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Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. Henry Van Dyke

Have you ever considered the limited time Jesus had on Earth?

calendar

The central figure in all of history lived only thirty-three years, and thirty of those were spent in obscurity and preparation. Three years, a little more than one thousand days—that’s all the time He had.

This was a guy who needed a PDA, an efficiency consultant, and a scheduling secretary. He came to communicate God’s eternal message of grace and forgiveness, the most important message in the universe, and His time was limited. He knew, as no other human has ever known, exactly what He needed to accomplish and how much time He’d been given in which to accomplish His mission.

He needed to use those days effectively, reach as many people as possible. Limited personal access could be granted only to key influencers. Large audiences, tight schedules, no wasted minutes, no frivolous interruptions, no unnecessary travel—He needed to squeeze maximum impact from every precious second.

So what did Jesus do with His one thousand days? He wandered among small, isolated villages and stayed with outcasts. He spent much of His time with a small band of uneducated followers. He often consciously avoided the influential leaders and large population centers.

He acted as if He could change the world through personal relationships, one life at a time. Instead of parading “common people” like props at a speech, He went to their homes and got to know them. When He met the woman at the well, He spent an entire day with her and several more with her neighbors.

A modern high-profile political, religious, or business leadere spent much of His time with a smaH would never consider managing time as Jesus did. Large-scale influence is the goal, delegation is the means, and controlled access is the necessary strategy.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)

Jesus seemed to see things through a different lens. Instead of parceling His time into carefully managed appointments and “quality moments,” each individual He encountered got His undivided attention. Rather than trying to expand His personal brand through broad exposure, He taught, encouraged, and cared for inconsequential individuals.

Someone should have told Him about efficient use of limited time. Imagine how much He could have affected the world, the organization He could have created, and the legacy He might have left if He had only used those thousand days more effectively.

What can you learn about managing your time from Jesus’ example?

Please leave a comment, visit my website, and/or send me an email at rich@richdixon.net

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Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  ~ Carl Sandburg

Our culture seems obsessed with time.

time-flies-clock-10-11-2006

Calendars and clocks dominate. Ask someone to dinner and they’re likely to pull out a PDA to check their schedule. I know people who account for their time in ten-minute increments and examine past data for patterns, endlessly seeking opportunities for increased organization. Efficiency’s the name of the game; how much more can we squeeze into each day?

I wonder if we’d be better off asking a different question: How much more might we get from each day?

There’s nothing wrong with using time wisely; we only get a limited amount, and we can’t store it for later use. And it’s good to be reasonably organized; missing appointments or double booking doesn’t demonstrate much respect for others.

But how much of our compulsive efficiency is driven by external expectation? How many of those highly organized tasks don’t have much to do with our central values? I suspect that many of those extra items crammed into every spare moment really represent someone else’s priorities—allowing someone else to spend our time.

I’ve said this many times—I’m not seeking extended leisure time. I want to have fun. I want to be engaged in useful, productive projects. I want to help others. I want to foster new relationships and nurture existing ones. I don’t want endless days with “nothing to do.”

I’m simply a bit mystified about why we seem to believe that those desires are distinct. If I’m doing useful work, why can’t that also be fun? If it’s not, why don’t I do something else? Why work fifty weeks each year for that precious two-week vacation when I can do what I really want to do? Why can’t I be productive and build relationships concurrently?

Our culture sells us a false dichotomy. “Responsible adults” earn a living; they don’t have time to worry about enjoyment or satisfaction. The whole economy’s built on our belief that we must go to work to get the money to buy the stuff. Once in a while, perhaps we ought to ask whether the stuff’s truly significant enough to trade our time for it.

Or maybe there’s a better way to get the stuff. I’m not advocating a life of poverty, even as it exists in America. But I also don’t want to run a maze constructed by “them” without concern for where it leads. We don’t have to operate according to the culture’s standards and expectations.

I want to believe that what I do accomplishes something worthwhile according to my values. I want to spend my time by choice, not by habit or reflex or accident or expectation. I don’t want my life to be someone else’s decision.

I want to invest my time on purpose. How about you?

Please leave a comment, visit my website, and/or send me an email at rich@richdixon.net

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I seem to play host to an army of self-created demons.

I think I have a special talent for inventing and empowering my own private foes. The smallest adversity spurs a frenzy of inner creativity, and another haunting voice begins whispering messages of doom.

There’s nothing imaginary about these self-defeating creations. They’re more real and more terrifying than any obstacle I might encounter. In fact, I’m increasingly convinced that outside opposition poses relatively minor threats compared to the fearsome firepower of my internal enemy.

I’ve been wondering about the leader of this hostile force that’s encamped in my heart and head. I’m certain that their supreme commander is the enemy of my soul, but perhaps their general is loss of confidence.

When we encounter significant adversity, we’re somehow robbed of confidence. Past mistakes, illness, injury, or evil actions of other people—any of these can make us uncertain, tentative, and fearful. It’s impossible to move forward in hope when you’re always looking over your shoulder for an event or person from the past.

When I examine those instances when I’ve lost confidence, I recognize a consistent trend. I think I’ve consistently placed my confidence in the wrong location.

I’ve entrusted my sense of hope to health, financial stability, and relationships. I’ve been confident in my own ability, in a career, or a society. And each, in one way or another, has failed to provide the foundation in which I can be confident. People disappoint, health falters, and finances fluctuate. Whenever I’ve been certain about any worldly circumstance, something happens to rattle the ground until I’m standing in shifting sand.

