Encouragement From The Word

Give him the reins

Ever have one of those weeks where there’s so much to do you hardly know where to start, and you feel almost paralyzed by it all?

Yeah.  That kind of week.

It becomes a reminder that at times we need to be selective in what we choose to do, and we have to learn to use an oft-under-used term in the English language:  no.

Many of us naturally want to please others, and so when we are asked to take on a task, we jump at the opportunity – perhaps without realizing what else we’ve committed ourselves to.

It’s good to take a step back, review the calendar in ‘big picture’ mode, and learn to say ‘no’ to something good, in favour of saying ‘yes’ to something better.  And that involves not just looking at the calendar, but for followers of Jesus, it also involves holding the matter before the Lord, seeking discernment for the decision.

In the day-to-day excitement of life, it is a real discipline to be able to step back and look at the big picture, and to offer even our seemingly small decisions to God.  I don’t mean that we need to pray about which sock to put on first, but I do mean that we need to seek the Lord for decisions like whether or not to accept a particular invitation, or job offer, or time commitment.

Of course, depending on what you do for a living, you may not be given much choice as to certain decisions, since they are made for you – but even prioritizing them can be a matter for prayerful discernment.  Sometimes, employers ‘reward’ their best people with more work, and at times, you may have the freedom to say ‘no’.

Remember, your life in Christ, your time with family, and your health all supersede pretty well any other call on your time.

Give him the reins.  Let the Lord lead.

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me.  Make your way plain for me to follow” (Psalm 5.8, NLT).

Encouragement From the Word is taking a week off while I’m on study leave, and will be back on March 10.

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BEING THE CHURCH: 2. Unfettered

“The Word of God cannot not chained” (2 Timothy 2.9).  These are some of the most profound and powerful words in all of Scripture.  As we look at what 2 Timothy has to say about being the church, we see today about the power of the Word of God, and how its unfettered nature sets us free in a few ways.  Based on 2 Timothy 2.1-14, have a listen here:

Also, you can review the video feed on Facebook (which, happily, worked today) https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10211325394507772%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>here.

Encouragement From The Word

Priorities, in light of eternity

Sometimes, we say things inadvertently, without words. And sometimes, we give a message by what we do or don’t do, or by what we say or don’t say. Let me give you an example.

Last Sunday in my message, I was talking about having peace with one’s family. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of treating one’s children well, and helping them to know the Lord. One way we do that is by giving our kids a theology.

When we tell our kids that they have multiple choices in their activities, that they can stay home and play video games, watch TV, or go to soccer practice or hockey practice or whatever, and tell them that they also can go to youth group (for example), what we’re saying to our kids is that each of these activities matters equally.

I’ll bet you didn’t think of that, did you?

That’s why it’s important to look at what we do with our kids, or how we order our own lives, in light of eternity. After all, which of those listed activities is apt to have the greatest impact on your kids in light of eternity?

Those activities are not all equal, are they?

When we look at activities we do, or that our children do, in light of their eternal impact, it helps us order our priorities even better. I’m not saying that hockey and soccer are bad, or even that video games or TV are bad (though we should be careful with those!), but there are activities that are better. Always choose the better for yourself, and help your kids do the same.

They may not thank you for it today, but down the road, they will.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22.6, NLT).

Musings

“I don’t have time” or “It’s not a priority”?

After seeing a friend’s Facebook status the other day, I chose to write about how “I don’t have time” versus “It’s not a priority” relates to God’s invitation to being…

Based on the comments I received on the theme of last Sunday’s message, I get the sense that many of you are living the harried life!  Several of you spoke of how the shaken, cloudy water resonated with you.  I know what you mean.   But where does it go from here?

It’s one thing for us to commiserate, but quite another to do something about the problem.  That’s the hard part, isn’t it?  Most of us simply shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t have the time,” when in reality, what we might better say is, “It’s not a priority.”

I’ve often wanted to try an experiment.  (I’ve wanted to, but have regularly said, “I don’t have the time!”)  I’d love to take a typical day and chronicle everything – everything – I do, and write it down so I could see where my time is really being spent.  It wouldn’t just be writing down “work” from 9 to 5 (or whatever), but denoting exactly what comprised that “work”.  Something tells me that if any of us did that, we might be a trifle surprised, maybe even humbled, by the results.  But that would be a great way to begin the process of prioritization.

Hopefully, you want to make time to just “be” with the Lord.  Rather than say, “I don’t have time to just ‘be’ with the Lord,” try saying, “I don’t make it a priority to just ‘be’ with the Lord.”  Ouch.  Trouble is, we often find ourselves with an even odder conundrum:  we don’t make it a priority to re-order our priorities.  Maybe that’s the place to start.

Even if you don’t bother to try my little experiment noted above, clear an hour from your schedule.  Sit in a quiet place, in a comfortable, upright position.  Take a notebook, or a sheet of paper, and write down the major things that are part of a typical day, and a typical week, for you.  There will be sub-categories, of course, but among your major categories might be such things as sleeping, eating, working, spending time with people you love, and having fun.  How would you prioritize these?

Clearly, earning a living is important, unless you’re already retired (which leaves you with more free time, at least in theory).  Sleeping is also important, since you need rest in order to be able to function fully.  Spending time with people you love matters, too, because your marriage (if you are married) is foundational not just to your own family but to all of society; your kids and other family members are important, too.  And we all need fun once in a while.  So where do we fit God into this scenario?

Ideally, God is part of every part of your day (and he is, whether we realize it or not).  But where do we fit intentional time with the Lord into this picture?

Something else you should gauge among the things you do in the day is the time you waste.  Most of us waste some time during each day; some of us are really good at it!  A friend of mine, who was struggling to find enough time to spend with the Lord, decided to cut out the 11:00 news at night, which, she reasoned, sent her to bed flustered anyway.  That produced a minimum of an extra three-and-a-half hours each week that she could spend with the Lord.

I’m confident that each of us, if we see time with God as a priority instead of just another thing to add to the list, can deepen our walk with the Lord through quality time sitting in his presence.  May God bless you as you work on your priorities!