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  • Chris Scott

Carpe Diem

Don't just have a good day...seize it!

Posted by Chris Scott (Senior Leader Bridge Church)

One of my favourite movies of all time is the 1989 film "Dead Poets Society." In it Robin Williams plays English teacher John Keating who inspires his students to broaden their minds, and to change their lives of conformity and material pursuit, through his teaching of poetry and literature. In it he resurrects an obscure Latin phrase that most had forgotten: Carpe Diem. It means ‘Seize the Day’. It's an exhortation to live life to its' fullest; to break out of limitations, containments and conventions; and to get the most out of each individual day we are alive.

The Apostle Paul believed in this philosophy of life too! In Philippians 3:10-13 he gives us three steps to help us learn how to “seize the day"!

1. Find Your Purpose

What is the primary purpose of an ink pen? The answer, of course, is to write. A £1000 solid-gold pen may look and feel stunning,, but if it is out fo ink then it is a total failure as a pen, because whatever its value, it is not fulfilling its primary purpose. Which will you prefer to have when it comes time to signing an important document or endorsing a cheque?….let me tell you, you'll bypass the gold pen, and use a 10p Bic that works!!

If I asked you “What is your purpose in life?" I would probably get many different answers. "Be a good wife or husband, a good mother or father, provide for my family. Be successful in my job, be a good doctor, teacher, salesman. Study hard to get to University…and so on." All these are worthy pursuits, but I would suggest they are secondary purposes. they are context. they are emans to an end not the end in itself. The question really is, what is your ‘Raison d'être’…your "reason for being" your “reason for living.” If you are going to ‘seize the day’ and extract the marrow from life, you must first know why you were created, and then you must keep it in view always, even amidst the confusion and pace of modern life.

Paul’s reason was clear “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing his sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (3:10-11)

Paul is saying "I want to know Christ so that I may be like Him." Simply put, Paul's reason for living was to be like Jesus. Out of this everything else flows! It’s easy to lose sight of this from time to time. Do you need to re-align yourself with Gods plan to form the image of Christ within you? Have other pursuits and goals crowded out your primary objective to “know Christ and make him known”

2. Forget The Past

Paul goes on:-

(3:13) ...this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

I guess there are not too many of us who have a past like Paul! He had sanctioned the persecution, and even the murder, of many innocent people. He had caused a lot of pain, and had done much damage to the cause of Christ. Now, as a servant of God he was faced with a choice, either he could dwell on his mistakes and let them ruin his chance for effective ministry, or he could deliberately uncouple himself from them, and move on with his life.

If you are going to ‘seize’ today you have to know how to ‘let go’ of yesterday. Now don't misread me here. It’s tempting to say at this point that we are 'not to worry about our mistakes, they don’t matter, just move on'. This, of course is not true. We need to be honest. and sometimes brutally honest about our shortcomings and weakness. They must be acknowleged fully, addressed soberly, and then handled properly, or they will never stay in your past!

However, I am not suggesting that we become obsessed with our failings or over-analytical and self-absorbed about everything we get wrong. If you are anything like me, you are acutely aware of your shortcomings. You know you mess up regularly, making mistakes and poor judgements almost on a daily basis (or maybe that is just me!) So wallowing in them is unhealthy and certainly won't help at all to seize the next day!

As Christians we enjoy the freedom and covering of God’s grace which is more than enough to absorb them all. However, there still maybe some damaging things in your past that you need to admit, confront and deal with that you haven’t done so far, and they are hindering you moving on. Well there are a couple of things we can do to move on to a place of freedom.

The first thing is to admit our sin to God (sin is a bible word for 'messing up!') and receive his full forgiveness. It's available 24/7 to those who will humbly ask. God's forgiveness is the key that unlocks our guilt and condemnation, and uncouples us from the ongoing effects of them.

Secondly, where appropriate and possible, you may need to take some action to put it right, or make amends with someone. Maybe you need to write that letter, send that email or have that chat with a person. This may or may not be the end of it, but it will certainly set you on the road to freedom.

As all football managers always say “it’s a game of two halves!” Well your life is a game of two halvestoo. What has happened up to now, does not have to shape what will happen from now on. You cannot change your past of course, but learning from it can change your future!

Of course, not everything Paul did in his past was bad. More recently he had experienced some amazing and miraculous moves of God in his life. He would have had some fascinating stories to tell his grandchildren. Maybe he could go on tour, imagine that; “An Evening with The Apostle Paul.” He could have entertained the audience with witty but powerful anecdotes and funny tales of the scrapes God rescued him from. In short, Paul could just as easily have dwelled on these good experiences and got stuck in his past. Easy to do isn’t it? “Remember the good old days!!” “If only things were like they used to be!” Well I have news for you, the good old days weren't always that good, and what's more they are gone anyway! We only have ‘good new days’ to look forward to! Of course its right to celebrate and honour what has gone before, but we cannot live there or we will never ‘seize’ what is to come.

I am so impressed that Paul wrote these words fairly late on in his ministry and still urged himself to go for more… what about you and me! But he's still not done yet .He goes on....

3. Face the Present

(v. 13) ...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

It is easy to live in the past and it’s easy to dream away the future. It's a real challenge to face the present, because it means we can no longer allow ourselves the luxury of saying, "One of these days I'll do something about my commitment to God... my responsibility to my family..." and so on.

Martha did exactly this in John 11 when Jesus arrived at Lazarus tomb. First she dwelt in the past, “if only you had been here.” Then she fast forwards to the future “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." But the reality was that Jesus was there with her right now in the present!! “I am the resurrection and the Life” He was saying “Martha I am working to transform your current situation right ‘now’

Jesus is present in your present!! He is with you to deal with the now!! Don’t dwell in the past, and don’t sit back waiting for the future to drop into your lap….seize the day!

Martha finally responded to Jesus “Yes Lord I believe” (11:27) It was at that moment that Martha began to face the present and put her faith into action. Facing the present means that we put our faith in Jesus Christ today, and trust Him to be involved in our life today.

Let me finish with this, it’s a tenuous link but it is funny!

A young soldier and his commanding officer got on a train together. The only available seats were across from an attractive young woman who was travelling with her stern grandmother. As they engaged in pleasant conversation, the soldier and the young woman kept eyeing one another; the attraction was obviously mutual. Suddenly the train went into a tunnel and the car became pitch black. Immediately two sounds were heard: the "smack" of a kiss, and the "whack" of a slap across the face. Instantly the grandmother thought "I can't believe he kissed my granddaughter, but I'm glad she gave him the slap he deserved." The commanding officer thought, "I don't blame the boy for kissing the girl, but it's a shame that she missed his face and hit me instead." The young girl thought, "I'm glad he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother hadn't slapped him for doing it." And as the train broke into the sunlight, the soldier could not wipe the smile off his face. He had seized the opportunity to kiss a pretty girl, and slap his commanding officer at the same time, and got away with both!

Now, that young soldier knew how to seize the day!

Have a great day…and seize it


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