Archive for the ‘Purpose’ Category

What does it mean to want something so bad that we will risk, practice or devote our self so completely to it that it even surprises us? If it’s worth it, we’re not going to even think about cost. We will do this for participation in or recognition in sports, music, our jobs or whatever we or others highly value.

But why do we chase the wind harder than the one who made it? We need to seriously examine our heart to see if we really want him. If we do, those hard decisions will become easier as we see the emptiness in chasing what God says will ruin us either slowly or all at once. We too easily live in ways that show that we don’t really believe God gets it.

Look at some of the words in Colossians 3:1-10: “Set your hearts, set your minds, put to death, rid yourselves…”These words indicate determination to focus on what pleases God. Paul challenges Timothy and us in 2 Timothy 2:3 & 4 to not get “sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life.” A warfare mentality gets nasty and crazy about eliminating everything that distracts from the commander’s orders.

David (a man after God’s heart and doing everything God wanted him to do-see Acts 13:22) said in Psalms 39:5 and 139:23 & 24 that our life is so brief that we should ask God to take a look at our life and tell us what he sees. This was a man whose focus was cleat and enjoyed life but put away the card games when a spear came his way. He wanted what God wanted and got rid of everything that kept him from that goal.

How does our prayer life reflect our commitment to experience God in an authentic way? Are we willing to be brave enough to ask God to show us what needs to go from our life? How about asking someone you trust to tell you what they see in your life that proves that you are serious about following Jesus or makes them wonder about it?

A coach comes into the school and asks a simple question “Who wants to be on this team?’ The answer seems easy because you have been waiting for this coach to come to your school with this question. Ten students raise their hands. The coach is pleased then adds “practice begins at 3 AM tomorrow.” You really want to be a part of the team but most of your friends drop off the list loudly saying it’s crazy to expect anyone to be anywhere but horizontal in bed at that hour.

But you set your alarm for 2:15 and plan to be there. Why would you do that when all of your friends won’t get up until 9:00? Really it is because of your love of the game. You would do anything to be on the team and play for this coach. Can a person really love the game more than anything else?

What about loving God more than anything else? Is that a realistic question in a world with more options than ever? I mean, think about how many tech starts there are every day, how many apps show up for your phone daily, or how many sporting and music events there are to attend. Besides, you think “I will check God out next Sunday for a couple of hours.” Psalm 73:25 reveals David’s heart but is this really possible today? And Paul’s priority is seen in Philippians 1:21. But that was David and Paul, right?

So, do you want to ask God to put it into your heart to love Him more than anything or anyone else? God always takes this kind of request seriously.

Maybe you have had the experience of having one or more of your fingertips go numb. For whatever reason there is just no feeling there. You touch it or pinch it, but nothing. Your fingertips have just lost the sense of feeling. There is no connection to pain or heat.

We are made for a longing for God alone but our insatiable craving is usually misdirected toward the consumption of stuff that on the one hand  lasts for a few days, but continues rampant throughout our lifetime in our “misplaced values” culture. This time of year we are convinced that if we just get that X Box, sweet jacket or take that trip we will have our longing satisfied. Oh, and there’s that Pickup…

All the time, God is working to remove the insensitivity we have towards Him by taking us through the class of “These things don’t ever satisfy.”

We are made for God alone. Psalm 42: needs to be checked out first thing each morning. David chases after God in a way that seems so foreign to us. Again in Psalm 73:25 David challenges us with “I’ve got heaven coming, got relationship with him: Nothing here on earth’s worth a second view!” Isaiah loudly agrees saying that his soul and spirit longs for God (Isaiah 26:9). Even Paul learned that a flat out trust in God is all that gets you through the stacked card game of life that is strategically set to disappoint and destroy us (2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9).

How’s your feeling for God? What do you need to stop chasing after in order to have contentment, satisfaction, or meaning? How can you begin to develop a heart for God alone? Talk about it with someone else.

Numb (U2 song)

Numb (U2 song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Smorgasbord

Smorgasbord (Photo credit: toastforbrekkie)

We are not on the planet to focus our lives on whatever hobby, sporting event, music venue or shopping event massages our personal interest. But that is how most of us live. We have to work but just wait for the evening or weekend-it’s ours. But then, how do you think Jesus woke up every day? What was he thinking about? Oh, but that’s Jesus and he had a much larger agenda than we do.

When our diet consists of whatever we want , the result is often measureable, but is more likely very subtle. Physically  it shows up quite easily but internally it may take years to notice.

The cost to really follow Jesus is huge because it reaches into the way we think about the use of our time, how we spend our resources, where we live and more. But to settle for what we want to do, or how we want to spend our money or… means we are forfeiting everything God intended for us when he started the whole deal.

John 10:10 speaks about a thief who comes to kill and ruin everything. His focus is you and me. He tricks us with the facade of thinking we are a disciple when we show up at Christian events or by our cleaning up our language when we are there. He convinces us with “you can’t have pure thoughts all the time.” He trains our ears to hear the never ending message of a culture focused on the exact opposite of God’s never changing purpose for us.

“Debit or credit” the thief says. It doesn’t matter. It removes us from using our time and resources for what only matters.

It costs a church to make disciples but the cost not to raise up disciples who make disciples may look good from the size of the building or crowd but the culture yawns with complete disinterest.

Look at the rest of John 10:10, To do it Jesus’ way results in life better than we could ever imagine. But don’t forget Mark 8:36 and 10:17-31-a smorgasbord to remember.

Alzheimer’s destroys our enjoyable lifestyle. It is something dreaded and I know of no one who looks forward to this illness. However, it is easy to deliberately or gradually forget the only thing that gets God dancing at the party.

