Tag Archives: God’s Purpose

Where Does Your Story Fit?

Our life is one big story.  There are so many things in our lives that make up the person we choose to become and the decisions and directions we choose to go.  In my counseling studies the past couple of weeks, I’ve written a series of essays around human development and the impact of things such as trauma, abuse, and addiction to development.  These things that cause deep seeded wounds in each of and if not addressed can drastically impact where our story leads.  Larry Crabb provided that in the pursuit of satisfaction, people will often exchange one error for another in trying to find what feels good.  It’s often an issue of trying to cope with the problems and not knowing where it is they fit in the world due to the pains they have suffered.  This suffering is not new to any of us. We all have fallen and have been faced with tough choices and decisions that have drawn from wounds we have suffered.

All of this is very interesting to think about because I know people, myself included, that have gone through sufferings and struggles in life and unsure of where they fit and what purpose their story has in it all.  What do you make of everything that happens and how are our choices influenced by what we know in life.  Then one day, I realized something.  I realized that my life and story is simply a small section or even paragraph in the grand epic story of God.  He is the real hero of the story that we all belong to.  Then I realized that it was not even my story, but His.  I belong to the Father now and ransomed by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, I now get to live my life through the life of Christ.  I found out that all the things I purposed of this world were meaningless and futile if the motives did not come out of faith.  Ecclesiastes 2:11 says, “But as I looked at everything that I had world so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless–like chasing the wind.”  A new purpose and direction was shown to me.

This may seem a bit deep for some, but I often think about life in this way now.  For years, probably the first 33 years of my life, I didn’t realize where my story fit.  Yes, I knew the faith on a surface level, but I never sought to know Christ deeply and pursued things that I thought were going to bring me satisfaction in this life.  I had a false sense of life and the story I lived and direction I was headed.  I stayed lost in myself and my sin.  God began to wake me up nearly 4 years ago around my 33rd birthday.  He struck my curiosity to really try to know Him better and develop and deeper faith.

Fast forward 3 years, just turning 36 and I could feel the Spirit stirring in me again, and this time on a deeper level.  Deeper than anything I had ever noticed before.  I began to really see my life and who I was to the Father.  I was not going to let myself get caught up in a religious fog, but rather get to know Him and finally realized who I was as His son, bought through the redemptive blood of Christ.  I learned a critical thing that I had never been open to.  I found out why I was created.  Having fully surrendered my life, God revealed to me why.  He showed me that I am His beloved son, that I had what it takes to live out my life as a reborn warrior, and was now calling me to be a warrior for the Kingdom.

It was awesome having my thoughts around all of this, and then at worship yesterday, my pastor, Tim Cash, shared a great Mark Twain quote.  “The two most important days in your live are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  I heard that, I was like, YES!  It’s like an awakening when I was able to truly see who I was in Christ and what it was I created for.

But, now that I realize this.  Now that I know who I am in Christ.  Now that I know that I am bought and justified through God’s grace with the goal of reaching glorification when I enter the Kingdom, there was no way in the world that I could sit by and not do something about it.  How can you?  When you know your purpose and where you fit in God’s story, how can you simply ignore Him when He calls?  I was no longer going to do that.  I belong to the Father now, and through the full works of Christ, I get to live my life in this light. While I know I won’t get it all right, I pray that my life stands as a reflection of Christ to others.  We should all pursue this. God is calling on everyone of us.  It just took me 36 years to FINALLY act on it.

Going Where God Is Calling You

In just about 3 months, I’ll be doing something I have never done before.  I’ll be hopping on a plane to fly out to Colorado to spend 4 days in the mountains attending a retreat called the Wild At Heart Boot Camp.  This is an event conducted by Ransomed Heart Ministries.  It is built from the book, “Wild At Heart” written by John Eldredge.  If you have followed my blog over the last couple of years, you will have seen me mention this and other Ransomed Heart books.  In my spiritual journey, these have been books that have made significant impact on me as a man and how I have grown in my faith learning where God has called me.  A few years ago, I was a lost man especially in faith.  I have taken many turns in life and after I lost my Dad, I was simply lost.

