Happy Birthday, Naomi!

Happy birthday today to my wonderful wife of 43 years! I began to understand the providential care and tender love of God at a deeper level when God orchestrated that our paths cross as college students at John Brown University. I love her with all my heart. She has brought me favor from the Lord. My eternal gratitude to my heavenly Father and my compliments to Vince Gill for giving words to my heart for her today:

 “Look at you, still pretty as a picture

Look at me, still crazy over you

Look at us, still believin’ in forever

And if you want to see how true love can be

Then just look at us.”

Living Out the Gospel

Our situation today is similar in many respects to that faced by the early disciples of Jesus. Like them, we must be adaptable without compromising and gracious in our speech. Like the first century church, today’s global church is again becoming a church of miracles, martyrdom, and massive growth. As did our predecessors, we’re to live out the gospel in truth and love. Missionary great Hudson Taylor admonished, “Let them see that you are rejoicing in God, you do not need any other protection, you put your trust in God, you are prepared either to suffer or be delivered as He sees best. They will learn that there is something in the gospel worth risking life for.”

More than ever in my lifetime I’m taking special note when I read words like these: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8). When we’re mistreated for Jesus’ sake our testimony is only strengthened when we forgive the assailants.

In all our tomorrows – “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

Speak Up!

The story is told that the eminent preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, was testing the acoustics at the expansive Agricultural Hall in London. Spurgeon was noted for his powerful voice. It was said he could preach to 20,000 and be heard clearly. This was, of course, before the days of sound systems and amplification. In that great hall Spurgeon bellowed out, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” Years later a man approached Spurgeon to thank him. He said that day when Spurgeon had visited the Agricultural Hall he was working in the rafters. Just hearing the preacher quote that great passage from John 1:29 brought him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Speak up for Jesus today. You never know who may be listening, or what the results will be!

 

New Friends

Naomi and I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with our friends, Pastor Amos and Sue Dodge. They are the founding pastors of Capital Church in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. This is a wonderful, vibrant church. Warm, receptive to ministry, great worship, generous to world missions. What a privilege it was to minister the Word there yesterday. Amos and Sue Dodge are great, new friends. I’ve known Pastor Amos for a number of years but only this year have I been able to spend time with him. He is a truly great preacher. He traveled with me to Kenya earlier this year; Kenyan pastors loved him and responded joyfully to his teaching. Sue has one of the greatest voices in Gospel music today. She is a three time Dove Award winner and has been named Female Vocalist of the Year.

Today Jonathan and I hosted evangelist Daniel King for lunch. This outstanding preacher, not yet 40, conducts great evangelistic meetings in many gospel-needy areas of the world. rge crowds of tens of thousands often attend his meetings. Vast numbers have made public professions of faith in Christ in response to Daniel’s clear gospel preaching.

 

What great colleagues we have in the gospel. Our lives are strengthened and enriched by such friends. 

 

 

 

A Letter to Benjamin Franklin

Christians today must be both bold and winsome in our witness for Jesus Christ. Such winsome boldness was displayed in the friendship evangelist George Whitefield cultivated with Benjamin Franklin. Though Franklin had a respect for the Christian faith I am not aware that he ever made a personal profession of faith in Christ. However, this didn’t keep Whitefield from sharing the gospel with him and always keeping communication lines open. Note the courteous yet strong witness of this letter:

                                                                          London, August 17, 1752
Dear Mr. Franklin,
I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world. As you have made a pretty considerable progress in the mysteries of electricity, I would now humbly recommend to your diligent unprejudiced pursuit and study the mystery of the new birth. It is a most important, interesting study, and when mastered, will richly repay you for all your pains. One, at whose bar we are shortly to appear, hath solemnly declared, that, without it, ‘we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ You will excuse this freedom. I must have aliquid Christi [something of Christ] in all my letters. I am yet a willing pilgrim for His great name sake, and I trust a blessing attends my poor feeble labours. To the giver of every good gift be all the glory. My respects await your whole self, and all enquiring friends, and hoping to see you yet once more in this land of the dying, I subscribe myself, dear Sir.
Your very affectionate friend, and obliged servant, G. W.
If Whitefield were alive today no doubt there would be “something of Christ” in each of his conversations, posts, e-mails, texts, and tweets!  This weekend may there be something of Christ in all our conversations and communications.

