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How To Live The Best Christian Life

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What does it mean to live well in this world? For many, they root the worldly answer to this question in vanity and materialism. Fortunately, the authority of God’s word has an answer for us. Society and sometimes our own ego’s tell us how important it is to be successful. Our modern world usually defines success as earning more money, getting a big house, a nice car, a boat, maybe even an airplane. Success could mean climbing the promotion ladder at your job, or having a very successful business. For many, they define success in how many “followers” or “likes” they have on their social media platform. Yet, as people gain these successes, many of them are searching still for more happiness and meaning.

Americans of all economic backgrounds are left with a void. According to a Time Magazine story, suicide rates are higher than at any other time since World War I. A Harvard report informs us of an “Astounding increase in antidepressant use by Americans.” This type of sad news informs us that even as citizens of the richest nation in the world, more cars, boats, bigger houses, career advances, etc…. are not enough to make us happy. So what can people do to discover fulfillment and success independent of the material? Luckily, God’s word provides us with the answer. The wonderful youtube channel, The Bible Project, does an excellent job of providing succinct overviews of each book of the Bible. Their take on Ecclesiastes is an instructive guide to aid us in how to live the best Christian life.

The Book of Ecclesiastes explains three observations about our world. The first is father time:

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Generations come, and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course…
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them. – Ecclesiastes 1 ( 4-6, 11) (NIV)

In the grand expanse of the universe, we are just a speck. Everything that is so important to us right now: our careers, our bank accounts, our cars, our “successes” mean nothing in the big picture of God’s eternal plan. Our earthly existence is just a quick flash. A small drop in an enormous ocean of time.

The second observation form Ecclesiastes is that we will all die and return to dust and that our concerns while here on earth are relatively meaningless.
Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. -Ecclesiastes (19-21) (NIV)

The third observation we learn from Ecclesiastes is that life is random. :

The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come. Ecclesiastes 9, 11-12 (NIV)

The lesson here is that life is way too complex for us to try and control and attempting to do so sets us up for failure and disappointment. These three observations can make life seem pretty dark and pointless. The author explains that everything in life is hevel. This is a Hebrew word meaning vapor or smoke. And like smoke, life can look like one thing, but quickly change into another form. You can reach out and try to grab (control) both smoke and life to no avail.

Modern biblical translations miss the smoke metaphor and usually translate hevel to the word meaningless. However, the author of Ecclesiastes isn’t suggesting that life has no meaning, but that instead, life can be unclear (like smoke). Just like standing in a smoky room, life can be confusing, stressful, and it’s difficult to know what lies in front of you. Therefore, while it may not always guarantee short-term success in our time on earth, we should live in fear of the Lord and have faith because his plan is eternal and beyond our comprehension.

The lesson of Ecclesiastes is that since we have no control in life, we should focus on the one thing that we do have control over, our attitude. Real success is accepting this lack of control and appreciating not the material, but the intangible things in life: holding hands with a loved one, sitting out in the sun on a warm day, your bare feet on the beach, a great meal with friends and loved ones. We should learn to enjoy these good simple moments, and the bad, because while they are fleeting, they are all gifts from a loving God.

The good times and the bad, the money, the jobs, our health, our friends, and even our loved one’s will all come and go. If we can teach ourselves to appreciate the ups and the downs of this rollercoaster of life and understand that God is the master of the entire amusement park, then learning to enjoy the ride is the accurate definition of success. This is how we can learn to live our best Christian life.

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Faith

This is Why the Left Hates You

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus

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It is obvious that the left has become a venomous mob, attacking anyone and anything in their path toward progressivism. Those who loudly proclaim themselves against hate, are indeed the worst perpetrators of it. There is a reason why. It is a Cosmic Conflict at its core. PolitiCrossing Founder Chris Widener takes five minutes to explain the following bible verses (Video below):

John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

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Faith

Life is Short: Married October 1st, Dead on December 5th

You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

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When I first moved to Chattanooga a year ago, I knew nobody, yet friends came quickly. One of the first people I met who was so welcoming was Andy, a 38 year old financial advisor. He was a gift. We went to lunch and became friends. We didn’t do a lot together but we spoke regularly. He was engaged and getting ready to be married on top of running a growing financial advisory business. He loved to fly his airplane and he loved boating. He and his fiancé’s life looked like it would be amazing. Young, affluent and in love.

On October 1st, my wife and I attended their wedding. It was beautiful. 250 guests celebrated with them and enjoyed a beautiful reception. When the reception was over it was off for their honeymoon.

Then, early in the week after they got back from their honeymoon, less than two weeks after getting married, Andy was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Everyone was shocked, but hopeful. Andy was in great shape and active and a positive man.

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Yesterday, December 5th, Andy passed away at 39. 65 days after getting married, Andy’s wife became a widow.

It has made me think so much about life. Life is short. There are no guarantees in life. No promise of tomorrow. It truly is one day at a time.

But what does Andy’s death mean to you, even though you didn’t know him? It can be a reminder. You may not be here tomorrow. Christmas may never come for you, even this year.

As the Bible says in James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.’ You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.’”

What does that mean for you today?

It means you should love.
It means you should forgive.
It means you should take that risk.
It means you should reconcile that broken relationship.
It means you should laugh.
It means you should encourage someone.
It means you should take that trip.
It means you should enjoy that meal.
It means you should read that book.
It means you should sit in front of that fire with friends and a great bottle of wine.
It means you should really live.

Ultimately, it means that you should prepare for your future. I don’t mean your future here. I mean your future in the afterlife. Andy was a man of faith. Andy is in a better place today even though his friends and family are at a loss. Andy knew God and knew that God loved him.

We all have a short life here – even if you live to eighty, it still feels short and you wonder where all the time went. So live your best life. Make an impact and a difference. Leave the world a better place because you were in it. But more importantly, make sure that you are right with God because eventually we all draw our last breath and in the twinkling of an eye, we are face to face with our Maker.

Don’t be afraid of dying, be afraid of never really living…

We will miss you Andy, but we will see you soon.

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