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Posts Tagged ‘serving’

Giving credit where it is due, PSD was in our “Tighten the Knot” Marriage series message by Brad Cooper.  Yet the importance of this resonates in me harkening back to a 5-year long lesson the Lord gave me on my most important role on this earth.  During those 5 years the Father continually brought me back to these verses in Ephesians.  ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. ‘  Ephesians 5:25-27  If you are married, your first human relationship is with your spouse.  Men, God has given you the responsibility to partner with Him in His sanctifying work in the woman you pledged to “cherish for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”  You made a commitment to your wife (and to God, if you missed that part) that you were in it for the long haul.  You have signed on the dotted line and the contract is not just valid in all 50 states, but in heaven as well as on earth.  But never fear, God has co-signed this contract with you so success is 100% assured, IF we do it His way.  (Another borrowed thought from Dr. Jimmy Evans in our Marriage series.)

First, we must take a moment to define commit and love.  Both are verbs and despite the dilution both words have experienced in the modern day, they indicate two eternally powerful concepts that God uses to accomplish His divine purposes.  To Commit is to agree to with the full weight of your will to fulfill that which you have agreed to.  Love is to desire the very best for another and to do whatever is required to achieve it for them.  The term love is used in so many lesser ways today, but the picture of love is a soldier sacrificing his life for a another.  The Greek word for this type of love is Agape.  It is the love Jesus refers to when He tells the disciples to “Love one another”.  It is the love He demonstrated in dying on the cross for our sins.  Husbands, it is the love we are called to have for our wives and it is demonstrated in thought, word, and deed.

So, PSD… Pursue, Serve, Die.  There is a phase in boy – girl relationships that is intoxicating.  Dr. Gary Chapman refers to this as the “Falling in Love” stage of a relationship.  It is what causes two people, often very different people, to desire companionship, togetherness, and in the normal course of time, intimacy, while modifying or at least softening, a number of personal likes and dislikes.  In the Falling in love phase, faults become hidden, often with no effort, disagreeable traits meld into likeable quirks, and the object of our affection becomes the epitome of perfection.  This phase can last up to 2 years, but…. and this is important, it is not permanent.

It is critically important that we understand that the Falling in Love phase is not only not permanant, it was never meant to be.  The Falling in Love phase serves an important purpose to get us past ourselves and into the realm of risk, trust, sacrifice and eventually into true love.  I have watched some very good sports teams accomplish surprising results riding the wave of an emotional high, but unless there is something more than just emotion the success is not sustainable.  The same is true in marriage.  Falling in love is emotionally fueled.  It is important to get us to the point that we realize there is such value in the relationship that we begin to move into true Love.

True love is of divine origin. ‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. ‘  1 John 4:16  This love is not caught, but received and grown.  It involves the will more than the emotion (although the emotions are definitely engaged) and it takes time to mature.  Let me make no bones about it, I loved before I fully committed my life to the Lord 35 years ago, but only after that did I begin to realize the capacity to love that was now resident within me.  Now I admit I am far from loving to the full, but there are times when His loves breaks through to me, and even more wonderfully, when His love breaks through to others through me.  This is a fundamental calling for Christ-followers, to allow Jesus’ love to fill and overflow us.  But the exclamation point on that is for husbands… to love our wives as Christ loves the Church.

Going back to Falling in love, PSD tends to happen spontaneously during this phase.  Pursue, Serve, and Die happens naturally, but again it is largely emotion fueled.  Just because the emotion fades though, does not mean we should not abandon these.  In fact the maturing and deepening of love is the transition from emotional, almost-without- thought, pursuit, serving, and dying for our beloved, to the intentional, purposeful pursuit, serving, and dying for them.  Once the blinders are removed and we realize that our beloved isn’t perfect… and sometimes isn’t totally pleasant… and they sometimes do, or say something that hurts you… (Note, Honey, if you are reading this I’m speaking hypothetically in our case!)… then is the opportunity for PSD to begin morphing into true love.

