Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live Like You Were Dying

Suzanne and I have been hosting a Bible study on the theme, "Live Like You Were Dying," and, yes, the outline of the study is based on the best-selling song by the same name. We have a wonderful group of friends, old and new, seventeen of us each Sunday evening at our house. We've been discussing some tough, real life issues as we try to speak sweeter, love deeper, give forgiveness, and embrace eternity.

What would you do if you received that phone call from the doctor? What if you really had just 30 days to live? What do you suppose you would change? What relationships in your life would need extra time and attention? My hunch is that our priorities and values might change pretty dramatically. Life just looks and feels different when you can suddenly see the end of the road.

The main point of our Bible study is this: To live like you were dying is the best approach to life even without that phone call, even without that bad prognosis. It is a liberating, fulfilling, and joyful way of life, maybe what God had in mind for us all along.

This weekend our group is going to wrap up this study by just getting to together to watch the movie, "The Bucket List." Here's the song and the movie together in a great video. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope it doesn't take bad news to teach us all how to live.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Fitness and Faith

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." - 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

I just sat down after doing another heavy duty home workout. For Christmas my wife gave me a home fitness program called P90X. (I try not to think about what might have happened to me if I had given her a fitness program for Christmas or birthday.) Anyway, I am on day 51 of the 90 day program and I am feeling better, more fit than I have in years.

But, I am not naive. I know that my tired, 49 year old body is never going to look like the really annoying guy who leads these workouts on the DVD. And I'm okay with that. As long as I can be healthy and active, I will feel very blessed.

Check out any gym or fitness center. So many people faithfully and passionately devoted to physical fitness and appearance. I don't blame them a bit. But I can't help but wish more people were just as dedicated to their spiritual growth and development. How would you rate your spiritual health compared to your physical fitness? How much effort do we make each day to get our faith pumped and ripped? How much spiritual cardio do we do to make our heart more like God's?

You and I are much more than the flesh and bones that we carry around each day. And long after these beautiful bodies have become food for worms, our real self will linger into eternity. Better take the long view. Better get in shape for the life to come.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life Lessons on the Road to the Final Four

I just finished the awesome and important task of filling in my brackets for the NCAA tournament. My son and I always bet a $1 McDonald's double cheeseburger on our picks, but he never pays up.

It's time to separate the winners and the losers, who's hot and who's not, the big talkers and the money players. We'll see who steps up and who falls flat, who comes through in the clutch and who chokes under pressure. And when the smoke clears, we will see who is still standing, the true champion among all the wannabes and pretenders.

Lots of life lessons are there on display at the Big Dance. A few that stand out to me are:
  • Tons of press coverage won't score you any points and a big reputation won't get you rebounds. You still have to play the game.
  • A good team will usually beat a great player.
  • On a given night, anybody can beat anybody.
  • No matter how well you prepare, there are some things you just cannot control.
  • The most valuable player may be someone you have never heard of, who has never played in the spotlight before.
  • Believing in yourself makes all the difference in the world.
Can you think of others? Sports is in many ways a modern parable about life. I think that's why we watch. What about you?

(By the way, Mizzou defeats Pitt to win it all. Remember, you saw it here first.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Your Best Bet

(This post is an excerpt from Robert Fulghum's "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Whenever I lack inspiration, I turn to one of the masters.)

If you ask my next-door neighbor what he does for a living, he will tell you that he is a professional gambler involved in organized crime. In truth, he is an insurance agent. He has a healthy disrespect for his business, and extends that skeptical mode into his philosophy of life. "We're all gamblers," says he, "everyone of us. And life is a continual crapshoot and poker game and horse race." Then he adds, "And I love the game!"

He's a great believer in hedging his bets, however, protecting himself by betting both ways when the odds are close. Philosophically this gets best expressed in these sayings mounted on his office wall:
  • Always trust your fellow man. And always cut the cards.
  • Always trust God. And always build your house on high ground.
  • Always love thy neighbor. And always pick a good neighborhood to live in.
  • The race is not always to the swift, not the battle to the strong, but you better bet that way.
  • Place your bet somewhere between turning-the-other-cheek and enough-is-enough-already.
  • Place your bet somewhere between haste-makes-waste and he-who-hesitates-is-lost.
  • About winning: It isn't important. What really counts is how you play the game.
  • About losing: It isn't important. What really counts is how you play the game.
  • About playing the game: Play to win!
Does he really believe that? Does he live by it? I don't know. But I play poker with him. And I bought my insurance from him. I like his kind of odds.