The Time is Now

By Linda Tancs

“I’ll do it when” arises frequently as a response to situations in life. I’ll go back to school when all my bills are paid. I’ll take a nice vacation once I retire. I’ll get married once my career is established. In some instances, prudence may dictate that you wait before a certain action is taken. But maybe it’s possible that the time is now. Circumstances will rarely ever be perfect for action. Imagine how impaired our salvation would be if Jesus had waited for more “perfect” behavior before sacrificing His life for us. As Romans 5:8 reminds us, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. It’s a good thing He didn’t wait.

Under the Son

By Linda Tancs

Author and humanitarian Bob Goff once said, “I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered… Now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” That statement reminds me of King Solomon’s observation in Ecclesiastes. He compared life under the sun (this worldly existence) with life under the Son. His conclusion? It’s all vanity under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Misplaced pursuits and striving after worldly notions of success are destined to remain unsatisfying because they don’t reflect our higher purpose. Our highest purpose and duty, Solomon concluded, is to worship God and obey His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Life is sweetest under the Son.

Ask the Right Questions

By Linda Tancs

How many times have you spun your wheels with a search engine, getting unexpected responses to a query, only to find that, had you asked the question differently, the responses would’ve given you what you sought? Sometimes our relationship with God seems like that. Maybe you’ve asked Him the same questions over and over and haven’t received the response you were seeking. Well, just like that search engine, maybe you’re not asking the right questions.

For instance, are you asking why when you should be asking how? Instead of asking why something happened, try asking how you can learn from it. Or maybe you’re asking how (how can I possibly accomplish this?) when you should be asking when (when is the right time to initiate this project because I know I can do all things through You?).

Try a new set of questions (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Playing God

By Linda Tancs

Playing God is a phrase often used to describe those acting as if they have unlimited power in a situation. The term is used in debates ranging in topics from euthanasia to cloning. In everyday life, we play God when we try to take our problems into our own hands and solve them rather than lean on God’s wisdom (James 1:5). Maybe you’ve entrusted Plan A to God but you’ve devised your own Plan B, just in case. Joy Davidman, wife of C.S. Lewis, once wrote, “Fear is playing God by trying to control the future.”

Are you attempting to control your future? In what way might you be playing God?

Are You Willing to Fail?

By Linda Tancs

Failure is perceived as a dirty word. The dictionary defines it as, among other things, a lack of success or adequacy. We use expressions like “failure is not an option.” Failure breeds a “fear of failure,” “paralysis by analysis” and other behaviors. Psychologists respond with advice that we should permit ourselves to fail.

Spiritually speaking, there are many instances where failure should be pursued vigorously. Fail to gossip, slander or judge (James 4:11). Fail to be envious (Galatians 5:26). Fail to be arrogant (Proverbs 8:13). Fail to be vengeful (Luke 6:27-28). Now those are the kinds of failures you can learn to live with.

Travel Light

By Linda Tancs

You’ve no doubt heard the advice to “travel light.” The reasoning is fairly obvious: less weighty baggage, ease in movement, fewer worries over possessions. Jesus understood the value of traveling light; that’s why He advised his disciples to do that (Mark 6:8-9). Beyond the physical benefits, there’s a spiritual dimension to traveling light—a lightness of being. We often speak of burdened people as having “excess baggage.” Like its physical counterpart, this kind of excess baggage is expensive. It comes in many forms, like painful memories, drugs, debt, broken relationships. Its cost is peace. Drop the unnecessary baggage at Jesus’s feet (Matthew 11:28-30). He knows what to do with it.

So, What Do You Do?

By Linda Tancs

Everyone inevitably encounters the question, “So, what do you do?” In the physical realm, you have your “day job.” Maybe it’s performing world-class brain surgery or keeping the home fires burning. In the spiritual realm, though, we all have the same job description—you’re an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), an envoy of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). Discipleship isn’t just something that happened over 2,000 years ago and now we just fondly recall the actions of a dedicated group. We’re the hands and feet of God in this world, made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) to do good works (Matthew 5:16).

 

A popular expression exhorts us to “preach at all times; use words only when necessary.” The gist of it is that actions speak louder than words. Sometimes, the best sermon you’ll hear is the one that you see.

Pay It Forward

By Linda Tancs

In the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus likens the forgiveness of grievances to the forgiveness of debt, exhorting that one should “pay it forward” when experiencing mercy from another. The power of the parable is amply illustrated in real life by a letter sent from statesman Benjamin Franklin to an individual named Benjamin Webb in 1784. It reads:

Dear Sir,

I received yours of the 15th Instant, and the Memorial it inclosed. The account they give of your situation grieves me. I send you herewith a Bill for Ten Louis d’ors. I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you shall return to your Country with a good Character, you cannot fail of getting into some Business, that will in time enable you to pay all your Debts. In that Case, when you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of a little. With best wishes for the success of your Memorial, and your future prosperity, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant, B. Franklin.

We often use the expression “on the hook” when someone is compromised in some way, like owing money. Who’s on your hook? Are you willing to cut bait?

 

Ants in Your Pants

By Linda Tancs

Were you ever told as a child that you have “ants in your pants?” Any fidgety child knows what that means. Theologian and writer Frederick Buechner once described doubts as “ants in the pants of faith,” something like a catalyst keeping faith awake and moving. Doubts are to faith what a reboot is to a computer.

You might be surprised to learn that Mother Teresa of Calcutta was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered great periods of doubt about God. Yet it didn’t affect her profound dedication to the poor and afflicted. In many ways, she enlivened others’ faith through her demonstration of selflessness and humility despite her own privations.

So don’t despair over doubt (Psalm 42:11). It’s good to have ants in your pants.

Know Your Enemy

By Linda Tancs

The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy. In the physical realm, you may view your enemy as someone whose interests, values, beliefs or actions are antagonistic to your own. According to Scripture, however, your true enemy is not a physical opponent—it’s the devil (Ephesians 6:12). And, unlike a physical opponent, this enemy is in constant warfare with you, every second of every day. Every time you become offended, hurt, angry, jealous, resentful, hateful, unforgiving or self-loathing (to name a few things), you are battling the devil, public enemy number one. He’ll never quit, and neither should you. Resist the bait (James 4:7). Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). Forgive others as you would have God forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). As you obey God’s commands, you’ll have a peace that obstructs the wiles of your greatest enemy (Psalm 119:165).