First Things First

Updated: Sep 4


My teenage son Pierce is a chip off the old mama block. Among other things, he really likes to stay busy round the clock. Unlike me, he's a jock, so playing sports, watching sports, researching sports, practicing sports, training for sports, talking about sports, and thinking about sports, are among his favorite pastimes. After a long school day, he usually wants to go train, throw a ball, or spend an alarming and irritating amount of time watching YouTube videos of baseball highlights. Even so, as far as male teenage obsessions are concerned, sports are pretty benign.


Pierce goes to a competitive school where there's a lot of homework, which he's been known to do at 10:58 pm. I used to mandate homework and chores before sports or fun, but I'm now letting him have more control over his priorities and I know he's more nocturnal than I am. For a long time, he preferred to do it his way which made for some late-night stress, scrambling, and sleepiness. However, I've come to believe we all learn better when life, rather than mom-nagging, is the teacher. To his credit, Pierce seems to have discovered prioritizing homework is a better way. Now he destresses with social sports after school, has dinner, does his homework, and then plays PS4 MLB with a buddy before bedtime. He's a good student, a wonderful young man, and I love him very much.

Type A versus The Way

I am very production-oriented and a recovering perfectionist, so I like to do hard things to earn pleasure. Facts is, hard things themselves are a pleasure for me, so let's say I like to earn leisure. I just enjoy myself more when I know my work is done, I've jogged three miles, the floor is mopped, dinner is cleaned up, etc. I aid this bent with multiple to-do lists, stickies, and detailed plans.


A friend of mine shared, "People things before things things and little people things before big people things." This is surprisingly sage and handy, but really hard to do when you're hustling to pay the mortgage or starting dinner, but I try. I enjoy my kids a lot and am very aware of how finite my time with them really is. Now that I'm divorced and share custody with their dad 50/50, I prioritize my time with them even more.


At different times in my life, I prioritized items 1-2-3, even scheduling time with my kids so the day didn't escape without their getting one on one attention. I confess I often set the timer when Isaac asks me to play, because as fun as he is, I'm restless, have work to do, and meals to cook, etc. It helps manage expectations, too!


I'm a bit more fluid these days. I don't let a full laundry basket steal my joy, but I'm still attuned to first things first.


As busy as I am, I have come to believe, with every fiber of my being, that placing God first is key to everything else. I have learned this through conducting the unfortunate experiment of not putting Him first, in big ways and small, and getting less than desirable results. To say the least.



This should not be a news flash for a Christian, because The Book tells us:


33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

There are many instances in the Bible when we're told to seek God and that seems pretty straight forward, but seeking the kingdom of God was a little more mysterious to me. Context provides clues: Matt.6:33 concludes the familiar passage about not being anxious about our lives or what we're going to eat, drink, or wear. We can also translate it the Kingdom of heaven, God's world, or the spiritual dimension. I actually like Brittanica.com's explanation:


“Ecumenical Council,” Salvador Dali, 1960
"Kingdom of God, also called Kingdom Of Heaven, in Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will. The phrase occurs frequently in the New Testament, primarily used by Jesus Christ in the first three Gospels."

Brittanica suggests the Kingdom of God is the spiritual dimension aligned with God's heavenly will, manifest right here on earth, just as the Lord's prayer invokes.


To bring that down to earth (pun intended), when I want to know my boss's will, I ask Him, I familiarize myself with his preferences and priorities, study our organizational standards, complete all the required training, etc.


The spiritual equivalent is to seek to know God intimately, study His word, implement its wisdom, etc.


God's not so much concerned with our wardrobe or diet. He says He'll provide what we need (though maybe not what we want). God is more concerned with our spiritual pursuits and condition. Kingdom business.


Naturally, this isn't "works righteousness," because we can't earn salvation or God’s love. In fact, as with those snotty-pious Pharisees, our good works are garbage apart from Christ.


All my striving after things that seemed good often prove for naught. As I say, "If it's good but it's not God it ain't good." Merely being busy, even with good things, is not good if it's not God's will for you.

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(A lengthy parenthetical sidebar here I hope will encourage you: I get a lot of writing inspirations and actually have a long list of topics, but I never quite know what I'm going to actually write each week. My method is to pray and wait for the prompt and then act on it. I only now realized this is the third consecutive blog on seeking God. This was not planned. Plus, today’s Jesus Calling (below) is also on seeking God. Wow!!! Thus, I'm going to say God evidently wants us to seek Him (duh), so let's. Incidentally, in Biblical numerology, "3" is the number of perfect completion so this may be my last blog on seeking God for a spell. Note that we're talking about Matthew 6:33, too!--WOW. The Bible is a bottomless well of unparalleled wisdom and other treasures! It's worth reading!)

God has gifted me the desire to often wake up when it's dark to spend time with Him and I find it's time very well spent. I truly cannot quantify the gifts I receive from this practice. I'm also assured elsewhere, including just a few verses earlier in Matthew, that I'm storing up treasures in heaven--though maybe not the chocolate brown Porche I saw at the store earlier. No, these are treasures I'll get to enjoy for a very long time. I'm still learning what this really means but it's become increasingly important to me to understand. I know God has the answers. And yes, that's Good News!


Good News!

During this extraordinary time of uncertainty and unrest, with so many complex global problems beyond our control, it's Good News that we can be "anxious for nothing" by simply seeking God and His Kingdom. Whatever happens down here in this fallen world, there is a flawless Kingdom that will one day fully come. God's is a perfect dimension of existence that is available even now for those who seek Him…with untold rewards here and hereafter.


Thank You, Jesus for the certainty that we will find You if we earnestly--and honestly-- seek You.


May we find Him now!


Love, peace, joy, and grace in Christ,


PRAYER: Father, with so many distractions, some of which seem urgent, it's so hard to seek you first. Help me to prioritize you above everything else and to trust that everything else will be added. Thank you. In Christ's name I ask it.

TAKEAWAY TOOL: Read and contemplate Matthew 6. List three ways you can apply it your life today.


ACTION: If you'd like to jumpstart or reboot your pursuit of God, I urge you to consider hosting a CU Fire Retreat. These 1.5 day simulcast events you can host in your home, church, or elsewhere, are a chance to dedicate focused time to seeking God, paving the way for personal and national revival. You can learn more by visiting ChristianUnion.org/fire.


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