By Dawn Wilson –
A popular retro refrigerator magnet proclaims, “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” From the looks of my house, I’m not wasting any time!
No, the truth is, everyone wastes time. A motivational video by performance artist Ze Frank used jelly beans to show the essence of time in our lives.
He used data from the American Time Use Survey (Department of Labor). The video’s narrator says the average American has approximately 28,835 days of life. A pile of jelly beans represented those days. A man extracted first one, then 364 candies for the first year of life. Then, 5,575 jelly beans represented the first 15 years from childhood to the threshold of adulthood.
The question was, what do we do with the remainder of our time?
Sleep equals 8,477 days; and eating, drinking and food preparation comes to 1,635. Work takes up 3,202 days, and we travel for 1,099 days. We watch television (or entertainment) 2,676 days. We spend another 1,576 days doing chores, tending to pets and shopping. Another 564 days, we care for friends and family. We spend 671 days grooming, bathing and visiting the bathroom.
We’re involved in community and religious activities or duties, charities, and taking classes for 720 days.
What’s left? Time “for laughing, swimming, making art, going on hikes, text messages, reading, checking Facebook, playing softball, maybe even teaching yourself how to play the guitar.”
But then the thought-provoking questions: “How much of (that remaining time) do you think you’ve already used up? If you only had half of it, what would you do differently? What about half of that? … What if you just had one more day?”
As a Christian, I’ve thought a lot about wasted versus purposeful living. I don’t think we’ll know we’re wasting life unless we consider what it means not to waste it.
In Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper wrote, “God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion—namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying His supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”
It sounds like the opening words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Enjoying God and displaying His supreme excellence are both crucial. Expressing joy without concern for God’s glory fails to give Him the honor He is due. We were created for His glory in all things (Isaiah 43:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
By Dawn Wilson –
I love Dragonspeak technology. Except when I hate it. I speak into my headset and words “magically” appear on my computer screen. But not always the words I want.
Some examples: Instead of “distinguishes,” I found “to sting wishes;” instead of “philosophers,” I got “Phil law suffers;” and “Eureka” ended up “You reek uh.”
My dog Roscoe sits on a platform by the window next to my desk. He barks at everything outside: a dog, a mailman, a leaf flying by. He doesn’t understand that every “Bark. Bark. Bark” ends up as “Wart. Wart. Wart” on my monitor.
Dragonspeak is so sensitive, every time I stop talking I see the word “whew” on my screen. It’s recording my breathing!
I’m making adjustments and trying to train Dragonspeak to behave, because sometimes I don’t catch misspelled words in important documents. My boss recently returned an email: “Can you make some corrections here?” Ugh. I missed some.
Conversational misunderstandings happen all the time in relationships. Comedians’ repertoires often include stories about spouses who misunderstand each other. Couples need to clarify sometimes: “Did you really say what I think you said?”
Poor communication can cause chaos in an otherwise good relationship.
One day I yelled a question to my hubby from the kitchen. Back in the study, he really couldn’t hear me well, but he shot back an answer anyway. We were both satisfied that we’d been heard—until later when we realized we didn’t understand each other at all. And it cost us!
Over the years, we’ve established important communication guidelines, mostly because of our miscommunication!
1. Plan what you’re going to say, even if it only takes a minute, so you can say it clearly and concisely.
2. Consider whether it’s a good time to speak. Will the person be receptive, or is he or she preoccupied right now? Multitasking won’t help the process. Stop what you’re doing, and wait for him or her to stop. Or come back later.
3. When you do speak, be sure you have the person’s full attention, eye-to-eye.
4. Tell the person what you’re going to say. Then say it. (And repeat, if necessary.)
5. Wait for a response. No fly-by comments, spouting something and then leaving the room.
6. When it’s your turn to listen, be respectful. Don’t interrupt and don’t complete the other person’s sentences. That’s rude.
7. Finally, paraphrase what the person said. Make sure you heard correctly before moving on in the conversation or in your activities.