 

Gospel Explosion

Last night Naomi and I joined our friends, Ron and Judy Minth, in attending the “Gospel Explosion” at First Baptist Church in Dallas. What an amazing night of music! Three of my favorite Southern Gospel groups sang their hearts out: The Hoppers, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, and The Collingsworth Family. In the second half of the program we also greatly enjoyed the orchestra and choir from First Baptist Church. Two of the top songs of the evening have special meaning to me. I didn’t personally know the composers but they were both friends of my father. Both of these songwriters lived in Tulsa in the 1950s. For many years Tulsa was something of an epicenter for many ministries. The city still is host to many world-impacting churches, schools, and ministries.

I encourage you to listen to these songs. They’re both available for purchase and on Youtube. Both songs are a glorious fit of tune with lyrics. It also reminded me of what R. T. Kendall says in his great book The Anointing: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. When a sermon, a book, or a song is anointed by the Holy Spirit it takes on a timeless quality. It will always minister life, to its own and succeeding generations. As world markets are reeling today, these also minister great assurance and encouragement.

 

The Hoppers sang:

“The love of God is greater far

Than gold or silver, ever could afford

It reaches past the highest star

And covers all the world!

Its power is eternal . . . eternal

Its glory is supernal . . . supernal

When all this earth shall pass away

There’ll always be the love of God!”

– Vep Ellis, 1952

 

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound sang:

“O, what a Savior, O hallelujah

His heart was broken on Calvary

His hands were nail scarred

His side was riven

He gave His life-blood for even me.”

– Marvin Dalton, 1948

Deadlines

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Do you feel that way today? I’m there with you. There are resources you and I can tap into, no matter how pressured we may feel. They’re part of our birthright, our inheritance in Jesus Christ.

I’m in the last lap of two writing projects which have required literally hundreds of hours. As I close in on the finish I’m battling mental fatigue, deadlines, and the call of other important things that sorely need my attention. Beyond this, I know my adversary, the devil, would much prefer these two books never see the light of day. I must draw from supernatural resources and tap into divine strength.

What about you? Are you being pulled from many sides today? Here’s help –

PRAY. “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 62:1).

DECLARE GOD’S ENABLEMENT. “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zechariah 4:7).

TRUST. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

This beautiful entry from Elisabeth Elliot’s 1956 diary provides eloquent words for our heart-cry today:

“Before Thee, Father,

In righteousness and humility.

“With thee, Brother,

In faith and courage.

“In Thee, Spirit,

In stillness.

Thine, for Thy will is my destiny.

Dedicated – for my destiny is to be used and used up according to Thy will.”

(From Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot)

The Limits of Our Authorization

We have been authorized to proclaim the gospel. We have not been authorized to amend it. The apostle Paul reserved his most stinging rebuke for anyone who dared to mess with the gospel. “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Gal. 1:1-9).

This is the most blistering denunciation found in any of Paul’s letters. He says it twice for double emphasis. And he makes no exemptions. Allow me to paraphrase but remain true to the text. “I don’t care who it is,” Paul was saying. “Even if I come at a later date with some distortion to the gospel you have received from me, let me be under God’s curse! Not only that, I don’t care if it’s an angel, not a fallen angel but an angel straight from heaven, if he carries a message that distorts the gospel you have received, let the angel be under God’s curse!” Tough words but Paul knew God Himself had his back.

I’d say that’s Exhibit A of how tenacious we need to be in protecting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Talk about a deep sense of stewardship, Paul knew he was entrusted with the gospel. Its purity and simplicity must be guarded at all costs. Now we too are entrusted with the gospel. It is our privilege and holy duty to both protect it and proclaim it. The reputation of the gospel is more important than any man’s reputation.

Don’t mess with the gospel – or Paul has a message for you.

