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A survey I read some time ago of 35,000 Americans indicated that large numbers of Christians do not believe that their faith is the only way to heaven. Even among Evangelicals this proved to be true as 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life. Of course, surveys are notoriously misleading especially when semantics are in doubt. For example, by the word “faith” or “religion” do responders mean various denominations within Christianity who differ on some things yet hold fast to central Christian assertions (e.g., justification by faith in Jesus Christ)? Or are they meaning that Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and African Animistic religions are all different sides of the same egg?

But I suspect that the survey in question wasn’t far off the mark (it’s very efficient as a rule). So if American Christianity has become as convoluted as all that, what does it mean? And does it matter? Rabbi Gary Huber of the Congregation Beth Tikvah in Worthington (Ohio) says, “Nothing could be more American than the idea that we each forge out our own path” (reported by Meredith Heagney of the Columbus Dispatch in her article “Most Americans believe many religions lead to heaven”, June 23, 2008). Even as Huber lauded open-mindedness and inclusiveness, it occurs to me that we’ve rendered moot the role of faith in the life of Americana if we can’t possess it with any degree of confidence and surety. And as you might suppose, if one has no conviction about what one believes, than the by-products of faith are eroded away as well. There is no anchor, for instance, for morality if it cannot be moored to absolute truth: “right and wrong” will drift anywhere popular opinion takes them.

That same report said that 80% of Americans believe that religion is somewhat important to their lives, but the question arises, “Why?” If it’s merely because religion gives them some encouragement for every day or makes them feel good about themselves, why do they really need religion? Why not get a dog? Or join a coffee club? Or read a Robert Frost poem every night?

Of course, it may be that those who believe that each religion is a different way to God are simply ignorant about the worldviews that they espouse. “The findings can be taken… as disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don’t know fundamental teachings of their own faiths,” said Eric Gorski, Associated Press writer (in his article “Believers see more than one way to eternal life”, June 23, 2008).

One can hardly deny that dismissal of a truth that we prefer to ignore does not in any way diminish the fact that it is truth. Nor does ignorance of truth remove its power over one should one step too far beyond the boundaries of safety. If one drinks well water contaminated with lead or C8 or DDT (pick your poison), denying that it is foul water does not alter the fact of its presence nor quell its capacity to harm those who unknowingly drink it. This is no less true of spiritual matters.

And because this is true, men and women everywhere are again and again confronted with the challenge of Elijah on Mount Carmel. “Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him’” (1 Kings 18:21 ESV).

I realize that making claims about the exclusivity of truth is unpopular, but saying that all religions lead to God (aside from not even making sense) is a cop out. Making a commitment to follow truth takes courage and I wonder if folks aren’t just a wee bit cowardly about following God.

Well, I suppose that people can continue in their ambivalence (at least for as long as God continues to tolerate it as He gives us a season of grace in which He extends to people an opportunity to accept His gift of salvation). But truth is truth and if one has placed himself at the feet of that truth, embracing it and discovering as he does so that it has given him the only assurance for eternal life that can be had, then he is not only bound to that truth, but he is bound to share that truth as well. This is why my heart echoes the words of Joshua in Joshua 24:15, “…Choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Obviously my hope is that each reader of this article will surrender his or her heart to the love of the God, manifested in His Son’s laying down of His life. I hope that you will consider trusting Him as your Lord and Savior. But, at the very least, don’t play games. If God is God, then follow Him. If you aren’t interested in taking such a “radical” or “close-minded” stance, remember that everyone who sits on the fence is going to be knocked off sooner or later onto one side or the other. Instead, why don’t you “choose this day” to receive Jesus as Lord of your life. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

I recall once watching an interview by ABC’s Diane Sawyer of Stephen Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist and author of several books including, A Brief History of Time and The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe and being intrigued by the philosophically contradictory statements and problematic assertions that Hawking maintained not only in the interview but consistently throughout his various venues as a past professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, best-selling author, and pop-culture icon for rationalism.

In the interview, for instance, Hawking, who prides himself on his atheism, made the statement that “there is a fundamental difference between religion which is based on authority, (and) science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”

On the one hand, I thought it significant that Hawking indirectly acknowledged that there is an ongoing conflict between “religion” and “science”. I do not want to read too many things into his remarks, but taken at face value, his statement clearly voiced a personal conflict that he himself has with the idea of a personal, loving, and all-knowing God (facts notwithstanding). When he said “science will win,” he was saying, “I will win.”

