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About this series
Good to Great in God's Eyes
Ten Practices Great Christians have in Common
Are you tired of the status quo Christian life? Do you long for a spiritual breakthrough? Are you looking to go to the next level or get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? Great Christians live out their faith with purpose. In Mark 10:43, Jesus says, whoever wants to become great among you must - what? You'll explore the idea that there are certain practices available to every believer, at every maturity level, to move us from good to great, in God's Eyes. ACSI approvedMore from this series
From good to great, not in man’s eyes but in God’s eyes. And I just got a note in the last year, and it’s one I keep in my desk. And it was from my college basketball coach. And when I played in college, he was not a believer. And, sometimes you do things, and you think it’s not making any difference, any difference, any difference.
What I didn’t know was, in the last twenty-five years, he had become a Christian. And he walked through a bookstore, and he saw a book with my name on it. And he thought, Now, that can’t be the Chip Ingram – the little skinny guy that I coached. And he picked up the book, and part of it told some stories about the college. And he got my address, and I got a little note from him.
And he talked about, “Chip, just remember, as I read this book, and I went on the website, I see your life’s moving very fast.”
He said, “Just remember – I could almost hear him in my mind – “Chip, remember, everything starts with balance. Defense starts with balance; the shot, with balance. As I see your life moving quickly, I want you to know, I’m really proud of you. I want you to know that I’ve come to Christ. And I just want to tell you, Chip, keep your balance.”
And I share that because, in the last session or two, we’ve talked about some things that really push the edge of the envelope, spiritually: Make a great sacrifice. Take a great risk.
Now I’m going to share something that is going to require very significant balance. Can you believe that going from good to great is going to require that you enjoy great moments? C. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Think of that. “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
And I want to ask you just a little question as we get started. And the little question is: are you enjoying your life? Are you deeply enjoying, and are you satisfied, and drinking in rich experiences, with people, and places, and circumstances that God, providentially, is putting all around your life? Or are you thinking, I’m going to enjoy my life after I retire?
Well, I’m going to enjoy my life after I get this big list of things done. I’m going to enjoy my life after I raise these kids the way I know I’m supposed to. I’m going to enjoy my life once I kind of get this career on track. I’m going to enjoy my life after I do most of the Great Commission all by myself.
Listen to what Scripture says. The wisest man in the world, Solomon, wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun.” There’s a time to sow, to make a great risk. There’s a time to make a great sacrifice. There’s a time to pray great prayers. There’s a time to dream great dreams. But notice, “There’s a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” See the balance?
He goes on, in Ecclesiastes, to say – verse 11 of chapter 3, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they can’t fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
And then, notice this verse. You may have not known this was in the Bible: “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil” – then notice that – “this is the gift of God.”
Do we need to make a great sacrifice? Absolutely. Do we need to be focused and disciplined? Absolutely. But in the midst of a fallen world, in the midst of pain, and suffering, and disappointment, and the absolute certainty that Jesus is coming back, we also need to enjoy great moments. We need to just drink deeply from the grace of God, and from all the things God is putting in our life as gifts to encourage us. Did you notice, it’s a gift from God?
He goes on to say, in chapter 5, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and to be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
So, let me give you the five important reasons why you must – not should, not ought, not a luxury – why you must enjoy great moments.
Number one, it reminds us of God’s goodness. Psalm 84:11: “The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” You see, when you enjoy a good thing, it reminds you that good things come from Him. If He promises no good thing will He withhold – what if He has lots of good things, and He wants to give them to you, but He can’t get you to stop long enough to enjoy what He’s given you? Pretty soon, you focus on all the challenges of life, and you forget God’s goodness.
The second reason: It sustains us in adversity – Nehemiah 8:10. You might read through the book of Nehemiah. Get a cup of coffee, or a Diet Coke, or your favorite drink – sweet tea. Put up your feet, and just read through Nehemiah sometime this week. And what you’ll find is, there’s this huge project, and they rebuild a wall, and it’s a miraculous thing.
