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Leaving a Generational Legacy

Leaving a Generational Legacy

What if you knew when you were going to die?

I don’t mean the exact date or hour, but say were given a degree of assurance that you had  ten, fifteen or twenty years to go; assurance that you could count on. Having such information, how would you live your life?

Most people – or should I say smart people – would take the time to plan and use their time wisely. They have an idea of the time they have left, so they could in all fairness, make a determination on what they could or could not achieve.  As time passes they may even adopt a keen awareness that time is running out. And if there are projects to complete they would put in the extra effort to get it done in the time allotted.

The truth  is we are never given such assurances!

Short of the terminal illness situation (in which a doctor says you have months to live), few people have a sense of how much time they have left. This often leads people to think   they have all the time in the world and the double time suckers of complacency and procrastination often develops. Truth be told,  no one has all the time in the world – time is a limited and valuable resource.

But would it help if we knew?

Hezekiah was an Old Testament king who faced both a terminal illness, as well as the luxury of having his life extended for a definite period of years; more than enough time to get a lot done.  The story is told in two places in the Bible – 2 Kings chapter 20 and Isaiah chapter 38. Both accounts tell us that “Hezekiah was sick and near death” when the prophet was sent to tell him ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ Hezekiah, who had done many wonderful things in the 14 years since he became king, was dismayed by the warning.  He ‘turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord.’ He reminded God of all that he had done.

Immediately God relented and extended Hezekiah’s life by fifteen years.

Hezekiah was 25 when he became king. He reigned at Jerusalem for twenty-nine years putting his death at the age of 54. If we take away fifteen, he would have been at age 39 when he was given the extension. A king dying at 39 would not have been unusual in ancient times. What would have been unusual was the granting of a specific number of years. Such would be unusual even in our time.

One lesson we can learn from Hezekiah, is that time is running out for everyone. Though we may not have the luxury of knowing when, we should at least live our lives as if we knew. We should make haste to maximize whatever time we have left to establish some things for posterity – leave a lasting legacy – that may positively impact the next generation.

Unfortunately, Hezekiah did not think it necessary to do that!

Shortly after recovering from his illness, Hezekiah received letters and presents from the son of the Babylonian king commending him on his health. When the Babylonian envoys came to the palace, Hezekiah in apparent boastful pride, showed them everything, including his treasures and armory (you don’t do that to a foreign power). When Isaiah the prophet asked who, these men were, and what they wanted, Hezekiah told him: “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.” At that point Isaiah prophesied to the king that the day would come when the Babylonians would take away everything that is in the house, “nothing shall be left.” The prophet also told Hezekiah that even his sons would be taken away to become eunuchs in the place of the king of Babylon. How did Hezekiah respond to such a dire warning?

He said: “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

Hezekiah demonstrated a measure of selfishness and pride that resulted in serious consequences for future generations. The King failed to realize that he had a responsibility to the next generation as well. Though we may not have the type of assurance regarding the length of our lives, as Hezekiah did, we can become intentional about the future and in planning how we can leave a generational legacy.

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Wise men seek Him!

Wise men seek Him!

The bible records that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, “wise men came from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2) These men were seeking the One who was born King of the Jews. Naturally they inquired at the palace of Herod the reigning King. When Herod heard that they were asking about a new king, he was troubled and so he asked his advisors where this  King would be born. The scholars reminded him of Micah’s prophecy: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no longer least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a Governor, who will shepherd My people Israel.’ Herod called the wise men and instructed them to go and look for the child and bring him word so that he could worship him as well.

The wise men left following the star that had brought them to Jerusalem. The star  led them to the place where Jesus was staying at the time, and opening their treasures they presented the young child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts themselves were remarkable in that they represented offices that this new born babe would hold – king, priest and savior.