That aside, however, he was simply mistaken in his statement regarding the fundamental difference between religion (by which he may have meant all religions but most certainly meant the Christian religion) and science (by which he seemed to mean a rationalistic perspective which irrationally denies the existence of God, since, rationally speaking, even Hawking cannot disprove it). He said that the difference is that religion is based on authority and science is based on observation and reason.

His fundamental mistake was how he perceived religion (the Christian religion at any rate). It is not based on authority as he claimed, but on something entirely different, something that is actually akin to observation and reason. That something? In a word, it is “revelation”.

 To put it another way, when we profess and are genuinely immersed in the essence of Christianity, we are saying that what is worth knowing and what gives life meaning is derived from what an otherwise unknowable Creator chooses to reveal about Himself.

Some of that revelation is, of course, unveiled in the complexity and sophistication of the world around us. From the sheer immensity of the universe which is still far vaster than our means of observing it can assimilate for us to the incredibly fragile and infinitely intricate facets of life and its life-sustaining environments, we can perceive, should we care to, a mighty (though invisible) hand at work.

But that revelation is fine-tuned so that life here might even more clearly perceive the One Who sent it. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that a God Who takes such care to create a perfectly hospitable home here on earth for life would also want also to communicate with it? Doesn’t reason also tell us that such communication would be a “written record” so that through it the one life form that had been given the ability to comprehend it might also preserve it down through the ages? Of course it is!

Hawking said, “What could define God (is thinking of God) as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of God. They made a human-like Being with Whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”

But Hawking, in his statement, tipped his hand. He said, “accidental human life”. God’s revelation (His Word) tells us that your life here is not accidental. And once we have that established, the rest of Hawking’s dilemmas are easily resolved.

For if God created you indeed (which the aforementioned fact of the incredibly complex requirements for the sustaining of human life suggests), then it is perfectly logical to assume that He will also reveal Himself in some manner to His creation. And if He has chosen to reveal Himself so that one can observe what He has chosen to reveal, then we can safely assume that He truly does desire a “personal relationship” with us in spite of its seemingly impossibility to Hawking.

Honestly, science cannot “win” because science has not “worked”. While I am grateful to God that He has provided us faculties to see and appreciate the forces at work around us in physics, genetics, medicine, communication technology, and so on, there have been limits to what these things can do, limits to what can be known (apart from revelation), and limits to what can be done with that knowledge.

Our culture is still reeling from the failed promises of “reason” and “science” which, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were assumed to be ready to solve all of humanity’s problems (ranging from curing cancer to humanely solving social evils such as crime, hate, and war). What science has really done is show us that we know far, far less than we thought. The ensuing disillusionment has naturally left our world hopeless and ripe for all manners of confusion and conflict.

Hawking shared with Diane Sawyer his attempts to give benevolent advice to his children. Among his three admonitions he says, “Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.” I think I understand what he means, but it’s a delusional remark nonetheless. At best, work can only give you a feeling of purpose, but the moment you stop and reflect on it you realize that if you really are an “accidental life form”, then nothing you do, say, or contribute means anything at all. Think about it! If Hawking is right, then a day is coming when all you’ve done, said, and contributed will be forgotten. You are a “nobody” dwelling in the midst of a throng of “nobodies”, all about to become “nothing” except inanimate matter that neither knows anything nor cares that it doesn’t know.

But there is a mightier reality at work than can be perceived with our senses or comprehended by our intellects. It is rational after all to not only believe in God, but to seek Him out and trust that as you do so, He will reveal Himself to you. You will find that He has done so through the Person of Jesus Christ. Hawking’s problem with the Christian notion of God is what actually ultimately supports it. An infinitely powerful God not only created you, but in an infinitely awesome act of love, gave Himself through Jesus to you so you could have that “personal relationship” with Him!

“Without faith it is impossible to please (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him…. (and look) to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 11:6, 12:2 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

There are times in many people’s lives when something is said or done that sets for them a course of pain and regret. Perhaps looking back on your life, you see that you have somehow lost your way and are now somewhere in a valley of heartache, a million miles away from where you always dreamed you’d be. Maybe you wonder how you got into the place you are and have sadly resigned yourself to a fate of hopelessness. It could be that there are images engraved in your memory with etchings of sorrow so deep that you shy from remembering, becoming numb to life and the world around you.

If so, you’re definitely not alone. Mistakes in the past often reap a harvest of bitterness and pain. Materially or physically or even socially, things may be so utterly out of hand or are so rapidly heading in the wrong direction that despair has crept into our hearts like a slow, cold poison.

