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Archive for the tag “Life of Significance”

Making a Difference

It just doesn’t make sense. The news was bad. It takes time to process and after you do, it still makes no sense. You might think I am writing about the political landscape, but what I share is death. Death is bad news. It’s loss. It’s sorrow. But when it is someone who has such a bright future ahead, you just can’t make sense of why bad things happen to good people.

I lost my aunt a couple of weeks ago from cancer. She faced a long battle that finally ended for her. It was expected. But I woke up this bright, sunny morning going through my routine when I jumped onto Facebook to see what my friends and family had posted. I was shocked to learn of this young man’s life cut short by a new motorcycle and a good evening to ride.

I didn’t know him. I saw him around church. He was the kid everybody wanted to hang with. He was energetic and flashed a big smile. He spoke to everyone – even me – just one who passes by. I noticed when he left to go to college how everyone congratulated him and wished him well. When he came home, the people in his circle were so excited to see him. He seemed to be a really good guy.

But as I read the posts by my friends and church family, I noticed how big a loss this truly is to our church body. It’s a sad day. To make it worse, there’s no gathering together to mourn the loss. There’s no comfort of hugs as people come together to remember. I felt this loss when I went to see my aunt for the last time. There was no comfort found in mourning alone. But as I reflect on my aunt and this young man, I don’t mourn their loss of life because they are more truly alive today in heaven than what they ever experienced here on earth.

It’s hard to explain to those who do not understand this joy when we face these times of sorrow. We do not mourn as those without hope. We have the hope of Jesus – the One who defeated death and claimed victory for eternal life. Yes, we experience sorrow. But oh the joy we find in Jesus. If this young man’s legacy is as it appears to be, even in death his light will shine. This isn’t the end of his story. He already has a legacy even at his young age.

It was a death of a friend that reached into my heart and changed me. And I believe God can do it again with someone else who is on the fence looking in and wondering about their own eternity. My friend died at a young age too; a little older this young man. My friend was a godly woman. It was a tragic accident too. But what set this death apart from all the others I had experienced up to that time was she was around my age. It was shocking. I knew people died young. But not ones I knew. Maybe this young man’s death can be a catalyst for change in someone else’s life. I pray it may be so.

When my friend died years ago, I was faced with my own mortality. Even thought I have known about Jesus all my life, I didn’t know where I would go when that day of death occurred. You see, my life had taken a detour for a few years. I wasn’t living as one who had given their life to Jesus. Basically, I knew about Jesus, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

From my years of church life, I just thought you said a prayer and it was a done deal. But when my friend died, I had to know for sure where I stood with Jesus. I began the journey to find Him. My friend’s death changed my life. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We just have to trust God in our circumstances and remember He is our good Father who loves us and weeps with us in our sorrow.

We will all die one day. My hope is that you will know where you will go when you do. Let this young man’s life touch you too. We are to make the most of what God gives us – each and every day. God will make the most out of our days even when it’s such a short time. We just have to surrender each day as if it’s our last. This young man’s life has made a difference – even to the one who just passed by.

Jesus said to her (Martha), “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.” John 11:23-27

One Decision

Experts say there are around seven major life events in every person’s life. Life events are forks in the road, major turning points that alter a person’s life. Not just our immediate plans, but the whole of our lives are different because of that one decision. From that point on, our future is different because of that one decision. And experts say there are seven of them.

Usually those life events have a cost. Sometimes the events are not of our own making; sometimes it’s someone else’s decision which alters our own lives. It could be someone makes a decision to get behind the wheel of a car after having one too many drinks and it cost us something when the drunk hits us. Or like when my parents made the decision to move me from my hometown to the mountains when I was twelve years old.

That decision was my first major life event. It affected me profoundly. I told my sister recently that I thought the move even changed my personality. Maybe I think of the younger me differently than I was, I don’t know. I just know my parent’s decision was huge in my life. It’s made me into the person I am today – good or bad personality traits aside.

Thinking of life events, I realize there is one decision that should be on everyone’s life event chart. It’s the decision to follow Jesus. It should alter our course – not just for now – but for eternity. I heard someone say recently he wanted everyone to have the same relationship with Jesus he had; to know Jesus as Savior. I have been contemplating the statement since I heard it.

