of my heart. I am not like you, but I want to be. Please change me to care more about who people are on the inside than what’s on the outside. Guard my heart from the many temptations tied to money. Make me like Daniel who valued you more than the comforts and luxuries of Babylon. Make me like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who knew your worth and refused to bow down to money, even when everyone else did. May you God be my truest and deepest treasure and help me to believe more earnestly that you have looked upon me with love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Starting Line Moment

What To Do When You're Waiting To Begin

In every race there’s that moment before the gun is fired, that pause when all is quiet, that second when the runners stand still.

It’s that moment when everyone is frozen in concentration, waiting to begin.

We all have those moments in life when there’s anticipation and uncertainty around what comes next. Graduation. Marriage. That first day of work. The new baby coming. All of these are starting line moments. So are a job change, moving, and retirement.

These critical moments are often accompanied by anxiety, worry and fear. But they don’t have to be.

Jesus’ Starting Line Moments

Jesus had three moments like this. The first was right before his public ministry. The second was before he chose his twelve disciples. The third was the night before his crucifixion.

These moments were times of intense struggle. Before Jesus’ public ministry the devil came at him full force, with temptation after temptation. And before his crucifixion Jesus was in such agony that he sweat great drops of blood.

So what did he do?

Before preaching Jesus spent 40 days waiting on God in prayer and fasting. Before he chose his twelve disciples Jesus spent all night in prayer. And on the night he was betrayed, Jesus fought off sleep and prayed until they arrested him.

He didn’t rush into these situations. In the silence, Jesus waited and prayed.

The Key To Waiting

How are you at waiting? If you’re like me, you don’t want to pray, you want to know the plan. You don’t want to wait you want to figure things out. You probably want your answer now. Can I really see myself in this job for another year? What am I supposed to do next in life? What kind of contribution does God want me to make in this world?

But when we look to Jesus’ example, we see that waiting well is crucial in these starting line moments. In my own seasons of waiting, I have found one verse from the Bible that has anchored me and it is Isaiah 64:4, which says:

From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.

The key to waiting is to trust that God acts while we wait. If we can trust this, we’ll wait well. If we can’t, we’ll rush out of the blocks before it’s time. And in a race the fastest way to lose is to false start. You’re immediately disqualified.

An Explosive New Beginning

Perhaps you’re in one of these seasons now where the future looks uncertain and question marks are all you see. You’re not sure which way to go next and anxiety, worry, and fear press in on you about your decision.

God’s gentle reminder is that you have a God who acts on your behalf while you wait on him. It’s not all on your shoulders. God will lead you. He will help you. Your way forward starts by waiting on him.

This may be your starting line moment, the quiet preparation you need before the storm of activity ahead. It may be your time to win private victories before public ministry. It may be the silent pause before an explosive new beginning.

Does God Want You To Live For The Moment?

When are you living for? No, that wasn’t a typo. I meant “when”, not “what” are you living for. It sounds like a strange question, doesn’t it? But pop culture has an answer, do you?

Pop Culture’s Answer

For years pop culture has been answering this question.

Ÿ•   The movie Dead Poet’s Society told us, “Carpe Diem. Seize the day.”

Ÿ•   Tim McGraw sang to us, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Ÿ•   Usher’s R&B hit promoted, “Dance Like It’s the Last Night of Your Life”

Ÿ•   Selena Gomez serenaded us with, “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow”

Ÿ•   And Pepsi ads proclaim, “Live for Now”

Behind these slogans and many others come the dangerous lies of “You deserve it” “Don’t worry about the consequences” “Just do it”. The world pulls us to give in to our appetites and do whatever feels good. The pull is to be short-term thinkers who can’t say no.

The world is preaching. Are you listening?

The Opposite Error

But “Live for Now” is not the only sermon the world is preaching. Much of the financial advice being dolled out today says “Plan for Retirement.” “Save and invest now, so you can take it easy later.” Whether it’s found in books, on blogs, or 1-on-1 with a financial planner so much of the counsel is to set yourself up for a life of leisure. It’s a bucket-list mentality, seeking heaven on earth… in retirement.

And while thinking towards the future is not bad, and neither is enjoying the present moment, both streams of thought miss the main point of the Bible. While the world says live for right now or live for retirement God says, “Live for eternity.” Retirement is too short-sighted. Thirty to forty years out is not enough when we have eternity before us.

Forever and Ever, Amen.

If you’ve ever read the biographies of Jesus in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) then you know that one thing Jesus was always preaching was “the kingdom of heaven.” He was constantly flipping the script of this world and inserting a heavenly perspective. And I believe this is the antidote you and I need to avoid both errors.

We need heaven to break in on us again through the pages of Scripture. We need to come face to face with the reality of eternity. To remember that this life is not all there is and death does not have the final word. We will all appear before God. We will all be judged for how we lived in this present moment and how we spent our sunset years. We’re saved by grace and set free by grace to steward our lives for eternity.

The glory of God and the good of others is our highest goal. God has made us to be servants who make a contribution, not tourists who are on permanent vacation. For all those who love and trust Jesus, we are pilgrims passing through, voyagers heading home to our true country where an eternity of unimaginable pleasures awaits. “Eat, drink, and be merry” is not our slogan. Building bigger barns is not our strategy. But at our core, Christians are people who see this world and the next clearly. Therefore, we live as one famous missionary named C.T. Studd once said,

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Let’s be the people of God who live for eternity now. In every moment between this day and our last day, may we spend our lives in light of forever and ever, amen.