Significant?

We all want to do something in our lives that is significant. We all want our lives to count for something. For some, this desire goes to a different level, and they want to be famous. For others, significance comes in the form of being a good parent.

For me, I wonder sometimes if my desire to live a life of significance is a matter of my pride coming to the forefront. I have to ask myself questions such as:

1) Would I be content living a life where I wouldn’t be recognized or respected?
2) Would I be content living a life where my only contribution to ministry in this world would be as an intercessor, behind the scenes?
3) Is my desire to be “significant” about me feeling good about myself or about helping others?

Certainly these aren’t the only questions to ask, but they are the first to come to mind. My answers to those questions and those similar aren’t glowing, to say the least. But I’ve come to realize a few things about our God:

1) I am profoundly significant to God. You and I are priceless in the eyes of the Father. We are worth the price of His Son, Jesus, dying for each of us in order to enjoy an intimate relationship with us, both here and now, and for eternity. Because Jesus is the epitome of significance, I am free to be insignificant by the world’s definition.

2) When it comes to being significant, valuable, or loved by God, my performance doesn’t matter. Whether I fail or succeed, I am loved, valuable, and significant. My value or significance to God is not determined by what I do, but by Whose I am. I am free to fail because Jesus succeeded.

3) God not only loves me, He likes me. He knows my flaws, baggage, and hang-ups. He knows my pet-peeves, my idiosyncrasies, and nervous habits. He knows the secrets from my past and my secret thoughts from yesterday. And He still likes me! He knit me together in my mother’s womb and knows every thought that crosses my mind. He knows how I am made… because He made me! Because He likes me (and of course, loves me), I am freed from living to please people. I am freed from always thinking about what other people think of me. I am content to be loved by God. I am content to be liked by God. Because Jesus was and is perfect, I am free to be imperfect. I am also free to allow others to be imperfect. (I’m still working on that one)

Living a life of significance is something I desire. It’s something that I think we all desire. But growing up in a performance-based culture has skewed our definition of significance.

We are significant not by what we do, but by Whose we are.

No Pasa Nada

(Written last night, 1:46am EDT)

As I’m flying to Seattle after a day… err… a week of total unpredictability, I just finished reading a chapter of a book I’ve struggled to read since late-2013. It’s entitled The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing, by Jeff Goins. It was recommended by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson. I have other books I’m currently reading but somehow I opened this book again for some unknown reason.

The timing of what was written on the pages I just read and what seems to be happening in my life at this very moment is uncanny. As you may have read in an earlier post, my wife Sharon broke her foot a scant 96 hours prior to us departing on an Alaskan cruise vacation. The vacation was (is) well-planned because, after all, I’m a supreme planner. I love to plan! I plan vacations, I plan 3-week-long motorcycle trips, I make business plans, I create marketing plans… I love to plan! I’m good at it and it normally pays off.

But my wife breaks her foot and it disrupts “the plan”. My reaction, as previously posted, was deplorable. Okay… confessed and forgiven. We flew from Charlottesville to Philadelphia and because of an amazing series of storms up the east coast (not to mention an approaching hurricane), all flights were grounded. Our five and a half hour layover in Philly – on the way to Seattle – turned into a 12-hour marathon of watching our flight status and human nature in the laboratory called Philadelphia International Airport.

We are airborne over Ohio, I’m guessing, and I read a quick story about the author’s experience in Spain as a college student one summer. He says:

“They have a phrase — ‘no pasa nada’ — which literally means ‘nothing happens.’ It’s similar to the American phrase ‘no big deal.’ Late for a meeting? No pasa nada. Need to skip class today to take care of a personal issue? No pasa nada. Such a cultural mindset was freeing; and the more of it I experienced, the more I wanted. And although it took months of rebellion before I could succumb to this laid-back way of life, that little expression eventually saved me. There was a power to those words, a potency in embracing the unexpected. That simple, carefree little phrase taught me to let go of my little plans in exchange for a bigger picture. It meant being able to laugh at myself at times and accept when things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.”

When I read those words somewhere over who-knows-where, I almost couldn’t believe it! God has created a perfect storm of sorts in order to speak the words “No pasa nada” into my life. Embracing the unexpected.

Sounds like a plan.

Looking, listening, and praying…

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was up in New Jersey for my granddaughter’s high school graduation. We gave her a couple of gifts and my wife Sharon asked me to write a couple of notes to go along with each gift. In my self-absorbed mind, she wanted me to impart some “wisdom” to the young lass. Ha!

I’ve mentioned that I’m trying to listen more and talk less. I’m searching for direction and confirmation. My ears and eyes are wide-open. And I’m hearing things from God. It’s a great thing. I’m hearing them from unlikely sources, too.

