Time Treasure Talent - TIME

September 4, 2016

Speaker: Lead Pastor Justin Douglas

Scriptures: Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 5:15-16, Psalms 90:12, James 4:14, Matthew 22:36-40, Exodus 16:23

William Penn has this fabulous quote. I'm not going to tell you the quote, I'm going to see if you can guess. I'm going to take one word out of the quote; we're going to see if you can guess what the quote is. Here's what it says: [Blank] is what we want most but what we use worst. [Blank] is what we want most but what we use worst. Think about that. What was that? Time is correct! Ding ding ding - winner! Is that Nick? Alright. Nick wins the game. Time is correct.

Time is what we want most but what we use worst. And we're launching a new series today Time Treasure Talent.  There was a little bit of a hint in that video, right? That it might be time? We're kind of going to have a holistic look at stewardship. Now if you're wondering what stewardship is, stewardship is simply an ethic that embodies like responsible planning and management of resources. But we're going to look at this from the resources of time, treasure, talent. We have so many resources at our disposal. These are three of you might say the largest resources. So how do we use these?

Do...we've said this a few times...do these own us or do we own them? Sometimes - be honest - you open your calendar in your phone and you feel like it owns you {Justin laughs} more than you own it. Correct? Like we've found ourselves in this place. Sometimes we pull up the bank statement and the bills, and we're like, ohh. Yep, that owns me more than I own it. And so we're trying to take this holistic approach of we have all of these resources that we've been given, how do we manage it well?

So today we ponder time, and there's no shortage of great thinkers who have reflected on the topic of time. Ben Franklin said this: "You may delay, but time will not." Bruce Lee said this: "If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of." Charles Darwin said this: "A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." Much has been said about the topic of time. It seems that sometimes we find ourselves desiring more time. I would say we all desire, in a sense, more time.

What does the Bible say about time? Here's a quote from Ephesians. We're going to have five scriptures and five points. So if you're a note-taker, if that's the type of person you are, you can take notes if you want or you can just follow along on the screen, whatever you prefer. Ephesians 2:10 says it this way:

Hey, the very first thing we have to get out of the way before we even talk about time is that you were created for a purpose. God created you for a purpose, and the purpose that this passage says is to do good works. You are God's handiwork. Think about that for a minute. Have you ever felt like junk? Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, I'm no good. I'm worthless. This thing I did, my past, whatever, fill in the blank. This passage says no, no, no, no, no. You're not supposed to see yourself that way, you should see yourself as God's handiwork, and then you should own the reality that your purpose in life is to do good, to do good works.

And so the first thing we have to do, #1, is to discover your purpose.

You have to discover your purpose. So what is your purpose? Think of an organization, how crazy it would be to sit on the board for an organization that had never come up with a purpose statement or mission statement. How is that organization supposed to really think through and strategize what they're going to do if they have no purpose, if they have no mission? Yet so many of us have not created - even in our own lives - a purpose statement or a mission statement for our lives or a vision for where we might want to go and how we might want to use things and where we might want to land. We just expect it to maybe come together.

But God has placed desires within you, gifts within you, passions within you, things that make you tick. I think of certain people who have these talents, abilities, time that they're like, when I'm in this place, time kind of just goes away. Like, I could be here for hours, and I just feel like it's where I'm meant to be. This is part of your purpose probably. This is part of maybe the way God has wired you. So as you think about that, think through 'What's my purpose?' First is to see myself as an image bearer of God. I was created in the image of God. I'm God's handiwork. Second, I'm created to do good works, so how do I start using my time for good, to serve other people? Here's what the Bible says specifically about time, okay? Ephesians 5:15-16 says it this way:

Very interestingly, the writer of Ephesians connects wisdom with making the most of every opportunity. Now let's go to the Psalms and read this:

Number our days, become aware, maybe you might even say make the most of every opportunity, wisdom. These two passages seem to link and connect a knowledge that we have a short period of time. We do not have all the time. We will run out of time. When we fathom this, when we confront this face to face, because so much of our culture is putting things in our way to keep us from {Justin chuckles} remembering that hey, one day you're going to die.

