Thursday, May 31, 2007
We all want to feel like we have purpose in life. I know that those people who don't feel like they have purpose feel incredibly lost in their life. Many struggle with having any motivation to accomplish anything in life. You probably know people who are like this. They get up each day and just go through the motions. Some struggle to even get out of bed.
The truth is, God created each one of us with a purpose. The challenge in life is to find this purpose God has for us. And yet, at this point, I want to give a little warning. When we think about our purpose, our initial thoughts probably go to what we are meant to "do."
We live in a world where we feel like we have to prove ourselves. This comes at an early age. When we do things as a little child (for example, take our first step) our parents applaud us for it. As we live our lives, we get accolades for doing things well. In one sense this is good, because we need affirmation. But in another sense, it causes us to feel like "we are what we do."
When I talk about purpose, I want us to understand first and foremost that our purpose is to be a child of God. In the Bible, in Genesis chapter 1, after God creates man and woman, He says: "It is good." God is pleased with Adam and Eve before they did anything. God was pleased with them just because they existed.
And God created us to be in relationship with God. In the Westminster (Shorter) Catechism, the first question asks: "What is the chief end of man?" The answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." Did you catch that? We are to glorify God with who we are and enjoy being in relationship with God.
If I were to have asked you to write a purpose statement for your life at the beginning of this blog, your statement probably would have included much about what you felt like you needed to do. But the important foundational truth, is that our purpose is to BE who God created us to be, and to worship God, be in relationship with God, and experience the joy of knowing God.
My purpose statement says: "Biblical Purpose: The purpose of my life is to know God intimately through my relationship with Christ, and let God’s Spirit work in and through me as I abandon myself to Him."
If we try to make our purpose based on what we do, we will never feel like we measure up. If we let our purpose be to discover God and be in relationship with God, then we can enjoy life for who God made us to be, and experience the joy of discovering life anew each day.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts by clicking on the "comment" button below.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
They say that imitation is the highest compliment. I know that the other day when I went to my son's open house, I was very touched to read in his biography that the person he most wanted to be like was ME! He wanted to be like me because he said I was kind and I helped people. WOW!
And yet with this in mind, it is important for me to remember that I need to behave in ways that should be imitated. That means I need to talk right, and act right, and treat my wife and kids right. It also means that when I am wrong I need to say "I'm sorry," and when I fail I need to ask for forgiveness.
Just like our kids imitate us, so we choose others to imitate as well. Who is it that you imitate? If you don't know the answer to that question, you need to seek out the answer, because we all imitate someone, whether we realize it or not.
In Ephesians 5:1-2, the apostle Paul gives us a good challenge: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." This is a good word, because if there is anyone we should imitate, it is God. And not only do we have the Bible to help us know what to imitate, but we have Jesus Christ, who is the representation of God. As Jesus said in John 14:8-9, "8Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?"
Why is it more people don't imitate God? I believe that we struggle in life because we don't. I especially think that we need to imitate God's love. Tell me what you think by clicking on the "comments" button below.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I don't know if you have noticed, but there are more and more "shock jocks" popping up. Probably the best known is Howard Stern. These "shock jocks" create shows that often go beyond what many people would think is acceptable. They do it to get ratings. Howard Stern's show got so racy, that he had to move to SIRIUS on satellite radio, so he wouldn't have to be bound by Federal regulations.
Not too long ago Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay lost their jobs, and now they're scrambling for work. The co-hosts of "The Dog House with JV and Elvis" were permanently pulled last weekend from WFNY-FM for an offensive prank phone call, replete with ethnic and sexual slurs, made to a Chinese restaurant. Their dismissal demonstrated how heightened awareness by advertisers and management, coupled with offended listeners no longer content with "slap on the wrist" punishments, has turned the DJ's chair into a hot seat in recent weeks."The Imus episode has launched a new chapter in our questioning of what's acceptable on the radio," said Tom Taylor, publisher of the trade publication "Inside Radio."
