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Wednesday, January 25

climbing for higher ground

One must sit down, from time to time, to evaluate what life means to them. Of course, this is an ever changing answer, when you really think about it. Life is a constantly changing arena in which so many things come into play as you pass within its boundaries. And of course the value you place on life comes from the things around you that you find value in themselves. The things that you view as important yesterday most likely are different in what you value today, and will probably change yet again as you grow older.

As a youth minister, it is interesting to watch and listen to what teenagers say and classify as valuable and important. From my vantage point I try to get them to rethink, re-evaluate, what they are placing in the “valuable and important” categories of their lives. What they see as truly important, such as friendships, relationships, sports, etc., are blurred by the moment. They get so wrapped up, tied up, and tuned to the immediate, that nothing else matters at that point of time. And I am there, looking and watching, trying to guide them past the immediate to look more toward the future and what it has to offer. Because when they do that, they realize that what they deem important and valuable now is not, in the long run. But it is amazing how difficult it is to get them to see beyond the immediate, the “now.”

Of course, it humors me a little bit too, since I am looking back, with all of my wisdom, to where they are now and compare it to where I am now. I see so much drama, so much emotion, within the teens, and I know how silly it really is and how little it is all going to effect them as they get older. But they don’t see it, and can’t understand it because of where they are and their vantage point. You have to gain the higher ground in order to see it. Once you see it, and understand it, it changes the way you think and how you classify the important and valuable things of life.

Now, what is truly amusing, in a twisted sort of way, is the fact that there are others, older than I, who look at me in the same way. Through their experiences they watch and consider what I classify as important and they shake their heads and wonder why I spend so much time in this or that, knowing that I am living in the moment, allowing emotions to convince me of my decisions. They too, try to guide me to get me to see the bigger picture, to help me gain the higher ground, so that I can see more clearly. And just like the teens I work with, I bet I am just a stubborn headed. The things I am so intense on today may affect me little as I get older. But it is hard to see it at the time. Are you following all of this so far? Is this making any sense to anyone out there?

Life is short. James says it is like a vapor, that appears for a short time, and then vanishes. However, it is hard to consider life short as you go through it. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Experiences start to build up and our opinions and attitudes on things change with the blowing of the wind. What we thought was so important yesterday is of little consequence today. The thing that we would go to battle over yesterday is not even in our top 10 most important things today. It is all very fascinating if you really sit down and think about it. But life goes on, almost like a ride at an amusement park, and you are on the ride until the end.

So, where am I going with all of this. I have decided, after much thought and consideration, that we do not take life very seriously. We really don’t. We want to, we even try too, but we really don’t take life very seriously. For what is life, really? Think about it for a moment. What is life REALLY? Now, the good Christian answer is to fear God, and keep His commandments, for that is the whole duty of man. Right? RIGHT? Say it with me, Yes, that is the meaning of life. We are suppose to live our lives in such a way that we bring honor and glory to God in everything we do, and to live in a relationship with God that assures us of eternal life when it is all said and done. There ya go, that is what life is SUPPOSE to be.

However, that is not what I see out there. Now, I am not setting myself up as judge and a know it all, but I am here to tell you that is not what I see out there. And I am talking about the religious world. I am not even trying to address the rest of the world. I am talking about the church people out there. The ones we all see at our congregations. We are not taking life seriously. Our value system is all out of whack. Our vision is blurred, our goals are out of line, and we are adrift today living lives that are totally void of what we really need. The things of the world have distracted us and has redefined our value system. The things that we think that are so important, so valuable, could be, in fact, nothing more than silly distractions that keep us from ever getting focused on the real meaning of life.

That is why we fill a church building up on a Sunday morning, only to see a small fraction to come back again on a Sunday night or Wednesday night. That is why someone is there one Sunday and then misses the next three. That is why we see more in the worship assembly than Bible class. That is why our contributions average only 3%-5% of our income. That is why we aren’t reaching the lost, the ones that we KNOW that are not in a saved relationship with Jesus.

We don’t take life seriously enough. Because if we did, we would be filling our church buildings up to overflowing every Sunday, and NOT complain about being crowded. We wouldn’t reach those growth “ceilings” in which we reach 80% of our auditorium capacity and then watch the attendance begin to falter. We wouldn’t debate expansion plans, or what kind of carpet we plan to put down, or what color the walls will be. Those things wouldn’t be important because we would be taking life seriously.

We wouldn’t worry about the kind of songbook we use, or whether or not we use a projector, or overheads. We wouldn’t be concerned if we were using power point or singing the old traditionals or the new contemporaries. Those things wouldn’t be important because we would be taking life seriously. We would be more concerned about worshipping God, lifting Him in praise, fearing Him and doing His commandments.

We wouldn’t worry about what we wear, or what we drive, or the house we live in. We wouldn’t worry so much about our furniture, our shoes, or our hair styles. We wouldn’t worry about who is in the super bowl or how many points Colby Bryant scored last night. That just wouldn’t be very important because we would know what was really valuable, what was really important. Those things wouldn’t be important because we would be taking life seriously. We would be more concerned about worshipping God, lifting Him in praise, fearing Him and doing His commandments.

And you know what? We wouldn’t be organizing short term mission trips and trying to convince people to go on the trip. It would be happening all of the time, day after day, week after week, month after month. Everyone would be involved because we would be taking life seriously. We would be more concerned about worshipping God, lifting Him in praise, fearing Him and doing His commandments. But, until we can reach that higher ground to get the better view, we are not going to see what we need to see. We are not going to understand what we need to understand. We are not going to get where we need to get to. But, maybe someday, we will. And we will take life seriously, we would be more concerned about worshipping God, lifting Him in praise, fearing Him and doing His commandments. Until that time, sit down for a moment and evaluate what life means to you. And think of how you can climb up to the higher ground. When we were children we thought as children, but when we become adults, we put away the childish things. Higher ground, that is where I want to be. How about you?



JMA said...

Oh, my good friend...
how you have hit the nail on the head, again! I think the Spirit has been guiding us both on a similiar path. Recently, I have been truly analyzing my life and what actions I am taking daily, weekly, and monthly. Are they really important? Are they what God wants of me? Thank you for encouraging me to continue the evaluations.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the challenge, you have really put things in perspective for me. I am not seeing the forest because of the trees! I need to get a fresh look at what I really value, I have a feeling I will be doing some house cleaning from this!


Mark said...

Hey Terry,
Enjoyed the comment. I just read Ecclesiastes today, and you and the Preacher seem to be thinking along the same lines. What point is there in building an earthly reputation? What point in building a fortune? Who knows who will become the inheritor of your estate, and what if he/she is a fool? Even trying to amass too much intelligence or ability is almost wasteful. Everyone will die one day. All we can really take with us is our memories. These, of course, being composed of our actions. We really have no excuse to waste any time NOT seeking God's kingdom first.

I know your frustrations in dealing with people whose perspectives are limited. I had the same problem with some of my kids on a recent college tour trip we took. There are a couple who needed so badly to go and check out their options and broaden their perspectives. One didn't go because his boss didn't want to let him have the weekend off at his crappy, minimum-wage job bussing tables. No matter how much I explain to him what he's limiting himself to, he just won't get it until he experiences it.

I think a quality of a truly wise person is that they maintain a constant willingness to recognize how much more they have to learn.

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog articles have really sparked a curiosity with me. I found your site totally by accident a few months ago, but I have been reading them on a regular basis. I am not from a Church of Christ background, but I have been impressed with your thoughts and challenges. Maybe I will check out the church of christ here, there seems to be a lot of them to choose from. Keep writing, you sure make me think.

Mark S.
Oklahoma City, OK