Where Did the Time Go?

We have more time-saving devices and tools than any other generation in history. We have smartphones, microwaves, Google, and computers. In addition, thousands of items are specifically designed to help you shave precious minutes off every task. 

Yet, people are busier than at any other point in time. Whenever I talk to people, their common refrain is “I’m busy,” despite all these great new tools.

So where does your time go? And what is filling it up?

Just like you should do a regular financial audit to know where your money is going, you should also do a time audit. You must be aware of where your time is going.

When we stand before God, He will ask us what we did with our resources. How did we spend the money He gave us? How did we use the gifts and abilities He gave us? And how did we use our time?

Your problem is probably not a lack of time; instead, it is a lack of priorities, and you’re wasting a lot of time on things lacking eternal significance. 


They were upset about a decision the pastor had made. The leadership was in support, but they were not.

So they decided to skip Church worship for a few weeks. They would stay home. That would teach the pastor. They would withhold their time, money, and service. It would serve as a bit of punishment for the pastor for not doing what they desired for the Church.

They are not alone. Other people have quit the Church altogether. They reasoned if the Church would not do things their way, they would just quit. Sadly they did not go to another Church. They just left, and every time the pastor sees them, he will be reminded of his mistake that led to their lack of support.

You must know that skipping worship or quitting Church is not punishing the pastor. You are only punishing yourself.

Still Learning

I have been a Christian for over 43 years and a pastor for a little less than 30 years. I recently attended a conference, and a series of breakout sessions taught me things I had never learned. Quite honestly, I had never really even given their topic much thought until this year. 

While sitting in one session, I quietly bowed my head and said a prayer of apology to God. I am such a horrible pastor. How have I read the Scripture all these years and never noticed this? How could I have been a pastor this long and not considered doing this?

I want everyone to know:  I am still learning. After all this time, there is still much to learn about God, his word, and his people.

One day I hope to know all that I should, but until then, I will keep adding a little bit every day until the day God makes my knowledge complete in his presence.

Copies of You

Our Church community is in the process of becoming disciple-makers. That is my one goal for this year. I want to work with the leadership to develop Christians shaped by the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. That means they are not simply learning the teachings of Jesus but following them. It will require us to go into the world and lead others into a relationship with our Savior. The result will be a group of disciples who are making more disciples, who are making more, and on and on it goes.

This is the question worth considering if you claim to be a follower of Jesus:  Are you a disciple worth reproducing?

If everyone read their Bible like you, would the Church be better? If everyone were to pray as you do? If everyone were to give like you do? If everyone were to serve as you do? If everyone were to live for Jesus as you do, would the Church be a better place?

Would it be good for the world if hundreds of “you” were running around?

If not, I think I know what you need to do first in your walk of faith.  

Informed Spectators

Throughout my elementary and Jr High school years, I played football and basketball. I spent countless hours having coaches teach me the rules, show me how plays worked, and instruct me in the fundamentals. Then when the practice was over, my dad would do his own coaching. He would share stories of his experiences and how he handled them.

By the time I reached high school, I realized I was short, slow, and too heavy to be a star. The thought of practicing hours and hours for a few garbage minutes in blowout games was crushing to me, and I decided to quit.

Then I transitioned to a new role. I became a spectator. Now I would sit in the crowd and watch what the other students were doing. But I was not just anyone in the stands; I had a thorough working knowledge of the game. I knew how things were supposed to run and could spot mistakes. I could criticize in specific ways that might be helpful to the team if they only listen to me. I was the informed spectator.

This is not just a story about sports; it’s an analogy for faith. Many people started walking with Jesus and added some basic Christian knowledge. Somewhere along the way, they realized that being a disciple of Jesus was tough. It requires hours of gaining knowledge and the willingness to implement it. It would push them to do things they were uncomfortable with and form habits that seemed like learning a foreign language.

One day the decision was made to become a spectator. We start showing up on Sunday and telling the people doing the work how they could improve. We suggest practices that could help them grow in their work. We might even talk to other people in the crowd, and we could all agree on how the players could improve. Everyone should listen to us because we are not just fans but informed spectators.

Jesus called us to be disciples, not spectators.

A Deal with the Devil

When I was seven years old, a song hit the radio that was unlike anything I ever heard before. The Charlie Daniel’s Band released a song entitled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” It is about the Devil proposing a fiddle contest. If he wins, he will get Johnny’s soul; if he loses, then Johnny will get a fiddle made of gold. So they agree, and the contest is set.

Then only a handful of years later, the movie “Crossroads” was released, starring Ralph Macchio. A young guitar student has heard the legend of Robert Johnson. He is said to have gone to a mysterious crossroads in the South where he met Satan. Robert made a deal with him to become a famous guitar player in exchange for his soul.

As a young boy, I was led to believe the Devil was out in the world making all kinds of deals. One day he would show up and offer me something in exchange for my soul. Secretly I hoped it was something spectacular like fame, wealth, power, or women.

I have never met Satan personally, and I doubt you have either. But I have encountered some of his deals over my lifetime. The voice tells me it is okay to do evil just a little and still be okay. Cheating, lying, porn, and stealing are fine if you keep it small and under control. The Biblical image is that he asks me to sell my inheritance for a bowl of soup. All the while, he whispers to me that my life will be better if I make the deal.