Just a couple of years before my parents moved us to the mountains I made the decision to follow Jesus. If you noticed in the writing above, I said my first life event was the move. I did make the decision to receive Jesus as my Savior before we moved, but it didn’t alter my life right then. I do believe I had Jesus right then, but He didn’t have all of me. It took a few years before another life event would change my relationship to not only Jesus as my Savior but Jesus as my Lord.

My ultimate turning point with Jesus was because of another friend’s tragic end. I written about it in the past – my friend died – and it changed me. Maybe some would say I didn’t really belong to Jesus from the age of twelve – it’s not biblical. But I look at the disciples Jesus chose. They were asked to follow Him before they ever believed He was the Messiah. It took them three years and Jesus’ death before they truly believed. It just took me longer than three years to understand who Jesus is.

Peter declared Jesus was the Messiah before Jesus died, but that declaration wasn’t the catalyst for Peter’s transformation. His life event was when he saw Jesus in the upper room after Jesus rose from the grave. Peter’s life was altered in that moment. Peter’s path was totally different from that life event. He went from a fisherman to preacher man.

Everything should change when we receive Jesus as Lord. Savior and Lord – the man speaking should have said Lord, but he didn’t. Did it mean Jesus wasn’t Lord of his life? The speaker is the only one who can answer. However, we need to answer it as well. Is Jesus Lord of our lives? Has the decision to follow Jesus changed our trajectory as it did for Peter? I don’t mean we all give up our professions to become preachers, but Jesus wants to direct our steps just as He directed Peter’s.

Jesus met Peter on the beach one morning after His resurrection. Peter and the guys had been out fishing all night. Peter was at a fork in the road. He could have gone back to the life he knew – fishing – but Jesus intervened. Jesus had other plans for Peter – a plan to begin the church age on Peter’s profession – Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus asked Peter to feed Jesus’ sheep – His followers. It’s not a literal meaning but a spiritual meaning. Peter had lived with Jesus for three years. Peter heard Him speak, watched the miracles being performed; even saw Jesus transformed on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle and knew Him. Jesus picked Peter to do greater things with his life. Peter left the nets behind and followed Jesus wholeheartedly. There was no turning back. Peter’s decision to follow Jesus changed history. The church age moved forward with Peter’s willingness to go where Jesus led him and make disciples wherever he went.

I don’t think my life events have done the same – they haven’t changed history – or maybe they did. Mine certainly was changed. My decision to follow Jesus today, changes how I live each day. The people I meet each day are affected by my relationship with Jesus because I am a different person with Jesus than without Him.

Each day we are given a choice – live for Jesus; let Him be Lord today or live like the rest of the world and ignore the promptings of our Lord and follow our own path. Our relationship with Jesus makes us different. Other religions follow rules – we are set apart because it’s not rules we follow but Jesus. All roads do not lead to the same place. There is only one life event that leads to an eternal home with Jesus. I know. Jesus said it’s a narrow door and only a few find it, but it’s open to all who want to come in. Jesus and only Jesus can open that door. Savior and Lord. Know Him and follow Him and alter others lives for Jesus!

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:15-18

The Floater

The start of a new year is always a little daunting to me. New slate, new beginning, new… what? I really detest making goals. I detested it for my employers – because you know making goals never reflect in the raises we are given. It was always a budgeted amount regardless of what was stated on our reviews. I got a few promotions along the way because I was a good worker and did more than what was expected – but the raise was never given in proportion to the amount of effort put in and the goals that were attained. I did the work because I was given a job to do and I did it without much fanfare.

But I must tell you, through much of my life I have floated from one decision to another. I have led a quiet life. I don’t put things on a goal list or things I want to attain before I die. However, my Pastor challenged us today. He wants us to think of our funeral. I don’t like to think in those terms, but I see his point. God is a strategic God. And He wants us to be involved in His plan. His goals for our lives should be reflected in the way we live.

I have started reading through the Bible as my yearly endeavor. Right now, I am in Genesis – yep, just starting out. But I am reminded of a few things of significance – God has an order to things He creates; He puts things into place exactly at the right time and in the right order. He uses unlikely people for His purpose.

