Many of you have probably heard about the death of Bronner Burgess. It is incredible is how his family has kept their focus on God through it all, and has shown us how God can get us through anything.
Archive for January, 2008
We’ve all heard (and probably said) that we want to “put God first” in our lives. But what does that really mean? Must I sell everything and become an impoverished missionary? Or at least be a full time minister? Attend church 23 times per week?
If God is really first in my life, then I’d think I’d be spending a lot of time trying to figure out how He wants me to live. I’d be reading the Bible every day. I’d be praying for help…often. I’d examine my beliefs and ask myself the really hard question: is this what I want to believe, or is this what the Bible says? (That’s been a particularly hard one for me.)
And when I figured out what the Bible does say – to whatever extent – I’d hope that I had the courage to live in the manner I understood God was revealing to me. This can be tough as you can find a church to sanction just about any belief. Just because the people around you approve of what you are doing doesn’t necessarily mean it is right.
The bottom line is that I don’t want to be the kind of person Jesus was talking about when he quoted Isaiah in Matthew 15: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.“
Ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to discern God’s will. And as you do, live your life according to that will.
I was talking to my friend Ryan last night about the comparable levels of people’s knowledge of the Bible and he said that he thought the problem was that people read lots of books about the Bible instead of reading the Bible. Now he’s got more knowledge of the Bible in his little finger than I’ll acquire in the next decade so his comment rattled around in my head all night.
However, we have to put these resources and people in their proper perspective: they can often have interesting, and sometimes very helpful things to say, but they aren’t God, and their books aren’t the Bible. Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 (ESV):
10I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Ryan is also a big C.S. Lewis fan and he and I have joked “I follow Lewis”, and the kernel of truth that is in most such statements clarified the danger for us.
A similar danger can be found in following our preachers in whatever they say. However wise they may be, remember that they are people just like you and can and often will be fallible. So what’s my point? Just this:
Pay attention to your preacher, read helpful books about scripture, but always remember that it is better to be like the Bereans (Acts 17, ESV):
11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
If you will read the Bible every single day for the rest of your life, even if only briefly, you’ll gain more knowledge more quickly than you can imagine. The key is consistency – every day, no matter what. Not so you can check it off your list and say you do it, but so that the Holy Spirit will show you the truth. My experience is that it works like this.
When I was working at WireSpeed (1995-2000) I took a course on time management & organization. As part of that course I wrote down goals for each part of my life. I’m not sure what happened then, but basically I filed them away and forgot them.
Several years later I was listening to a Brian Tracy CD on goal setting and he urged his listeners to try this experiment: Write out your goals on January 1, seal them in an envelope and forget them for the rest of the year. Open them on December 31 and you’ll find that you’ve accomplished most of them. His point was that the act of just writing them down once (forget about tracking them or making detailed plans) was incredibly powerful. I was a bit skeptical, but I mentally filed that away and moved on.
A few months later I was going through some old boxes and I found those old goals I had written years before. As I read through them Brian Tracy’s comments came shooting up from my memory as I was having a hard time believing my eyes: I had achieved almost everything I had written on that paper.
Since then I’ve become a big believer in written goals. I have a document on my PC at home with a paragraph for each part of my life (Family, Health, Service to others, Personal Development, Spiritual, Fun, Business). Each of those paragraphs are written in the present tense, as though they are already true (whether they are or not…yet).
Each month I open this document and read and rewrite each goal. It is amazing to watch each one become more and more true over time. You don’t have to have detailed step by step plans for each 5 minutes between here and your end goal – I’m sure that’s great for anyone who can actually do that – all you have to do is write them down – do that and you’ll be ahead of almost everyone you know. If you really want to go wild, rewrite them monthly like I do. Then sit back and be amazed at how quickly you archive them.