30 Days to Live

30 Days to Live

“Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14)

God has been impressing on me for some time now of the need to always be prepared to meet Him, whether through death or His return. Even so, I struggle daily to keep that moment by moment focus which inevitably results in my 1) getting distracted with all manner of things (both good and bad, big and little), and 2) making choices that would render me woefully unprepared to meet the One I love and to leave the ones I love. 

So, in an effort to bring better focus and to increase awareness of my need to continuously “be ready,” I’ve begun to work on what I’m calling my “30 Days to Live” Plan, or #30D2L.  It is not a complete or static plan, but rather it will be a growing and changing one, as: 1) I hopefully continue to mature and grow closer to God, 2) I better understand His plan for me and those I love, and 3) I continuously seek to maintain a relationship with God that is unhampered by sin in my life 

In essence, the #30D2L Plan is a list of priorities that I would likely have were I to visit my doctor someday and be told that I had 30 Days to Live. Sadly, such news comes to people everyday. But when it does, those receiving the dreaded news, in a sense, have the “benefit” of living out their final days with a knowledge that they are within their final days.

Because of this raised awareness of one’s imminent death, there is no doubt that the choices such individuals make are drastically different than the choices before they were confronted with their own mortality, as well as the choices I make everyday. 

So, it seems to me both logical and wise, to take a positive, deliberate and planned approach to living out each 30 Days as if they were to be my last.  I’ll confess though that while it may be logical and wise to maintain this mindset, it’s also very easy to stray from living this way each day and very hard to maintain this daily focus, much less hourly.  (I know this to be true as I have been attempting to live in this manner for several 30 day periods so far… and failing miserably at maintaining the proper focus.)

But here’s a truth that we should all consider: If the next 30 Days are not my final ones or yours, at some point you and I will wake up for the last 30 days of our life. When this happens in my life, I want to arrive at my last day with no regrets, no items left unchecked, and a clear conscience before God and man. 

With this in mind, I want to echo the Psalmist’s attitude when he wrote: “Teach us to number our days.” (Psalm 90:12)

So here’s an initial checklist that I’ve started. But as God continues to give me another 30 day period, I hope to continue to fine tune this list. I’d love to hear if you have other items that you would add to your list.

→ Relationships in order; reconcile any broken ones
→ Sins confessed
→ Maintain a clear conscience before God and man
→ To do list sorted, prioritized and the essentials completed.
→ Make sure that those closest to me know that I love them, every single day.
→ Life insurance in order
→ Finances in order
→ Will/Estate plans up to date
→ No “secrets” in my life
→ Make sure any comments that I want to make to folks are made
→ Spend daily time in God’s Word
→ Always seek to simplify and unclutter my life.
→ Seek opportunities to share God’s Truth in Love 

As I begin each new month, treating it as if it could be my final one, I am looking to these thoughts and verses to keep me grounded in the brevity of life.  I hope you will be challenged to consider a similar approach.  For God has this to say about those who regularly reflect on their own mortality:  

“A wise person thinks a lot about death.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:4)

May God help me to truly live til I die.  And may my outlook always be as Paul shared when he said:

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21)

Here are a few more relevant verses to maintaining the proper mindset about our final days:

“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:44)

 

“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)

 

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14)

 

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”  (2 Samuel 14:14)

 

“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”  (Isaiah 38:1)

#30D2L

The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry

There are deep divisions today in our nation that are seen in issue after issue. 

But perhaps there is no greater divide, with such irreversible consequences, than the Pro-Life/Pro-Abortion battle.  On one side are the voices of those who claim that the life in the womb is precious, of immeasurable value, and worthy of defending. On the other side are the shouts of those who claim the choice of the mother outweighs the right of her little one to simply live. And most recently the pro-abortion voices have embraced a new mantra: #shoutyourabortion.  So a tragic choice that ended a life, has now become a movement that pridefully celebrates ending the life they conceived.

