- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

Excerpts of a sermon yesterday by Pastor Mark Batterson at National Community Church at Union Station.

Acts 17:26 says, “From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” In other words, you were born when you were born and where you were born by divine design. Your birthday and birthplace are anything but accidental. They are part of God’s predetermined plan for your life. You are part of a generation, and you have a generational responsibility.

Acts 13:36 is the greatest legacy anyone can leave. Who wouldn’t want this as an epitaph? It says, “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” David had pretty impressive credentials. He was the warrior; he defeated the Philistine giant named Goliath. He was a musician; his lyrics are still recorded in the Psalms. He was a king. But none of those things are his legacy. His legacy is Acts 13:36.

There’s a temptation to put David in a category by himself, but all of us have a generational responsibility. Everyone leaves a legacy. The question is whether or not we’re going to do it by design or by default. St. Augustine said that asking the legacy question, “What do I want to be remembered for?” is the beginning of adulthood.

Job 8:8 says, “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing.” Translation: Seek a mentor, someone who’s been around the sun a few more times than we have.

One of my favorite books is a collection of prayers by Peter Marshall. Peter Marshall was the pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and Senate chaplain in the 1940s. All of his prayers to open Senate sessions were recorded, and this is one from January 5, 1949. He prayed, “Our Father in heaven, give us the long view of our work and our world.” I think one of the greatest dangers we face is shortsightedness. Tom Kelly says, “We take time far more seriously than eternity.” Faith is taking the long view.

Hebrews 11:24 says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Underline the phrase “short time.” To put it into our vernacular: Moses delayed gratification. Why? He took the long view.

Several years ago I read a sociological survey that I’ve never forgotten. The survey interviewed 100 people over the age of 95 and asked them one question, “If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?” What a great question to ask a bunch of centenarians. There were lots of answers as you can imagine, but three themes emerged from the group. They said, “We’d risk more. We’d reflect more. And we’d do more things that live on after we die.”

In his book “Seven Secrets to Spiritual Success,” Wood Kroll shares something that could revolutionize your life if you put it into practice. He begins every day at the judgment seat of Christ. Kroll says, “In 1973, I decided I needed to begin every day at the judgment seat. After all, if everything we enjoy for all eternity is awarded at the judgment seat of Christ, shouldn’t we know now what the Lord is looking for in our lives, rather than wait until then, when it’s too late? Makes sense to me. So every day I start there and work backward.”

I think part of leaving a legacy is finding your niche. A few years ago I read about a boy that wrote a letter to Mother Teresa. He asked her how he could make a difference with his life, like she had with hers. Several months later he received a letter from Calcutta, India. The letter was four words long, but those four words were life-changing. Mother Teresa wrote, “Find your own Calcutta.”

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