One of the biggest questions people ask is, what is my purpose? This question drives us, causes us to move towards what we want to attain. We are unique people designed for more than simply existing. We are unique people, created by God, with a purpose. Our purpose is to love God with everything that we are and treat other the way we would want to be treated. Last week I wrote a post about this idea, but now we are left with a new question, what now? We have the broad idea, an outline for how we should live our life, but how can we truly narrow down the way that our unique talents can be used to grow the kingdom? You see, there is an idea that I have been think about and kicking around in my head (not physically, that would be kinda nuts), it’s the idea of being dedicated. This past Sunday was baby dedication Sunday at my home church of Daystar. It is always a cool thing to experience, parents take a class to think about what they will do to help their child grow spiritually, and choosing verses that they want to pray over their child and write a letter to them as a prayer for their future. As I sat in service I was struck by the word of dedication. The definition of the word is, the quality of being committed to a task or purpose. This struck me, and inspired me to dive into the quality of being dedicated to a purpose.
I know what you’re probably thinking, isn’t that Smokey the Bear’s slogan? Why yes, it is in fact! It’s a slogan that pretty much everyone in America has heard before, any National Park has a picture of Smokey somewhere warning campers and hikers alike to be cautious with fire. Commercials tell us that just one match can devastate a forest if we aren’t careful with it. I think the same could be said about our responsibility as a leader. Now before you start to question what I’m even saying, I’m not saying that as a leader you need to watch out for setting a fire. What I am talking about is your responsibility to not start a spiritual fire. We live in a world filled with choices and we see people all around us make compromises of what they believe. We often see leaders in high positions misuse the influence they have, treating others as lesser people or speaking painful words over them in order to grow in status. We try to push others down in order to gain a higher viewpoint, but this will only end in devastation. God has given you all a position to lead, he designed you with a purpose. Your purpose is to bring others into the kingdom. If this is our purpose, why do we misuse our power? Instead of becoming the hero who rescues and saves others from falling, we become a villain drunk with power.
Being a leader is hard work. It requires you to be strong when others aren’t, make tough decisions, and stand for what you believe is right; but we are all called to be leaders. A leader is simply one who leads a group, pretty basic stuff right? What this looks like is simple, yet complex. That’s one of the things that never ceases to amaze me, how simple God works to do incredible things. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You see, we were specially designed by God, made in his image, he gave us abilities and talents that are unlike anyone else. He made us, but we have a calling that he gives each of you, use what he has given you to do good works. Those good works are simply serving others, treating others as you want to be treated.
Each day, we create a story. We take on new challenges, we meet new people, and we fight to make it through the hardship. You have a story. You have a past that has led you to this point, you have the ability to make choices now that will propel you into a future God has for you, and you have the power to leave a legacy that will last forever. Over the past three weeks I have written posts to help you understand that we have all been given a story. We all have a past where we can see that God has brought us from, good or bad. We all have the power to choose to live daily seeking Christ, not choosing to be of this world. All ending in our future, that once we trust God with it, we can leave a legacy that matters. These are all things that are vital to your story, but today there is a conclusion that may be the most important aspect of your story. Your story needs to be shared. Another word for your story that we see over and over in the bible is that of your testimony. A testimony is simply a declaration of what you have experienced. Your testimony is unique, because it is yours. Your testimony in Christ has power to it, it has the power to cast out darkness and push the enemy down. Revelation 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” We have been saved by grace and our testimony of that fact gives us the power over the darkness. We become the light, and when there is light, darkness flees.
Last week I talked about making a very important choice, a choice that will affect the rest of your life, but what happens afterwards? How do I go about living my life? So often we are able to make the choice, but we continue to live our lives as they were. This isn’t me saying we should all become hermit people only reading the bible every moment of the day, not a bad thing just basically impossible if you have to drive and interact with people, what I am saying is that we become changed people. A relationship with God isn’t some checklist to complete, that isn’t a relationship. We are in relationship with so many people, friends, family, co-workers; but the most important relationship we have is with our creator. When we spend time with these people in our life, we make an effort to connect with them, that’s what God wants for us. When we make the effort to connect with him, our outlook is altered.
