The Gift of Mortality (and other post-New Year’s Lessons)

First, thanks for your responses to my previous entry, asking what you would like to see from this site going forward. Your requests will fuel much of the content that hits JTTG in the coming months.

I experienced a health scare a few weeks back. Gave me plenty of time to think.

I enjoyed the “Survivor’s High” that remains after you beat something that claims many lives every year while embracing the humility that comes from a glance at your own mortality. It’s an empowering combination.

Listen to the story—and the lessons we can take from it—here.

https://soundcloud.com/user-31492767/kene-tells-clot-story-testimony-to-church-feb-2018

Here are a few life axioms for wringing more value out of your days on Earth….

Take some time every so often to thank the family and friends around you.

You don’t need a reason; it’s good for solidifying bonds. The people that care about you are there for you more than your favorite television shows.

It’s exhilarating to be left standing when the world takes a turn.

When bridges around you collapse, you can panic and perish or look for other lifelines. Don’t be a complainer, pining for a world that no longer exists. Take stock of the landscape and move forward.

Strong minds and unorthodox perspectives even the odds.

Many folks live lives of quiet desperation, hoping for someone to truly connect with. 

When conversing with others, don’t just wait to talk; listen to what the other person is saying. Good money and great relationships flock to listeners.

If you’ve got Hart, you don’t need to be perfect to win. 

It helps to be really good, though. 

There exists a silent protector, shielding us from harm even when we’re not aware of it.

He’s out there, keeping a silent vigil.

A question that remains on the forefront in the wake of the latest publicized mass shootings:

“If there is a God, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?

Point 1: Who determines what constitutes a “good” person?

Point 2: Tragedy exists in our world because we’ve been given the gift of free will.

With the privilege of autonomy, comes the risk of man harming fellow man. In a free society, you cannot eliminate the possibility of evil slithering into our lives any more than you can jump in a pool without getting wet. Our penchant for self-centered behavior creates an environment where many, both “good” and “bad”, experience problems.

God’s laws were instituted to frame a just society, free from much of the iniquity we see today. Alas, we live in a fallen world. God has given us resources to shepherd us in the right direction and limit our exposure to many of these unfortunate events while on Earth. It’s our responsibility to avail ourselves of that.

Or, we can deny His existence and rely solely on our own strength and wisdom.

Our lives aren’t like idealistic youth sports leagues, run by adults kidding themselves about the kindness of not keeping score. Winners and losers exist in every corner of the universe; kids should get comfortable with being rewarded for putting the work in, not just showing up. Left unchecked, that “something-for-nothing” mentality will deliver years of heartache and disappointment.

Return on investment; that’s what any benefactor wants to see. Compassion and diligence. Producing fruit for yourself and others.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like that.

Our current existence is only Act One in a two-act play.

We’ve been gifted a tremendous opportunity to decide how our individual stories plays out.

1 Peter 4:4-6:

“They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”

None of us will ever be “good” enough to earn a spot in Heaven on our own merits; if you’ve sinned just once, you’re already a marked (wo)man:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Don’t be fooled: God maintains a ledger.

Just because evil isn’t rewarded with immediate punishment, doesn’t mean we are outwitting our creator. He’s a merciful being, giving all of us time to seek him out, but there’s an expiration date on that gift certificate. When it’s all said and done, you will have to give an accounting for your life. We will all be called to the carpet, whether you believe God is a fairy tale or not.

We choose the behavior, we choose the consequences.

There is no way to wipe away sin….no penance will do the trick. Only God can forgive sin. We’re saved from everlasting torment by grace alone, by acknowledging Christ as savior and letting his well-documented sacrifice stand as proxy for our own shortcomings.

Deny Christ’s role in this process and you’ll bear that punishment yourself.

Again, we cannot be saved by our own works. Eternal judgment does not hinge on whether you’ve got more rocks in your “good” bucket than “evil” one, despite what you may have heard.

Your works are just evidence of a relationship with God. Who we are inside is important only because of what it makes us do.

It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.

Image credit: Arturo Acevedo-Smith

The Law of Grow or Die:

We receive many gifts from God: Life, looks, talents, unexpected opportunities to shine.

Nothing stays the same over time. Everything that matters—your personal relationships, your body-fat composition, everything— is either advancing from dedication or shrinking from neglect. Our choices determine our direction.

Pertinent scripture: Matthew 25: 16-29

Life is short. Condense the nonsense.

I want to hear from you: 

Any moments of clarity or lessons from the first three months of the year? Let me know.

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