Like, hey, you guys came to church today and you're so excited to hear a message about how we don't have an unlimited amount of time. Yaaaayyy. Right? No! No, we don't want that! Like, pastors who talk about this, it's like, yeah, if I talked about this every Sunday, you'd be like, 'Justin, I'm done. Bye.' The truth is, is like we don't enjoy coming face to face with the reality that our days are numbered. But, when we do come face to face with the reality that our days are numbered, we tend to live in a more wise way. There's wisdom in the way we spend every minute when we know that each minute matters. Each minute counts.

I think of Clayton McDonald. Clayton McDonald was a teenager who battled leukemia and eventually died, but when he was standing before his school assembly in high school, here's what he said to his school assembly: "I have the luxury of knowing about when I am going to die. You don't. I feel sorry for you because it is not hard for me to be thankful for everyday things like my family and friends when I know I might not see them again tomorrow."

Wisdom comes when we start to recognize our days are numbered. It creates a perspective within us that realigns our priorities. James said it this way. He said:

Again, not the most encouraging verse, but at the same time, it puts in perspective what is important. What is important in my life? So, point #2 is:

Live in the moment. Now I want to be very clear...this is not the philosophy of YOLO. Let me really quick bring you up to speed on what "YOLO" is if you don't know what that is. You only live once. This is like, 'Oh, should I do this stupid, crazy thing that I should definitely not do? YOLO!' And then you do it. Okay? {congregation laughs} That is not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is live in the moment, and this means be present in the moment. Be present.

I just got a book actually this morning, an audio book. Whenever I travel, I do audio books. You don't know this, but speaking of time, today, as soon as I'm done giving this life connection, I bolt out, I drive to the airport, and tonight I'm actually teaching in Wisconsin, the church I came to here from. I'm going to be there this week and we worked it out to where I could be there for that, still be here with you guys this morning, but then be there tonight.

So on my trips, I normally download a book to check out, and there's all of this buzz around this book called Present Over Perfect. Present Over Perfect, and it's written by Shauna Niequist. I already know it's going to be a phenomenal book. I'm looking forward to reading it. But that's a concept that we're finding ourselves in in the 21st century, that we are rarely present in moments. We are rarely present because we're so busy.

When you think of it, have you ever tried to talk to someone who is checking their phone constantly? They're like looking at you but then they're checking their phone, looking at you, doing this the whole time? Have you ever had a conversation with that person? Is it not the most frustrating thing in the world? And if I've ever done that to you, I apologize, because I probably have. Because I do it, too! We're all guilty of it. Like we hate it when people do it, but then we do it to people.

And then have you ever pivoted from an interaction from someone like that to where you sit with someone who's fully present, and you're like, 'This is weird. You're way too interested in me. Back off.' Right? Like, like don't make so much eye contact with me, this is weird! Like we don't even know how to interact with people anymore because...because we've...we're so used to this, and so how do we regain this idea that we live in the moment, that we become fully present, that we give people our full attention?

And I want to share really quick. There's this artist and nurse, Bronnie Ware. Her job as a nurse for hospice care led her to many interactions around dying people, and she would have these interactions with dying people, and she was an artist but she was also a nurse, and so she really wanted to collect some of these stories and kind of share with people five things that people on their deathbed regret. Five things people on their deathbed regret. Here are the five regrets that she shared in her book that she wrote.

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Many dreams have gone unfulfilled," she writes, "Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing it was due to choices they had made or not made." That was the first thing she had seen.

The second thing she had seen them say on their deathbed, "I wish I didn't work so hard." I wish I didn't work so hard. Here's what she says. "This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much time of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

Point #3 for her of what she saw in hospice care. "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others. Many developed illnesses related to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

The fourth thing she noticed people regretted, "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends." She writes this, "Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks, and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserve. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

The final thing she notes about someone who's dying is this. "I wish I had let myself be happier." I wish I had let myself be happier. And then she goes on to explain it this way. "This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called comfort of familiarity overflowed into their emotions as well as their physical life. Fear of change had them pretending to others and to themselves that they were content when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way off from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again long before you are dying."

So when we talk about living in the moment, we talk about living in a space where when we come to the end, whenever that may be, we don't come to the end with regret, we don't come to the end looking back and saying I wish I had been more present, I wish I invested in relationships, I wish I didn't work so much, we can come to the end with a little more satisfaction of knowing I really did care for others, I really did put the proper perspective on things in my life.

As we continue, here's what Jesus says about our life, He says...He's asked the question what is the greatest commandment? What's the greatest commandment? And here's what He says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.'"

So point #3 is going to be this:

Invest in relationship. You were designed for relationship. Not for religion, Not for ritual. You were designed for relationship. A relationship with God and relationships with others. You were designed for that. Jesus literally says that the two greatest commandments are to love God, have a loving relationship with God, and to love others. Think about that. This is the way you were designed to live. Love God; love others. The two greatest commandments. So as we think about that, how many times do our possessions or our chart of what's most important really reflect really strengthening our relationship with God or even strengthening our relationship with others.

Sometimes you might look at someone and say is your priority really people or is your priority stuff? Is your priority...where...what are your priorities? Yet we can drift, and this drift slowly happens to where we get all the way out here, and we don't even understand how it happened, it was so slow and gradual. But we have completely flipped our priority list, and people just aren't that important anymore.

A great book is titled...many of you have maybe even read it...it's called The Last Lecture {by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow}. There's this chapter in The Last Lecture, Chapter 15, I'm going to read an excerpt from it. I think it's one of the most profound stories. When I read it, I dropped the book. I was like, 'Man, that is a gut-check moment in a book.' Here's how it reads: "For a long time, a big part of my identity was bachelor uncle. In my 20s and 30s, I had no kids, and my sister's two children - Chris and Laura - became the objects of my affection. I reveled in being Uncle Randy, the guy who showed up in their lives every month or so to help them look at the world from these strange new angles. It wasn't that I spoiled them, I just tried to impart my perspective on life. Sometimes that drove my sister crazy.

Once, about a dozen years ago, when Chris was seven years old and Laura was nine, I picked them up in my brand-new Volkswagen Cabrio {Cuh-bree'-oh} convertible..." I don't even know what a Cabrio {Cuh-bree-oh} is. {Congregation yells out the right pronunciation} Cabrio? {Ca'-bree-oh}? Cabrio, my apologies. I'm sorry. Someone over here is a car person that knows about Volkswagen convertibles. And he said, "'Be careful in Uncle Randy's new car,' is what his sister told them. 'Wipe your feet before you get in, don't mess anything up, do not get it dirty.' I listened to her and I thought, as only a bachelor uncle can, that's just the sort of admonition that sets kids up for failure. Of course they'd eventually get my car dirty; kids can't help it.

So I made things easy. While my sister was outlining the rules, I slowly and deliberately opened a can of soda and turned it over and poured it on the brand-new cloth seats in the back of the convertible. My message: People are more important than things. A car, even a pristine gem like my new convertible, was just a thing. As I poured out that Coke, I watched Chris and Laura's mouths open, eyes widened, here was Crazy Uncle Randy completely rejecting adult rules. I ended up being so glad I spilled that soda, though, because later in the weekend, little Chris got the flu and threw up all over the back seat. He didn't feel guilty, he was relieved. He had already watched me 'christen' the car; he knew it would be okay."

I think of a story like that and I think, 'Man, this is a picture of how we're supposed align to our lives.' This isn't me telling you, go pour soda in the back of your car, I'd probably lose it on my kids if they did, right? But what I'm trying to say is like when we live our life oriented a little bit differently, when we start to say, man, my time is more important, relationships are more important in the scheme of time than possessions. We start to say, hold on, yeah, that was not helpful that you poured soda on the back of the car seat, but how do I respond in this moment? Do I respond in a way that communicates that possession is more important than our relationship? How do I respond? It changes us. It changes us because we're called to invest in relationships.