As I sit on this balcony in a beautiful tropical location at 4:00 am celebrating our 33 years of marriage, I am able to reflect on marriage to a wonderful woman.  She has demonstrated a deep and abiding love to me and I have been truly blessed.  I realize that over these 33 years, I’ve sometimes gotten it right and made steps in growing that capacity to love.  I also admit, the old man… the self-centered man that I once was, has not completely died.  I see why Jesus said we have to die to ourselves daily, because the old man is a stubborn old coot that keeps trying to assert himself.  But, in our marriages we are afforded the marvelous opportunity to practice love that transforms.  I love my beloved more today that when we first fell in love.  We have weathered storms together, we’ve experienced many joys side by side, and with the Lord’s help we’ve grown much.  The old man has suffered greatly due to the purposeful following of the Lord’s leading to “Love my wife like He loved the Church”.  And the results are the best kind.  We both grow.  We both love better.  We become examples of a love that lasts.  Our lives and our marriage shows to any who wonder, what God can do through two people committed to Him and committed to love with His love.

Be blessed today my friend and be a blessing.

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Introspection in context of an on-going conversation with our Creator God is an awesome thing. We were created on purpose by God for a purpose. We are not cosmic accidents. There are plenty of voices that strive to either convince us that we are purposeless accidents or, at the very least, distract us from what our true purpose is. But you and I are divinely created, eternal beings with a God-given purpose. Now many philosophers, poets, and apologists throughout history have contemplated this question. Depending upon their assumptions they differ greatly in their answers. Fortunately, Truth is not as relative as some would have us believe. If you determine to let Truth be your guide and actively engage a discussion with the Almighty, you will be given an answer to the question, “Why Am I Here?” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

There are a couple life purpose statements that I have heard that I embrace. One is “To Know God and to Make Him Known.” That’s pretty high level, but it is true. Another that has been running around in my mind this morning is “To Do the Greatest Amount of Good To the Greatest Amount of People While I Have the Ability To Do So.” If we give definitions to the terms such as good being helping people to know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him, then this is a pretty good one. As a Christ-follower, how I fulfill my purpose flows out of seeing what Jesus did and is currently doing, gaining His direction and empowerment, and then doing it.

In the midst of Holy Week, my thoughts have repeatedly turned to Jesus and what His final week was like. Jesus had crystal clarity of His ultimate purpose. He was sent to redeem mankind. That purpose finds its fulfillment in His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Everything we know about Jesus is aligned with His ultimate purpose. Jesus redemption of mankind is for all generations; therefore He selected a small group of ordinary folks to carry on His message after He returned to heaven. The lives He touched with His simple, yet extraordinary message attested to by the multitude of miracles He performed were further evidence of a reality beyond the mundane existence so many were experiencing. Where it is healthy and maturing, the Church today is faithfully continuing Jesus’ work of redemption.

So why am I here? Why are you here? Have you taken time to figure out your specific purpose? God has a purpose for you that is good. The ramifications of your purpose will resonate into eternity. That is true whether you find and walk in your divine purpose or not. You see, God is sovereign. He knows the length, breadth, and depth of our lives. If we chose to miss out on God’s call upon our lives, He is still weaves this into His plan of redemption. There are eternal consequences for us and many of those in our proximity, but God’s ultimate plan will march on to completion.

Yet, when we partner with God… when we become Jesus-followers committed to living life under the guidance of His Holy Spirit, we will be given God-ordained tasks every single day that further God’s revelation and fulfillment of our purpose. And our true purpose is always aligned with Jesus’ purpose – the redemption of mankind.

Take time to ask the Lord to give you a clear sense of your purpose today. Read the Word with eyes open to what the Spirit says to you about your next steps with Jesus. Understand that your life is to be lived in partnership with God. He knows what He is doing. He knows the role He has created you to fulfill. He will reveal it to you. At times He will lift you high and allow you to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Hint, this takes place when we are close to Jesus. At other times we may only see the small circle immediately around us and the view of our purpose narrows in to the faith we can muster to hold tightly to Jesus’ hand while the storm rages. Most days though, my purpose is simplified to living as close to Jesus as I possibly can and loving Him and the people He brings into my life that day the best I can.