And the first portion of the book is how they rebuild the physical structure, and the second half of the book is, they rebuild the people. And when they start rebuilding the people, the people are totally messed up. And when they hear how messed up they are, they start moaning and wailing. And they hear the Word of God taught, and they go, “Oh, man, we so fall short!” And Nehemiah says, “Stop. Stop.” He looks in the passage; he says, “This is the month that we’re in. What we’re supposed to be doing this time is to have this festival.”
And then, he says, “We’re going to celebrate. Yes, we repent, but we’re going to celebrate, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” See, Lewis is right. Joy is the serious business of heaven. Joy is at the core of our strength. It sustains us in adversity.
The third reason enjoying great moments is important: It honors God as the source of all of our joy – James 1:17. “Every good and perfect gift comes from” – where? – “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, where there’s no shifting of shadow.” Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. You see, enjoying great moments reminds us that God is the source of all of our joy.
Fourth, it connects our hearts to those we love. Isn’t it interesting? When you enjoy a great moment, most great moments – some are by yourself, but many of them are with other people. And the two examples I gave you, I think, are so great.
In Luke 2:19, Mary had a great moment. Remember? She got to hear these prophetic things about this little Baby. Anna, who was in the Temple, had been praying and fasting. And she made this pronouncement – and Simeon. And they said, “This little Baby is going to be the rising and the falling of many.” And Simeon said, “I have waited all my life, and God promised that I would not die until I saw the Savior of the world.” And you remember what it says? “And Mary treasured these things in her heart.”
See, it was a great – it was a moment. When you have a great moment, there are certain little windows of time, and whether it’s the birth of a baby, or a sunset, or whether it’s that day that you get married, or whether it’s seeing one of your kids graduate, or whether it’s the day you came to Christ – God gives great moments that He wants us to treasure. But if we get so fast, and so busy, we don’t get them. I think that great moment sustained Mary for a lot of years. I think, when her Son was hanging on the cross, I think she was still pondering and treasuring, “He will be the rising and the falling of many.”
And even Jesus, on the very last night, in Luke 22, remember what He said to His disciples? Yes, He’s fully God, but He was fully human. He knew what was ahead.
And He said to them, “I eagerly awaited to share this feast with you.” He wanted to have a meal. They went out, and they sang together. They cried together. They prayed together. He had a moment with the people that he felt closest to.
And I believe much of his human endurance, depending on the Father, was that great moment with those men that He loved that sustained Him who, “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.”
And so, my point is, great moments aren’t nice, good things. Enjoyment and joy is the serious business of heaven, because it reminds us of God’s goodness. It sustains us in adversity. It honors God as the source of our joy. And then, it connects our hearts to those that we love.
And, finally – are you ready? God uses great moments, fifth, to renew us. In fact, He planned in great moments. The Sabbath – I don’t know how you grew up, but I didn’t grow up in a very good background, spiritually. And all I heard about the Sabbath, from people who were really religions, was all the stuff you couldn’t do.
And then, I read the Bible, and Jesus said the Sabbath wasn’t about what you couldn’t do. It’s like, All these pagans have seven days they’ve got to work to make a living. You only have to do it in six, and I want you to have one day of vacation. I want you to stop. I want you to rest. I want you to worship. I want you to kick back. I want you to take a deep breath. I want you to enjoy one another.
The Sabbath was the idea of rejoicing. It’s looking back over all that God has done and going, “Ah, wasn’t last week great? Isn’t God good? Isn’t He wonderful? Let’s stop. Let’s back off. Let’s deeply enjoy what we actually have.”
And so, God wants great moments to renew our bodies with rest. He wants us to renew our hearts with laughter. People that are serious all the time, are serious all the time. Some of the people that, “I want to be committed. I love God. I’m committed. I love God. I love God. I’m going to do this. I never do this. I always do this. I’ve got seven rules.” You know what? They’re just the kind of Christians that, if I was non-Christian, I don’t want to be a Christian, if that’s what it means to be a Christian. Right?
