Why Funerals Are Better Than Weddings

In some of the oddest-sounding sections of the Bible, Solomon writes, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart” (Eccles. 7:2).

Yes, Solomon said it is better to go to a funeral than a wedding. Why? Because the house of mourning is the end of all mankind—it’s where each of us is headed—and those who recognize this fact will reflect on how they spend their days.

Read the rest of my article at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

6 Practices You Should Do Every Morning Before You Get to Work

How you spend your morning matters. It sets the tone for your day and determines how effective the rest of your day will be. Yet many of us wake up at the very last minute, rushing from one thing to the next until we collapse at our desk an hour later.

Many people start their workday this way. As a result, their productivity is off to a poor start, and without discipline it will most likely continue that way throughout the day.

If you’re tired of groggy mornings and poor productivity, there are 6 practices you should do every morning before you get to work.

1. Wake up at the same time

Research continually shows waking up at the same time (even on weekends) has tremendous benefits to your health and wellness. Our bodies run on a circadian rhythm, so the more regular our sleep patterns are, the better we feel. Everyone likes to go into a situation knowing what to expect; our bodies are the same way.

Admittedly, I’m not great at this, but I’m working on it. Waking up at 5:30 every morning (I have 3 small kids, not a lot of quiet times available) is one of the several things I’m actively working on improving. When I get up on time, my morning is more relaxed, I feel better, and I’m calmer when my kids wake up.

Doing this means you’ll need to set an alarm, or perhaps several. One way to ensure you get up that’s miserable to employ is to put your alarm or phone across the room so you have to get out of bed when it goes off. Simply getting out of bed makes the process much, much easier.

2. Spend time in silence and solitude

Nothing helps me start the day more focused and relaxed than spending time in silence and solitude. For me this means sitting on the same couch with the same pillows and doing the same thing – reading the Bible, reflecting, and praying. If those things don’t happen, I start the day on edge. But when they do happen, I’m almost always calm, prepared, and more joyful.

The research on this is hard to ignore. Engaging in regular silence and solitude helps you avoid burnout, increases your sensitivity to your own thoughts as well as others’, improves memory, strengthens attention, and on and on it goes. Noise surrounds us every minute of every day. The only way to stay healthy in the midst of the chaos is to shut out everything and see what you’re actually thinking – not what someone else is telling you to think about.

As someone who practices the way of Jesus, it’s where I spend time in his presence. It’s where I’m reminded that I’ve been rescued, redeemed, and adopted into God’s family. It’s where I’m reminded that as part of that family I’m called to go and love others and tell them what that’s like.

Don’t hand your morning over to Mark Zuckerburg. Shut everything out and just be still. You may be surprised what you hear.

3. Eat a powerful breakfast

Donuts are my favorite breakfast food, but they aren’t exactly a powerful breakfast. They’re fluff – they fill you up one minute and they’re gone within an hour. Eating a powerful breakfast, on the other hand, can increase your metabolism, help make your more active, and give you a mental edge.

Protein is an important part of that power. This is why people have been eating eggs for breakfast for so long – they’re rich in protein, which is good for you and me. That’s because, according to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, “Protein has greater satiety than either carbohydrates or fat, making people feel fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time.” And the fuller we feel, the less we eat.

If you wake up on time, you’ll have plenty of time to make yourself a powerful breakfast.

4. Check your social media

How many personal things do you take care of as soon as you get to work? Are you checking Twitter, scanning Facebook, or browsing the myriad of newsletters you need to unsubscribe from? How about clicking over to ESPN to check the scores and headlines?

When we make the most of our mornings, we’re most productive in the hours before lunch. Wasting those hours on unproductive tasks will come back to bite you at 2:30 in the afternoon when the coffee is wearing off and you still haven’t tackled your main to-do’s.

If you give yourself ample time in the morning, you’ll have enough time to scan Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, newsletters, and anything else you like to keep up with. Checking these things at home is also far more honoring to your employer.

5. Review your calendar

Most people spend their days, productive people invest their days. When you just walk into the office and wonder what’s happening today, you’re already off to a weaker start than you could be. By simply opening up the calendar app on your phone or pulling out your day timer (they still have those, right?) you can orient yourself to what the day will bring, and plan accordingly.

When you review your calendar before you get to the office, your mind starts to prepare itself for tougher parts of the day and you can relax a bit by knowing what to expect. The best practice would actually be to make a to-do list the night before and then review your schedule and list in the morning before work.

6. Tell someone you love them

There’s great wisdom in knowing how brief life is. Life is precious, and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow or the next hour. The same goes for your loved ones.

So start the day by telling those close to you how much you love them. Don’t let their significance stay hidden. Saying “I love you” changes them as well as you.

When all is said and done, our lives are measured by who we love and leave behind. Don’t leave for work before wrapping up your spouse, your kids, or your parents and telling them how much they mean to you.

Building a Legacy that Matters

I have a confession: I want to be great.

I want people to look at me and be wowed with what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished.

I want the oohs and ahhs of thousands, maybe millions.

I want millions of pageviews on this blog and hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes.

I want a legacy that bears my name.

But God doesn’t.

