Where does God fit into your priorities?

September 25, 2017

We all have priority lists. They may not all be written down somewhere; but, they are there somewhere in the back of your mind. These are the things that we have decided are important enough to commit some of our limited time and energy to on a daily or weekly basis. For most there are high priority commitments to family and to jobs – those come first. Then there are the other things that we commit time to – maybe school or learning, maybe having fun or playing games. There’s always some time committed to hockey shotrest and sleep, as well as eating. For more and more families, a good deal of time maybe be committed to sports, either as a participant or to facilitate our children n sports. For parents with school-aged children those sports activities may become all-consuming. Between overlapping sports seasons and travel teams there is always a game or practice for every waking moment. Over the last few years, those activities more often than not involved starting early Sunday morning and consuming most of the day.

So, where does God fit into your busy schedule? Has time for God and worship been pushed off your calendar by Lacrosse or Hockey or Soccer or some other activity that you are committed to take your children to, even on Sunday mornings? When did you get to busy for God? When did having your child practice or play a sport become morefemale soccer player important that learning about God and Jesus? When did kicking a ball around a field become more important that forming a good moral base for life? Where does God and the church fit into your family schedule? No time for that now. What a pity. How often, “I’ll get to that later” becomes, “I wish I had done that than.”

It is really up to parents to help their children make the right decisions about the priorities in their lives. IF the children see parents who are willing to push God aside for other things, it will establish a defacto priority in their minds that God is not really that important.  When parents go along with Sunday morning practices and games, thinking that they are doing it for their kids wellbeing, they are, in fact, showing the children that God takes a back seat to fun and games, sports and other activities. I am at a loss to understand where those same parents think that their children will learn the churchlife lessons and moral codes that being in Sunday School and Church would teach them. Learning good sportsmanship is one thing; but learning what God wants them to understand about life is an entirely different thing.

So, parents, ask yourself – where is God in my priority list? Is God up there as a priority with, and maybe even above family (where He should be); or, is God somewhere down the list, near the bottom, after sports and activities and games and school and all of the other things that are competing for the time and attention of you and your children? How does realizing what your priorities have become make you feel? You can change that. Put time for God where it belongs on your list of priorities and the rest will take care of itself.

Just say no to Sunday practices or games. Someday, when age or injuries have limited theirwoman-praying ability to shoot or kick or hit the ball anymore, your children will thank you for setting their priorities right and helping them establish a relationship with God that will serve them well for their entire lives. In the end, how much was the fact that you were a decent young hockey player or soccer player going to mean, as opposed to having established a lifelong relationship with God as a child?

Where does God fit into your priorities?

Be somebody…it matters…

August 18, 2017

The two quotes that inspired me today both came from my favorite source for inspirational quotes – the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”  (Mother Teresa)

– and –

“How you matter is defined by the things that matter to you.”  (John Green)

The first quote by Mother Teresa is the trap that most of us fall into most of the time – being a nobody to the people that we meet in our day-to-day lives. It’s not that we consciously set out to be a nobody; it’s more that we don’t make the effort necessary to be a somebody in the lives of those that we encounter during the day. Perhaps you could understand this better by asking yourself this simple question – “Who do I remember encountering from yesterday and why do I remember them?”

handshakeI suspect that you will begin to realize that those who made a lasting impression upon you were those who took the time to interact with you, to greet you and to listen to you when you spoke. That is normally an interaction with more content to it than just a cursory “Hi, how ya doing?” exchange as you passed. The second quote comes into play at the point when you realize that what matters to you is your interaction with others that you meet. If you place your relationships with others above your pursuit of money or things, you will find that you matter to them, too.

At the core of Green’s quote is the concept of your moral priorities – the things that matter to you. Basing those priorities on anything other than a strong belief in God as the bedrock for your life is like building your house on sand. It will be a life of shifting values that will eventually collapse. If you start out with your number one priority being your relationship with God, through your acceptance of Jesus as your savior; you will not find the accumulation of material possessions anywhere on your priority list of things woman-prayingthat matter. You are more likely to have a list of things that you want to do for others and priorities based upon loving, sharing and helping.

Once those things become what matters to you and you starting acting on those priorities, you will find that you matter a whole lot more to those whom you meet and they will matter a whole lot more to you.  You will no longer be a nobody to anybody that you encounter. Being somebody isn’t about what you have in life; it’s about what you do in life that impacts others. There ae tons of bible verses about caring for others and sharing with others; but, I don’t think there are any about making as much money as you can and buying as many things as you can. Those things didn’t matter to Jesus and God; why should they matter to you? It’s better to be somebody who matters to somebody else.

