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Making Out or Working Out

Make the best out of itYou’ve heard about it. You’ve watched other people do it. You may have even experienced it yourself. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that moment when you stop to take inventory of where you are in life and how you got there. They say hindsight is 20/20 but I’m not so sure. I wonder if we are as self deceiving looking back over the defining moments of our lives as we are looking ahead at the choices we have yet to make. There’s a good way to know. It’s a cliche’ we use, “It all worked out for the best.”

“I’m glad I left that job. It all worked out for the best.”

“Looking back on it, my divorce was really a good thing. It all worked out for the best.”

“This house is a money pit. I’m deeper in debt than I’ve ever been, but it will all work out for the best.”

With dismissive nonchalance we reduce the defining moments of our lives to a few short sentences and declare them ‘the best’. There’s a difference between making the best out of bad situation and choosing that which is genuinely best in the first place. It’s important that we recognize the difference.

There’s an inherent contradiction in the idea that we would ‘make the best’ out of a situation. On one hand it’s admirable. Someone faces a series of unfortunate events, they make the best out of it. Now they’re on top of the world. In the Old Testament Joseph provides a great example. He’s hated by his brothers and sold into slavery. He makes the best out of it and becomes a ruler in his master’s home. He’s falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. He makes the best of it and becomes a leader within the prison. He’s called before Pharaoh, answers a few questions wisely and becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph definitely made the best of it.

Being able to make the best out of an unexpected or uncontrollable situation is a quality of character worth learning. But that’s not always how this phrase is used. Too often we use that phrase as an excuse for our bad choices. Divorce and debt are easy targets to illustrate what I mean.

Someone cheats on their spouse. Gets caught. Gets divorced. Years later when they tell their story you hear them say, “It all worked out for the best.”

Someone chooses to purchase something they don’t really need with money they don’t really have. Now they face bankruptcy or are forced to work long, life-killing hours. “It’s tough. We’re in a rough economy,” they say. “I’ll just have to make the best of it.”

That’s not the same kind of ‘best’ as Joseph’s example. The difference is in the choosing.

It’s clear there are different kinds of best. There’s Olympic best and Para-Olympic best. There’s professional best and amateur best. There’s the best that comes from making right choices and the ‘best’ we settle for when things don’t go as planned.

Will your life be the best or will you have to make the best out of something that’s already broken? The choice is yours. Choose wisely and make the best out of today.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good, but does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Knowing What to Do

I meet people everyday who are unsure of what to do next. Should I quit this job, take that job, take a risk that could move my family halfway across the country? What about relationships? Should I ask that girl out? Should we take our relationship to the next level – whatever that means – should we get married?

We know there’s purpose behind who we are, what we are supposed to do and how we’re supposed to do it. We feel inside us the potential of ‘could’, ‘should’ and ‘would’ – if only we knew for sure what to do, how to do it and when. If only we had the opportunity or the skill or the resources.

Imagine that today you have all three – the opportunity, the skill and the resources. What would you do?

God has a plan and purpose for you. Do you know what it is? Are you currently living that plan, that purpose? It’s not as hidden as you might expect. It’s not as difficult to discover as you might suppose. God uses three tools to help us find our way.

Needs & Abilities – Someone near you has a need. Some how, some way, God has given you the ability and resources to meet that need. Your choice to do something about it may not be history making, but it will make a difference. God has given you skills, talents and resources how will you use the gifts you’ve been given to add value to others?

His Word – We may not always know the specific details of which choice to make, but God’s Word provides principles and precepts that guide our every day decisions. His Word gives guidelines for godly living. You may hate your job. Your relationships may be in shambles. Regardless of what circumstance you’re in today, knowing and living by God’s Word will move you toward fulfilling His purpose and plan for you.

Kairos Moments – Kairos is a Greek word. It means a moment in time that changes eternity, a moment in time that changes all other moments after it. Kairos moments are those watershed times we look back on as life defining. Graduation Day. The wedding proposal. Taking that job instead of the other one. The tragedy that took you someplace you never expected. God speaks through Kairos moments. They are moments that interrupt our lives and affect everything after.

Do you know what to do today? How will you react if today brings a Kairos Moment? Will you live by His Word? What needs do you see around you? What abilities do you have?

You know what to do. Now do it.

“Therefore to him who knows to do good, but does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

The ‘-er’ Question

2012. The beginning of a new year. A time for new beginnings. There’s nothing particularly magical about one calendar date rolling on to the next, yet many people find themselves asking the ‘-er’ questions.

  • How will this year be bett-‘er’?
  • Will my job get hard-‘er’ or easi-‘er’?
  • Will the money I make be great-‘er’?
  • Will my lifestyle be healthi-‘er’?
  • Will my relationships be deep-‘er’?

We’re fixated on ‘-er’ questions. They aren’t bad questions to consider. Life will move forward. Where you are right now is the result of answers to last year’s ‘-er’ questions. The choices you make today set the direction for the path you walk tomorrow.

James 4:14 and 17 say, “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away…therefore, to him who knows to do good, but does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Take inventory. This will be the year that changes everything. The quality of the change is up to you.