Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

For those of us who experienced the 90’s, you probably remember this scene from the movie “City Slickers”. The premise behind the movie was basically that these men from NY had lost their identity, so they travel out west to a cattle ranch to sort of ‘find themselves’.  In one of the most pivotal scenes in the movie, Jack Palance’s character, “Curly” the trail boss, turns to one of the men & says, “Do you know what the secret to life is? It’s this.” (and he holds up 1 finger) “Just 1 thing.” The man says, “That’s great, but what is it?” To which Curly replied, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

It’s a great question for all of us in light of a brand new year: What is your ONE THING?

As I was thinking about this, I made a note of every THING that intersects with my life in a typical week. Like most adults with kids, my schedule is pretty crowded:

  • Serve at church
  • Spend time w family
  • Get kids to school
  • Work
  • Pay bills
  • Get kids to practice
  • Physical Fitness/ Exercise
  • Social Media
  • Do stuff around the house
  • repeat

There are so many THINGS that occupy our time that if we’re not careful, we’ll allow the URGENT to replace the IMPORTANT. We’ll unintentionally CROWD OUT the most important things. We’ll get bogged down with the LITTLE things and fail to pursue our BIG dreams and GRAND adventures. Not because we don’t want to do them. They just get ‘lost’ amidst all the other things we’re doing.

Perhaps most striking: I noticed in my weekly schedule, I was doing almost nothing to realize the larger goals I had for myself. My ROUTINE wasn’t getting me any closer to my DREAMS.

This is where the book, ONE THING has been revolutionary for me. It helped me to look at my life as a series of goals I can set for myself. It coached me on how to break my large goals down into smaller steps I can take each day, each hour, etc. Here’s an example of some of the goals I have set this year:

My Personal Goals 2016

Now, I structure my week with the goal of simply ‘moving the ball forward’ in each category every day, no matter how small the progress. For example, if my goal is to save $ for a family trip to Disneyland, I may go without my morning latte and deposit that into my envelope designated for that event. Or, if it’s to run a half marathon by the end of the year, maybe I start by going on a walk around our neighborhood. In each case, I’m making progress. If I want to memorize a book of the Bible in a year, I start by memorizing two verses a month.

This gives me a sense of accomplishment each day. This gives me a series of “wins” in almost every category. It builds my confidence. It makes me happy. It gives me purpose. It is my MOTIVATION.

Even the apostle Paul knew the importance of ONE THING (singular focus) when he was writing to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

OK, I know it’s a ‘loose’ fit, but the point is that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi so that they would be reminded of their PURPOSE. So that they would not lose sight of their GOAL. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve got the most important part of my equation figured out. All the rest of my life’s pursuits come second to following Jesus. Now, the rest is fun.

Just finished another post. Just chalked up another ‘win’. Hope this has been helpful. 

My hope for you this year is for you to find your ONE THING.

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An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.
”Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
”The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die”, she said.
”But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.” 
The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves,
saying, “It made a difference for that one. The old man looked at the young woman inquisitively and thought about what she had done. Inspired, he joined her in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.”  The Star Thrower; Loren C. Eiseley 1969.

In his book, the ONE Thing, Gary Keller asks the question, “What’s the ONE THING I can do this week, that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

If you really break it down: Life is a series of singular decisions. Some large. Some small.

You’ve heard the saying, “Yard by yard; life is hard. Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.”

Don’t think of the many tasks you have to finish or the daunting goal you’ve set. Don’t think about the total amount of weight you have to lose or how many classes to pass before achieving your PhD. Start with one thing. One purpose. One direction. One focus.

One thing can make a difference.

Key Question: Are you doing TOO MANY THINGS?

See, the problem with multitasking is that it gives you MORE OPPORTUNITIES to FAIL QUICKER.  When we have several things spinning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel defeated.  But there’s a psychological advantage when you knock one thing down at a time. I call it call it the importance of “achieving wins”.  Winning is contagious. It starts healthy habits of success in your life. It’s time to start winning. What is one thing you can do to WIN right now?  In any category. Start with ONE thing. One step. One victory.

The power of ONE.

One deal you can close from your list of prospectives.

One bill you can pay against a debt.

One load of laundry you can finish against the pile.

One email you can close from your inbox.

One call you can return.

One person you can connect with.

One commitment you can make.

One uninterrupted block of time to spend with someone.

One intervention to have.

One conversation to start.

One goal you can set.

The Bible has a lot to say about this. Philippians 4:13,14 says, “Brothers, I don’t consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But ONE THING I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.” 

Paul told the church in Philippi, the ONE THING matters. If you’re ONE THING is motivated by a GOD THING, it is unstoppable. 

And Jesus says in Matthew, if your FIRST THING is a GOD THING, everything else FITS.  There’s POWER in PRIORITIES in life.

So, what is your ONE THING?

One cause you can join. 

One passage you can study.

One person you can invite.

One neighbor you can meet.

One attitude you can correct.

One addiction you can break.

One life you can change for all eternity.