What was more remarkable, however, was that no one thought to follow the wise men to find the baby. You would think that the Chief Priests and Scribes whom Herod called would have been interested in finding the child. When Herod asked where the child would be born, they responded immediately, that Bethlehem was the place.These were the Jewish religious leaders who – along with their people – had been waiting hundreds of years for a Messiah. When He arrived they were not smart enough to put two and two together.Bethlehem was a small village, not far from Jerusalem but it would only be the wise men who would seek out the Holy Child; they and the Shepherds to whom the angels had appeared (Luke 2).

It is clear from this account that the people who had most to gain from the appearance of their King and who should have made haste to find Him, did not bother. Even Herod, who’s motive was evil and concerned solely with the preservation of his kingship, found it hard to seek the King himself. What would have happened if he did? We can only speculate.

The crux of this story is that wise men seek Jesus. In John 5:39-40, Jesus – now a grown man – told some Jewish leaders: “You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have eternal life. These are they who bear witness of Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” If you are wise you will seek Jesus and if you do, you will find Him.

May you find the Christ of Christmas this holiday season!

 

More Than a Little Wind

More Than a Little Wind

We went sailing again.

During the morning hours it rained a bit so I asked Captain Theo, if the trip was still on. He said we should be ok by the time we were ready to sail.  The rain stopped by noon – sailing time – and though the  weather forecast indicated periodic thunder showers in the afternoon, we still decided to go out.

As we pulled out into the water the skies were dark. Out in the distance there were some really black clouds which we thought were too far away from us to be problematic. There was no wind and as Captain Theo powered out I jokingly said it was the calm before the storm; Pastor Nelson started singing the Gilligan’s Island theme song (not sure if that was a good idea).When the wind finally started blowing we were able to unfurl the sails and enjoy a short time of relatively smooth sailing. After a while, Captain Theo must have sensed that it was not such a good idea to be out  so  he turned the boat around and started heading back.Then the rain began to fall. It wasn’t  much but it added another level of excitement to the trip. Sean and Pastor Nelson stayed on the deck, getting soaked.

Then the storm really hit us! The rain came down in sheets and the wind picked (later on Captain Theo estimated that the winds were about 35 miles an hour from zero a few minutes before). I was down in the cabin at the time and I became a bit concerned when I looked out the little window and saw the waves right outside. The T-Time was listing at what I estimate to be almost a 45 degree angle. I looked out and  saw Captain Theo leaning on the helm trying to keep the boat on a straight course. That’s when I decided to see how I can help so I suggested we bring the sails down. Sean climbed on the deck and manually pulled the sail down making it easier for Captain Theo to steer the boat back to the marina.

The storm didn’t last very long and probably was not as bad as we inexperienced sailors (except Captain Theo) thought it was. But I did learn a few things.

  1. There is such a thing as the calm before the storm: When we got to the marina there was a nice breeze blowing. I remember thinking that in spite of the threat of thunder showers,  the wind would give us a nice day of sailing. But as we were pulling out the wind died completely, the water was glassy calm and its only when a cruise boat passed by we saw some waves. So too, in life periods of exceptional calm may be a prelude to times of turbulence. Therefore we should be ready  when they come. Captain Theo must have realized that it would get rough so without saying anything to us, he quietly turned the boat around. I suppose it would have been harder to turn in the midst of the storm than just before it hit.
  2. Storms teach you how to adapt to your circumstances: It was the first time Sean had been on a boat like this. He is a big guy and I was a bit amused when he put on the life vest which was way too small for him. But he kept it on for the duration and when the storm hit he was all over the deck like an experienced sailor. I don’t know if he was afraid but he learned quickly and he was able to bring the sails down on his own. Sometimes you just don’t know how you will handle things until the waters get a bit rough. That’s when experience kicks in and you do whatever comes naturally. Sometimes it means that you pray.
  3. Storms are not to be trifled with: We really did not have time to understand whether we were in danger. Like kids who think everything is fun, we just enjoyed the experience. But when I looked out from the cabin at Captain Theo I noticed an expression on his face that made me realize he was taking the storm seriously. The truth is, Captain Theo was the only one who had any real sailing experience. If we were in trouble he would be the one to get us out of it. We would have done what we were told but it would be his job to take us through the storm.
    Life’s storms are also not to be trifled with.They can do real damage and you are never really adequate in handling all of them. That’s why it is important to know whom to go to; whom to call. In Mark chapter 4, when Jesus and His disciples met a storm on the Sea of Galilee, experienced fishermen though they were, they called upon Him.
I’m not a Grasshopper!