I first opened this book middle of last year.  It sat on my desk for some time.  A good friend and colleague of mine cared enough about what I was going through and had given me this book.  It took awhile to pick it up, but I think God had me pick it up right when I needed to.  I had gone through Scripture and now it was time really start piecing it together and make more sense of things; of my journey in life, the wounds I had suffered, and the man that God has called me to be.  To understand more about who God is and learning His nature as reflected in men with our adventurous, wild, and warrior heart, and in women with his tender and nurturing heart.  I seem to discover more and more each day as I read and just reflect on things around me.

I have come to realize that there was so much I have been missing in my life.  I had missed on the adventure I was meant to live, to be able to experience and take in the beauty that is God’s creation.  To feel my heart draw close to God’s heart being out in the wilderness as Jesus did, as Moses did, and so many others. This is where we can all draw to God and experience Him in a very intimate way.  When I now sit out the woods on a hunt, I use that time to really draw to God and feel His presence in everything.  Last week, I took a day and went on my own for the first time and just being there in the silence was a truly spiritual experience.

So to add to that, at the end of January, I will board a flight to Colorado for the Wild at Heart Boot Camp.  I am very excited about this event, but also have a lot of nerves with uncertainties over what to expect.  I will sometimes get feelings that maybe I shouldn’t be going or questioning my reason.  I believe this is the enemy trying to stop me.  I will not let that happen and will follow through on where I believe God has called me to go.  Like my friend said and I realized, God had me read this book right when I needed to.  I read Scripture right when I needed to.  God calls us it’s a matter of whether we listen and follow.

I will write more about Boot Camp in my preparations in the coming months and certainly look forward to sharing my experiences.  Between now and then, I pray for my heart and the hearts of all other men who will be attending the same Boot Camp with me.  I pray that God will open our hearts and allow us to fully experience all that he is waiting to show us and have us experience.  I look forward to time in the wilderness to just be there with me and God and for the time of fellowship with the other men that will be there.  I wholeheartedly believe that God has called me to this next step in my journey.  It seems like a big leap, but I am pumped about what He has in store for me.

Listen to where God is calling you.  You never know when He may want you to take that next big and bold step.  He will speak to us in different ways.  I believe He has called me to go the Boot Camp at the perfect time.  Why? Because God’s timing is always perfect.  That’s when He wants me to be there, so that’s when I will go.

The Lifelong War to Come Alive

Many of you have heard the quote from Saint Irenaeus that says, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  I use that quote as the banner on this site and on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  It is a powerful statement that speaks to what it is we are created for in living out God’s purpose of glorifying Him through our own lives.  What does this statement mean to you.  Many will look at it and shrug their shoulders at it thinking it’s just another cliche statement that doesn’t carry much weight.  If God is really about us coming alive, then why do we find so much trial and difficulty in our lives that seem to draw us back into a world of heartache and difficulty.  We get bombarded with so many challenges day and night that it becomes difficult for many to see just where God is working.

What I’ve come to realize is that all of this difficulty and struggle comes about because we are born into a world that constantly at war.  We are faced with a world that is full of struggle and difficulty, anxiety, worry, and pain.  Since the fall of man in Eden, God has been constantly waging war against Satan and his demons that are constantly trying to overtake our lives and turn us away from God.  In Exodus 15:3, the Hebrews proclaimed that “The Lord is a Warrior.”  God has waged a continuing battle to win us back every since the fall.  What is He battling for?  For our hearts and that we can turn to Him and finally achieve the purposeful life we were created for.

Now for many, they may see that our faith in Christ grants us life in Heaven.  They miss a key part of what eternal life is about.  Eternal life begins now.  By our faith in Christ we are open to eternal life and fully our full design.  That does not start after we leave here, but it starts now on this earth.  Eternal life means always living, not living after we die.  Jesus came with the promise of life.  In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Through Christ we have a chance to defeat the evil in this world and beginning to come alive through Him.

Now back to the war I was talking about.  God has been waging a war for us since the fall.  We face so much difficulty in this world because we face an enemy that is trying to always pull us away from God.  You see it today in the media as people are so bent on being in this progressive society and discounting anything that is spoken from The Word.  That is Satan at work.  Jesus told us that we will continue to have trials and sorrows in the world.  Through our faith in Him, we can overcome all of that because He overcame this world and stole the keys of hell and death and was risen to new life securing our rebirth.

