Don’t Wait Till The Last Minute

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The admonition (“Don’t Wait Till The Last Minute”) is one we all hear and have heard many times. Those words have come from teachers, parents, friends, spouses, ministry leaders, and so many others along the way including us. It is always sound advice and certainly intended to encourage us to accomplish a task, do well on an assignment, meet a project deadline, think through what we need to pack, and if we heed it, to avoid stress and disappointment in our performance.

 

Somehow those words often can result in feelings of frustration as well. We may not admit that, but it shows up in the tone of our voice when we respond to it. We do not like to be reminded of things we need to do much of the time. Perhaps it is our pride that anyone would suggest we didn’t have an awareness of the deadline we are facing. Perhaps it is our reluctance to dig into it and set aside the excuses and procrastination that triggers the feelings. Perhaps it is our regret at our commitment to complete it from the beginning. It is a reminder that our time is not our own.

 

Nevertheless, duties, assignments, projects, and the like are a part of our daily lives and something we cannot avoid. Time. We complain when we are older that we do not have enough of it. We grumble when we are younger that we have too much time on our hands and are bored.

 

Time is a gift. We spend some of it every day while never knowing what our allotment of time is.

 

We can feel we have no choice in how we spend it, but that is an illusion. There are duties for each of us, but the things we have committed to whether it is a job, a class, our family, a ministry, or anything else are choices we have made. Perhaps the greater challenges, however, are the truly important things for which we never receive such an admonition and yet we should remember daily.

 

What kinds of things should we not wait to do lest we miss an opportunity? Here might be a short list that you can add to:

 

  • Tell those we love that we love them and why (Don’t wait until they are dying.)

 

  • Kiss our children and tell them something positive we noticed about them (Don’t wait! They are growing up so fast and they will hear so many negative things from others in their lives.)

 

  • Notice the world around you and become a good observer so you experience the wonder of creation and places where you may be needed. (Don’t wait to look up at the star-studded sky, smell the flowers you planted weeks ago, notice the neighbor whose steps are slowing.)

 

  • Take time to read and reflect on God’s Word (Don’t wait to discover the words the Lord wants you to hear from Him for that very day.)

 

Don’t simply add these to your “to do” list, but ask the Lord to help you keep the important ahead of the urgent in each day. It is usually the small things that are remembered by those around us long after we have been with them.

 

In God’s Word there are many reminders about time and our responsibility to be good stewards of that time. I was reminded of that again as I was reading in Mt. 25:1-13 about the wise and foolish virgins and the return of the Bridegroom. When we see the reminders we can be tempted to chafe again and add to our “to do” list, but I don’t think the Lord is as interested in our “doing” as in our relating to Him, loving Him, and loving one another.

 

Perhaps the truly important admonition is this: “Don’t wait till the last minute to love Him, to love those He has brought into your life.”

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What Do You Hold In Your Hand?

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When I consider the question, I often look at what I hold physically in that moment in time. Perhaps it is the wooden spoon I am using to stir batter. Perhaps it is the iron as I press a shirt. Perhaps it is my camera, my journal, my Bible, or a favorite book.

For Moses, it was a staff that was used to demonstrate the power of God to Pharaoh. For David, it was a sling, which felled Goliath. In both these biblical examples, the things were commonplace to the men who used them and yet God used the commonplace to do something extraordinary.

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The more serious question I then ponder is what do I consider commonplace or ordinary, why do I view these things in that way, and what might they become when submitted to God?

Gutzon Borglum looked at a mountainside in the Black Hills of South Dakota and envisioned his sculptor’s hands creating what we know as Mt. Rushmore. He used tools that were common to him along with a vision of what they could create even though it had never been done before. He saw something no one else did and created it so we could all see the wonder.

Theodore Roosevelt in an address at Carnegie Hall in 1912 said, “We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men.” He saw something, believed something that was and also was yet to come with both the potential and the responsibility to act wisely with what had been placed in our hands as a nation.

