What is the Devil's Treadmill?
Are you on it?
If you wish to
purchase the book ...
"THE DEVIL'S TREADMILL"
For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not."
The days are bumper-to-bumper, Lord
The deadlines, the pressures
The list of things to do keep funneling into my schedule,
Until I feel like one monumental traffic jam!
I've nearly concluded that it is after all
My own fault!
There is no time for quiet reflection, for pause or beauty
There is no time to think!
When the blank spaces do occur in my schedule
I feel I have been so rushed that now I owe it to myself
just to vegetate!
When will I learn to live a controlled life without apology?
Help me to learn, to say Yes and No at the right times.
Is that you? Are you on the devil's treadmill?
Be honest with yourself now! If you were to have an interview with Jesus, like Nicodemus did, what would Jesus say to you? Oh, you would have a few questions to ask of Jesus, just like Nicodemus did. But, I believe Jesus would go right to the heart of the issue in your life. One of those things He would tell you is to get off the devil's treadmill.
Why? Because your time is your life ... period. How you spend it ends up being what your life is. No matter what you want to do, wish you had done, plan to do, or fantasize about doing, the final reality is that your life is how you spent your time.
Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a stricter account than of our time. Satan knows this and has invented innumerable diversions for each and every one of us. He knows that the world's incessant labor ends in nothingness.
We are admonished in Ephesians 5:16 to "redeem the time." The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains, by being coworkers with God in all that we do.
Spending our life on the d
's treadmill is one of the greatest curses that afflicts Christianity today. There is an old saying-"They stumble who run fast." Are you stumbling? What would your spouse say? What would your children say? Overwork almost always causes a loss of self-control. But the Lord never compels hurried, complicated movements. So many of us gather to ourselves burdens that the merciful Heavenly Father did not place on us. Duties He never designed us to perform chase us daily. God desires us to realize that we do not glorify His name when we take so many burdens that we are overtaxed, and becoming heart weary and brain weary, chafe and fret and scold. We are to bear only the responsibilities that the Lord gives us, trusting in Him, and thus keeping our hearts, our marriages, and our families as little lights in the world.
I simply must get the bills paid this morning, and the shopping can't wait another day. And my children! I've had so little time to be with them lately that we hardly seem like a family anymore. Maybe I can read them a story tonight, or take them to the park, or go on a picnic, or go to the zoo.
And I mustn't neglect my own body. Exercise is important, and I've got to find time for that. Perhaps I could run with Paul after work, or maybe Dan would like to play racquetball. Bill said we should get together to play golf. You know my annual physical is overdue too. And I ought to be reading more. There's this new book out that all my friends say is terrific. Everyone knows it's important to keep your mind active, so I just shouldn't neglect the newspaper. If I could get into bed and hour earlier each night, or get up one hour earlier in the morning, I could do plenty of reading then.
And we should be taking more time to maintain our spiritual lives. That's one area we cannot afford to neglect. Maybe we could start a Bible study with another couple. And we should set aside an hour in the morning and evening for prayer and study.
And what about our social obligations? We can't expect to have friends if we never get together. The Jones' have had us over twice now, and I know they're waiting for us to reciprocate. We'll just have to set a date and keep it, that's all.
And my job is requiring more time now. I can't be neglecting that. And honey, are you sure you have time for that part-time job of yours-after all, the children?
And there are so many things that need fixing and repairing around the house. And I told Cliff I'd help him with his new project.
't forget you must do all your canning this month. I know I promised to take you out for dinner, but can't that wait until after we visit the relatives next month?
You know there's work that needs to be done at the church too. And the income taxes are due next month also. I'd better block out some time for that! And I . . . excuse me, the phone is ringing; I've got to answer the phone. And my emails-I just haven't gotten to them recently. And honey, can you update our Facebook page, so everybody knows we're a great family?
Excuse me there's a text coming in . . .
One GIANT treadmill-are you on it?
In a letter from
Martin Luther to Melanchthon, his companion and cohort, Luther stated, "I hate with exceeding hatred those extreme cares which consume you. If the cause is unjust, abandon it." So, what does God think of our busy schedules? He knows that fast lives crowd out our time with Him, our spouses, and our children. All of us must ask ourselves what is most important and most needful?
