Ten Actions That Will Save Your Life

In the last INsights & OUTbursts I listed ten actions that will ruin your life. Here are ten actions that will do the opposite; they will save your life.

  1. Respect God, love Him and trust in what He has said about Himself.
  2. Love people, not just yourself. Act to meet the needs of others and think of ways you can help them attain their goals, not just how they can meet your needs and goals. Don’t treat people as things to be used.
  3. Speak the truth about yourself, about others and about situations. Don’t present yourself as better, or worse, than you are.
  4. Recognize you are human and that you will sometimes mess up. Forgive yourself. If your error hurt others or you messed things up for them, admit to them you behaved badly, doing or saying the wrong thing, and ask for forgiveness. You cannot apologize your way out of a problem you behaved yourself into. If possible, clean up, pay back, or straighten out the mess you made.
  5. God designed us to live and work interdependently with others. Be thankful, therefore, for everything you receive from them and God.
  6. Enjoy your relationship with God, enjoy your family, interacting with the people around you, and find things to enjoy in your daily work.
  7. Set your life goal to accomplish something that involves God, something that is bigger than you and that will last beyond your lifetime. Work in the areas of your strengths and interests. Develop these through study, discipline and practice to become a skilled expert. Remember that the harder you work the luckier you get.
  8. When you fail in some aspect of life, don’t say, “If only . . . .” Instead say, “Next time . . . .” and formulate a plan to succeed.
  9. Have an accountability partner, someone who loves you and wants the best for you, whom you invite to critique your work, your behavior and your relationships. List some penetrating questions and ask your partner to ask you those questions regularly. Learn to listen to criticism from others, there just may be some truth in what they tell you.
  10. Develop a sense of humour. See the funny things in life. Take your service for God seriously, but never take yourself too seriously. Be fun to live with. Check with your spouse or friends occasionally to make sure you still are.

God gave each of us the power to choose and we use that power hundreds of times a day. Most of the choices we make are trivial. The ten in this list are not. They will save your life from ruin.

If you received this post via email, or if you read it on the blog but want to comment privately, please email your comments to me: jack_popjes@wycliffe.ca

© 2011 Jack D Popjes

Ph: 780 948-0082

Website: www.thewordman.ca

Something Worse than Mindless Bureaucracy

“Push Start,” the airport check in machine ordered. I pushed Start.

“Place your passport on the scanner.” I did so.

“Are you Jack Popjes traveling to Orlando via Houston on United?” I pushed Yes and obeyed a few more commands.

“Baggage fee $65. Insert your credit card.” I inserted my credit card.

“Take your receipt” I took my receipt,

“Take your boarding passes” I took my boarding passes

“Go to Gate C-15” I went to Gate C-15.

Oh, I did see some human hands reach out to attach routing tags to my two checked bags. At least I think they were human.

Did I mind being ordered about by this machine? Not at all! It recognized me as a human being; it met my needs and efficiently got me and my baggage checked in. I was a happy man.

Not so one night some months earlier as I drove through a small town at midnight. I was dead tired after two speaking engagements, and answering questions on missions. I longed to get home and to bed.

As I approached an intersection, the traffic light turned red and I stopped—automatic reflex. I looked to the left and to the right; no movement of any sort in either direction for blocks. No headlights behind me, none in the road ahead. The town was as lifeless as an abandoned movie set.

Why am I, a human being made in the image of Almighty God, waiting for a stupid machine to tell me I can go? Why do I have to sit here for two long minutes before I can drive on and finally crawl into bed?

I resented that mindless machine—dumb, unthinking, uncaring, oblivious of me and my needs—mechanically going through its cycle hour after hour. Its only power was in my conscience, my driving habits, and the fear that somewhere a policeman or a camera might record me violating that red-eyed order to stop and wait.

When it released me at last, I wondered why I felt so angry and resentful. Then it hit me. I had felt the same way during my decades of living in Brazil, probably one of the most heavily bureaucratised countries on earth. I used to take a full week off work to stand in endless lines just to renew a driver’s license.

But what is far worse is when churches unwittingly formulate policies that hinder the Holy Spirit’s leading. I remember a pastor telling me how many doctors, nurses, and Bible school teachers their denomination supported in Africa and Asia. I was much impressed and asked him, “What other ministries do you sponsor?”

“None”, he said, “we focus only on meeting medical needs and providing theological training.”

“But what happens when God equips a young couple in your congregation with the gifts and talents that fit them to meet other needs, like Bible translation? Would you support them financially?”

“Sorry, no we couldn’t. It’s against our rules.”

It was neither the first nor the last time I heard this explanation. It is worse than unthinking machines or mindless bureaucracy.

How could it have been the mind of Christ, the Spirit of Jesus, that inspired those rules?

Ten Actions That Will Ruin Your Life

When God made us in His own image, He gave us the ability to choose among options. Satan immediately perverted this ability resulting in Adam and Eve choosing to disobey God. And Satan continues his evil work, tempting us to make bad choices, and thereby limiting our options to live the full and productive lives God wants us to live.

To keep our options open and make wise choices, here are ten things to avoid doing.


