Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Success - who doesn't want to enjoy it or to be one? I sure do! But if you're anything like me, it can be a little confusing as to exactly what "Success" looks like. To some it's measured by money, to others by academic degrees. Still others insist that it's best evaluated by the size of my house, make of my car or whether or not I possess a "trophy wife" (which I do...for almost 25 years now!).

Because of the diversity of measurement in this area, coupled with the fact that the "standard" is a moving target, I have found great security and comfort in discovering what God's Word has to say about the topic (and it's said the same thing for several thousand years now).

You probably know by now that I like acronymns because they help me to remember things, and a thing remembered is a step closer to being a thing learned. This is what I take away from God's Word when I look at what He thinks about it.

Single Focus - Philippians 3:13
Understanding of the Word - 2 Timothy 2:15
Contentment - Philippians 4:11-12
Character - Psalm 15
Empathy for Others - Ephesians 4:32
Submission to God - James 4:7
Self Control - 1 Peter 5:8

A lot easier to spell out than to live, to be sure, and more than enough to keep me occupied for my remaining years as I seek to put into action what I know! I don't know if you looked up the verses above or not, but I challenge you to do so...make yourself familiar with them. Then why not join me in the pursuit of true success? You will never regret it, and are assured of a "Well Done" when we see Jesus face to face!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gifts & Calling

I am privileged to meet with a group of area clergy (male and female) on a monthly basis in one of our local coffee shops. The conversation is always stimulating, and recently, got especially interesting via our reading of a book together, "Joshua and the Shepherd" (1990, Joseph Girzone).

The question that consumed us on a particular Thursday morning was not an expressly "religious" question (meaning applicable only to clergy) but is rooted in how we perceive and understand God. Because of a struggle in a main character in our book, we began to wrestle with this question: Does God always gift a person to do a particular vocation to which He calls them?

At a pastoral level, a real-life example might be, "Would God call a person to be a minister and grant them no social skills?" Or, "Would God call a person to be a pastor and grant them no gifts of communication?" Or how about this one: "Would God call a person to priesthood and not grant them the gift of celibacy?" Boy, did it get animated!

At a non-pastoral level, it might look more like this: "Would God call you to be a teacher and give you no communication gifts?" Or, "Would God call you to be an engineer and grant you no perceptional/visualization gifts?" Or, "Would God call you to be an artist and grant you no creative gifts?" Our conclusion? We haven't arrived at one yet! What do you think?

I'm kind of in the middle on this one. Personally, I believe that what God calls you to, He equips you for. But, where I might differ from some is whether or not He always gifts you for it. Our world is filled with people who were not gifted, but became remarkable because of an immense amount of study, preparation and hard work in an area that intrigued or compelled them.

What I also believe is that if God calls you to some particular thing, He may gift you for it, He may wire you for it, or He may grant the grace and strength to develop whatever it takes to fulfill that calling. For some, it may appear to come easily (doing what they're called to do). For others, they may have an inescapable compulsion to pursue a calling largely foreign to them. And for yet others, the calling may be so clear to them that they will forsake all else and give everything to become what is needed to fulfill it - no matter how hard or challenging the route may be.

What I know, is that no matter what God has called you to, the most important thing in the world is for you to do it - no matter what it takes. I grew up being told, "If God calls you to be a pastor, don't stoop to be a king," but I believe equally, "If God calls you to be a ________ (fill in the blank), don't stoop to be a pastor." If God calls you, to quote an overused but accurate phrase, "JUST DO IT!" You'll never regret living life His way!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have a friend named Carl who loves to look for rocks. Not just any old rocks, mind you, but exceptional rocks - rocks that catch the eye because of their shape, color, structure or sparkle. Most any day that it's not raining (which recently, hasn't been that often), you'll find Carl outside, patiently going over the tens of thousands of rocks that can be found outside his retirement community. Like clockwork, when Carl's been looking, I know that I'll be seeing his latest finds!