Have a great weekend and go out and be somebody.

Tell me where to get more wax…

September 16, 2015

“Don’t tell me not to burn the candle at both ends…tell me where to get more wax” – recent Frank and Ernest cartoon

burning both endsI love the daily newspaper cartoons and increasingly find that I can identify with a few of them, like Frank and Ernest or perhaps Pluggers. Today’s little quote came from the Frank and Ernest cartoon in one of our local papers. I suspect that many of us share the feeling every now and then that we are burning the candle at both ends and need to find more wax. Time seems to be increasingly fleeting as I age. Perhaps that is because I have shortened the day a bit to get to bed earlier; but I think it is also that the pace of life has quickened, though without any particular cause that I can discern. Tell me where to get more wax.

I have the suspicion that one major culprit in the seeming loss of time is the demanding little thief in my hand (or pocket) – my smart phone. If the candle wasn’t burning at the other end before, it certainly was ignited by the constant need to feel connected and to react in real-time to the happenings, messages and information that isphone with msg there on my phone. Sneaking a peak at the phone to see if there are new messages or emails is a national pass time. In fact the ringing and buzzing usually are occurring all around us, no matter where we are. Even in times of relative inactivity, we have become so used to the constant demands of our phones that “phantom buzzing” has become a shared phenomenon for many.

We have reached the point where it seems no event is too important not to be interrupted to answer our phones – weddings, funerals, whatever, give way to the demands of the phone for attention.  So, that is certainly one way in which we are burning the candle at both ends. Tell me where to get more wax.

Another issue demanding of our time and attention is the fact that so many are now forced working harder or longer or at multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many young couples don’t have the time or energy to have working against timechildren because both are working one or two jobs, just trying to pay the bills. Quite a few of these younger couples would also like to have their own homes, but the crushing debt of college loans prevents them from even considering it. Tell me where to get more wax.

For many, in what should be the prime of their lives, the lure of having it all has put them in another debit-ridden hole. The big house, the country club membership, the new cars, the latest technologies and paying for the children that they finally had mean that they too must burn the candle at both ends – working extra late or on weekends, traveling often or perhaps just trying to be the perfect parents by getting their kids involved in all of the sports and activities that are trendy or expected. Soccer (or baseball) moms and dads give way to hockey (or basketball) or perhaps dance or gymnastics in a never ending effort to give their children what they never had. In reality, whatwomen looking at watch the children often want is the time with their parents without planned activities – something that they promise themselves they will give to their children. Tell me where to get more wax.

What is the answer to this dilemma? I think it is more about learning how to deal with life than trying to slow life down or seeking more wax for the candle. It is about learning to have a sense of satisfaction with what you have, rather than spending all of your time and energy chasing what you don’t have. It is about understanding and accepting that you really can’t change anything except how you react to everything. It is about getting your priorities straight and pursuing them instead of the attractive distractions that beckon from just beyond our reach. For many of us that begins with having a solid foundation of faith upon which to build our lives. If you have that, you will no longer be saying tell hand reaching for heavenme where to get more wax; but rather will find joy and satisfaction from making the best use of the wax that God has given you. In the end your earthly candle will always burn out; but, your light need never be extinguished; it will just move to a new place; one where there is no darkness and endless wax.

So, slow down, take the time to get right with God and then burn happily the wax that you have been given, secure in the understanding that you don’t need more wax; you just need to make the best use of the wax that you have. Have a great and bright day!

But, I was busy all day…

July 14, 2015

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”  – John Wooden

Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder where all the time went? I do. Then I sometimes realize that I didn’t get many of the things done that I wanted to do, even though I seemed to be busy all day. Maybe that is the problem. I was busy all day with activities but didn’t achieve much of want I set out to do. Why?

phone with msgOne of the reasons that I have to admit is that a good deal of my activity is centered on the palm of my hand and that nasty little time-stealer that seems always to be there – my phone. Checking the weather or my email or playing the little word game that I like on it are activities that take time but usually have nothing to do with achieving anything. I get well over 100 emails a day, plus Facebook notices and WordPress notices and LinkedIn notices and on and on. Of course, each of them demands my attention and then I have to decide what to do with each – save or delete. I’m busy, busy, busy, doing nothing of importance and achieving nothing during those times.

There are lots of other activities that I do almost every day, like going to the gym, that may not achieve much in terms of my daily goals, but they are at least healthy activities. I also walk my dogs 3-4 times a day, which is a time waster, but one that I enjoy and one which give me some time to think. I watch very little TV anymore, mainly the news and maybe an HGTV show during dinner, so that can’t be my time killer. There just seem to be lots more things that need to be done these days and very few of them can be done without something else being women looking at watchaccomplished first.

I’ve noticed than many activities involve as much “fixin’ to” time as the activity itself requires. Fixin’ to is what you do to get ready to do something, to actually achieve something. When my wife asks me when I’m going to get to the chore or tsk that I set out for myself for the day, I tell her that I’m “fixin’to.” Fixi’ to involves all of the pre-work activities like sitting and thinking about it, the planning it and the getting ready to actually do it – buying the necessary materials and getting out the required tools. Fixin’ to is an activity that may be mistaken for achievement, but is actually a necessary part of the achievement and a time consumer.

Trying to multi-task often involves lots of activity with little real achievement to show for it. The problem with most multi-tasking is that none of the jobs that you are trying to do at the same time get dome well, if any really get done at all. The constant interruptions to move on to give some attention to the other tasks in progress often mean that none of them get the time that they need. In the end you may feel exhausted but have achieved little. You can do the same thing with relationships or friendships by trying to juggle too many things with friend at the same time and giving none of them the time that they’d really like with you.

man thinkingSo, what are we to do? I’d suggest spending a little “fixin’ to” time each morning to think about and prioritize the things that you really need to or want to get done that day. Maybe even write yourself a list in priority order so that you have something to refer back to during the day. Then, when those little interruptions that we all know happen during the day come up, you can look back at your list and get your priorities back in order.  Most of the things that we allow to steal our time and attention during the day aren’t really that important. Answering email isn’t a real-time requirement, nor is responding to a Facebook post with your pithy comment. If you have things that are important to accomplish today, focus your activity on them and let the other stuff slide.

I’m fixin’ to make my list right now. How about you?

Don’t miss your life…

June 6, 2015

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  (From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

It’s Saturday; a time to rest from the week of work or maybe to just have some fun –or at least that’s the way it used to be. These days Saturdays, and for some Sunday’s too; have become days when we shift from the pressures and man with toolsrunning around of the week to the pressures and running around of the weekend. Many of us try to catch up with all of the things that we didn’t have time to get to during the week, because we were working so long and so hard. Maybe mowing the grass was put off during the week or making home repairs or grocery shopping or whatever. For whatever reason, for many the weekend has begun to feel almost like a second work week.

For another group – the ones with all of the toys – the weekend is a time to cram in as much use of those toys as possible; so, it is full of riding or boating or maybe playing sports. Whatever the activities, there is never a dull (or quiet) moment. Those with younger children may spend the entire weekend traveling to tournaments or competitions. These people rush around all weekend and end up exhausted on Monday morning.

So, many of us are living life in the fast lane seven days a week. We may be used to it and think nothing of it. That’s life, right? Not really. Someday many of these people will look back and see that the blur of activities that they thought was hamster wheeltheir life was nothing more than that – a blur. They’ll ask themselves, “What happened? How did I get so old and have so little to remember that is satisfying?” Of course, it’s easy to rationalize this all by trying to convince yourself that you just were doing what had to be done to get through life. That’s what you were doing – just getting through life. As Ferris Bueller might say, “Stop, look around, relax and enjoy your life and the people in it every now and then.”

I think the key to this is pausing to keep things in your life in perspective. What is more important to you, getting that report for work done over the weekend so that you might look like a hero at work or going to your child’s ball game so that you are a hero at home? Is taking your daughter to the father-daughter dance something that you’ll put off until father-daughter danceyou’re dancing with her at her wedding and wondering what happen to that little girl that you used to give horsy rides to on your leg? As you hug your son goodbye when he ships off to service in some foreign land something that you meant to do more often when he was growing up, but just never seemed to have the time for? Do you want to wake up one morning and realize that the beautiful bride that you’ve been working so hard to provide for is now gray haired and having trouble with stairs? Where did your life go while you weren’t looking? More importantly, why weren’t you looking and living in those moments that you’ve missed?

Take a hint from Ferris and take a day off every now and then to stop and look around and enjoy your life and those in it. Even better; start each day by mentally setting aside some time for the others in your lifer and for yourself. Don’t miss man relaxingyou own life. There will be no do-overs allowed. Life is not a contest to see how much you can cram into it; rather it is there to see how much you can get out of it. At the end of your life, no one will read in your obituary about what a great employee or business owner you were. The obits usually list that you were the loving spouse of, the loving parent of, the loved son/daughter brother/sister of… Make sure that this is a long list of people whom you loved and who loved you back and you will have been a success in life. Don’t miss your life.

Have a great and relaxing weekend doing things that you enjoy surrounded by those that you love. Work will wait  for you to get back, life won’t.