Read an Excerpt
8 ESSENTIALS FOR A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE
By JAY STRACK RON LUCE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2006 Student Leadership University
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKEEP A QUIET TIME DANIEL
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. —Romans 15:4
COULD THIS BE YOU?
He could hear the members of his church scream, "Champ!" as he ran up and down the court. Some people might have thought the cheer was merely praise for the six-foot-nine guy wearing the L.A. Lakers jersey, but to the young athlete, the cheer had a deeper meaning. It was to remind A. C. Green and his friends from church that they were striving to be champions for Christ.
At the age of seventeen, A.C. became a Christian and dedicated his life to the Lord. He continued his spiritual journey while attending Oregon State University. "In college, even though I had 7:30 a.m. lectures and labs some mornings, I made it a practice to get up by 6:00 a.m. to spend time with God." This habit of spending time with God would continue throughout college, the sixteen years he played in the NBA, and today. He says, "The Bible is my manual for living. I have developed the habit of spending time with God and reading the Bible every morning."
Now retired from the NBA, A.C. still holds the NBA Iron Man title for having played in 1,192 straight games. But most players and coaches remember him for another number—zero. That's the number of women he slept with as a professional basketball player.
"I made the decision as a teenager to be abstinent. I wanted to take control of my future. It wasn't a popular decision then, just like it can be an unpopular decision now." When he started playing with the Lakers, A.C.'s convictions were known, but not yet proven. "A few players taunted, teased, tempted, and tried me to see if I'd hold up to my standards to save sex for marriage. 'You won't last two months in the NBA,' one of the guys told me." But as they watched A.C. abstain in the face of temptation, the other players began to understand his faith and commitment weren't going to be shaken by their jeers. Eventually they got tired of trying to trip him up and left him alone.
A.C. wasn't entirely alone, though. His friends and church family encouraged his spiritual growth and stand. "The friends I have are true friends. True to themselves and true to me. We know each other's goals and dreams, and we encourage each other to achieve them."
By making a commitment, growing in his relationship with Christ, and looking to his Christian friends to keep him accountable (he had a roommate the first four years he played in the NBA), A.C. Green was able to remain a virgin until he married the woman of his dreams—the year after he retired from professional basketball.
WHY KNOW IT?
* 32 percent of Protestant teenagers read the Bible, outside of church, weekly.
* The younger a person is, the less likely he or she is to have a quiet time.
* The average teen watches approximately 23 hours of television per week.
* The average person will spend five years waiting in line, two years trying to return phone calls to people who aren't there, one year searching for misplaced items, six months sitting at red lights, and eight months opening junk mail.
transfuse (transFYOOZ): to cause to pass fro mone To another; transmit
For a very brief moment, Quiet Riot was a rock-and-roll phenomenon. Their name is a great description of our world, and their short-lived fame is prophetic of the amount of time most students can be still. The reason that the spiritual power of many students is waning is because this generation has a difficulty with the word quiet. We run everywhere, anytime—to the mall, to the Internet, to our cell phone—and we are restless in spirit. As a result, we don't understand our purpose and aren't able to stand strong.
Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God." All ... have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.
And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:3—5, 7, 10
In Daniel's time, Babylon was one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world. The state religion of Babylon involved big temples filled with large cults worshiping the great gods of the cities, who were ranked in an order corresponding to the political status of their cities. The multitude of cities and pantheons in Babylonia and the fluctuating political fortunes of the various cities throughout Babylonian history resulted in a great deal of conflict and confusion among the numerous cults.
Young Daniel found himself working and living in Babylon after being kidnapped at the king's request. Far from home and in a different culture, he was in the minority. What's a young guy to do in that situation?
* Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. * Daniel kept the traditions of prayer, quiet time, and living a holy life. * Daniel focused on the Lord and left the world behind.
Infuse (in FYOOZ): to cause to be permeated with something (as a principle orquality) that alters usually for the better
AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT
First, Scripture tells us that Daniel had "an excellent spirit in him" (v. 3).
How would you like to be defined as excellent in spirit? This characteristic defined Daniel's daily routine, his personality, and his morals. Daniel was superior in both his attitude and ability. Notice that the emphasis is on the spirit, not the mind or body.
If I were to be defined as one with an excellent spirit, then I would be described as: ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
Daniel didn't live for God because he was a geek; in fact, we know from Scripture that he was good-looking, talented, and intelligent. Daniel 1:4 describes Daniel and his friends as "young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace." These guys could have used personality and looks to take shortcuts, get favors, and be popular. Instead, they focused it all on habit. They chose to live a holy life.
Private Victories Precede Public Victories
Because Daniel was totally and wholeheartedly sold out to the Lord, those who were jealous of him said, "We won't find any way to get him unless it is about his God." What an incredible reputation!
The habit of kneeling to pray three times a day changed Daniel from the inside out. His private world gave him the strength and tenacity to live out a consistent public life.
What or who is keeping me from this powerful, personal time with God?
A lot of people talk about the importance of a quiet time, but not many of them tell you how to do it. You might be wondering, "What am I supposed to do during my quiet time anyway?"
* Honor God. Something amazing happens when you drop to your knees and come humbly and quietly before our majestic Lord. Immediately, when you bow the knee, you will find your heart ready to receive and to give love. Try it and see.