One thing about hunting for "keepers" - rocks that he's going to take to his room - is that it takes a lot of time. Finding "keepers" is not something you do in 5 minutes a day, and frequently takes you back over the same ground you covered not more than a few days ago, for you just don't know what you might have missed!

It occurred to me this morning that Carl's looking for "keepers" is a lot like our reading of God's Word (something I hope you do on a regular basis): to find God's "keepers" (truths that touch our hearts, minds and lives) takes more than 5 minutes a day - it takes looking often and persistently. It also frequently takes us over "ground" we've covered before. Another friend of mine stated just yesterday how amazed he is that no matter how often he reads his Bible, he finds something new every time!

Now, this taking of time and devoting it to finding God's "keepers" goes against the fast-paced lifestyles that most of us lead. Like a driver who, because he is always in a hurry to get to his next destination, never fills up his gas tank but puts in just $5 worth of gas every time, it can be easy for us to do the same, spiritually speaking, and never really "fill 'er up." Problem is, he's always worried about running out of gas!

If you're not doing so already, I want to challenge you to take your 5 minutes in God's Word and double least. Use this expanded opportunity to "fill 'er up" and I believe that your discovery of "keepers" will increase exponentially. Plus, you won't ever have to worry about running out of "gas" (God's strength & peace).

And once you find some "keepers," I'd love to hear about them! Matter of fact, I'm betting that once you've found them, like Carl, you won't be able to not talk about them and show them to others!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Purposes of Trials

I've been privileged to lead a Bible study on Genesis at Highland Ridge Senior Living Community since the first of the year. Taking one chapter at a time, we've nearly made it half way through, though the lessons go far beyond our time together!

As we've looked at Abraham, the question has come up repeatedly: Why would God allow such difficult things in the life of a Christian? Though it's a gross injustice to the process we've been in (because it's taken weeks to arrive at our conclusions and only moments to type them), I believe that today we hit upon some keys - keys that are just as true today as they were who knows how many thousands of years ago when Abraham undoubtedly wrestled with the same question. Here's our conclusions:
  • To Develop Our Faith - 1 Peter 1:7. Faith, like a muscle, must not only be exercised in order to grow, it must also be pushed beyond it's current limits. Without question, trials do this!

  • To Reveal Us to Us - Hebrews 4:12. God knows us, so He is not out to test us so that He can see what we're made of. No, rather, He allows trials so that we can see what we're made of - do we actually practice what we say we believe when the heat is on? Or do we have a lot more growing to do than we like to let on? Once we've seen ourselves accurately, God's grace to us takes on a whole new meaning!

  • To Reveal God to Us - Isaiah 55:8-9. Sadly, it is often only when we feel we have no other option that we turn to God and ask for help. Fortunately, He is more than ready to step in...after our faith has grown and we've seen ourselves clearly.

Believe it or not, God often allows these tough times because He loves us, and His love will not allow us to be less than we can be (love never does). I don't know what you are facing right now, but whatever it is, embrace it as an opportunity to Grow your Faith, Get a good look at Yourself, and see God in a totally new and bigger Way!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

God's Word

"The word of God is like a mirror in that it shows us who we really are. It is like a map because it shows us where we need to go. It is like a portrait for it paints for us a picture of who God is."

The truth of the statement above can be seen in these tendencies (shared by me):
  • Far too many people stay away from God's Word for fear of what reflection they may behold in the "mirror." While seeing ourselves as we are can be a bit intimidating, only in doing so will we ever get to be what we're designed to become!
  • Far too many people stay away from God's Word because they don't like someone offering counsel on what to do (or where to "drive"). Insisting in going wherever they want to go, they, sadly, never get to the destination that their heart longs for!
  • And finally, far too many people stay away from God's Word because of what they think God looks like (judgmental, harsh, unfair, narrow-minded). In staying with what they think He is like, they never get to know what He is truly like!

Don't be like "far too many people"! Take a good look in the "mirror" and you'll see who you are and who you are becoming; where to go and the benefits of going; who God is and who He desires to be in your life!