以終為始──BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

20190819

兩年前,我取消訂閱了40多年的華爾街日報和30多年的奧馬哈世界先驅報。它們耗費了我很多時間,讓我得出這樣的結論:大部分新聞只代表了我們的屬靈敵人撒旦前一天所做事情的記錄。

後來我回到家鄉美國內布拉斯加州的奧馬哈,在自家牧場度過了一個週末之後,我取消了臉書(Facebook)、推特(Twitter)和領英(LinkedIn)的帳戶。理由是一樣的:因為我的時間和精力有限,只想專注在上帝更高的目標上。總結來說:我要集中精神更親密地認識上帝,並更有意識地為祂而活。

每天我都求神賜下從祂而來的任務,不浪費生命。神的確應允了我的禱告,讓我用超乎想像的方式參與在祂神聖的旨意中。生命中最大的冒險就是看到上帝在哪裡工作,並參與祂正在做的事情。

最近我和海軍陸戰隊一名素未謀面的老兵相約見面。午餐時,我先講了自己的故事,意圖震撼對方。因為假如人們不在乎生命中的問題,就表示他們還沒預備好要改變,我最好把時間投資在其他地方。但即便他們沒有興趣,我也會盡力使對方稍微敞開心,等到他們的問題讓他們夠痛時,也許會記得我因為關心他們而願意誠實坦白,也會記得我曾告訴他們,我隨時有空。

在我分享故事的過程中,這個人阻止了我。他淚流滿面地問道:「你能身為一名基督徒還考慮自殺嗎?」然後這位海軍陸戰隊老兵告訴我,他前一天非常想自殺。他坦承自己應該早已經死了。

後來我們再次相遇,這個海軍陸戰老兵的生活有了令人驚嘆的變化。他的生命甚至豐富滿溢到流入其他退伍軍人的生命中,使人驚奇。這些人現在想要聚集到我的牧場,我們在那裡為戰時受創的退伍軍人服務,或者探索與上帝相遇能如何治愈他們的痛苦。

我研究耶穌基督在世時的生活,認識到奧斯瓦.錢伯斯(Oswald Chambers)所說的:「獻身給耶穌的最大競爭者就是僅僅服事他。」基督服事人,但這些事工源自於上帝滿溢的靈。同理,我越來越認識到浸泡在上帝的話語中、獨自禱告和聆聽的必要性。這代表著要避免不必要的干擾。

四十八年前,我得到了工商管理碩士學位。今天,我只記得在其中投入大量時間和金錢,獲得唯一一件有價值的事情:以終為始。

我個人的觀察是,很少自稱是耶穌基督門徒的人能堅持到底。他們與上帝同行時,忘記了尋求、成長和順服的渴慕。被問到他們看到上帝在他們的生命中,或是透過他們的生命做了什麼事情時,大多數人都會講一個十年前的故事。但我很幸運能看到一些人終得甘美的天路果實:你可能不認識他們的名字:Ted DeMoss(註1),Dean Parrack(註2),Ted Hubbard,Hank Grasmick和Jim Wilson(註3)。這些人都一生都致力於了解和服事他們的主。

你會成為他們其中的一員嗎?我會嗎?這取決於我們每一天的決定——如何分配上帝託付的時間、才能和財富。如果我們沒有忠心到底,就不會對其他人的生命產生積極的永恆影響。

※註1: Ted DeMoss(1925-1997)一直是國際CBMC的成員之一,他在70年代領導CBMC事工。一生志力於在工商專業中傳福音,他也是作家,著有 The gospel and the briefcase(福音和公事包)..等多本著作。你可以在美國CBMC的FB和網站中找到他的資料,和亞馬遜書店買到他的著作。

註2: Dean Parrack曾任職於IBM 擔任高管,一生志力於CBMC的事工,他也曾擔任 多年的CBMC國際理事長。

註3: Ted Hubbard,Hank Grasmick和Jim Wilson皆是作者認識的在工商界一起服事多年的同工。

Ken Korkow住在美國的內布拉斯加州歐馬哈市,是當地CBMC的會長。這篇文章經授權,節錄自他的所寫的「生命傳真」專欄。

反省與問題討論

  1. 你如何看待本篇作者終止訂閱多年新聞的作法?思考一下他的理由,你認為這是必要的嗎?你做過類似的事嗎?請解釋你的答案。
  2. 我們無關緊要的興趣,會阻撓我們完成上帝可能託付給我們的事嗎?
  3. 「以終為始」這句話是什麼意思?你如何把它應用在你個人和工作的領域中?
  4. 很多年前,一位名叫C.T. 斯托德的英國傳教士,寫了一首以這些話結尾的詩:「僅此短暫一生,僅有為基督所作之事永流傳。」請默想這段話。你是否同意他所說的?你認為人們如何能把這個價值觀運用在日常生活和工作中?