Since the beginning of time, the dominance of the stronger over the weaker has been a dreadful trait of mankind. We see the first example of this evil philosophy when Cain took the life of his brother, Abel. It’s worth rereading the short account of this story:

“One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!”  (Genesis 4:8-10)

Since that first murder, the strongest have sentenced to death millions of lives over thousands of years, with this culture of death continuing today.  But there truly is no greater example of the strong taking the lives of the weak than in the loss of our nation’s little ones in the womb.  These innocent lives, formed by their Creator, are tragically being silenced by their mothers.  No words can adequately describe the sorrow, loss and permanence that abortion does to its greatest victim.

But, for all the words that have been written and the voices that have been raised in decrying the curse of abortion, there is one voice that has never been heard.  And yet it is this voice that counts the most.  

When God reproached Cain over murdering his brother Abel, He convicted Cain with these words: “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me…”

Were God to confront our nation today about the awful scourge of abortion, I believe He would say something similar: “Listen! Your childrens’ blood cries out to me…”

This is the missing voice:  The Silent Cry.  

We’ve all heard the cry of a little baby shortly after birth, as it simply longs for the cuddle, caress and love of her mother.  But have we stopped to hear the silent cry of the one that was snatched from the womb before she took her first breath?  Have we paused to consider her voice?  While her voice is silent, her message is loud, clear, and convicting, if we will be still and listen.

This matter of eternal consequence has divided our nation into three groups.

The first group is perhaps the most pressing one.  If you are carrying an unwanted pregnancy and considering an abortion even today, will you stop and listen?  Will you hear the silent cry of the little one in your womb, who longs to look in your eyes, to feel your embrace, to know your love, and to simply have the opportunity to live?

Before you add one more cry to the millions of silent cries that rise up across our nation, I pray you will stop and listen.  Listen to your child’s heartbeat.  Envision him or her in your arms.  Consider the beauty of her face.  Trace the outline of his features.  And embrace life today.  

The second group within our nation includes those women and men who have already chosen abortion.  You may be one who succumbed to the lie that your choice trumped the life in the womb.  If so, then you know your choice was irreversible.  But your guilt over that choice can be reversed.  God, the Author of life, is also the One who forgives.  There is no choice that you and I have made that God does not offer to forgive — even the one that ended the life of your little one.  Go to Him.  Confess your sin.  As you do, He promises to forgive you and to grant to you the peace that passes all understanding.

The final group within our nation is where most of us reside.  We are not pregnant.  We have not had an abortion.  But we have a choice to make.  Will we stop and listen?  Will we hear #thesilentcry?  Will that silent cry cause us to reevaluate our thoughts, our actions, and our choices?  As we listen to #thesilentcry, will we decide to make the following choice?

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”  

As we apply the Golden Rule to the life in the womb, may our nation collectively and each of us individually do to the little one yet unborn, what was done to us by our mother and father.

Embrace life.  Reject death.

#thesilentcry

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”   Psalms 139:13-16

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death… Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your children might live!”  Deuteronomy 30:19

 

Heads You Live, Tails You Die? Lessons from Indy 500

Heads You Live, Tails You Die? Lessons from Indy 500

The Indy 500. Daytona 500. Monaco Grand Prix. 24 Hours of Le Mans. These are just a view of the world’s iconic motorsport races. 

For me there’s not much more thrilling in sporting events than the combination of horsepower, speed, technology, competition, and fans.  And for fans, there’s not much they enjoy more than a good crash.  Although a good crash, like beauty, is a matter of perspective.  

Strap yourself into a car with the engine revving, tires screeching, and the speedometer in the three digit zone, and there’s no such thing as a GOOD crash.  The fact is, if you’re inside the race car, any crash is a bad crash.  (I know, I’ve been in a couple of my own three digit racing crashes which you can view here and here.)  But sit back in your favorite La-Z-Boy recliner, or better yet, at the Indy 500 between Turns 1 and 2, as I was this week, at the 101st running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and a crash is an added “bonus” to the fans.  

