“You have not lived today successfully unless you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
I am an avid college football fan! More specifically, I’m a University of Alabama football fan! The electricity that fills the stadium on game day is exhilarating! After living overseas for ten years, my wife’s cousin gave us tickets to an Alabama game and asked us to join him and his wife. Not only was it an Alabama football game, it was the Iron Bowl…THE Alabama football game! Holy Mackerel! I have not been to a game in 16 years. What a blessing! What an opportunity!
Although the Crimson Tide fell short by one point it was a wonderful day with friends and family. Yet while sitting in a stadium that seats 101,000 attendees, I was awe struck and convicted as I considered the money spent and earned by the university. For example, the university charges $65 for a general admission ticket. With a sold-out stadium they gross over $6.5 million. Wow! That’s just revenue from ticket sales. I cannot begin to estimate the millions of dollars earned from souvenir and concession sales.
In that moment, I could not help myself from thinking of how $6.5 million from one college football game could change the lives of the 27 million enslaved around the world. We could buy some out of slavery, give them food, clothing, and a home while providing vocational or university education. Better yet we could prevent children from ever entering the slave-trade by supporting the families that chose this option because they cannot provide. We could build and staff 100 orphanages in Thailand for 18 years.
That day at the game was unforgettable. However, that’s it: it’s now just a fond memory. Yet when I give generously of my time and talents and treasure, the impact last long after I’m gone. Who know? It may outlast me both now and in eternity!
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
This week my pastor echoed the passage above by declaring every second counts. He used the following illustration to emphasize his point. The University of North Carolina quarterback spiked the football with one second left in the game. That one second allowed a Carolina field goal, tying the game and sending it into overtime. In double over-time the North Carolina Tarheels were victorious. The difference in the game was one second.
One second is huge in a persons life. I recently celebrated being 1,342,656,000 seconds old. That represents 1,342,656,000 opportunities to join God in His work. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that God wants us to make the best use of time. How do you spend your time? Do you pursue God’s work or your desires? Do you bring glory to God or yourself?
According to the Polaris Project, one person is human trafficked every 90 seconds. Nearly every 30 seconds a child is exploited by the global commercial sex trade.
I challenge you to pursue wisdom, make the best use of time, and to understand what the will of the Lord is.
“When Injustice is great all men must shoulder a portion of dishonor.” ~Stephen Lawhead
For much of my life I have been blissfully ignorant of many of the travesties of justice that go on each day throughout the world. Honestly, on any given week I am more likely to be upset about a call against the New York Giants in a football game then about some of things going on in our world.
Lately that has begun to change. As I have become more aware of what is going on in our world I can’t sit back and just think, “Well someone else will deal with that.” As God has brought things across my path I realize that I need to act and be part of the solution to restore Justice.
In Proverbs 14:24 it says, “If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”
Each one of us will stand before God and be held accountable for our INACTIONS as well as our actions some day. I don’t say that as a threat or to guilt you into something but hopefully as a further encouragement to live lives that are focused on eternity and not on this world.
I read the Lawhead quote above and was challenged by it. I think it moves me to fight against the injustice going on in the world today to think about shouldering a portion of the dishonor that injustice and dishonorable people bring to our world today. May it challenge you to fight injustice as well.
The historic and contemporary reality of slavery is never far away from how we think about the Bible. Instead of a frontal attack on the culturally pervasive institution of slavery in his day, Paul took another approach, for example, in his letter to Philemon.
Onesimus was a slave. His master Philemon was a Christian. Onesimus had evidently run away from Colossae (Colossians 4:9) to Rome where Paul, in prison, had led him to faith in Jesus. Now he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon. This letter tells Philemon how to receive Onesimus.
In the process, Paul does at least 11 things that work together to undermine slavery.
1. Paul draws attention to Philemon’s love for all the saints. “I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” (1:5). This puts Philemon’s relation with Onesimus (now one of the saints) under the banner of love, not just commerce.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Our lives were made to count for something beyond ourselves. All my adult life I have wanted my life to count for the things that are going to matter for all of eternity. I like to challenge others to live for things beyond themselves as well. As we have continued to research, meet, discuss, plan, pray, raise money, visit Thailand and Cambodia and look for ways that we can be used of the Lord God has continued to move my heart to sacrifice and live for others.
Other than making my life count I have had two other huge desires in my life. Running a successful business and having a great marriage. I have walked away from the business thing a couple of times as God called us to Japan for 6 1/2 years in 2000 and then back to Japan in 2007. Just recently as God has continued to enlarge our vision for the work of Stop Slavery I have been thinking, “I would be so sad right now if God handed me a fully operational, highly profitable business where I could disciple the people that work there and be a light in the world.”
I guess it’s just strange to see my heart shifting and being moved for those who are enslaved, in extreme poverty, without the hope of the gospel or suffering the effects of human trafficking. I have been to 20+ countries, all 50 US states and had not been to a Third World country until 3 months ago. It simply wasn’t something I was interested in beyond a little curiosity.
I don’t know that God will take away my desire for business forever but I do know that as I become more clear on what is important I know that I need to do all that I can to connect those who have everything with those who have nothing.
If you would like your life to count for the things that are going to count for all of eternity please consider giving to Stop Slavery at www.stopslavery.org/donate