備註:如果你手上有聖經,希望閱讀更多相關的訊息,請參考下面的經文:因經文較長,考慮到篇幅和新舊約經文,您可以參閱下列未列出的經文: 傳道書3章2-13節、以弗所書5章16節):

傳道書3章1、14-17節

3:1 凡事都有定期,天下萬務都有定時。

3:14 我知道神一切所做的都必永存;無所增添,無所減少。神這樣行,是要人在他面前存敬畏的心。

3:15 現今的事早先就有了,將來的事早已也有了,並且 神使已過的事重新再來(或譯:並且 神再尋回已過的事)。

3:16 我又見日光之下,在審判之處有奸惡,在公義之處也有奸惡。

3:17 我心裏說, 神必審判義人和惡人;因為在那裏,各樣事務,一切工作,都有定時。

加拉太書6章9-10節

6:9 我們行善,不可喪志;若不灰心,到了時候就要收成。

6:10 所以,有了機會就當向眾人行善,向信徒一家的人更當這樣。

以弗所書6章10-20節

6:10 我還有末了的話:你們要靠著主,倚賴他的大能大力作剛強的人。

6:11 要穿戴 神所賜的全副軍裝,就能抵擋魔鬼的詭計。

6:12 因我們並不是與屬血氣的爭戰(原文是摔跤;下同),乃是與那些執政的、掌權的、管轄這幽暗世界的,以及天空屬靈氣的惡魔爭戰。

6:13 所以,要拿起 神所賜的全副軍裝,好在磨難的日子抵擋仇敵,並且成就了一切,還能站立得住。6:14 所以要站穩了,用真理當作帶子束腰,用公義當作護心鏡遮胸,

6:15 又用平安的福音當作預備走路的鞋穿在腳上。

6:16 此外,又拿著信德當作盾牌,可以滅盡那惡者一切的火箭;

6:17 並戴上救恩的頭盔,拿著聖靈的寶劍,就是 神的道;

6:18 靠著聖靈,隨時多方禱告祈求;並要在此警醒不倦,為眾聖徒祈求,

6:19 也為我祈求,使我得著口才,能以放膽開口講明福音的奧祕,

6:20 (我為這福音的奧祕作了帶鎖鍊的使者,)並使我照著當盡的本分放膽講論。

歌羅西書4章5-6節

4:5 你們要愛惜光陰,用智慧與外人交往。

4:6 你們的言語要常常帶著和氣,好像用鹽調和,就可知道該怎樣回答各人。


BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

By Ken Korkow

Two years ago, after having subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for more than 40 years and to the Omaha World-Herald for more than 30, I canceled both. They were consuming my time and I had concluded most of the news only represented a record of what our spiritual enemy, Satan, had done the day before.

Then, after returning to my home in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. after a weekend at my family’s ranch, I canceled my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Again because I have limited time and energy, and want to expend it while being focused on God’s higher purposes. I have finally come to this conclusion: I must concentrate on knowing God more intimately – and living for Him more intentionally.

Every day I ask the Lord to provide divine appointments and keep the time-wasters away – and He does it. I am allowed to participate in His divine purposes in ways I could never orchestrate. Life’s Highest Adventure is seeing where God is working and getting involved with what He is doing.

Recently I had an appointment with a Marine Corps veteran. We had no previous contact, so as we sat over lunch I went first in telling my story. When I do this, my intent to “blow them out, or blow them in” – because if someone isn’t serious about dealing with issues in their life, then now is not when they are ready for change and my time is better invested in other ways. But even if they do not seem interested, I do my best to leave the door open so that when their pain hurts enough, they might remember I cared enough to be honest and transparent – and that I said that I would be available.

Midway through sharing my story, this person stopped me. With tears he asked, “Can you be a Christian and still consider suicide?” Then this Marine veteran told me about a very serious suicide attempt the day before. He admitted that he should have been dead.

We did meet again, and the life transformation of this Marine has been amazing. The overflow of his life into the lives of other veterans is equally amazing. Others now want to meet, come to our ranch where we minister to veterans dealing with wartime trauma, or find out how a personal encounter with God might heal their pains.

I look at the life of Jesus Christ and recognize the truth of a statement Oswald Chambers made: “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him.” Christ ministered to people, but that ministry resulted from the overflow of God’s Spirit. In a similar way, I recognize more and more the necessity of marinating in God’s Word, and being alone to pray and listen. Which means eliminating unnecessary distractions.

Forty-eight years ago I earned my master’s degree in business administration. Today I recall only one thing of value from that huge investment of time and expense. That thing is: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.

My personal observation is that very few people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ finish well. They lose their desire to seek, grow and obey in their walk with God. When asked what they see the Lord doing in and through their lives, most people recount a story from 10 years ago. But I have been blessed to watch a few men finish well. You might not recognize their names, but they include Ted DeMoss, Dean Parrack, Ted Hubbard, Hank Grasmick and Jim Wilson. All finished their lives still devoted to knowing and serving their Lord.

Will you be one of those who finish well? Will I? We decide each day – by how we allocate the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted. If we do not finish well, we will have no positive eternal impact in the lives of others.

Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of the writer’s decision to terminate subscriptions to publications he had received for many years? Do you think this is necessary, based on his reasoning? Have you ever done anything like this? Explain your answer.
  2. How might interesting but unnecessary distractions keep us from pursuing the things God might have for us to do?
  3. What do you think the statement, “Begin with the end in mind,” means? How would you apply it to your own personal and professional circumstances?
  4. Many years ago a British missionary named C.T. Studd wrote a poem that ended with these words: “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Think about that for a few moments. Do you agree with what he said? How do you think someone can seek to apply that perspective in their everyday life and work?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1-17; Galatians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:16, 6:10-20; Colossians 4:5-6

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