Start now. You can do this.  Refuse to see the vastness of the task in front of you. Just pick up a starfish and start slinging.  Decide to make a difference for that one. Your action will be contagious. Soon others will join. Goals will be realized. Results will be achieved. Movements will be started. Lives will be changed. Causes will be ignited.

Never underestimate the power of one.

I was the MVP of my soccer league when I was 8. I led the league in stolen bases in grade school. Set the AZ record for the mile in the 6th grade. I was a 3-year letter winner in 2 sports in high school. I won a National Championship in soccer in college. I was married in college and have a beautiful wife of 18 years. I graduated from my Master’s Degree with honors.  I have 4 wonderful, healthy kids. I am the Lead Pastor of an “up and coming” church in an affluent area. I have traveled the world as a communicator.

Ever get caught up giving people your ‘resume’?  We get caught in the trap of trying to IMPRESS PEOPLE with WHAT WE’VE DONE all the time. We equate our WORTH with WORKS.  God isn’t interested in that.  In fact, most folks on the “highlight reel” in the Bible were just ORDINARY people who spent time with an EXTRAORDINARY GOD.

I don’t want to be known for who I am. I want to be known for who “I AM”.

Exodus 3:11 (NIV) 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” In verse 14, God says, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

When we get in the habit of realizing, “I am not”. God says, “I AM.”

“I am not qualified.”  I AM

“I am not prepared.”  I AM

“I am not strong enough.” I AM

When I get out of the way, God is at his best!  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is:

Acts 4:13 (NIV) 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

They became EXTRAORDINARY through the transformational power of Jesus Christ.  Moses was a cowering stutterer, but with God’s help he would confront Pharoah and deliver Israel from captivity.  The disciples were guys who had ‘dropped out’ of rabbinical school, yet Jesus chose them to INVADE the WORLD with the GOOD NEWS of Christ.

What will people say about me when I’m gone?  Will they look at my EARTHLY accolades? Will they point to the trophies in the case, people in the seats, pins on the map, or the plaques on the wall?

Or will they be astonished and take note that I was just an ordinary guy who’d been with Jesus?

If this doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what will:

‘martyr’ quote— [found on a grave in Africa]  

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner will be clear!

 

 

 

In my line of work as a pastor, I’m often asked to do funerals.  One of the most inspirational thoughts I’ve shared over the years is a poem called “Living the Dash”.  I hope it encourages you to live life to the fullest.  You see, the question is NOT “How many years did you have in your life?”, but “How much life did you have in your years?”

James S. Stewart said, “Let us live as people prepared to die and die as people prepared to live.”

“Living the Dash” (anonymous)

I read of a man who stood to speak

at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on his tombstone

from the beginning … to the end.

He noted that first came his date of birth

and spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

was the dash between the years.

For that dash represents all the time

that he spent alive on earth …

and now only those who knew and loved him

know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;

the cars … the house … the cash.

What matters is how we live and love

and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard …

are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

to consider what’s true and real,

and always try to understand

the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

and show appreciation more,

and love the people in our lives

like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

and more often wear a smile …

remembering that this little dash

might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read

with your life’s actions to rehash,

would you be proud of the things they say

about how you spent your dash?

My favorite quote reads:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again–because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”  —Teddy Roosevelt

I have respect:  For those in the game.  Those who give it all. Those who risk everything. Those who leave it all on the field. Those who push their chips “all in”.

I do not respect:  Those who criticize from the climate-controlled booth.  The ones who chuck popcorn from the cheap seats. The armchair quarterbacks. The backseat drivers.

I used to be one of those people. I used to criticize other church leaders. I used to cast doubt. I used to think I could do it better. I used to think I knew better. Arrogant thinking.

Now I’m the Lead Pastor of a church. As one who is “in the arena”, I have a greater appreciation for the price of leadership.  I can talk about risk when it comes to inheriting a church whose Sr. Pastor was removed for an affair.  I can talk about sacrifice when I moved my family across town, taking a huge monthly financial loss.  I can talk about perseverance, uprooting from a home we’d known for almost 9 years. I can talk about teamwork, watching three teenage daughters transplant to a new culture in a crucial stage of their social development.  I can talk about fortitude, dealing with tenants, taking a huge paycut, and watching our savings dwindle to nothing.  I can talk about resolve, when the very people we serve criticize the WAY we do it.  I can talk about loss when our style of ministry costs us friends.  I can talk about victory, seeing Jesus break addictions and restore relationships. I can talk about joy seeing one person come to faith in Christ.

Some may criticize.  Some may condemn.  Some may question.  Most can’t relate.  See the sweat and blood on my face. Walk in my shoes.  Travel this road.

In the New Testament, an ex-murderer-turned Jesus Freak wrote to his buddy Timothy at the end of his life and ministry:

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is what drives me.  This is why I left the comfort of a deskjob and stepped into church leadership. Honestly, I’d rather fail at doing this than succeed doing anything else.  May God use me and my gifts somehow through this.  I want to be known as this type of leader; this type of man.  A man who strives valiantly. A man who risks greatly. A man who lives daringly. A man who cares deeply. A man who serves boldly.

