I’m sure you’ve seen the title of this post before. It came into the national conversation during the Vietnam War, back when I was barely a glimmer in anyone’s eye.
The thing about this statement is that it is saying that these two things are mutually exclusive. It’s as though one cannot hold love and war in their life at the same time. I’m not going to speak for everyone, but I don’t really think that to be the case.
I feel the same way about something I tweeted the other day. My tweet was some like this:
We are not called to make music, but to make disciples.
I felt pretty proud of myself after sharing this on the Twitter. Here is the funny thing. I got several likes when it made its way to Facebook. However, I got some push back on Twitter.
The push back came because someone took exception to it. They said THE way to discipleship is through making music, mainly because that is how it happened for them.
Sorry, but I can’t buy that one either. But I did change my mind a little.
I don’t think the main thing we are called to do is to make disciples or make music. It’s not either/or. It’s not one or the other. Instead, I think we’re called to something greater.
I think we are called to glorify God in everything we do. How do we do that?
By making disciples. By making music. And so much more.
We might glorify God through every bite of food we take, through every swallow of drink we take in.
We might glorify God by running a marathon or walking to the mailbox.
Maybe it’s by driving the speed limit and stopping at yellow.
It could be anything.
It could be by making love or making war. Or both.
Each of us begin our day much the same: we wake up. From there our days probably vary greatly. However, we all probably want one thing.
A productive day.
A productive day doesn’t just happen. We have to be intentional about having one.
Here are seven way to make your day productive:
1. Drink water.
I begin each day by drinking 16 to 32 ounces each day. This helps me bring my water levels back up and gives me energy to begin the day.
Finding time to exercise is difficult. Time is always at a premium. Exercise will often get crowded out. Doing it early seems counter-intuitive. It will increase your energy throughout the day.
3. Spend time with God.
It’s important for us to know God. Unfortunately, few of us know God well. To know Him, we have to spend time with Him and we don’t spend enough time with Him.
Take in God’s word. Spend time talking to Him in prayer. Do it before the day gets away from you.
4. Spend time developing yourself.
You are always told to place a air mask on yourself first on a plane in the event of an emergency. You are no good to anyone else if you pass out.
No one will develop you if you aren’t spending time developing yourself first. Read a little. Listen to a podcast. Do something to make yourself better early each day.
5. Love your loved ones.
Kiss your wife. Make sure your kids know you love them. Text or call someone and let them know how you feel about them.
6. Avoid the news.
Let’s face it. Most of our news is negative. Letting negative news influence your life will bring you down.
7. Eat breakfast.
Don’t skip this. Fuel up. Don’t run out of gas early.
You want to be successful each day. Don’t just let the day happen. Kickstart your day by developing a routine similar to what I set forth above.
What would add or subtract from this list?
I planned to write this post last night. In fact, I planned to have it post at 1 a..m. like all of my others. Guess what? Didn’t happen.
Yesterday life conspired to keep me from doing what I wanted to do.
I woke up at 3 a.m. for no good reason. This made church just a little miserable since I couldn’t go back to sleep.
I taught a class after church and then came home for a bite of lunch. Shortly after that we visited with family. When we came home I took a short nap. Later we took an impromptu ride to town and didn’t get home until 9 p.m.
None of my plans for the days happened.
Let’s face it. We all make plans. And they get sidetracked from time to time.
The easy thing to do is to get upset about it. That’s probably where I landed yesterday.
The Lord gives us some help in this area. In James He said that suppose we make plans to do this or that. Guess what? Our life is just a vapor. It could end today or tomorrow.
God laughs at our plans.
Jan and I were talking a couple of days ago. Jan is my wife, just in case you don’t know.
We were talking about our kids. They are getting older and our time is growing shorter with them. In about a year and a half our daughter will be getting married. Our son will graduate high school soon. Life is changing and in flux.
All in all we have done a pretty good job. We are blessed to have two great kids. They haven’t caused or gotten into any trouble. However, we realized there is one area we have done poorly in.
We have kept them in church, but we haven’t been good at keeping them in the word of God. We haven’t spent enough time in the word with them. If we could go back in time, we would change this.
We failed in this area.
Guess what? You have failed somewhere too.
