The Ticking Clock

by James Smith,

Dark Bedroom ClockIn my bedroom is a clock.  It’s not digital, but it has the round face with the numbers 1 – 12 and a couple of hands that spin around it.  And it ticks!  We get so used to the clock that we typically don’t notice the ticking anymore.  Last night I noticed the ticking.  Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick….

Each of those ticks represent a second of my life.  Tick, tick, tick, tick…  They go by so fast.  A second may not seem like a long time but when you add several together you eventually have a minute.  Add a few more and you have an hour.  The hours turn into days, the days weeks, and the weeks years.  All made up of individual seconds.

As the seconds of my life were ticking off that clock, I thought about the fact that with each tick a second of time was gone forever.  Wow!  How precious each moment of our lives are when we hear the wheels of time rolling.

The question becomes, “How valuable do we see those ticks of life’s clock?” The answer is found in how we spend them, what we do with them.  For me, I want every second to count for something.  I want every tick of my life’s clock to be valuable in some way to someone.  Whether it’s God, my wife, my children, my church, my friends, my community, or myself, I want to use those valuable seconds to make me or others better.  It all comes down to how I choose to spend them.

My Bible says in the letter of James that our life is a “mist.”  It’s here today but tomorrow may be gone.  Several psalms compare life to grass of the field, here today but gone tomorrow.  We have no idea when our clocks are going to stop ticking, that makes every tick a gift from God – a gift to be treasured and used for something marvelous and wonderful.

Thoreau wrote in Walden, “I went to the woods to live deliberately; to drink deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”  Drink deep of this wonderful gift of life.  If you’re reading this today, God gave you a gift of another day in time.  What are you going to do with it?  How are you going to show your appreciation to Him for it?  Do you value the gift?  What are you going to spend your time doing today?

Watching TV?  Playing video games?  On Facebook?  Or maybe talking to God?  Spending time with people?  Reading God’s Message to you?  Serving the poor?  Making your community a better place?  Connecting with co-workers?  Loving your spouse and children?

There’s a million choices that we can make each day on how we’re going to spend the ticks on our clocks.  How are you going to spend yours today?  How valuable do you see them?  Are you going to make them matter?

Tick, tick, tick…


— written by James Smith


If Hillary can do it…

Mount EverestOn 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalesa Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed as having reached the summit of Mount Everest.  What most people don’t know is that before Hillary achieved this monumental goal, he had failed in an attempt the previous year.

The story goes that after his failure in 1952, Hillary was invited to be honored for his attempt.  Afterall, this bee-keeper from New Zealand had come closer to achieving the task than any man to that date.  As he took the podium to thunderous applause, Hillary turned to a large photo of Mount Everest and shook his fist at the mountain.  “You beat me this time,” Hillary told the mountain, “but I’ll beat you next time.  Because you’ve grown all you’re going to grow and I’m still growing.”

That story has always inspired me for the simple fact that the next year Hillary kept his vow…he defeated Mount Everest!  Failure is a part of life for people who dream big dreams and set lofty goals.  I have come to see that failure in itself is not all that bad IF we learn and grow.  Yet so many people that I see are scared of failure and it is that fear that keeps them from stepping out in faith to chase those Mount Everest size goals.

If you have failed recently in something you set out to do, learn from Sir Edmund Hillary.  Shake your fist at your goal and say with conviction, “You beat me this time but I’ll beat you next time because you’ve grown all you’re going to grow….but I’m still growing!”  Then go out there and climb your Mount Everest!!

Fear Itself

Climb A MountainOne of my favorite film series is the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Tolkien crafted a wonderful story centered around an ordinary hobbit named Frodo Baggins.  Frodo wasn’t the biggest, fastest, most skilled, nor most educated.  He wasn’t that good with the sword nor the bow.  He was given an impossible task…journey into enemy territory and destroy the “evil” ring of power.  In one powerful scene in the first movie, while all the more “qualified” people debated about how impossible the task was and who was going to take the ring, Frodo stood up and shouted, “I will go.  I will take the ring!”  And he did…and we watched (through 9 hours of movie) as Frodo and his companions braved all dangers (even the dangers within themselves) to achieve their goals.

None of us are going to have to achieve such a fantastic goal.  We don’t have to battle orc, and evil wizards, and Sauron the great, and Nazgul.  But all of us who set out to achieve big dreams and goals must fight that same inner battle with the forces that shackle us and keep us in our comfort zones.  The biggest obstacle that most of us have to overcome in achieving our goals is fear.

Fear, in my opinion, is the single biggest contributor to mediocre lives.  In my position as minister, I see people every day who are stuck because they don’t take that first step toward their goals.  Some don’t even set goals for fear of failing.  That’s not the way we were created to be.  When God made Adam and Eve, they had no fear.  They walked in perfect harmony and peace with God and with his creation.  They were so at peace that they were naked.  Fear does not appear until they break God’s only rule and eat from the wrong tree (Gen 3:10).  Then fear sets in and we’ve been battling it ever since.

How many people are crippled by a fear of public speaking?  How many people would be incredible singers but they’re afraid to sing in front of others?  How many people could have the dream job they wanted but they’re afraid to apply for it or to leave the job they have?  As humans, we tend to find comfortable spots in our lives and stay there.  “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” wrote Henry David Thoreau.  Why are the majority of men and women living lives of frustration and mediocrity when they have it in themselves to be so much more?  Fear!

We all have dreams and goals.  If fear is the one thing keeping us from stepping out and pursuing them, then fear has got to go!  Most people do not realize that the most frequent command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.”

In Psalm 56:4, David writes “In God I trust, I will not be afraid.”  He wrote this when he was a prisoner of his enemies, the Philistines.  Ever since he was a young man, David showed the ability to face fear and overcome.  While Saul and the whole army of Israel cowered in fear from Goliath, David was the one that stepped out with a sling and a few stones “in the name of the Lord Almighty” and brought down a nation’s biggest fear.  Was David without fear?  No, he feared just like you and I.  In Psalm 56:3 he wrote “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”  David’s philosophy was simple, when he was afraid, he took his focus off the fear and put it on God and did what he was afraid of doing.  That’s something we all can do!

So what are you afraid of?  Start attacking fear today so that you can achieve big things tomorrow!  Write down something of which you are afraid.  Now go out, face your fear, trust in God, and do it. Only by doing this will you see how big your God really is!

What is holding you back?

by Rich Nilsen,

what's holding you back?Aspiring writers, what is holding you back from meeting your goals as an author? That is not only the question of the day, it is the critical question for all writers who are simply not getting the job done. Why isn’t that manuscript you always wanted to write finished by now? Why haven’t you started on that great idea for a book?

Possible obstacles may include:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Failure to get started
  • Wasting time on social networks
  • Watching television
  • [Insert your own obstacle here]

Before you do anything else today, stop and think. Just what is it that is weighing you down as an author? You know what it is, so address the issue. In an overwhelming majority of cases, the solution is going to be fairly simple: do the opposite, gain valuable time as a result…and then get started writing.