7 Things in Life That Truly Matter

MatterEvery day, I encounter people who champion their pet causes and, very loudly, declare their belief in something that many would not really even consider as an important issue. This is not to say that they are not important, I just think these things may not be on people’s radar. Recently, I have been reflecting on this concept, and I have realized that many actually put a lot of energy into arguments, protests, and causes that I think really need to be deeply analyzed for their eternal value. I am just one person, and I have opinions like anyone else, but I really believe that many have lost sight of what is truly important. When our priorities are out of focus it affects every aspect of our lives.

Understanding there are many others, today, I wanted to talk about 7 Things in Life That Truly Matter. 

1. Your past matters– Realizing this, and acting on it accordingly will change a person’s future. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down with a couple or individual and they poured out their pain, anger, and bitterness to me about a particular subject only to realize that the feelings they were having were directly related to a past hurt that was never acknowledged. Many people put up walls, and adopt unhealthy lifestyles, and even develop habits due to this idea. Then, often what happens is a person spends most of their life justifying why the way they are living should be universally accepted when others, who love them, clearly see that they are being eroded by it. Don’t discount the pains of your past. Your past matters, and if not treated appropriately, it will affect your future.

2. Your attitude matters– It is harder to be dragged up a mountain than to be pushed off a cliff. Point being…with any experience you are involved in, if you approach it with a horrible attitude, you are probably going to find a way for the outcome to be horrible as well. How you feel about your church, your spiritual life, your friends, and your family directly correlates with the attitude you approach them with. Change your attitude; change your outcome.

3. Your behavior matters– I am definitely not one of these pastors who cares to micromanage a person’s life. I think there are things that are unhealthy for a person to engage in, but not necessarily a salvation (Heaven/ Hell) issue. With that being said, we have to be very careful when we talk about behavior. There has to be a balance between legalism and the intentional abstaining of certain things. If we are calling ourselves a follower of Jesus, then we have to remember that others are watching us, and many people have issues such as alcoholism, gambling addiction, etc that have torn them away from God or even their family in the past. The question should not be, “will this send me to Hell?” I think it should be, “how can I support my brother or sister that may observe my actions.”

4. Your family/parenting matters– Whether you are a parent or not, it is obvious that parenting matters. I am not talking about a certain parenting model or the newest book that solves all your problems. Parenting (whether biological, guardianship, or surrogate family dynamic) is a vital component in the way that humans understand God, themselves, and the world around them. This concept relates to the first topic discussed here…the past. An absent parent figure can cause one to question whether they are loved, valued, and have a purpose. Family is also included in this…as we raise one another we (hopefully) build a necessary support system for the future. If this is not present…then people began to feel alone, and disconnected.

5. Your relationships matter– I have seen the same quote floating around social media for a long time. The theme of this quote is this…if someone in your life is making you unhappy, you should cut them out of your life. According to the rest of this quote, “life is too shoot to spend it with people that don’t make you happy.” This is absolute trash. Plain and simple. If you are recently divorced and experienced abuse, or infidelity, I could understand where you are coming from…but other than this…the concept is a lie. First, we are not put on this earth to constantly be in a state of happiness. We are called to invest in things that are hard, and spend what little time we have in this world pouring ourselves into others. We can find joy in this…Second, the people around you matter too. Consider the pain of a person who may have lived a life defined by abandonment before you completely cut people out of your life. Granted, for your emotional safety you may need to be careful not to be sucked into the vortex of hurt and confusion…you will be rewarded if you walk through the valley in a healthy way with others.

6. Your faith matters– Whether you believe in God or not…your faith matters. If you believe in yourself as the supreme council or you trust in a guiding force, your values, thought processes, and actions flow from this posture. Grow in this area, and seek others to help you to grow. If you are still seeking what this area looks like for you…find someone who exhibits joy, integrity, generosity and a passion for others, and inquire accordingly.

7. You matter!– Despite what the enemy of your soul is whispering in your ear right at this moment…you matter. You have a purpose in life and even though you do not have the skills and talents you wish you had, God has given you exactly what is needed to be you. If you were missing, the world would not be the same, and everyone around you would feel the burden. Satan wants you to think that no one would care if you disappeared…this is because he is scared about what God has for you.

I know…there are so many more things that truly matter, and I will write on more later. Let’s take a moment today to reflect together on what things are truly important.

-Landon DeCrastos

Back to the Garden

treeThe serpent nestled comfortably in the  elbow of a thick branch on the beautiful tree at the center of the garden. He rested as he waited for the inevitable confrontation between he and the woman (as it was called). The serpent had an agenda and wanted to give the appointed stewards of the garden a taste of what rebellion is really like.

These humans, as they were called, seemed to be cherished by the tyrant (as he saw it) above any other being. He wanted to change that. There was something invigorating about saying no to a system that seemed to be so controlling and provided no immediate reward for obedience.

