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Thursday, May 26, 2011

5 Minutes

Today's world demands we make the very best use of every minute of every day. Even our television shows are changing from the comfortable, predictable formats we grew up with to frenetic episodes of shows like 24 where an entire season is scripted around a 24-hour period of time. In a world like that, a 5-minute block of time becomes an incredibly valuable period during which we need to accomplish important things.

This song from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is a representation of different ways to consider time. Do you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way? Do you hang on in quiet desperation? The song says it's the English way, but I think for a lot of people around the world, it’s the normal way. But one line from the song is certainly true: we are all shorter of breath and one day closer to death with each passing minute.

So the question then becomes what are we to do with the time we have left?

Which brings me back to 5 minutes.

This morning, it took me 5 minutes to read Acts chapter 3.

By the time I finished getting ready for work and left the house, I was only able to catch the last 5 minutes of David Jeremiah on 97.1 FM.

Two 5 minute blocks of precious time; and what did I gain?

Acts 3 follows the Apostles Peter and John as they heal a man who had been crippled since birth. It took them less than 5 minutes. Reading Acts 3 and listening to David Jeremiah teach on the armor of God from Ephesians 6 – and then considering what, if any, connections there were, I thought, what does it actually mean to be a Christian?

Before the crucifixion, Peter and others believed in their heads that Jesus was God. It wasn’t until after the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, that they believed in their hearts.

In 2001, I had another 5 minute period of my life to live. One night, after driving home from work, my belief, my willingness to be a follower of Christ moved from my head to my heart.

Are you frittering away the hours in an offhand way? Are you living in quiet desperation? All of us are shorter of breath and one day closer to death. Before time runs out, what will happen in your head? In the next 5 minutes, will something happen in your heart?


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The secret to happiness

I'll open with apologies to my vast readership for being silent so long. Those that know me understand that there is a lot going on ... son graduating from high school, wife's surgery, my impending unemployment...

Still, I have had a stupendous blog idea just about every day driving to work - I really should write them down - but by the time I get there and become immersed in the day...well, you know.

But today is different; my inner writer has finally gained ascendancy and I will put forth letters.

What is the secret to happiness? The world would have us believe that it is different for everyone. I don't necessarily disagree with that but I believe that the true source of happiness is the same for everyone - it's the manifestation of life from that common source that is unique for each of us. has some interesting definitions of happiness.One such reads, 'Happiness  results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.'

From that, we can determine that either something we have or something we don't have will allow us to be happy. A little farther along in the same definition, it confusingly reads, 'Contentment  is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified.'

So which one are you? Are you happy because you have obtained something that makes you feel good or do you feel good despite the fact that you have not obtained everything you want - and can live with that?

Of course anyone with Internet access can see that a Google search for secret to happiness yields over forty million results. I think that bolsters my premise that most of us believe that our own happiness is a unique set of criteria. That, and there are a lot of people trying to sell [insert oxymoron here] self-help books.

So what is the secret to happiness?

A friend of ours posted this status on Facebook yesterday:

The Grand Essentials of Happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for...
Let's look at each one of those essentials more closely:
Something to do: Secular and non-secular sources alike mostly agree that for us to be happy we need a purpose. The Bible clearly tells us that God created us to worship Him. That is a HUGE stumbling block for a lot of folks. I had a great conversation with a friend of mine the other day in which this subject played a major part. Look more closely in Genesis and you'll see that worshipping God for Adam involved him fulfilling the purpose for which God created him - caring for the Garden of Eden. So God created Adam to be the first gardener. Not a very lofty position in our world but by living out that purpose, Adam was worshipping God. Wow. By doing what we are created to do, we can worship God. Nice.
Something to love: God instilled in each of us a desire to love and be loved. The Bible says that God is Love. The Bible also says that we are created in His image - not necessarily to look like him physically, although we don't know about that - but if God is Love and we are created in His image, then we are love also. God gave Adam a partner, Eve, because He said it was not right for Adam to be alone. He gave Adam a conduit for love. While fulfilling his purpose, Adam had someone to love, and someone to be loved by.
Something to hope for: Adam and Eve had no hope of ever getting back into the Garden. Can you imagine? Created and raised in paradise and then expelled into a dusty, hostile world. With no hope of ever regaining the deep, personal relationship they had enjoyed with God the Father.
God is Love.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
With this one short verse in John 3:16, God gives us the most powerful hope we could ever ask for. We are born into the same dusty, hostile world that Adam and Eve were put into. We are born with the same lack of hope that they faced as they stood with their backs to the most perfect place on Earth. But God loves His children and He has given us a 100% ironclad promise. We have a way to get back to Him. We have a way to get back to that perfect place where we can enjoy a deep, personal and eternal relationship with the God of the Universe.
The Bible is crystal clear on this: God came to Earth in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. He lived a perfect life - unlike me - and died on the cross for my sins. He then rose from the tomb and ascended back to Heaven, where He belongs. But the HUGE thing we need to get here is this: God promised to come back for us.
We don't know when - only He does - but we know he will. Our hope in Christ is not the hope of the world. We're not hoping we get a bike for Christmas, we're confident in the hope that God will do what He has promised. And He's batting 1000 so far.
So now you know the secret to happiness. Use what God has given you - in effect worship God through the abilities He has created you with. Love the specific person He has given you and love everyone the way He loves us. Finally, live with the eternal hope that you will once more be in that close, personal relationship with him. It may not happen at 6:00 p.m. today, but it will happen when He has decided it will happen.
You know the secret to happiness...what are you going to do with it?