★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★

I cannot believe it has already been a month since I started to write this blog after seeing the movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”  Life has been busy to say the least, but as I am thrilled to share this post which has become a sort of mantra or rallying cry for me!  If you have not seen “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” I highly recommend you watch it as soon as it hits Redbox or when you can stream it because it was absolutely amazing, one of the best movies I have ever seen!  Just so you understand me, I don’t say that lightly as I am very leery of Christian films, either because of the cheesy acting/writing or because it does not stay true to what the Bible says; but with this latest release from “Affirm Firms,” I left the theater phenomenally impressed!  Great acting, beautiful cinematography and most importantly of all…it is biblically accurate in the telling of the persecution of the early church.  Of course there are characters and plot lines not found in the Bible in order to carry the story or fill in the gaps but was done in such a way that honors scripture.  Anyhow, it is a must see!  As the movie concluded, James Faulkner (who played Paul), quoted 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT) which is where I wanted to start our Thought for the Day off with…

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In the backdrop of this brilliant film, these words penned almost 2,000 years ago came to life like they never have before!  As I was telling the guys about what God was speaking to me in how Paul suffered for the Gospel and the impact he has had on the world in my Tuesday morning Bible Study, one of the guys posed this question:

“What will people say at my funeral about me?  On my death bed, will I have regrets?”

He said that he wrote his obituary in response to this question, which at first may seem a little morbid, but then I started to think about it.  As we discussed this, of course everyone at the table agreed that they would want people to think well of them and have found memories, but I followed up with that consensus to ask: Are we living a life that will render those results?  So for me, first and foremost, I would want people to say that I was a Man of God who pursued to embody what Paul said in Titus 1:6-9 that leaders in the church should.  I would hope that I would be spoken of that no matter where I went, I was a representative of Jesus Christ (as Colossians 3:15-17 instructs) and ordered my life in service to the Kingdom of God in which the fruits of the Spirit were evident (See Galatians 5:22-23).  I would also want to be remembered as a man who strove to be a Godly husband and father to his two daughters and would say that I did my very best to follow Ephesians 5:28-33 and Ephesians 6:4, (which I know I still have work to do).  Okay enough about my obituary, time to ask some questions…Have you ever wondered…

“Why am I here on earth?  What is my purpose here?” 

Of course you have, we all have at some point.  It is a question that people have pondered throughout the ages.  But I hope to press in a little deeper than the initial question and expose how the enemy will deceive us and distract us from the initial response we may give.  But before I do, let’s ask you some more questions.

Do you think you are here to amass great wealth, live in a luxurious house and drive a fancy new car? 

Or is it to maximize your stock portfolio and be setup up for life? 

Do you long for the day that you can travel the globe or sit on a beach without a care in the world?

I dare say we have all have pursued for all of this and a lot more.  Are we trading the eternal for that which will rust and fade away which we cannot take with us when we die?  Now I am only 43 years old, but in that relatively short time, I have come to realize that life is for much more than financial security or the accumulation of material possessions or to reach a life of ease.  It’s about people and how can I make a difference in their lives.  Revolutionary thought?  No.  But my prayer is that God will cultivate in your heart a fresh awareness of other people’s needs, and that the Holy Spirit would inspire and move you to develop a new plan of action about how you can impact the people in your life whether at home, school, work, or where you play.  My daughter made this edit after a mission trip of this quote that she heard from a speaker there which I believe perfectly captures the point:

The answer to this will show whether you are “fighting the good fight” for the Kingdom of God as Paul declared, or if perhaps complacency has creeped in.  Long ago I heard the expression that you should “leave people better than you found them,” which I see as much more than a cute cliché, but as something that God has called us to be.  When I was meeting with a brother in Christ for a Bible Study on a different day, he shared his life verse with me that is from Acts 20:24 (NLT) which Paul make this incredible declaration:

 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

This so resonated in my spirit because of this question which God has been stirring in me…

Are You a Plug or a Conduit?”

