Archive for the ‘Priorities’ Category

There are four men I have met in my lifetime who have altered the direction of my life. Two of these men you may have heard of and the others you probably have not. What was it in their life that caused me to pause and take a look at life differently? Talking with and hanging out with these men was like reading a different book. I learned from each of them by looking deeply into the story each of them was telling through their life.

Larry Hinson introduced me to Jesus as we played hand ball, shared chicken dinners together and walked around campus over a couple of years. His willingness to be in my life was a book I was unaccustomed to reading. Max Barnett’s life opened my eyes to how God could use anyone’s life and I discovered the word “vision” from him. I spent a week with Henry Blackaby in Saskatchewan and after that week I wanted to know God like Henry did. Hou wanted to learn to drive and study the Biible. We did both and then he asked me “can a communist become a Christian?” I told him yes and hes said “then I want to become a Christian.” God spoke to me at that point and told me I would be taking students the following summer somewhere overseas in a summer mission project. That was 1991. Since that time I have been able to take students into many countries to open our “life books” and the story of how Jesus can help them figure out life and faith.

What is your life telling others about: love, forgiveness, faith, the consumer culture…? People won’t usually believe God will work in their lives until they see Him in our life.

What is required for them to want to read our book? Being involved consistently with them, telling the truth about ourselves and God, and listening to them show we care and they want to turn the page for more.

Check these out: Matthew 6:19-21, 18:21-22, John 13:34-35, 2 Corinthians 2:14, and Hebrews 11:6.

books

books (Photo credit: brody4)

Why not begin to give the Christmas gift of letting others read the book of your life all year long?

An In-N-Out Double-Double cheeseburger in narr...

An In-N-Out Double-Double cheeseburger in narrow depth-of-field focus with a second burger and fries blurred in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know, what you and I might be prone to say is that we want both the fries and the cheeseburger. But the cheeseburger is the main part of the meal and the fries are on the side. That is always true except at a restaurant  in Boise, Idaho. At Boise Fry the burger is on the side and the fries are the big deal.

We easily live life in ways that show what we believe is mandatory and what is optional. One thing Jesus was consistent with was to regularly turn our thinking upside down. Just when we thought we knew what was right, Jesus would redefine it. “One thing you lack…” he told a wealthy man who thought he was tracking with Jesus. Or how many times did you read about him saying “you have heard it said, but I say…”?

Churches have many names for small groups of people who gather to talk, eat and study together. But it soon becomes clear that these are optional, maybe like the fries on the burger menu. The early Jesus followers knew nothing of this. Acts 2:43-47 opens a world to us that most of us have never experienced. Can you really live like this and have relationships that don’t just consist of a 2 hour meeting? It can be experienced but the group must be treated as the main course. To share life with others means getting dirty together, laughing and crying together, being available 24/7. A knock on the door at 12:30 AM is never seen as an intrusion to your privacy but rather is an opportunity to be Jesus to your friend. There is great cost but the freedom that comes from not being in control is of immeasurable value. God gives us the opportunity to enter these most meaningful relationships. and the world is starving to see it too.

Who do you think would love to make a group like this the main course with you? Ask them!

Success Is Certain

Success Is Certain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The accomplishment of anything is only relevant if the matter pursued is defined correctly. A baseball player could be considered successful by getting a hit every three times at bat. A business person who closed a deal 75% of the time might be successful. What about raising a teenager, loving a spouse or mom and dad, as an employee or making disciples…? How success is defined is critical but equally critical is what it costs to succeed.

If the definition is to win, nothing else matters. Neglect of God’s priorities easily gives way to not only playing the game but in winning the game. But what if success is bringing out the best in your opponent and has nothing to do with winning?

It is never a matter of how many show up at our Christian meetings, but rather are they increasingly following Jesus? A person’s motivation and direction in life are critical components of success. Both come with costs.

Comparisons of athletic teams, economic achievements or appearances miss the point entirely. The widow who gave a couple of pennies gained the compliment from Jesus and consider Apelles in Romans 16:10 who was a “tried and true veteran in following Jesus.” Pain, confusion, frustration, darkness and failure are all costs to learn how to do life God’s way, but if we learn and live life God’s way the cost is worth it. If we achieve anything other than living as God intended, the cost is too great.

Mark 8:36, Luke 18:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:12 should cause us to carefully examine how we use our time and resources while on the planet. Would Jesus look over to the Father as he sees you or I and say “sweet, they’re getting it?”

EXPLORE   A deeper look at 2 Corinthians 5:17 shows that when we choose to follow Jesus we are not some genetically modified person but rather we are completely new. The ways we thought about life no longer work when Jesus is our life. Colossians 3:1-3 gets to the point even more by driving a larger nail into our former bucket list lifestyle by telling us to focus on what really matters and not to get caught up in the pursuit of the beautiful cultural lifestyle that ends up in the junkyard. It is true that God has put into each our our lives diverse passions that when pursued honor him. But that is the point-they should bring honor to him.

CONSIDER   What does it really look like to say that Jesus is your life? Do you curl up on a couch with a Bible and read it 24/7? Is there room for passion of any kind other than prayer? What about the coffee shop you want to add to your “coffeelogy” list? How do you determine what to spend your money on? What are the larger temptations that tend to win as you deal with this? What is the root motivation that keeps you giving into these temptations and not experiencing what matters most to God?

LIVE   Take some time to see if Jesus or anything else is your “bucket list.” Get together with a friend or two who seriously want Jesus to be the priority of their life and discuss how this should be lived out in our culture. When Jesus is your life it affects how you use your time, finances and energy. What is on God’s heart is not “tacked on” but is rather “built into” your lifestyle.

Cover of "The Bucket List"

Cover of The Bucket List