“Every decade possesses a particular characteristic. It comes into focus without announcement or awareness as the years unfold. Not suddenly, but quietly. Almost imperceptibly.”

Swindoll, Charles R.. Strengthening Your Grip (p. 7). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

That’s how, years ago, Chuck Swindoll introduced his important and helpful study on how to “get a grip” on many important things – not the least of which is – the Christian faith.

Where do we start our own journey on the same topic. Where he did – on PRIORITIES.

It has been said so often it is cliche’.  “Get your priorities straight!”  We might hear it from our boss at work, our spouse at home, our parents, even our preacher (oops.)  We hear it so often that it is tempting to tune it out.

Don’t give in to that temptation.  It’s the beginning of the end.  (How’s that for starting on a nice, positive note?)

Seriously, understanding what our life priorities are and putting everything else in proper perspective is where it all begins and ends.

The Old Testament put it in this nice, old, rather stuffy, but absolutely true way….

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Anything – and anyone – can become an idol to us.  It takes dedicated effort to make sure that we study deeply, and faithfully apply, the Biblical principles which will take us down a path of life instead of a dead end.

In recalling a line from a book titled The Tyranny of the Urgent,  “Don’t let the urgent take the place of the important in your life,” Swindoll reminded us of how easy it is to get so busy dealing with all the important and urgent things in our life – we lose our grip on the most important thing of all – our relationship with God.

Soon I will celebrate being an ordained minister for 40 years.  I am currently in my 13th year of serving a wonderful congregation with people my wife and I have come to deeply love.  I am also a pastoral counselor.  Every single week I work with individuals, couples, and families whose pain is so deep sometimes it keeps me up at nights.  Having said all this, let me tell you what I know, deep in my bones, and in the very core of my spirit…

The answer to all your problems – no matter what they are – is to be found in a deep, loving relationship with the holy, loving, merciful God found in the Bible.

You may or may not have had a good relationship with God up to this point.  You may or may not think you know very much about the Bible.  Frankly, I think the institutional Church, has in too many cases done a terrible job of helping people find that relationship.

But I pray you won’t ever give up on finding it because time, and time, and time again I have found it is the way that people who thought there was no hope found hope.  It is the transforming power of that relationship that gives people a fresh new chance.

  •   Not psychological theory (and I know quite a lot of it)
  • Not money
  • Not finding the “perfect” mate
  • Not traveling the world
  • Not mixing the perfect drink
  • Not vaping
  • Not working 160 of 168 hours a week
  • Not playing video games
  • Not electing the right politician
  • Not being a member of the right political party
  • Not….well, you get the picture.

So, since I can hear you saying, stop preaching and start helping,  OK, here you go – today, find some time to meditate on this scripture.  Don’t just read over it quickly.  Read over it slowly, prayerfully, with an open mind and open heart.

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, souls and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Tyndale. Life Application Study Bible NIV (Kindle Locations 82927-82929). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Then, ask yourself this one question: “What should my priorities be in light of this?”

And this, “Do I have my priorities straight or not?”

If you find, like I do each time I read that scripture, that you need to re-order your priorities and get back on track, then pray for God to help you do it – right now.  I promise you, God will.

Life is too short, to waste it, doing any less.





By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: