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

 

When a Pro-Abortionist’s Conscience Acknowledges Truth

When a Pro-Abortionist’s Conscience Acknowledges Truth

This last weekend the nation’s elite journalists came together at the White House Correspondents Dinner, for an evening of roasts and toasts, all under the guise of humor.  But while the night featured laughs at the expense of others, Michelle Wolf, the comedian hosting the WHC Dinner, stooped to a new low as she belittled Americans whose crime is simply supporting life over abortion. 

While Wolf’s attack was crass and deplorable, what was likely lost in her comments was an inadvertent admission that few pro-abortionists have been willing to make publicly.  

It has been a long standing argument from those supporting the taking of innocent life, that the child in the womb isn’t really a child… rather it is simply tissue, just a “fetus” or some other “sub-human” entity.  However, those standing on the side of life have accurately referred to the child in the womb as simply that, a child or a baby.  Logic would suggest that if a child is a baby outside the womb, she is also a baby inside the womb.  And since this is true, then the baby in the womb is as deserving of the right to life as she is the moment she’s in her mother’s arms.

So here’s what Ms. Wolf said:

“He (Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder,” Wolf said, “which, first of all, don’t knock it ‘til you try it — and when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there…”

Webster defines “baby” as “a very young child.”  By her use of the word baby, Wolf acknowledged what her own conscience had no doubt already informed her of.  I have no doubt that millions of other pro-abortionists, if they were honest, would also admit the same.  That little body inside a mother’s womb is a baby, receiving the same gift of life from her Creator as every other individual walking the face of this earth received. 

So on this I agree with Michelle Wolf.  The baby outside the womb is also a baby inside the womb.  The life held in the mother’s arms moments after birth is also a life moments before, when she is held in the mother’s womb.  So if we can agree on this truth, then can we not also agree that all life is deserving of protecting and nurturing?

Finally, God’s Word, the Bible, has something to say about what Michelle Wolf did this last weekend when her words spoke what her conscience knows.  In Romans 2:15, we read, “They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”

At the end of the day, God has made each of us so that our own internal conscience affirms to us certain basic truths.  What could be more basic than the truth that a baby is deserving of love and life, regardless of where she makes her home?

The Purpose of Liberty: Are You Fulfilling It?

The Purpose of Liberty: Are You Fulfilling It?

July 4th: a day that many Americans will spend with family and friends, enjoying food and fireworks.  It’s a day that we celebrate the founding of our nation, more than two centuries ago.  That day in 1776, was a day like no other for the men who penned their names to our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  Their grievances were serious, real and legitimate.  And their public defiance of the King was a certain death warrant, leading them to mutually pledge their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor.”

Their unwavering commitment to the principle of Liberty, resulted in innumerable blessings for us today.  But have you ever considered what the purpose of Liberty really is?  Is its end simply the “pursuit of happiness?”  While this question begs a much deeper and more thorough discussion than what follows, I trust these brief thoughts will serve to challenge you and me to go deeper in meditation.  And as we do, perhaps our thoughts will call us to a higher level of accountability than what we as Americas are accustomed to acknowledging.

The First Liberty: In a Perfect World

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”  I would assert that this phrase, known to most people across the world who have been blessed with the knowledge of the Scriptures, is the greatest opening statement of any manuscript ever known to man.  In the passage following this opening truth, we find that God not only created the entire universe and all that is within it, but He also established the principles and laws that would control all things.  These laws would govern not only the physical, but also the emotional and spiritual, and even what our Founders referred to as “unalienable rights.”

So when God, on the sixth day, created man in “His own image,” He presented to that first couple a state of perfection.  In that perfect world, God offered Adam and Eve the freedom to exercise liberty, and then he defined how they would do so.  The first couple would initially exercise dominion over the world God had created — every creature, plant and the entire earth.  Secondly, Adam & Even would express their love by multiplying themselves, thus reproducing life.  And lastly, they would discharge their free will, and their understanding of liberty, by the choices they would make.

As Adam and Eve partook of liberty in those first few days of perfection, enjoying a deeply personal and intimate fellowship with God, they were free to experience all of God’s creation.  A smorgasbord of sensual pleasures surrounded them everywhere they looked.  The radiant beauty of their environment, the luscious delicacies their taste buds enjoyed, and the intellectual and emotional stimuli they were exposed to during their daily walks with God, was beyond any experience modern man can fathom.  