There's this passage in Exodus, Exodus 16:23, it goes this way. God said to them: This is what the Lord commanded them...I'm sorry, Moses said to them:

Now for this passage, there's like...you have no context, and it's important to have context. Up to this point, the word Sabbath is nowhere in the Bible. This is the first time we hear the word Sabbath in the Bible. Sabbath is to symbolize one day of rest in a day of seven, okay? Now God eventually points back to the Creation story, back to how the earth was created in six days and then there was a day of rest. But for all of human history up to this point, God does not command that people rest. God commands it here. And I think it's important for us to note what's happening in this moment.

The Israelites were slaves. Slaves that were making brick after brick after brick after brick for Egypt. And in this moment of slavery, it's estimated that they were working anywhere from 14- to 16-hour days, 7 days a week, bricks, bricks, bricks, bricks, bricks. This was the only thing they knew. Work, work, work, work, work. Rihanna's song, they were singing it all day. And so, that's like all they knew in life, and God frees them, brings them into the desert, and in the desert, one of the first things He says is, 'Hey, so you need to rest one day.' Do you think that was easy for a group of people who had done nothing but work? I would ask you this...'How easy is it for you?' It's hard to take a step back and say, 'I need a day to breathe. I need a day to rest. I need a day to not have a to-do list.'

That is more relevant right now in the 21st century than maybe it ever has been. Because we have...we are a nation of workaholics. God understood that to free the people from slavery, it would take more than just getting them out of Egyptian oppression. They were slaves to a system of work where work was constant and never-ending. And so some of you might be in that same system today, and I would say you're probably you're a slave to it. You're probably a slave to that.

So our next point:

Create a Sabbath rhythm. And I want to be really careful here because I don't want it to get legalistic, okay? I would talk to some people who had been raised in really legalistic churches when I was a pastor in Wisconsin. I would talk to some of these people, and they would tell me that on the Sabbath, they weren't allowed to ride their bikes, they weren't allowed to go to the pool and swim, they weren't allowed to watch TV, and I was like, 'What kind of rest is this? This is terrible!' Like I was like, how could God be for that? No riding bikes? Like where's that in the Bible? But they had just made it really legalistic, they had made this...all these rules up about what rest was. And I would say this: What rest is to you and what rest is to me is going to be completely different. What recharges you? What recharges you and gets you ready for Monday? Because Monday is coming. What recharges you and gets you ready? Rest. Create rhythms that recharge you.

The other question is: What do you need to unplug from? Maybe one day a week, you need to unplug, and maybe it needs to start with for one hour, I'm not going to look at the phone. It's going to be the hardest hour of my life, but for one hour, I'm not going to do it. And then the next week, it's for two hours, right? And you try to build up a little bit of like I want to disconnect because there's something healthy about when I disconnect. There's something restful about disconnecting. And so create that Sabbath rhythm.

Another thing, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This is what Luke 5:16 says.

Jesus had this like strategy about the way He did things. He knew he needed to be alone, which is very interesting because Jesus was fully human and fully God is what we're told. So fully human, fully God, and it seems like this human part of Jesus was like, 'I need to retreat. I need to get away. I need to be alone.' Yet, He would constantly have crowds in his face asking for things. We need this, we need that. And He knew He had to let them down sometimes. And so Jesus had an attention strategy, you could say.

So I would tell you, create an attention strategy. Create your attention strategy. What do you need to do to make sure you're able to put attention to the things that matter most? What is distracting you from discovering your purpose and living it out each day? What is distracting you from living in the moment? What is distracting you from investing in relationships? What might be distracting you from a Sabbath rhythm?

