Life has a series of one way streets, and I observe that most people don't even know it.
Have you ever been traveling on a freeway, and passed your exit? If you are pressed for time, it is almost a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that it would have been so easy to simply take the right exit. However, now that you are past your exit, there is no getting off.
As older adults, we try and tell our children about these exits, and they may or may not ignore us the same way that we did or didn't ignore our parents.
Exodus 20:12 (King James Version)
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Ignoring the truly dysfunctional families, I believe a great majority of kids ignore good advice from their parents. The commandment with a promise is a dual promise: get advice from your parents because God will bless you, but also because it is a good idea.
So perhaps you stumbled across this blog late one night, and your looking for some advice. I want to spend some time writing to you about some one-way streets and that you need to be aware.
These are words for my own children, but they help you also.
Now, before we start, we need to understand how we will do this.
We need to navigate our path into the future. Now how do we navigate our path? We have have a map. Only in this case, we have goals to navigate by. As my pappy said so many times, "Son, if you aim at nothing, you're going to hit it." So for you to have a life that is happy, content, and worth while, you need to do the following:
1. Think about where you are aiming. What does success look like.
2. Commit to a target or "a goal"
3. Shoot and see the results. This means that you discipline your self to action.
4. Reload, think, commit to a target, shoot again.
Perhaps, you think "well that doesn't sound like trusting God," but this is not the case at all. The goals that we construct should be based around our communion with our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Once you have this tuned in, the rest of the goals will fire just fine.
For the non-believer in Christ: Fire Insurance.
If you are a non-Christian, I would spend quite a bit of time researching hell, since so many people seem to believe in it. If you think Hell is just an illusion or a fable, I'd like to challenge you to find another fable so well believed.
Personally, after searching the Bible, I don't know if Hell will be a place of physical torment or mental torment. People that claim that they've read the Bible and know exactly what Hell will be like, are simply not reading the scriptures, the future is always described perfectly, but often different than we first might read it.
(I lean toward CS Lewis's interpretation of Hell: it is a place where we get everything we want, and by getting everything we want, we longer can live with ourselves or anybody else. And no, I don't believe Lewis was becoming less evangelical in his later years. I think this is wistful thinking by those that didn't understand the grief he had seen in his life.)
However, we don't need to know the finer details of Hell. I believe the Bible is 100% true and inerrant, and the words used about Hell are the perfect words that describe what it is going to be like to be separated from God.
Hell won't be heaven, and you'll be missing out. Regardless of the physical torment, a little or a lot, it will be a place of profound sadness, grief, and regret. The negatives of missing on your final resting place is so enormous that you don't want to gamble this eternal outcome on a hunch or whim (this idea is pointed out in Pascal's wager). Since this is such a big outcome, you need to spend serious time thinking it through.
Some goals for you: Read the Gospel of John. Read CS Lewis's Mere Christianity. Read Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ." Finally, read the wild men over at Tekton. (They may be a bit arrogant, but they are definitely bright.)
For the Christian: Don't Be A Fool
If you become a Christian for the fire insurance, guess what, the Lord can use this. If you then stop at fire insurance, you very possibly are damned. If this is shocking, it supposed to be. The Bible is not about fire insurance. The Bible is about a path back to relationship with your creator. It is about following a path that is difficult. It is about giving up yourself, so you can become more than yourself. If you are a Christian, and yet have no goals, then you probably don't understand what you signed up for.
You should have a goal to grow strong. Here some ideas:
Here some thoughts on potential goals:
Reading through the Bible every year; giving no less than 10% of my salary to the work of the Lord; finding a prayer meeting one night during the week; doing family devotionals; spending a set number of minutes in prayer on your knees every day (Danial had the open habit of three times per day, and he was blessed of the Lord).
The issue is that you need goals.
One caveat on God goals: The very moment that you tell these goals to somebody else in a bragging way or you believe that you're going to get a material blessing, you have just jumped into legalism. So, goals are great, but they must happen from the Love of God.
2. Getting the right wife.
If you take my route, you simply meet a beautiful girl in college, get married, have her spoil you for all the years you are married, and have four children. In my life, I basically won the Lotto for marriage. Maybe somebody else should fill in this section other than me because this doesn't happen to most people, but I do think that I have a couple ideas that can help. I will guaranty that a poor marriage will be misery and will go a long way to destroying whatever wealth you were thinking you could gain.
Goals on getting the right wife: Arrange a time of prayer with your parents to pray that God sends you the right woman (I believe there is no greater or faster path to a good marriage and this is shown in the story of Rebekah and Isaac, where they mated for life). Read multiple books on what makes a good marriage (I had read 7 or 8 before I got serious); hang out with Christian fellowships and meet as many women as possible and make a covenant with your eyes not to judge a woman by what she looks like but by her love for our Lord Jesus Christ; make a list of things that you want in a wife that are exclusively tied to character traits.
