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Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

Horace, a Roman poet (65 BC – 8 BC), coined the term, Carpe Diem,” which is popularly translated as “Seize the Day”; however, the original phrase (in latin) was actually a bit longer–Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future” since the future is unforeseen (quote source here).

The phrase was made popular in the 1989 film, Dead Poets Society,” starring Robin Williams as an English instructor at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in Vermont in 1959 who inspires his students through the teaching of poetry regarding the dangers of conformity and going along with the crowd and, instead, to “Seize the Day” by thinking for themselves and not following after the status quo (see my blog post, Risky Business,” for a discussion on this topic).

This same message should be heeded by Christians today regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see my blog post, There Is No Other Gospel). We should not automatically follow after the many “Christian celebrities” that have arrived on the scene in the past few decades just because they call themselves Christian and teach a message you want to hear. While some are quite legitimate, many are not and preach a “different gospel” as addressed by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

Let’s read what Paul had to say in his opening lines in his letter to the Galatians: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all [emphasis mine]. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-10).

1 John 4:1 (MSG) clearly states, “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.” And, there is a huge crowd of folks following after these false teachers and false prophets in our world today.

So how do we become discerning Christians so as not to be easily duped by the many different messages being thrown at us from all directions in our society? Romans 12:1-2 has the answer, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We are admonished to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world, so let’s start with the physical aspect of these two verses. When was the last time you thought about offering your body as a living sacrifice to God as a spiritual act of worship? And what exactly does that mean? It means that everything we do with our bodies should be done with the knowledge that our bodies, while given to us, belong to God (if we are Christian) and everything we do with them should be God-honoring. That should give us pause for thought every single day as to how we are treating our bodies regarding how we eat, how we dress, how we physically interact with others, how we take care of it or how we abuse it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent most of my life not even considering a lot of the ways in which I abuse my body–for example, by overeating. In the past year I’ve started taking a lot more consideration towards this body of mine and how I can honor God with it and stop abusing and using it for selfish purposes. A big part of that for me has been to stop eating most of the “crap” food I’ve filled it with for so many years (I’m still not perfect at this but much improved from past years) and exercise on a regular, consistent basis (previously, exercise wasn’t even in my vocabulary and was as good a definition for anathema as any I’ve ever known). I now do a 55-minute non-stop exercise DVD pretty much seven days a week (and at least five days a week without question). And I’ve lost 50 lbs so far from my top weight in April 2010, and 35 of it just this past year.

So, give it some thought about how you can start honoring God with your body–yes, your physical body. Ask Him to give you wisdom to know what to do. He’ll give it to you if you are really serious (see James 1:5-8).

Now let’s address the second part of these two verses–being transformed by the renewing of our mind. There is only one way to stop being conformed by this world and all of its messages and start being transformed by the renewing of our mind and that’s through daily prayer (literally talking to God through His Son, Jesus Christ) and reading the Bible (really reading–meditating–and not just blowing it off quickly as something we have to do). Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Message Bible states it like this, “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.”

Recently, I read an excellent devotion by Dr. Charles Swindoll regarding this very topic of spending time with God and I want to share it with you:

Time With God

Exodus 3

I was raised to believe in the importance of a “quiet time” . . . .

The Scriptures are replete with references to the value of waiting for the Lord and spending time with Him. When we do, the debris we have gathered during the hurried, busy hours of our day gets filtered out. With the debris out of the way, we are able to see things more clearly and feel God’s nudgings more sensitively.

When David wrote, “Wait for the LORD: be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14), he was intimately acquainted with what that meant. When he admitted, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1), it was not out of a context of unrealistic theory. The man was hurting, in great pain.

Time with God? Who experienced its value more than Job after losing it all? Remember his confession? What makes it even more remarkable is that he stated it while surrounded by those who accused him: “But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:10-12).

That’s it! That is exactly what occurs when we remove ourselves from the fast track and keep our appointment with Him who made us. What great thoughts He has for us, what insights, what comfort, what reassurance!

And the best part of all is that such divine breakthroughs come so unexpectedly. Though you and I may have met in solitude with God morning after morning, suddenly there comes that one day, like none other, when He reveals His plan . . . and we are blown away.

Understand, those phenomenal moments are the exception, not the rule. If God spoke to us like that on an everyday basis, burning bushes would be as commonplace as traffic lights and ringing phones. Fact is, never again in all of time has the voice of God been heard from a bush that refused to be consumed with flames. You see, God is into original works, not duplicated recordings.

But never doubt it; He still longs to speak to waiting hearts . . . hearts that are quiet before him.

Keep your daily appointment with God.
It’s the one meeting you can’t afford to miss.
Don’t be late!

Source: Day by Day by Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 174
Word Publishing, Thomas Nelson, 2000

So what are you waiting for?

Go out there and SEIZE THE DAY!!!

YouTube Video: Scene from Dead Poets Society (1989) starring Robin Williams (scene length: 5 minutes, 29 seconds):

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