“I like old bookstores, the smell of coffee brewing, rainy day naps, farmhouse porches, and sunsets. I like the sweet, simple things that remind me that life doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful.” —Brooke Hampton
I saw this quote in a meme on social media this week and nodded in agreement. My list of simple things is a little different than hers.
I like the anticipation of dropping a bobber into a smooth pond, the gurgle of my Keurig, snow, fire pits, the second the lights go down at a concert, thunderstorms, opening a new notebook to the first page, getting so lost in a song that you don’t care if anybody notices, the purr of my cat as she rests in my lap, and my nephew’s laugh.
You know what would be fun? The next time you get together with a group of friends, hand everybody an index card and ask them to jot down the simple things that remind them that life is beautiful. You might have to read Brooke’s quote to give them an idea about what you’re talking about, but they’ll catch on quickly.
Once everybody is done with his or her list, gather all of the index cards, then shuffle them. You could have a designated reader or take turns. After a list is read, have your friends (or family) jot down who they believe each list belongs to. Then total the right answers at the end to see who got the most right.
Regardless of who wins, I think it would lead to some fascinating conversation afterward, don’t you?
Give it a try.
“They say you deliberately had the girls run slow in the race,” the principal at the private Christian high school said to the new track coach, Courtney, in the movie Remember the Goal. “Now why would you do that?”
“Because that’s the only way they’re going to get faster,” Courtney said.
Courtney’s goal is to win the state meet. Her team and their parents struggle to understand her training philosophy, but over time, as the girls build their endurance, they begin to see the wisdom of planning with an end goal in mind — not to win weekly meets, necessarily, but to win state at the end of the season.
A number of you reached out to me last week after I wrote about finishing well — living with the end of your life in mind. After I wrote that, "Remember the Goal" came to mind, and it’s such a great example of what I was talking about that I thought I’d share it with you this week.
If you’re interested in seeing the movie, it’s available on Amazon Prime Video. Or you can buy a copy from the official website. I think I saw it on the UP Network, so you can check for it there, as well.
Courtney inspired her girls using 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
As her girls considered what this verse meant for the team, they began to realize they needed to train differently than other teams.
Training for anything is about living differently in the here and now with a bigger goal in mind. For the Christian, it’s to finish well, knowing we poured ourselves out for the sake of the gospel. We invested spiritually in people. We loved them, nudging them along on their spiritual journey. And we made the sacrifices that needed to be made to do our part in kingdom work.
I’m in a season in which I’m taking spiritual inventory. Am I where I need to be spiritually? Am I doing the work God has assigned to me? Am I loving people well? I fall short in all three areas, but by taking inventory, I’m prayerfully reorienting my days because I want to finish well.
It's probably a good practice for all of us to undertake periodically.
If you’re interested in reading my devotional e-book Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, you can download a copy from the retail site of your choice for $0.99.
Three generations from now, most of us will be a nameless face in a digital (presumably) scrapbook that nobody can identify.
You know this to be true because you’ve gone through your own grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ photo albums or photo boxes and couldn’t place names with faces. But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your spiritual mark—even if people don’t remember you.
In my devotional e-book Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, I shared the following story, with Ecclesiastes 2:16 as the backdrop: “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!”
My great-grandfather, Hugh, struggled with alcohol — sometimes spending a large portion of his paycheck at the saloon. One day, he was headed up the stairwell to the saloon when God asked him a simple question: “What are you doing?” Hugh shoved his paycheck back into his pocket, walked back down the stairs and never touched another drop. He knew the Lord had spoken.
After his conversion, he became a voracious reader of the Bible, memorizing large portions and speaking them over his family. As a result, my grandmother, Modene, became a Christian. As an adult, she became one of the founding members of a church in her hometown, where she served faithfully for the rest of her life.
Hugh’s legacy was passed onto Modene, and her work is still alive in the form of her church many years after her death, and it’s alive in me. They both finished well, to God’s glory. In a generation or two, nobody will remember Hugh or Modene, but their service for the kingdom lives on in the people they touched and loved.
The only way to finish well is to live in reverse — to figure out how you want the end to look like, then choose the right priorities to make sure it happens.