God cares about communication too. He wants us to know His purposes and expectations.
Too often, we enter our “Quiet Time” with Him distracted and hurried. We say a quick prayer, grab a verse or two and we’re on our way. But is there true communication? Is it just the saying and reading of words?
We need to focus our thinking, stop multitasking—even good, important things—and seek the Lord for a fresh awareness of His presence (Jeremiah 29:12-13) where we can speak our hearts and truly listen to Him! Our prayer might be, “Your Face, Lord, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8 NIV).
God understands what we’re saying and thinking, but He also wants us to understand Him. We need to “search the scriptures” until we understand God’sheart. He so wants to teach us.
I’m truly thankful God speaks to us. And I’m so glad the scriptures aren’t like my Dragonspeak.
By Dawn Wilson –
Why, oh why, did I sit in the front row?
One Sunday, eager to hear a long-time friend preach in my church, I came early to sit in the front row. My husband is something of a “back-row believer,” and I usually sit with him; but since Bob was out of the country, I got a front-row opportunity!
My seat was saved, but then I came in a little late after waiting for my preacher friend’s wife to finish up at their book table. The congregation finished a stirring song as I settled into my pew.
My friend smiled from the platform to see me so obviously “in place” to hear his message, and then plunged into a powerful message from the book of Revelation.
Then suddenly, from down near my feet, came the raunchy music of a tune by George Thorogood and the Destroyers—“Bad to the Bone!” In the late rush to my seat, I’d failed to shut off my phone before putting it in my purse.
It was a call from my husband. He’d forgotten the time difference from Guatemala to California, and his bad boy ring tone blasted out strong. (No, I will not tell you why Bob has that ring tone!)
My friend didn’t miss a beat. He kept preaching. But I’d swear he glared in my direction. To be honest, he may have been intense about his message on the anti-Christ and the end times, his topic for the evening. But as I scrambled for my phone, shut it down and cringed in my seat, I felt like members of the congregation were searching for 666 on my forehead!
All but my friend’s wife. She erupted into a geyser of giggles. My preacher friend glared again.
I felt “bad to the bone” that night. But not the wild kind of bad to the bone. More like the humiliated, “I’m so terribly messed up” sort of bad.
It’s not the first time I’ve been embarrassed by worse behavior than that. And before you point a finger, remember: the Bible says there is “no good thing” in our flesh (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 7:18a). Our fleshly “goodness” is like “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6).
Before we receive the Lord Jesus, we are “sons of disobedience,” spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). We are helpless and hopeless without Him, desperate and needing rescue. But (praise God) while we were yet sinners—while we were bad to the bone—Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
God, in His good grace, planned not only for our “bad to the bone” moments, but also our alienation from Him. Our holy God wants a relationship with us, and the only way He can do that is to transform us to the core—to make us righteous in Christ. In truth, Jesus is our only hope (1 Timothy 1:1).
In Christ, we are justified and positionally holy (Titus 3:5-7; Romans 3:21-26), and someday we will be like Him, glorified and perfected, for we will “see Him as He is” (Philippians 3:21; Romans 8:30; 1 John 3:2-3). But in the meantime, we can partner with God in our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:21).
We don’t have to be victims of Satan’s “bad to the bone” agenda for our lives. We were created for so much more.
By Dawn Wilson –
The first time I heard my mom talk about spring cleaning, I thought, “Why would anyone want to clean a spring?” (With my elementary school thinking, I envisioned my mom scrubbing bed springs … or even my rusty metal Slinky!)
I don’t think I’m alone in jumping to (mistaken) conclusions, but I do it quite a lot. Once, when my husband was looking at some old photos from before our marriage, he said, “You really looked good there—thin and healthy.” Immediately, I jumped to the conclusion that he thought I was now fat and practically on my deathbed. I got offended by his simple statement.
I let him off the hook with a date at Outback Steakhouse, but my resentment wasn’t very pretty.
A verse in scripture addresses those kinds of conclusions. “[Love] … is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV).