We kind of forget – I think Jesus was the easiest Person on the planet to be around. I think, when He, and Peter, and James, and John walked, I think they told jokes. In fact, I know they did. Some of the passages, they’re funny. “Let me – hey, Pete, could you – Herod, that fox.” We think, Oh, Herod, fox – I wonder what he meant by that. He just meant, hey, a little hyperbole, a little joke. A little jab in the ribs. “That sly guy.” The camel going through the eye of a needle – oh, that couldn’t happen.
I think Jesus didn’t attract people by His outward appearance, but I think there was laughter. I think there was belly laughter. And I think He was serious, and I think it was pure, and I think it was fun to be around Him. How in the world would we ever enjoy fun, if we’re made in the image of God, if God Himself doesn’t enjoy fun? And, see, we’ve got spirituality over here, and fun over here, like they don’t mix. In fact, Proverbs says – what? “A glad heart renews the soul.” The best medical research tells us that laughter does what? It builds the immune system. God wants us to enjoy great moments to renew our bodies, our hearts, and our souls.
The Psalms, a whole section of the Psalms is – what? “Praise. Praise. Praise. Give thanks. Give thanks.” What about all those Psalms? “Play the trumpet, the tambourine. Get the strings out. Let’s dance. Let’s have fun.” If you get around – have you ever been to a Jewish wedding? [Sings] They do all that stuff. I think they’re having fun. And then, they eat food, and they laugh. And God commanded them to do it. Five reasons why to enjoy great moments.
Well, let’s get down to a little analysis here, then. Why don’t we enjoy great moments? What keeps normal, regular people, like you, like me, who are committed, who want to make a great sacrifice, who pray great prayers, who dream great dreams, who want to have quality families, who want to help fulfill the Great Commission, you want to be God’s man, you want to be God’s woman – what is it about how we think, or how we’ve been trained, or how we perceive life that keeps us from enjoying great moments? And I’m going to suggest, there may be a lot. But there are at least three very specific ways that, I think, distort our ability to enjoy great moments.
The first one is a distorted view of God. I think part of this is that we see God through one of those mirrors at the fun house. You know how they have the mirrors, and when you look at it, you can look this big, or you can look really skinny? I think we look at God, and we have a distorted picture.
You notice, I put in your notes, Luke 15. And Luke 15 is “The Prodigal Son.” It’s the story of the renegade boy, who rejects his father, leaves home, asks for his inheritance, loses it all on wild living. Correct? He finally comes to his senses while he’s feeding the pigs. He repents, rehearses a speech – “I’ve sinned against You, God. I’ve sinned against my father.” He comes home with his hat in his hand and realizes, I’ve blown it. But at least the slaves have a place to live, and they’ve got food on the table. That’s better than me.
And as he comes, the father runs, breaks multiple cultural norms, puts a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, a robe, kills the fatted calf. Basically says, in all those things, “No, no, no, no. You can’t come back as a slave. I forgive you. I love you. I’ve been looking for you. You are my son.”
And that’s the part of the story, and all of us have had our prodigal moments. Right? And that’s an awesome story because it gives us the right view of God, and it reminds us that, regardless of where we’ve been, there is a Father always looking for us, to say, “Turn around. Come to your senses. Come home.”
The problem is, we usually stop that story there. There’s another brother, isn’t there? He’s the older brother. And the older brother hears music and dancing, and fatted calves, and a big party and a celebration. And he gets outside and says to one of the servants, “What in the world is going on?” “Well, your little brother is home. So, your dad is really fired up. And, he killed the fatted calf. There’s a party. He invited all the neighbors, all the friends. You can hear the music. They’re having a ball. You ought to come in.”
And the older brother goes, “Boy, I’ll tell you what. Life is not fair. This stinks. Where are you coming from, Dad? You go and wild living and prostitutes.” And by the way, the text – we don’t have anything in the text that says that the little brother said, “These are all the terrible things I did.”
See, that older brother is kind of like a lot of Christians, thinking, I’ve got all these rules to keep. All those non-Christians are having all the fun. And then, the Father comes out and says, “Come on in.” “No, I’m mad.”