It sometimes appears on the surface that things seem all right, but when one assesses his or her heart’s condition, he or she can discern that things aren’t really so okay after all. As a result, a sense of being trapped takes hold, making one a prisoner of regret, shame, or pride. Relationships have been somehow spoilt and aren’t what they should be and joy stubbornly eludes one’s grasp.

What is one to do then when it seems that there isn’t any going back? Circumstantially speaking, it is true that when once we set in motion a series of events that we must “face the music” so to speak, harvesting the consequences of past decisions, attitudes, or actions. But it is not true that while we have breath on earth that we can so destroy the bridge of relationship with God that we cannot get back to Him!

First consider that no one at all can approach holy God deservedly. The result of our sin and the price to be paid was the giving of a life… which our God accomplished in the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, thinking that you have ongoing access to the Father because of your faithfulness is falling short of the full effect of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Your faithfulness does not bridge your relationship with God. It is the faithfulness of God that opened the bridge in the first place and keeps it open for you.

Your faithfulness simply produces the happy fruit of allowing your heart and life to be filled with the good things of God: joy, peace, purpose, victory, courage, and love. It is because of grace that you can return in repentance and sweet fellowship over and over again with the Lord of glory!

Consider how God’s people, through the ages, wrestled with this time and time again. Hear a prayer of a servant of God interceding for God’s people: “You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I slapped my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.” (Jeremiah 31:18b-19 ESV).

And listen to the Lord’s reply to this prayer: “Is not Ephraim My dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore My heart yearns for Him; I have great compassion for him” (Jeremiah 31:20 NIV).

So if you feel like you’ve wandered far away from God, remember that it is grace through faith only by which you were saved. Recall to your mind that the way is still open to you even if you’ve departed from the path of walking daily with Him.

“Set up road markers for yourself. Make yourself guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return… return…. How long will you waver?” (from Jeremiah 31:21-22b ESV).

When we are called to walk with God, He calls us in spite of all our imperfections and waywardness in order to demonstrate His perfection: His perfect salvation and His perfectly enduring grace that “keeps us” in His love. Know that He knew what He was getting into when He called you to be His child. So if your feet have wandered away, the way back isn’t closed to you after all. You’ll enjoy, like the Prodigal Son, a reuniting that, while you don’t deserve it, awaits you nonetheless (see Luke 15:11-31). To be once again “caught up in the arms” of your loving heavenly Father, you simply have to turn your feet back towards home.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A long gaze backward over the ages that make up the whole of human history can only really result in one conclusion: that man’s heart condition has not changed. No collective human wisdom has prevailed over our inclinations towards destructive behavior nor has our instinct for selfish indulgence seemingly lessened any notable degree.

In the land of plenty, there is still want. In the age of information there is still ignorance. In a time of incredible advances in medicine, death remains inescapable. And in spite of all the leaps made in technology and space exploration, the inner space of our own souls continues to be unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

Because of the various broken promises of hope made by men and institutions throughout the ages, one might be tempted to give way to depression. Because of the uselessness of seeking hope in politics, social reform, better health, biogenetics, astrophysics, literature, philosophy, material possessions, and even self-improvement, one might utterly surrender to the grim grip of despair.

Let’s face it. At the best of times and under the best of circumstances, our world cannot preserve for us such a sure haven of hope and peace that the corruption of human nature cannot in time invade and defeat it. Whether we are speaking of world conflict as nation continues to threaten other nations with wanton slaughter and mass destruction or if we are considering the tsunami of conflict in homes as husbands and wives separate and divorce or children suffer from various forms of neglect and abuse, signs of our collective moral failure surround us and saturate our culture.

Even education cannot cure the curse of man’s struggle with himself and with his neighbors. At best (and I’m being generous), it is only capable of addressing “how” folks can live life; it cannot supply them with the “want to” for the making of choices that address the deepest needs in their lives.

All we have left then, as we wallow in these realizations, is an empty void waiting to be filled with temporary “fixes” in life as people float from one experience to another in their endless quest for meaning and hope.  Hence, our vulnerability to the lure of drugs, sexual indulgence, and false promises of leaders who promise everything, but deliver nothing.

But there is a “filling” that does not fade away and a “fix” (rather, a healing) that does not wither though the years run by and our flesh grows weak.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV).