Why am I here? It’s really simple. To point to Jesus in every way I can.

Blessings my friends. And let the Lord bless others through you.

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I am convinced that every one of us was created on purpose for a purpose.  You are neither an accident nor is it an accident that you are where you are in life.  You may have made some decisions in your life that have gotten you to a place that you never expected or didn’t plan for, but take heart, God has not abandoned you.  One aspect of every person’s purpose is to help meet the needs of people God puts in our path.  We were created to be inter-connected.  We are not meant to do life alone.  That is in the intimate friends, family and spouse sense, but also in the larger community of faith, geographical region, and as part of all people God has created.

In May of 2008 my brother Steve, my daughter Christin, and I traveled to Honduras for a week to work with Fernando Acosta in a church plant in Playa Grande.  We held a day camp for the young people with a soccer tournament, daily lessons, games, and singing each day.  We wrapped up with a celebration including pinatas and a party on the final day.  Over the next few days I want to share some of the impressions from that trip.

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One of the indelible impressions was the ability of our new friends and faith family to live above their circumstances.

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In the pictures you will see mostly smiling, happy faces.  Our event was a wonderful diversion for children and adults alike.  Some of the pictures will show the living conditions.  Mud huts are common.  Cinder block is perhaps the majority along the roads where we traveled.  Many homes are only one room.  There was no running water.  Water is delivered into the family pila once every third day.  We lost electricity almost every day for periods of 30 minutes – 2 or 3 hours.  Homes were not closed up and there was no air conditioning.  When we were there in May the temperature was 94 – 96 degrees every day with 85 – 90% humidity.  For us used to air conditioning the sleeping was probably the most challenging.

The home we stayed in was one of the nicer homes in the area.  The family who owned the home were working in the US.  They bought the home with money they made in the US so they would have a place to live if they had to leave the US.

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It had a real kitchen with essential appliances.  It had a large living room area where we held the mid-week service for about 50 – 60 people.  We were packed in and it was stuffy and really hot, but the Lord blessed the time in a wonderful way as 6 young people chose to follow Christ that night.

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Another home we visited simply had a fire pit inside the home for cooking.  It struck me that the arduous task of cooking a meal for this mother was essentially the same a campfire cooking that I have done a number of times.  She does it every day, multiple times every day.  Additionally in her one room home she raises her four children without a husband.

Despite the joy that we got to see, the life of the people in Playa Grande is a very hard life.  Unemployment is 25% or higher.  Despair and hopelessness are two of the greatest struggles.

IMG_8124IMG_5512There is one private doctor who lives several miles from Playa Grande, but very few of the villagers could take advantage of him.  Medical care is government provided, but that means you have to arrange transportation to the capital of Tegucigalpa which for us was a 5 hour trip in and a 6 hour trip back.  The pattern for most young people is some schooling until they are 9, 10, or 11 years old and then it is off to try and find some sort of work even if it is simply subsistence farming of the family vegetable garden and few animals.

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I have been around poor living conditions here in the US, but I have to say the scope of poverty does not compare.  In the US people have options that simply do not exist in Playa Grande.  That despair and hopelessness are the two biggest challenges is not in the least surprising.  It drives me to be incredibly thankful for what we have, but it also makes me desire to help.

Playa Grande is a real place God has used to touch my heart.  However there are Playa Grande’s everywhere.  Each one of us has opportunities all around us where we can reach out and help.  You do not have to go a thousand miles away to meet needs.  They exist in your own community, perhaps within your family, surely through your church there are real needs to be met.  I encourage you to join me in seeking areas where the unique gifts and talents that you and I possess can be put to use for the good of others.IMG_8133

Have a blessed day and ask the Lord to make you a blessing to others today.

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