While staying in Jersey at my step-daughter’s home, I went imageupstairs to her bedroom to see what she was doing. She was talking with her brother in her bedroom and as I came in the room, I saw what appeared to be giant Post-It Notes stuck to her walls all around the room. She is chasing a God-given dream to pursue modeling, singing, and even acting. On each of these notes are different areas of the dream: one for modeling, one for singing, a giant note with a prayer list, one with the heading “The Dream Giver”, and so forth. When I saw these giant Post-It Notes I was flabbergasted! I was overwhelmed by the thought and imageprayer and purposeful planning that had gone into chasing her dream. I am in awe of God and what he is doing in her life.

As we were driving to a wonderful spot in North Jersey, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Skylands Mansion, I was telling her of a dream that I believe the Lord has given me, something that’s been building for a few years. She said one thing I may never forget. she said, “When God gives you a dream, the one thing I found out is that there will always be naysayers. You can’t listen to them.”image

If you have a dream, keep your ears and eyes open. You never know what you’ll see and hear.

Still looking, listening, and praying…

Does it even matter?!?

As I recently posted, I’m doing more listening and less writing for the next 40 days or so.

While I’m doing so, I want to continue to post things that are meaningful to me. One such thing is this video by Andy Andrews.

Andy is a well-known author and speaker. I highly recommend listening to him and reading his books. A couple of my favorite books are The Noticer and The Traveler’s Gift. His writing is humorous, meaningful, life-changing, and extremely easy to read.

Enjoy!

The Power of Love

Ephesians 3:18 NLT says:
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

This is a prayer of Paul’s… that his readers would know and understand about God’s love. He knew that if we really – and I mean REALLY – understood the love and acceptance of God, we would be changed… we would be transformed… we would be made whole and complete.

For he goes on to say:

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (v.19)

“Fullness of life.” “Power.”

The fullness of life Paul speaks of and the abundant life John talks about (John 10:10) are one in the same. Being loved by God makes us lovable. That understanding in itself is liberating for some who feel unloved. It is what the human heart was made for: to be loved and to love. Once we really understand that we are loved and embraced by God despite our flaws, shortcomings, sins, and failings, it enables us to love and serve others with the same kind of love. That is abundant life.

The power we then experience, knowing that we are loved, accepted, embraced, and even rejoiced over, is the power to live with abandon for God and God alone. We are able to then completely trust Him without needing to know the reason why certain things happen. We just trust. And it is the power to live above sin and temptation. In short, it is power to live victoriously.

May we all have the power to understand and experience God’s love today.

It is Good News. Go to church today. Chances are, you’ll hear more about it.

Liturgy

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36, NIV)

This is called The Doxology. Doxology means it is a formal, liturgical praise to God.

It speaks of God’s vast greatness. It truly is beyond description, but Scripture writers and all authors have been trying to describe it for millenia. God’s greatness is really beyond description. It is beyond measurement. God Himself is beyond measurement or description, so to worship and praise Him within liturgical restraints seemingly doesn’t make sense.

However, Paul wraps it up beautifully in verse 36. “From him.” “Through him.” “For him.” “To him.” Graceful poetry to describe it all.

I heard my friend James Spruill preach on these verses once, and in his wonderful wisdom, made it so simple…

“From him”… God is the source of all things. He created all things. He gives us all things. He is The Source.

“Through him”… God is the power. In our weakness, he shows himself strong. Without him, we can do nothing.

“For him”… God is the purpose. The first sentence of The Purpose Driven Life finds its origin right here. It’s not about you. It’s all about God. It’s all for him. Living completely for him brings the abundant life that you and I read about in John 10:10. It’s what this world so desperately is searching for.

“To him”… Why do we live “for him”? To bring him glory. For all he’s done. For the living hope that is ours. For this great salvation that is ours… all the glory is his. So others might come to know our wonderful God!

A little bit of liturgy does the soul good.

Formation for Mission

I’ve mentioned the three books our church is working its way through many times. I only do so because God used these books to change me: the way I look at myself, the way I look at the things happening around me and my role, and the purpose you I have in the Kingdom.

The church has been on a nine-month journey through…

The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows
The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ
The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Showing Love

The books are designed to help each person focus on spiritual formation, growing in grace, and living out their faith to make an impact on the world around them, even if that world is just their family and the families in their cul-de-sac.

They are not just Bible-studies. They are spiritual formation with a mission.

This should really be the point of growing in Christ. We don’t do it for ourselves. We don’t even do it for God. We do it for the world around us… to be Jesus to the folks around us and bring more into this Unshakeable Kingdom.

Take the next 3:30 to watch this video. It sums it up nicely.