Sometimes conclusion “jumps” are big leaps of misunderstanding.
I read about a 24-year-old “boy” who gazed with amazement out a train window. “Dad,” he said. “Look! The trees are going behind!”
The father smiled, but a young couple sitting near them looked on the 24-year-old’s childish behavior and pitied him.
Suddenly the young man said, “Dad, look! The clouds are running with us!”
The young couple shook their heads and one of them said to the Father, “Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor? I’m sure he could help.”
The dad just smiled, glanced at his son, and then toward the couple.
“We just came from the hospital,” he said. “You see, my son was blind from birth, but he just ‘got his eyes’ today.”
It’s so easy to jump to conclusions, but what we see might not be the truth. What we think we understand might be far off the mark.
Our enemy, Satan, loves it when we jump to conclusions. With a little coaxing, he tempted Eve to deduce that she could be “like God,” knowing things she’d never known before (Genesis 3:4-5). But Eve didn’t read the fine print in the devil’s contract. Yes, her eyes and mind were opened, but to the horrors of sin.
Satan loves it when I reason apart from God today. He’s glad whenever I think God doesn’t love me or has forgotten me in a tough circumstance. He smiles when I act like my Heavenly Father—so sovereign and powerful—is somehow uninvolved, standing by “helpless” when my life seems to spin out of control.
Satan, the master deceiver, the liar of all liars (John 8:44), delights in casting doubt on God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). I need to remember that, and question him rather than my Lord.
Satan’s target is always our mind. He uses lies to make us ignorant of God’s will and ways. Our strong defense is the faithful Word of God. It exposes and teaches us to hate every false way (Psalm 119:128).
Warren Wiersbe wrote, in The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, “If we try to evaluate things around us on the basis of our own thinking and knowledge, we will get into trouble. We must believe that what God says about things in his Word is true.”
In other words, I need to guard my heart with the Scriptures. I don’t want to “spring” to any foolish conclusions or actions.
By Dawn Wilson –
Two Facebook friends sent me the same photo on the same day. In the photo, a white dog (my friends claimed looks a lot like my own pooch, Roscoe) was stretched out asleep on a white furry rug. I had to look carefully to see the dog, so blended in with the background.
The caption read: “Day 3: Humans Still Think I’m Lost.”
It reminded me of photos a clever friend showed me—some before and after pictures of animals “hidden” in plain sight. A white dove resting on a patch of snow. An owl in the shadows of a cluster of branches. A gray squirrel scurrying over a rocky hill. A green parrot nestled in jungle brush. Even a giraffe standing in a thicket of spotty tree trunks.
Until someone pointed out the animals’ locations, I just didn’t see them! And when I did see them, I rolled my eyes and asked my friend, “How could I miss that?”
But then again, I sometimes can’t see my car keys, even when they’re “staring at me,” right there on my desk. (Please, no jokes about messy desks being a sign of genius. Mine is simply a sign of a messy desk!)
But my point is, sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us. Direction from God. An opportunity to serve. An answered prayer.
Maybe we’re too busy to stop and focus. Perhaps we’re distracted. Or maybe we’re simply blind to the wonders of God working in the world.
So much in the culture tries to rob us of the wonder of seeing God and His deeds. We’re so easily entertained, so quickly distracted. And we get a corrupted or diluted version of who God is from the media.
Our hearts fight against this wonder too. When we live in the flesh, rather than walking in the Spirit, we’re likely not alert to the true nature of what God is doing.
And finally, our enemy, Satan, conspires to shut down the wonder. He tries to hide the facts. He is, after all, the Father of Lies.
The world, the flesh and the devil. No wonder it’s so hard to see. So, my prayer is, “Open my eyes, Lord, to who you are, and what you are doing every day.”
Believing God helps me meditate when I store scriptures in my mind and heart, I memorized this scripture to remind myself of the wonders of God: “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40:5 ESV).
It’s true! Our wonderful God does wonderful things. Don’t miss what’s right in front of you!