I wish I could tell you I had not fallen for his tricks. But, unfortunately, time and time again, I buy the lies and do things that compromise my integrity and damage my relationship with my maker. Never once has it made my life better. On the contrary, it always leaves me with shame, regret, guilt, remorse, and brokenheartedness. The gold fiddle is always made of fool’s gold.

Here is what I know from experience. Never make a deal with the Devil; he never intends to keep up his end of the bargain.

Time to Change Churches

When should someone consider leaving the Church they are attending and going elsewhere?

This is a difficult question that has many layers. Personal conflicts cloud the issue. Personal preferences can be confused with God’s leading.

My general answer is that people should stay in one place and mature over a lifetime. Every believer needs to put down roots and connect with people meaningfully; that does not happen if you change churches every few years. The community of faith we call home can be the most supportive group in your walk of faith if you allow yourself to know others and be known by them. 

Occasionally I do suggest that people leave their Church and find another one. There are three reasons I recommend this:

1. When the Church rejects the authority of Scripture. When this happens, the door is open for all kinds of heresy and false teaching. When you step onto this slippery slope, it always leads to a slide into destruction.

2. When the Church embraces sin. This can be when the Church is teaching something contrary to what the Bible teaches, or this can also be when the Church is willing to ignore the public sin of its leaders. Once again, this is a place where evil can get a foothold and destroy people’s lives.

3. When distance permits connection. There may be a Church you love that is an hour away, but if you cannot be connected deeply in relationships, then you are opening yourself up for trouble. Driving long distances to be a part of a particular group of people sounds fine until you mature in your faith. Then you will need people close to you and people you can be close to.

I am sure there may be some other valid reasons, like doctrinal differences, but for the most part, we need to stay put and grow with a community for a lifetime. We need to learn from each other and bless those around us. But occasionally, when the red flags pop up, it is time to run to a new place where God’s word is taught as the authority, sin is handled graciously and not ignored, and where you can live in authentic relationships with people. 

How Many Times?

How many times must something be stated in the Bible before it is true?

Is one verse enough? Is five or six of them enough? Does it need a minimum of ten passages before we accept it as God’s will?

The trouble is that many things are only mentioned one time. John wrote his Gospel account later than Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so he included stories not already circulating. As a result, many of the stories you will read in John are recorded nowhere else in Scripture. Does that make his account of Jesus invalid?

Some of Jesus’ most famous sayings are only mentioned two or three times. “Turn the other cheek” is a principle only given twice. “Love your enemies” gets three whole verses. Does that make them less significant?

It is wise to take anything found in the Bible and trust it, even if it is listed only once.

Importance is found in the fact that it is in the Bible, not the number of times it is mentioned.

Jesus Was All About Love


He pronounced a series of “Woes” against the Pharisees and called them whitewashed tombs. One time he called them a brood of vipers.

He often spoke of heaven, hell, and judgment. There is a place where people will be thrown; it is outer darkness with the weeping and gnashing of teeth. In one of his stories, a wealthy man is sent to this place of torment, where he begs for mercy.

Jesus called a woman a dog one time. He told a rich man to sell everything he possessed and give it to the poor. He told one of his would-be disciples to “let the dead bury their own dead” when he said he needed to bury his father.

Still, other times he referred to people as sinners. Once he called his disciples dull. And he even called one of them Satan. He overturned the money changers’ tables at the temple not once but twice. He purposely killed a fig tree. He was the direct cause of the death of thousands of pigs. He was scary enough that the people begged him to leave their town.  

These are just a few of the things Jesus did during his ministry. There is a long list of times he was straightforward, blunt, and showed no concern for people’s feelings because they needed to hear the truth.

Whenever anyone tells me that Jesus was all about love, I realize they have never read the entire life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. Often Jesus appears more shocking than loving. His brand of love acknowledges sin and the need for change. He was brutally honest and did not mince his words. He knew that it was not loving to leave people in their sin.

Jesus understood that people need to hear the truth even when it is hard. Ultimately, people need to bring their lives in line with God’s desires; if he looked the other way, that would not be the loving thing to do.

Was Jesus all about love? The surprising answer is YES. But his type of love is not soft for people who want to continue living outside of God’s will.    

But Jesus Did Not Say Anything About That

One argument I have heard people use for their particular viewpoint is that “Jesus never said anything about that.”

Unfortunately, Jesus did not say many things, although many of his statements have a flip side. For example, when he endorses marriage in Matthew chapter 19, he eliminates all other options. Thus, a positive comment contains within itself no possibility of alternative views.

But there is something bigger that must be addressed. That is our view of Scripture. Do we believe what the Bible says about itself? 

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16 – NIV 2011)

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21 – NIV 2011)

The Bible declares that men wrote it through the moving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God breathed all the scriptures into existence. It is God’s inspired word for all of humanity. 

Now let me take it one step further, if Jesus is “Emmanuel” or “God with Us,” as we say at Christmas. Then ultimately, Jesus, as part of the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, helped write all the words of Scripture. 

Did Jesus say anything about that? Well, if you find it anywhere on the pages of the Bible, then yes. Yes, he did.