Is your deepest desire to be someone who passed along scriptural knowledge to your kids? If so, then being in the Word on a regular basis needs to be your priority. And your kids need to see you with your Bible open as you freely talk about matters of faith.
If you want your ministry to have been one of service, then you need to find ways to serve on a consistent basis.
And so it goes.
You know all of this. But we all need to be reminded every once in a while.
For me, when I’m on my deathbed, I want my ministry to have been someone who stepped into the gap — someone who was a father to the fatherless to nieces and nephews and someone who cared for the needs of the older generation(s) in my family.
That means living differently than other never-married men my age. And even if I do get married, this will be something my wife will understand — every bit as much as I would understand the choices she’s made to finish well.
I’d love to hear your plans to finish well. Just hit the reply button and share away.
If you’re interested in reading Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind, you can download a copy from the retail site of your choice for $0.99.
I have a friend who didn’t grow up in a Christian household, so he often says he needs to think twice about something before he knows it’s true.
What he means is, even though he’s saturated his mind in the Scriptures over the years, he still has to test his natural thoughts against those in Scripture. Thus, he thinks about everything twice.
His methodology has stuck with me, and it’s helped me to better understand the notion of taking “every thought captive to obey Christ” as Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
I like what John Wesley wrote about this verse: “Those evil reasonings are destroyed. The mind itself, being overcome and taken captive, lays down all authority of its own, and entirely gives itself up to perform, for the time to come, to Christ its conqueror the obedience of faith.”
This week, I was listening to a podcast about augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine-based learning. My first thought when I hear about such technological advancements is to get excited, especially when I consider how they might enhance storytelling.
But as I thought twice about it, I started to do some research. I came across this article: A Christian response to artificial intelligence. And this one: Artificial Intelligence in Christian Thought and Practice. Both raise some really good points.
For me, thinking twice about something doesn’t always lead to concrete conclusions — at least not initially. But taking every thought captive is a process. It implies a wrestling match, of sorts, between my old nature and my new one. It’s active, not passive.
“I just turn right at the Sasquatch.”
That’s a sentence I never thought I’d say or write. But you need a little context.
Becky has been cutting my hair for decades — since the days when I wore it long in the back and short in the front (no, it was not a mullet — don’t even go there!) in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
Since I moved last October, her shop is across town from me, but I never thought about going anywhere else. She does a great job and I count her as a friend.
I shared a laugh with her a while back about how I sometimes lose track of where to make the turn to get to her shop since I’m coming from the opposite direction now. One day, I found a marker that made it easy — a seven-foot Sasquatch on the side of the road that somebody fashioned out of metal and anchored to a tire.
“I just turn right at the Sasquatch,” I told Becky.
It sits in front of an antique shop and has been for sale as long as I can remember. I guess nobody wants to buy it and stick it in his or her yard. I have to admit, though, I’m pretty tempted.
The last time I got my hair cut, I looked for Sasquatch so I wouldn’t miss my turn. I was surprised to see that he has a wife and child now. Maybe somebody will give them a good home one day.
I have a friend whose mother and stepfather live off the beaten path, so the roads aren’t well marked. In my phone, I have the directions typed out. One line says: “Go 1.1 miles until you see 5 mailboxes on the right, then turn left.”
I’m thinking he needs to buy this family of Sasquatches and place them behind the mailboxes. They’d serve as a better marker. Plus, they’d get a good laugh.
But on second thought, I’d never find Becky’s shop again, so maybe I’ll refrain from suggesting it to him.
Why am I sharing such silliness?
Partially because we all need to laugh once in a while. And partially because I believe humans bond over silliness sometimes.
How many times have you bonded with a stranger when you learned he or she loves your favorite sitcom? Your immediate reaction was to start quoting humorous scenes to one another.
How many silly sayings (maybe rooted in truth) did your grandparents pass along to you that you still use today, even though they might be gone?
And who doesn’t love a good (or corny — they aren't mutually exclusive, at least in my opinion) joke?
I’m a pretty serious person, but I have a goofy side, too. I thought I’d give you a glimpse of it.
I’ll be more serious next week. I promise.