By Andrew Calabrese
Every day we make choices that shape our life story. What would your life look like if you let godly principles guide those choices? If someone asked you to tell your life’s story, what would you say?
By Andrew Calabrese
For those of us who are not senior pastors, we cannot fully understand the burdens that they face on a daily basis. While being in ministry is no doubt the most rewarding life one can live, it has also proven to be the most difficult one too. There is an immense need for God’s people to have a greater burden to refresh their pastor. According to 1 Timothy 5:17, each church member has the privilege and responisbility to be a blessing to his pastor: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
By Andrew Calabrese
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
I love skittles! They are probably the best candy made of all time (in my opinion). However, my love for skittles taught me a very hard lesson to accept. Back when I was in the sixth grade, I went to the movies and I brought two packs of Skittles with me. I ate through the first pack one by one, a red one, a green one, a yellow one, a purple one…I ended up eating a whole pack in one movie!
So, I opened the second pack. I ate and ate and ate, and I got down where I had three left. Then suddenly, my body had a violent reaction and kicked back. To be polite, I remember having a “technicolor yawn”—a “rainbow” come forth out of my mouth right then and there in the theatre! Looking back on that moment, I realize God was trying to teach me a very important lesson.
Our culture teaches us that if one is good, then is two is better! If you’re like me, I bought in to this lie many times over the course of my life. I always thought if having one dollar is good, having two is better. If having one donut is good, two is better. If having one pack of skittles is good, two is better!
God teaches us from His Word that quite frankly the opposite is true. According to Ecclesiastes 4:6, God explains that it is actually better to have less. Come again? You didn’t just say what I think you said, did you? Yes, God says it is better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.
Better is one hand full with quietness (with tranquility, with peace) than two hands full with travail and vexation of spirit (toil and striving and stress and chasing after the wind.)
Jesus hit this principle head-on in the New Testament. In fact, He was very aggressive with His words. This is what Jesus said in Luke 12:15. He was talking to a group of people and He said: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
What was He saying? He basically says, “Watch out! Be on your guard. More is not always better. Watch out for covetousness and greed because your life does not consist in what you have.” And then He told a parable…something along these lines:
Once upon a time, there was a guy that had a very successful business here and the guy said, ‘Oh man, I’m going to tear down my old barns and I’m going to build new ones, bigger ones, better ones, more! I’m going to kick back, and I’m going to take life easy. I’m going to drink; I’m going to be merry; I’m going to be happy!’ And Jesus said, ‘On that very night your life will be taken away from you.’ Why? Here’s what Jesus said, He said in verse 21:
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)
This will be what it’s like for anyone who just goes, “More, more, more!” You’ll be chasing after the wind, and won’t have what matters most—an intimate relationship with God
I’m convinced God doesn’t care so much about what we have. He doesn’t want what we have to have us. He wants us to be rich in that which really matters. That’s why it’s better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.
How can we live a “one handful” life?
1) LET GO OF WHAT DOESN’T MATTER.
The writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 12:1 said: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,” Why? So that we can, “run with patience the race that is set before us,”
Let us lay aside anything and everything that hinders. This is interesting: the Greek word that is translated as “lay aside” can also be translated as cast down. It’s kind of a violent throwing down. Like if you get a June bug that flies into your hair, what do you do? He meets concrete when you throw that baby down! That’s what you do—you cast off, you throw down, and you lay aside everything that hinders or gets in your way of the race marked out for you.
I hope you’ll always remember that there is a race that God has marked out for you. God put you here on earth to do something significant, and your spiritual enemy is going to say, “Hey, what about that? You don’t have that!” And before long, we’re chasing the wind, something that doesn’t matter. You have to have the discipline to lay that aside, and cast down anything and everything that does not matter.
Now, here’s three quick phrases that I believe will help us let go of the things that do not matter:
What are we going to cut back? I don’t know what you need to cut back on, but most people I know need to cut back on spending and their schedules.
Let’s start with your spending: Better is one handful; better is less with tranquility and financial margin than two handfuls with a financial noose around your neck. Better is one handful with money left over at the end of the month than two handfuls with fights and worry and financial fears.
How stupid is it in our world that we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like? And then we worry and we’re anxious about, “I don’t have enough money! I don’t have enough money!” Better is less with room to breathe.
Consider your schedule. For some of you it’s time to get very prayerful and very aggressive in cutting back on society’s pressure to say yes to everything. In fact, what is the most common answer to the question in our culture when someone says, “Hey, how you doing?”
What do most people say?”I’m really busy!” Right? “I’m busy!” And if they don’t say that, then they’ll say, ”I’m tired!”
Do you really think that God who says, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy and I will give you rest’ (paraphrase) meant our lives to be lived out that way? Culture has lied to us: “More is better, more is better, more is better!” It’s time to say no to some things that everybody else says yes to.
Some of you need to throw out a lot. Clean the clutter out! A friend of mine told me a couple years ago, “We’re throwing out!” And he said, “Throw away as if your life depends on it, because it does!” I love that phrase! I’ll never forget about it! He said, “Throw away as if your life depends upon it because it does!”
And that’s kind of become a motto for me. It’s, I mean, I want to get rid of everything all of the time. Katie and I get rid f things all the time. Here’s the deal, you haven’t worn it in a year, give it to somebody who can use it, get it out of your closet.