When I humble myself before God, I am ready to serve man.
* Get into the Word. Billy Graham once said that he reads five psalms for praise and worship every day and one chapter in Proverbs for wisdom. This gives him the ability to be rightly related to God and the wisdom to live skillfully with other people in daily and difficult situations. This program allows him to repeat the cycle once a month. You don't have to read whole chapters at a time; you can choose sections of Psalms or one or two verses in Proverbs. The point is to read it and read it often.
* Quote the Scripture. Say it often; say it loud. Keep Bible verses written on cards to take with you in the car or anyplace you might have wait time. When you say the Word out loud, you see it and hear it. When you write it, you have a triple advantage to making it your own. The Word of God is alive and has the power to change lives, get you through any trouble, and lead and guide you.
* Journal your thoughts. Write out the verse, and then think about what it says. Journal thoughts about:
* What changes need to be made in your life, what encouragement is there for you, and what instruction does the verse have for you? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* What does this verse say about serving others, how to love them, view them, and pray for them? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* What does this verse say about God (He is truth, love, judge, mercy, compassion, power, etc.)? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* Write one or more sentences of praise and thanksgiving based on the verse. ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
* Meditate on the Word. Continue to think about the verse's meaning and how it applies to you throughout the day. When temptations or unwanted thoughts try to come in your mind, pop in the scripture and meditate on its power and meaning for your life. When you need to make a decision, think about the verse you are meditating on this week. This will put you in the habit of asking, "What would Jesus do in this situation?"
* Memorize it. There is no greater power to stay on the road to whom God has called you to be, or to gain victory in the moment of struggle, than knowing the Word of God. This is not the same as meditating. It is making a decided effort to write daily Scripture cards and carry them with you always.
* Pray. If you are having trouble saying meaningful prayers to God, try writing them out instead. To pray is literally "to think about" so that you can write it, say it, and think it all through the day. He wants to have a relationship with you in an intimate, genuine way. Use your daily scripture in a prayer by inserting your name or the name of someone you care about. For example, "Lord, help me to ..."
* Give God thanks. There is great power in rehearsing what God has already done. There are so many things to be grateful for—such as your family, salvation, health, friends, and church. Thank God for His Word and who He is. When you put gratitude in your attitude, your heart is encouraged.
* Resolve to live the Word. Make a decision to live out a part of the Word that you have read today. Whatever you read in your quiet time is what you want to purpose to do today. When you think about your day and what you want to accomplish, begin with what you have read, and think about how you can be a living Scripture during the day.
* * *
Select one of the scriptures used in today's lesson as your key focus this week. What is ONE THING that the verse instructs you to live out this week? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
Plan what, why, when, and how: ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
When is the best time to have your quiet time? You can have a quiet time anytime you can sit still and be quiet! The morning is always the best time because you can begin your day with peace and strength. But you can take a brief moment in the morning, add to it in the afternoon, and finish up with time in the evening. It's your call.
Schedule your appointment with God, and purpose in your heart that no one and nothing will interfere. If a friend calls, say, "I'm tied up right now, but I'll call you back in about thirty minutes." If you get an IM, don't return it. In fact, shut off your phone, cell phone, and computer, and expect a supernatural time with the living God, Creator of the universe. Your friends will still be there when you are ready.
Believe it or not, God is waiting to hear from you! diffuse (di FYOOZ): to pour out and permit or cause to spread freely; to extend, scatter
When you think of Daniel, you may think automatically of how God delivered him in the lion's den and then promoted him in the kingdom of Babylon. But what you must first understand is how he became a man whom God blessed with a unique life.
Daniel became the kind of man God blessed through keeping the traditions of prayer and being true to God's Word. Hebrews 11:33 speaks of Daniel's kind of strong, personal faith that "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions." This type of faith cannot happen through a "Someday I will, I should have, I meant to" devotional life.
How can you build your personal faith this week? (Hint: Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.") ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
Think of a situation you might face in the next few weeks in which you will be tested to stand for your faith—perhaps it is about a worldview issue such as evolution or abortion, or a discussion on moral purity. How can your quiet time prepare you for these situations? List three ways:
Scripture reveals that Daniel had godly friends. In the midst of great persecution and discouragement, these guys stuck together and came out stronger. When we take the time to develop a genuine relationship with God, we are able to lead, influence, and encourage others.
An important step to a life of significance is to be known in your school and in your circle as a young man or woman of prayer for others, of quiet times with God, as a student who knows firsthand what he or she believes. ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
PRIVATE WORLD DEVOTIONS
MONDAY: See it. Read the surrounding passages or chapter for the Key Scripture so that you can get an understanding of the background and context. This helps you to really see the verse.
TUESDAY: Hear it. Read the daily Key Scripture and/or surrounding passage out loud, putting your name in, if applicable. For example, John can do all things through Christ. Thieves have come to destroy John, but Jesus has come that John might have eternal life.
WEDNESDAY: Write it. Write the verse and then what it says about:
* Others: Respond, serve, and love as Jesus would.
* Me: Specific attitudes, choices, or habits.
* God: His love, mercy, holiness, peace, joy, etc.
Excerpted from 8 ESSENTIALS FOR A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE by JAY STRACK RON LUCE Copyright © 2006 by Student Leadership University. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.