Lost in a Dream Come True

The old Yiddish proverb translates as “Man plans, God laughs.”  Equally old is the statement by the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, “Live not one’s life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last.”  So, should we live life completely in the moment with no thought for the future?  After all, God does say, So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  (Matthew 6:34)



I have a friend who is a great guy who loves his family.  But he’s constantly working at his job.  He has a flexible starting time, but he almost always works late into the evening.  He rarely sees any of his family, except on weekends.  And on many of those, he wants to be able to relax or concentrate on his special hobby.  He is so concerned with the day-to-day need to earn enough money  to take care of his family financially, that he’s missing the whole point of having a family.  This is not unusual, even among today’s Christians.  Yet the Bible warns us of the rich fool who kept working and planning for his eventual financial goal of retiring and taking it easy.  The result?  God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (Luke 12:20)

Many workers are now even working during the time the are allotted for vacation.  According to a study by the online career site, Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee used only half of his or her eligible time off in the past year.  Overall, 40 percent of those surveyed took less than a quarter of the vacation time they had coming to them. The research shows that just 25 percent of workers use all of their eligible time off.  Even those who do take some vacation days have trouble truly getting away from the office. More than 60 percent of the employees who took paid time off in the past 12 months admit doing at least some work while on vacation.

So why are today’s workers so concerned with today or only as far as the next paycheck instead of thinking about the future–whether it’s tomorrow or retirement or forever?  It’s work, work, work. Day after day after day.  Too many of us have turned our jobs and our money-making capability into who we are.  Our job and success at that job defines who we are.  We forget that no one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

It’s really simple.  Why kill ourselves (sometimes literally) trying to make a living in a way that diminishes our family relationships and our connection to God?  All we have to do is seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  (Matthew 6:33)  Decide to put Him first in your life.  Do what He intends for you to do.  Get lost in His love.  Plan for eternity with Him, but live each day as if it were your last.  Some day it will be.  And in His presence, you will be lost in that eternal dream come true.

Recency Bias (or What Have You Done For Me Lately?)

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This morning on my way to the gym, a radio advertisement brought up the idea of recency bias with regard to investments.  Many people panicked at the beginning of 2014 when the Dow lost 326 (2.1%) points on February 3rd.  This came after a January which saw the Dow lose 5.3%.  What people forgot, was that the Dow had earned them 27.36% during the previous year–2013.  The point was that people have developed a tendency to only remember the latest overly inflated negatives.  Look at your local newspaper or listen to one of the televised newscasts.  Compare how many uplifting positive reports there are to the number of reports there are regarding things that are illegal, immoral, or simply discouraging.  It will be no contest.  The negative reports will outweigh the positive.  In our globally connected world, tragedies on the other side of the world are broadcast to us nearly as soon as they happen.   As Christians living in a fallen world, we face the same problems and trials as everyone else.  God never promised that we all would be healthy, or wise, or rich, or famous, or even loved by this world.

What He did promise was that He would love us and provide for our needs.  He gave His Son as a sacrifice so that we could get back into fellowship with Him.  And He has promised that we can spend eternity with Him.

God still provides the daily blessings as well.  We just have to take the time to recognize and acknowledge them.  Philippians 4:8 tells us where to start. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

And if you still need more encouragement, read these lyrics to an old hymn, Count Your Blessings (Johnson Oatman, Jr. 1906).

When upon life’s billows, you are tempest-tossed. 

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost.

Count your many blessings.  Name them one by one.

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Chorus: Count your blessings.  Name them one by one.

Count your blessings.  See what God has done.

Count your blessings.  Name them one by one.

Count your many blessings.  See what God has done.

Are you ever burdened With a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy You are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, Ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.

Count your many blessings, money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all.

Count your many blessings, angels will attend.

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

When I think of the times that God has delivered me from near car accidents, or lifted me out of various health issues, or put the right people around me to lift me up when I have been feeling down, or provided the financial means to stay afloat when the jobs just weren’t available–I can’t even begin to tell Him how grateful am.  And those are just a few of the things I’m aware of.  There are many, many more that I can come up with.  Imagine all those circumstances that He took care of without me even knowing–just because He loves me.  It’s simply awe-inspiring.  So keep on counting those blessings.