Morning radio has become highly competetive, and there seems to be pressure to push the barrier between acceptable, and not acceptable. This often includes stunts that are crazy or dangerous. Eric Logan (no relation), Vice President of programming at XM radio says: "In the process of balancing the ratings with what's right, performers are encouraged to entertain, and along the way, they offend or hurt people's feelings. "It happens all the time," he said. "And I don't see it changing."
But the question is, why won't it change? And I believe it is the listeners' fault. If the listerners of radio (including satellite) didn't approve of what these shock jocks are doing, then they wouldn't have an audience, and there would be no demand for this kind of radio. Have we really fallen so far as a society that we approve of dangerous, hurtful, mean-spirited radio shows? Is free speech really about being able to attack and demean others?
I believe we have completely lost the spirit of what Jesus said, when He said to "love your neighbor as yourself." There is a great lack of sharing love in our world. How can we begin to win back our world? Tell me what you think about all of this by clicking on the "comments" button below.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Do you ever have trouble with what you say? Most people don't think that they do. But no one is perfect in what they say. We are
told in James 3:9-10, "9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." In fact, whether we want to admit it or not, what is in our hearts and minds will come out of our mouths.
Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 12:34, "...For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." So if there is anger in our hearts, we will speak words of anger. If there is bitterness in our hearts, we will speak harshly. If there is envy in our hearts, we will speak with an attitude of discontent. If there is worldliness in our hearts, then we will not speak in ways that bring glory to God.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Since God created us to be in relationship with each other, we should speak words that build up and bring love. As the old adage goes: "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." It is amazing to me how harsh an unloving people's words are to each other. I am amazed at all the backbiting, and criticism, and gossip there is in our world. There is so much evil in people's hearts, that we see it come out in their words.
So I challenge you and me today to see if we can't give our mouths to the Lord, and seek to "not let any unwholesome talk" come out of our mouths. Let us see if we can be encouraging and loving with our words. Let us see if we can be positive and build each other up.
Tell me what you think by clicking on the "comments" button below.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Do you struggle to stay focused when you pray? I know for me I can have trouble with that. There are many things that can cause this to happen: noise around me; thinking about what I need to get done; the phone ringing; my worries; people around me; and on and on it goes. So I want to suggest some ways we can be more focused in our prayers.
The first important step is to be alone. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you..." Notice Jesus says "when you pray." If we aren't alone, then we will more easily get distracted. Find a time and a place where you can be alone to pray. This might not happen every day, but hopefully you can do it several times a week. Not only will this help you to focus in your prayer, but this spot and time will become a treasured place for you.
Second, read some scripture before you pray. Reading the Bible not only provides nourishment for our spirits, but prepares our heart and mind to spend time with God. When we read the word of God before we pray, we will be in a better place to receive what God wants to show us.
Third, use the psalms to help you pray. By praying the words of the psalms first, it will help you to move into your own words of prayer. The psalms also teach us how to pray, by helping us to see that we should share all of our thoughts and feelings with God. The prayers of the psalmist will help to excite us more about prayer as well.
Finally, don't dwell on the struggles of your life or unanswered prayer. This will only keep you from seeking God and being able to rest in God. The struggles of our lives are distractions enough, we don't need to bring them into our prayer life. Lift them to God, and then move on. Prayer should lead us to finding peace and rest with God, and should bring feelings of thanksgiving to us.
How do you get focused in your prayer life? Share your thoughts by clicking on the "comments" button below.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
What is exciting for you? For some it is going to a ball game and enjoying the atmosphere, and the competition, and the great athletic abilities. For others it is going to Disneyland, or some other amusement park and experiencing the fun rides. And still for others, it might be going to an action/adventure movie. We all have different thoughts of what is exciting.
I want to propose to you that church is exciting as well. Now I know for many, they think that church is boring. But often times this is because they don't understand everything that is going on, and/or because they don't allow themselves to experience church how God designed it.
So what makes church exciting?
First, there are the friendships that we build. This is called "fellowship." There is nothing more exciting than to have special friends in your life. Now I know that church is not the only place you build friendships, but it is an important place to not only establish friendships, but also nurture those friendships. Having good friends is exciting, and even more when we can experience God's presence with others.
