Making the Most of the Dash
About the Guest
What are you doing today to impact others for eternity? Today on the broadcast, pastor Crawford Loritts, author of the book "For a Time We Cannot See," encourages men and women of God not to live by reaction, but to live with intention, realizing that we're only here on earth for a short period of time, and we must make the most of our days.
What are you doing today to impact others for eternity?
Making the Most of the Dash
Crawford: Hope in the Bible is not speculation. Hope in the Bible is settled confidence and assurance. Everyone that has that settled confidence and assurance in himself purifies himself.
You intentionally get on about the business of removing the stain of sin in your life and representing the nobility of your destination, but you've got to make the decision.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 21st. Our host is the president of FamilyLife Today, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about how we go from having a "Gee, I hope that happens" kind of hope, to a real living hope. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. You know, the subject we've been talking about this week has got me thinking of this illustration. There are some places you're going in life where you can just decide, "I need to go to the grocery store on Saturday," and it doesn't really affect the rest of the week, you know?
Dennis: All right.
Bob: But let's say you were deciding in a few months, "I'm going to be running a marathon." Well, now, that's going to affect your life between now and the marathon.
Dennis: If you want to finish it.
Bob: If you want to survive, it is going to affect …
Dennis: I could run a marathon right now, I'd run the first 100 yards …
Then I'll get in my car.
Bob: The fact that we are on our way to heaven, if we know Christ, that is not a trip to the grocery store.
Bob: That is one of those events that affects the rest of your life. Everything – Rick Warren has said it this way – he has said life is dress rehearsal for eternity, and eternity is where our focus is. This is just getting ready for it, and I think he's right.
Dennis: I think he is, too, and I think as you prepare for heaven, and prepare to live for Him today, you need a coach. And I think we have a great coach here in the studio is with us, Crawford Loritts joins us again. Crawford, welcome back to the broadcast.
Crawford: It's good to be back, Dennis and Bob.
Dennis: Crawford is a board member of FamilyLife, and …
Crawford: I am not a bored member. I am a board member.
Dennis: You are not a bored member. Those board meetings are exciting.
Crawford: That's right.
Dennis: Because God's up to a lot of stuff here. In fact, I was just going to ask you – as a board member, not a bored member …
Crawford: I got it.
Dennis: As a board member of FamilyLife what would you report what you're seeing to the listeners who invest in this ministry? Because you have the stewardship, the legal stewardship and governance of this ministry allotted to your charge, along with six others. Give them a little stockholder, stakeholder report here.
Crawford: Well, you know, Dennis, it's like what I said to the staff, team, at the headquarters some time ago here in Little Rock, and so answering this question is not a soft toss for you to give to me to brag about FamilyLife. I mean this. I have served on a number of boards throughout my ministry career and life. This, by far, is one of the better boards I've ever served on in terms of the heart engagement of the people who serve on that board.
It's not just the general interest in the ministry and a desire to give financially to it. Each board member has a heart commitment that goes beyond anything that I've seen. It's hard to tell the difference in this regard from your senior leadership who are here every day, and the board members, the engagement in our last board meeting that we had about where the ministry is going, the vision for the ministry, what we could be, the greater impact that we could have – it's beyond anything that I've seen in a long time, and I've sat in a lot of board meetings.
Bob: Where you were bored.
Crawford: Well, the truth be told, I was looking at the watch wondering when can I get an earlier flight?
Dennis: Well, I do think – well, I know God is at work, and I sure appreciate you and Karen, your history with FamilyLife that goes all the way back to 1982, '83, somewhere in there.
Crawford: Something like that, yes.
Dennis: And speaking at our Weekend to Remember conferences, writing books, which we're looking at another one here today. I just appreciate your oversight and the spiritual investments you make in this ministry because you listeners need to know that a ministry like FamilyLife really does need spiritual accountability. And we have that because of men like Crawford Loritts.
Crawford: I want to say something, though, that connects this to eternity. You know, being involved with FamilyLife, our kids were very young. Brian was 10 years old when we first started speaking at these conferences, and then Heather was – she's four years younger, and this kind of thing, so our kids were real small. One of the things that our involvement with FamilyLife did for us was that as we spoke at these conferences, we were reminded of the eternal perspective that we needed to live out in front of our kids.
