what’s the point

3

Category : God, faith, fear, hope, live for the eternal

 

Unstable. 

That’s usually a term we use for dangerous chemical compounds or people suffering from mental illness.  But it also describes the world we live in.  Every day we are pushed and pulled by forces outside of our control.  And perhaps nothing terrifies me more than not having control.  My guess is I’m not alone.

The problem is, it’s this instability where God calls us.  He wants us to make the world look more like him and less like us.  To do that he asks us to bring light to a dark world.  Of course the very meaning of ”dark” suggests we’re entering into things unknown.  Which doesn’t sound exactly calm and peaceful to me.

As I watch the news, or read the Drudge Report, I can’t help but find myself overwhelmed by unstable times.  Today the news is that greed and corruption have doomed America.  Friday it was joy at how wonderful it was that stocks shot up hundreds of points.  Today Russia assures the world that war could never break out between the US and itself.  But last week Russia was threatening to take control of the arctic. 

How can God ask us to bring truth and grace into a world that changes by the hour?

Why does God ask us to go into dark places if we’re to be killed?  Why does he ask us to trust him, when it may lead to being jobless?  What’s the point?  I can’t help but think like the writer of Ecclesiastes when he said, “meaningless, utterly meaningless.”

Ironically it’s in that question where we find the answer.  What is the point?  If we’re living for financial wealth the fluctuation of the stock market is a major issue.  If we’re living for security, Russia’s aggression posses a threat.  If we’re living for comfort, losing your electricity for a week is a major crisis.  But none of that is where God asks us to focus.

He’s asking us to live for something eternal.  Something that’s not of this world.  And for once we’re not talking about ALF.  He’s asking us to live for a Kingdom we can’t even imagine right now. 

The Bible is very clear that while we may be rewarded for our faith here on Earth, the real reward is waiting for us in Heaven.   Jesus himself says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5: 11-12)

In the end we are told by the media and our politicians that we can be killed in any countless ways.  Maybe it’s by not wearing seat belts.  Maybe we’ll be kidnapped because we’re foreigners in a foreign land.  Maybe we’ll die from tainted milk, or starve to death because we have no money.  Well, you get the point. 

In a world that tells us to not take action – God calls us to take action.  In a world that says, “there is no point” God says, “I AM the point.”  And it’s only by remembering that can we ever hope to reshape the world, and bring light into darkness.  It’s the only way we will ever have the strength to endure the hardships, the fear, and the instability, but still pick up our cross and march forward.

As people of faith, we live for a different Kingdom.  A different reality.  And that’s the point.

impatience

Category : faith, hope, live for the eternal

 

The economy is tough right now.  It seems like every day I hear about another friend losing their job.  Or gas prices rising.  And let’s not even talk about the housing market.  Frankly it feels as if nothing will ever change; that we’ll be stuck in this economy forever, with no hope of improvement. 

And yet, it wasn’t that long ago I remember wondering if the economy would ever slow down.  It seemed as if the stock market always went up, and new homes were bought just as fast as they were made. 

Funny how that is.

Why do we get so caught up in The Moment™ that we convince ourselves that nothing is going to change?  Peter felt that way the night they came to take Jesus to his death.  He felt so strongly that things weren’t going to change that he declared nothing would shake his faith in Jesus (Mark 14: 27-31). 

I think we get caught up in the moment because we lose sight of our true goal - a relationship with God that lasts forever.  When we shift our focus to other places, no matter how well intentioned, we get distracted.  True joy, true hope, and true happiness will never come from an economy – good or bad.   

Of course I’m no better at this than anyone else.  The reality is, it takes work to stay focused.  Some days it’s easy.  But more often than not it takes sheer will power.  In the end though, reminding myself to “focus on the eternal” keeps me moving towards God.  And that perspective helps me be a little more patient when life doesn’t work out the way I want.   

the end game

Category : God, different, fear, hope, live for the eternal

       

Sometimes life throws you unexpected twists.  And it’s been my experience that these not only show up unexpectedly, but right after you have everything planned.  For me one of those twists was a sudden and overwhelming fear of blogging.  Perhaps I’m the first case of blogophobia.

I hope they’ll name it after me.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t really a fear of blogging.  But I had a sudden realization that “holy cow there are people reading my blog!”  And yes, I occasionally use words like “holy cow.”  As R3 has gained popularity, I’ve had to deal with what that means. 

It’s not easy, and it probably never will be easy, for me to sit here and talk about how God has changed me.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  It makes me miss the anonymity of the internet.  Plus, who wants to look like an idiot? 

Funny how these things never come up when you are planning!

But as I’ve pondered this issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s something more important than looking like an idiot in front of strangers: it’s what we do with our lives.

We’re given one shot.  And during that time God calls us to make a difference.  He calls on us to literally change the world.  So despite my hesitations I press onward.  It’s not bravery, or overcoming fear, or something like that.  I simply want God to be part of my life more than I care to have my privacy. 

But this isn’t really about blogging.  It’s about so much more! 

It’s about how we live our lives. 

It’s about the purpose of our lives.

I want to live my life looking forward, advancing the Kingdom in bold ways.  And that means always reminding myself that while I may look like an idiot today, what counts is down the road.  And if me looking like an idiot is what makes God “click” for them, than I’m all in favor of looking like one.

When I die, which hopefully will be many years away, I want to look back on my life and see the impact I made.  But not just in their worldly lives.  I want to say I made a difference in someone’s eternal future.

And when I meet them again, after death, I look forward to that knowing nod between two friends.

what i’m reading: Purpose Driven Life

Category : book review, feeding my brain

       

By my unofficial, and highly unscientific estimation the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a hugely popular book.  I believe the exact number of people who have read it is, a lot.

But not me.  I avoided it.

I saw how many people have read it, and I’ve heard people talk about it so often I thought it would be best to steer clear.  Don’t ask why, it doesn’t really make any sense to me either.  But all that came to an end when I found a copy for $4 at a used book sale.

What I read makes me understand why it’s such a popular book.  Purpose Driven Life sets you on a 40 day journey to better understand yourself, and you’re relationship with God.  While I disagree with some of the first few chapters, I was blown away by two major themes I saw in this book: 

1.  We are all called to change the world, even if that’s only one person or one city.  God expects great things from us.  Not because he’s a task master or over bearing, but because he knows just how amazing we can be.  No one knows our potential like God.  He also knows exactly what we can handle.  And because of that he has big plans for us.

2.  We should focus on the eternal.  No one denies that life gets busy and hectic.  It’s easy to misplace our priorities and start chasing after things that don’t matter.  Sometimes we even intentionally choose to go after a career or family instead of God.  While a lot of the things we emphasize in our life are good, they all fall short of the importance of how we spend eternity.

Purpose Driven Life really highlighted the fact that living with the future in mind changes how you see the present.  If the only thing we’re living for is a new job, a new car, or the perfect family we will be devastated when we don’t get promoted, can’t afford an upgrade, or our family has problems. 

When you live your life thinking about the impact you can make for all time, a lot of our fears seem pretty insignificant.  After all, what’s a little criticism or rejection when you can impact someone forever?

God created us for a reason, and while we can certainly go through life without living out our purpose, it seems like we’d be missing out on something. 

Just because life is short, doesn’t mean we can’t change eternity.  And I find that exciting.