And do you remember how the story goes? Do you remember how the father says, “No, you don’t understand. He was dead, and now he’s alive”? See, the older son didn’t realize, there are consequences from that kind of life. There’s absolute forgiveness, but there are consequences, and there’s pain. And, older son, you really don’t want any of that.
And then, the older son makes this plea: He said, “Dad, you know something? Here’s what I don’t get. I’ve been a good boy. I get up. I’ve done the fields. I did what you told me, day in, day out. And you know what? You never had a party for me.”
And remember the father, remember what he says? He says, “Son, all that I have is yours, 24/7, every day, any moment. All that was here is for you.” And I think if we could sort of elaborate the story, I think the father might say something like, “Son? Can you tell me the time when you asked if some of your friends could come over – it wouldn’t have to be even a fatted calf, but maybe a cow, maybe a goat. We could have a little barbeque, and I said, ‘Oh, no, we don’t do that here’?”
See, the father is saying to him, it was available, 24/7. But the older son was so performance oriented, he was so focused on not messing up, he was so busy doing what was right, he was so saying, “I’ve got to prove that I’m okay. I’m going to earn my father’s favor,” he never realized, “You’ve already got your father’s favor. I love you. All that I have is available to you. And you have never stopped, never asked, to enjoy all that I have. You could have had a feast once a month if you wanted it. But see, you didn’t grasp it was about a relationship. You thought it was about your duty. You thought it was about keeping the rules. You were the legalist. You assumed that I didn’t already love you. You’ve spent all your energy and all your time trying to prove yourself to me.”
So, I try and figure out what lies I believe, and I write the lie on one side of the card. And then, I write the word “Stop.”
Are some of you the kind of people that close friends say, “Hey, how come we can never do anything for you? You’re great at giving but you’re not very good at receiving.” And you know what? When you believe that lie, I’ll tell you what, there’s more to do than you can ever do, because you always – you don’t give yourself permission to have fun. You don’t give yourself permission to enjoy what God has put all around you.
And when you don’t, then you don’t experience joy. And if you don’t experience a lot of joy, then you don’t have the strength of the Lord. And if you don’t have the strength of the Lord, you end up in a performance trap. And, so, outwardly, it’s work, work, work, godly, godly, godly. And inwardly its whine, whine, whine. And, God, how come I’m not having so much fun? And you know what? It sets you up for temptation.
Pleasure has been polluted, and distorted, and made to be the opposite of godliness. It’s very subtle. And this is how Satan works. In fact, C. S. Lewis made this other great quote. He says, “The problem with Christians is not that they enjoy too much pleasure. The problem with Christians is, they enjoy too little pleasure.”
See, what we’ve done is, we’ve said, pleasure is over here, and it’s evil and bad, and godliness is over here. That’s not what the Bible teaches. I can’t develop it fully, but let me give you a taste of both Old and New Testament, in terms of what I think is an accurate theology of pleasure. In the Old Testament, there are feasts. We make these biblical words. You do know what a feast is? At a feast, people do what? They eat. When you eat really good food, and, usually, a lot of it, with a lot of other people, it usually has something to do with fun. Just put that in the back of your mind.
There were private feasts, you’ll notice. There were communal feasts. And I just pulled this – anyone can do this. Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary says, about private feasts, “The social life of ancient Israel provided many joyous occasions that were celebrated with feasts: weddings, the celebrations of which often lasted seven days.”
Can you imagine having someone getting married, and everyone going, “Let’s take off a week and party for a week”? We go three hours – I go to the wedding. I don’t have time to go to the reception.
The weaning of a child: “Hey, the kid’s weaned. Let’s have a party!” The birthday of a king, the arrival of an approaching dignitary, the departure of an approaching dignitary. Is this great? “Hey, someone important came; let’s have a party.” “He’s leaving. Let’s have another party.” Sheep shearing was also a joyous season where they sheared the wool, and then they went to the sanctuary, and they had a party. Solomon dedicated the Temple with a feast.
