Tuesday, July 29, 2014



666,216 is the average number of hours that a man in the United States can expect to live.
I’m approximately 52.5 years old.  That means I’ve used up 460,212 of mine…should I only be average.  Which begs the question: How do I want to use the last 206,004 hours of my

Of course, I hope to be above average.  My personal goal is to live to be 100 years and one day old.  But, you just can’t count on ‘beating the house.’  In fact, there are a good number of people who fall short of the average.  So, let’s just say I’ll be average.  How do I want to spend those hours?

Maybe playing Candy Crush?  Nope!

Maybe watching TV?  Not anymore.
I don’t watch TV nearly as much as I used to, but let’s examine that one.  For conjecture sake…because I’ll never figure this out exactly…let’s say that I’ve watched two hours a day for the last 50 years.  Some days/years were much higher than others.  That’s an estimate, and it may be low because I used to watch A LOT of TV.  But, okay…two hours a day for 50 years is 36,525 hours.  Hmmm.  I’ve wasted 1522 days sitting in front of the television.  That’s over four years sitting in front of an electronic brain-sucker.

That’s kind of staggering, if you think about it.  And, my guess is most of us don’t.

Sit on a sofa...or, go see this?
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not opposed to relaxation or entertainment, and I’m not likely to give up TV altogether.  (I need my Walking Dead fixes.)  But, I can tell you, as a guy who has likely crossed the halfway point, I want to be a lot more mindful of how I use up those remaining hours.  I will no longer be donating them to mindlessness.

Frankly, I want to do something worthwhile with them.

I want to create.  I want to see beautiful and interesting places.  I want to worship with zeal.  I want to love deeper.  I want to make a difference in people’s lives.

I am challenged and inspired by the way that my fellow Christian and friend, Dr. Kent Brantly has devoted his life to serving others.  He could be living a fairly cush life here in the U.S. as a physician.  Nice house.  Nice car.  Maybe a club membership.  Instead, he has been donating himself to a cause where the only reward is the satisfaction of seeing people survive.  Since last fall, he has been working with Samaritan’s Purse at ELWA Hospital in Liberia, West Africa, sharing hope and providing medical care to people most of the world ignores.  And, further, now that he has been stricken with one of the most deadly diseases known to man—Ebola, he still remains committed to his course.  No regrets.  No second-guessing.  He is “praying fervently” for God to save his life, but either way, he has put himself in the Father’s hands.  He is faithful regardless the outcome.

Whether he will meet or exceed the average life-span of the US male is very hard to say right now.  The next week will tell.  But, I can tell you, he has already made more of a difference than most of us ever will.

So, I’m going to make some commitments right now.  I had already put Candy Crush in a coma in my world.  (Whoever created that game should be…well, I won’t say…it wouldn’t be nice.)  I am now declaring it ‘dead to me.’  I’d put Words with Friends on hiatus.  That hiatus is now permanent.  TV has been skimmed way down, and will stay that way.

I am going to look forward to my next 206,002 hours with much more intensity.  I will use them with a great deal more intentionality.  (I just gave a couple of them to you.)  And, I will renew my dedication to serving my God.

Now, a question for you…how are you going to use the hours you have left?


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ebola and the Power of Humility

My friend, Jim Brantly stood in front of our church this morning and apologized.  Being privy to the incredible family crisis he was (and still is) facing, I was taken aback.  What could he possibly be apologizing for on this morning of all mornings?  Then, I learned, as I so often do with Jim, that his heart was touched in a way…as it often is…that puts me to shame.

You see, the crisis in his family is the critical and life-threatening illness contracted by his son, Kent Brantly, which has been all over the newsfeeds and even the major news media outlets over the last couple of days.  His son, Kent Brantly, who is also someone I consider a friend, has been working for nearly a year with a hospital in Liberia in West Africa.  He is a doctor, and for the last several months, his focus has been on the battle to stop the spread of Ebola.  And, Ebola is deadly.  From the reports I’ve seen, it kills anywhere from 60% to 90% of those who are stricken.  Hundreds have died in the last few months, and some of the most at risk are the healthcare workers providing care.  In just the last few days, the family learned that Kent had contracted the disease.  He was (is) sick, in isolation, and alone (at least from his family) on another continent thousands of miles away.  Out of the reach of their loving arms, and beyond anything they could do for him short of prayer. 
Can you imagine?

So, for the last few days, Jim (and his family) have been praying…likely like they have never prayed before…for Kent’s recovery.  Pleading.  Begging.  Beseeching.  Calling with all of their energy, emotion, and faith on the God they have so long served; asking Him to come to their son’s side and return him to health.

And, in the middle of all of that emotional, mental, and spiritual turmoil, Jim came to realize something.  Something that he shared with all of us as he stood in front of the church just this morning.  Something that…again to my own shame…I would never have considered if the tables were turned and I was walking in his shoes.  Something incredibly selfless.

He realized that he had not been praying for others with that same sense of urgency and fervency.  And, his heart ached. 

So, at this time when he desperately wants his son to be healed and brought to full recovery, instead of pleading with the congregation to pray for his son, he apologized to the church for his own lack of prayer.  And, you could almost see the hearts of everyone in the room going out to him…trying to wrap themselves around him and his family.  It was moving.  It was powerful.  It was REAL.  It was what I think God intended.  The facades came down.  It was the church being real.  Really being the church of Christ.

And, of course, we all prayed fervently for Kent. 

Once again, I was humbled and amazed by Jim’s simple, heartfelt humility.

That is the kind of family that Kent Brantly comes from.  And, that is where he gets his faith and compassion.

Pray for Kent Brantly.  Pray for his healing.  Pray for his work.

Pray for my friend Jim.  Pray for his strength.  Pray for his faith in this time of testing.  Pray for his whole family.

And, pray for us.  All of us.  Pray that we can learn to reflect that same humility, selflessness, and faithfulness.  Pray that we…wherever we may be…will really be the church as God intended it.