We have to always remember that we are at war and God is at war for us.  Jesus has brought us new life and now we have the opportunity to fully come alive through faith in Christ and what He has secured for us.  In the book, “Waking the Dead,” John Eldredge said, “War is not just one among many themes in the Bible. It is the backdrop for the whole Story, the context for everything else. God is at war. He is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. And what is He fighting for? Our freedom and restoration. The glory of God is man fully alive.”

We are going to be continually at war in this life.  Don’t let struggles that you face pull you away from your faith.  I know that it will be easy to turn away.  We’ve all faced struggles that make it difficult to see where God is at work.  Trust me, He always is at work and will never stop fighting for us and pursuing our hearts.  That’s how much He loves every single one of us.  We can come alive through Christ and start living out exactly what we were created for in the eternal life that begins now through our faith.

Finding Peace For Restoration

We live in a very noisy society today.  Everyday we get up and go about our business, we are bombarded with a million distractions around us, stuff on radio and tv, social media, daily traffic on our commute, drama in our circles, drama in the workplace, and so much more.  From the time we get up, until the time we go to sleep, we are under constant bombardment which can easily distract and wear us out, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  With so much going on, many of us don’t take the time to step away and find time to sit in peace and solitude to restore ourselves.  I was reading an article yesterday about solitude an and the importance we have of finding a place where we can stay away from the distractions of this world and restore ourselves in solitude.

Some where do you go for that peace or do you at all?  For me, there are a few places I find helpful for my restoration.  First for my daily time, it comes in the early morning hours, before the house starts moving.  When I get this time, I dive into God’s Word and meditate and journal on what I’m reading that day and then pray on it.  This is a daily practice that helps really get the day going.  Also during my morning workouts at the gym.  I plug my ears in with Praise and Worship music whenever I workout and stay locked in for the next hour and half.  For my major restoration from the year of craziness that comes from work and family priorities, it comes when I am at the beach.  There is something about getting up in the early morning and walking on the sand before all the other vacationers come out.  I listen to the ocean, feel the breeze, and in that place I feel completely locked in with God.

During any of these times, it’s not about being alone and lonely, it’s about solitude.  As the article I read in And Sons Magazine describes, there is a distinct difference between loneliness and solitude.  The author describes loneliness as “Cold. It haunts us in the quiet hours when we have failed to create enough white noise to drown it out. It is scary. It is deafening.”  Solitude however, “is the quiet of standing in a windless snowfall. The snow acts as a sound dampener—it’s hard to hear a car even if it’s only 20 feet away. It’s more than quiet—it is substantive, as if you could stretch out your hand and push into the silence like a down pillow.”

As the article also points out, there is one who made moments of solitude a regular practice.  That is none other that Jesus Christ.  Many times in the Gospels we read of Jesus stepping away into the wilderness to pray and restore himself.  To connect with The Father.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone….” (Matthew 14:23)

Then of course there was the 40 days in the wilderness which prepared Jesus for what was to come in His ministry and in fulfilling His purpose according Scripture.

These moments of solitude are extremely important parts of our lives and our restoration and preparation for what is still to come in our lives.  In these moments we can connect closer with God.  We can sit still in silence and fill His Spirit fill us and restore us.  It is in these moments where we can fully let go of the stresses this world brings in our daily lives and talk with God and listen to where He leads.  These moments are priceless and really help prepare for the next steps in our journey.

I am going to touch on this more in the coming weeks.  My next video blog will come out in July and will be on this very subject.  I think this is such an important part of our lives in our walk with God and finding where He is leading us, dealing with the spiritual battles and sin that the Adversary throws our way every day, and in restoration our lives and relationships with those around us.  We all need that place and that time to find peace and restoration.

