Friday, August 14, 2009

I Want.....

It seems inevitable that when I take my three children into a store they are having a case of the "I want this....." Even my two year old has added this to his vocabulary. He loves to say "I like this Daddy" or "I want this Daddy". Of course I reply with a three minute sermon on how ungrateful they can be and how we can't get everything we want all the time, nor is it good to receive all of our desires immediately. About a week ago Andrea, my wife, held a "dream night" for business partners. The women were jewelry consultants and were discussing there hopes and dreams of what this business could do for their own lives. I listened as they shared aspirations about family vacations, college education, newer cars, paid off debts, and increased support for missionaries and mission trips. While listening to them, in my mind I made up my own dream list. It included paying off debts, new outdoor furniture, a concrete floor in my barn, a tractor for the barn, new equipment for my business, and my list went on and on. The next day I was consumed with my dreams which quickly turned into my "wants". Who do I sound like now? Sure enough my kids get it honestly from the man in the house! Time for the three minute sermon in solitude.
I had so quickly turned an inspirational exercise into a depressing and all consuming attitude of "I don't have all the things that I want." As I write this, the words ungrateful and selfish come to mind very rapidly. My ungrateful heart condition was diagnosed lovingly by my wife who shared that I should look around at what I do have and take those things in praise to God. It is tough being knocked down to my knees, but that is the only perspective I need, to be looking up.
Over the past few days I have watched a family grieve the loss of their husband, father, brother, friend, mentor, coach, teacher, and co-worker. As I reflect on the celebration of his life, I thought about who I am and the "wants" that I have placed in my life right now. Gods has written new ones on my heart. It is now up to me whether or not I follow through with them. My new list contains some of the following:

To be a man of God on both the inside and outside equally
To invest time in my family
To invest time in the lives of people around me
To not worry about my task list each day, but instead use God's timing as a standard.
To practice contentment apart from the world's definitions.
To love my wife wholly and honorably
To thirst for truth and sharing it lovingly and honestly with others
To use the talents that I've been entrusted with to show others His love.
To be a man that will be remembered for living a life pointing to something greater than himself

The list may seem daunting and lofty, but I know only one thing for sure, "With Christ All Things are Possible". One day at a time and one decision at a time is all I can do, but He is the one that can shape and me into this list of "I wants" because I believe they are in line with what He wants for me and for you. What are you in want of today? Is it worth the sacrifice of yourself or His Sacrifice?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You Can Call Me Crazy......

After being in Mexico for a week working and serving the people there it is definitely a fulfilling “mountain top” experience. A person feels purpose and satisfaction from doing what God has put them on this earth to do: Love one another and serve in His name. On all the trips that I have taken to do this ,there comes a point when I must return home to the life I left behind. I had temporarily exited the hectic, fast paced lifestyle of work, school, kids, hobbies, family and church activities. This life was traded in for a short glimpse of how Jesus lived day to day. His life was far from glamorous or envied, but it was satisfying and filled with purpose. The purpose was to live out a life of serving others in love that in this they might see a true picture of His Father in Heave. Upon the return home I am changed forever by the sights that I have seen, smelled, touched, and embraced. This time of transition can be difficult and tumultuous. It is the time of reintegration to my pre-trip life and routines.
Everything has a different look. I examine my life more closely and ask a myriad of questions. Do Ireally need more clothes, a new vehicle, a bigger house? Is it necessary to go out to eat as much as I do? Can my money be spent more frugally in order to give more to those who need the basics of life? Is there a place that I can apply these acts of service inmy own hometown? So many things have changed in my outlook on life that it can be overwhelming to the people around us me, as well as my own self.
A song came to mind that speaks volumes about how the world views us as Christ followers. The song is by Mercy Me and is called “Crazy”. I encourage you to listen to it through this link and allow the words to penetrate you heart. \

The overall message of the song is "Why would I spent my life doing everything that is opposite of what the world thinks is normal. We long for the day our life ends here, we point our lives towards another man instead of ourselves, we live our lives in the trust and care of another man, and we blindly give our life to promises of unseen things. This is a big pill for the world of self-sufficiency to swallow. It goes against all that is taught to us by our culture. This is where the spiritual and worldly clash draws swords. Our flesh longs for many of these earthly things because it gives up immediate, temporary relief from the pain in this world. As Christ-followers, we are called to suffer through these earthly hunger pangs and allow the One to fill us with His inner strength that is eternal. It outlasts any of the cheap thrills that the world can offer. By grasping onto true fulfillment many of struggles and trials of this life can be traversed with an eternal perspective.

This has been demonstrated to me so vividly in the past month with a close family friend who is battling cancer and the odds are against him right now. He is in a place that I can't comprehend. Knowing that death could come at anytime, but knowing that God is more present in his life than one could understand. From the outside it seems sad that a man like this has to suffer and leave a family and community that so dearly loves him. People of the world would ask why would a man like this have to suffer instead of one who is less influential and loved by so many? When we look through eternal eyes, it becomes a bit more clear. We ask why not? How many have seen and experienced his true love and commitment to the One who saved his soul. He is having an outstanding impact on hundreds and maybe even thousands of people by how he is embracing this fight by allowing Jesus to continue leading his life. I am a changed person by seeing his love and strength in the face of adversity. He truly loves living but is more taken by living loved by the Jesus. Thank you Mr. Rick for your influence in the life of me and my family. We are selfishly praying for a miracle but know that Our Savior is totally in control at all times of those who love Him! Your life is a true picture of how to live in the will of the Father.

As the song says so boldly "It would be crazy to choose this world over eternity!" What are you crazy for today?............If it is not eternity then I challenge you to look again. You can call me crazy, but I choose to live a life marked by His will, not the world's.