buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “purpose”

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)

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)

When Confidence Fails

Can I just tell you? This week, I am just frustrated. One message has been hammering me for the longest time. And every first of the year, it seems to come back around. Find my purpose. I thought I found it when I discovered the health coach training. I thought this was my purpose – to help others get healthy. I spent many hours learning about coaching and about healthy ideas for living well in this toxic world. I thought God had a plan that involved this new training, but it has not come to fruition as I expected.

However, one thing I did discover in that time of training was that I had a voice that God could use. I began to write because of it. The writing has never been my thing. You can probably tell, I was not an English major. I am a bit challenged in the grammar and punctuation departments. However, I think God opened this door at the right time for me and for His purpose. (And maybe I inherited a little of my maternal grandmother’s writing ability.) Yet, I doubt. My confidence has hit a snag with this writing gig.

My thing was sports; I loved sports. I believe I was pretty good at most sports in those early years. I had and still have good eye to hand coordination. I can catch most anything – drop a spoon and I’ll catch it on the way down. I learned to be careful in my “catching” abilities when I caught a glass that had fallen; but as I caught it, it broke. The lesson learned through a trip to the doctor and four stitches to repair the damage.

When I was in college, I became the manager for the women’s basketball team. When I asked the coach if I could do something for the team, she asked me first if I could play. If that question had come up seven years before that time, I would have said yes. After all, I did play junior high ball. The year after that, we moved from my hometown to a city; and in that move, everything changed. I lost all my confidence in my abilities when I saw the new kids playing at what I conceived a much tougher level. In my freshman year of high school, the women’s basketball coach told me to go out for the team; but at that point the mental games had already begun.

Christine Caine said in a recent message “do not throw away your confidence” – wish I had heard that message forty years ago! But as I listened over the last week to different speakers pretty much saying the same thing, it becomes more frustrating to me. It’s not about learning these things anymore; I just need revelation of why I’m here! Henry Cloud reminded his listeners at a recent conference, we need to discover our end games. We are not to just drift along, but set a sail and go in the right direction (his message was to regularly prune our lives in order to make our lives what we want them to be).

Andy Andrews said in a podcast recently that God doesn’t teach us to swim only to let us drown. If God has given a vision, then He will not change His mind about it. Believe that He will bring it to completion. So the clarity comes through a vision of what God has in mind for each of us. To be useful, yes. To be faithful, yes. To be available, yes. And sometimes it means getting out of the house so that we can be useful in the right place at the right time. Finding purpose is about developing into the man or woman God has designed us to be. We have to discover that vision God has for us and set the sails toward that direction. I get it.

I was comforted in my time with the Streams in the Desert devotional on January 10. In it, this stood out to me: “Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one.” Again I gained confidence in this: “In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have already been treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called, unless you are clearly told to do something else.”

Sometimes God interrupts our plans to take us on another path. But in the meantime, I will continue to write until I am told that season is over. As for the future, I know I need an end game. He has a purpose in mind for me and for you. We should trust God’s plan to get us there. Every small step is part of the path. As Christine Caine said in her message, “do not despise small beginnings.” We got to start somewhere; might as well be faithful to the here and now until the next step is revealed.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

The Missing Link

Over the weekend, I heard a message that has been marinating in my spirit. Louie Giglio spoke about living with purpose. He mentioned it was more important to live for significance than living for success. Success is measurable and finite, but significance lasts for eternity.

There was an accident in the Atlanta area that killed four young college girls. Louie’s message was about this accident. One of the families was directly linked to his church. The family he knew, the daughter had lived a life of significance in the time she had on earth – even though it was considered “short” in terms of the human experience. Louie pointed out that the time she had on earth in spiritual terms had a greater impact than anyone who had lived a long human experience with very little spiritual impact.

I have been thinking of that. In just another week or so, I will have another birthday. I am coming to terms that I may be out of the middle ground and more toward the end zone. If Jesus doesn’t come back, maybe I’ll have another thirty years or so. I hope living well will get me another five or ten years more. But if I am not living well at that age, I would rather be with Jesus than dwelling in this decaying, earthly body. After considering the message, I have a new end game plan. It’s not to live well in human experience; my goal is to live a life of spiritual significance through the human experience in the time that I have left. There’s just one problem with that. I don’t know how.

I picked up Beth Moore’s new book called Audacious. I started reading it Monday night. The first chapter was on vision. Oh Lord, not another book about vision! I have been searching for vision for years, and I still don’t have a clue. The chapter I read last night floored me. It may be the missing link to the life of significance. The chapter was on Peter and Jesus’ interaction on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection. The question “Do you love me?” is the title of this chapter, and it’s the question Beth posed to the reader about the relationship we have with Jesus. Can we honestly say we love Jesus?

The last few weeks, I have been considering this love angle. The term we use for love has been watered down. Sure I love Him. But do I have a passionate, deep abiding kind of love? Do I have a love like one who falls in love in a new relationship? Jesus called out the ones in Revelation to the church in Ephesus who had forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4). He called out those who were lukewarm toward Him in Revelation 3. The church at Laodicea were rich in human terms but were spiritually poor. To the ones in Sardis, He issued a “wake up” call. To the church in Philadelphia, He said He opened a door no one can close. To those who overcome, He will give righteous clothes to wear; a pillar in His temple; a place on the throne with Him. It is a matter of opening our hearts to Him and to fall back in love with Him.

Full disclosure: I have never been in love with anyone. I have been in lust many times, but that’s a totally different feeling. I haven’t been married. I don’t have children. I have parents and sisters whom I love but a passionate love, no. Would I give my life for them, yes – I think I would; I hope I would – it’s never come up though; it’s an untested theory. But this Jesus thing is an issue. It’s the missing link to my passionate, significant life. It’s the warning from Revelation that I have to take to heart. Jesus told all the churches in Revelation to have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church and Jesus is represented by a marriage. The church is the bride; Jesus is the groom. We are to love like that. We are to fall in love with Him like a future wife falls for the future husband. It’s the deep abiding love like one who can’t stand to be away from the love of their life. It’s a love that aches when they are apart. Do you love Jesus like that? My heart has been stirred to love like that. Has yours? Beth says it will propel us toward the vision. It’s the missing link to the life of significance. Love changes everything.

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT)

Drifting Through

I had a bit of a wake-up call the afternoon I wrote this post. I was reading a book I received for my birthday. It’s called “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill (Sterling Publishing Co, 2011). The book is has an odd feel to it. It was actually written in 1938, but was not published until last year. It features an interview with Satan. In it, the writer asks a series of questions concerning the devil’s schemes in how he controls the world. The devil says it is through the mind. It is easy to control a mind when there is no purpose or people who do not think for themselves. Whether you believe there’s a devil or not, this book is right on target with many of its theories and observances. However, as I said, this was written over 70 years ago.

My wake-up call was the definition of a drifter. A drifter is easily conquered; someone who has little to no imagination, a person who lacks enthusiasm or initiative, or someone who starts many projects but finishes none (pg 91-92). There was a formula for drifting as well: laziness + indifference = procrastination = drifting (pg 86). This was me several years ago. Do I see myself in this way now? No, but I could easily fall back into old practices. The writer uses the word “habit.” Laziness is an old friend. Procrastination is easily available to me. I do not want to fall into the habit of drifting through life again. I don’t want to walk on a whim. There is a reason for my presence in this world. I don’t want to miss the opportunities put before me. “The non-drifter has a mind of their own and uses it for all purposes.” (pg 94) Reality check: am I drifting or am I considering plans for the future? It’s not the time to drift but to live with purpose.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

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