The ‘Great’ Life? [v72]

FEBRUARY 2005

GOOD LIFE…GREAT LIFE—IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE? I’ve got to believe that most of us are ‘pursuing’ to live the “good life.” To some this means to have the opportunity and capacity to make ‘lifestyle’ choices.

Perhaps the best-known writer on this is Aristotle. He saw something called “eudaimonia” as the end purpose of life. Though there is no direct translation of the word in English, the closest think would be “flourishing,” “well-being,” “happiness,” or “fulfillment.”

Depending on the person, that could mean a big house in a prestigious area, luxury cars, a boat or motorcycle, overseas vacations or a cruise, an important job, or a large ‘nest egg’ for retirement.

Others have stated that successful living “refers to reaching one’s potential and arriving at a level of physical, social, and psychological well-being in old age that is pleasing to both self and others.”

Whatever your definition, is there a ‘better’ way to live? With all the choices we have available to us (especially here in America—and more so in Oakland County, MI), how do we go about choosing what’s best?

Jim Collins starts off his best selling book, “Good to Great,” by stating that, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

Are you just “settling” right now? Are you frustrated with all the ‘stuff’ you have to do? Are you trying to ‘live up’ to someone else’s expectations?

Maybe…instead of choosing everything you can do (no matter how good), choose the things that are of ‘lasting value’. Material things don’t really have any value, in and of themselves (just remember some of prices you put on your last garage sale items)—but the value they do have is the ‘memories’ they created—the things that will last—the things that can’t be measured in terms of monetary worth.

The “Great Life” is all about RELATIONSHIPS—that ‘longing’ we have for something more than this world can offer. Depending on your view of the ‘afterlife’, most agree that the only ‘thing’ that will last forever is PEOPLE.

Question: What is it that your life has so far demonstrated that ‘says’ what you really value? Now, honestly…are you ‘happy’ with that, or would you like to ‘modify’ it a bit?

So, how does one go about developing a greater emphasis on things that last? It has been suggested by Richard Swenson in his book, “Margin,” that BALANCE is one of the most important qualities we can have to achieve this.

He states that, “since each of us lives according to a set of priorities—whether we are aware of it or not—perhaps that is the place to start.”

Swenson continues by asking what your “priority list” would look like. “For those committed to ultra-excellence, one goal stands alone on the top—perhaps wealth, power, athletic success, academics, or political victory. Sequentially beneath this exalted goal are myriad subordinate goals. These form a constellation of priorities for each person.”

If you wrote down your top ten list of priorities, what would they look like? (Go ahead, give this a try…I’ll wait).

1.   _________________________________________
2.   _________________________________________
3.   _________________________________________
4.   _________________________________________
5.   _________________________________________
6.   _________________________________________
7.   _________________________________________
8.   _________________________________________
9.   _________________________________________
10. _________________________________________

Hopefully, you can see from your list that what you value drives your priorities. Most people say that they value friends and family over everything else. If that is true for you, did you place them near the top of your list?—-and are you ‘truly’ giving them that priority with your time and effort?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he “decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow, but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Looking back at you list (if you didn’t ‘cheat’ and read this before you finished your list), was “spiritual development” near the top of your list? If so, do other commitments ‘override’ and ‘push off to the side’ the quality time you spend personally and with your friends and family in focusing on this? Are there really other things that you are allowing to ‘command’ more loyalty and attention than your list indicates?

Again, Richard Swenson has some insight on this. He said that, “constant activity is a characteristic of our age. If we are not active, we feel slothful. If we are not productive [whatever that means], we feel guilty. A healthy 28-year-old man sitting on a lawn swing for an entire Sunday afternoon would more likely feel the need to apologize to his neighbors should they discover him.”

Where did this expectation come from? Most psychologists say that it is “healthy” to rest the body and mind—to reflect and recharge.

This principle not only applies to humans, it also applies to ‘nature’ as well. The farmer will tell you that if he lets the dirt ‘rest’ one year every seven years, it will produce more and better crops than if he continuously uses it year after year.