The one other thing, once you find the right mate, you need to convince her to marry you. To "close this deal" you need to take a very calculating approach. If you are looking to just romance as your guide (not that a little bit of romance is bad), you are building your house on sand. The agreement to get married is very much like a business deal.
a. You need to figure out what you want. What does the other bring to the table. If you say, "man, she's good looking, and she's popular," I wish you luck, but you will be profoundly unhappy all your years.
I hope you have criteria like: she loves the Lord; she is incredibly loyal to her mother and father; she helps the poor; she is diligent in her work; she refuses to swear; she goes to church, prays like crazy, is happy all the time. These are the criteria you should have.
Am I serious? My answer is as follows:
I don't care if she is 300 lbs, blind, a different race than you, with one leg. All of those others things don't matter, don't matter, don't matter. What you want is real criteria that match a life mate. Everybody wrinkles and gets overweight. (Well, I would check out if the weight is a bit tied to the lack of self control, but you should know what I mean.)
b. You need capital to buy this wife. Make a list of items for yourself that would make you attractive to a mate. Do you show spiritual leadership? Do you go to church? Do you read your Bible? Do you have your heart broken for the poor? Are you of good cheer? Have you save enough money to buy a house where you will both live?
c. This is another great opportunity to drag out the goal book your've been making. You then need to see if you can have similar goals. For instance, things for me that would be a flag for disaster, and I'll speak for me only:
*She couldn't save a dime to save her life. Her goal is not to save money.
*She believes that schedules are for people that are uptight. Her goal is to be relaxed.
*She wants 4 dogs and no children. Her goal is to be childless.
*She wants to have "girls night out." Her goal is to have fun with others.
*She expects me to bring home all the money and then come home and entertain her. Her goal is to find a man that is entertaining for her.
*She doesn't work, and I need to get up and take care of the kids. Her goal is to get sleep.
*She is really into having the latest fashions, and the clothes budget comes before the food budget. Her goal is to always be attractive to other men and have other women be envious of her.
As you can probably tell, my wife is the exact opposite of the above. Some men could handle the above. I know my own limitations, and I simply couldn't.
Now listen. Now read. This next section is very important. Above, I have listed a bunch of things, for better or for worse, than I can't stand. You need to sit down with your mate and have this conversation. You need to say, "Honey, if I'm working and you are at home, I am not going to wake up in the middle of the night to change the kids. I need to be rested to make money to keep the lights on."
If she comes back and says, "Okay, I agree, but if I'm the primary bread winner, then I want you to change the kids in the middle of night." You know you have a winner. Here is a woman that is thinking it through. Even for even. Give and take. If you are the type of man that answers, "but my Mom always changed the diapers," as your answer, I want you to stop reading my website. I don't have anything more to say to you.
Marriage counseling found out a long time ago that asking question early in the relationship like:
1. Who's cooking if both are working?
2. Who's changing the kids?
3. Do you think a budget is important?
is the difference between happy marriages and sad marriages. You either need to give up your expectations before getting into a marriage, or you need to say, "well, if I get married I am going to fight for the next 50 years on who's cooking dinner, so I need to try again."
As an example, in our marriage, my wife actually works many more hours than I do. I will even say that she works harder. However, I make more money by myself than if we could double her salary (if she worked). I, however, am a guy that sprints like crazy in my work, then I need to unwind or I blow up. If my wife made major demands of me at home, I wouldn't be half as successful.
We call it "our bargain," and, as far as I can tell, we are one of the happiest married couples around.
3. Don't let your weight get out of control
Here the facts Jack. If your weight ever goes up high, your setpoint will get reset to that higher weight and chances are you will struggle to ever be at a lower weight. Do some people lose weight permanently? The answer theoretically is yes, but from a real world viewpoint, the answer is no. Regardless, never put the weight on, and you'll have a much easier life.
Goals on the right weight: Weigh yourself every day. Buy fat calipers and use them every day. Read and follow my posts on high protein diets. Read books on nutrition.
4. Don't wake up a slave
I've already posted on this, but why be a slave to your job, your credit cards, or your mortgage payment? You can get free from you slavery in 20-25 years. Get saving and get free.
Goals: Be financially free by 45 years of age. Own your own house with no payments at 65. Commit to a budget. Become frugal and read books on frugality for inspiration.
The Lord didn't put us on this earth to be deliriously happy about living on this earth. As you read the Bible, you will see that we are to have our minds set on heaven.
However, we are to use our brains and the gifts that God gave us. Trusting in these brains would be stupid. However, trusting in God and using our brains are not.
Don't pass the exit on the freeway.