If You Knew You Only Had Sixty Seconds to Live, How Would you Live them?

A few years ago, I started asking myself what I would do If I were about to enter the final minute of my life.

The first time I did so I was sitting in a Starbucks in Vero Beach, Fl. The one that is located on U.S. 1, in the Publix plaza parking lot. Starbucks was a second home when we moved to Vero and planted Pillar Community Church. It, and other local coffee houses, served as my office for the first four to five years of the ministry.

On this particular morning, Starbucks was filled with people. As I observed folks coming in and out, I found myself passing subtle judgments. You know, judgments like,

“That’s not a coffee drink . . . it’s a soft-serve ice cream sundae laced with peppermint-cocoa flavoring,” Or

“Wow, you wore that in public?” Or

“Good grief, do you really need that much space? Can’t you see that people are standing around waiting for a place to sit?”

I was clearly feeling a sense of “I am better-than-you are” as I sat hunched in a small corner, at a small table, sipping on my dark-roast black coffee for the morning.

I the midst of these thoughts, I suddenly wondered, “What would I do If Jesus showed up and said, ‘Okay son, it’s time to go. Pack it up and come with me.’?”

I found myself stumbling to explain my thoughts to Him and wondering what I would say if that did happen!?!?

So, I decided to re-enact those sixty seconds and live as if these would be the last sixty seconds of my life.

A funny thing happened. The thoughts I was having ceased. New thoughts emerged. They were powerful thoughts. I didn’t wonder why people ordered what they were ordering, sat where they were sitting, or wore what they were wearing. Rather, I began to ask myself, “What should I do with the time I have remaining?” or “How should I spend these final moments of my life?”

On that morning I began a new spiritual practice or rhythm that I call “living as if I am in the last sixty seconds of my life.” As one who believes our practices and habits shape our behaviors, this one has been fascinating.

The time constraint of sixty seconds, while challenging, prevents the hysteria of trying to fix all I’ve broken even as it invites me to consider where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, said, and done and challenges me to spend my final seconds well! The time limitation is challenging on so many levels.

So, when I practice “living as if I am in the last sixty seconds of my life,” I find myself going through a quick but meaningful internal catalog of my dearest loves in this life.

After thinking about them, I give thanks for them.

I am humbled every time.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself feeling a need to fix what I’ve broken, unsay what I’ve said, or un-see what I’ve seen. But I don’t have time to do any of that so I offer a simple confession to my Father and invite His son to do for me what I cannot do for myself (again).

Then, with whatever time remains, I usually try to offer a smile or word of encouragement to someone nearby and, in my own way, share some of the light that Christ has so generously shared with me.

Suddenly, my time is up.

My final sixty seconds are over.

And that’s when the real fun begins. The practice itself reminds me of what a precious gift time is and how grateful I should be for this life I live. It serves to remind me of the generous grace of our Father, the Holy love of His Son, and the empowering influence of His Spirit.

In short, the practice generates joy, gratitude, and a renewed sense of sharing the good news Gospel of the With-God-Life that Jesus preached and makes possible. It’s the news that experiencing and enjoying life with God is possible now.!

And, of course, there have been times when the practice has surfaced some things left unsaid and undone that God, in His grace, gives me the chance to address and bring into the light of His Gospel.

Most of all, the practice shines a light on how often I fail to live as if it’s the last sixty seconds of my life. It’s stunning, really. Particularly given the Bible’s thorough and consistent persistence that we take note of the time we are given and take stock of how we are living!

From beginning to end, the Bible is full of encouragement to wake up to the presence of God and the light of Christ and then live as if that matters to everyone on the planet. A favorite of mine is found in Ephesians, where the writer (I believe it’s Paul, for what it’s worth) encourages us to buy back the time we are given and use it well.

In Ephesians 5:15-16 we read, ” Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5&version=NRSV

In some small way, this practice of “living as if I am in the final sixty seconds of my life,” rekindles my desire to make the most of every moment. When I am “making the most of every moment,” I discover that my walk with Christ is more robust. and my life with others is more enriching.

You may want to try this one sometime. If you do, let me know what you discover.

Hoping this blog will serve to help you awaken and be attentive to the eternal life now present and possible in Christ!

Grace and peace,

Biz

Transforming Pastoral Ministry Puts Transformation Over Success

Rhythms of Life and Ministry: Transformation Over Success

For the past few months, I’ve focused on what I call Transforming Pastoral Ministry.

In this specific series of post, I am attempting to propose a new way for pastors and leaders to serve and minister to the church.

It’s a way that’s built around a host of Pillars tethered to a particular cluster of Rhythms!

Remember, these Pillars are the what of pastoral ministry.

By that, I mean that these five areas are the principal areas of concern for any ministry. They are:

  1. Calling: I define calling as signature convictions around who we are and why we are here. This applies to both the individual minister as well as the congregational identity.
  2. Congregational Care
  3. Congregational Leadership
  4. Preaching and Worship
  5. Soul-Care, Spiritual Formation and Discipleship

I can pretty much assure you that if you demonstrate some level of competency in three or more of these areas, you will likely have what most would consider a successful ministry.

Success, however, is not the target when I aim what it means to shepherd and lead a congregation.

As a minister, I don’t aim, shoot, or strive for success, per se.  Congregationally speaking, we seek a bit deeper at Pillar!

We aim for transformation.

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Arranging Sunday’s Sermon All Week Long

The past couple of weeks, I have been addressing the role of preaching within the local church.  Specifically about the how and why of preaching more than the what of preaching.

This preaching-focus is connected to one of the primary roles (or Pillars) pastors must fulfill to be effective in ministry.  In the Transforming Pastoral Ministry and Leadership model I am offering, this is Pillar #4: Preaching, Teaching, and Worship.

I am also suggesting that we learn to practice the art/craft of preaching much like a Curator practice the art/craft of creating an environment within a museum.

A Curator’s goal is to create an environment that is conducive to a transcendent experience.  If you’ve ever walked through a thoughtfully crafted art display, then you know what I am talking about.

You often find yourself lingering, caught up in the experience.  When you do leave, you feel like you’ve experienced a larger story.  A story the artist him or herself has created.

You’ve been a part of the experience in a way that has left you wanting more.

Continue reading “Arranging Sunday’s Sermon All Week Long”

The Basics of Big-Idea Preaching

Years ago I was trained under the renowned Bible-preaching teacher, Haddon Robinson.  He taught an entire generation of preachers to focus on Big-idea preaching.  That means that our goal is to communicate one main idea.  During that time, it was common for many preachers to offer multiple opinions on a wide variety of topics, week in and week out.

Dr. Robinson pushed back against that trend as he encouraged preachers to develop their sermon around the main thought expressed in the text (or passage).

Robinson’s book, Biblical Preaching, continues to be a go-to for many of us today.

Continue reading “The Basics of Big-Idea Preaching”