See, because Jesus recognized this is a hard balance. There's this one story where He's up all night healing everybody and He's healing them, and all of a sudden the disciples are like, 'Where'd Jesus go? Where did He go? Where did He go? He's gone! Where's He at?' And they can't find Him. And He's like gone. He's gone. They're like, 'There's more people that need to be healed! There's more to be done! We need to do this!' And He's like, 'Uh, no. It's time to take a break. It's time to get away.' And so He left, and finally they find Him, and He's just like, 'No, we needed to stop.' Like pretty much like, we just...we...like He just constantly had these different rhythms than everyone living around Him because He recognized you can't be healthy and continue to run a pace like that.

Interestingly enough, when we think about creating, like an attention strategy, we have to understand that our attention, we are one click away from our attention going somewhere else, right? Does that resonate with anybody? We're one click away from our attention going anywhere else. Here's what research studies are saying about attention spans. The attention span, first of all, is the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. So, the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. Researchers found that the average attention span of an American is eight seconds. Eight seconds. In 2000, it was 12 seconds. So we are devolving. The attention span of a goldfish is believed to be 9 seconds. {Justin laughs} So, this is not good news.

Now there are some scientists that would say actually we have a 10-minute attention span. That research is wrong, so I do want to throw that out there, but all research, no matter what research, even their research about a ten-minute attention span and why we have that, all research shows that our attention span is going backwards. We have less attention span than we had last year, and this coming year we'll have less attention span.

And you think about it, just think, about social media. YouTube blows up, right? But now we have this thing called Vine that's blowing up. What's Vine? Maybe you don't know what Vine is. If you don't, it's 6-second videos. Because God forbid we watch any more than six seconds. You can sum it up in six seconds. If you can't, get off of here. Go use YouTube! Go use that old thing! Right? It's like, what? Six seconds, what can I...what can be communicated in six seconds?

But hilariously, there's a lot that can be communicated in six seconds. It's actually pretty hilarious; you should check it out...if you want to be more distracted and spend time on things that are meaningless. Yeah, not quite the point of this message. But...{Justin laughs} but the point is is that we have to create a rhythm. How do we interact with all these social media technologies that exist?

I love Facebook! Because I get to keep up with friends I went to college with. As we talked a moment ago, one of the things that people on their dying deathbed said is they had lost connection with so many of these friends. Though Facebook, I've been able to keep connections with a lot of my friends. So that's great, but how do I navigate that healthy? How do I navigate that where my attention isn't going to be like oh, I sat here at nine o'clock and now the sun's going down and I'm still on Facebook. Yeah, that's a problem, right? Like that's a little too long, maybe a little too much connection with old friends.

So we have to create that attention span...we have to create strategies that allow us to have the proper attention span in these places. I think what it really comes to is recognizing back to our first point: there's wisdom in recognizing that life is passing us by with every single breath. The breath you just took was a moment. How are we going to spend that moment? How are we going to invest that time? I think sometimes we can think about this theoretically, but sometimes we need a visual because visuals can be very helpful. So watch the screen.

What are you going to do today? What are you going to do today? Whether you're 17 or 70, you're here with a purpose. Are you going to look back on today and wish you had done it differently, or are you going to say I invested that day wisely? I invested that day wisely. My prayer is that we would seek God for the step that He would have us take in how we invest our time. All of it. Let's pray.

Good and gracious God, help us see our time as a resource. Help us find purpose in life. Maybe we have a unique purpose that you've called us to, passions and gifts that You have called us to use and utilize. Show us what those are, and also allow us to rest. If we're here and we're one of those people who work so much, create in us a Sabbath rhythm. Remind us of our need for rest. Lord, teach us to love You and to love people, that we are designed for relationship, and part of that design is that we are designed for relationship with You and we are designed for relationship with others. May we discover the purpose God has for our life. May we live in this moment and invest in what is eternal. And may we find rest as we unplug from the distractions of this world. God, be our guide on this journey that is life. In the name of Jesus, amen.