I am in the story of Jacob at this time. He’s an interesting character. Jacob’s name means deceiver and he lived up to his name. He stole his brother’s birthright and his blessing through deceptive means with the help of his mother. Jacob married a woman through deception – his future father-in-law switched wives on him and Jacob didn’t realize it until after the wedding night. Oops – married the first daughter and not the one he truly loved. Hate it when that happens!

But eventually He did marry his beloved Rachel. His first wife, Leah started having sons before his second wife Rachel. Jacob didn’t love Leah but yet she kept producing sons. Rachel was barren for many years then had Jacob’s favorite son Joseph and eventually Benjamin. He had twelve sons and one daughter through four different women – fascinating story; you’ll need to read it for yourself (Genesis 26-35).

It’s interesting to me that God didn’t use Jacob’s favorite wife to produce the heir to God’s Kingdom – His story is through the least favorite Leah and not through the favorite son but through one of Leah’s sons, Judah. Interesting, right? Jacob’s name is eventually changed to Israel and the blessing that was given to Jacob has been transferred from one generation to the next. The blessing given to Jacob (Israel) is that those who curse Israel will be cursed and those who bless Israel will be blessed (Genesis 27:29). God’s blessing is still reverberating through the centuries. God’s promises never fail.

As I contemplate God’s strategic plan, He has a place for me too. My Pastor told us we are to be intentional about our lives. We will never create a life of influence by accident. God has given us a vision for our lives – we are to bring Him glory in whatever we do. He has left it open to how He will use us, but He leaves nothing to chance. He uses it all for our good and for His purpose (Romans 8:28). When we go in the wrong direction, He uses it to build our character; for our future. But we are to surrender today and let God direct our steps for our future. He did this with Joseph, which means we will be exactly where God wants us to be at just the right time.

God gave Joseph a dream. The dream looked like nothing Joseph experienced along the way. However, Joseph stayed the course and chose to honor God in each and every situation until the dream was fulfilled. Joseph’s life wasn’t easy – first sold into slavery (by his brothers), then prison for something he did not do before he ever knew God was still working out the dream through him. The dream was fulfilled when Joseph rose to the second in command in Egypt. It was a road full of obstacles but one that finished at the right time and right place.

When I contemplate my own funeral, will it be a quiet affair with just a few friends and family in attendance? Will I have a life of significance? As long as I have breath in my lungs, I have an opportunity to live a life of purpose – glorifying God and letting Him lead me on a path with complete surrender of my own hopes and dreams. It’s His vision and dream that will be the most influential in all of history.

Can I be a part of His story? God’s Word tells me I can and you too. His Word also says to lay down our lives and take up the cross. That’s the life we’re meant to live – not a floater, but intentionally surrender every day. Not my will, but Yours be done; forever and ever. Amen.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Spring Forward

It’s a new season – so the calendar says. The clock was moved forward just a couple of weeks ago. The sun as moved into its new position. Birds are chirping away; flowers are blooming and the pollen is pooling at the edges of puddles. Yes, it’s spring. And maybe it’s a new season for me as well. At least, I hope so.

Ever since my Dad died last September, I have been in a funk. I can’t really say it’s a product of grief. I just have been out of sorts. Did it have anything to do with my Dad’s death? I don’t know. My grieving for him has been quite different from the way I grieved over my Mom’s passing. I don’t understand the difference. Maybe it was because Mom’s death was quite sudden (two months of sickness) versus Dad’s which was a slow descent to death’s door (over two or three years). Nevertheless, I am ready to move forward into a new season. I’m done with the funk!

A couple of months ago, the natural healthcare doctor I work for bought her own place; and we moved to the new space within a matter of days. It’s a very small practice with just three of us running the show. The doc, an office administrator and me. You could ask me what I do at the practice, and I might give you a bit of a pause before answering. I wear many hats there.

Ever since we moved, I have been the IT person, the phone person, the financial person, the maintenance person and even the cleaning person. I really enjoy the many hats. I never know what I will be called to do when I walk through the door. I actually like that kind of variety. Oh, the thing that I really get paid to do is be the assistant to the doctor. I work with her and her patients as we help them on their healing journey. That’s pretty cool! I feel like this is my calling and I am totally stoked that I get to do this and get paid for it!

But something’s missing. For the last few months, I just feel off. I have had my own healing journey over the last few years and I feel like that too is almost done. So what’s next? What am I prepared for in God’s perfect timing?

