"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This world has nothing for me

This week I have at least one thing in common with dirty dish water.  We're both drained (neither smell nor look that great either, but I did say at least one thing in common).  I am drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually--exhausted, frustrated, distracted, stressed, disappointed.  It is amazing how the enemy, and I mean the real Enemy, can quickly derail us and pull our focus from the things that matter.  My created purpose far exceeds my temporary disappointments and distractions, yet these things can blindside me and pull me off track.  So how does one deal with the pains that come with living the human life?  I have no magical platitudes that make pain dissolve away; no special incantations to erase the gnawing scars of depression that some of us face.  The truth is, life is a bummer sometimes.  With the wisdom of a bumper sticker--though tamed down to a G rating--crap happens.  The only thing I can say is that when this world hurts, I must remember I am not created for this world.  I find comfort in directing my focus back to the truest satisfaction. This doesn't make my hurt vanish, but it offers perspective when I see my pain next to the grandness of God.  The infinite Creator towers over my biggest hurts.  God is always faithful.  If He weren't, He couldn't be God--He would be acting against His very character.  He knows pain, and He is with me in mine.

We sang a song called Rescue in church today.  God knew I needed it before I did.  God has brought this song to me at key moments in my spiritual journey; moments of pain and loneliness, and it helps me gain perspective once again.  I hope it encourages you like it does me.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Friday, April 01, 2011

Clutching to Purpose

When we first step into a new job, the boss generally hands us some papers that explain our job description.  This description lends guidance, gives purpose, and help us stay focused.  John the Baptist was an incredibly focused man.  I'm sure locusts and wild honey make good brain food, but his focus comes from a place deeper than his morning breakfast.  Isaiah 40:3 prophecies of John's purpose hundreds of years before his birth saying,

"Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,'Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!  Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!'"

In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel spoke of John's purpose to his father, Zechariah, before John was even born.  Talk about job description--written in prophecy and spoken from the lips of an Angel!  But even with such a grand calling, John was a human being.  Luke 1:15 says that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born.  He needed the Holy Spirit's guiding to keep him focused on his purpose--keeping the important things in the foreground and letting everything else fade to peripheral.  

The whole purpose of John's ministry was to baptize people as an outward sign of their repentance so that they would be ready for the coming Messiah--Jesus.  "Repent!  For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!"  

Shortly after John baptizes Jesus, Jesus' disciples begin to baptize people too.  You would think that John's disciples--his right hand men--would surely understand why it is they do the things they do, yet when they see that Jesus' disciples are also baptizing, they get a bit jealous.  "...Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." (John 3:26).

The implications here are huge.  I am sure these disciples had great intentions, and they were doing a great thing, yet they completely missed the point!  Their job was to point towards Jesus, yet when the people went to Jesus...they became jealous!  They forgot the purpose of their ministry in the first place!  But John never did.  His response is, "...He must become greater, I must become less"(John 3:30).  John continually recognized that his purpose was to direct hearts toward the Messiah.

In ministry, it is critical to get in the habit of stepping back, examining our programs, and asking, "Now, why is it that we are doing this again?"  It would be foolish for the UPS man to drive from place to place with nothing to deliver.  We too must continually make sure our purpose hasn't fallen from the truck!

As Christians, do we keep our purpose at the forefront of our minds?  Like John's disciples, we might be doing all the right "stuff", but if we aren't pointing others towards Jesus, we've missed the point.  We've lost our purpose.  It's time to focus!  He must become greater, we must become less.