(First Things First Edition)
Every day you and I make choices that reflect not just what we say is important, but what truly are the prime movers in our lives. Hopefully our choices line up with our stated values, but we all know that isn’t always true.
That why it’s refreshing to be reminded every once in a while to put first things first. And I have no finer teachers than my students, who often blow me away with the quality of their writing.
If you’re new to this thread, let me catch you up. I’ve graded tens of thousands of papers or projects that were nice and decently written. But every once in a while someone captures a phrase or goes off on a riff that gets my attention because of the quality of the writing or the urgency of the point. So I started keeping a file of Favorite Student Quotations.
Every once in a while I like to share seven or so of those with my readers. Consider yourself blessed and highly favored. Hear the challenge from some pretty awesome writers to keep first things first and remember what is most important.
You can thank me later.
Sometimes you can get so busy being busy.
I love to give, but if giving puts me in a bind when taking care of my family, it is no longer giving. Then, it is stealing from my family.
I have had experiences of running into certain people in a church that have an idea of what worship should look like, and they are salivating over the idea of getting a guy in their church that can lead worship like the way they see it on the internet. What kills me is to see a church get so worked up about trying to get the perfect performance together for Sunday morning that they forget why they’re tuning up their Gibsons in the first place. Seeing the mega churches on Youtube can taint our understanding of what worship is.
I read an article recently about a mega church pastor who had to cancel his book signing because he got lost in his mansion. I have met a CEO of a Christian ministry who has eight cars in his garage. There have been countless situations of men who get swept away by the cash flow, and they tap into an insatiable thirst for money.
Jesus’ first days were marked with poverty. He was not afforded a regal entrance, rather he was born in a manger. The first to pay homage to the newborn king, were shepherds, some of the lowest members of society. However, they could not appreciate the incongruity of the Son of God’s meager beginning. The difficulty for Christ’s modern followers is to link Jesus’ earthly life with his continuing mission. The shepherds were poor. The rewards of their labour barely gave them victual rations. Yet, they were the first worshippers. As examples of God’s bias toward the poor, the shepherds are heroes of the faith. They remind us that God’s heart still extends unto those who are pressed to live with less.
Then I discovered 56-4-34. It does not sound like much and it is not meant for anyone else but me. It is a simple premise. God has given me the first 56 years of life, 4 the express purpose of living, the last 34. By my calculation, I have until I am ninety years-old to complete what God has before me. I have begun living this over the last four weeks. Some days I am better at it than others. However, by reminding myself every day the importance of intentional living, I am much more likely to actually accomplish a great number of things.
I know a gentleman who is well-versed in scripture, who probably reads his Bible for one or two hours every day, and who leads, as far as I can tell, a fairly tasteless life. I know another man who boasts of these things – that he is certainly a Christian, because of how much he reads his Bible, and other people telling him about God is ignorance on their part, because they do not know how well-read he is. Then I know an agnostic who boasts that he has read the Bible multiple times through and believes not a word of it.
I have never read the Bible all the way through, though this year marks my ten-year birthday as a born-again believer, but all of these people sound to me like “crashing cymbals and clanging gongs.”1 Corinthians 13 is all about this. What these people are missing is not time in the Word of God. They are missing a love of God that will transform them from the inside out. These people have set time aside to read, each for his own purposes, though I believe my first friend’s desire is most genuine, but they are not feeding their souls, only their minds. Knowledge is not wisdom, neither is knowing about God the same as knowing God personally.
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