These realities give me pause. What do I hold in my hand that could become extraordinary? What do I see that others may not see and how can I give them a glimpse of it?

I can only answer that when I risk discovering what it is for me. Then, I must believe in what I see as Moses, David, Gutzon Borglum, Theodore Roosevelt, and countless others did, but I must also gain courage to act on it and discover in that process what God saw all along.

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What Agreement Did We Make?

 

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Our daily newscasts alert us to agreements or pacts that have been agreed to between countries, companies, or organizations. Many times there is a formal signing event with special pens designated for the agreement, treaty, or pact. In recent history, many pacts or deals were sealed by a handshake instead of a formal ceremony. In those days, your word was your bond and the handshake was the physical demonstration of the agreement. In each case, it represents a promise or commitment to that which has been agreed upon.

 

Children like to “pinky promise” one another. It is their version of a handshake of old perhaps. A bride and groom pledge promises to one another representing a covenant, an agreement.

 

There are also unspoken agreements that are made along the way in all of our lives. Some of these we are conscious of and have assented to on some level. Perhaps it is something that was spoken long ago and now continues to be assumed such as a husband agreeing to handle the yard work or the wife agreeing to handle the primary job of cooking.

 

Beyond these are unconscious agreements we have made and continue to make unknowingly. These are those convictions we have developed or have been raised to believe about life, the Lord, and us. Many of these developed as children or adolescents when we were malleable and believed what we learned was fact without the maturity, discernment or wisdom to know whether they were true or false. For those reasons, it gives fertile ground for the enemy to twist and distort our beliefs. Too often, they shadow us into adulthood without our awareness. If we stumble upon one of them, we assume we are the ones creating these thoughts versus the whispers of the enemy.

 

Those unconscious subtle agreements work to try to erode the truth and wreak havoc with our thought life and emotions. These then nibble away and erode our relationships, casting doubt and uncertainty where there is no reason for either one.

 

How does this work?

 

Perhaps when we were young children our parents were divorced and we did not and could not understand what happened, but we felt abandoned by the parent who moved out of our home. We wondered if it was our fault in some way, if we had obeyed more quickly, been quieter, tried harder, or been more of something we could have still been a family. In the mix of those wounded hearts, a subtle whisper can begin that we are not good enough, don’t deserve a family, will be abandoned by anyone we love.

 

These beliefs sink under the surface of our minds and hearts and yet, even in adulthood they subtly pop up above the surface. We have a hard time believing we are worthwhile, trusting we are loveable and will not be abandoned when we risk loving. Despite whatever we achieve, we cannot believe in “the possible” for ourselves and sometimes we struggle with what the Lord believes about us even after we become Christians.

 

I think that is why Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 10 to take every thought captive. It reminds us that we need to take back the truth about who we are, who we are not, and who He is. We often will ask someone else to affirm us in some way and hope that will get rid of the pesky thoughts. Sadly, those words slide off of us as if we were made of Teflon.

 

It is only when we hear from our Creator the truth that we can receive the positive affirmations of others and own the truth. The truth is that He loved us before, before we knew Him, before we tried to obey Him, and He will never abandon us. His love was NEVER based on whether or not we were good enough or deserved it. NONE of us were or did. It was based on who He was, is, and always will be.

 

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psa. 139:14 ESV

 

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Extraordinary Snapshots from Ordinary

 

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Thanks to cell phones and other mobile devices most all of us are capturing special moments, snapshots, to record events. I use them as well, but prefer my digital camera and my great lens to capture something that tells a story all by itself.

 

I cannot recall when I got my first camera and began snapping photos. I am certain it goes photography-quoteback to the days of being a Brownie or Girl Scout, but when I worked as a “stringer” for a local newspaper, I began to look through the camera lens differently. I knew I could snap a picture, but could I take a photo that told (or helped tell) a story? It was then that I started to look through my camera lens differently and that quest has remained to the present.