Ancient Hebrews were not ascetics. “Often, feasts demanded no specific occasion other than gladness.” And it quotes Job. Translation, “Hey, I feel happy today. How about you?” “I feel pretty happy.” “Let’s have a party.” These were private feasts.
Now I wish I had time to develop all this, but you’ll notice, there are communal feasts. There was a feast every Sabbath. Every Sabbath was a joyous occasion. There were monthly feasts – there was a new moon. There were annual feasts. And the word for festival, here, is the Hebrew word that means “to dance” or “to turn around.” God put that in the Bible. Have you ever seen tiny kids?
You don’t have to teach little kids to enjoy life. Do you? You’ve got to teach old people, like us. God says, “You know what? I don’t want you to forget this. So, I’ve got these feasts, these big ones: the Passover, Pentecost, the Booths, the Day of Atonement.”
Now, here’s what you need to get. Instead of taking pleasure and pushing it over here, which we end up making amusement – which means “not to think” – or entertainment – “I need a break today” – and getting movies so that I can recover from things that I don’t want to face. Sorry if that was a little too convicting. I’ll get back to the text.
God says, I’m going to take worship, and I’m going to have you stop. And I’m going to combine worship, and seeing Me, and honoring Me, and the reading of My Word, and Sabbath – or rest – and then, as that progresses, and you see who I am, there’s going to be required food.
And we always think of it, Oh, and they had to kill for the blood. And the goat came. And the priest did this. They did. And they gave the first portion to the Lord, right? And then, the priest got some. What do you think they did with the rest of that food? They had a party! And the widows would come, and the sojourners would come, and people passing through would come, and the Greeks would come. And, by the time of Jesus – thousands of people.
The Passover was not, like, “Okay. Okay, the big Passover’s coming.” Was it sober and holy on the front end, and what they remembered? Yeah. And then, it was like, “Wow! We’re delivered! We’re delivered! Woo! Woo! Let’s go! Let’s have fun!” And they had these weeklong parties.
Three or four different times, they would take a week off, to stop, to sing, to dance, to worship.
In the New Testament, you have Jesus’ words and works. Remember the Beatitudes? “Blessed are” – the word is makarios. Blessed – do you know what the word blessed means? “Happy are…” It’s deeper than superficial. But, “Happy are those who” – what? Who understand who they are before God, and deal rightly with their sin, and respond in certain ways. But there’s this thing of, God wants us to enjoy.
Where did the first miracle occur? Anybody remember? I’ll be, isn’t that – it was at a wedding. And what was the miracle? Did He heal someone, or do something really spiritual? The people had been partying for a long time. What’s He do? He goes over to these six jugs, and those jugs, they’re not like this. They stood about this tall, and were about this big around. I’ll tell you what, there must have been a lot of people there. That makes a keg look small. So, He fills six kegs with wine – or more.
See, it violates some of our traditions. Even this feels – some of your faces are going, “Sounds a little too wild to me, Ethel.” “Uncle Ned would never go for this kind of –” It’s just the Bible!
In the Early Church, love is what transformed the world. But do you know what their business card was? Joy. The business card of the Early Church was joy. When you met a New Testament believer, you saw someone who, despite all the circumstances, and the fallenness of life, who richly drank in the good things of God, and deeply enjoyed, and laughed. And they actually greeted one another with a holy kiss, and they embraced, and they loved one another. And they had fun.
And you know what? They did take great risks. And they did make great sacrifices. And they did pray great prayers. And they dreamed great dreams, for the glory of God. But in a fallen world, you need to stop, and enjoy great moments. And the reason we don’t is, we have a distorted view of God, number one.
And second is, we have a warped theology of pleasure. 1 Timothy 6:17, it says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches.” And we usually quote that part of it.
In fact, have you ever noticed how, in some verses, we memorize them, but we only memorize parts of them, and we sort of leave parts off? Pastors love this one, by the way. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world” – by the way, that’s all of us. “Rich,” in the New Testament, was, you already had food for tomorrow, and you had a change of clothes.