A plug is interesting in that, it is both a noun and a verb.  Merriam-Webster defines it as:

A conduit on the other hand is defined several ways:

So within that context, I want to be a conduit for God’s purpose to flow through me to all those who I come in contact with.  When I meet Jesus in heaven I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.”  (See Matthew 25:21).  I agree with the Apostle Paul that “my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me.”  The last thing I ever want to do is plug up God’s grace, love and truth to reach those who are in need.  In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul warns about the Day of Judgement when our works will be thrown in the fire and the value of what we do hear will be revealed.  In verse 13 we are told:

“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”

I know that much of what I have done before knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior will be burned up but what a waste if a lot of my work since receiving the free gift of salvation and having the truth that can save others is burned because I have squandered my time here on earth.  Now am I saying if you have a nice home or car or a lot of money in your bank account that you are plugging up what God wants to do…ABSOLUTELY NOT!  My point, and what God has impressed on me is…

Are you using those resources He has blessed you with to bless others?  For instance, you could host or lead a bible study in that spacious home.  You could drive an elderly or disabled person in that nice car to church or the grocery store.  Or you could use the monetary blessing to help the less fortunate or go on a missions trip to help those in need. 

The key is to do something to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.”  (See Matthew 25:35-40, Mark 9:35, 1 Peter 4:10-11, and Philippians 2:1-11).   We need to love others with the same care He has lavished on us!  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT) makes this very clear:

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 

When God sees that we can be trusted to share with others what He has done for us, then He will continue to increase the blessings so that we can bless others even more!  It is a tangible way we can be a conduit for something that truly matters!  But living the Christian life is incredibly difficult even when we are plugged into the power source and chasing after God.  (Forgive the mixed metaphor but I could not help myself!)  The Apostle Paul who was a Pharisee, extremely knowledgeable in religious law and fiercely adhered to all that was practiced reveled in being a persecutor of The Way (what the early believers in Christ were referred to).  BUT GOD interceded and redeemed Paul from his self-righteous life and transformed him into one of the Pillars of the early church, authoring (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) more books of the New Testament than anyone else.  The man who tried to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, ended up being used by God to provide the framework for what the Christian life should be.  Now oftentimes, people who “get saved,” who are trying to pursue a relationship with Jesus, believe that their past life is an anchor or impediment to what God can do through them but just the opposite is true!  Your past is really a springboard to initiate your ministry opportunities.  God is in the business of turning Past mistakes into Purpose!

In the case of Paul’s transformation, God used Paul’s zealousness and training in the law to be one of the most effective conduits for His love, grace and truth to flow to the entire world!  Over 2,000 years later, people around the globe are still reading the words he penned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!  According to Wycliffe Global Alliance some form of Scripture has been translated in more than 3300 languages!

When we trust in God and make ourselves available, that is when we will see His purpose and plan activated so that we can operate in our fullest potential!  I will close with this final thought from 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NLT) of the Apostle Paul:

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession.  Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.  Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.  But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.”

Let your life be a sweet perfume and allow these words to spur you on to be the most availability conduit ever!

 

If you want to dig deeper, check out:

Check out a related post called:

★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

 

I just listened to this message which perfectly captures this Thought called…“How Sweet The Sound Week 3: I’ll Fly Away” by Craig Groeschel

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s On The Inside? ★

Have you ever participated in a white elephant gift exchange?  I know Christmas is over but as I was thinking about this Thought for the Day I could not help but think about the popular gift-giving experience where people contend with one another to walk away with the best present. Though there are many different options on how to conduct the exchange, everyone brings a gift to contribute to a common pile, in which participants draw names or numbers to determine what order they will go in.  As each person makes their choice and discovers what they have gotten, each subsequent person has the opportunity to steal it away.  It never fails, even though I try to size up what is on the inside of the mystery gift, I always chose the wrong present and no one ever steals what I end up with.  Hahaha!

At the top of the year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★, which was about making the most out the “brief time on earth,” to make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children, but for my children’s children!  Today’s Thought will build upon this idea of a Living A Lasting Legacy to give some practical application.  If you have a pulse, you should be thinking about what kind of impact you are making on the relationships in your life whether it is with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or even strangers.  God has put these people into our lives for a reason, and it is our responsibility not to waste the opportunity.  I love what Marvin J. Ashton said,

“Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.” 

