Life on Purpose

26 01 2014

Have you ever come to the end of a week and you ask yourself “what did I accomplish?” I usually say this after a week that may have been busy but not productive.

One bad week is not the end of the world but what if after a month, a year or even a decade you felt you were busy but not effective.

If this happened in our professional life, we may be in danger of losing our job. If it is in the pursuit of our education, we would have lots of classes but no degrees. We see the need to have a plan and be focused so we can feel productive and accomplished.

What about our faith? It is easy to take this area of our life for granted. Often when someone mentions reading their bible they use the “whatever passage I open my Bible to” approach. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can result in our faith becoming stagnate. When it comes to church we either say yes to everything because we feel we have to or we don’t do anything because we have no passion or focus.

When I talk about having a plan and being focused, I am not talking about something you generate. There is a classic joke “if you ever want to make God laugh tell him your plans.” So what am I talking about? I am saying we should be like Jesus.

Please read Matthew 16:21-28. In this passage Jesus talked openly about the plan he was on earth to accomplish. Peter pulled him aside to correct him and Jesus told him “you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (verse 23 NIV). Jesus went on to say it would be pointless if you gained the whole world but lost your soul. He said this with a warning if you choose to follow him you need to be willing to face hardships.

Jesus lived a life of purpose and focus. He had confidence and trust in his Father. He invites us to do the same. The only way we can do this is if we are intentional. Life can be busy and it can also be distracting. The result is our faith being set aside while we continue to be busy. In the end we feel frustrated because we have a feeling we are missing out on something better.

You and I have the incredible opportunity to make a difference in this world. We can only truly be effective if we are being faithful to what God has called us to do. This means that from time to time we need to pause and look at what we are doing. It is easy to get distracted and get lost in the business of life.

I encourage you to take some time this week to look at your personal time with God. Are you letting God lead and guide you? Does your prayer time include time to listen for God’s direction? Do you have a solid knowledge of the Bible? If you go to church are you serving? If you are serving why are you serving? Is it just because you feel guilty or is it because you are serving God with the gifts he has given you.

The result will be that you may need to adjust some of your day to day activity. You may need to be more intentional about how you read your Bible and what you do in the community. It will be worth it as you begin to see God at work and get the huge privilege of being a part of it. So let’s commit to living life on purpose.





Fighting Indifference

7 01 2014

We have arrived at the highest level of human achievement. Last week we ate in a sports restaurant. It had large screen televisions everywhere but that is not what made this place special. My son came out of the restroom with a look of awe on his face. Yes, there were TVs in the restroom so you didn’t miss a moment of the game. What else could we ask for?

We have to acknowledge the excess we have in our country. Many in the world would have been in awe of the plumbing and stable electricity. Some would be amazed at the TV. Some would just have been happy to not being afraid. Even in our own country some would have been excited at having a full plate of food.

By now you should be feeling guilty. However, I have found operating by guilt is not sustainable and more importantly it is not a healthy way to live.

What we need to do is fight against an attitude of indifference that easily slips in. It is not because we don’t care but because we often don’t experience hardships faced by others. The lack of experience can cause us to go on with our daily lives without pausing to consider the needs of others. This is compounded by our ability to get lost in our “cool stuff” even to the point where a guy wants to go to the bathroom. We end up being more worried if we are connected to Wi-Fi than we are about the poor.

James tells us “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV)

Does this mean I can’t go to a sports restaurant with TVs in the bathroom? No but it does mean that I need to be intentional and not become indifferent to the needs around me.

The Church is the best place to help you fight indifference. Just to brag a little about our church, we encourage people to have bags in their cars with basic essential items to give to homeless people and we go as a group on a regular basis to feed the homeless. We also have a team that will be going on a short term mission trip to Ethiopia and one of the things they will be addressing is Human Trafficking. Our church is not unique. There are lots of good healthy churches that seek to engage the community and invite you and me to participate.

On our own we tend to slip into indifference. Be honest. When was the last time you helped a person in need? When was the last time you gave to a charity? When was the last time you volunteered? Having just finished the Christmas season, we had more opportunities than normal to give and help those in need. As we settle into the regular routine, we won’t have as many opportunities handed to us and the chance of becoming indifferent will increase.

So let’s commit to fighting indifference. If you are not plugged into a healthy church find one and seek to serve in an area that helps the community. If you are plugged into a healthy church it is time to get involved. For those who don’t go to church, I encourage you to be intentional about volunteering and giving to an organization that helps make the community stronger.

The price for indifference is that we will have a really cool place to go the bathroom but we will miss the opportunity to make a difference and live a life that counts.





It is a wonderful life

21 12 2011

It looks like my wife will do it again. She will go through another Christmas season without seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is the classic movie where James Stewart plays George Bailey a man who feels his life has been a huge failure. An angel, Clarence who is trying to earn his wings, is assigned to help George realize just how important his life is. He does it by showing George what the world would look like if he had never been born. It is a great movie that captures all of the big and little ways a person’s life impacts the world around them. I found out in my first year of marriage that my wife had never seen the whole movie. Each year I say this year she has to watch it but somehow she always gets out of it.

In a few days we will be celebrating a very special birth. I began reflecting on the movie and I inserted Jesus in the place of George Bailey. What if Jesus had never been born? What would the world look like?

There are so many small ways Jesus has impacted my world. He showed me what true compassion looks like. It was amazing how he reached out to those others rejected. Outcasts felt accepted for the first time in years when they were around him. Jesus also taught me how to pick my battles. Jesus did not hesitate to stand up and call people out that were abusing their position or corrupting people around them. He showed me that it is okay to be upset by injustice. He demonstrated true power and influence does not come from a title or position but from character and heart. He showed the power of submission. He lived out the importance of facing the truth about situations even if they were hard. Those are just some of the small ways.

The big ways Jesus has impacted my world are even more amazing. I will share two. First, he demonstrated what sacrificial love really looks like. He was willing to go the distance and face death for us because he loved us that much. Mixed with that love is the second, grace. Grace is this incredibly special gift. It means I am loved not because of what I do but because of who I am. God does not love me because I am a Chaplain or I am an amazing husband and father but simply because I am special to him. Throughout my life I have needed grace and it has been freely given. All I can offer back is a thank you knowing God can see my heart and know just how grateful I am.

Sunday we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. It will be an opportunity to remember God loved us so much he gave us his son. I have a personal story of how Jesus has impacted my life. I hope you do as well. If not find someone you trust who does and ask them the question, what if Jesus had never been born? I encourage each of us to reflect on just how profound an impact Jesus has had on our lives.

You can also look at the impact Jesus has had on our community and world. Many charities will be serving because Jesus served. There will be outcasts who will feel accepted for the first time in years because churches will open their doors. Injustice will be called out as people with character and heart take a stand. More importantly maybe we will show each other love and give each other grace as a special gift this Christmas.

I guess I can give my wife grace again this year and maybe next year we will see the movie. I already have a wonderful life. Thank you Jesus and Happy Birthday.