In the above quote from Martin Luther, he stated "if the cause is unjust, abandon it." What Martin Luther was saying to his friend and cohort is totally biblical. It is called pruning. I
n John 15:1,
2, Jesus gives us a biblical object lesson on pruning. He says, in effect: I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn't produce and prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops. Ouch,
Are you saying that I must eliminate 'good' from my schedule so that the remaining priorities can be enhanced and developed? Precisely!
Any gardener or anyone owning an orchard knows that the
excessive foliage that draws away the life current from the fruit must be pruned away. The overgrowth must be cut out to develop the most precious fruit. What is the overgrowth or excessive foliage in your life? We all have it, but we cling to it as though we were going to lose an arm or leg. Why is that? Perhaps as Christians we feel we've gotten rid of all the bad in our life-and now we must get rid of the good? Yes! If we don't eliminate the good, it crowds out the best. That is exactly what was happening in my life. So, I got out the pruning knife. Before I list what I pruned away, please be assured I'm not telling you what to prune away. There is only one person that can rightfully guide you through this process of eliminating the good to enhance the best-God and God alone!
Letter from a Pastor'
"When I called you, it was because prior to this I had come to the conviction that I needed to slow down, get on a schedule, and spend a lot more time in prayer and in the Word of God than I was already spending. I realized that my husband was not going to join me in my New Year's resolution. Nonetheless, I needed to be committed alone. I understood the concept of good, better, best. I truly wanted to choose the best. I have failed so miserably. I feel trapped right now. I have, somehow, scheduled myself so tight with cooking schools, Sabbath school teacher and leader, personal ministries leader for basically two churches, ingathering coordinator for two churches, health and temperance leader, community service helper, VBS leader and teacher for two churches, newsletter and sometimes bulletin editor, plus going every single month downstate (a seven-hour
drive one way) for conference meetings with my husband. I need also to attend LRM seminars for personal ministries leaders and other yearly meetings (about six) with my husband having to do with the ministry, plus board meetings I must attend because I have all these offices in the respective churches. As I'm writing this to you, it seems crazy to me, in light of the work of sanctification that needs to be done in my own life, and being able to keep up with my home duties, in which my husband does not systematically cooperate with. I am also in charge of the finances of our home, and assist him as secretary many times. What do I quit? Where do I start? My life is a constant chase after unfinished tasks and upset people, forgetting many details along the way, being late to places, and having to put up with an angry husband almost every day, who continues to call out all my shortcomings, and demands perfection out of me when I forget something or not have things done exactly how he thinks they ought to have been done. Can you help me?"
My response in extreme brevity was, "We are to assume only those responsibilities God places on us! So, schedule in the best, and eliminate all the rest." Easily said, but so very hard to do.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Here is what God asked me to eliminate or prune away, and perhaps you can pick up a few pruning tips for your own life. I pruned away...
- The TV
- The daily newspaper
- News magazines
- Competitive sports
- Armchair sports
- Excess social obligations
- Inappropriate family expectations
- Trimmed back my business-hours and income
- Over involvement in church positions, boards, and activities
- Learned how to delete emails
- Moved into a smaller home with no mortgage
- Went from five vehicles to one with no loan
- No pets
- Huge rummage sale
- Presently I have not allowed social media to intrude into my life
Simplicity is truly a stern discipline of all our life's activities. This is not a new sort of legalism, but a way to allow space for a full, daily walk with God, an irresistible marriage, a Christ-centered family, and time to touch other people's lives. Certainly,
's quiet and simple life, and even the silence of the Scriptures concerning his early years, teach an important lesson. To me that lesson is this: The more quiet and simple the life, the freer from artificial excitement, and the more in harmony with nature, the more favorable it is to our physical, mental, and spiritual strength. There are so many who dwell with interest upon the period of Jesus' public ministry, while they pass unnoticed the teaching of his early years. Keep it 'Simple'!
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you now? Is He asking you to get out of debt? to clear out your mortgages, car loans, and credit cards? Perhaps He's asking you to move to a quiet country setting and remove all the distractions and all that is artificial? I believe that God is whispering in your ear right now what He'd have you to do. Are you listening?
It worked for my family. Not that it's finished in our lives yet, but it's working friends; it's working! Do you need to get off the d
's treadmill and simplify your life to bring the love of Jesus into your life, your marriage, and your family? What are you waiting for?