Waiting. It’s a hard thing to do. It feels like I have been waiting for something all my life. I am free to move forward in everything God calls me to. For eight years, I have been preparing for something else. I moved into the role at the doctor’s office three years ago. It’s been a constant learning process. We learn new things all the time. Researchers are discovering new things all the time. And we learn from their due diligence. The work environment is a learning environment. That too is a good thing. We need to stay hungry for new ideas and approaches to enrich our lives.

The patients who come through our doors are seeking answers. Sometimes it’s hard to help them find those answers when so many things are wrong in their approach to healing. Sometimes, it takes a gentle rebuke to get them to think differently and to move into a new lifestyle that will be conducive to healing.

Each individual comes in with different expectations. Some are expecting a miracle cure from the doctor that really doesn’t exist for what really ails them. And it’s sad to witness their lack of understanding and their lack of follow through. They usually just walk away.

But then there are others who come through the door and embrace change. They realize what they’ve done in the past hasn’t helped, so it’s time for a change. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. In order to have a different outcome, it means change. Change is a good thing. A new season is a good thing. But it comes with a cost.

Change. It means moving out of our comfort zones. It may mean moving to a new area. It may mean leaving something behind we love in order to embrace something new. But if God calls us to it, there will be something better with embracing the new.

We are called to listen and respond to what the Holy Spirit is nudging us to do. The nudge could change our whole world, but most likely it will change someone else’s. One thing we might need to change is our attitude about change. God may be calling us to something new. Are you prepared for it? I think I am. Let’s move forward in embracing the new season and see what God will do in us and through us while we jump into His will with joy!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT)

Significance

This summer I decided to read a few biographies. To date I have read about four different lives that have impacted their generation in significant ways. I have read about Will Rogers, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, and John D. Rockefeller. Will Rogers wasn’t as dynamic in view of history, but he impacted the entertainment industry in the beginning stages of the medium of vaudeville, newspapers, radio, movies and television. He was the entertainment megastar of his day. Winston Churchill kept Europe from being transformed by Hitler. Elizabeth I impacted England which led the United States to become the nation it is today. She was the catalyst for change of the Church of England and the religious freedom we enjoy today in the US. She believed she was being used by God. And she was, because God can use anyone to impact the world.

John D. Rockefeller was an interesting man. In the beginning of the industrial revolution, he was the titan of change. There were no regulations in business until he began his mission to become the world’s biggest oil refiner. The change he initiated was on a massive scale. The fortunes he gathered from his vision was massive as well. He came from a humble background and was a devout Baptist throughout his life. He believed the wealth he accumulated was by God’s favor. But he also knew that he was given the wealth for a purpose beyond his benefit. He believed the maxim to much is given much is required.

After his retirement from the oil business, he began to give millions of his money away. In doing so, he changed the nation medically and educationally. He started medical research. He started colleges and universities. He helped the south to become educated by adding high schools which were lacking at that time. He eradicated hookworm in the south. He looked beyond meeting immediate needs and went to the root of needs. The lack of education and the lack of medicine kept people in a state of poverty. He believed in giving a hand up not a hand out.

I look at these great leaders of their times and have a sense of God’s greater purpose. Yes, they all helped the world at pivotal periods in history. They had lives of significance. In August, I began a new Bible study by Priscilla Shirer called Jonah. In the first week, we are told that God interrupts our plans to create divine appointments (interventions) that will lead to significant purposes for God’s kingdom. We are told that Jonah was not well-known as a prophet until the book of Jonah and a big fish story. But the impact he made through his obedience created the greatest revival in history. He changed the greatest city of his time by his obedience to God.

It’s hard to believe that through our obedience we too can have a great impact for God’s kingdom. We might not see everything though in our lifetime. We may start something that is not really that significant now, but the chain reaction could grow massive in a few years time. It might take a generation or two before the significance is revealed. The question is: Can we release our desires to see the greatness to God’s timing and plan? The ball has to start rolling at some point. God may use us to give the first push. And we have to be able to let God do what He wants with our efforts. We just have to be available to be used and say yes to whatever He asks us to do; even if it’s just to push a small ball into the next court to let someone else take it to the next level of significance. We all might not make millions. But whatever God gives us, we have to remember it’s for His glory and His Kingdom purpose.

The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:20-21

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