You may not be a parent, but you have failed somewhere. You have a flaw. You aren’t perfect. Everything has not smooth sailing. You have let someone down.
I feel your pain. I know how you feel. It doesn’t give you warm fuzzies.
There’s some good news that I want to let you in on.
It’s ok. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to win at everything. It’s not humanly possible.
Jesus has already won the victory. He has defeated death and sin and all that comes with it, all of the big stuff in life that matters most.
And guess what else? He’s got so much grace that He will cover you in so many of those failures. You weren’t perfect in everything as a parent? He’s the heavenly Father, a better parent than you could ever be any way. Wherever you have failed, He’s better at that than you too. He’s ready for you to lean in on Him.
I’m a failure. So are you. It’s ok. Give yourself a break. Pick yourself up. Do better. Trust the Lord. Move forward.
Where have you failed? What are you doing to overcome it?
Sequels are part of Hollywood. One the things studios try to do is to create a franchise where further adventures of their characters can be told. Marvel, of course, has mastered this where each movie is a sequel, of sorts, of each movie that came before it.
Today’s post is a sequel. I reread yesterday’s post about Moses and realized that I left one point out. This was rather fortunate, guided perhaps by the Hand of Providence, as it really didn’t fit with what was discussed.
Just to recap, if you didn’t read yesterday, Moses ran into an issue where he was wearing himself out. Jethro, his father-in-law, helped him out and gave him a plan. This benefited Moses and Israel as they moved forward.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read that story, but I have missed something that had been staring at me each time. I just happened to get it this time.
We’re used to God speaking to Moses in a burning bush. We are amazed that God delivered the Law to Moses on top of Mount Sinai. God would meet and speak to Moses in such a way that he had to wear a veil on his face.
Did you notice what happened here though?
Moses faced this problem and God didn’t give him the solution. At least He didn’t speak to Moses directly.
Instead, Jethro gave Moses a plan, a system and direction. The Lord didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.
Or did He?
We sometimes wait for the Lord expecting a bolt of lightning or pictures in the sky or something. We seem to think that the Hand of God will appear and write out what we should do step by step. It just doesn’t really work that way.
So, how do we hear from God? Let me list out a few ways that we might hear from God today.
The Bible. Seems like an obvious one, doesn’t it? Yet too many of us seek Him every which way but loose instead of turning to His preserved word. I’m not saying that strep by step direction for every decision in life will come from the Bible, but we would be amazed at how many steps of life could be found if we just took the time to read.
The Church. I don’t mean simply by going to church, though that’s not a bad thing. I mean the you might hear from the Lord through His Church. I hope we all agree that the Church is Christ’s Body. We probably agree if we read the Bible (see above). Doesn’t it make sense that He might communicate to us through said Body?
Circumstances. God may try to get your attention through what goes on around you or, sometimes, to you. All of us would want these events to be happy and joyful, but that’s simply not what happens every time. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. Or around good people. Awareness of what’s happening may clue us in to what God is trying to say to us.
How about prayer? Let’s get one thing straight about prayer. It isn’t simply creating a grocery list of wants to present to God. Prayer is a time of worship, where we can adore God, thank Him, listen to Him and, yes, make requests of Him.
Remember what I said yesterday about taking an audit of our lives? Seeking out specific guidance is sometimes necessary. And yes, I believe that God can speak through the guides in our lives.
The last thing I will say about any of these is to be cautious. Sometimes w can hear God’s voice tell us something because we want to hear it. We want God to give us the direction we want to go. Before I decided for sure that God was speaking to me, I would test each of these ways for signs that God is speaking.
Are we going to hear God speak in an audible voice? Not based on my experience. Will every time we think we hear God be His voice? I don’t think so. But this is one thing I know. The more I hear Him speak, the more I recognize His voice and know when He speaks to me.
How do you hear God speak to you?
So far in chapter one of Ephesians, Paul has discussed the past and the present.
He wrote how in the past, God chose us before the foundation of the world. Then, he discusses how now, in the present, we have redemption through Christ’s blood.
Now, Paul moves into the future.
In verse 11, Paul begins discussing our inheritance. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance”. We might think that what God has done in the past and what we currently have in Him is enough. That would be because we don’t think like God. He has more in store for us and chooses to let us in on it. What benefit does that have for us? As we move closer to that inheritance, the anticipation grows.