  1. Kill yourself. This really limits your options for the future! Satan succeeds in leading people to kill themselves at a rate of one every 40 seconds worldwide. In North America suicide is the second leading cause of death for 25-34 year-olds, and the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds. Someone in Canada and the USA commits suicide every 16 minutes, or 91 per day.
  2. Damage yourself physically. Disfiguring burns, a broken spinal cord, a damaged brain or amputated limbs, slam shut the doors of a thousand opportunities currently open to you. Avoid thrill seeking activities that could result in serious physical damage.
  3. Fry your brain or ruin your body through drug or alcohol abuse.
  4. Commit a criminal act. You not only lose money through fines and years of your life through jail, but having a criminal record will keep you from getting a passport to travel to other countries and keep you out of many job positions.
  5. Get yourself or someone else pregnant outside of marriage. A baby severely limits your options. Even if you or the other person decide to legally murder your baby before it is born, neither one of you will be unscathed emotionally and spiritually.
  6. Borrow to live a lifestyle you cannot afford. Consumer debt will drastically constrict your future. It is like an amputated foot. It will cost you many of the best years of your life to get out of debt and do what you really want to do.
  7. Be careless of what kind of people you hang out with or what books you read. People and books are the two most influential forces in your life. Instead, make winners, not losers, your peers. Read books that build you, educate you, develop your interests and make you think.
  8. Live only for the here and now, doing it because it feels good with no thought for the future. Instead, use your God-given ability to imagine a better future, then work towards it using the abilities, talents and interests God has given you to make you unique. A life dream or goal will be a steady guide as you choose among options.
  9. Waste the opportunity to get a good education. Instead, choose an institution for higher education for what it can give you to help fulfill your goal, not just because a friend goes there. Save your money to get an education. You can even borrow money for education as it is more an investment than a debt, but only if you suck every bit of benefit out of your opportunity.
  10. Fall in love and marry someone who is not excited about your dream or life goal. One of you will lose out and your marriage will not be a happy one. Don’t even go out with someone who doesn’t share your dream. Have you noticed? People tend to marry those they hang out with.

The daily newspapers are filled with stories of people who are ruining their lives by doing one or more of these things. Don’t do them. Please God by living a productive life. Frustrate Satan. And stay out of the newspaper.


If you received this post via email, or if you read it on the blog but want to comment privately, please email your comments to me: jack_popjes@wycliffe.ca

© 2011 Jack D Popjes

Ph: 780 948-0082

Website: www.thewordman.ca

I’d Rather Be . . . .

In January of 1966, I loaded my pregnant wife and our two toddlers into an old Volkswagen van and drove 6,600 kilometres (4,000 miles) from Edmonton, Alberta, to a jungle survival training camp near the Guatamalan border in the southern tip of Mexico.

As part of our training, we recorded everything we did each day for a week on time sheets, marked off in 15 minutes segments. The totals at the end of that week staggered us. The hours we spent in classes, private study, and working on academic projects were minimal. Time for recreation and entertainment was zero. The rest of the time was maxed out with chopping wood, hauling water, preparing food, washing clothes, and keeping the rain out of our makeshift shelter. Work, work, work, just to keep ourselves fed, clean, and minimally rested. I was deeply frustrated.

Today, forty-five years later, I still get aggravated at how much time I need to spend in work other than what I want to do. “I’d Rather be Writing” would be a good sign on my study door. No, I’m not chopping wood, but I do resent the time I must spend on learning to run the computer programs I need in my writing ministry. And organizing email lists, marketing my books, and keeping income and expense records.

I’d Rather be Reading

What is God’s plan for our ministry and work life? First, He has given each of us different embryonic talents and latent abilities which we develop through diligent practice. He also bestows spiritual gifts like faith, evangelism, insight or service. When we work within the area of our native abilities or spiritual giftings, we enjoy our work which motivates us to work at it more. Eventually we become very good at it.

The apostle Paul urged Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.” 2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV). God gave us our abilities and spiritual gifts and wants us to develop and use them fully in ways that make Him look good.

In my case, I’d rather be writing, or speaking to a group, or teaching at a seminar, or reading in order to do a better job of these things. But what comes along with that for all of us? All those little jobs that make us feel like we are wrenches or screw drivers forced to do hammer work. We’re just not good at these jobs, they don’t fit us and we don’t enjoy doing them.  

God has made us unique, but He has not made us to live as independents. That is the second part of His plan. He designed us to live inter-dependently, as a community, each of us operating in the area of our strengths, not only meeting our own needs but those of others. God wants people within a community to reach out and help each other. This concept directly contradicts our North American culture which glorifies rugged independence and the pride that comes when we can personally meet all our own needs.

The third part of God’s plan deals with times when we are forced to work in an area of weakness. It may be something we personally must do. Or maybe we are in a situation where there simply is no one around who can help us. That’s when we need to pray, “Holy Spirit, please give me the power and self-discipline to do this job well.” It’s a prayer based on the rest of what Paul wrote Timothy, “. . . the Spirit God gave us . . . gives us power . . . and self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV).

Work in the area of your native abilities as much as possible, live inter-dependently within a community and when all else fails, trust God to give you the power and self-discipline to see you through.

Less frustration. More production. I like it.


If you received this post via email, or if you read it on the blog but want to comment privately, please email your comments to me: jack_popjes@wycliffe.ca

© 2011 Jack D Popjes

Ph: 780 948-0082

Website: www.thewordman.ca