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Archive for the tag “Power of a Story”

The Big Ask

Why? The annoying question little children ask to learn and grow. Every answer always brings another why. After a few of those whys, we have to end the asking with “I don’t know” or “because I said so.” As adults, I think we have stopped asking why; and it’s one of our biggest mistakes. Andy Andrews said that the ones who are really successful in business never stop asking why. Why does this product line work? Why does this marketing plan work better? Why doesn’t this item produce more revenue? Why? It’s really a big question that could bring greater results.

I have been asking “why” for some time now. Why am here in this time and place? I want to find my greater purpose to why God chose me for this hour on His timetable. I want to discover the task that God has designed for me. Another speaker said recently the why gives us a vision. It’s the motivation to do what we do. It’s the purpose for living, for businesses, for ministry, etc. The vision of our heart’s purpose – the heart of the individual or the heart of the business – gets us motivated to do greater things. If we could discover the answer to the why, it could change everything for us as individuals and us as a people, the church.

Another statement about “why” is the importance of having a story behind the why. The story captures the heart of others. It causes them to act when they hear it. So if there is a vision, then there needs to be a story behind the vision. What happened that caused you to have this desire you have to do what you do? There has to be a flame of passion that fuels the vision or it will fizzle and die after a few years.

I think my biggest struggle with “my why” is that I don’t have the story. I don’t have this radical thing in my life that has stirred something in me. Spiritually speaking as well as emotionally speaking, there isn’t a great story. My spiritual awakening was a gradual increase in knowledge of Jesus and then one day deciding to follow Him with all my heart. It was after a friend’s death that I wanted to have this relationship with Jesus. Her death changed my motivation to learn what I needed to learn so that I could be sure of my salvation.

I grew up in church. I have learned about Jesus from the very beginning. There wasn’t anything radical about the experience like some have had. I just wanted what my friend seemed to have, which was a much deeper knowledge of Jesus and an assurance of where she was going in the end. I wanted that assurance so I asked Jesus to give me that desire to know Him in a real way. He did. I haven’t stopped learning about Him and the desire is still there to experience more of Him every day.

The disciples had a relationship with Jesus. They walked along with Him, ate with Him and even slept with Him. They saw Jesus’ actions, and heard Jesus’ words. They saw the miracles. When Jesus died, they had a crisis of belief. They thought that was the end. What they believed was not the reality. They believed Jesus came for a physical kingdom that would take them out of Roman rule. But that was not Jesus’ purpose. They didn’t understand the story behind the big why of Jesus. Why did Jesus come?

The disciples were not scholarly men; they were everyday, working men. They may have grown up memorizing Scripture as all Jewish boys did back in that day. But they didn’t have the understanding that Jesus was fulfilling everything that they had learned in those early years of education. Jesus came because of the great divide between God and us. He came to bridge the gap. Jesus tried to explain it to them, but they didn’t get it. However, everything changed after the resurrection. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and understanding brought revelation. It all came together for them.

So, why did Jesus save me? Why did He save you? What’s your story? I am asking the big question “why” and praying that the Holy Spirit will reveal to me what I need to give me the motivation that will last through eternity. I need a resurrection to change everything for me. How about you? What do you need to give you the motivation that will last through eternity? The trouble with asking this big question is I will hear the answer – and I have to be prepared to act upon it once I know. Yet, I am willing to risk it all for the answer. The disciples went on to great ministries that turned the world upside down. We can do the same if we are willing to risk everything for it. Are you ready? Do you have a spark that can be fanned into a flame of passion?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)

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The Power of Hope

When I serve in my church body, I run one of the cameras for Live Stream and for taping purposes. I really enjoy it. The downside is the tech team does all three gatherings (we don’t call them “services”). By the third gathering, I am tired; and my focus can falter if I am not on my “A” game! This past Sunday was my Sunday to serve. We had a guest speaker whose name was Daniel Tyler from Arkansas.

Usually when we have guest speakers, the camera people have to be on their toes because most speakers move about the stage. My lead pastor is relatively stationary, so another speaker keeps us focused! This past Sunday, Daniel sat with one of the pastors on staff and did a sit down interview. Through the interview, we heard Daniel’s testimony. It had impact; there wasn’t a moment that I lost focus!

Daniel told us about his early years living in a broken home with addictive parents. His Mom was hooked on crystal meth, and his Dad was an alcoholic and abusive. Needless to say, his early years were very unstable. By the time he was in high school, his heart was ripe for an encounter with Jesus. A “fine” (Daniel’s word) girl invited him to go to a worship experience at her church one evening. Of course, he didn’t want to really go; but she offered to do “whatever” with him afterwards. Naturally, he was ready for the “whatever” and thought he could endure the church for one night.

That worship experience changed his life. He encountered Jesus in a very real and physical way. As he listened to the message of love, Daniel questioned if this love was truly real. Daniel prayed if Jesus was real to make His presence known in a physical way. Daniel felt arms wrapping around him from behind. It was a father’s hug that he wanted so desperately to feel. When Daniel turned around to see this man, no one was there. That hug changed everything for Daniel.

When he got to school the next day, one of his friends asked him if he was ready for the party that weekend. Daniel told his friend his life had changed the night before. Daniel told him he meet Jesus. His friend was like, “Dude, I’m a Christian too!” We all chuckled when we heard this. But Daniel told us his response to his friend. “We’ve been friends for ten years; you knew my family’s circumstances; you had the answer that I needed all along and you didn’t tell me?” Wow. Nobody was chuckling then. It brought tears to my eyes (all three times I heard it).

How many times have we had this kind of wake-up call? We might not have experienced someone confronting us with our “Christian” apathy in this way, but is it not a reality that we face every day? There are people we encounter who are struggling with issues that we have the answer to but never utter a word. I would have been the “friend” that could have said the same thing Daniel’s friend said. And Daniel would have been right in questioning my silence. Daniel walked around every day feeling worthless. He felt like his life didn’t matter. He fell into the patterns of his parents; drugs and alcohol. It’s what he knew. He was reckless and had no hope.

Jesus is the answer we all need. Jesus is our hope. James MacDonald’s message (Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago) this past weekend was on the message of hope. Faith. Hope. Love. The trifecta of our Christian life. Faith in God. Love for one another. Hope for the future. Pastor James said “Hope is the confident expectation of better days ahead.” We are chosen by God to give a message to a dying world. This message of hope changes things. How is it we keep silent unless we just don’t understand its power?

Daniel’s life was redeemed; he has given the glory to God for the work that has come from his struggle. He now is working with at-risk youths. He works with the same juvenile detention center where he also spent time. How powerful is a testimony of God’s grace! Maybe our stories aren’t like Daniel’s; but Jesus also gave us a story of grace to tell. (I have written my story out in book form and published it this past week!  Please check the “My Books” tab on this website for the links to purchase or go HERE for Kindle or HERE or your favorite download site for another version. Thank you!)

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11–13, esv).

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