Daily Devotions

Learning to Die So One Can Live

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For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

 

I cannot remember who said it, but there is truth in the quote, “The minute you are born, you are beginning the path to death.” That isn’t the sad fact. What is sad is that so many people fail to live, while they have the chance. God gives us this life as a gift and an obligation. It is incumbent upon each of us to learn to live this life to the fullest, even as we are dying. Some of us have just a few days or months left, while others have another 90 years left, but each of us remains on the mortality clock.

 

Aaron Nichols, in his article, “Three Life Lessons From a Dying Man,” were learned by a terminally ill man named Hank in the retirement home where Aaron worked. Looking back at his life, Hank introduced Aaron to a new way of looking at his time on this earth. Here are the three life lessons Hank taught Aaron. 1. Life (and the world) is a malfunctioning plane, the more pissed off we let ourselves become about it, the more likely we are to crash. 2. Happiness is not a consumable product. It is not something you find by searching for it. It is a naturally arising byproduct of a fulfilling, well-lived life. 3. A well-lived life has more to do with perspective than anything else. As long as you can laugh, there is hope.

 

Hank is right, we are on a malfunctioning plane. Why then, are we surprised, hurt, and bitter when the malfunctions continue? God never promised we would not have malfunctions. God did promise the Spirit’s support and care as we work through life’s malfunctions. We are not failing or falling short when malfunctions hit, we only fall short if we give up and let ourselves crash. A lot of our malfunctions come because we have unrealistic expectations for our lives. Happiness is not something we can always control. We live our lives with faith and integrity, we live to make a difference and trust happiness will follow. When happiness alludes us in any given moment, we still have even more beneficial options, our faith and our integrity. When we live a faith-filled, honorable life, something even better than happiness occurs. We become filled with personal satisfaction, and spiritual contentment. Satisfaction and contentment provide a meaningful but less fulfilling byproduct, happiness.

 

Finally, we are able to create meaning by keeping a proper perspective. The role of happiness in our lives is about perspective. Facing malfunctions in a healthy way also requires a proper perspective. Pray today for God’s Spirit to speak to your heart and guide your perspective, so you will continue to face life’s malfunctions and moments of unhappiness with faith and integrity. If we work at it, we will live a big life, worthy of each dying day!

Posted by Scott Paczkowski with

Nurture or Neuter

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

God has given each one of us an amazing gift: our brain. If God wanted little puppets, the Divine One would have made our brains smaller and less agile. God wants us to use this amazing gift. But like any gift, it comes with a responsibility. We are to treat our minds with respect, nurturing them so they can grow in wisdom and understanding. If we do, our minds will provide a meaningful life. If we squander or abuse our brains, the quality of our lives will suffer.

Anyone who reads my devotions regularly, knows I respect the writer Thomas Oppong. His article, “The Quality of Your Mind is The Quality of Your Life,” affirms, “It’s our own thoughts and habits that determine how we look at the world and, ultimately, what we see.” If we waste our time on drivel, or on ignorant conspiracy theories, like Qanon. Our brains weaken and our divine wisdom is lost.

Oppong has a recommendation to help us nurture and not neuter our brain’s capacity to guide us faithfully. He points out, “The quality of your life is-the quality of the books you read-the quality of the people you surround yourself with-the quality of the relationships you build-and the quality of your understanding about the nature of reality.” I have no idea if Thomas Oppong is a person of faith. I have not seen where he has shared his faith identity. But he has a spiritual way of approaching the world and I can translate his words to help my own faith journey. The books we read instruct our worldview. Other people also influence that worldview. His words should not be interpreted as a reason to avoid people in need, but to recognize there are people we can assist; and then, people who influence us. It is vital we have people in our lives who nurture us. That is a vital role in the formation of the church.

Today, ponder how you are using your brain. Are you being influenced well by the books you read, the television and movies you watch, and the people you associate with in your daily lives? Is your time spent on the computer trying to find a reason to feel special, or nurturing the faith with humility? Treat your brain as a gift, and nurture it with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. When you do, life’s meaning will become transformative.

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