Just Do it!

I’ve been trying to do everything other than write this post. Why? It’s not a great revealing post nor one that I will reveal a great sin. This post is nothing more than a statement of what I feel God is calling me to do. And by putting it down on virtual paper, it feels more real, more ‘official’ if you will. Something that know that it’s down on paper and out of my head, I have nothing left but to take action on it.

Why do I struggle even putting this out there? I’ve been looking for this for a long time. I’ve written many posts here about seeking God’s will and purpose for my life. I’ve spent a few years now seeking and waiting. I don’t want this to be just another one of those posts of “This is what I will or should do” and then never take action and a year from now I’m back looking for my purpose.

So that’s why I struggle. If I write it down, I will need to take action upon it. Two things happened recently that triggered this post (despite me writing different posts first in a unconscious attempt to avoid this one).

First, I’m just browsing around Facebook and stumble upon a person with whom I not even friends with on there. He is on a long journey across America seeking out the homeless, the down-trodden and helping where he can. That could be as simple as buying a meal, paying for a hotel room, or simply just a good conversation. Despite his own sinful nature, he is making an impact on people’s lives and planting the seed of Christ in many. Some of the stories I read, touched me in the few minutes I spent. I felt God asking very clearly, “How have you helped people lately?”

As I went to bed last night, still thinking about those stories I read and trying to contemplate what God is telling me, I do what I do most nights, I lay down to do a little reading before turning out the lights. Currently I’m reading a book (restarting it actually) by John Maxwell called The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. As I’m reading through the first chapter , called “The Law of Intentionality” it strikes me how I still can’t take my mind off the stories I had just read on Facebook.

This chapter is sub-titled “Growth Doesn’t Just Happen.” It talks about how you have to be intentional about personal growth. You can’t just sit back and wait for growth to happen. You can’t just say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” You know how easy it is to put off things. I’m a natural procrastinator…if I can wait to do something until later, I probably will.

As I read through to the end of the chapter, one thing stood out to me…the call to “Just do it now!” Start now. Schedule time in your day if you have to. Put it on your calendar. Whatever you have to do, just do it and do it now! Maxwell pulled this quote by Jennifer Reed in the April 19, 2011 issue of SUCCESS magazine;

Can there be a more insidious word? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.” Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.” Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances…I’ll do it later.”

“Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our changes of success. The diet that starts “tomorrow,” the job hunt that happens “eventually,” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot.

Why do we do this to ourselves anyway? Why don’t we take action now? Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.

What a statement of my life. I seem to be waiting for stuff to happen. Meanwhile, the world keeps turning, lives go on and opportunities that God has put before me pass me by.

Dose of real life

Then not too long after, I received news that a young man of just 20 years old was killed in a motorcycle accident. This young man, whom I had coached in baseball and was friends with my daughter, in fact they even went on a date or two a few years back, had everything headed in the right direction for him. He was a good kid. He was studying to be a nurse and was on the path to graduating, being married soon and making a difference in many people’s lives.

However, in just an instance, his life ended. A senseless tragedy to be sure. But what was remarkable was how our small mid-western community gathered around the family and each other to comfort each other on the loss of this fine young man. God used this tragedy for good. It doesn’t necessarily take the sting from the loss, but we know that God can use a bad situation for His glory.

So what came out of this tragedy? Well to start, we know now that a community can rally around a family in the midst of their suffering. But also, on a more tangible note, a scholarship has been setup for graduating students at our local high school for students entering into nursing.

The world keeps turning, lives will go on, but this opportunity to take a tragedy and create something helpful out of it was not missed by the community. He will forever be remembered through this scholarship and the good that it does for others.

How do I start?

So how do I begin? Well I still don’t really have that answer. But what did I just learn? Just do it and do it now! My inclination is to wait until God has showed it all to me. But by then, it could be too late. I feel God calling me to step out in faith, even a small step, but step nonetheless into faith that God will guide my path. My Facebook friend may have had only a vague sense of direction and places he wanted to travel. But, he let’s the road take him where it takes him and be on the lookout for the God appointed opportunities that cross his path.

This post is putting me on notice. God I feel calls us to be more than just ‘good’ people. God calls us to so much more;

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

God is calling us to take action, to just do it. I will find ways, even small ones, to step out in faith each day. I will pay attention to the life that God presents to me every moment, the opportunities to help someone in need, to smile at someone or just to listen to a broken heart. I will resist the temptation to ignore those that I may percieve as more “troubled” as me. I will resist the urge to strike out at those that ridicule me, try to deter me or tear me down. I will make a point each day to do one more thing towards the growth of God’s kingdom. God doesn’t need me, but he wants to use me so why wouldn’t I want to be part of his work.