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Through all I’ve experienced, I’ve become convinced of only one fact: God will never let go. He’s not going to toss my life away, no matter what mistakes I’ve made, no matter what’s happened to me, God offers a new beginning.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

That’s my bottom line. That’s where I want to place my confidence. In the face of that power, my little internal infantry shrinks to insignificance.

What’s the source of your confidence?

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Rich Dixon is an author and motivational speaker. His first book is Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance.

Learn more about the story of Relentless Grace at: www.relentlessgrace.com

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Note: This article is a regular Friday feature that’s also posted at SetFreeToday.com

You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations. ~ Stevie Wonder

We waste a lot of time and energy trying to conform to the expectations of others. Our desire to meet someone else’s standards diminishes us in at least two ways.

“Their” expectations may direct us to actions that don’t add value to our lives. Sometimes I follow the crowd and act in a manner that contradicts my personal values, or fail to speak up in the face of wrong because of what “they” might say. Perhaps I scramble for excess material possessions because “they” expect a particular appearance.

Whatever form it takes, we waste precious moments whenever we do something because “they” expect it.

“Their” expectations may prevent us from reaching our potential. Society puts me in categories that tell me that certain goals are impossible. When I listen to “their” voices, I also accept their limitations.

desertThis is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 5-8)

When I try to meet the world’s expectations, I’m a prisoner sentenced to wander endlessly in a desert of subjective standards. I’m isolated from the source of strength and refreshment, searching madly for affirmation and approval. I’m doomed to constant, unquenchable thirst, always seeking but never finding true contentment.

When I trust God, I’m free. Rather than scrambling to meet “their” standards, I can rest by the stream, confident that He’ll meet my needs. By trusting the source of eternal truth instead of trying to hit the world’s arbitrary moving target, I can be assured that my efforts won’t be wasted. Nourished by the stream that never runs dry, I can know that I’ll produce the sort of fruit that will allow me to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The world wants me to believe that I’ll never be good enough, that my past mistakes and failures imprison me in a barren wasteland of regret and guilt. By “their” standards, I’m destined to hopelessness, isolation, and despair.

That’s not God’s message. The same stream that nourishes and strengthens also washes away the past and offers a fresh, clean beginning. I can rest in His hands and trust Him.

I can be free.

What’s one of “their” expectations that keeps you isolated and trapped? 

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Rich Dixon is an author and motivational speaker. His first book is Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance.

Learn more about the story of Relentless Grace at: www.relentlessgrace.com

Subscribe to receive blog updates via email

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Note: This article is a regular Friday feature that’s also posted at SetFreeToday.com

GeeseImitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)

Do I strive to imitate Jesus? Do you?

I say His prayer, occasionally. I write about Him; I attempt to be aware of His presence; I try to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” when I confront a difficult decision.

I do a lot of stuff that may outwardly appear as attempts to follow His teachings. But do I truly seek to imitate Him? (more…)

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Note: This article is a regular Friday feature that’s also posted at SetFreeToday.com

You are what you think about all day long. Dr. Robert Schuller

Do you see the sunrise or the clouds?15_sunrise_raysb

A rule of thumb for providing feedback maintains that ten affirmations are required to balance one criticism. I don’t know whether ten is exactly the right number, but we all know the principle. A lot of positive feedback is required to counterbalance a negative comment.

I think the same model applies to our thoughts. An entire day of exciting, energizing possibilities can be obscured by a single doubt. No matter how many signs encourage us to move forward with passion, one caution casts a shadow over an entire enterprise.

We cannot manage the words or actions of others. We’ll always encounter people who either intentionally or inadvertently rain on the parade. But we can control the direction of our thoughts and responses to circumstances and events.

SetFreeToday rests on God’s promise that we can choose a new beginning in Christ. God doesn’t want us to live in the mire of fear and regret, and He doesn’t want us enslaved by the chains of our own doubts.

I think our enemy understands this. He whispers constantly that we need to focus on problems. He tells us that life is tough and urges us to seek revenge and retribution. The enemy wants us to believe that we are responsible for others’ words and deeds. He desperately wants us to equate a positive attitude with an immature, “rose colored glasses” approach to life’s realities.

I’m not a Pollyanna. Difficulties are part of life. We can’t always simply ignore them, but they don’t have to become the center of our thoughts. We can choose to face challenges and then move on, refusing to allow them to dominate our attention.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4: 8-9)

Beauty and joy surround us. Generosity and good are abundant. We can contemplate the glory of a sunrise or we can turn our backs on splendor and worry about the clouds on the opposite horizon. One choice leads to anxiety about a future beyond our control. The other directs us to awareness of God’s majesty, to a sense of new beginning, to peace.

What’s a negative thought you’d like to move away from the center of your thoughts today?

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Rich Dixon is an author and motivational speaker. His first book is Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance.

Learn more about the story of Relentless Grace at: www.relentlessgrace.com

Subscribe to receive blog updates via email

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Grace has found me. Grace will lead me home. ~ Sarah Kelly

Sometimes I feel like a slow learner.

Do you ever feel like you just don’t quite grasp a concept? You read about it, talk, write, and pray about it, and you think you’ve got it all figured out, but then you look at your actions and thoughts and realize you just don’t really get it? (more…)

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