I’m not a Grasshopper!

There are about 11,000 known species of grasshoppers and they can be found all around the world. They live in the fields, eat mainly plants and vegetable matter, and are called grasshoppers because of powerful hind legs that allow them to leap great distances. Grasshoppers are from the insect family and range in size from two inches to about five inches. Though large for the insect kingdom, they are tiny animals. Calling or seeing oneself as a grasshopper may not necessarily be a flattering thing, especially in the context of the following story.*

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My Journey…so far!

My Journey…so far!

At 56  I’ve lived a lifetime!

Yet it is as if my journey has just begun. Chronologically time is short and the saying ‘so much to do, so little time’ seems apt. But I will not concern myself – too much – with what I don’t have, what I have not achieved, or where I have not gone. Instead I will focus on what I can acquire, what I can do and where I can go in the years ahead of me. For i believe it is foolish to allow time to be wasted on recriminations and lost opportunities, for in doing so other opportunities might be lost. They say that lost opportunities are seldom regained so what’s gone is gone. I will however keep my catcher’s mitt on my hands, ever  vigilant to capture those errant fastballs ( they come faster as the years grow shorter). I am fully aware that I may not catch them all, but I will be content to catch what I can.

A goodly part of my former years have been in the employ of those who wanted me to do what concerned them while I neglected what concerns me. Don’t misunderstand me because I thoroughly enjoyed the things that were required of me and in the process, I learned a lot. But there were things I wanted to do that had to wait; until now. I no longer work for the man, but I work for The Man; God is my CEO.

The work that I do for Him, I thoroughly enjoy. It is as if I have found my life’s purpose – which I have! But I have not just started to work for Him, I have been for most of my life. However, I had divided loyalties up until a few years ago. I am happy to report that He alone is my employer; I play for an audience of One!

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a child though I was never formally trained, having finished school before I was 20. But the world has been my classroom, and it continues to be so. Learning has always been a friend and we will be together till the end. Those who know say that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste’ so I will not. I have found that ‘sharpening the saw’ works to my advantage – every time! So I have enrolled in school and I am three-quarters of the way to a Bachelor’s degree…finally…yaaaay!!! Oh, and I have written a book as well – self-published of course – it’s called: The Parable of the Trees – A Study in Spiritual Leadership!

Blogging is this new adventure that I have embarked upon and I welcome the challenges it will bring. I look forward to the critique of friends – and enemies (though less of the latter) – that I may meet along the way. It is my hope that some will find it helpful to walk with me, as I walk with them; the world is a lonely place without friends of like passion.

Update

March 2, 2017

Last year (August)I turned 58 and I feel it is necessary to do an update on this post. As it stands, I am two years ahead in my journey (or two years closer to meeting Jesus, however you want to look at it. I prefer the former), and a few things have happened since then.

The main event has been the publication on Amazon’s Create Space platform my 40 day devotional – Walking with Jesus. This is a project I have been working on for a couple of years and which I ran as a small group program at Grace Ministries . The completion of this publication awoke in me the desire to write more, and to publish more (publishing is so easy these days)!  In fact I have decided to embark on a supplemental career, that of author.

During the 70s when I was in my teens, I had written a play titled,  The Allies. It was an amateur production but well received in my local church back then. I decided to take the original story-line and convert it into a novel, which I am currently working on. I have revised the title to Allies in the Darkness.

UPDATE: 4-23-18

Recently joined the New York State Chaplain Task force (graduated 4-21-18)

https://www.nychaplaincyservices.org/