The Change Agent

By Linda Tancs

You’re probably familiar with Newton’s first law of motion: once an object is in motion it will keep moving unless it is acted on by another force.

Our lives are a lot like that. Sometimes we’ll keep moving in a singular direction (for better or worse) until something happens to change it. God is a change agent. Look what He did for the apostle Paul. By his own admission, Paul was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man (1 Timothy 1:13-16) until the grace of God found him on that road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18).

God is the game changer. What can you ask Him to change in you?

The Highest Good

By Linda Tancs

The Latin phrase summum bonum means “the highest good.” So what is the highest good? Literally, it is God; it doesn’t get any higher than that (Luke 18:19). You’ve heard it said hundreds of times, “God is good.” Throughout the Bible we’re reminded that God represents every good thing: love (1 John 4:8), light (1 John 1:5), forgiveness (1 John 1:9), compassion (Exodus 33:19), generosity (Psalm 84:11) and so on.

It is impossible to be as good as God (Isaiah 55:8-9), but we should aim to be as good as possible. In the philosophical context, our highest good is a virtuous life. Paul defined those virtues as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s your highest good and your highest calling. Jesus left you an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21), so follow Him.

Gifts and Earnings

By Linda Tancs

John Houseman was a British-American actor who became known for his commercials for the brokerage firm Smith Barney. He famously stated that they made money the old-fashioned way—they earned it. Of course, in the physical world, we work to earn a living, sometimes striving after the best that money can buy.

Thankfully, though, the most important things in life are not earned; you don’t have to punch a time clock to get them. They’re gifts from God. For instance, you receive salvation through Christ, not by your own works (Ephesians 2:8-9). You also receive peace. Jesus devised, gave and bequeathed His peace (John 14:27) to His followers, like a bequest under a will. It’s a gift, yours for the taking.

Receive your gifts with grace. They’re good and perfect (James 1:17), and there’s nothing old-fashioned about that.

Sorry

By Linda Tancs

An Elton John song reminds us that sorry seems to be the hardest word. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to hear someone exclaim that “sorry isn’t good enough.” Even for the slightest offenses (perceived to be so in the mind of the offended), it seems like folks are increasingly unable to accept an apology. “Sorry” may be harder to hear than it is to say.

That’s problematic. After all, the Bible tells us to forgive, quickly and repeatedly. Jesus told Peter to forgive “seventy times seven times,” an expression meant to convey boundlessness (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiving quickly is sensible because it prevents an offense from taking root (Proverbs 19:11). If you don’t want unforgiveness hurled at you, then don’t dole it out to someone else (Matthew 7:12). Your relationship with God depends on it (Mark 11:25).

Put the Phone Down

By Linda Tancs

 A recent report indicated that the average smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times a day. That’s nearly 55,000 times a year. It’s probably not that hard to imagine. When was the last time you saw anyone—anywhere—not engaged with their phone? Even families sit silently in restaurants and other places checking their devices. It’s undermining our safety, our health and our relationships. In fact, a new orthopedic disorder has been named Text Neck, referring to the damage done to neck muscles from the weight of a tipped head. Psychologically, phone use is increasingly affecting social behavior and impairing relationships, particularly when a non-phone user feels ignored or even rejected by a phone user. It all brings to mind the admonition of the prophet Micah: “You shall bow down no more to the work of your hands.” (Micah 5:13).

Have you made an idol out of your phone? Do you spend more time with your phone than with God? Put the phone down. You can do it. God always provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13-14).

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.

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.