And, to a large degree, God used FamilyLife and our involvement with the ministry to launch our kids and family. Now, here is a connecting point – the listeners need to understand that you need some type of outside visible involvement that focuses upon God's heart as a conscience to your own personal walk with God to remind you of what eternity is really all about.
And I think the question in life, and the effectiveness in life is what are you willing to do? Everything comes down to that. You can have great, lofty plans, you can have great, lofty dreams, you can talk a good game, but the question about eternity is what are you willing to do with your life and the decisions that you make? And then how does that life affect those around me?
Dennis: Crawford, you make a statement, and I've quoted you many times on FamilyLife Today that our lives ought to be more than a dash between two dates on a tombstone.
Crawford: That's right, that's right.
Dennis: Unpack that a bit.
Crawford: Well, you know, whenever someone dies, and you go to the gravesite and a few days later they put a little gravemarker there and there's the date of your birth and date of your death, and there's nothing you can do about when you were born, and there's nothing you can do about it when you die, usually, but there is this dash.
And life is lived in the dash, and you decide what's in that dash. You make decisions about that. But here is the point – the choice that is placed before us, God explains that you can either have life or death in your dash. It all depends on what you decide to do.
You know, John talks about that one day we're going to be in His presence, we're going to live forever, we don't exactly know all the implications of heaven. He says everyone that has that hope, that hope, that hope – and hope, in the Bible, is not speculation. Hope in the Bible is settled confidence and assurance. Everyone that has that settled confidence and assurance in himself purifies himself.
You intentionally get on about the business of removing the stain of sin in your life and representing the nobility of your destination, but you've got to make the decision.
Dennis: You do, and as you were talking about that, I just broke into a big grin, because I had the privilege, along with another friend of yours, Kevin James, who is a pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, to put together an evening that was a total surprise to you.
Crawford: Oh, my goodness.
Dennis: In fact, your wife, Karen, set us up to be able to surprise you with a black tie event.
Bob: I was there, I remember this.
Dennis: Remember? Remember? It was a magnificent – I wish I had a videotape to put on our website of this event, because …
Bob: And you had no idea, what, until you walked in the door?
Crawford: Absolutely not. It was so believable, her story, because of this organization she's involved with was doing the major fundraiser.
Dennis: He was grousing all the way there because there was a good basketball game on that night, and he was really – his heels were – you could see …
Bob: … dug in …
Dennis: … there was a hoof print all the way from the front door of the hotel through the marble all the way to the …
Crawford: I have since duly repented. Get on with the story.
Dennis: But he walked into there, and what happened was a two-and-a-half hour banquet. Bob, you remember – that celebrated your dash, except it's not a dash between two dates. You're still living out the dash, but it was – as you just were talking about, Crawford. It was about celebrating a life that is attempting to be lived to honor God, and you had an interesting thought as you were sitting there being honored by that event, having your son share a tribute and others honor you for your contributions to churches and ministry. What was that thought that crossed your mind?
Crawford: Oh, my goodness, you know, this is very emotional. You know what I thought about? My mind went way back to my great-grandfather, Peter, who is buried in an unmarked grave behind Thomas Chapel there in Conover, North Carolina, who was a slave, who used to sit and sing and pray, and I don't know what he prayed about, but as I sat there, I couldn't help but think about the shoulders of the people that – and to this very day I stand on. An enormous price that they paid, and people who believe God for a time that they could not see and a father who would tell me, "Boy, you're going to do much better than I've done," and he wasn't talking about money or that kind of thing, but he was talking about that he just believed that God was going to do something in my generation that he could have never done.
And I just had all those people, that cloud of witnesses behind me, and here is what I want the listeners to understand – life is a continuum. It's not just about you, and the harvest that you will reap may be long after you're gone. That's why you have to live for what really matters. And, for whatever reason, God allowed me to see some of that, but I took it more as a tribute to a previous generation's greatness than to anything that I may have accomplished.
Dennis: You believe that perhaps that evening was the result of the prayers of previous generations?
Crawford: I absolutely believe that. I absolutely believe that. And, you know, the thing that keeps me – I won't say that I've never wrestled with pride. Anybody that tell you that, they wrestle with pride and they lie.
So I'm never going to say that, but you know the thing that keeps my feet on the ground when God does something in a wonderful way often is to remember that, is to remember that.
You know, this stuff may not – I mean, I spoke in Dallas not long ago to one of the largest family – the largest FamilyLife – well, conference, I suppose, but we did arena events before. And you stand up there, and you see God work in a powerful way, and the Lord whispers in your ear, "You know, this may not be about you, buddy. It may have been about somebody way back yonder that said, 'God, I don't know what you're going to do, but maybe my grandchildren, my great grandchildren do something to help other people, to impact them.' And God may have said, for whatever reason, I'm answering the prayer.
And that keeps a lot of my head from going places where it doesn't need to be.
Bob: You know, Crawford, as I look at the Scriptures, you see that God does invite us to enjoy life on earth.
Crawford: Yes, He does.
Bob: But 1 John, chapter 2, verse 15, says, "Do not love the world or the things of the world." Help our listeners understand the difference between enjoying life and loving the world?
Crawford: Yes, you know, love is an allegiance deal. You could say that what I love I am tied to. And we're called to like the world and like the stuff that's in society, but my allegiance is to Jesus. He's my captain, and He is my King. There is nothing in this life that's permanent. And so although I love great vacations with Karen, I love a great meal, we like to go to the theater, we love life experiences and have a great time. None of that stuff really is permanent, you know? And I'm not attached to any of it, I'm only attached to my eternal home, I'm attached to Jesus.
So we walk through this place realizing that we're temporary apartment dwellers. We don't have permanent residences down here. We're not here to enjoy square footage, so to speak. We are here to do a job, pitch our tent, enjoy part of the journey, but not to allow the journey to be the final destination.
Bob: I remember a friend of ours telling us one time, Dennis, that every time he has a great meal, he said he pushes back from the table, and he says, "That's just a taste of what's ahead" – of the meal that I will enjoy someday at the marriage supper of the lamb.
Crawford: What a wonderful way of putting that, yes.
Bob: And it's not that he is disparaging the meal he just had, he enjoyed that.
Dennis: It's an hors doeuvre.
Bob: Yes, and it's just a little taste – the best meal on earth. Somebody has said if you're a Christian, this life is as bad as it will ever get for you. If you're not a Christian, this life is as good as it will ever get for you.
Crawford: Boy, what a way of putting it, and that's the issue, and I just trust that some of our listeners now who are wrestling with their faith will come to understand that that really is the point. This is it. This is it. I mean, this is about as good as it's going to get if this is really our ultimate aim and we're not followers of Jesus.
Dennis: If your life is all wrapped up in yourself.
Dennis: That's a pretty small package.
Crawford: It really is and, you know, this is sort of a crazy way of coming at this, but I am very concerned with some of our younger Christian couples who are raising kids who are so passionate about giving them all the experiences in life that, you know, the soccer, and the Little League baseball, and you guys know that our kids went through all that. I was an athlete, and there's nothing wrong with any of that, but I'm a little bit concerned that as we raise our children that spiritual values in the eternal is not really framed the way it needs to be – how important all that is to their total development.
Yeah, boy, if you can throw a fastball and you can hit a ball, if you've got a great foot-eye coordination, great, wonderful. But make sure that they understand what real passion is anchored to – what they ought to lay their lives down for, where great joy really comes from – knowing and serving your Creator and understanding that you're going to live with him forever.
Dennis: And for those young couples who are listening, instead of becoming defensive, as they look at their own values and kind of reflect upon what you just said, Crawford. What we're appealing to them about as an older generation is, you know what? The younger generation is raising those who are going to take all of our places if Christ doesn't come back.
Dennis: So the question is – what are your values all about? Or maybe the better question is who are your values about? Are they about Him or about you? Are they about the eternal, or are they about the temporal? I couldn't help but think here as we kind of wrap things up – Romans, chapter 12, verse 1 and 2 – I've not heard many sermons on this recently.
When I was cutting my spiritual molars, Romans 12:1-2 seemed to be echoing and bouncing around within the growth of the Jesus movement back in the '60s and '70s. I just want to read it again because ultimately what we've been talking about here as we think about for a time we cannot see, living for heaven, is ultimately not being conformed to the world but being transformed, and that's what Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to do.
Paul writes, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship and do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Purpose that you may prove what the will of God is; that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
What this younger generation and, for that matter, our generation longs for today – they long for that which is good, acceptable and perfect. They long for the will of God. Now, the question is how are you going to get it? The only way you're going to get it is by crawling on the altar and submitting yourself as a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ and say, "I am yours. Use me as you wish. I want to be about the King's business."
And I'd like to challenge you, Crawford, to just lead that person in prayer right now. We have to be talking to a man or a woman, maybe single, maybe married, maybe divorced, I don't know what circumstance that person may be facing today but as they listen to us talk, they become convinced it's time. It's time to get on with the King's business and live for a time we cannot see.
Give that person a challenge and lead them in a prayer, Crawford, of submitting their lives to Christ.
Crawford: Meaningful Christianity is never just embracing a process but it's coming to points of crisis. What you just described is giving into a decision that needs to be made. There comes a point where I have to say, "This is God's life, and I'm deciding to place it all in His hands."
And I want to challenge the listener today to do that – embrace the crisis, make the decision, lay it all out for him. Let me pray for you.
Father, thank you so very much for your mercy, and I just thank you that you call us to these points in our lives where we have to decide who we're going to listen to. Are we going to give in to the voice of heaven, our true home? Are we going to allow the noise in this life to drown out the very power that we need to make a difference.
Lord Jesus, I ask of you in the name of your Son that you'll give hope to that one person; that you will give help and give a sense of incredible encouragement as they embrace the longing that You've placed in their soul and turned themselves completely over to You. In Jesus's name, amen.
Dennis: Amen and, Crawford, I want to thank you for your leadership in FamilyLife. Thank you for being a board member, and for just your friendship over the years. You're a good man, and I look forward to finishing – running toward the finish line with you.
Crawford: Same here.
Bob: And let me just say, if I can, for those folks who may have prayed along with you, Crawford, we've got a book here at FamilyLife called "Pursuing God," that we would be happy to send to anyone who prayed a prayer like that for the first time and said, "I do want Jesus Christ to be at the center of my life. I want to make Him my priority. I want to be living for His purposes and for His kingdom."
The book, "Pursuing God" helps you understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. It gets you pointed in the right direction, and we'd love to send it out to you at no cost. All you have to do is call or go online and indicate that you'd like a copy of that book.
The number to call is 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Or you can go online at FamilyLife.com and click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen. That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book, "Pursuing God." Just indicate that you'd like a copy, and we're happy to send it out to any of our listeners who prayed today and who want to turn their life over to Jesus Christ.
You may also want to get a copy of Crawford's book, which is called "For A Time We Cannot See," and that is also available on our website at FamilyLife.com, or you can request it when you call 1-800-FLTODAY. Again, if you go to our website, there will be a red button in the center of the home page, and you click that button, it will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about Crawford's book, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and you can order the book over the phone. We'll be happy to get it sent out to you, and I hope many of our listeners will get a copy of this book and will read it. In fact, you ought to make plans to read it between now and the end of the year. It will help give you the right focus as you start 2008 and head into the New Year.
And I don't want to start thinking about New Year's now because this is Thanksgiving Eve, and rather than thinking about starting the New Year we ought to be thinking about giving thanks. And one of the things we're thankful for here at FamilyLife is you. We thank God for those of you who listen to this program each day, for those of you who have contact us with questions or with comments or with stories about how God has used the ministry of FamilyLife in your life. That's always encouraging for our entire team.
And we're also grateful to those of you who not only listen but help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with donations. We are listener-supported, and so those financial contributions help pay the bills. They make it possible for this program to be on the air on this station and other stations all across the country and without your financial support we wouldn't be able to be here each day.
So we really do appreciate the partnership you have with us, and this month we want to make available a DVD as our way of saying thanks back to you for your partnership with us. The DVD is called "The Very First Noel," and it's an animated retelling of the Christmas story that features Andy Griffith doing the narration, and it's something your whole family can enjoy as you prepare to celebrate Christmas this year.
Again, the DVD is our thank you gift when you make a donation of any amount this month to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. You can donate online at FamilyLife.com, and if you do that, as you fill out the donation form, you'll see a keycode box. Just type the word "Noel" in that keycode box so that we know to send you a copy of this DVD.
Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone and mention that you'd like a copy of this DVD and, again, we're happy to send it out to you, and it's always great to hear from you. We appreciate your partnership with us.
Well, tomorrow we hope you can take a break from your traditional Thanksgiving celebration to spend a few minutes with us. Dolphus Weary is going to join us. We're going to hear about his experience growing up in the Deep South, in the rural South, as an African-American many decades ago. We'll hear what life was like for him and for many other African-Americans on tomorrow's program, and I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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