But there was just one, ever so small, limitation that would test their understanding of liberty. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the center of the Garden of Eden, was off limits.  The perfection they daily enjoyed eventually came to be overshadowed by their knowledge that there was one singular item, stored away in the middle of their “heaven on earth” of which they were to steer clear.  Their “dilemma” is akin to being given the key to Whole Foods so that anything you desired to take and eat was yours, except for one box of cookies on a counter in the middle of the bakery department. 

So liberty’s purpose was clear.  And liberty’s test was even clearer.  Mankind’s destiny literally hung in the balance as Adam and Eve grappled with the concept of liberty.  Would they fulfill God’s purpose?  Would they exercise dominion over every aspect of God’s creation, including the tree in the middle of the garden?  Would they tame and control their own free will to conform to God’s singular restriction on their liberty?  Or would they chose to pursue a distorted view of liberty, one that suggested they could do anything they pleased, with no consequences?

Sadly, we know the rest of the story as Adam and Eve trampled the liberty God gave them, exercising their free will to violate the boundaries that liberty imposed.  

Liberty in an Imperfect World

Since that tragic day when Adam and Eve traded true liberty for a lesser form, man has continuously sought liberty.  But not until the founding of these United States of America has there been a nation whose very DNA was infused with liberty as ours.  Many of our nation’s greatest icons carry the theme of liberty.  The Statue of Liberty.  The Liberty Bell.  The Liberty Tree.  Sons of Liberty.

So it seems only natural that Americans love liberty and seek after it.  But do we understand what liberty is, and more importantly are we fulfilling its purpose in an imperfect world?

Thinking back to the initial purposes of liberty as revealed in the opening scene of the world, we are to have dominion over all of creation.  The world is ours.  God has granted it to us but will also hold us accountable for the way in which we subdue it.  Are we acting as the stewards that God intended in every asset, gift, and relationship that God bestows upon you and me? 

Secondly, are we reproducing and embracing life?  Life is under attack like never before.  The forces of evil are seeking to dismantle life, convincing us that children are a hassle, and in a million instances a year in American, not even worthy of life.  Our birthrates in America are not even sufficient to replace ourselves.  So do we truly value life?  Yet, liberty demands that we must.

Finally, liberty is a test, between good and evil.  In a sense, Adam and Eve had it much easier.  Their choices were sorted into two categories.  In the first column was the one item in their world of infinite good that they were told to reject:  the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In the other column was everything else!  They were presented with only one bad option and literally millions of good choices.

Not so in our lives.  The truth is that we have literally millions of options and choices available to us at any given moment, both good and bad. And because of the free will that God granted to us when he created Adam, we have the liberty to chose either, the righteous or evil.  But sadly there is a plethora of wrong choices today.  And it seems that it’s all too easy to default to bad choices, at least I know it is in my life.  But while liberty gives me that option, liberty also demands better.  Liberty instructs that we must resist that which is not good, not only for our own good, but for our family, friends and nation.  For if we learned anything from Adam and Eve, we can understand that our choices are not made in a vacuum but rather they ripple out, resulting in either a wave of good or a flood of bad.  

So at the end of the day, the purpose of liberty is simple.  It is a test.  Will you and I pass the test?  Will we weigh every choice by God’s perfect standard, rejecting those that don’t measure up?  Or will we abuse liberty to do what we want, regardless of the impact on ourselves and others?

Only you can say.  But as we celebrate another July 4th, may we never again forget the purpose of liberty and with God’s help, exercise our liberty in a manner worthy of God’s blessings.

The Sands of Time

The Sands of Time

The sands of time
So quickly pass
In the slender neck
Of our hour glass

Our life ahead
At two score and five
With dreams intact
We feel so alive

As life grows busy
The sand keeps beating
But we pay no thought
To the years now fleeting

We’ve known others younger
Whose sand drew still
Their premature death
Briefly testing our will

But our own life plans
We are confident yet
Will align in due time
With our diminishing grit

For surely our grains
Will continue to fall
Until the time of our choosing
Has arrived with a crawl

But when will we realize
That it’s God who allows
For the number of grains
That remain in our vials

May we refocus our thoughts
To what really will count
When the sands in our glass
Do finally run out.

 

Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days…”

 

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.