What? Me Worry?

Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God; Believe also in me. (John 14:1)

I’m a big fan of to-do lists.  Part of that is because at my age I tend to forget things if not reminded.  The other part is the sense of satisfaction I get when I can begin to check off things off the list.  So when I saw the image below, I said to myself that this must be for me.

Dr. Vince Havner, preacher and writer in the early 1900’s once said, Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair.  It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.  Some physicians tell us that 70% if all illnesses are imaginary, the cause being mental distress or worry.  It has been listed by heart specialists as the number one cause of heart trouble.  Psychiatrists tell us that worry breeds nervous breakdowns and mental disorders.  According to Billy Graham, worry is more adept than Father Time in etching deep lines into the face.  It is disastrous to health, robs life of its zest, crowds out constructive, creative thinking, and cripple the soul.

When it comes to worry, studies have shown the following statistics:

*40% never happens.  So, in essence, we are literally wasting our time by worrying.

*30% of what we worry about has already happened. Learn to let go and forgive yourself and others. You cannot change the past – no one can. Accept it for what it is and go on.

*12% are needless worries, such as what someone else thinks about us.

*10% are petty and unimportant such as when we worry about what’s for dinner, worry about being late, or worry about what to wear.

*8% of what we worry about actually happens. Of this percentage…

*4% of our worries that happen are beyond our control. We cannot change the outcome. These worries may include our health, the death of a loved one or an impending natural disaster. Often times the reality of these events are more bearable than the worry.

*4% of what we worry about we have some if not all control over the results. Basically, I think these are the consequences of our actions or inaction on the problems and challenges we face.

While I can’t guarantee these percentages, they do give us an indication that most of the time worrying is not a successful way to deal with the stuff that life throws at us (or that we think life may throw at us).

Picture this.  The sea is pounding against the rocks in huge waves.  The lightning is flashing, the thunder is roaring, and the wind is blowing.  But there, in the crevice of rock, a little bird with its head serenely under its wing, is sound asleep.  That’s real peace–the ability to sleep in the midst of a storm.  Sound familiar?

25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.(Matthew 6:25-34)

So take care of today and let God worry about the part and the future.  The present is a gift that God gives.  Enjoy it and live it to the fullest.

There Be Giants…

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

I’ve been reading the beginning of the Old Testament recently and I realized that the word giants is mentioned numerous times.  In checking Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, I discovered that it occurs 20 times.  Tribes described as giants included the Amorites, the Emim, the Zuzim (Zamzummim), the Rephaim, the Nephilim, and the Anakim.  Goliath and Og were two noted by name.  Yet for all their size and strength, all of these people were destroyed.  And not just by the Israelites–the sons of Esau and Lot also had to deal with them in the land that God had given them as well.

Even as a young, unsaved child, I was always amazed at David’s defeat of Goliath and the faith it took to even attempt to fight him.  Despite all the giants that there may have been, David only had to fight one at that particular time.  And God had prepared David to do what He wanted him to do.  That preparation involved divine intervention, not human strength.

Who or what are our giants today?  Something that can attack us like drugs? Alcohol?  Gossip?  Pornography?  Infidelity? Something  that comes from within like bitterness?  Criticism?
gossip?  Something that fills us with fear like the economy?  Poor health?  Or maybe there’s some difficulty with a relationship with our spouse?  A boss?  A teacher?  A pastor?  A friend.
Despite the fact that they were a stubborn, faithless and thankless group, God’s chosen people did eventually enter the Promised Land.  And even though the land had originally been inhabited by giants, others had already subdued them.  They were no longer a problem.  They had enough to worry about with the people that they did have to defeats.
As Matthew says, there’s enough stuff to worry about each day without worrying about tomorrow.  Deal with your giants one by one and remember that God is in control of everything  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
Are you overwhelmed by the number of giants?  God isn’t.  He’s defeated them before, He’s defeating them now.  And He will defeat them in the future.