The hope that is offered to us by God through Jesus is not a silly promise that life is going to be easy and every little whim that we have is going to be met. Neither is it an ethereal concept that can only be talked about and never experienced. Nor is it even some great reward reserved for “ultra-religious” or “super-spiritual” persons that have somehow achieved it through their own righteous works or self-enlightenment.

No, this “living hope” is reserved for anyone who is humble enough to recognize his or her need for it and willingness to shrug off all the old counterfeits that once had been trusted, to embrace the gift of God’s love, no matter how abysmally he or she has failed in the past. It is a hope that recognizes the price that Jesus paid by dying for our sin, yet chooses to also believe that He has risen from the dead, conquering death not only for Himself but for all who place their faith in Him.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV).

So whatever desperate trial surrounds you now, remember that it is for only “a little while” and that the God Who defeated death by raising His Son again in a glorified body that cannot die again, has established for you a destiny greater than any that this world can offer.

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV).

You do not need to be a slave to despair. You do not need to feel oppressed by ogres of doom and gloom. God’s Word declares for you an eternally enduring hope that survives the upheavals of the world. God Himself invites you to the peaceful surety that He has an inheritance for all who become His children through faith in Christ. And He welcomes you to walk with Him through the years of your life in victory as you believe that He truly has an eternal place of joy and peace “kept in heaven for you”.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

One day several years ago, my family and I spent an afternoon at a park that had, along with its wooded walking trails and sandy softball fields, a colorful playground set made of heavy plastic complete with a deck from which various slides sloped down. One of the slides was attached to a tall platform, spiraling down in a long tunnel until it opened again above a pile of mulch.

Our children who were very young at the time, very much enjoyed climbing to the top of the “tower” only to disappear through the tunnel. My daughter especially loved sitting at the top of the slide, unable to see below, while I would call to her through the tunnel. Although she could not see me, she loved to hear my voice speaking to her from some unseen location below.

I thought of that afternoon this one day when chatting with a dear pastor friend, Lyle. He and I had gone on a mission trip together one fall to Ghana, a country in West Africa. We spent nearly two weeks there, encouraging and training pastors who do not have access to opportunities for formal education. While on that trip, we became burdened for these pastors, and were given a vision for something more than the occasional pastor training conference. We saw a need for a place where pastors could come and spend an extended period of time in intensive training in an environment that would supply pastoral mentoring, preparing them more adequately for the rigors of spiritually shepherding a congregation.

On our flight back to the U.S., we discussed the vision, scratched out ideas for a curriculum and even drew rough plans on napkins for a building that would facilitate it. Even as we considered it, somehow we knew that the Lord would cause it to come to pass. But it took nearly four years for sufficient funds to be raised so that construction could begin and about three years since then for sufficient monies to be raised to nearly complete it.

As the project neared completion, having taking several years longer than anticipated, we were discussing God’s faithfulness and how close the project was to being done, when Lyle remarked, “It’s come to the point now that I feel like we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

When I considered that conversation, I was reminded that not only is the life of faith itself a journey through unknown lands, but is made up of various opportunities to choose to obey the leading of the Lord in our lives, and thereby experience His love and power in intimate and profound ways.

That particular mission trip itself was one such experience for me. It was an extremely inconvenient time to take a trip like that for many reasons and doing so was difficult on a lot of levels for my family. But the participation of Lyle and myself in that trip was a key aspect in the development of a pastors’ training center that has made a huge difference for the Kingdom of God. Since then, the center has nurtured and assisted churches not only in the rural villages north of the cities of Accra and Kamasi, but in all the countries surrounding Ghana as well. Not only that, it has been a strategic center for reaching out in Jesus’ love to the people of West Africa through even the Hunger Challenge food that people in our community sent last year!

And so goes the Christian life as well. Did you know that much of what awaits you in your own pilgrimage with God will be a little bit like my experience? He is inviting you to trust Him and calls you to “step out in faith” in a relationship with Him that will lead you through many narrow valleys that feel like tunnels that have no end. Ultimately, He calls you to trust Him with your eternal destiny.

Incidentally, that particular conversation with Lyle was prompted by the passing of a mutual Christian friend named Pete. Pete, with whom Lyle had been especially close, was also a man of generous spirit, great vision, and humble devotion to His God. That very week he stepped through the shadow of death into an eternal inheritance kept for Him by His Savior and Lord.

Death, which Jesus has conquered, is the ultimate “tunnel” through which we each must pass. But whether one is speaking of that final step into eternity or of a test of obedience that our God has placed before us here and now, His voice calls to us more certainly than did mine to my daughter as I encouraged her to slide down to me.