Not For Our Glory But For His

What does it mean to you to Glorify God?  These words get mentioned often, and for some folks, I am sure it brings some question as to what this really means.  I know when I first heard it, I was unsure what it really meant.  It took time of reading and prayer to really begin to understand this.  We are all created for God’s purpose.  He created each and every one of us in our own unique way in His image.  Through our creation we each make up a unique part of the Body of Christ and bring something special to the kingdom.  What this tells me is that we each have a unique gift and calling to bring, and it all for the purpose of bringing glory to God.  That is our purpose.

God is the source of all.  He is the creator of all things and has been here since before the beginning.  Everything we have in this world and in our lives, all the blessings we have received and the gifts we have all come from Him.  If you read through Scripture, we are reminded of this over and over.  King David was very humbled in the fact that all his victories and delivery from his enemies were from God, not himself.  Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O Lord, not us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.”  It is because of His love for us that we exist.  It is because of His love and faithfulness that He sent His son to die for us and be poured out for our sins and taking the punishment and judgement that each of us deserve.

Each and every one of us have a unique gift to bring.  How we use that gift is of very significant importance.  There are many in this world that use their talents and gifts and look to only glorify themselves in their successes.  I’ve heard many to continually boast in their own pride and success and never once give the glory and praise to God for all He has provided.  We have to understand the importance of praising God and glorifying Him through humble faith and thankfulness for what He has provided.  He is the one that deserves all the praise and glory, always.

Have you ever watch the movie “Facing the Giants” developed by Sherwood Pictures?  If you have not, check it out.  It is great movie that my family have watched many times.  There is a high school football coach and team that have had some serious struggles.  They are coming to a new year and the coach is facing the threat of losing his job if the team does not turn things around.  This coach has a change of heart.  After a talk with a gentleman who has prayed for revival over the school many times, the coach begins to take on a new philosophy.  This is not about winning, but about glorifying God and playing for him.  He tells the team, “If we win, we praise Him, and if we lose, we praise Him.”  This new philosophy transformed the team, the coach, the school, and the community.

Glorify and praise God.  It sounds so simple doesn’t it.  I mention this movie because it is great example of how completely focusing on God and giving Him the glory and letting Him do the work can transform you and those around you.  Use the gifts God gave you.  He wants all of us to do the best we can with what He’s bless us with.  Do it not for your own glory.  Do so for His.  It all comes from Him anyway.  We have One God and One God alone.  All praise, honor, and glory to Him forever!

Free to Live and Free to Love

I have this sticker that is on the back window of my truck.  It is the image of the Cross with the words “We are set free.”  This comes of Galatians 5:1 where Paul tells us that Christ has truly set us free.  Many may wonder what it means to be truly set free.  What are set free from?  Paul stated that we are set from the law that enslaved the Israelites.  While working out this morning, I was watching a program with a gentleman named Joseph Prince.  I had never watched him before, but got caught up in what he was teaching.  He took us back to the time at Mt. Sinai when God laid out the 10 Commandments to Moses.  Prior to that point, God would come meet with people Abraham, Isaac, and others face to face.  When the Israelites began Exodus, they would often grumble to Moses and God would show grace by parting the Red Sea, raining Manna, bringing water from a rock.  At Mt. Sinai, however, it all changed and when the elders of Israel said they would do all God commanded, the laws were handed down and they became slaves of the law.  For the next 1,500 or so years, we see time after time where people turned from God and then would repent and obey God’s law.  The focus, was more on keeping the commandments rather than on faith in God and loving Him.

Fast Forward now to Jesus.  When Jesus was asked about which Commandment was the greatest, he said that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind.  True faith and love for God had been lost up to that point for most.  People were bent on keeping the law that they lost site of what it meant to be truly faithful.  Through Jesus Christ, we are shown God’s grace and love.  God became flesh and willingly gave his life to die for us and take the punishment of sin that we all deserved.  That is grace and love.  Through this willful sacrifice, we were set free.  Free from sin, free from death when Christ rose from the dead.

Now we are free to live and free to love God.  In the book Free to Live, by John Eldredge, it states, “Loving God is the centering of your existence as a human being. It’s the restoration of you reason for existence. What a relief it is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. What an utter relief. For then, every other relationship falls into place; every other desire finds its appropriate place in our life. Again, this is why mere “morality” can never substitute for true holiness. You can keep all the rules you think are important and not love God. This is where it all begins, truly loving Jesus with all your heart. Where things are out of whack, that is where our repenting needs to take place.”