Sitting in the stands on Sunday at the Indy 500, I could not have anticipated viewing one of the most jaw-dropping crashes I’ve ever witnessed.  It was lap 53 of 200 laps.  The race had been perfect so far.  There had been no yellow, or caution flags.  The drivers were at their best.  The cars were nearly a blur as they flew around the track, 40 seconds per lap, at an average speed of 220 miles per hour.  My favorite driver in the race, Fernando Alonso from Spain, a two time world champion in Formula 1, but a rookie to the Indy 500, had worked himself into the lead.  

A pack of cars came down the front stretch and slowed just slightly as they maneuvered through turn 1.  As I sat there, the “bonus” happened, directly in front of me. Jay Howard lost control and hit the outside wall.  As he slid back across the track, Scott Dixon, the pole winner, had no place to go and rammed into the back of Jay’s car.  The thud we heard was unmistakable, and we watched in disbelief as the next several seconds unfolded. Immediately Dixon’s car was catapulted high into the air and the four time IndyCar champion was simply along for the ride. His years of experience and success provided no advantage. 

As Scott’s car careened through the air, his life literally hung in the balance. How would his car land as he flipped towards the wall and catch fence?  Would he survive such a horrific crash?  Could he, like many of his fellow racers in the past, skirt death?  

As the crash video reveals, Dixon’s aerial flight came to an abrupt and violent impact with the inside wall on the right side of his car.  The impact caused massive damage with the #9 car disintegrating into a thousands pieces.  As the car continued to twist and turn, it flipped upside down and then back over, sliding to a stop with only one of the four wheels left intact, and half the car missing.  Miraculously, Scott climbed out of the car, unhurt and waving to the crowd.  

But… what if?   

What if Dixon’s car had rotated just a quarter turn more and instead of landing on its side, it had landed driver first, into the wall?  I shudder to think what the outcome would have been.  But it’s not too far fetched to consider.  The fact is, something very similar happened six years earlier at another IndyCar race in Las Vegas when a massive crash launched former champion and Indy 500 race winner, Dan Wheldon, into the air.  As I watched the race live, the driver would suffer blunt force trauma to his head.  And Wheldon, whose career would likely have seen many more wins and successes, breathed his last that day, at age 33.  He left behind a beautiful wife and two young boys. 

Following the race at Indy last Sunday, the thought occurred to me just how fragile life is. One driver dies. The other lives. Some might suggest luck plays a part in the outcome, as if it’s merely a flip of a coin to determine whether it’s heads you live, or tails you die.  

But ultimately no amount of skill, preparation, goodwill or luck will prevent our taking our final breath.  Rather, death is something that will come to us all, sooner or later, as the Bible affirms:  

“Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.”

Death. It’s a sobering thought that most of us avoid and refuse to consider.  Yet it will happen to all of us, without a doubt.  

So, the real question is how will we live our lives until the figurative coin lands on tails?  But even more importantly, will we be prepared for that moment when the inevitable occurs? For as we just read, we will all be judged, not only for how we have lived our lives, but more importantly in whom and what we trusted for our eternal future.  

I don’t know what your personal standing is with God but here’s is the truth of God’s Word – the Bible.  In Romans 3:23 we are told “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  In other words we have all fallen short of God’s standard of perfection.  Because of this fact, we learn in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  God is clear that without His Son we can expect death eternally. 

The eternal life offered by God is as a result of His Son’s death and resurrection as we see in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Finally, while God did this for us, we must accept His gift of salvation.  Romans 10:9 tells us “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  This is the road to true peace and freedom… and assurance of your eternal future, once that final moment comes for you and me.  

If you want to pursue this matter further, here is a relevant website that deals further with life, death, and eternity:  http://www.areyouagoodperson.org/  Or send me an email and let’s grab coffee and talk.

Whether you are a motorsports fan or not, we all share the common need to prepare for what lies ahead.  I hope and pray you have done so, or if not, you will do so today.