But I guess that that’s what makes faith the beautiful thing that it is. God invites us to walk with Him and experience His faithfulness. If we accept His invitation and place our hand in His, He leads us safely through dark valleys of sorrow, over tall peaks of impossibility, and right on through bogs of discouragement until we reach the other side and all His promises are fully vindicated. It’s true that much of the time we just can’t see the “light at the end of the tunnel” but the voice of our heavenly Father calls to us through His Word, the Bible. Our God is faithful and we will see it if we just don’t give up.

“Love never ends…. Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:8a, 12 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

One  of the family projects that our family maintained in years past is the garden. Naturally our children would join in different aspects in gardening from helping to prepare the soil, weeding, and watering. While they would once in awhile mildly object to the tedious nature of gardening, they enjoyed those moments when they first saw the green of budding sprouts emerging from the soil. And we would look forward to the experience of seeing those sprouts come to full maturity, finally reaching the point when their fruits are ripe for picking.

On one occasion, we were planting corn, with our expectations of our children’s success in keeping with the age and ability of each of them. Under their mother’s supervision, they soon had three rows of evenly dispersed corn seeds along each furrow.

But as the fourth row was being planted, with my wife taking more direct involvement in it, our enthusiastic daughter (very young at the time) took the stick for making places for the seeds, and very passionately and liberally dotted the furrow with extra holes, dropping extra kernels in most of them (more or less all behind her mother’s back who had temporarily become preoccupied with other aspects of the garden). When I came along and looked at how things were going, my wife laughed and said, “I have no idea where the seeds have actually been planted in her row.” Together we counted about four or five times as many seed holes as the other furrows possessed.

Our daughter, wearing soil on her clothes and in her hair as proudly as if it were a badge of honor, stood by the garden beaming proudly as if she had just sown the whole thing herself. Her mother and I looked helplessly at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and then congratulated her on her hard work. In time, we had quite a row of corn, not just of stalks, but of clumps of stalks. The harvest from that row was quite an interesting experience!

Our garden adventures (or misadventures as the case sometimes was) sometimes reminded me of things that Jesus taught. The Lord often compared the workings of the Kingdom of God to the workings of a garden. In John 4:34-38 Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

As I watched our little girl “running amuck” with the seed, I saw someone who was sowing literal seed as we ought to sow the seed of the Word of God. Naturally, the preparing of the “soil” of hearts is chiefly done through the cultivation we invest in relationships that God affords us in our families, co-workers, neighbors, and every other “life-on-life” engagement we have with others. Love, courage, and integrity are powerful farming tools that break up even the hardest of hearts. And as we “till the soil”, we sow the words of God as we go, pointing out His holy attributes, His will for living life, and His promises for those who will trust Him with their hearts as they repent of sin and allow Him to be Lord of their lives.

In time, our daughter did indeed have a measure of success in her labors in the garden as those stalks sprang up and produced fruit. In a much more profound and important way, when we liberally and generously sow the seed of God’s Word, we may not know which seeds will ultimately bring a harvest, but we do know that some of those sprouts will come to full maturity, finally reaching the point when their fruits are also ripe for picking.

When they do, those who have sown and those who have reaped will together rejoice just as God Himself rejoices in the harvest. It’s a hard, hard thing though… the waiting. I was very impatient at times with the apparently slow rate at which things would grow in our little garden. How much more so were our children. But their mother patiently reminded them that things worth having are things worth waiting and working for. So we continued to wait and work among our little plants, weeding and watering, pruning and tending as needed.

The golden fruit of faith is far harder to wait on and work for than are the fruits of the garden. But it is worth so much more than the reddest and juiciest of tomatoes, the largest and coolest of cucumbers, and biggest and sweetest of apples!

In the fields that surround your life, are you tending the soil of others’ lives through the relationships with which God has entrusted you? Do you grip the “garden tools” of love, integrity, and courage as you live life, trusting God to use you to spread the seed of His Word in the hearts of others around you? Consider how barren things would be if there were no seed sown. Think of the famine in the land for a lack of knowledge of God’s love if you and I were faithless in our Lord’s fields?

If things seem dark and hopeless to you and the times are troubling, take heart in knowing that God is yet Lord and is still at work. He continues to use circumstances to strip people of their confidence in things that cannot eternally save them and create an opportunity for the seed of His Word to be sown into their lives and perhaps result in a harvest of eternal life! His Spirit continues to soften hard hearts and heal wounded souls allowing His grace to come and make new and whole what was once broken and ruined.