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on riches” – why? Because they’re uncertain. Why would you stick your hope on something that can’t come through for you? “But fix your hope on God.” We get that part. That last line is, “Who richly supplies us with” – are you ready for this? – “all things to enjoy.” “You mean, God wants me to enjoy?” Yeah. He wants me to enjoy life.
The third reason that we fail to deeply enjoy life, and enjoy great moments, is our unwillingness to face our misbeliefs and/or unhealthy behavior. And I’m not going to walk through these, because we struggle with all of them.
And as you start looking – I always watch people. They read these, and, Oh, gosh. I hope he doesn’t go into these. I know I’m a workaholic! I’m a perfectionist. People have told me that. In fact, I’ve been into counseling for that one. I’m an approval seeker. Oh, what I am going to do? Relax.
Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to understand, just like I need to understand, is that these are misbeliefs that have been, over time, locked into the back of your mind, and mine. And what you need to do, as I read through these, is just say, Which one of these is the most dominant in my thinking? And just put a little check mark by it. Because if you don’t face your misbelief, then you’ll just keep going down a path to do something that is unhealthy, to deliver, in an attempt to find that joy, and that happiness.
Five quick misbeliefs: The workaholic – work defines your life, so your best energy is spent there. By the way, it’s not working hard. It’s not even working lot. It’s working, thinking your identity is your work. That is what kills you. It is a performance mentality.
The perfectionist spends the long hours required to make every task flawless. Why? Because, People only like me – I’m only significant if I do everything right.
The approval seeker: Work piles up because of your fear of saying “no” to others. I have to say yes. I have to say yes. I have to say yes. So, everyone has a life, and everyone likes you, except you don’t have a life.
And you don’t have a life, not because you’re so wonderful, not because you’re so godly, not because you’re such a servant – although, I’m sure you are. But it’s because the strokes of people, and your unwillingness to set some boundaries and say, “You know something? I don’t need this external, artificial pat on the back to make me a ‘someone.’ I’m a ‘someone’ in Christ. And what I need to do is figure out His purposes for my life.” And you can’t please everybody, anyway. So, no matter what you do, some people are not going to like you. Just accept that and say, God, what do You want me to do?
The fourth is the escapist: Work provides an escape from painful relationships or problems. Boy, I’ve been there, and done that. You feel a little conflict – go downstairs and work. You feel a little conflict – go back to the office. You feel a little conflict – vacuum. Wash those dishes. They don’t need it, but do it one more time. And we escape to places. We escape in these ways.
Or the materialist has an insatiable desire for possessions that drives you to increase your workload. I’ve got to have more because the lie is that people that are happy, on the commercials, they look like this, and they have this kind of jewelry, and they have this kind of purse, with this kind of design on it, that drive this kind of car, and have these kinds of areas, and these kinds communities, with these kinds of beach houses.
And they have to have this kind of money, and these kinds of clothes, and these kinds of hair designs, and this kind of stuff.
And if you ever wonder where any of this stuff is really with you, just walk in your garage. Just walk in your garage.
Here’s the problem: If, unconsciously, it gets so inbred in you that you can’t have fun until all your work is done – that is good for a third grader. But when you’re forty-two years old, you can’t have any fun until your work is done, and the work is never done. Guess what we have? You never have any fun! And you feel guilty when you do have fun.
The truth is, in reality, these renewing activities are the key to healing, and effectiveness in leadership, and lifelong impact, and health. Therefore, it means I must say “no” to pressing demands in the eyes of significant others. In fact, life’s value is not measured simply by the extent of one’s accomplishments, or impact, but by the quality of living in the process. Enjoying God’s rich commands are commanded.
Did you ever think that you are disobeying God when you’re not enjoying life? For some of you that are guilt motivated, that’ll help you. Start feeling guilty about not having fun! Enjoy great moments. It’s the serious business of heaven.
Let me give you a little to-go package on the solution side. How can you start enjoying great moments? Some of you are going to walk out of here liberated, and just go, Whoa, I’m going to try some of these!