Hello again my good reader! Over the past couple of months on this blog I’ve been focusing on different aspects that we can learn and use to build our arsenal against the trials that life throws at us. It has been somewhat of a theme, but today I want to focus in on the reason behind why I’ve been writing about these traits. My reasoning is because I have seen that only you can strengthen yourself. Here’s what I mean, we as people can listen to inspirational speakers, read the best books, talk to the wisest of people, but there’s one thing that we all forget. All of these are good, but it comes down to the fact that only you can make the choice over your life. This is one of the most beautiful lessons that Jesus teaches us, a gift he gives us. We all have a choice, and this choice is the decision of life or death. Yeah, that serious. Paul gives us the two options in plain, clear, view. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.” One of the things that is so good about the bible is that things are so simple, a choice of living in sin, or turning from sin and running into freedom. It’s the choice, meaning the only choice we need. Do we follow the world, or do we choose to follow Christ? Without choosing to have a relationship with Christ, you can still work on the skills that I’ve written about, but it isn’t sustainable. Think of it like an environmental standpoint, if we keep using a non-renewable resource, we are left with nothing. Things break down, we lose the ability to live like we once were. The same is true without Christ, without having a daily renewal, we break down. We need to make the choice.
I want to talk about something today that I feel like doesn’t get talked about enough. Creativity. We look around every day and look at a world filled with beautiful nature, excellent craftsmanship, and individuals who are each unique in every way from us. We look at it all, but something doesn’t quite sink in. We live in a world that was designed by an all-powerful creator, yet we forget to acknowledge the power that is in that. We forget the intricate processes of the body that allows us to function on a daily basis. We forget the fact that nature has an inner working system that literally gives life. And we forget that we have been designed with the ability to use our own creative minds. Each of us is unique, designed by a creator, each with the ability to give back with our own gifts. All of us have talents and abilities that add to the kingdom and the world we live in.
One of the biggest questions I think everyone has asked themselves at some point is, do I even matter? It’s kind of a frightening question to ask oneself. Do we actually matter to the landscape of the world we find ourselves in? The answer, in our own eyes, varies all over the place. Success is subjective in the eyes of the person trying to obtain it. Success in the world may be fame, fortune, and glory; but if this is the standard for if we matter, most of us will fail. I know for me I’m a broke college student who is trying to figure out how I get to the place God has called me to. I don’t exactly meet the fame, fortune, and glory type of success. There has to be something more, right? I believe that God’s idea of success is so much more powerful than we could ever imagine, and it is so much greater than our worldly desires. Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.” This verse I believe answers that question of why we matter.
I hope you all are staying warm and safe from the icy roads! I am currently in a hotel in Lillington after spending a day visiting a friend. It was very crazy having my dad call me to tell me that the roads were too dangerous for me to try and make it, so I made reservations at the hotel. It’s currently raining and freezing from outside a coffee shop here in the town, and this situation, as well as what I’ve been learning throughout this week has lead me to one central idea. Trust. Trust is something that is hard for me, the word itself means to have a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. That’s a pretty big role to fill, yet God wants us to put our complete trust in him alone. For me, it’s hard to trust things and people, because all of us are sinners, people who are not perfect. If we expect imperfect people to be perfect, we will be disappointed. I often make that mistake, I really do mean often. I look to other people to trust in, because I can tangibly hear and see them, but I make them into a higher position than God himself. This is a dangerous way to live, Jesus called out the religious leaders of his time because they similarly put their trust in the law, while missing the son of God who was in front of them. I think that’s the danger of putting trust into someone or something until it turns into faith, and that’s something hard to admit.
Life gets hard. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that fact. Sometimes it happens in unforeseen ways, giving a sucker punch to our gut. Other times, our own dumb mistakes can bring on heartache and pain. I know for me, both are true. I’ve faced storms throughout the past year and this year has been a fight as well. I’ve made mistakes, let my anger take over in moments of weakness. It’s a challenge I’ve always had, anger. Anger against those who hurt me, anger towards those who hurt others, and anger towards myself. I hate that part of me. I seek peace and a laidback nature, but when I don’t let God have control, I lose it. I’ll say things I can’t take back, whether true or not, the words will hurt. I share this because I struggle. I’m not a perfect person and neither are you. Maybe you struggle with anger like me, or maybe your thorn is of another kind. Addiction, holding on to grudges, pride, judgement, abuse; all of these many of us struggle with on a daily basis. All of these can cause a fracture in our relationships, hurting our families, friends, or our overall persona that people perceive of us. The funny thing is, we expect everyone around us to be the perfect person we are not. The dichotomy becomes our expectation of others perfection to counter our imperfection, thus creating the fracture. The only thing that can counter our imperfection is God’s complete perfection.