“Leave people better than you found them.”  I am a firm believer of that way of living.  Just a couple days ago I was listening to a podcast from Louie Giglio called “The Piñata and the Iceberg,” in which he contrasted the decorative cardboard and paper mache animal containing candy, and the significance of the large floating mass of ice.  In the message, he made this powerful point:

“The Piñata is a picture of the culture we live in.  We live in hollow days.  Richard J. Foster said it this way,

91 - Daily Dependence - Richard J Foster - Superficiality is the Curse of Our Age
‘Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.’

It is a difference to being a piñata in the world or being an iceberg in the world…An iceberg is what it is because of the substance that you cannot immediately see.  It’s what is below the surface that makes an iceberg something of substance.”

That is what I want to be, a man of substance.  A man who has depth and always on mission as Paul stated in Acts 20:24 (NLT)… 

91 - Daily Dependence - Acts 20-24 - Tell Others About Grace of God“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

After sharing this with the guys in my life group, there was some great conversation on what it means to be a Man of Substance.  One of threads from the group text was this great listing that I just have to share in its entirety because it’s just that good…

“There is more to being a Man of Substance than just holding everyone accountable to just the spiritual side.  I believe it’s a balance with a lot of different aspects.  This is what we as men need to work on if we are going to do this.  

Areas of Concern:  

  1. 91 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Just Do ItAlone time with Christ.
  2. Alone time with wife.
  3. Alone time with kids.
  4. Alone time with yourself. 
  5. Alone time with guys only.

Non-Negotiables as Men:

  1. Provider of family – Full Time Job.
  2. Financial steward of money – Tithe
  3. Physical activity – Exercise. 
  4. Protector of family – Boundaries. 
  5. Spiritual leader of home – Modeling. 

I believe Jesus’s brother James nailed it when he said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22. 

We not need to “Just Do It!”  Otherwise we are just fooling ourselves!  What a great list of how to be a Man or Substance…and I dare say you could extrapolate that list to be a guide for how to be a Woman of Substance as well.  I truly believe that these items are exactly what God wants for us, and are practical stepping stones to move us away from the “piñata culture” of superficiality and hollowness to a life as an iceberg that has great depth.

91 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-33Jesus’ gave this command in Matthew 6:33 (ESV)…

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

If God is not a priority, and if we are not chasing after Him with all our heart, then the chances of getting the rest correct on that list is slim to none in my opinion. I love that list, and I completely agree with everything on it…Balancing all the aspects of life is essential…but God MUST BE FIRST and once that is case, all the other aspects will begin to fall into place.

Here are some suggestions that will help you to center your life on God and seek after His Kingdom and His righteousness. These are strategies that I learned and implemented from Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church which has helped me greatly develop in my spiritual maturity:

  1. Daily quiet time (usually before my family gets up,) filled with prayer, journaling and reading scripture (sometimes a reading plan and other times a section of a book of the Bible.) You can read more about this in the post ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, which is all about developing your Spiritual Maturity.
  1. Fast and pray from sundown to sundown once a week for sanctification and revival in my life, (usually on Monday.)
  1. Meditate on, and write a “Thought for the Day” once a week that God has been speaking into my spirit and heart. This was not from Pastor Todd by was a natural outflow from my quiet time, and ultimately that is how this Blog was born!

I don’t share this to brag but rather to give a model of what has worked for me to develop my spiritual fitness and deepen my walk with God.  I certainly don’t always get this right, or do it all perfectly but I try…and these habits have resulted in “Becoming a Glacier” as Louie Giglio described in the sequel to the “The Piñata and the Iceberg.”  To become a glacier is a slow, purposeful process over a prolonged period which is synonymous with steadfastness or sanctification that will lead to becoming more and more like Jesus.  The key is patience…

“Impatience is the nemesis to habit.”  Louie Giglio   

So the choice is yours, what will you decide?  Continue down the path of superficiality or will you heed Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:33 and dig deeper?  I will close with this quote that I read somewhere…

“Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if GOD hands you a shovel.”

It is going to take work and time but it’s worth it, I promise you!

 

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