Begin With The End In Mind

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  (Matthew 7:21–23, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The second habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is begin with the end in mind.  The gist is, if you do not know your destination, how in the world are you going to get there.  This applies on various scales.  No one would begin to build a house without first visualizing what it should be like.  Its dimensions, number of rooms, construction materials, where to best locate it, etc.  Once these are determined (planned out), the actual building begins. Unfortunately, few visualize the totality of their lives that way. We may have a one and five-year plan, a plan to provide for retirement, a plan for life in retirement, and a plan for what we want to pass on in our estate. But these individual components do not add up to the totality of our lives.

“I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long.” – George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Think for a few minutes about your funeral, the people that might attend, for instance.  What is it that you would like them to say about you.  “He sure had his five year plan well thought out.”  “Nobody planned for or lived their retirement like she did.”  “He sure left his children well off.”  As good as these things might be, are they really our legacy?  Not really.  What we really want, if we think hard about it, is to be remembered for the kind of person we were.  The life we lived. The lives we touched. The differences we made.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  Clarence (the angel), “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But as we plan for and live our lives, do we begin with this end in mind?  For many, maybe most, probably not.  We begin with making a living in mind rather than beginning with making a life in mind.  At your funeral, will people be talking about the places you visited (Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum), the things you built (airfields, skyscrapers a hundred stories high, bridges a mile long), or how many other lives we touched, the awful hole we will leave?

My Advice – But even these are not the totality of our lives.  For, “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  (Hebrews 9:27–28, NIV 1984).  There will be many who will have lots of kind and heartfelt things said about them at their funerals for the fine things they did in this life, only to hear Christ say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

You see, it’s not what we did, it’s who we know.  What we did, our good works, can never atone for the sin in our lives.  But who we know can, because of what He did.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5, NIV 1984).

So, if you really want to begin with the end in mind, don’t just think about what other people will say about you at your funeral.  Think about what He will say to you when you stand before Him.  It can be, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”  (Matthew 25:34, NIV 1984).  But only if you have been born again.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”

 

 

Laodicea: Neither Hot Nor Cold But Lukewarm

From the archives.

The Brew Is A Musing

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THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here…

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The Love of God

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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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17, NIV 1984).

My Musings – In his book “The 7 Habit of Highly Effective people,”  Stephen R. Covey writes:

I have a friend whose son developed an avid interest in baseball.  My friend wasn’t interested in baseball at all.  But one summer, he took his son to see every major league team play one game.  The trip took over six weeks and cost a great deal of money, but it became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship.

My friend  was asked on His return, “Do you like baseball that much?”

“No,” he replied, “but I like my son that much.”

Read that again.  How many of us make a habit of going to kindergarten plays?  Not many, right?  But how many, if at all possible, would miss one that their child or grandchild was in?  Is T-ball really a sport we cannot get enough of?  It is if our child or grandchild is in it.  The examples could go on and on.  But I think you get the point.

What would cause Jesus to leave the fellowship of His Father, become one of His creation (yet retaining His divinity), only  to die a cruel death at the hands of the people He came to save?  I think you get the idea.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

“The Love of God,” Frederick M. Lehman

My Advice – For Covey’s friend, it was a powerful bonding experience.  But that’s nothing compared to the born again experience.   If you have been born again, continue to bond by growing in Him.  If you have not been born again, you can experience the love of God today.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

Philadelphia: Little Strength But Loyal To Word

From the archives.

The Brew Is A Musing

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THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world…

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Look to the Son

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You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39–40, NIV 1984).

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (John 6:40, NIV 1984).

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How is it that people can diligently study the Scriptures and not see that they testify about Jesus?  Of course, when this was written they only had to the Old Testament to study.  But they had the Old Testament prophecies playing out before their very eyes (in “living color”).  Now, we have the New Testament that they did not have.  Yet today, far too many believe that the Scriptures testify about the law, or about grace plus the law.  They refuse to believe, or find it too hard to believe, that “everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  They refuse to believe there is a period at the end of the sentence. As a result, they “refuse to come to [Him] to have life.

My Advice – Whoever “comes to [Jesus He] will never drive away.”  If you believe about Jesus (who He was, what He said and what He did), then why not believe in Jesus? He “will never drive away.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Sardis: Reputation As Alive But Dead

From the archives.

The Brew Is A Musing

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THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name…

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The Great Divide

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Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:6, NIV 1984).

My Musings – On September 11, 2001, terrorists targeted three of America’s symbolic sites:  the World Trade Center (symbol of America’s economic power), the Pentagon (symbol of America’s military might) and either the White House or U.S. Capitol (symbol of America’s form of government).  Due to the heroic efforts of its passengers, the last plane never made it to its target.  The careful selection of these sites make it clear that the terrorists’ objective stretched beyond the physical targets and “collateral” deaths of the innocent victims. The primary target was perhaps the American psyche.

In the immediate aftermath, the effect was just the opposite.  The American psyche was rejuvenated and patriotic fervor was rekindled. The “collateral” benefits was a lessening in the divide between the haves and have nots (economic extremes), the hawks and doves (military extremes) and the Democrats and Republicans (political extremes), at least for a season.  But time has passed.  The American economy remains the strongest in the world.  It’s military might is still unequaled.  In terms of government, the great American experiment remains unrivaled.  But the divide between the haves and have nots, the hawks and doves and those on the left versus those on the right have widened.  What the terrorists failed to do, we are doing to ourselves.  The country has not fallen (yet), but the divide among its people is greater than perhaps ever before.

There was a fourth great symbol of America’s strength that was not targeted that day, at least not directly.  Perhaps this is because there is no single physical manifestation of it.  Perhaps it is because it was not perceived as a serious threat by the perpetrators.  The symbol?  America’s trust in God, specifically its Christian heritage.  There were brief signs of a revival following that attack, but the Church has grown colder and the divide between believers and non-believers is maybe wider than all of the others.  This is, I believe, the greatest danger to America, and may be the underlying cause of all the other divides.

My Advice – All of these divides, as great as they might be, are merely symptoms of the greatest divide of all – man’s separation from His creator.  But the solution to end the divide is the easiest of all, and it’s free.  It’s not by might or power.  It’s by surrender.  And it could solve the other divides one person at a time.  Are you one?  Be apart of the solution.  Surrender your life to Christ today.  My blog series “The Born Again Experience” will show you how, and it really is that simple.