 

Days With David

This past weekend I was privileged to host seven outstanding men and women in ministry at what we call Days with David. Since 2001 I’ve invited younger men and women with a vocational call to Christian service to join me for two days. During this time they’re free to ask me any question and I’ll answer to the extent of my knowledge and experience. Or if their question is beyond my current understanding I’ll simply acknowledge I don’t know the answer.  Also, I download many of the important lessons the Lord has taught me in 49 years of gospel ministry (or is still teaching me). We cover many subjects related to starting well, serving well, and finishing well. I candidly share my list of regrets and no regrets. This mentoring ministry is one of the lesser known outreaches of Global Advance. 

At the end of our time Sunday evening I leave tired mentally and physically. But I also leave very, very happy. What a privilege to sow into the next generation of gospel carriers. It’s refreshing to see and interact with such quality men and women God continues to call out for His service. Although severe times may well be just ahead, these young servants of Christ assure me that God isn’t finished with our country.

Added to the joy of this weekend, our son, Joel, and his family visited us from Tulsa. All five grandkids romped around Nanni and Papa’s house, much to our delight. So we start this week a little tired but very thankful. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

True Grace or Disgrace?

If your brand of grace doesn’t lead to a holy life, you didn’t get the real deal. Grace isn’t disgrace. True grace produces lives that adorn the gospel. Timothy Keller notes, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone. True faith will always produce a changed life.” If there is no life change in someone who claims he is a Christian, this is cause not just for concern but alarm. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor.13:5, NIV). The word integrity comes from the mathematics term integer. As you probably recall from school days, an integer is a whole number. It isn’t split or fractioned. In the same way, a person of integrity is a whole person. The public persona is a match with the private person. There is no duplicity. If there is any degree of difference between who we are perceived to be and who we really are, to that degree we have lost integrity, wholeness. This sets the stage for loss of trust. And when trust in the messenger is compromised the message is often compromised, as well. Those who claim allegiance to Christ “must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy. In this way they will make people want to believe in our Savior and God” (Titus 2:10, TLB).

Our salvation has nothing to do with our works. Jesus forever finished the work of redemption on the cross. There is great liberty in the gospel. But our freedom should never be construed as license for unrighteous living. That’s not what we’ve been made for. It’s not what we’ve been re-made for. Instead we’ve been “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are new creations in Christ Jesus. “We are His workmanship (Eph. 2:10, italics added). The original Greek word is poema. God is writing something beautiful through our lives.

So can you be a Christian and still sin?  The overwhelming evidence says yes. Regrettably we still “fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). But, as a true follower of Jesus, you cannot sin and not grieve. We grieve knowing that we have grieved the tender Holy Spirit who lives within us. The way back to full fellowship with the Lord is to come clean before Him in quick confession and full repentance. Then, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).

“He saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10, NIV).

I blog devotional thoughts Monday through Thursday. I invite you to join me in enjoying e-free weekends and focus on cultivating your most important relationships: God, family, close friends. Let’s reconnect next Monday!

We’ve All Heard It

We’ve all heard it – all you have to do is receive Jesus. That is wonderfully true but receiving Christ doesn’t mean just a nod of appreciation that He died for you. It means you bow before Him as your new, from-this-day-forward king. You’re not only receiving a gift, you’re receiving God in the person of Jesus Christ. God the Son is your sovereign as well as your Savior. John 1:12 is one of the greatest assurances for believers in all the Scriptures. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” The word receive in the original language is lambano. It carries the idea of grabbing hold with intensity and never letting go. To believe in His name literally means to trust into His name. So when we receive Jesus it means we’re all in with Him. A faithful rendering of this verse could read, “To as many as embraced Him and His authority, to those He gave authority to become children of God, to those who are all in, trusting into His name.”