Welcome 2016

I’m not always a consistent blogger, but one thing I have been regular on has been my New Years post.  As many bloggers do, I like to take this post to reflect briefly on the year behind us and then look ahead to the new year.

2015

Last year, always feels weird to say that at first, was an interesting year to say the least as there were many highs and some lows, but I do feel I learned a lot about myself, my relationship with God and how that effects my daily life.

Looking back on my New Years post from 2015 is always interesting as I like to see what I was expecting and hoping I would do and then see how well I accomplished that.  Last year I wanted to focus on figuring out where God is leading me, I wanted to pursue God, not sit there waiting to see what happens.   The focus from last year was to see how to change myself.  There were three aspects I talked about, being more humble, reading more and to be still.  I really want to reflect more on the first one…being humble:

Being more humble.  I think I’ve always been somewhat humble, but I wanted to focus on thinking of OTHERS instead of myself.  I may not have truly discovered that until the end of last year, but in some ways I’ve succeeded.   But before I could do that, I had to learn one other thing…something I’ve always struggled with.  I had to learn to LOVE myself.  That was something I really hadn’t thought of, but if I thought less of me, that I wasn’t worthy of God’s love it actually made me dwell on myself…I couldn’t think of others, when all I thought of was how much I really didn’t like myself.  Well I learned, that God loves me no matter what.  And it’s not that he is just sitting on the sidelines thinking how much he loves me as I continue heading over the cliff…no he actively pursues us.  In a post that I’ve been writing, but have yet to post, I highlight a few verses that have taught me much.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever – Psalm 23:6

God’s love follows us wherever we go, he loves us unconditionally even when we continually reject his overtures of love towards us.  He continues to let us know, ‘I’ll be here when you are ready‘ and in fact, he goes one step more and reminds us constantly, sometimes forcefully, ‘Hey, I’m here and I still love you.

God has a plan for our lives and He will go to great lengths to complete his plan in us…in fact, nothing will stop him.

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.  -Philippians 1:6

Life’s Journey

So in 2015, I went on a journey to find out what my purpose in life was, what I was meant to do and how God was going to use me.  I wrote a whole series of posts focused on this (and read them in reverse order to get the gist of my journey) and it was really quite illuminating, but it didn’t take me long until I actually believe I found what my purpose is, and it applies to all of us I believe.  I wrote about it in my post entitled, Come and See.

This was truly enlightening and I can say that it changed my life.  I learned that God has me where he wants me…and when he’s ready to move me, he will.  I was struggling to find out where I was going so I could prepare or perhaps try and talk God out of it…but I found that I’m serving God each and every day right where I am.  There is no need for me to do something “great” at least how humans define greatness.  God has me doing “great” things right where I am.  Someday he may call me to the human definition of “greatness”, but right now I’m exactly where he needs me.

Look at these lyrics from a song by the Newsboys song, How to Change the World.  This really epitomizes my journey in 2015.  It was the culmination of a year of learning, about myself, about God.  I learned that I’m serving him in every moment of my life.  When I’m at work, I’m serving him.  When I’m coaching my son’s baseball team, I’m serving him.  When I am grocery shopping, I’m serving him.  As I’m typing this post, I’m serving him.

It’s the prayer in an empty room
Little things we do when nobody’s around
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt
It’s the smallest spark that can light the dark

That’s how you change the world!

2016

So what do I think 2016 will bring?  I’m not entirely sure.  I’m sure it will have it’s high points and low points.  I’m sure I’ll reflect back in a year from now and see things that I had hoped to accomplish, still sitting  undone…but as usual, I suspect that I’ll learn something completely unexpected, but it will be exactly what God had in mind for me all along.

God bless and Happy New Year!

 

Come and see!

Henryk_Siemiradzki_Christ_and_Samaritan_woman_500About a month ago, I started a journey to find my life’s purpose, or at least I’ve begun documenting it. I’ve learned some things and have shared those with you through this series of posts.  But I wasn’t sure I’d made any progress.

Yesterday, I’ve discovered something very important. Looking back, I almost had it figured out on my first day in my journey. It’s not about me, it’s all about Jesus.

But let me take this one step further, and this is what I came to realize yesterday. It’s my purpose, it fact I think it is all of our purposes, to share the love of Christ with others. To share the hope we have in Christ, with those we meet. Our purpose is to believe and share the gift of salvation that Jesus freely gives.

How did I get here?

Yesterday at our Saturday night service (as of this writing, the sermon is not posted, but it soon will be), we heard the story from John 4 about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Go and read it for yourself. I’ve read it many times in the past, but have never really studied it. In the brief hour last night, I found what God needed me to see in that passage. It answered a large number of my questions.

Let me set the stage: Jesus is traveling through Samaria on his way to Galilee and stops at a well where he meets a Samaritan woman.

Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refused to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” -John 4:6-9

So why is this section important to this discussion. Well as the woman stated, Jews generally refused to interact with Samaritans. Doing some reading, I’ve found there is a long history of hatred between the Jews and Samaritans. Suffice it to say, they went out of their way to avoid each other. Strike two against this woman was just that…she was a woman. Rabbi’s would not have been seen talking to woman in those days. So for Jesus to travel through Samaria and then to talk to one, and a woman on top of that, would have created quite the controversy.

So my first realization came there, well it was really more of confirmation of things I’ve talked about already. Jesus uses the least of us to do great things in his name!  While at this point in the story, we’ve yet to see how he uses this Samaritan woman, in the eyes of the Jewish world, she was very insignificant. So when I question myself, “Who am I that God would use for any purpose”…well there is my answer. When I ask, “My problems are too small to bother God with,” well God already knows and cares.

The verses following, continue to show how Jesus eventually leads her to the realization that he is the Messiah.

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I AM the Messiah!” — John 4:25-26

Then after that declaration by Jesus, the woman believed:

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. — John 4:28-30

She went and told her family, friends and neighbors about Jesus and they came to see for themselves.

Then an amazing thing happens:

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed from two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” — John 4:39-42

The woman went and shared Jesus with a few, they came to see with their own eyes. They then came to believe, not just because of the woman’s testimony, but because they discover Jesus for themselves. Because of what that lowly Samaritan woman did, simply to go tell others to “Come and see”, many believed.

What does all this mean to me?

Well, I can say I’ve discovered my purpose in life! I’m to share the love of Christ with others. I’m in essence called to go and say “Come and see this man Jesus”. God has called all of us to do that, so I’m in no way unique. How we each do this is unique to us. Some may become pastors, others will share through worship, some through their writing and others through song. Some of us may simply shout this by living a life that others see and say “I want the peace that he has.”

This by no means ends my Life’s Journey (or any associated blog posts), in fact I can now call this a beginning, one with clarity of purpose. What I’m still seeking, is the mode that I carry out my life’s purpose and least for today. I suspect that being tuned into what God is telling us, able to hear his quiet voice or to recognize that slap on the side of the head he gives us sometimes, will allow us to hear God’s will for us at that moment in time.

And as in the story of the Samaritan woman, it doesn’t matter how “insignificant” we see ourselves or how unimportant we may think a conversation we have with another may be. We may think that it doesn’t matter much if we follow that prompting from God to talk to a stranger and just ask how they are doing no matter how awkward that really is. We see from the story, that the one small thing you may do, God can use to do great things.

Love the unloved

During my journey to find my purpose, to find what Jesus really means to me, I’ve been meandering somewhat without direction. I’ve come to some great revelations about the Bible, about God and about myself. But I’ve sat back wondering, am I getting any closer to what my goal was? Am I discovering what Jesus means to me?

As God usual does, he’s provided an answer, without me even realizing it. The current sermon series going on at our church is about the relentless love that God has for us and out of that love, his unending pursuit of us. As Hosea 2:14-15 says,

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

Can you love the unloved?

Last weeks sermon (which can be found at – https://vimeo.com/143556735) entitled “Hosea: Go Marry a Prostitute” speaks to this idea of loving the unloved. We find in Hosea 1:2 that God gives Hosea an incredible task;

When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other Gods.”

So what did Hosea do? Well exactly what God wanted, he went and married Gomer, a prostitute.

Now, I stopped and asked myself…what would I do? I seriously doubt God will ask me to marry a prostitute as I’m already married to a wonderful woman. But what if God asked me to love someone that no-one else has? What if it’s a family member that everyone else has given up on? Could you invite him over to dinner? Or maybe it is that homeless guy that lives under the bridge on your way to work? What if God asked you to be his friend?

What if you’re the one that is feeling unloved?

Do you feel unloved? There are times when we may all feel that way in one way or the other? But I know that I’ve lived a dream of a life compared to many. I came from loving parents, both of which were greatly involved in my life and still are. My siblings, while we’ve had trouble like most siblings do, we still love each other. I married a wonderful woman and have four awesome children. God has blessed me greatly.

But there are many that are not so lucky. Through circumstances and choices made, they’ve not lived the life like I have. They’ve not had those the loved them, in fact many have lived a life feeling unloved. The video shared in the sermon, but not included in the video above because of copyright restrictions is of Annie Lobert. Annie, is a former prostitute, who struggled in that lifestyle all the while battling drug addiction and cancer. When she hit bottom and on death’s door from an overdose, she realized that God was pursuing her and has been all along. She cried out to Jesus, who saved her from certain death and restored her. She found peace and Love through Jesus.

She has since been called to minister to those other ladies, still stuck in that lifestyle and has founded Hookers for Jesus. Annie has found the love and acceptance in Jesus that she was seeking in the sex industry. Watch her testimony, it’s powerful.

So what does this have to do with my own journey?

I haven’t lived the life Annie lived, nor gone through even a fraction of what she has. But our daily struggles are all to real for each of us. No matter how deep our Valley of Trouble is, God is always right there with us. He’s always there if we’d just let him in. He relentlessly pursues us, no matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve strayed. He is always right there.

Can we share with others the love of God, until we’ve received it ourselves? Can we truly love people like God loves us if we don’t accept His love first? Can we share with others that which we don’t have ourselves?

Hosea loved his wife unconditionally. He loved her despite her background or past transgressions. He loved her despite her future transgressions or failings. Annie loves the girls still stuck in sexual slavery, because she knows what it’s like to feel unloved and she wants to share with them what she has already received, the love that Jesus is giving her. Throughout the Bible God shows us that he loves us unconditionally and throughout the Bible, his people rejected his love…but he simply loves us where we are and no matter what, he simply loves.

My thought for the day: No matter where I’m at in my life and no matter my past, God is there for me and loves me as he always has and always will.

Life’s a Marathon

Life is not a 50-yard dash; it is a marathon.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. — Hebrews 12:2

Get your mind off your circumstances and your problems and focus on God’s goodness to you in the past, his closeness to you in the present and his power to help you in your future.

Jonah said while he sat in the belly of the fish:When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord.” — Jonah 2:7

The Christian life is a grueling race that entails many hills and valleys. You need discipline and a sustained effort to make it to the end. This is not a race against others, you are not competing against other believers. We have no choice but to run this race, none of us can sit this one out.

So how best can we run this race? How can we run it as well as we are able?

Lay aside anything that encumbers you.

Something that encumbers you is something weighs you down, unnecessary baggage. Ancient Greek runners would run naked, they wanted nothing to slow them down. We must remove anything that slows us down during the race.

Example: You don’t have time during your day to read the Bible or pray. But you can find time to read the newspaper or browse foxnews.com to keep abreast of the latest world news. Could you set aside the news and spend that time reading a few verses of scripture? Could you set aside 10 minutes of sleep, set your alarm just a little bit earlier and spend that extra time in prayer?

Lay aside sins that entangles us.

Sin is differentiated from something that simply encumbers you. It does more than just slow you down. It trips you up and keeps you from running at all. You wouldn’t wear a long robe while running a race, it would entangle your legs and trip you up. You must remove sin from your life, if you want to run the race without tripping.

But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. — James 1: 14-15

A simple straight forward verse. Sin begins in the mind, with our thoughts. You are prideful because you think more highly of your actions than of Gods. You lust after others first in your mind with desire. You are greedy, because you want more “stuff”. If you cut it off at that level, it goes no further. If you stop your sin, while they are still just thoughts, you won’t put them into action. However if you entertain those thoughts, dwell on them and ponder on them, they grow into sinful words and actions. If you are acting upon those sins, you are not running the race along the course that God has set for you.

You must run with endurance the course God has set for us.

First, realize that God sets the course. Not us. The runners in a marathon follow a preset course, they do not make it up as they go. If they would stray from the course, they become disqualified. We must run the course that God puts before us. When we stray from God’s course, we are setting our own path and disqualify us from the full measure of blessings that God has planned for us.

We may not always like that course and we may wonder “why did God plan it this way?” The answer is simply, “Because God planned it that way.” We must run by faith and submit to the path that He has laid before us.

Secondly, we run with endurance. To run with endurance, we need a special mindset. If we start a marathon, thinking it’s a sprint, we are going to be vastly disappointed and dismayed when you discover it is far longer than that. You’ll be so discouraged you’ll want to quit. But you need to keep running. And how best to keep running the race to the finish?

Motivation

What do you see at any sporting event? Fans. The streets are lined with family and fans during just about any race. The stands are filled in any stadium that a sporting event that is played. What are those fans doing there? They are cheering on their favorite players, runners or team. They are encouraging them to do their best, play their hardest and run their fastest..they are encouraging them to endure to the finish line or the final whistle.

Hebrews 12:1 talks about a great crowd of witnesses:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sins that so easily hinders or progress. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. — Hebrews 12:1

Who is this crowd? They are those that have gone on before us. Those who have ran the race and finished well. They are there to encourage us to run the race and run it well. I did a quick word study on the word for witnesses used (you can really learn a lot by studying what the original language that is used means). The word used is marturon, from which we get the word martyr.

So who really is this crowd? They are those Christian martyrs who have gone on before us. Think of that, these are the apostles in this crowd encouraging us on. The Christians killed for their faith in the middle east are in that crowd. Think of those that are there cheering you on personally during your race. Think of how a high school football player would feel if the looked into the crowd on Friday night and saw Peyton Manning cheering them on personally.

Why should the motivate us? Well they completed their portion of the race already. We can learn much from them and how they ran. Also, since they are done with their race, they’ve since passed the baton on to us, and now it is our job to run our portion of the race.

How to finish

But ultimately, regardless of those cheering you on, it is you who must run the race. No one else can. You are the only person who can run the race that God has set for you. So how do we endure, how do we finish? Well jump back to the very first verse I shared.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. — Hebrews 12:2

So no one else can run it and you have a path set before you. Christ is the one who will empower you to complete the race. So keep your eyes on him, get in the race and give it everything you’ve got!

What If He Says Stay!

Why are we asking God to remove us from some situation?  Is it out of boredom?  Is there some opposition that you’re trying to avoid?  Is it because we think our current situation is not “important” enough for God to use us?

We look at those that are called to missions, those that give up everything to follow God as the “real” God followers.  Those that risked it all, stepped out of the boat and left it all behind, to take that big risk for God by going going somewhere uncomfortable or pursuing a profession that serves others but doesn’t make much money.  Those type of people we associate with the front-lines of Christianity.  We see those in the news, those are the ones our pastors talk about during their sermons.  They are held up as doing critical God’s work and making a difference in God’s kingdom… and they are!  They are important to God’s work.

Our society rewards the risk takers, so it’s natural to feel that way.

What is riskier?

But, what if, the riskier thing to do for God is to stay exactly where you are and keep doing what you’re doing until God says otherwise?  What if instead of leaping out in faith and hoping for a miracle to happen when we’ve chosen a path that we think God is leading, we really should be standing firm.  What if we need to keep at the hard, messy work in which we’re involved.

What if “taking a risk for God” were less about traditional definition of risky and instead about opening our eyes to how God wants us to be right where we are and looking for the positive change we can make around us.

We could be a agent for change in our workplace, in our community or in our family and social circles.  We could minister to our neighbors, family and friends.  We could help the needy in our own backyards.  It could be that “stepping out of the boat”, quitting our job and moving our family across the country or around the world, could be counter to what God really wants us to do.

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. — Ecclesiastes 11:6

Risk it all in your own community

I look around my local community.  Within 25 miles of me there are close to 1 million people (and I live in a fairly rural area of Ohio actually).  According to some polls I’ve seen, approximately 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.  But no-where near 750,000 people attend church regularly in this area.

According to recent census data, there are ~376000 people living in my county.  Of those, 15% live below the poverty level.  That’s 56000+ people, many of whom are children. According to recent figures from late summer 2015, there are 4.4% unemployed…and that’s using faulty federal government numbers that do not count those that are not even looking for work.  But even at that, there are more than 16000 people looking for work in my county alone.

As you can see, there are many people in need right where I am.  Those that I can help right now and right here.  Perhaps I can help the homeless in the area.  Last Christmas we were able to make an impact for some homeless people right in our own area.  This group of individuals have since been removed from their encampment and scattered.  One sadly was even found dead on the eve of the eviction under suspicious circumstances.  So they are not being loved and helped like the should.

Our local community has an organization of alumni of the local school (Fairless Local Schools) that sponsors, along with some local churches,  a group called Fairless Helping Fairless.  This organizations do a lot around the community to help low-income residents assistance with food, school supplies, clothing and much more.

Rival schools in the area have in the past turned their annual rivalry football into an opportunity to help those in need through donations to the local food kitchens.  I’ve talked about this before in my post (Occupy Charity at Christmas – look about half-way down in that post)  This is something that has been a positive thing in our community.

So what if when we pray to God to find our purpose in our lives, God says “Stay!  You are right where I want you.”  Are you willing to trust and believe that this is God’s will?  That He has put you here for a reason, given you the skills and job that you were meant to have?  Are you missing the opportunities that God has put before you, because you are always looking for something a bit more risky?

A Challenge

Individuals reading this post…I challenge you, whether you are truly searching for your purpose or not, look around you and see those in need in your area.  Look for the homeless that may be living right around the corner under a bridge and you’ve never noticed.  Look for the opportunities to help (donate time, money or resources) to your local food pantry or local support group that help those in need.  Be a positive force for change in your community or just a quiet someone to talk to.

If you are a leader in a church, this is for you.  Missions around the world are important, there is no denying that help is needed everywhere.  But don’t forget those that live on the margins in your area.  Don’t deny help to the homeless or to the hungry in your area in your pursuit of “greater” missions.  God likes to use the insignificant to do his work.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen churches deny help or look the other way, because it didn’t fit their “mission”.  I challenge the churches in the area, whether small or mega, step up and be an agent for change in your community.

I issue a challenge for myself.  I can talk the talk and I have a small, but steady audience here on this blog.  But I need to be active in my local community even more than I am to help those on the margins, to help my friends and neighbors (or strangers) that may be in need.  I need to walk the walk so to speak.

What if He says Go?

So you’re a good Christian. You love God, believe that Jesus died for your sins. You attend church, read your Bible, pray regularly and volunteer at the homeless shelter. But there is still something not right.

You’re happy with your job, you live in a comfortable home, you have plenty of money to live the lifestyle that you want to live. You’re kids go to a school district that you like, weekends are fun filled with family and friends. But something is missing.

You feel the void in your life, but you’re not sure what would fill it. You get more stuff, that doesn’t do it. You go out more with friends, that really doesn’t help either. You get involved in more activities and go to more events…that doesn’t do much other than increase the busyness of your life and add to your stress. But what it doesn’t do is give you what you’re missing.

You begin to feel the pull of God to find your purpose. You have a strong foundation with Christ and want to follow God’s will. You pray, you read, you study, you ask others…and you begin to see that God does have a purpose for you, but you’re still not sure what it is. Meanwhile, your life is passing on slowly, day by day, you still with your stuff, with your cars, with your activities, with your good job. You are living comfortably.

You ask God on a daily basis, “God I want to follow you. I want to do what you desire me to do. Please show me how you want my life to go, show me what you want me to do. Tell me my purpose.

A good prayer, I’ve prayed that on a regular basis. But after 100s of prayers, with seemingly no answer…God reveals to you something that shakes you to your core.

He says “Go!”

Not just, “Go and give more money to the church” or “Go and volunteer every other Saturday at the soup kitchen.” But, “Go! Leave your life, your personal positions, your prestige and go and serve me.” Perhaps it is something “small”, but it requires much from you. Perhaps it means pulling up your family and moving. Perhaps it’s quitting your job and doing something for far less pay. Perhaps it’s selling much of your possessions, downsizing your home, buying a “Get to work” car, so that resources are freed up for his kingdom.

Why would he do that? Because he wants you someplace that your not and won’t get to without doing those things. He needs you humbled, so you can be a good servant. He wants you focused not on acquiring worldly things, but focused on kingdom things. He wants you ready to move when he says go, which you can’t be when you are tied to “stuff.”

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments, “ the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions. -Matthew 19:20-22

What is Jesus saying here? I don’t believe he’s saying that all believers should sell everything they own. We are responsible to care for our own needs and the needs of our families so as not to be burdens on others.

But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers. -1 Timothy 5:8

But he is saying that we should be ready to go if he says go. We should be ready to leave our possessions behind if he calls us. He doesn’t want anything standing between us and his calling.

What if God says Go?

In my search for the purpose in my life, what if God does say go? What if the answers to my prayers, is an answer I really don’t want to hear. I’m comfortable where I’m at, in my life. It’s not perfect, I look around at others wishing I had what they had (and it’s not always people with more that I envy), but overall God has provided me the ability to provide well for my family.

But would I willing to give it all up? Would I be willing to walk away with my family half-way across the world if that is what God asked of me? That’s something I need to figure out. I know what my answer should be, but if that time comes, what will my answer actually be? This will be something that fills my thoughts in upcoming weeks and I think I have much more to learn and say on this topic.  How prepared am I to do what God asks?