What God wants

God doesn’t want these things for me. He wants these things for Him.

He wants a legacy that points to Himself. He wants the fame and the glory and the honor of every person on the planet from the dawn of time until the coming of Christ.

And one day, He will get it (Rev. 5:13-14).

Before that Day, everything on this planet will disappear in a flash of light. All our organizations and governments and corporations will cease to exist, leaving us with nothing to show for ourselves. Just like the Tower of Babel, God will reach down and flick over our pathetic excuses for fame and glory and they will come crumbling down.

What really lasts

There’s only one thing in all of creation that will live on when the earth is once again united with heaven – us. Besides God, we are the only thing that’s eternal. We are the only thing that’s lasting. That means people are the only thing that will be able to testify to how we spent our lives.

And if, like me, you believe what the Bible says about heaven and hell, then the real legacy we’ll leave is how many people are in each place because of the life we lived. Or better yet, how many people are in each place because of the way God lived through us.

Which means the only way to truly build a legacy is to build people. And not just people, but people that love God. People that love God so much that they can’t help but love other people. Because people that truly love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind are compelled to love the people around them as much or more than themselves. If we really follow Jesus, if we really get his heart, that’s just how it works.

What really matters

If you listen to someone at the end of their life, particularly a Christ-follower, you’ll hear a common thread. When someone asks them about their legacy, they inevitably point to the people they impacted with their life. The people they helped to build as they were willing to be used by God. If being at the end of our lives gives us a sharper focus on what matters, then this requires our attention.

And it means I’ve been going about this legacy thing all wrong. Maybe you have been too.

Instead of trying to build something that declares my greatness, I should be pouring into others in a way that points them to His greatness. Instead of trying to form a legacy for my life, I should be trying to form people that believe in His life.

I can’t build a legacy that matters if it’s all about me. After all, everything I produce, create, dream up, and help build will one day disappear. Only people will be left to tell the story of my life.

As a father, this idea holds special significance as I think about the unique position I’m in to impact my three children. If it takes time to build people and to invest in their lives in ways that matter, then our children can be the most significant beneficiaries of that investment. In a recent episode of The Calling podcast, Andy Crouch reflected on his decision to become a father, saying,

“I thought, ‘How do I maximally commit myself to participation in God’s love?’ Most of the people I’m going to love will forget me very quickly. Almost everything I do will be forgotten…. So I realized there’s only one way I could invest my life that would have the most endurance, and that would be if I ever had the chance to have children…”

The bedrock of a legacy that matters

I can’t build a legacy that matters if I lack the character of someone willing to be formed into the image of God, because the bedrock of a legacy that matters is character. It’s the willingness to be used by God and to be marked by God. The willingness to believe in His promises against all odds. To go for broke when nothing adds up and no one else believes in you, but you know your God is sure.

We look up to Moses and Rahab and Peter and Paul because of their faith. Because of their belief that the God who is in control of everything is also the God who is good. They knew that their life would matter to the degree that they believed in His promises and did whatever He told them, no matter how impossible it seemed.

People that leave lasting and mighty legacies like the biblical examples or Martin Luther King, Jr. are those whose character is built on the cornerstone of Christ. Those whose actions flow out of their character. Those who actions prove their character.

How to leave a legacy that matters

Which means if I want to leave a legacy that matters I have to stop running from character-forming opportunities. To stop hiding from the refinery God wants me to enter into. He tells us that the testing of our faith produces endurance (James 1:2-3).

It’s time for me to believe that. It’s time for us to believe that.

It’s time for us to joyfully enter the furnace and to trust God for the outcome, no matter what it looks like and no matter what it might cost.

It’s time for us to stop building our own kingdoms when we should be building His.

It’s time for us to invest everything we have into the people around us with love and patience and generosity.

It’s time for us to build a legacy that matters.

It’s time for us to build people that matter.

More of Him, less of us

According to Jesus, John the Baptist was the greatest person to ever live. John’s advice for leaving a legacy that matters is simple: “He must become greater; I must become less.”

If we really want to leave a legacy, it’s time to get out of the way and make much more of Jesus than we do of ourselves.

Busyness is not the problem

Sometimes it feels like we’re overwhelmed because we’re busy. But there’s usually something more going on.

This is good:

Though I would never admit it, it’s almost as if I want to streamline and organize and simplify my life to a point where I no longer need God to get me through my day. But my strengths and abilities will fail, again and again. I need a Savior every day.

Perhaps feeling overwhelmed and inadequate isn’t such a bad thing if that is what brings me to my knees and shatters my false sense of security. To the place where I realize my planning and intelligence and coping mechanisms mean absolutely nothing if I’m not becoming more and more like Christ and resting in the strength and presence of my creator, the author of my day. More of him and way, way less of me.

Read the rest here.

What No One Tells You About Your Calling

There’s one dominant formula to discovering your calling today. It goes something like this:

Understand your gifts/personality + Find something your passionate about + Do what fulfills you = Your calling

But there’s a problem with that formula.

It’s not that all the parts are wrong. Most of them are important to discerning your calling. It’s that the whole formula is designed to serve one person – you.

Continue reading “What No One Tells You About Your Calling”