On the other side of the large garden, the Creator Father spent time enjoying His creation…these new earth stewards; humans. Adam and Eve were such great companions and each day they spent time with the Father they felt more energetic and fulfilled. The time together was filled with laughter, rough housing, and pure joy…as if this Father was not only an authority but a friend. Neither one wanted the times together to end.

Adam and Eve wandered to the center of the garden one day, and found the serpent resting in the tree. The sinister creature was taking a nap, but awoke when the woman approached. As he spoke, he made the forbidden fruit seem so appealing, and even though the Father told them they should never eat it, they took a bite. It seemed so harmless, and the chemical make up of the food probably was safe, but this was a life lesson they needed to embrace. So…fast forward…the humans were thrown out of the garden and the relationship between them and the Father was damaged. Trust was lost and their times together were forever defined by shame.

When we read the Bible we see story after story that describes a deep desire God has for us. He wants to repair the relationship He has with humanity to revert it back to the joy once found in the garden. He created us to be the beings that interacted with Him in this way. We operate best at this level. Whether it be stories of God’s wrath or compassionate mercy…we see God wooing His creation back to himself. He went to great lengths to execute a plan to get them back…because He is driven by love.

Why do we fight this? I can tell you why…because we have tasted rebellion and it is temporarily pleasant. We think we were created to find happiness at any cost, and abandon truth when our reward is not immediately visible. Some generation needs to stand up and walk away from the serpent’s influence. Could it be us? Let’s try.

-Landon DeCrastos

The Tyranny of More

Today, I enjoyed an extremely unhealthy cheeseburger at a fast food establishment. It wasn’t organic…..it wasn’t supporting local farmers and family business…it had preservatives in it and the proceeds did not benefit a charity…it was simply a greasy cheeseburger…..and I needed it. Don’t judge me. You don’t know my life…..

Anyway….I ordered this meal and requested the smallest size they had when they asked for my drink size preference. We have all been to this place, which surprisingly has served more people than actually exist in the world. The smallest size they had was a “medium”. When I got my food, I was astonished at how large the medium was…There had to be some mistake. The cup was so big that it made me slightly nervous.

As anyone else does, I took my tray and proceeded to the drink fountain where I made plans to enjoy a tall lemonade. After my drink was full I reached over to grab a lid…then I discovered something interesting. My cup actually was a large. I needed a large lid.

This happens all the time. No matter how may times I ask for the smallest size, I get the largest possible one. I am not complaining, but as I thought of this concept I began to think about the direction of our culture. Now, “small” isn’t even an option. Why? Perhaps, it is because we have conditioned ourselves to never be satisfied. We want a drink that we can guzzle in excess and refill on our way out. We want this drink to last all day until we are on our way home from work, so that we can be content until the next day when we repeat the process. As a culture, we have left no room to feel disappointment and a sense of loss.

Look in the Old Testament and you will see an Israelite people that begged God for abundance in the wilderness. He didn’t give it to them at first. Why? Because they had what they needed….and the only reason they wanted more is so they didn’t have to spend the energy to come to Him daily for provision.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cheesburgers. I love large cheeseburgers. I just think God cares more about enough than He does about excess. This is because, when we rely on excess, we forget that life is meant to be lived in the midst of a healthy amount of uncertainty. Our faith grows in this condition. We also begin to find contentment in God’s presence instead of only God’s provision.

 

Focus on Joy

My son is so fun to watch. He is now in a phase in his life where he loves to jump. He loves to jump in place, from one tile to the other, over cracks in the sidewalk, and even off the couch. The couch jumping had me nervous for a while until I saw him do it. He actually has pretty good technique.

When watching him play, I have noticed that he focuses intently on what he is working on. If he is putting together a puzzle then he holds his tongue out slightly like a golden retriever until he can figure it out. When he is building a block tower worthy of a medal, he does the same thing. The best time to watch my son is when he is playing with no restrictions or structure. You know…the times where is just spinning, jumping, or running laps around the dining room table. In those moments, the only purpose he is seeking…and the only resource he is reacting out of is joy.

Do you know why it is so fun to watch him? It is fun because my son has not allowed the world’s problems to steal his joy. They are still there, and he knows that sometimes people get “owies” and mean people push each other at the playground, but for some reason he has the ability to put that aside for a simple expression of joy. There is no worry about the mortgage payment or fear of Mondays…he doesn’t think about where the next meal will come from. He trusts.

Sometimes I think we are sinning by not living life in this way. In a way we are…because this is the life that God intended for humanity at the very beginning. Sure, Adam in the Garden of Eden still had important work to do, but everything he did was punctuated by the trust he had in God and His
very presence. We, as humans tend to lose our focus on joy.

Today, seek to find joy. Seek to live for the purpose of joy. Not fleeting and temporary happiness, but true delight in the fact that God is in control.

-Landon DeCrastos