Almost everyone focuses on what they believe will make them happy even though happiness has never been the prize God has for us. Joy, on the other hand is ours but if we get this dreaded disease we sacrifice the prize. It really doesn’t matter whether some traumatic event causes us to not value what God does or over time we simply choose to put our priorities on the top shelf. Either way we constantly can reach for life in things that come up short every time. The new car, dynamite stereo, unbelievable concert or the slow cruise down the Rhine River leave us only wanting more. Alzheimer’s is taking over.

Isaiah 65:11 and 12 speaks about our abandoning God, forgetting and ignoring what he hates and choosing to figure out life our way. However, if we want the prize God has for us, Isaiah 66:1 and 2 clears it up. Enjoying the life God has for us only has one condition-to reverently be responsive to whatever God says to us. God never changes the formula, He doesn’t forget, we do.

How can we not get this disease? Join with others who are listening to God and doing what he says. It’s simple but is hard to find but worth the trip.

My Joy

My Joy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Church Building

Church Building (Photo credit: joseph a)

A man and woman are checking on a new house to purchase. The wife rejects several houses in the $400000 category because she does not like the color of the counter tops or in some cases they are not granite, while the husband rejects others because there is no space for him to eat his ribs and watch the game alone or with his buddies in his man cave. There are some essentials the house must have while most are really optional.

What are the essentials and what is optional when it comes to church? Does the answer depend on if you live in the USA or somewhere outside of the USA where the majority of followers of Jesus live? One of the most significant times of doing church I participated in was in a stairwell in a dilapidated building in Albania. There were about 12 of us present, about half Christians and the rest not Christians who mostly spoke Albanian. We had no musical instrument and sat on the floor and stairs.

There are several essentials but I mention only one here-we are to make disciples who make disciples. We may have grand “church buildings” but we have dismissed one of Jesus’ most significant statements of why we are remaining on the planet if this essential is not happening. Check Matthew 28:18-20. We  must carefully define “disciples” or as GK Chesterton says “we continue to play children’s games.”

There are many optional aspects of doing church but one would be location. It may meet in a building with a church name on it, or in a rented school, or a city park or…

A 16mm jacket dupe microfiche

A 16mm jacket dupe microfiche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might have to microfiche for this headline but its importance can’t be overstated. It was a typical Sabbath day, the people were there probably not expecting too much to happen but there was one factor they had not counted on-Jesus was in the house! The meeting started well but by the time it was over, the people were trying to kill Jesus. What the spank was going on? Look at Luke 4:14-30 and especially verses 18-21.

Jesus identified his purpose but the people thought he was pushing it too far. But think about verses 18 and 19. Why is this good news? What is good news to those who don’t know Jesus or who get up every morning to go to work and come home to crash for the rest of their life?  Is the good news inviting them to meetings, challenging them to only eat certain food, washing their hands for all kinds of things or is it much more? We must know what would be good news to those not following Jesus.

This in part requires listening to our friends. People trying to make life work without Jesus are locked up in jails of all kinds. They can’t see how to escape the many traps of life and they are hammered, crushed and broken down by countless inventions of men that just tie the knots tighter. Freedom, Sight and Release are what Jesus is talking about. Do our friends not following Jesus get this? Do they see this message in us? Can you give someone a little hope today?

We all experience it, maybe infrequently, maybe too often and for too many all of the time. I am of referring of course to physical food that provides nourishment to sustain life. So much focus today is on food-cooking shows are some of the most watched on TV today. A better question than “are you hungry” might be “what are you hungry for?”

But how willing am I to experience loneliness and emptiness to learn to hunger after God as I hunger for no one or nothing else? While there is some joy and pleasure enjoying some things, our purpose on the planet is not to focus on consuming more. God uses the emptiness and loneliness we experience as we chase this stuff to draw us to a hunger for only him.

David experienced this-check out Psalm 63:1 and 73:25. Jesus was willing to confuse the disciples to get across a major point as he told them he had a completely different restaurant in mind. Take a look at John 4:27-34. I woke up the other day with a lot of things on my mind but the only thing I wanted to do was to spend time with Jesus. I knew it was the only thing that would satisfy my longing.

Would you be willing to come to a place where there is nothing in life that you want more than an intimate relationship with Jesus? It will cost, you will be tested but you will experience freedom unlike anything you have ever known.

Regardless of what you put an artificial sweetener in or on it is never quite like sugar. It might be cleverly packaged but it always fails. It promises but never really delivers.

Like the sweetener we all have something in life that defines for us what life is about. It is the ultimate power that all of our decisions are related to. It is in effect our “god.” As life goes on, we often change it but it remains a “god” to us even though we have this bad taste in our mouth after taking a swallow.

Think about the implications of “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 and the many “I AM’s” Jesus dropped on people. (John 8:57&58; 6:35; 8:12; 14:6 etc) And then there is the conversation in Mark 10:17-23 where Jesus makes it clear that our “god’s” will never cross the finish line. Acts 19:26 and 1 John 2:15&16 further emphasize the futility of trying to replace Jesus in our life with anything as our ultimate meaning, authority or whatever.

What does your schedule for the last month reveal what you really believe is the point of life?  Talk with someone who will keep you accountable with your making a change.

Deadly Distractions

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Distraction, Lifestyle, Purpose

“It seemed so innocent.”  “I really loved that.”  “I get so excited about it, I forget everything else.” Ever say any of these? What’s wrong with chasing something with enthusiastic passion? Maybe nothing unless… unless that passion is stronger than your passion for Jesus. A passion for anything that is stronger than a passion for Jesus will ultimately ruin your life. Colossians 3:2 speaks to our focusing on what matters rather than trash (also known as distraction). What has consumed your energy this week? What distractions are there in your life?