In retrospect, I wish I would’ve spent more time studying God’s Word.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve prayed more and worried less.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve been a good friend rather than trying to find one.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve eaten more veggies and less burgers.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve resisted hitting the snooze button so often.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve listened more and talked less.
In retrospect, I wish I gave more grace and less judgement.
In retrospect, I wish I looked after other’s interests more than my own.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve taken more risks than always playing it safe.
In retrospect. What is you’re list? What is your “in retrospect”?
The book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s “in retrospect.” It’s a man at the end of his life writing his
book in retrospect. In it, there is both regret and hope. Realism and faith.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Live your life knowing that at some point you will look back on it in retrospect.
I live on the beautiful Gulf Coast where fresh seafood is in abundance. The water is blue, the sand is white, and the fish are wild! This means there is ample supplies for one of my favorite culinary delights, sushi, and I often partake.
My wife will not eat it today, but there was a time early in our marriage when she actually gave it a try. Although I give her credit for giving it a shot, I must point out that she really did it all wrong. My beautiful southern belle bride would take a knife in one hand and a fork in the other and proceed to gruesomely destroy the sushi piece by cutting it in half! Now, any sushi aficionado knows this crucial fact: sushi is made to be eaten one piece at a time.
Our lives are a lot like Sushi. God created us for a specific rhythm. We were made to live a sushi life, one day at a time. Now before you blow me off as simply stating the obvious, let me assure you of my deep conviction that most of us are actually living life completely off beat. You see, this life rhythm isn’t just a physical reality. It must become a mental and spiritual reality as well. The battle for God’s rhythm in our lives is waged primarily internally.
We all have two things pulling against our God given rhythm; the past and the future. Like two bullies on the playground of our lives, they do a terrific job of snatching us back and forth causing the dance of our lives to become a mangled mess of missteps. Some get stuck in the past with guilt and regret or nostalgia and revisionism. Others get caught up in the future with worry and anxiety or control and presumption. Both sides to this viscous coin become extremely destructive to the life giving rhythm God made us to enjoy. Whether it the past or the future, both of which we can’t fully change and control, if we get consumed by either we end up robbing ourselves of the amazing gift of TODAY! Each sushi bite of a day is a gift God has given you and I to enjoy, maximize, and fully live.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a series of blogs on this crucial subject. Join me in exploring what it means to live in the day by day rhythm that our Father created for us. Our lives can be so much more deep and full, but that cannot happen apart from God’s plan. I want to dance the dance of life, step by step and day by day. I want the same for you.
“Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
I’ve always been a fan of intelligent, quick, and tasteful humor. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live when guys like Adam Sandler and Chris Farley roamed its famed stage. While shows like this can be very funny and often offer unique perspectives on current events, the results can be dangerous. I really believe our culture has created several generations of people who find it hard to take anything seriously. We have increasingly become a culture of cynics.
The problem with unhealthy cynicism is that it can lead to an empty life. Cynicism can make you criticize everything and embrace nothing. Unfortunately this has quickly become the state of my generation and those behind me. Sincerity is an assumed mirage in the desert of our fake and artificial culture. Leaders of all stripes are automatically distrusted and considered dishonest and shallow. When something looks great there must be something wrong behind the curtain. This has developed an atmosphere of general dissatisfaction in many of our lives. If we don’t embrace anything, then we’re not fully committed to anything, which leads to life far below the standard I believe we were created to experience.
Cynicism and criticism often are two unruly brothers that like to run together. The cynic will most often voice his issues in biting criticism. Now, let me be clear: cynicism and criticism are not always bad. We should not be naïve or careless. The important question to ask is whether you are someone who offers healthy and constructive criticism or have you become a critic.
Do you find something wrong with everything? Do you always look for the negative instead of the positive? Do you offer as much praise and affirmation as you do criticism? These are important things that could help you decide if you’ve crossed that line. Cynicism can be dangerous, and we really need to guard against allowing it to become what we are all about. If you find something wrong with everything, the problem might be looking back at you in the mirror.
Once every year our country comes together to eat, hang out, and watch the football game. I say it in that order because I’m convinced, especially in the South, that most folks aren’t really watching the Super Bowl but instead are just having fun with friends. In fact, most people probably just want to watch the commercials!! I’m sure I will have my share of chicken wings this Sunday night. As we approach the big day, I am reminded more than anything of the power of the team.
Football is a great sport for many reasons, but the greatest to me is the fact that it truly is a team game. Sure, there are individual positions on the field but they are all extremely intertwined. Every player’s ultimate success lies not only in his own performance but also on the performance of those around him. Even the quarterback can’t get his job done if the line doesn’t hold tight and protect him. It’s hard to throw an accurate pass lying flat on your back!! There is a ton of trust and relational chemistry that must be built for a football team to succeed.
I have always loved being on a team. Whether it was the numerous baseball and basketball teams I was on growing up or the leadership teams at my home church, I enjoyed the shared experience with my teammates. In high school I was on a drama team that performed a production for our school that people just loved so much. I remember sharing the moment of applause as we bowed together……all 20 of us! In college I was part of a touring music group. Night after night, we would minister through word and music all over the southeast. We rode together, rehearsed together, set up stages together, and allowed God to use us together. From the sound tech to the lead guitarist to the lead singer, it was all a big team effort…..and I LOVED it.
I think the reason teams are so appealing to us is that God made us that way, and He modeled it for us. Really what a good team becomes is a community. I bet that the two super bowl teams talk about more than just football when they’re together. I bet they talk about their families, share advice, and maybe even some pray together. Teams…..GOOD teams always become communities, and communities are powerful. A good team becomes life giving to those on the team.
At my church COTES Ministries, we are really big on Small Groups. We have a large church, but we truly are a collection of small groups. These groups meet together to eat and fellowship, study the Scriptures, and pray together. It is amazing what happens over time in these groups. They really become TEAMS! When there’s a need, they come together. When a member hurts, the group jumps in to help. They laugh together, cry together, and do life together.
We also have a staff that I like to call the TEAM. I am one of a great group of people who feel called to lead our local body of believers in Christ. I love our small group and I love our church staff/team. They are my friends and my partners in ministry and mission. My family is also a team….a 5 person team!! Team Bell. We are doing life together in the Bell house! We were all created to be on a team. This week as you watch the big game, notice how they work together. Look for the chemistry. I would also ask you to consider getting on a team if you’re doing life alone. You were created for community. You were created to do life on a team.