When did we obtain this inheritance? Paul can’t stray far from his original choice of words. Previously he had said that we were “predestined to adoption as sons.” Now we “having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” We who are in Christ have been predestined according to His purpose. All things that come into our life are worked out according to His will .
What is the goal of being predestined according to His purpose? First of all, it is our salvation. “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Salvation is the goal of God’s predestination of us to adoption and His purpose. But there is a goal even greater than that. Ultimately, it is to the praise of His glory. What we have to change our mindset to is that everything is about God’s glory.
What is wonderful is that God locks us into this inheritance. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” After hearing the gospel, putting our faith in it and believing, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He would send another Helper to us, and he does that, locking us into the gift of salvation given to us.
But wait, there’s more.
The Holy Spirit does more than just seal our salvation. “Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” He is also a down payment on our of our inheritance. You might even call him and engagement ring for the Bride of Christ. He is a promise to what life with Christ will be live. He is a view to the redemption of God’s own possession. What is our response to this?
Praise and the glory of God.
God gives us an inheritance and then does much more. He seals this inheritance by giving us an irrevocable pledge in the Holy Spirit. He does this for His own sake, to the praise of His glory. What a God we have.
We are a people obsessed with greatness.
We compare and rank everyone and everything we can think of. Look at all of the greatest lists ranking music, movies, TV shows and much more at the end of each year. Recently I ran across a list ranking all of the James Bond films from top to bottom.
It doesn’t stop there. A few years ago Jim Collins wrote a book entitled Good To Great. Collins wrote in this book about how to take companies from simply good to great. Certainly this is a worthy goal. Good is simply not good enough. Companies should strive to be great.
How about our spiritual lives? Most of us would probably say that our spiritual walk is good. We read our Bibles. We pray. We go to church. We talk about God and Jesus in our lives. It’s good.
What about God Himself? Is He good? Is He great? Look at how we are taught to pray as children. God is great, God is good. We put God’s greatness before His goodness.
We hear this in some of our modern songs. I love Rich Mullins. His songs touch me in many ways. In fact, I cannot think of a song of his that I don’t like.
Perhaps his most famous song is Awesome God. The song describes God’s greatness in how He created the world and sent His Son to the world to save us. You cannot hear the song without thinking of God as awesome and great.
The question we have to ask ourselves is if we truly believe that not only is God great, but that God is good.
Do we believe that God is good when our circumstances go bad? When a parent dies when a child is young, does he or she grow up believing that God is good? How about when a child dies leaving the parent heartbroken? Does the parent still believe that God is good?
How about during when other things go wrong? Do we believe that God is good when we lose jobs? How about when marriages go sour and end? What about when other relationships end? What do we feel when our church doesn’t act like we think it should? Do we really believe that God is good?
Many of us will resort to clichés during these times. We will say something like God is good all the time, All the time God is good. We say this and on the surface we believe it. However, do we really believe it in our heart of hearts?
Many of us will believe that He is good. Far too many of us will not. We will not trust God and truly believe that He is good. Too many will believe that God is some sort of cosmic killjoy, secretly enjoying our misery. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God wants us to know that He is good. In fact, He invites us to know and understand that He is good. Psalm 37:4 tells us this. The verse says, “O taste and see that God is good.”
Notice that the verse doesn’t ask the reader to see that God is great or awesome. If you believe in God, it’s easy to think these things. You can look at the sun, the moon and the stars and see that God is great. That does not necessarily help one have an intimate relationship with God. It’s only when one realizes that God is good that this relationship can begin and flourish.
So, how do we begin to see that God is good?
First, we need to see that God has always been good. We need to realize that God has been good from the very beginning. We also need to see that God Himself is the definition and the determiner of good.
Next, we need to see what went wrong. How in the world did we ever get to the point that we no longer believed that God was good? Something had to have changed to affect us this way.
Finally, we need to look at what God has done to bring us back to the realization that He is good. In simple terms, it begins with that invitation in Psalm 34:7. That is the basic framework. However, what does that mean?
That’s the aim of this post. God is great. Most of us can agree on that. However, we all want to know and see that God is good.
How do you know that God is good?