Archive for March, 2008
I often see them out in the country. They are often falling down. They have sagging roofs, broken windows, and overgrown yards. Sometimes all that is left is an old chimney, or a cracked foundation. Your may have seen them too. They are old houses; abandoned, useless, good for nothing, unoccupied old houses. But they were not always that way. At one time they were new, freshly painted, and alive with the hopes and dreams of their families.
I sometimes wonder what the plan was for these homes when they were first built. Did they envision generation after generation living in the family house? Was this house the DREAM house? How much did they sacrifice to build it? When did the dream die? When did it cease to be a home and when did it become abandoned? What I see now cannot be what it was made for.
What if this scenario was reversed? What if houses could look at us? What would they see? I believe we were created with a purpose. I believe God made us for a reason. God has dreams and plans for each one of us. We were created to live in relationship with him and help others to see him more clearly. If we do not live in relationship with our Creator, then are we like an old abandoned house? Have we failed to fulfill our purpose in life?
There is a wonderful verse in the Bible that says we are “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Jesus came to this earth to put us back into relationship with God. God has a plan and purpose for us here. When I commit myself to him, I find meaning and purpose. I am doing what I was made to do.
You can fulfill the purpose for which you were created. It starts being in a relationship with the one who “built” you. He is the one who has a plan for your life. It will keep you alive…both now and forever.
So what would a house say when it looked at you? Are you fulfilling the purpose for which you were made? How do we know?
I love first impressions. It’s the only chance you get to show off the person you wish you really were. For that one moment in time you can be any type of person you wish. If you want to be a generous person, you’ve got one chance to prove it. If you want to be intelligent, you’ve got one chance to show it. Once the first impression has passed, people will begin to form a perspective of you based on what they see of your life. They will factor in every little piece of information that they learn. So while the first impression may imply one thing, your life may imply something entirely different.
The problem with a first impression is that it’s hard to erase. This is not a problem if you are lucky enough to have a good first impression. What about when it doesn’t go like you want? Or, what happens when the person you were when you made your first impression is no longer who you are today?
As I have grown, I have made many changes in my life. The greatest of which was the decision to become a Christian. I made the decision that every Christian must make; I chose to live my life for God and to turn away from my old lifestyle.
The challenge with changing your life is that too many people already know you as part of your old life. The first impressions of Skye the non-Christian were firmly grounded in the minds of everyone I knew. Even though my actions and words suggested I was a different person, my first impression was too strong to erase.
Jesus faced a similar struggle when he attempted to teach and heal the sick in his hometown. Many of the people in his hometown had already made their first impression of Jesus. They knew him as the “carpenter’s son” and the “son of Mary.” They knew his wisdom from the time he was a child, but now Jesus had revealed himself as the Son of God. Because they could not understand his new lifestyle, they were confused and took offense at him. Jesus himself said to his disciples:
“Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
Jesus understands what it feels like when people will not accept the reality of a changed life. Everyday that we choose to live for God the world will struggle to understand our personal change, but we must make new first impressions and try to change the old ones. Feel free to browse around this website and hear stories of true hope. If you would like to share your story of Hope and Change leave me a comment or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When they were young, my kids loved videos. They could watch the same movies over and over again. Consequently, I watched the same movies over and over again. Not as many times as my kids, but I certainly would get a good dose of each movie. One favorite in our household was the Disney movie, “Lion King.” In the movie, Simba, the young lion who is next in line to be king of his pride is present when his father dies in an accident. Simba is convinced that he is to blame for his father’s death and flees into the desert. He is rescued there by two jungle animals who take him to an oasis and nurse him back to health. These are insectivores, eating only grubs, worms and other bugs. They teach the young lion to live as they do. Their key phrase is “Hakuna Matata,” a Swahili phrase meaning “There are no worries here.” For them, life was about eating, dancing and singing. They felt no responsibilities toward anyone else.
Then comes the time when Simba has a vision of his dead father. The ex-king has one word for his son: “Remember.” The young lion was meant to be royalty, king of the beasts, leader of the pride of lions. Instead, he was eating bugs and living a selfish life. His life was far from what it was meant to be.
For many of us, that’s the very thing that we need. We need to remember. We need to remember who we are supposed to be. We need to remember who God made us to be. We were not made to live like animals. God has instilled in us a sense of purpose, a dignity, a higher calling. We need to remember.
Just as Simba needed to remember whose son he was, we need to see that God has given us the chance to be His sons. We can be so much more than bug-eating self-centered animals. We can be royalty, sons and daughters of the King, children of God. We can be part of God’s family, living our lives with purpose and dignity. We have been called to greatness. We just have to remember who we are. We just have to remember Whose children we can be.
Grace and peace,
It was a question doubters, agnostics, atheists, seekers, or smart-alecks loved to ask: “If God is so wise, why did he create an appendix?” I thought it was a good question. After all, the appendix served no real purpose. I was never much of a science student, but I remember how it was described. It was an organ for which there was no apparent function. Unless you count needing something to burst so you could have emergency surgery. It was one of the trendy ways to mock the concept of God.
Guess what? Scientists and doctors are now saying the appendix serves a useful function in immune protection. It is a place for gut bacteria to reside and helps prevent diarrhea. So much for my science teachers. It now seems perhaps science does not know everything. Of course, real scientists will tell you that up front. So why would anyone use science to try to disprove the existence of God?
It appears that there is a reason why we humans have an appendix. I am not really surprised. I believe God made us and that He knew what He was doing. Am I simplistic? Maybe, but I think the appendix question is like many of the other things in my life. There are things that I do not understand. But I need to trust that someone does. This world, and my life, makes sense when I trust there is someone who knows me and who understands everything going in my life. For me, that someone is God.
Most of you reading this have made that same decision. This just reinforces your conviction. But perhaps you know someone who wrestles with the concept of God. Maybe this will give you something to talk with them about. Or send them this article. Or send them to www.hopeforlife.org. Or have them write me. I would love to discuss where I have found hope, meaning, and purpose.
It is not that I have all the answers…and not just about my appendix. I do believe I know who does have the answers. After all, he knew what he was doing with the appendix.
So what do you think about God? Does he know what he is doing in your life?
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Mathew 7:12).
This phrase of Jesus spoken during the Sermon on the Mount is referred to as the Golden Rule. I am curious how the world would react if the Golden Rule was enforced.
Consider how our lives would be if the way that we treat people determines the way others treat us in return. People would speak more encouragingly to each other and hesitate to raise their voice. Taking a drive in traffic would be easier, no longer being cut off at every angle. Even politicians would find a way to be polite.
How would this affect our Christian lives? How would church be different? Perhaps the visitors would receive special attention and be invited to a place of honor as guest. Christian groups would cease to gossip and slander one another over meaningless traditions.
Jesus warns us about the temptation to judge others and implies that the Golden Rule will also apply to judgment.
“Do not Judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Mathew 7:1-2).
In a world plagued by hatred and envy, Jesus calls us to the principles of forgiveness. Jesus makes clear that we are to love our neighbor in thought and in deed. Treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated and judge him as you would have God judge you.
Let us continue to work toward a loving church and devoted community by committing our lives to a rule of grace. Please send us a message or leave a comment with your thoughts.