The Value of an Hour

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the value of an hour. By the value of an hour I do not solely mean what your employer and you have decided is a fair compensation per hour, although that certainly is encompassed within. I mean a more broad concept:

how much is each hour of your day worth?


Let’s say you work 40-50 hours a week, and you have roughly 40-50 hours of discretionary time besides that. This time can be spent with kids, with loved ones, golfing, playing poker or Blackjack, perhaps even building toy boats. In the simplest of terms, those latter hours are worth at least more than what a part-time job would pay. To put it another way, your discretionary time is worth at least 15-35 bucks an hour depending on your skill and job availability.

But money is not even the primary reason you don’t work during those discretionary hours. You primarily don’t work those hours because you value the things you do during those discretionary hours. Even if you do nothing productive; you may find watching endless crime show re-runs on TNT or looking at YouTube until 4:00 am is more valuable than working. Even if you work an exorbitant amount, you do so to obtain the things you value. And some people simply value working and being productive – such a weird concept.

The reality is that every hour of your day has value. The hours you sleep have value, the hours you eat have value, as do work, play and so on.

Each hour of my day has value because it is a chance to enjoy something or someone that has value to me. Perhaps the greatest travesty of all is spending one’s time on something one does not value.

Now you cannot accidentally achieve the greatest value possible out of your relationships and endeavors. You can place a value on them flippantly, but you cannot consistently achieve the maximum amount of value from them flippantly.

In response to these thoughts I have sought to list out the things that have value to me. List out the amount of time I have to work towards achieving said value. To identify the ways that I spend my hours not achieving the enjoyment of the things I value. And intentionally seeking ways to increase my enjoyment of the things I value by spending my time wisely. In essence, increasing the value I expect to enjoy every hour of every day.

“Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”
– Ecclesiastes 9:9-10


NT Wright, John Piper, & Matt Chandler on Justification

What is the doctrine of Justification?  Well this has been a hotly debated question in recent years within Christian theology.  Justification boils down to what gives us right standing when we stand before God for judgment.  On what basis can we plead our case before the Creator of the Universe and be found to be good?

Trevin Wax has posted a helpful synopsis of the ongoing debate between John Piper and NT Wright on this matter which you can read here.

So why should you be concerned about all of this?  Why should it matter to the layman Christian if John Piper and NT Wright want to carry on a debate about justification?  Great question and probably one that deserves to be answered above any other.

Truth is just about everyone you meet is in the process of trying to justify themselves.  We are constantly comparing and contrasting ourselves with our friends, peers, and those around us.  We receive a boost of “self-esteem” when we find others who fail or sin more than we do.  Our culture encourages us to strive to be better than others and all of us our caught up in the cycle of doing so.  In the deep chasms of our thought lives it gets even darker; we can even take joy at the failures of others because it raises us and makes us feel a little better.  It is why we have become a culture that sensationalizes and mocks the failures of the famous and well known.

Bottom line we are all DEEPLY self-righteous and seeking to justify ourselves… How foolish.

In the best sermon I have heard in some time and one that struck me to the core was Matt Chandler’s recent sermon on Luke 18:9-14 titled “Christ Alone.”  Listen to it as Chandler unpacks the deepest reality of our need for justification and the truth that no doctrine is of greater practical importance to all of us than how we stand justified before God.


The Brothers Karamazov

I had to read this great work of literture in high school but blew it off and just bought the cliff notes.  I am now atoning for that sin.  The sin of cheating myself of such a marvelous book.  Some have said that Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov is the greatest novel ever written.  While it is still to early for me to second this opinion I have already found it deeply profound and enjoyable.

Dostoevsky plumbs into the deepest questions of life in his novel as he tackles; the orgin of evil, nature of freedom, search for meaning, human nature and pshycology, and most important the existence of God.

Here is one line that has ruptured my thinking over the last day.

“Suffering is life. Without suffering what would be the pleasure of it?  It would be transformed into an endless church service; it would be holy, but tedious.”

I encourage you to pick this one up over the summer and enjoy.  While the book may be dense and consider a hard read, the reward is well worth it and given to those who willing.


You Need The Gospel Everyday

I have begun in recent months to preach, or hear the gospel every morning to start my day.  I read it, listen to it, and watch it.  I want the gospel to permeate all of my life all of the time and be ready to share it with others in a clear compelling manner.

Here is Mark Driscoll doing an amazing job of preaching the gospel.  Start your day off with hearing it and think about it through the day.

A Twitter’s (Matt) Dream Situation

I think there is a reason the Lord will never give me Bill Gates money.  And that is because I would devote the rest of my life to making things like this happen.

(HT: Denny Burk)


You And Your Bible

There are many important relationships in your life and they all deserve your attention and care.  But there is one that many Christians have been to neglectful of, and that is the relationship you have with your Bible.

When it comes down to it most Christians know the right things to say about the Bible.  They will tell you that it is the word of God and that people need to read it for revelation and spiritual transformation.

Of course when Christians are told they need their Bible a measure of guilt sets in and from that follows legalism.  We are then prone to set up a reading plan or 10 mins in which we can blow through a few passages and then move on to doing more fun things like Facebooking or watching re-runs of Scrubs (I am guilty of the second).

Yet by having such a poorly functioning relationship with the Bible we are all being cheated of Spirit-filled transformation that God would have for us.

Bonhoeffer says it well:

We must learn to know the Scriptures again, as the Reformers and our fathers knew them.  We must know the Scriptures first and foremost for the sake of our salvation.  But besides this, there are ample reasons that make this requirement exceedingly urgent.  How, for example, shall we ever attain certainty and confidence in our personal and church activity if we do not stand on solid biblical ground?  It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s word.

Did you get that?  All the decisions, dreams, ambitions, and values you have will not determine your ultimate destiny more than what you glean from God’s word.  Scripture shapes us, it fuels us, and determines your direction.

Your relationship with your Bible is of the utmost importance and one you cannot afford to neglect.


Summer Reading List

My brother in-law and I recently had an email exchange in which I listed out some books I would recommend for summer reading.  Thought I would post my recommendations here for others in case your looking for some good books to read this summer.

1.  Displines of Grace by Jerry Bridges.  This is the best book I have read this year.  In fact it is so good that I never had to mark my page because I just had to find the last page that was highlighted.  I am planning to start reading again in the next month.

2. Prodigal God by Keller.  Not sure if you have read this but it has made the second read list for me.  It might be very helpful given your traditional culture you find yourself in as it has great insight into how to love the “older brother.”

3. Kingdom Triangle by JP Moreland.  Another great book about the culture we live in and the spirit-filled life God is calling us to.

4.  Finally Alive by John Piper.  This is the second best book I have read this year as it takes on the doctrine of Regeneration at a practical and biblical level like I have never encountered.  Sadly, many of us Christians understand how we are saved (the doctrine of Justification) but not what we are saved into (A new creation in Christ).  Read this book slowly and follow along with all the biblical references to see how regeneration is all over the Bible.

The Institutes by John Calvin.  The edition I am reading can be found here. I was told by some profs at seminary that it is the best one. and I have been deeply edified by reading The Institutes as I am now at the half point of my year long read through of the Institutes.