Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Ending of My Story

The blog group I belong to has chosen "The Ending of My Story" to be our topic for this week. As I thought about that idea I wondered what I would like the ending of my story to be. Is it even good for me to think about the end? Aren't we supposed to think about the now so that we don't lose focus?
The truth is, by looking at the end, it helps me to decide how to live now. I believe this idea of the end of my story is similar to thinking about what you might want on your gravestone. It is what you want people to remember about you when you die. And I hope that when I come to my end, people will be able to commend me for what I accomplished for the Lord.
I want my life to be about doing what God has called me to do; love people, encourage people, teach people about Jesus, live out God's will for me. I was created for a purpose, and there are some things that only I can do. I want to be able to come before God and have God say: "Well done my good and faithful servant." I want to be able to know that I did my best in bringing glory to God.
An Omphalos stone is a stone that is placed in what is believed to be the center of the world. Too many people want to be an omphalos stone, where they think of themselves as the center of the world; everything revolved around them. That is getting it all wrong. I want God to be at the center of the world, the center of my world, so that all that I do seeks to please Him.
I hope the ending of my story is a long way off, since I am only 48. I believe God has much for me still to do. And my desire echoes the words of the psalmist in Psalm 37:4- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I hope the ending of my story shows that I consistently delighted myself in the Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to do more with your life than just exist...

A typical day for me is get up, get ready for work, help with the kids some (although Tami does most of that), take Tiffany to school, go to work, do my work all day, come home in the evening, eat dinner, watch some TV (or play a game with the kids), help the kids get to bed, read them their devotion, put the kids to bed, read some or watch TV a little more, and then go to bed. If you are like me, many of your days are similar to the one before. Day after day runs together, and at times life can seem a bit of drudgery. The repercussions of which are that we feel like we are just existing in this world.
If you ever feel this way, the reason is because we have lost our focus; we have lost our sense of purpose. In Genesis chapter 1 we are told that we are created in the image of God. To be in God's image is not to just exist or live a life of drudgery. And while we can't have extraordinary excitement in our lives every day, we can find excitement in the every day of life. This is because God makes life itself meaningful.
Each moment we have on this earth is a moment to make a difference. We have the opportunity to love somebody who needs some extra love, or talk to somebody who is lonely, or encourage someone who is down. Even in doing the same things day after day we can find excitement. How? It comes from recognizing that we have another day to live. We have experiences in our lives that can bless us, if we see it that way. We have the potential to give of ourselves, or try something new.
Every day doesn't have to be the same. Maybe today you try and change it up by doing something you didn't do yesterday. Maybe you spend some extra time with your kids, or take your wife out to dinner. The other day on my way home, I decided to stop and get Tami some roses and the kids some baseball cards (yes, Tiffany is now collecting baseball cards). When I came home, it was fun to give these gifts away, and fun for the family to receive them.
If you want to feel more than you are just existing, then try to do something unique with your life each day. Reflect on how you have this life to touch the lives of others. Give of yourself, be less judgmental, be more generous, be less predictable. And above all, live with purpose!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Alternate Universe

Our blogger group is tackling the question: If the world was somehow sucked into a blackhole and entered an alternate universe, what would your ideal vision of that universe be? How often have people wondered if this world couldn't be better? I look around and see the evil, the corruption, the pain, the hurt, the lostness that exists. As a minister I am dealing with this in people's lives on a daily basis. Shouldn't we be able to live in a better world?
But what would that better world look like? It might require a serendipitous experience. Meaning, that this fortunate new world might just be happened upon (i.e. being sucked into the alternate universe). This new world would first of all need to consist of people who are sinless, because once sin comes into the world, the ultimate outcome will be the inclusion of pain, corruption, and evil. Secondly, this new world would be an environment of sharing. While ownership has its benefits, it leads to hoarding and selfishness. Thirdly, it would require unconditional love; the desire to love all without condition.
In the Bible, we see an attempt at this in the book of Acts where the people had a communal pot and shared their lives with each other. As Acts 2:44-47 tells us: "44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Here we have an environment of love, and sharing, and the enjoyment of one another.
The world I am describing actually will exist; it will exist in heaven. Either when we die, or it comes to that time when Christ returns, we will join Christ in heaven. There will be no sin. There will be sharing. There will be unconditional love, as we will be in the presence of LOVE itself; GOD. So, I suppose that alternate universe is heaven, and what a world it will be!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't Stop Learning

God has created us as learning beings. And from our first day alive, we begin to learn; learn how to communicate, learn how to receive love, and learn how to love. As we get older we learn our a, b, c's, and we learn our 1, 2, 3's. We learn our shapes, and even how to draw (I remember the fun I had with my etch-a-sketch trying to draw patterns and pictures). We begin to learn how to put letters together to form words, and words together to form sentences. We go to school and begin to learn even more.
It is not a good thing to stop learning. In fact, one day I asked my 10-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son: what would you be like if you didn't learn anything else the rest of your life? And the answer was that they would become very simple and immature adults. We are meant to learn, and to keep learning.
The challenge is that once we stop going to school, the tendency is that we don't learn like we used to. Our learning begins to slow down in many ways, because we stop pushing our minds in the same way as we did in school. We might read, but not necessarily books that teach us or challenge us. We might do puzzles, but not necessarily those that would stretch our minds.
So how can we keep learning? How can we challenge our minds without necessarily having to go back to school? I believe we can do it through many of the same things I mentioned: puzzles (I love Sudoku puzzles where I am challenged in my math skills), or more difficult word puzzles. We can also be challenged by reading the Bible and going to Bible study. By reading the word of God, we are challenged with the most important information, and we have an environment where discussion can spur our thought processes.
Along with that, we can memorize scripture. Memorizing is a great workout for the brain. How wonderful a brain God has given us. A brain that is capable of so much. As Ephesians 5:15 says: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise." When we choose to not stop learning, we live a very wise life. So how are you continuing your learning process?