First of all, slow down. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Slow down. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Speed kills joy. We are multitaskers. And we just feel good when we get seven things done at the same time.
I remember Dallas Willard, in one of his books “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Spiritual development and intimacy with God are impossible in a hurried life.” And it was like – whoo!
And for a solid two years, unless circumstances were completely unavoidable, I started driving in the right-hand lane on the freeway. When I went to the grocery store, I got in the longest line. When I went to the bank, I got into the longest line. I started arriving at meetings ten minutes early. And I decided I would slow.
And I realized that underneath this, I’ve got to get in the shortest line to get here, get here, get here, get here, and when people cut me off – behind it all was this thought, Where I’m going is way more important than where they’re going. That’s why I need to be at the front of the line. I need to get through the quick line. Because they just probably don’t understand how important I am, with all my demands, and how much I have to get done – as though all those people in all those cars, and all those other lines, are second-rate citizens.
At the core of hurry is arrogance. And God is against the proud. So, slow down. And it will take discipline and a plan.
Second – don’t take this as a weight-loss plan, but slim down. Slim down. Do less, so you can enjoy it more.
Simplify your schedule. Simplify your meals. Simplify your calendar. Simplify your clothes. Simplify your commitments. Quit getting overextended. Look at some of the stuff you’re doing in your life, and just say, Do I really need to do it?
Third, sit down. Stop living for tomorrow, or because of yesterday. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to 18 says, “Rejoice always” – present tense – “pray without ceasing” – present tense – “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” Take stock. Thank God. Drink it in.
Focus on what you do have. And just realize, so much of our activities – I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do this – Why? Because if I don’t, then this will happen in the future. Or, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do this. Why? Because someone, thirty-two years ago, said, “You’ll never amount to anything.” And I’m going to prove them wrong. My lands, you’re fifty-some years old. You’ve already proved them wrong!
Stop doing things because of the past, or for the future, and take some time to sit down and live in the “now.” And I could be wrong, but “right now” may be all you have. Three minutes from now, Jesus could come. This afternoon, I might get hit by a truck. So, what if I spent all my time living for something, or because of…? The only thing I miss is life.
Fourth, look around. What blessing from God could you celebrate today? And I mean everything. I mean little things. Recently, I leave in the morning, when it dark. And there was this huge star, and I don’t know anything about stars, but it was so bright. It was probably a planet. It was probably Venus. But it was awesome. I lived next to the ocean, for about twelve and a half years. I went for almost nine months once, and I realized, I’m a mile and a half from the ocean, and I’ve not seen the ocean. You know what that’s called? Being an idiot.
The final thing is not on your notes. Write in the word plan in. Schedule great moments into your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual calendar. It’s the only way I’ve been able to break out of this. Plan it in.
I plan in a date with my wife. I plan in – it sounds crazy. I plan in, I pick up a cup of coffee in the morning. I like coffee, okay? I hope it’s not bad for me. For those of you who are concerned, I go half-caf, so relax. I get a good cup of coffee every morning. I put on some music that really refreshes my soul. I drive the long way to work. I sing along with the song. Sometimes, I do a little worship. Sometimes, I pull into the parking lot, and I sit in the parking lot for ten minutes before I go in. And I just lean back, and think of all the good things I have, and just start counting them, and say, You know what? Thank You, God.
Do you realize what a change that is? Instead of grabbing the cup on the way out, got to get there. The coffee here, the burger here, the land of traffic – Oh, the red light. Well, everyone else runs them. I’ll run them, too. Blood pressure goes up. You arrive, frenzied, stressed, angry, upset. That joyful, loving, winsome Christian, who’s going to give that great testimony. Right? Plan it in.
Plan in fun. Plan in activities. Get with people you love. Plan in times away. Daily, one-minute vacations. A chat down the hall with someone you like. Vacation with a family. A great clean movie. A walk a couple times a week. Go out, and just look at the stars.
Can I just tell you something, from God? You have permission. Enjoy great moments. You’ll be glad you did.