Questions: they often linger, mysteriously, even hauntingly.
Nor is it the unanswered and unanswerable questions that are necessarily the most troubling. It is often, perhaps more often, the questions with answers that stay with us, demanding our attention. Maybe that is why humans often are happier with unanswered questions; questions of life, death, and eternity.
Recent circumstances in the providence of God have turned my thoughts more in this direction. I recently received a text from my cousin informing me that his mother had died. In the same week, a vibrant Christian sister about my age died after a struggle with terminal illness. Even more recently I found out that my Father has been diagnosed with stage four melanoma. All of these have reminded me of the rhetorical question asked by James in his inspired letter to struggling Christians: “What is your life…?” To which he replies; “It is but a vapor, appearing for a little time, then vanishing.”
I will soon turn sixty-three. Even if I live a relatively long life, most of it is gone. Which leads me back to the question James proposes. It is more than a reminder of the certainty of death, although it is that. It is a soul-searching question about the meaning of life, especially for the child of God. It is as much a question of why and where as it is what. It is a question of purpose, direction, and destiny. How then can we profit from pondering James’ question and applying its answers?
I urge you to do three things:
First: Embrace the Uncertainty of Life.
Both the surrounding circumstances and the personal conditions of life are uncertain. It is certainly foolish to approach life without plans. But it is just as foolish, perhaps more so, to make plans without God. Everything is predicated upon the active providence of our Lord. Circumstances change, sometimes rapidly and sometimes drastically. This is not abnormal. This is Providential! In like manner, personal conditions of physical, mental, and emotional health as well as financial status can all change, as a quick look at the opening chapters of the book of Job reminds us. If you and I do not embrace this reality, we could become disappointed, frustrated, angry, and even bitter.
Second: Embrace the Brevity of Life.
In August of 1963, my mother began to have labor pains. My Father rushed my sisters and me to our relatives and my mother to the hospital. Soon we were told of the birth of a boy. I had a brother, and, being the only boy, I was naturally excited. But it was only in the next day or two that young Daniel began to have problems and died. My hopes of a brother to share life with were dashed and my nine year old heart was broken. For me, that was an early lesson on the brevity of life. Life’s duration is short, even at its longest. This life’s termination is sure.
Third: Embrace the Priority of Life.
Woven into the text of this exhortation by James is his inspired answer to his question: “What is your life?” We face all the uncertainty of this brief life with one priority: the will of God. Life is not something to be tenaciously held to. Rather it is a valuable gift to be invested. The believer does not spend his or her life nor does he waste it. He invests it. “If the Lord wills….” is not a cliche. It is a way of life. The will of God is not a hard to find lost treasure. It is the path of a disciple. We invest our lives seeking God’s will in the only place God reveals it: in His Word. God’s will is also something that He unfolds in His own good time, as He leads by His Spirit, for “…. as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” “A man’s heart devises his way, but the LORD directs his steps”(Prov.16:9). He must be the Lord of our plans. Then we invest our life in doing God’s will. We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only. God has revealed His will. It is ours, by His grace, to obey.” “What is your life…?” Its direction, its purpose, its destiny are all in His hands. “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” To this end we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be pleasing to Him”(2Cor. 5:9).
Right now, “gender identity” or “gender selection” is a hot button. The idea of gender is now being contrived by our culture instead of having a natural definition. The “moral revolution” has changed everything. However, the church must go beyond the culture understanding and biblically define “gender”. Charles and Daniel discuss where biblical thinking should lead us.
Many times people want to say that the Gospel is simple but a better term is clarity. In one since, we don’t want to over complicate the Gospel truth, but on the other hand, we don’t want to minimize or dumb it down. Join Charles and Daniel as they clarify the clarity.
At Vision4Living, we talk a lot of about the Gospel and the need to make the Gospel central in our life, family, and church. You may be saying, “why are we talking about this again?” Because we can never take for granted that those around us have a clear and biblical view. Join Charles and Daniel today as they talk about the necessity of the Gospel.
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There are misconceptions of what church leadership should be and look like. However, before we go there, we need to know personally what leadership is and then that should inform how we choose or look for leaders in the church. Join Daniel and Charles as they spend the next few weeks on CrossTalk discussing this important issue.
“A long time ago in a ‘place’ far far away”, something happened that changed the course of the church, western civilization, and the world. It affected what you believe, how you live, where you attend church, and the influence of world wide missions. It turned Europe from a dark continent into a vibrant, thriving one; from a continent afraid to think to a culture bursting with ideas; from a continent of people who could hardly see beyond their doors to a people with the horizon for their vision. If this seems like hyperbole, it is not. No event since the birth of Christ has had such an impact. Indeed it is difficult to overestimate its significance. And while the secular world may choose to ignore it, it cannot escape it. The ideological freedom and openness of thought that is so ostensibly valued today is due, at least in part, to it. Though it was a sovereign act of God, He used men to bring it to pass; men who were resolved to stand no matter what the cost might be. It was their resolve, by God’s grace, that led a continent from darkness to light.
The event I am referring to is the Reformation. This fall we will commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of its beginning. There were preludes to it, but when a mere mortal took the initiative to nail his Biblical theses in a most obvious place, the battle was on. The fire had been lighted, and there was no extinguishing it. Martin Luther was that man who, standing on the shoulders of Huss, Wycliffe, and others, led the charge into the Biblical and theological darkness when it seemed unsafe, unwise, and unfruitful. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists all have roots there, as do others. And later, those who were spiritual descendants of the reformers made their way across an ocean to a New World. Is it all that difficult for the modern thinking Christian to see something of the present day importance of these men and this event? Must we agree with everything they said and did in order to appreciate their work and apply the truth they sacrificed so much to pass on. And dare we undervalue their work and testimony by ignoring their example and legacy. But surely the need for reformation is past. We benefit from their life and work, true enough, but how much and for how long should we dwell on the past? What’s done is done, and this is a new day with new challenges and fresh ideas.
Or could it be that a darkness all too similar to the darkness of those pre-reformation days has slowly and almost imperceptibly surrounded the contemporary church? Have we lost sight of the ideas and beliefs that brought new life to the church five hundred years ago? Could it be that the people of God need a new generation preachers of old truth and a new generation of common men and women with the uncommon resolve to stand once again?
As October and the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s beginning approach, will you make plans to join us at Passion4Christ Summit. Together we will take a new look, not just at the Reformation, but at the need for fresh resolve to stand on and for Christ and His Word. How can we do anything else?
Yours for Christ and the Gospel,