Join other Believers in the world today who recognize that they have been sent into this day and age to be messengers of God’s hope! Like Jesus Himself, find your nourishment for daily living in the doing of His will for your life! Are you about your “heavenly Father’s business?” Is His agenda, YOUR agenda? If not, take a good long look at your priorities and prayerfully allow God to reshuffle them for you so that you do not squander your brief stay on earth on things that will not and cannot follow you into eternity.

Make your goal in life to “finish His work” (John 4:34) and just wait and see what God can and will do through you!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

My schedule like that of many, many people today is proving to be so crushingly crowded that I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed. It isn’t simply the number of things to do but also the diversity of things that need to be done. So little connects these things that making sufficient prioritization of those competing “to do’s” is more like juggling a dozen flying China dishes than a nice, neat process that always works as it should.

ArtOfJugglingMy oldest son learned to do a little bit of real juggling several years ago – a feat that I was never able to manage. The skill necessary to do so was simply beyond my ability.

Juggling multiple responsibilities and demands isn’t an easy feat either. In fact, in our mad effort to try to keep a dozen plates in the air, we often lose sight of the fact that some plates we are tossing up are plates that we definitely don’t want to drop.

Just think about it a moment! Would you want to risk your great-great-great-grandmother’s ultra-rare banquet dish that came over from the “Old World” and has been in the family for generations? If you could juggle plates, would you allow that family heirloom to be treated as if it were as common as the inexpensive dishes you could easily replace in a quick trip back to Wally-World?

I doubt it. But that is the very thing we do with the treasures of God. Chief among such treasures is the intimacy with God that Jesus’ atonement has purchased for us through the cross of Calvary.

In a lifestyle of juggling too many activities and responsibilities the one plate we (at best) try to juggle as if it were one among many, or (at worst) the one we drop altogether, is the one that is the most precious of all: that of attending to our relationship with God through private time with Him in the reading of His Word (the Bible) and in prayer. The second plate that we often endanger or neglect is maintaining time with and for our family and the third is that of corporate worship and service with other Christians.

These are three plates that we should neither keep in the air with the others nor drop them from the focus of our efforts and energies. We should treat them as non-negotiables, holding them near and dear to our hearts as well as at the top of our schedules.

But, again, the chief “plate” that we should guard and cherish is that personal relationship that Jesus died to grant us. Frankly, all other plates are expendable in comparison. I am not saying that they are not important but that if keeping these other plates in the air means letting go of one that is in truth of more value, then we must learn to say no to even the “good” things that steal away our devotion to God.

Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 ESV).

Love for someone, especially God, is not measured by good intentions but by the choices that we make. The time that we spend is our own to choose how to spend. If we spend no time with God then we are basically saying that we do not love God more than the other things that have crowded Him out of our lives. If you’re like me, that realization is definitely an uncomfortable one. Schedules that are too busy to make time for God are the non-verbal messages that we send to Him that we just do not love Him all that much.

We must therefore start right now to make time with Him a top priority. Get up fifteen minutes earlier so you can read some in His Word! You’ll be amazed at how you’ll suddenly begin to hear Him speak to you if you’ll simply give Him the time of day! Make serving Him and worshiping Him in the company of other Believers your Sunday non-negotiable (no matter how tempting it is to sleep in and catch up on the rest you missed earlier in the week). Give God a “first fruit” offering of your time and trust Him to bless you (not necessarily with monetary gain, but with spiritual riches of grace and strength, joy and peace).

Are you worried that doing so might mean you drop some of the other plates you’ve been trying to keep in the air? If you drop one or two, so what? At least the non-negotiable priority of your relationship with the Lord will still be there to help you put in perspective those things you spent so much time worrying about needlessly. This is why I think Jesus tells us not to worry.

“I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 ESV).

The modern-day equivalents of this passage may indeed still be worrying over food or clothing, but would also likely include our children’s well-being (even if we don’t get them into every sport this year), our yards and houses (even if we can’t manage to get that new paint job, or our not receiving that promotion at work (which would mean going from a fifty hour work week to a sixty-five hour one even if we got it).

Remember that Jesus teaches us to keep things simple and keep our lives focused upon Him. A little juggling is all right as long as we don’t lose track of what matters most. And what matters most is our relationship with God and the legacy of spiritual fruitfulness that He desires to cultivate within us, for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. Make God the “main thing” in your life and then trust Him with the details.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan