What does Jesus mean to me?

I struggle at times finding purpose in my life.  I have a great family with an awesome wife and 4 great children, and I feel that I’ve had a great purpose in raising them up and supporting my family. I’m involved in a lot of different areas in my local community, mostly revolving around the youth and sports and that keeps me very busy outside of work.   But there are days when I feel something missing, as if I’m missing some calling that God has given me, but I’ve not responded.  This week has been one of those weeks, where I’ve questioned what I’m doing as it seems I’ve just been going through the motions of life.

Early this morning I woke up with this heavy on my mind and the question came to me, What does Jesus mean to me?   I mean, what does he REALLY mean to me?  Is he more than just a figurehead, someone I can relate to when people ask about my beliefs?  Or is he really someone who I identify with and whom I have daily interaction with?  I think if I can figure out the answer to that question, I can find what I need to fill that void I feel at times.

So what is my plan?

First I’m on a mission to discover what Jesus really means to me and how I fit into his plan.  If I don’t learn what Jesus means to me and what I mean to him, I fear that the following steps may be in vain.

Secondly, I intend to find (or draw closer to) my purpose here.  This I think will be done largely in parallel with step 1.  I may discover that I’m already living his plan for me and I need to just embrace it or I may find that he is calling me to something quite different.  I’m not sure how I’m to do this, but I suspect as I learn some revelations in my first step, I may soon discover that step two becomes much easier.  I’ve read Rick Warren’s – The Purpose Driven Life in the past, but it’s been many years.  I’ve pulled it off the shelf and plan on working my way through that as well.

Finally, I plan on living out my purpose.  I plan on living my life with abandon, in pursuit of what God has put me here for.   I talked about this a lot at the end of last year, and while I had some plans and great motivations, I’ve stumbled in truly living this out as I hadn’t gone through step 1 and 2 yet.

So why am I telling you this?

Why indeed.  Well for a few reasons.

  1. Encouragement – I hope to encourage others that may be going through the same trials and thoughts as I am.  Perhaps seeing what I’m doing and discovering about my own life’s journey, will help others in pursuit of theirs.  So please, let me know if something I’ve discovered has made a difference to you.  This leads right into #2.
  2. Encouragement – Yes this is here twice.  I’m hoping to be encouraged to continue on.  I know that I’ll struggle through this in the long term.  I know that if I begin to be impactful in my life or in others, the enemy will mount an attack, to discourage me.  I hope to strike up some friendships through this process. so please feel free to reach out to me.
  3. Accountability – Along with encouragement, I need some accountability in this.  Not only do I want to be accountable to continue the process and to follow up when I reach step 3, but I want to be sure that what I’m sharing is building and encouraging others.  “For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am here among them.” – Matthew 19:20
  4. Validation – There is a point where the things I’ve discovered need to be validated against scripture and against other righteous people.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16

So join me in this journey to discover what Jesus means to me and in my quest to discover my life’s purpose.  Maybe I’ll discover that I’m right where I’m meant to be, but regardless I plan on learning so much during this journey, I can’t wait to get started.

 

Roaring like a lion

10407257_897267393625805_2613389422715980229_nThis past week has been a lesson in the meaning of this Christmas season and a show of the love of Christ.  Near a small town 30 minutes from my home, there is a small village instead another.  One made of tents and inhabited by those that are living on the margins of society.  God led my brother-in-law to visit them a week ago and opened his heart and many others of us, his family and friends, to open their hearts to the needs of these people.  Within a week, they went from wondering how to survive a winter, to having firewood, propane, clothes, blankets and fresh water….enough to last the winter and beyond.  My wife and I were able to give something of ourselves, some of the blessings that God bestowed on us, we were able to share with these kind people.

This week culminated in a Christmas party thrown in honor of the people of tent-city and in celebration of the birth of our savior.  While not everyone from tent-city attended a few did and were a blessing to all of us in attendance.

Let me quote one of the tent-city residents who expressed thanks to my brother-in-law and his family:

that day before you appeared into my life i contemplated and kept asking myself what am i good for. i do not have my babies and i am slowly dying. but dam i am in tears when i type this . dean you made me feel like a person and not some worthless piece of trash that will neve be anything.     ……   i just hope one day i can be back with my children and happy but dam i do not know how you done it but you saved my life the day you came down and for that thank you. so again . . i am happy and confident once again like i was prior to this situation.

The lives of my sister, my brother-in-law and all of us involved have been changed for all time with a prompting from God answered by a single person.

While thinking about the lives changed, I was listening to the song God’s Not Dead by the Newsboys and these lyrics jumped out at me.

Let love explode and bring the dead to life
A love so bold to see a revolution somehow.

God let his love explode and miracles happened.  His love flowed out and the blind could see, the crippled could walk again, and the dead rose from the grave.  With a simple act of love Jesus did all these things.   And by using us sinners, Jesus let his love flow and help these kind people living in tents in the cold.  None of these things would be possible without the love of Christ.

I feel emboldened now by the meaning of this time of year.  These events have helped me understand where God was leading me when I decided to live my life with abandon.

Now I’m lost in your freedom
In this world I’ll overcome.

Now the love of Christ has freed me to become who he has wanted me to be.  Based on the events of this past week, it’s been proven we can all loudly proclaim the chorus to that song.

My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

lion-roar-roaring-teeth-mad-angry-

Putting God in a Box

I was blind and now I can see!   John 9 brings us the story of Jesus healing the blind man.  Let’s step back to this time.  We meet a man that has been blind since birth.  He undoubtedly had heard that Jesus was in the area.  I’m sure he had heard of the miracles of Jesus, saying a word and sick child is well, a word and a lame man walks again,  just a word and a man rises from the dead.  He’s heard the stories of this Jesus and the power of God that he contains.

When Jesus approaches him, his excitement must have risen….”This Jesus will say a word and my blindness will be healed.”  His excitement must have been hard to contain.  But what does he hear?  Jesus talking with his disciples about him.  Then Jesus spits on the ground, makes some mud and rubs the mud in his eyes.  The blind man could have easily said, “Wait a minute….Jesus had healed people with just a word, but all I get is some mud in my face.”   He could have thought, “I got a raw deal, this isn’t going to work.

But no, Jesus tells him to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam“.  So what does the blind man do?  He goes and washes his face….and what miracle of miracles….he can see!   He could have thought, God works through Jesus by his words….but he didn’t put God in a box.  He believed that he could be healed and he was.

Expect the unexpected

Another step in my process of living with abandon to kick of my year of Thanksgiving, is to try and not put God in a box.   God works in wondrous ways, in ways that bring glory to His name.  He works in ways that we may not expect, but we can take comfort that God’s perfect plan is in motion and His ways are better than ours.  I often pray about a problem and I already have a solution in mind.  “This is the way God should solve my problem.”   We’ve just placed him in a box of our own making.  God can’t be contained.

The Jewish leaders in John 9 questioned the now formerly blind man and his family about his healing.  They had put God in a box and was convinced that God only operated in a certain way.  They said to the man while questioning him.  “Give glory to God by telling the truth, because we know Jesus is a sinner.”  Why did they feel that Jesus was a sinner?  Because their notion was that God didn’t heal in the fashion that Jesus did, or He didn’t heal on the Sabbath, or he didn’t heal someone who had been born blind or any number of stipulations and restrictions that they had put on God’s power to heal.

The blind man had a bigger view of God.  Listen to his words:  “Why that’s very strange!  He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know anything about him!  Well, God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.  Never since the world began has anyone been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.  If this man were not from God, he couldn’t do it.”  This healed man believed that God could perform a miracle.  He didn’t place God in a box.

Expect the unexpected when praying to God about something.  Expect God to work in ways that are beyond what we can ever imagine and we won’t be disappointed.   Our God is bigger than any box!

Do Something Amazing in Your Day

The Lord replied, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed!  Watch and be astounded at what I will do!  For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’  -Habakkuk 1:5

These words were spoken to the prophet Habakkuk when he cried out to God wondering where he was in his day and his world, which was filled with violence and corruption.  God responded with these words, “Watch and be astounded at what I will do!”  Isn’t that an amazing statement?  I can picture God sitting on his throne saying, “Just wait and see….this is gonna be cool!”

While I am striving to live with abandon, I am presented with so many opportunities to do amazing things.  I believe that God puts before us each day, situations where we have the opportunity to be a blessing to someone, to do something amazing in the name of Christ.  Something that will be glory to His name.  God is moving, he’s not waiting around seeing what we will do, but we are part of his plan.  I want to look for those opportunities that come before me each day.  Say a kind word to someone, help someone with something they are struggling with, pray for someone, work hard and cheerfully at something that is not fun.  I plan on doing something amazing in my day.

God is in charge and he has a plan.  Even when we in the midst of trouble and God seems silent and distant, he is moving.  His plan is in motion.  Just watch and you’ll be amazed at what God will do.  This is gonna be cool!

Live with Abandon

In my post yesterday on a year long Thanksgiving, I made mention of the song by the Newsboys – Live with Abandon, which struck me at the time to be a great tune on how to live a life that is a blessing to others.  Throughout the day today, the song kept repeating in my head and I reflected on what the meaning of the words live with abandon really mean to me.  I thought about what is it that is keeping me from fully living with abandon?

Living for self praise

Chasing after this world makes me tired
Praisin’ my own name leaves me dry

What am I chasing after in this world?  Chasing after fame, riches, notoriety is tiring.  I never quite have enough of any of it.   So much of my time and effort is spent in trying to achieve these worldly goals.   I think the second part of that verse “Praisin’ my own name leaves me dry”.  Many of the things I am part of are not bad in of themselves, but if I’m part of them to receive praise, then I’m in them for the wrong reasons.  A few years back I stopped writing this blog because I was too concerned about views and traffic and I felt that it was actually holding me back from doing what God wanted me to do with this blog.  I came back to it after I got myself in a right place where I was listening to God’s prompting in regards to this site.  None of my successes are my own and I have to be willing to walk away from one to something greater.  I can’t live with abandon when I’m worried about praising myself.

What are we holding onto?

I’ll drop everything to follow you
It’s only Your hands I hold onto

Am I willing to drop everything to follow Christ.  That’s a tough one.  The disciples lived with abandon, they gave up their careers, families and eventually their lives in following Christ.  Not an easy road to follow.  Is God calling me to that level of sacrifice?  I don’t believe at this time I’ve heard that word from God.  God has placed me here at this point to provide for my family, to help our tiny community and to share how God’s working in my life.  Where he has put me is where I’m meant to be at this time in my life.  Instead of seeking greater (by a human measuring stick) achievements, I need to live with abandon right where I’m at.  But what am I holding onto?  To truly live with abandon wherever I’m at, I need to let go of everything.  The hands of Jesus are all that I’m holding onto.  He will guide me to where I need to be when he needs me to be there.

Romans 12:2 says ‘Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”  Let us be transformed by God and we will have the answers to how to live with abandon.  There is nothing in this world that can stop a person who is living fully abandoned to Jesus.  When we live fully abandoned, we find true freedom.

Don’t look back

I’m not looking back
I’m done with that
Wanna give You all I have

Now to move forward and live my life with abandon!