life purpose

21 11 2013

What would it feel like to lay your head on your pillow at night and say, “You know what I did today? I teamed up with God to change the world”?

note paper_life purpose

I read this statement in Bill Hybels book Volunteer Revolution and thought “that’s a nice slogan to champion volunteerism.” Then I realized that Hybels is poking at a deeper issue…an issue that plagues numbers of people. I would venture to say an issue that plagues all people at some point in their lives, whether Christians or not. It is the issue of significance and purpose.

What meaning does my life have?

I want to do something that has lasting value, that is bigger and grander than me.

Timothy Keller writes on this issue and points to 1 Corinthians 7 where the Apostle Paul writes about work in terms of calling. Keller notes that “our daily work can be a calling only if it is reconceived as God’s assignment to serve others. And that is exactly how the Bible teaches us to view work.” I think this is true of vocational work and volunteering. So what does this mean practically for our lives? Good question! How about what Keller says concerning vocational work, but again, I think it applies to all areas of your life…

The question regarding our choice of work is no longer, “What will make me the most money and give me the most status?” Instead, the question must now be, “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and human need?”

Wow! Use that as a guide for vocation, volunteering, free time, life direction…whatever. This will reorient things a bit! But, at the end of the day, we would know what it feels like to team up with God as He changes the world! I’m down for that…are you?





6 Month Invite

3 10 2013

If you could look into the future and see the results of your investment of time and energy, wouldn’t it be easier if you knew the outcomes?

I sure would like that! Most of the time, however, we do not know the specifics of what the future holds, but we can be confident that we are not wasting our time and energy. Here is what the Apostle Paul says about this:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV

I have seen this truth lived out in our  church and just have to share it! One of our church family began investing into the life of a co-worker 6 months ago! Patiently and consistently he walked with his co-worker, gently pointing him towards Jesus and inviting him to join us for a Sunday service. A guest speaker, pro-skater Brian Sumner, offered just the opportunity and the co-worker gathered with us this past Sunday! It took insight to foresee the opportunity, boldness to make the invite, and planning to be free to personally drive the co-worker to the service. Six months ago, the outcome was unknown but God blessed the investment!

Church, know that your investment into the lives of those who do not know Jesus is not in vain, whether you see salvation or not! I encourage you to look for those people who you have the opportunity to invest in, and be encouraged by this example…your investment may be a 6 month invite!





HOPE…

25 01 2013

hope graphic

…the difference between life and death.

I just finished reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It is a tale of the almost unbelievable ordeals of POW Louie Zamperini. I was fascinated by the contrast of Louie who had hope, and survivd, and others who did not, and death quickly came. It was a real life example of the power of hope. I was challenged to consider how Christians speak of hope. Often it seems that our use carries connotations of wishful thinking, or wispy desires. But that is not Christian hope! No. Our hope is grounded in Christ, giving us certainty! Hope grounded in Christ truly can be the difference between life and death.

 





endings for beginnings – thoughts for another new year

29 12 2012

I’ve never found new year’s resolutions particularly helpful, and this is the time of year that many people are thinking through what resolutions they want to make for 2013, another new year that is only days away. This is not to say that I do not set goals…my life revolves around goals and lists of things to do 🙂 What I find challenging, and think most of us do not do well, is to intentionally think through things that we need to END, in conjunction with things that we want to BEGIN.

beginnings_endings

One reason I think people struggle with new year’s resolutions is that they are often additions to an already full life. (I am not saying this is true of every resolution, but quite a few!) So after a few weeks, or maybe even months, the new goal is squeezed out by the patterns & behaviors that are already entrenched in our lives. The last one in…the first one out! It seems that in order to have new goals (or resolutions), we need to intentionally end some old goals, patterns, or behaviors. In the language of a horticulturist:

Pruning is a process of proactive endings…
1. Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones,
2. Sick branches that are not going to get well, and
3. Dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive.

(Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud, pg 15)

This has been a challenging thought bouncing around my mind lately. See, there are probably many good things that are part of my life, but if they are not the best things, then they are draining time and energy and resources. Wow! I hadn’t really thought about this with such intentionality before! Here is a little more food for thought:

When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on. We choose the same kind of dysfunctional person or demoralizing job again. Not learning our lessons and proactively dealing with them, we make the same business or personal mistakes over and over.

(Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud, pg 12)

A challenging thought for me as I stare down the few remaining days of 2012!

So what do you need to prune for 2013…a necessary ending for a new beginning?





Culture & Christianity

4 12 2012

Have you ever wondered how, as a Believer, you should respond to certain events or topics in society? I know I have! And I have come to realize that there is no pat answer that works across the board for all things. It is tricky. The thing that we are really wrestling with is how as a Believer, one who is called to holiness (set apart-ness), we should engage/participate/exist within culture (the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular group of people). Given that this time of year we encounter many significant cultural days…Halloween, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Ashura, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, and many more…this question surfaces to the forefront of our minds. I don’t have an answer that holds true across the board. BUT, I do know there are biblical principles that should shape our thoughts & behaviours, and provide a foundation for us to discerningly ENGAGE our culture…and maybe even CREATE culture.

Here is a helpful quote from missiologist Lesslie Newbigin that frames the extremes, irrelevance & syncretism, we should seek to avoid. Newbigin is addressing cross-cultural missions, but this applies just as well to engaging our local culture:

Everyone with the experience of cross-cultural mission knows that there are always two opposite dangers, the Scylla and Charybdis, between which one must steer. On the one side there is the danger that one finds no point of contact for the message as the missionary preaches it, to the people of the local culture the message appears irrelevant and meaningless. On the other side is the danger that the point of contact determines entirely the way that the message is received, and the result is syncretism. Every missionary path has to find the way between these two dangers: irrelevance and syncretism. And if one is more afraid of one danger than the other, one will certainly fall into the opposite. (Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 67.)

Consider these passages that speak to engagement without compromise…

  • 1 Corinthians 9 — Paul expresses that he has full freedom, even rights, in Christ! He becomes all things to all peoples that by all means he might save some (vs 22). Yet, Paul says he endures everything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel (vs 12).
  • Acts 17 — Paul engaged the local culture in order to have a platform for the gospel. He frequented the Athenian marketplace and reasoned with people there, including philosphers. He was quite familiar with their philosophies and beliefs.
  • John 17 — Jesus prays for his disciples, that they would be IN the world, though not OF the world.

We need discerning hearts and minds guided by the Spirit of God. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that personal conviction is not elevated to the status of biblical principle that is for all believers for all times.





hi-a-tus [hahy-ey-tuhs]

4 12 2012





things u wish u knew…

25 04 2012

the problem with things you don’t know is you don’t know you don’t know them. bummer, huh? i find it extremely helpful to position myself around people who are at various stages further down the road than I am. for instance, i find that person who is miles down the road from me. this person usually has the stability and ability to look back and synthesize life lessons/principles. this can be for all areas of life…ministry, family, marriage, personal, etc. then there is that person who is in the trenches with me. i find great comfort and encouragement to know i am not in this (whatever “this” may be) by myself. an oft over-looked resource, however, is the person who is only 2-3 steps ahead of you. this person is less able to look back and synthesize life principles/lessons, but he or she is close enough to the action to say “watch out!!!!!! you really don’t want to do that.”there is an immediacy to their input, but the cautions & encouragement can be for things that will greatly alter the long-term direction. another pastor is writing a blog series entitled “Church Planting Things I Wish They’d Told Me.” it is a great series and I greatly appreciate his insights. even if you aren’t a church planter, it’s worth checking out this piece as he quotes from Michael Bell on church size and numbers. quite interesting!