 

Our photos on whatever device we use catch moments in time because those moments are special to us and because we want to remember. I am not sure as I look at some of these in my own albums if they really help me recall or give me only a glimpse that cannot really fully bring back the memory.

 

The truth is that I have discovered the most extraordinary “snapshots” take place on seemingly very ordinary days and most of them were never shot through the lens of a camera. These “snapshots” are recalled vividly and were often captured by the lens in my mind and heart when there was no camera in my hand. These seem to be recorded indelibly and are not one or two dimensional, but truly full of meaning and emotion.

 

One of those “snapshots” is of my dad when I was a child as I watched him walk through a 599c713719cfa4422b1086909fbdfa07field on the farm where I grew up. I can see him clearly walk along with his straw hat and fiddle seeder. I have captured his pace and speed as well and when that “photo” comes to mind, it never fails to warm my heart because it gives me a special glimpse of him. Even if a camera had been in my hand, it could not have captured what I see through the lens within me.

 

There was also another picture of my dad slowly walking through the house gently patting my newborn son’s back when he was struggling with colic. My dad would be barely moving his feet and yet it seemed to soothe our son in ways I could not. It was a dear picture to me since my son and I were then living with my parents while my husband was overseas on active duty. My dad never appeared to tire of doing this for an hour at a time to soothe his precious grandson. How could a camera lens capture the emotion connected with this?

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Another such “snapshot” causes relief and joy to bubble up within me as no photograph can. It is one of my 24-year-old U.S. Marine Captain walking off a plane at 6AM on an Easter Sunday morning after being separated by a war half a world away for 14 months. I see his familiar walk, his deep tan, and how thin he is, but the lens within captures something beyond that and even 48 years later brings a similar set of feelings to my heart.

 

Our memories tend to be recorded almost like a kaleidoscope and sorted randomly, sometimes inaccurately. I think that is why we use our cameras so often.

 

I now routinely carry some sort of camera with me most every day, but as I go through a typical day when there is no special event to capture I now pause to glimpse through the lens within. In those moments, I see things differently, better, and perhaps more clearly. Those are the very best “snapshots” and they are mine alone.

 

 

 

Without Warning

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J.B. Collins is the top national security correspondent for the New York Times with a topnotch reputation for getting the facts others miss, but the challenge in this new release from Tyndale House is how to convince the President of the United States.

 

The Middle East is in chaos. The Israeli prime minister is dead and Amman, Jordan is in ruins as ISIS continues to escalate their attacks across the world. President Taylor knows that and has seen their tactics up close and personal when he came under attack and nearly lost his life when he was abducted in the Middle East. Even so, he continues to tell the American people ISIS is being defeated.

 

J.B. was the one who interviewed the head of ISIS while that man was in prison. He knows his voice, his face, his plans to destroy not only the Middle East, but also the United States in attacks worse than those of 9/11. J.B. fears the worst is ahead based on his firsthand knowledge from his interview and the certainty there are jihadist cells already plotting the attacks within the United States and that chemical weapons are likely to be used.

 

As J.B. waits to meet with President Taylor before he speaks to a joint session of Congress and honors J.B. for his work, he feels an urgency to persuade the President the worst is coming and he must act swiftly and decisively to protect the people of the United States. He is confounded by the unwillingness of the President to acknowledge the truth and tell the American people the truth as well.

 

For as much as J.B. fears, what he doesn’t know is that things are worse than he anticipates and despite all the warnings the President has received, he still insists on a different narrative, a false one. That narrative will leave the United States vulnerable and Middle East allies at a loss. Time has run out.

 

This gripping novel sounds like it has been pulled from present day headlines and will immediately catch you up in this powerful story written by Joel Rosenberg, New York Times best selling author. The intrigue will keep the pages turning with no certainty of how it will all end until the final few pages.

 

I would love to tell you more about the story line, J.B.’s character, how his brother, Matt, fits into J.B.’s final chapter, but I don’t want to spoil the story. You will want to check this all out for yourself.

 

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.