I don’t know what you need to turn off, but some of you need to turn something off. I don’t know what it is, turn the television off. You may spend more time watching the television than you do in God’s Word, or playing with your kids, or serving in your church, and if that’s you…I’m here to tell you that you’re wasting your life! Here’s the deal, you will never change the world watching reruns. So, why would you waste your life spending hours doing something that doesn’t matter?
For many of us, our cell phones have become an idol! You go out to dinner, and watch a nice family of four sitting there at the table. Everybody’s talking to somebody else, reading whatever, words with friends, you know, it’s ridiculous!
One reason I’m so passionate about this is because Katie told me early on in our marriage, “You’re on your phone too much!” And my response was, “Hey, I’m changing the world on my phone baby; I’m talking to people!” And I thought it was important, but I am beginning to realize it actually affects our marriage and our family in a negative way. Some of us need to get real serious and throw down, cast off, let go of what doesn’t matter.
2) FIGHT FOR WHAT DOES MATTER.
I love the way Nehemiah said it whenever Sanballat and Tobiah were trying to talk God’s people out of rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah said: “…remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
Fight for what’s important! Draw your swords and fight; fight like a man; fight like a man of God; fight like a woman of God! Fight for it! And don’t let the culture lie to you. Don’t waste your life, fight for what matters. Less of what doesn’t matter, more of what does.
My life is too valuable, my calling is too great, and my God is too good to waste my life on things that don’t matter! And your life is too valuable, your calling is too great, and your God too good to waste your life on things that don’t matter.
God created you and put you on earth to glorify Him, to make a difference, to make Him known, to love Him, and to love people! Don’t sell out chasing the wind—“more, more, more!”
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”
Better one handful and a good marriage.
Better one handful and children that you know.
Better one handful and making a difference in life.
Better one handful and intimate friends.
Better one handful and a great relationship with God.
Better one handful and influence.
Better one handful and margin.
Better one handful and love, than two handfuls with toil, stress, panic, greed, and more and more—chasing after the wind. It is infinitely better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does. Commit today to “one handful” living.
By Andrew Calabrese
Let me ask all the ladies out there a question: when you were a little girl, did you ever dream of growing up one day, getting married to the “perfect guy” with the perfect wedding, having your prince charming carry you over the threshold of the perfect house, loving you, rubbing your back, and doing all the dishes? You probably have dreamed something like that at some point or time in your life.
Now men, hopefully none of you have dreamed that before, but I’m sure you have probably dreamed of one day getting married and doing other things—several times a day. Am I right?
One more question: how many of you are still dreaming? We have a lot of expectations in our minds going into marriage, and a lot of times when we finally do get married, those expectations don’t get met. Therefore, we get disappointed, let down, or hurt.
Statistics say that about 50% of marriages that start will not make it. They will end up in divorce. Of the 50% of marriages that do make it, statistics inform us that the majority of them are miserable, have irregular intimacy or none at all, or are just sticking together for the sake of their children. With that being the case, some may pose the question, “Is a good marriage even possible?” That’s a fair question.
I believe we can draw the answer to that question from God’s Word in Matthew 22:37-39. While this passage doesn’t have to do with the marriage relationship directly, the principle we can draw from this passage can impact our marriages in a significant way if applied.
One man stated, “God is your One, and your spouse is your two.” Honestly, this is one of the most foundational principles to understand in order to have any healthy relationships. God is to be your one. When Jesus was asked in Matthew 22, “What is the greatest commandment?” Notice, He didn’t say, “Love your spouse with all your heart, soul, and mind.” What did He say? In essence, He said, “God is your One. Make Him your One.”
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” Matthew 22:37-39.
You must always seek your One with your two. Our marriages will never be what God intended them to be unless God is our One and our spouse is our two. So often, we get this all mixed up. We make our spouse our “one,” or our kids become our “one” when that is never the spot God intended for them. We must always put God first.
How do we practically do this in our marriages? I want to suggest the best way you and your spouse can ensure you seek God in your marriage is by faithfully praying together. Some of you may get excited about this and think, “Oh! You’re asking him to pray with me?!” And others of you may be thinking, “I don’t want to pray together. I’ll get nervous; I don’t know what to say. It’s going to be awkward.” I’ll admit, it may be awkward at first, but how important is your marriage to you?
Family life did a survey years ago, and they found that fewer than 8% of Christian couples pray together regularly. They also discovered this: of those 8% that do pray together, less than 1% of those couples divorce. That’s incredible! How important is your marriage to you?
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Bible says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land,” or to loosely apply this principle, “I will heal their marriages.”
Pray together. It will strengthen your marriage. You can make it organized—set a time and a place to do this together each day. You can say a simple prayer together before either one of you leave the house for work. You can text a prayer to your spouse.
Think about the benefits this can generate. If you seek God together by praying together, God will answer some of your prayers, and that will build your faith. Beyond that, it’s really hard to fight with someone that you are praying with and for regularly. It’s hard to commit adultery or get hooked on pornography when you have consistent, spiritual intimacy with one another. I challenge you to grab the hand of your spouse sometime today and commit with them that you two will seek God in your marriage for the rest of your lives.