There are some who counter that “lordship salvation,” as they call it, somehow diminishes the singular role of God’s grace in our salvation. Yet few if any have ever preached a purer, stronger message of saving grace than Charles Spurgeon. Here is Spurgeon’s assessment of how we are to come to Jesus: “I cannot conceive for anyone to truly receive Christ as Savior and yet not to receive Him as Lord.  One of the first instincts of a redeemed soul is to fall at the feet of the Savior and gratefully and adoringly to cry, ‘Blessed Master, bought with Your precious blood, I acknowledge that I am Yours – Yours only, Yours wholly, Yours forever!  Lord, what will You have me to do?’ A man that is really saved by Grace does not need to be told that he is under solemn obligations to serve Christ – the new life within him tells him that.  Instead of regarding it as a burden, he gladly surrenders himself – body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord that has redeemed him, reckoning this to be his reasonable service.”

It’s the very reason Jesus died and rose again, according to Paul. “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and living” (Ro. 14:9). We do not “make” Jesus Lord. He is Lord and we’re to acknowledge Him as such. “God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior” (Ac.5:31, HCSB). If this is the position the Father gives to Jesus it is the position we are to give to Jesus. He is ruler and Savior.

His Right to Rule

Where did we get the idea that the lordship of Jesus Christ is an “available option” for those who call themselves Christians? This is the invention of some persuasive teachers but no such doctrine is found in the New Testament. In Jim Elliot’s personal journals written when he was only twenty-two he called such a notion a “twentieth century heresy.” This incisive young sage who would lay down his life for the gospel’s advance just a few years later insisted that the gospel “must be preached with the full apprehension of who He is, the demanding Lord as well as the delivering Savior.” Repentance and faith began our life with Jesus. They are to remain hallmarks of our walk with Him. Full repentance involves more than turning away from our sins. We repent, we turn away from running our own life, as well. When we come in repentance and faith to Christ He moves into the driver’s seat. From then on He chooses our course.

It’s the obvious response to Jesus – He is the Lord, I am His servant. Oswald Chambers, whose My Utmost for His Highest perennially remains in the top tier of daily devotionals, wrote, “When His life has been created in me by His Redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me.”

Salvation – it’s not just about cleansing. It’s also about control. Who’s in charge in your life?

GLS

It was a great weekend. Saturday I was privileged to officiate at the wedding of a truly outstanding young couple, Michael and Brittany Moreland. Sunday I preached twice at Abundant Life Church in Garland, Texas, where my friend of over twenty years, Glynn Davis, serves as pastor. There is a wonderful sense of expectancy at that church. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a congregation show such compassionate concern and ministry to one another. The Global Leadership Summit was fantastic. Bill Hybels shared the gospel with that diverse audience in such a winsome, powerful way. Here are a few take-aways from three great leaders of the church. (These are not word-for-word quotes. They are from notes taken in the sessions where these men spoke.)

Bill Hybels: One of the great intangibles of leadership is grit – unrelenting, long-term tenacity. The enemy of grit is ease. One way to grow grit is by intentional physical exertion. Challenge yourself. Don’t just deliver. Over-deliver.

Another intangible of leadership is resourcefulness – high learning agility. Figure out a way forward.

Brian Houston:   Even in the midst of great personal pain and disappointment, keep focused and keep believing God for great things.

Craig Groeschel: You can expand your leadership capacity. You’re capable of more than you think you are capable of. Leadership capacity is expanded by growth in the areas of confidence, connections, competency, character, and commitment. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Ephesians 3:20).

Why not take a step right now in becoming a more fruitful leader? Plan now to attend the next Global Leadership Summit, August 11-12, 2016. www.willowcreek.com/summit.

 

Global Leadership Summit

Today and tomorrow, along with over a quarter million people at sites worldwide, I’ll be attending the Global Leadership Summit. This event is the brainchild of Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church with multiple locations in the Chicago area. I’m grateful for the generosity of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, for providing a scholarship for me. They offered it and I gladly accepted it. I’ll be hearing from some of the foremost leaders in church and business life. Friday afternoon I’ll leave with broader perspective, new insights, and sharpened tools for life and ministry.

