Thursday, March 25, 2010

Work Worth Doing

Have you ever wondered, why am I here? I'm sure we all have wondered this at some point in our life. Most people I ask that question to answer it with a statement of what they feel they are called to "do" in life. While we are all capable of doing many things, that is not the primary reason we are here. The primary reason is to love God. By loving God and being loved by God, we are then called to love others.
In a blog titled "Work Worth Doing," why would I start by talking about our call to love God and others? Because, without this understanding, we end up doing much that is not really worth doing. What I mean by this, is that too often, with a limited perspective of our existence, the work we feel called to do is usually for our own benefit; it is self-serving.
This work is not work that is worth doing, because it is based on affecting only one person: yourself. God created us to have an eternal perspective because we are eternal beings. If all we do for work is that which benefits ourselves, then we fall far short from making much of an impact with our lives. In John 6:27, Jesus says: "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
So we need to ask, what is this food that endures to eternal life? It is work that will carry over into the next life; our life in heaven. Simply put, the work that is eternal is loving others, worshiping God, and leading people into a life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This kind of work can be lived out in the workplace, the church, our home, with our neighbors, most anywhere we are. And the great news is that it will make an eternal difference with all whom we share.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Ultimate Birthday Party

Birthday parties are meant to be fun. They are meant to make us feel happy. They are meant to include our family and friends; all those who are important to us. They are not meant to be rigid, but meant to be a celebration of the fact that we were born into this world. There are many ways that you can throw a birthday party, anywhere from a simple dinner, to a trip to an amusement park, or a night of dancing.
Our blog group is asking the question, what is the ultimate birthday party? Now I suppose the answer to that would depend on what you enjoy. For some, a great birthday party may be going to the opera. But if you don’t like the opera, then it wouldn’t be very fun. For others it might be going to a baseball or basketball game. And still for others, a time spent with friends is all that they need. There can’t be any one idea, because each person has different likes and dislikes.
One wonderful birthday party that I heard about was a story Tony Campolo tells, of a time he was in Hawaii to speak. It was late at night and he couldn’t sleep, so he went to the local diner. While there, he overheard a couple of prostitutes talking, and one lady (let’s call her Gladys) was talking about how her birthday was coming up, but that she had never had a birthday party. After some time the women left. This gave Campolo and idea that he ran by the cafĂ© owner, to throw a party for Gladys. The owner thought this a great idea, and they planned it for the next night when it was her birthday. The next night came, Tony and the owner were ready for Gladys, in she walked, and they shouted out “Happy Birthday.” Gladys was moved to tears. She found out that Tony Campolo was a minister and asked about his church. He said he was the pastor of a church that through birthday parties for prostitutes! She couldn’t believe it, stating: “Now I would go to that kind of a church.”
I believe this is a powerful story, because it talks about showing value to a person’s life. And that is what the ultimate birthday party is: showing value for the person’s life. It isn’t so much what we do in the party, as long as the person feels valued. I know for me, when people take time out of their schedule to be there for me, or to show me they care, that makes it the ultimate celebration. How about you? What do you think is the ultimate birthday party?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Running To Win

In a race such as a 10k there are many different kinds of runners: there is the casual runner who isn’t in the best of shape but wants the challenge of the run. There is the cautious runner who doesn’t push the race too hard for fear of burning out before the end. Then there is the compromised runner who can get easily distracted during the race. Finally, you have the committed runner, who is there not only to compete and finish, but to win.
The committed runner knows the importance of training consistently. The committed runner knows that victory is achieved, not by the fainthearted, but by the one who is diligent and strong.
If we were to liken this to the Christian life, the committed runner is the one who utilizes the many resources that God gives. The committed runner commits himself/herself to regular study of the Bible. The committed runner not only comes to worship, but gives himself or herself fully to it; meaning they let the music touch their soul, they let the prayers affect their heart, and they let the words of the Bible reading and the sermon transform their character. They let themselves participate in all aspects of the service. The committed runner also knows the benefit of prayer, and finds time each day to rest in the arms of Jesus. The committed runner knows the power that is received by being closely knit with Jesus. The committed runner knows that there will be times of failure, but in the end they will be victorious.
As Romans 6:4-4-5 tells us: “Therefore we have been buried with Christ by
baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
What kind of runner best describes you? The casual runner? The cautious runner? The compromised runner? Or the committed runner? The good news is, that whatever runner you think yourself to be, God is there with you, and can help you to become a more committed runner. God can help give you this desire, and can help you to achieve it. All you have to do is commit, or maybe re-commit yourself to him this day. And again remember the words Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24- “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
The truth is, when we are committed to the Lord, and trust in Him, we will all win!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Who Controls Your Mind?

Who controls your mind? It seems like a silly question at first, because the answer should be: I do. But the truth is, we can be controlled in what we think, which leads to what we do. The Bible says our war is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The enemy, Satan, wants to come in and take control of our lives, control of our minds. The mind is the doorway to the heart. The mind gives commands that the body follows.
Actually, the answer shouldn’t be, I control my mind, but rather, God controls my mind. If we seek to control our own mind, then we will be misled, or deceived, or tempted away from what is best for us. But if we let God control our mind, then we will be able to live in the best way we can live.
In the Bible, in the book of Romans, chapter 12, it talks about the “renewing of your mind.” Renewal happens when our spiritual vision and thinking adjusts to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon our lives. It is the need to transform our will to the will of God. As Jerry Bridges says in his book The Pursuit of Holiness: “…it is the will that ultimately makes each individual choice of whether we will sin or obey. It is the will that chooses to yield to temptation, or to say no. Our wills, then, ultimately determine…whether we will be holy or unholy in our character and conduct.” (p. 125)
So you see, that it is best for our will to be in line with God’s will, and for this to happen we must let God control our mind. The key to all of this is that we were given life to glorify God; to honor God with our lives. But we cannot do that on our own. To do this we must start with renewing our minds; get the things of God into our mind! I cannot stress this enough. Second, we need to begin to make decisions that will bless God with our actions. Pray to God for strength, and seek God for wisdom. Through this wisdom, God will be leading us to live as we should. So, WHO CONTROLS YOUR MIND?