I want to be known as a man who is more consumed for heaven than concerned about earth. A man on a mission. May my place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Do you have a mission statement?  I do. I know why I get up every morning.  This is what drives me.  This is what I’ve devoted my life to:

Romans 10:13-15 (NIV) 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

I found this verse when I was in junior high, but never really took it seriously until I was in high school.

The truth is, it’s bothered me since that time. Not “bothered” like a fly you want to shoo away. Not “bothered” like the kid on the plane that makes you shift in your seat.  Not “bothered” like the hair in your mouth you find annoying.  I mean, “bothered” in a way that it haunts me.  It altered my life course.  It caused me to ACT.

First, I noticed the progression.  It starts with the result of someone being saved. But they can’t be saved unless they believe in Jesus. They can’t believe in him if they’ve never heard about him. They can’t hear unless someone preaches to them.  And if no one goes, how will they hear?  I knew early on that I wanted to be a “bringer of Good News”.  How many people fail to deliver the message?  How many people stay silent?  How many people never go?

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV) 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Second, I noticed the power.  When the good news of Jesus Christ takes root in someone’s life, the result is transformational.  It turns wimps into warriors.   It changes criminals into crusaders.  In fact, did you know that most of the Bible was written by murderers, whose lives had been transformed by God? (Abraham, David, Paul) God is in the life-changing business!  In fact, Paul (ex-murderer) put it this way when he wrote to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

He knew what he was talking about!  I am excited to be a part of an organization dedicated to creatively communicating the Good News!  I am proud to live it out loud as a Christ-follower.  In fact I hope that my life alone is able to speak loud enough.  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach at all times. If necessary, use words.”

A little commercial break…

Interestingly enough, the word “Gospel”, in the greek (Go-spel) means “Good News”.  That’s why the first 4 books in the New Testament are called “Gospels”. [The gospel of Matthew, Mark, etc.]  These are 4 different eyewitness reports of Jesus’ arrival, life and teachings.  Here’s how one historian Luke (a physician) starts his account:

Luke 2:8-12 (NIV) 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The angel was announcing the good news was that Jesus, the Messiah (Savior) had come.  God came to dwell among his people!  Coincidentally, the word given to describe one who shares the good news with others is the word evangelist = comes from the greek words “eu” = good; and “angel” = messenger.  Which means, when we share the good news of Jesus Christ, we are “good messengers”. We join in the same mission and carry the same message as the angels.  That rocks!

Finally, be careful when using this verse!  

a. It has radically altered my life course. I originally set out to be an English teacher and coach soccer at a high school.  Now, I pastor a small church in one of the wealthiest areas in America!  I’ve been offered management positions in corporate America from time to time, but I feel that God has me where He wants me.  Where will this verse lead you?  It’s led people out of the business world into vocational ministry. It’s led students to start a Bible study on their campus.  It’s caused a man to start an Accountability Group in hopes of reaching his whole Firehouse.  It’s caused a mom to rejoin the workforce as a nurse because she felt God calling her to reach that profession.  It’s caused an office manager to leave the US and start an orphanage in Peru with her husband.  It’s caused a mom to leave the workplace to spend more time with her kids. No matter where it leads your life, stay on course!

b. It will cause unorthodox practices.   I have two tattoos:  A Cross on my right ankle and an Icthus on my left ankle.  I’ve had these since college when I accepted God’s call to go into full-time ministry.  I know in the Christian community, there is some ‘controversy’ over the issue of tattoos, but before you’re quick to judge, I’ll tell you why I got them:  1. It reminds me of my God-given ability to excel in athletics.  I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the ability to run. I was a 3-year letter winner in track and cross-country in high school.  I won a National Championship in collegiate soccer, starting all 4 years at midfield.  I was blessed with speed and endurance. Many people are disabled, so I want to make sure I never take walking, running, playing sports for granted. I will always give Him credit for my success on and off the field.  2. It reminds me of my mission: to carry the Good News with me wherever I go.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

c. It will make your faith come alive.  Did you know that’s a guarantee from Scripture?  If you’re a Christ-follower and you’re NOT sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in some way, you are MISSING OUT.

Philemon 1:6 (NIV) 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

d. It requires a team effort.  You DON’T have to be a preacher or work on a church staff to be an EVANGELIST.  You don’t have to be outspoken to ADVANCE the GOSPEL.  God can use you just the way you are, right where you’re at to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and to share the GOOD NEWS.  Will you go?  How can they hear?

Statistics:  (according to Street Level Evangelism by Michael Parrott)

            99% agree that Jesus Christ commanded all Christians to advance the Good News.

Yet 95% of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.

And 80% of all Christians fail to live a consistent witness.

            85% of unchurched people would go to church at least once if someone they know invited them.

Yet only 2% have invited someone to church in the past year.

 

I invite you to join me in bringing the good news.  Sharing the good news.  Being the good news.