Second, there is the giving of our money. You might want to say to me, "Hold on here, giving my money is not exciting." But the truth is, it should be. In the Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10, we are told: "For the love of money is the root of all evil..." Money has a tendency to control us. We desire it, hoard it, use it selfishly. But when we learn how to give money away, we are freed up to enjoy money. On top of this, we learn that our giving helps others. THIS IS EXCITING!
Third, church is a place where we learn how to help others. This is called "service" or "ministry." Life for so many is spent selfishly caring for themselves, and maybe a few others. So many people give so little of themselves to this world. It is really a travesty to see. But when you go to church, and connect with God in church, you begin to dream a bigger dream for your life, and for this world. You begin to taste what love is, and that is largely about caring for others. There is nothing more exciting than making a difference in somebody else's life.
Fourth, church is the place where we learn about the mysteries of God and connect with God. This is called "worship." As we are told in Colossians 1:25-27, "25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
How exciting it is to know that God wants to reveal to us the mysteries of God, and life, and heaven. Church is the place where this can happen. In church we experience who God is, and how God is present in our lives, and in our world. God designed for church to be that place where God's people love each other, work together, and feel His presence at work.
How is church for you, boring or exciting? Why? Let me know what you think by clicking on the "comment" button below and sharing your thoughts.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Unfortunately the truth is that in life we are going to get frustrated. Maybe our computer isn't working right. Or maybe we can't learn something we want to learn. Or maybe someone is causing us to be frustrated. Do you allow yourself to get frustrated easily? Did you notice I used the phrase "allow yourself"? Because the truth is that we have control over whether or not we get frustrated. We usually don't have control over those things that frustrate us, but we can control how we react.
And in those times that we are frustrated, how do we act? Maybe we become impatient. Or maybe we become angry. Or maybe we get down on ourselves or on life. There is nothing good that comes from feelings of frustration.
So what are we to do when we get frustrated? I believe the best thing to do is to seek God. One of the best ways to overcome frustration, if you have the time, is to find a quiet place and just BE in the presence of God. Imagine God giving you words of comfort and encouragement. Imagine God telling you that He loves you in spite of what is going on around you. But also, ask God to help you to focus on what is important in life. If your computer crashes, maybe you can get the job done another way, or with another computer. Think about a solution to the problem, instead of letting the event cause you frustration.
In focusing on God, we remember that we have One who can help us get through these times of frustration. As Psalm 42:11 says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
But even more, we have to work on not allowing ourselves to get frustrated. Again, this is about focus. As Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." By fixing our eyes on Jesus, we keep our focus on the goal of what God has us to do in life, and we don't let the things around us derail us.
How do you overcome your frustration? How do you keep from getting frustrated? Share your thoughts by clicking on the "comments" button below.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
People don't ever want to be thought of as weak. Consequently, many people don't seek help when they need it. We picture strong people being those who can do it on their own. We are taught from a young age to be able to pull your own weight, and not to rely on others.
For many, they think that religion is a crutch for the weak. Those who can't live their life on their own need a "god" who can help them get through. In those times when you are struggling, then call on god and get the help you need.
But the truth is, even if you don't believe in God, we all need help at some time. There are things that we cannot do alone. For example, let's say that you are moving. There are many things you can move yourself, but what about the couch, or the entertainment center, or the refrigerator? You need help to move these things, so you call some friends to help you. Are you weak because your friends have to help you carry these items? Most people would say "no."
So why are you weak when you seek the help of others in emotional matters, or for advice, or for support? The truth is, our make-up is such that it is good to seek the help of others. We are designed in a way that we actually desire the connection of others.
The Bible let's us know this early on, when we are told in Genesis 2:20-23 "20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." We are created to be in partnership with others. This is not a sign of weaknesses, but adds to our strength.
On top of this, we are created to be in relationship with God. This too adds to our strength. We do not seek God because we are incapable of living life alone, but because this fulfills who we are. In that relationship, God walks with us and helps us. Joshua 1:9 tells us, "9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Just as a child is strengthened in their courage with the help and presence of their parents, so we are strengthened by the knowledge of God's help and presence.
Where do you get your strength? For me it is in my relationship with God, and knowing that God walks with me. Share your comments by clicking on the "comments" button below.