Home > Commentary > Why I struggle with the “One Month to Live” Approach

Why I struggle with the “One Month to Live” Approach

Let me start by stating that I don’t disagree with the concept that people should be aware of just how valuable time is.  Time IS our most valuable commodity because its true quantity is unknown to the individual.

The world of commerce operates on a supply versus demand paradigm.  As demand grows and supply decreases, value goes up.  If we use that same process with the days of our lives, we understand that with each passing day the supply decreases which should impact our awareness of the value of each day’s passing.  However, we still have to take into account our own  ‘demand’ in response to the waning number of days we have.  We still have to desire to live in order to fully appreciate the passing of time.

Being human, we are unable to peer into the next moment, the next day, or even the next week.  We have no promise that we will experience any of those moments, yet we continue to move forward in life as if we have no less days to live than we did the day before.   On the surface, that last statement seems to lend support to a concept that would encourage people to face their mortality.

But let me raise this question:  if a doctor were to tell you today that you only had one month to live, would your activities following that pronouncement be indicative of a person living life to its fullest or of a person preparing to die?

Think about it.

  • Would you continue to work at your job (assuming that your health would allow you to do so)?
  • Would you spend more time with loved ones, if so, why?
  • Would you try to accomplish some of your ‘bucket list’ items?
  • Would you make sure that your funeral arrangements are in place?

If I am being honest, I would answer NO to the first one and YES to the last three questions in that list.  Those don’t seem to be bad things for a person facing their mortality to entertain and accomplish.  Here is what I recognize about myself when I answer those questions – I become more personal legacy driven than kingdom focused.  I begin to hoard my precious time to satisfy my wants and desires because I have a very determined opinion about their value.

I think that God in His wisdom gave us no promises about anything more than the moment that we are in knowing that it is impossible to live like each moment is our last from a human objective.  He gives us ample scripture to recognize that whatever lifespan we have in this present reality is but a vapor in the grand expanse of eternity.  I don’t believe He did that so that we would live like we were dying.  It is my belief that He wanted us to live like we were alive and a part of a greater kingdom than this present reality.  I would say that scripture supports the belief that we are to ask to be kingdom agents each day (Lord’s Prayer).  I would also propose that God’s Word gives us instruction on how to do that.

I like a book that shows us how to be part of a life that is much larger and more abundant than any that we can accomplish as part of leaving a personal legacy – that is a book about eternal beginnings instead of temporal endings.

And here is something worth chewing on.  God’s ability to supply is always greater than any demand that can be placed on Him.  The value of the days of my life get lost in a greater economy when I shift my focus from what is happening to me and instead focus on what is happening with the kingdom of God.

Paul, in the book of Philippians, gives us an example of what that type of life looks like.  He writes to those in the church of Philippi that he is ready to go home but he is also willing to stay for their benefit.  He says it this way:

For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

It was Paul that also said in the book of Philippians that all that he had accomplished before Christ was dung.  His days found surpassing value only in the knowledge of Christ.  Let the church discover those truths and she will live ready to leave and willing to stay.

Having said all of that, let me be clear that I am not an opponent to the book titled “One Month to Live”.  It espouses solid values that are good and commonsensical for anyone reading it.  My disagreement is with the authors’ approach to bringing across those values and the church’s reliance on it as a tool to evangelize or instruct.  We have a much more solid approach that is above reproach that is still as fresh and vibrant as the day the authors penned the words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

(Addendum:  WordPress automatically selects other blog postings that may be in the same topic as the principle post being read.  I followed one of those links and really enjoyed what the author had to say about kingdom builders.  I hope you will take some time and read itKingdom Builders or Church Builders )

  1. January 4, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Hey Tony: good & thoughtful post. I have the book and even started reading it but found myself unable to get into it. Not sure yet why. Perhaps my stage in life right now or maybe because i think that life should be lived full out no matter how long I have to live it. Perhaps tim mcgraw’s song has some truth to it: live like you were dying. in reality we are anyway. rather than focus on the “one month to live” scenario I prefer to focus on “live each day full bore.”

    • January 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm


      There is a lot of human legacy emotional appeal attached to Tim McGraw’s song and I have thought about it a lot since I was introduced to this book. What that song teaches us and my fear about the approach to the book that the Shook’s have penned is that death, at the very least, is a motivation for life or, at the worst, something we dread.

      Either of those two ‘motivations’ are not biblical viewpoints. Oh death where is your sting, grave where is your victory?!! Paul in his maturity looked forward to what death would bring – Christ in His fullness, but realized that the life given him on this earth was something to be celebrated by carrying forth the kingdom. The Christian has abundant life when the physical life or physical death equate to the same thing – Christ!

      Why don’t we teach people from the Word about how to live like Christ made a difference in their lives?

      I wonder if that prospect is not ‘sexy’ enough for the new-age church. I actually heard someone say yesterday when presenting the book, “One Month to Live”, as a fresh way to reach the lost community.

      First. The book is not addressed to unbelievers.

      Second. To state that it is a fresh way means that the old ways are stale or outdated. Since when did the gospel message as presented in the Word of God become outdated and stale requiring a fresh way to reach the lost outside of its teachings?

      I am saddened by the implications that these types of endeavors point to. Dr. David Jeremiah was preaching this morning on the radio and read from RC Sproul’s book, “Knowing Scripture”, about the Sensuous Christian. RC wrote the book back in the 1970’s but it sure looks like a lot of what is happening in the church today when we are trying to create experienced based religion instead of Word based, Holy Spirit driven, changed-life, kingdom advancing discipleship.

      thanks for stopping by, Bill… I didn’t mean to ramble on so… but I am perplexed.

  2. January 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I definitely see what you are saying Tony. Sort of like the old “scare ’em in the back door” type of theology that used to be so prevalent. Since i didn’t finish reading the book I can’t comment on what you have said in that I can’t say much about the book’s approach. But i do agree with you that the book (as I understand it) should not be a new approach to reach the lost. They already know they are dying. They really need to know how to live and what Christ offers.

  3. Don Smith
    January 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Great Post Tony. I know when I’ve talked to people about the Lord more times than not I use a phrase like, “we aren’t guaranteed our next breath” to emphasize the importance of a decision to be made before the end of our conversation. Being a procrastinator myself I can say if you give a procrastinator a minute he’ll take two. Likewise if you give him 30 days, he’s likely to take 60.

    • January 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks for you comments, Don. I appreciate your input and thoughts. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow… not the lost.. nor the found.

      We have this moment to be obedient.

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