I’ve only met Bill Hybels briefly. I spoke directly after him at a pastors conference some years ago. (Talk about pressure!) I’ve always appreciated his great heart to reach people for Christ and his commitment to lifetime growth and learning. I rank his book, Courageous Leadership, in the top five of books I’ve read on leadership.

The following is one of the strongest quotes I’ve read on the responsibility of any minister of the gospel to be “my utmost for His highest.” Note especially how Bill ties leadership development with evangelistic passion.

“Some of us church leaders live daily with the realization that the eternal destinies of people in our communities hang in the balance.  That’s why we are so determined to get our visions right and live out our values and come up with effective strategies.  We truly believe that it matters that we attain our goals.  It matters that we align our staffs and leverage our resources.  We believe that the success or failure of our churches directly affects people’s lives here today and for eternity.  We believe this to our depths.  We’d take bullets for it.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)

I blog devotional thoughts Monday through Thursday. I invite you to join me in celebrating e-free weekends and focus on cultivating your most important relationships: God, family, close friends. Let’s reconnect next Monday!

 

No Half Measures

Our lives are to attract people to the gospel, not repel people from it. For us to be attractors we must let the gospel thoroughly change us. This begins by coming to Jesus on His terms. He calls us to fully embrace Him, His life, and His standard. Jesus has always called for a choice, a change: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). This was not a multiple answer invitation. His hearers were confronted with a singular call for which there were only two responses, yes or no. Our God is not a God of half measures. Yet in very early American history a regrettable precedent was set whereby those who gave just a nod to Christianity were afforded many of the privileges of the fully devoted. These “half-way covenanters,” as they were called, claimed no personal conversion to Christ yet they and their children were still viewed as part of the church. Their affiliation was something of a “family plan” for the quasi-committed.

Of course, this set the stage for an onslaught of compromise and theological liberalism.

There are continuing ramifications from these centuries-old concessions that are still evident in American church life today. The potency of the gospel was diluted because of these accommodations to nominalism. We are always in danger if we seek to lessen the gospel’s demands or lower its standards. Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not remain in darkness” (Jn. 12:46, MEV).

We do not receive Christ in bits and pieces. Only those who live under His lordship truly honor His grace. Deitrich Bonhoeffer went so far as to assert, “The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.” We have been purchased by His blood. We belong to Him. We are to be exclusively His. “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15).

To live in a manner worthy of the gospel means we embrace Christ’s lordship, exhibit His love, and boldly carry His message. To accomplish this we draw on His life-giving Spirit and we live in light of eternity, remembering that we will give an account of our post-conversion lives when we stand before Jesus. In short, as Christians we are to live by the Spirit’s power for the glory of God, the honor of Jesus, and the spread of the gospel.

Uncap the Wells!

Too often today we have softened the gospel’s demands and replaced its glory with lesser agendas. The church in the West is frequently guilty of trading in a robust gospel for an anemic façade. We’ve capped the wells of living water with unbelief. Let’s get back to the gospel of Jesus Christ! When the gospel is preached we need to expect Jesus to show up in power. But when He shows up things can get uncomfortable, especially for those who “have a form of godliness but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:4). As believers in Jesus, let’s open the tap and believe that living water can gush from us to thirsty seekers (John 7:38). We have plenty of biblical and historical precedent for expecting just that.

Frankly, I believe all Christians who are truly Spirit-filled are pre-set toward evangelism and missions. When the Holy Spirit descended on the Day of Pentecost Peter’s powerful evangelistic message resulted in thousands of converts. When believers prayed for boldness in Acts 4, God answered by filling them with the Holy Spirit so that they boldly proclaimed the good news.  Robert Coleman notes, “People full of the Holy Spirit are committed to God’s work. They want to be where laborers are needed most, and there is no more pressing need than bringing the gospel to hell-bound men and women.”

May God raise up mighty gospel proclaimers for this hour! And may you be one of them. We are in need of preachers who will “preach the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12). We need marketplace missionaries who will bring the glory of Jesus into businesses and turn them into bases for evangelism and discipleship. We need hybrid healing evangelists who are also brilliant apologists. We need anointed media evangelists who have Holy Spirit savvy to leverage social media to give the gospel the largest possible audience and impact. We need steady, Spirit-empowered witnesses for Christ in every arena of human interaction who will be salt and light in this decaying, dark culture. We need gospel-centric churches that are bright beacons of hope where Jesus and Jesus alone is the attraction. This is the hour for “the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world” (The Lausanne Covenant)!

Great and Precious Promises

While I was exercising I began to meditate on 2 Peter 1:3-4: “His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The phrase that caught my attention was “great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.” With the knowledge of God comes very great, very precious promises. These promises enable us to share in the divine nature and escape the corruption of this evil age. Promises like these –

  •  “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
  • “I am with you, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
  • “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
  • “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8, ESV).
  • “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Talk about a great way to kick off the week. Launch with His “exceedingly great and precious promises.” As the old country preacher opined, “We need to stop sittin’ on the premises and start standin’ on the promises!” Have a great Monday – standing on the promises!

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

Through eternal ages let His praises ring;

Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.

 

“Standing on the promises that cannot fail,

When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,

By the living Word of God I shall prevail,

Standing on the promises of God.

 

“Standing on the promises I now can see

Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;

Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,

Standing on the promises of God.

 

“Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,

Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,

Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,

Standing on the promises of God.”

“Standing on the promises I cannot fall,

Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,

Resting in my Savior as my all in all,

Standing on the promises of God.”

– R. Kelso Carter

Catching Up to Lead

Today as Naomi and I were getting ready for the day I shared with her how I had seen two of my book ideas (one that I’m currently writing, another I hope to write next year) very recently already in print. One of my book concepts is the lead article and cover spotlight for the current issue of a major Christian magazine. The other is a book that was released this month with almost the exact title as the book I’m working on right now. Kind of discouraging. Somebody “beat me to the punch,” so to speak.

Then Naomi made a brilliant remark, a statement that made us both howl in laughter. She told me, “You’re on the leading edge – if only you could catch up!” Thank you, Lord. You would not allow me to wallow in discouragement. You countered with comic relief!

David asked God to teach him to number his days. Paul exhorted us to continually be “redeeming the time.” One translation puts it, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:16, NLT).

May I offer four practical suggestions? Please don’t think I’m the wise “life coach” on time management. I struggle with this too. Only half-joking I’ve prayed, “Lord if you love me as much as you loved Joshua, make the sun stand still for me too!”

So how can we make our days more productive.  Here are four practical steps. (Remember, I’m “preaching” first to me.)

1. Start the night before. Determine the optimum time for you to wake up. Mentally go back eight hours and commit to get into bed, whether you’re sleepy or not, at that time. For instance, if you feel the Lord would be pleased for you to rise at 6:00 AM, go to bed the night before at 10:00 PM and set your alarm for 6:00.

2. Practice HWLW. Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, didn’t count sheep. Instead he meditated on God’s Word as he moved into slumber. He called this habit “His Word the Last Word.” Let God’s Word be the last word as you go to sleep tonight, and every night.

3. Give God the firstfruits of your day. Make time with Jesus Priority Number One. Before you engage in anything else, commune with the Lord through worship, the devotional reading of Scripture, prayer, and listening in your spirit for God’s marching orders for the day. This literally sanctifies the remaining hours. And, as only He can, the Lord somehow “gives back” the time we have sown first to Him.

4. Limit your entertainment consumption. Our generation is watching way too much TV, accessing too many movies, and playing way, way too many games. By the way, how long have you been on Facebook today?

Regrettably this generation is losing the capacity to interact well with other people because they’ve been sucked into the vortex of Viral World. The next time you see 3 or 4 teenagers sit at a booth together, observe. Are they talking to each other? Or are they each focused on their own portable screen? Or crazier still, are they talking to each other via their electronic devices instead of addressing the breathing human seated next to them?

I believe there are friends reading this with “leading edge” ideas and visions. Like a prize racehorse, break from the back of the pack, catch up, and lead! I’m writing this Thursday blog on Wednesday night. Hope this helps. Gotta go. Time for bed.