As time rolls by…

Time is a wanderer.  It wanders in and out of our lives.  We have enough time.  We have no time.  We have extra time.  We are out of time.  Time wanders in and out and up and down.  One day time is urgent and the next it is of no consequence.

Ephesians 5:15&16 says, “ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” 

Wisdom allows us to use time well instead of being used by the wandering of time.  Time is not our problem, lack of perspective is.  Time is nothing more than a measurement.  The problem comes when we measure the quality of life by time instead of the quality of time by life.

Today I celebrate a marking of time.  On January 3, 1998, I married an incredible woman named Wendy Daniel.  19 years later it is my joy and privilege to live life with her.  God has allowed us some incredible adventures in ministry and life together and I look forward to many more.

January 6, 2002 was the first public worship service for Fellowship Church.  A small group of believers began a bold new work in the rental hall of an old fire station in Prairieville 15 years ago this week.  This small group of believers dived head first into the vision and dreams of a 26 year-old preacher kid.  We celebrate 15 years together and the humbling reality of how God has blessed our ministry together.

The celebration of time humbles me and challenges me.  I know I could have done more in my life than I have, but I also know I have tried to do well with the time God has blessed me with.  I want to encourage you to consider the following truths about time as we kick off this year and apply them to your life.

  1. Focus on being faithful not successful. Success without faithfulness is fraud.  Don’t waste your time putting on a show; spend your life pressing into serve.
  2. Do what you can when you can. Everything does not have to happen today; but something should.  Do not allow what you cannot get done today rob your of the joy of what you can do today.
  3. Time off is not time lost. Spend some time doing what refreshes you.  For some of us, that is a nice long run, for others it is anything but a run.  Whatever refreshes you is worth doing, but you do not live simply to be refreshed by God; you live to be used by God.  When you get done resting; get back to working.
  4. Don’t allow quantity to be a substitute for quality. Ministry and family do not always flow together smoothly.  Wendy and I have learned the art of quality.  30 good minutes together will outweigh 3 hours of being in the same room. 
  5. Manage your energy; not your time. Give your energy to the right things at the right time and you will have time to get it done.
  6. Enjoy the journey. This is one of life’s hardest lessons for me.  I am a type-A personality and am always driving toward better.  A life focused on better will make you bitter unless you learn to see the blessings of what is. “What is” is not the enemy of “what ought to be”; it is simply “what is.”  You can change it; it simply has not changed yet.  The key is learning to enjoy the journey as much as you do the destination.

Don’t take your eyes off the destination ahead of you – run the race marked out for you – but do not lose the ability to see the blessings of what is already all around you.

I am grateful for a wife that enjoys this journey of life and ministry with me.  I am blessed by a church that has allowed me the grace to learn from the lead.  I am no longer a 26 year old kid trying to lead a church but I am who I am because of those who loved me when I was…and every step along the way.  Thank you to all of you who are part of this ministry and life journey for your love, support, and grace.

I look forward to what is ahead but am committed to enjoying what is now.  I hope you are too.

Figure out the things that are worth investing your life and time in and then dive in head first.  Time is not the answer – perspective is.

 

Wendy,

Thank you for bringing perspective into my life time and time again.  Of all the blessings I have known in this world you are the most precious.  Your love inspires me, encourages me, and challenges me to be a better man.  Thank you for loving me when I am and when I am not.  I have indeed found “a good thing and obtained favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Always and Forever, KJ

Unseen Beauty

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.   However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  Ephesians 5:31-33

One flesh…beautiful or not?  Honestly.  Does that idea/ideal for marriage cause you to think how wonderful marriage is to be or does it cause you to give pause to the reality of marriage?

Our culture values individuality and the individual above everything else.  Moral standards are relative and personal.  Rights and freedoms are for the benefit of the individual over good for the community.  Marriage is for happiness not holiness.  Nothing matters more than your happiness.  These are the things people see as beautiful. 

The strange reality of this worldview is that much of what is beautiful loses its beauty because of it.  The beauty of community, rich with love, is lost in a world without absolutes.  Rights and freedoms that are have been honored over and over again through sacrifices of many are often disfigured for personal agendas and personal gain.  Marriages that simply exist for my happiness rise, fall, and split just as quickly as happiness rises, falls, and splits because of life circumstances that cause such happenstance.

Wendy and I have some friends that are reading a book with us titled When Sinners Say I Do.  The Gospel is the core of everything in the book.  The author applies the beauty of the Gospel to us and our marriages.  It is the most Biblical approach to discussing marriage I have ever read.  I am learning much about the Bible and myself, and am both loving and hating it, honestly.  (One caveat on his writing.  He writes, illustrates, and communicates from a very masculine mind.  A female editor would have done him wonders.  Women might have wrestle through his communication style, but truths are worth it.)

The book has caused great thoughts for me about the depth of what God has done for me and what his love for me really means.  Do I love Wendy like that?  I do, but I don’t.  I try, but I don’t try.

I have, however, recently seen a beauty that has been unseen in my marriage.  It is the beauty of servant leadership and submission.  In course of a conversation recently, I asked Wendy what and how did she feel she submitted to me.  I was not accusing of her of not submitting, but acknowledging I am not sure what that even looks like.

She reminded of a conversation we had just a week before.  I thought Wendy was simply struggling to make a decision, but there was more to it than that.  She really wanted my thoughts, my guidance, and my help.  Why?  She values the protection that comes through it.  Do not read protection as my guarding her.  She wanted the protection of unity.  There is protection in shared life.  Often our problem is we want our spouse to share in the responsibilities our solo decisions put upon them, but we do not desire for them to share in the decision itself.   Wendy did.

I told her that I was very careful in that conversation (about her taking a job) because I did not want her to feel she had to or she had to not.  I wanted her to make the decision she felt was right.  In doing that, it meant I had to be willing to serve her and our family with a very different schedule and lifestyle.  I am okay with that.  If she would feel fulfilled in life and in serving the Lord in this position, I want her to do it.  So, I was trying to not lead her strongly.

In this one moment beauty went unseen.  She lived out Scripture in submitting to me in this matter, and I never knew it.  I lived out Scripture by loving her as Christ loved the church and giving her life up for her.  And she never knew it.  And that is what made it beautiful.

It is no longer beautiful the moment it has to be seen.  The moment you need your spouse to see and recognized your service or your submission it loses its beauty.  I realized that this has been a truth in our marriage for years.  Unseen beauty after unseen beauty.  And that alone, makes it more beautiful.

When Jesus is Square One in our lives, when we live acknowledging him as foundation in everything, he makes beautiful what the world would assume is ugly.  We quit leaning into our own understanding.  We begin to acknowledge him in all our ways.  And He makes our paths straight.

Our vision for our marriage is that Wendy and I would be a clear picture of the love of Christ for the Church and the Church for Christ to a lost world and a confused Church.  I realize that the more this is true of us, the more the world and the Church sees this in and through us, the less we see the little things that cause it.  Why do we no longer see those things?  They just are.  It is life and marriage, not service and submission. 

The unseen beauty is exactly what makes it beautiful.