A Note from My Sister
While standing in the pulpit in Idaho, I was passed a note which read, "
. Call sister immediately!" As soon as I finished in the pulpit, I dialed my sister Louise. When she came to the phone, she was in tears. She stated, "I can't believe you called so quickly." My response was, "Listen Sis, I love you-there's nothing I wouldn't do for you. What is it?"
Louise had just come from the doctor, and he told her to either make changes immediately or make out her last will and testament. Yes, it had come to that. She had bleeding ulcers, anemia, and precancerous cells. She was as close to a physical and nervous breakdown as anyone I'd ever known. She had gotten caught up in chasing the myth ... the myth that positions, possessions, people, places, and pleasures were what life consisted of. These are fictitious promises of the devil, and he will keep you on his treadmill chasing them until it's too late. Louise died of pancreatic cancer at age sixty-four. Oh, how I miss her!
Just a Few Bible Texts
"A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Luke 12:15
"A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked." Psalm 37:16
"Better is a handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit."
"Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." 2 Timothy 3:4
A Focused Life
God says, "Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to left." Proverbs 4:25-27 How do we do this? How do we live a controlled life? A focused life? A life of balance? A life off the d
's treadmill? Very simply! You must filter everything through an evaluation process with God.
First you must have a filter. Sally's and my filter consists of five priorities. You'll have to decide what your filters are and what your priorities are. Perhaps God may speak to you with what He has shown us.
Our Filter and Priorities
A daily walk with God!
A Christ-centered family!
Living a simple life!
Touching others' lives!
Now that we have our filter in place, which is also our life's purpose defined, then we ask ourselves one simple question of everything in our life, as well as any new options that present themselves.
One Simple Question
"Is it worthy of our Time-
-Energy-and Talent in lieu of eternity and the values we have chosen?" Then we delete or say 'NO' to all that is unworthy of our time,
, energy, and talent. Or we say 'Yes,' and allow it to enhance our life's purpose.
People thought we were nuts, fanatical, and had gone off the cliff. Had we? If you compared us to the culture around us, even the Christian culture, we probably had. I can honestly tell you that God didn't think we were nuts; nor did my queen, my two young boys, or the hundreds of thousands of people God has allowed us to reach through our twelve books, dozens of CDs and DVDs, worldwide preaching in over twenty countries, and YouTube videos. What a full life it has been! Even at age seventy we are still holding to these priorities and asking ourselves the big question: "Is it worthy of our Time -
- Energy - and Talent?"
Less Attempted- More Achieved
"If you aim at nothing, you are likely to hit it." I am told that less than 3% of Americans have a true, life purpose defined and a plan for accomplishing it. Yet the 3% who work their plan accomplish 50 to 100 times more during their lifetime than those who drift with the flow and have no set goals or boundaries. No matter how good their intentions are, Satan invariably gets them on his treadmill and keeps them distracted, disappointed, discouraged, and they end up as foolish virgins in the end.
Sally and I have chosen voluntary confinement from all that would distract us from our life's priorities. We choose daily to put limits on our activities, to restrict our involvement, to restrict our projects, and to daily say "No" gracefully. All this is done through the simple two-step process I have shared with you, and then asking ourselves, one other question, "Lord what would thou have me to do." Acts 9:6 No we don't just decide these things on our own. We bring everything before God, because He has the advance knowledge that we so desperately need. At times we questioned whether we wanted to allow God in on the pruning process. Many feel they lose control of their life. But the truth of the matter is they became slaves and in bondage to their lifestyles, while Sally and I were at liberty to live the most fulfilling life a man and woman could live.
What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you now? Are you listening? We have been seduced, and it's time you let go and let God. I'm told that the Africans have a unique way of catching a monkey. They cut a hole in the top of a coconut shell just large enough to get a monkey's hand into it, attach a string through the other end and tie it to a tree. Then they place the
's favorite food in the coconut and hide, waiting. The monkey comes down out of the tree, sticks its hand in the coconut, and grasps all that he can get. When the natives appear, he is unwilling to let go, to obtain his liberty. Is that you?
Questions for Discussion
What will be the final analysis of your life and the lives of the little ones God has loaned to you?
- Liberty or bondage-which will you choose?
- When will you get off the devil's treadmill?
- What do you really care about?
- What is worthy of your time?
- What is worthy of your over commitment?
- What are you spending your life on that outweighs a loving relationship between a husband and wife, between a parent and child, between you and your God?
- What is God's real purpose for your life?
Blessing From Above,
Jim & Sally