Jesus’s first coming was in Grace.  Grace to set us free and to be given an open door to once again be able to know God and learn what true faith is and what true unfailing love is.  Through full faith and trust in Christ, we are free. We are free to love God with all that we are. We are free to live for God’s purpose and His will for our lives. We are free to live. Jesus is Life!

It’s a great feeling to know what the Grace bought through Christ’s redeeming blood has brought us.  Even when we are not deserving, we have the intercession of Christ.  Just as God continued to show Grace to the Israelites through their grumblings in the wilderness before Mt. Sinai, His Grace was again returned to us through Christ even through our fallen state and no matter how much we have jacked up our own lives.  I am just as jacked up as the rest, but know that through repentance and faith in Christ I am redeemed and free from that sin.  We are free to live and we are free to love!

SetFree

God Forgave You, So You Must Forgive

It’s so cool how the Holy Spirit will prompt us to different things.  I’ve felt my heart pulling to this subject for a few days and through conversations with Amber, through reading, and through songs I have heard, I had to touch on forgiveness today.  This is a big area for us all.

How often have you encountered people and situations where you felt so hurt and betrayed that you found it to be impossible to forgive?  This could be unforgiveness to someone that cause you and your loved ones great pain by their actions whether it resulted in death or some other tragedy.  It could be dealing with parents that were absent in love and guidance growing up that brought lasting effects as you entered adulthood.  It could be dealing with friends or others that have just wronged you in someway.  These are just a few examples, but certainly areas where people may have trouble finding forgiveness within yourself for those people.  Each and everyone of us have dealt in someone with people that caused brought enough hurt that finding difficulty can be challenging and sometimes feel impossible.

This can be a difficult subject for many people.  It is very easy to hold on to pain and anger towards others for a long time.  Holding on to it so much that it consumes you and brings out more anger each time you think about it.  I’ve certainly dealt with my share of difficulties.  If you wanted my Testimony video, you hear me touch on this briefly.  After the loss of my Dad, I had a long bout of anger toward the individual that hit his commuter van, resulting in it losing control and causing his death.  I was very angry for some time.  I did not want to forgive and held a lot of hatred.  For the longest time, I did not know how to manage with that difficulty and if I could ever find it myself to forgive.

Around Christmas, 2011, I picked up a book called “The Shack,” written by WM. Paul Young.  If you have  not read this book, I highly recommend it.  This book turned my entire mindset around.  I finally found what it really meant to forgive.  It turned my views into understanding that I had to forgive.  I knew that I could no longer selfishly ask God why such things could happen also.  It was not His will that brought about that tragedy.  In this fallen world, however, we are not immune to evil and tragedy.  We have to embrace God’s love through that difficulty and know God for who He is. When we embrace His love, we learn what it means to forgive.

This same thing holds true through any difficult challenges we have with anyone and any situation.  God loves us through all of our pain and tragedy and even when we do wrong ourselves.  I read a great C.S. Lewis quote this morning that said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  Each of us has the responsibility to learn how to forgive others through any circumstance.  God loves each of us, so much that He was willing to do whatever it took to win us back, no matter how much we were consumed by this world and our offenses toward Him.  The book, “The Sacred Romance,” highlights that God loved us before creation and before the fall.  He has never stopped pursuing us and will go where ever it takes to get us back.  He loved us so much, he came into this world through Jesus to pour out his blood to forgive us all and secure our seat at the wedding feast.

Look to Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son.  Even after his son left and lived a wild and carefree life, when he reached the point of brokenness, the father welcomed him with open arms.  That is the type of love God has for us.  No matter where we go, He will always forgive and pull us back with open arms.  With that much love for us and that willingness to forgive, how could we not forgive others.

I know this can be a difficult subject for many.  You may be faced with the struggles of dealing with a situation that you may hold so much anger toward and have challenges with trying to forgive.  If this is you, spend some time in prayer and Scripture on this.  Understand that God loves you through everything you have done yourself and no matter how much you fall short of His glory.  He will always pursue us through our faults and sins.  God forgave us, so we must also forgive.