It seems to me that the “good life” ‘tempts’ us to live for the temporary things that don’t matter all that much. Erwin McManus, in his book, “Seizing Your Divine Moment,” stated that “the present moment is where the past and future collide, and within a moment there is monumental potential. That’s the mystery of a moment. It is small enough to ignore and big enough to change your life forever. Life is the um total of what you do with the moments given you.”

Consider the last funeral you attended—how did you feel? Sad? Reflective? Worried? Now, when you were in the procession to the gravesite, did you happen to notice a ‘trailer’ or ‘U-Haul’ following the hearse? No? Well, I guess that goes to show you that you can’t take it with you! All of your achievements, and the ‘stuff’ you accumulated and considered ‘important’—it all stays here!

Now imagine that you have ‘passed’, and someone is selecting a casket or urn for you, what ‘kind’ would it be to reflect your ‘character’?…how you lived your life?

Question: What will people say about you at your funeral? (the honest and heartfelt comments). What ‘legacy’ will you leave behind? How many lives will you have ‘touched’? (for the good).

As I mentioned previously, if most people have the choice between a loved one and a material thing—even if that thing is priceless—they choose the loved one in a heartbeat. And when you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to surround yourself with material possessions and say, “Bring me my trophies. Bring me my diplomas. I’d like to see that retirement watch one more time.” No, you’re going to surround yourself with loved ones—and everybody’s going to be crying because they’re going to miss you. You see, that’s how much PEOPLE MATTER.

Are you caught up’ in the business and worries of the future? Would it ‘feel’ any different if you were living life with an ‘eternal’ perspective?

What would happen if you were a lot less worried about your kids’ athletic abilities and more interested about their character?

What would happen if you were a lot less worried about your ‘looks’ and extreme makeovers of your body and more interested in your ‘heart’ and concern for others?

What if you were a lot more patient with the people that drives your ‘crazy’, and a lot more forgiving of those who have ‘hurt’ you?

Let me challenge you to ‘reset’ the TARGET of your life—not just living for the “good” things life can offer—but desiring and striving for the “great” things.

What kind of life will you live from now on? The CHOICE is yours!

[Excerpts from: Jeff Schulte; Lloyd Shadrach; Steve Andrews; Dave Wilson; Craig Mayes; Dan Kopp; Richard Swenson; Erwin McManus]

*** SO…JOIN ME AND A FEW OTHERS in investigating how you can start to live the GREAT LIFE by joining us either on Monday or Thursday night from 7- 9 PM for 6 weeks, starting 7 FEB/10 FEB respectively. We will have some lively discussions that may just might change your life! ***

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v72) for FEBRUARY 2005
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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ARE YOU TOO BUSY?
In his opening address to his evil angels, Satan said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

So, let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can’t gain that relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered. “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!

“Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.

“Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what’s important, and they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature to reflect on God’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.

“Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning; but crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!”

It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get more busy and more rushed, going here and there.  I guess the question is: Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge! Does “busy” mean to you: B-eing U-nder S-atan’s Y-oke?

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DEEP THOUGHT
Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs.  [Dallas Willard]

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DISCUSSION GROUP OPPORTUNITY
Starting Monday, 7 FEB 05, or Thursday, 10 FEB 05, and meeting every Mon/Thur for 6 weeks from 7 PM-9 PM, I will be hosting a discussion group called “GOOD TO GREAT.” It is ‘loosely’ related to the Best Selling book by Jim Collins of the same name, but puts a bit more focus on personal priorities, how to build ‘margin’ in your life, and what does it really take to ‘live’ the Great Life.

The topics are as follows:
WEEK 1: Priorities and the Great Life
WEEK 2: Values and the Great Life
WEEK 3: Pace and the Great Life
WEEK 4: The Soul of the Great Life
WEEK 5: Funding the Great Life
WEEK 6: Seizing the Great Life

So, give me a call if you are interested (or if you know someone that might be), and I can give you more details. Let’s find out together how we can start having a GREAT LIFE!

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.

This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart” [Ecclesiastes 5:15-20].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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