★ 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

 

 

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

Three weeks ago at this time we were on vacation in beautiful San Diego, marveling at God’ handiwork on display everywhere we went.  What an incredible trip!  Not only did we get (11) people across the country and back safe and sound, we were able to visit many of the hotspots San Diego has to offer, from the Gaslamp Quarter to the San Diego Zoo to Point Loma and also Seaport Village…But the highlight for me was visiting the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla.  You will not find this on the list of the top tourist destinations, but for someone who studied this architectural masterpiece in college and its creator,87 - Daily Dependence - Louis Kahn Louis Kahn it was a dream come true!  In 1992, the Salk received a 25-Year Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was featured in the AIA exhibit Structures of Our Time: 31 Buildings That Changed Modern Life and was described in the San Diego Union-Tribune as the single most significant architectural site in San Diego.  And that is not exaggeration!  Check out this video I stumbled on that shows how incredible this masterpiece is throughout the day – from sunrise to sunset!

The next paragraph is for the Architects or other people who appreciate architecture and a little history…gleaned from the Salk Institute’s website.  Named after Jonas Salk, MD, the developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, the vision for the Salk Institute was to be a research facility that would contribute to the betterment of humankind.  In 1960 Salk selected world-renowned architect Louis I. Kahn and directed him to create spacious, unobstructed laboratory spaces that could be adapted to the ever-changing needs of science.  The building materials had to be simple, strong, durable, and as maintenance-free as possible.  Jonas Salk summarized his aesthetic objectives by telling Kahn to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.”  87 - Daily Dependence - Salk InstituteKahn’s masterwork sits on a 27 acre site overlooking the Pacific Ocean and consists of two mirror-image structures — each six stories tall — that flank a grand travertine courtyard with cascading waterfalls.  87 - Daily Dependence - Salk Institute Film StripAs you can see these couple of shots, the space is breathtaking…Okay no more details on the Salk Institute, (thank you for indulging me).  I will get back on track and share with you the muse for the Thought for the Day.  As an idealistic young architecture student, I was privileged to tour most of Louis Kahn’s buildings, the few that were constructed on the east coast.  Moving to Texas, I checked off the Kimball Art Museum from my list and now the Salk Institute.  Kahn was a master at mixing materials and creating spaces that you just wanted to spend hours in.  My dream was to work on architectural projects like that!  As I grew up though, I opted for better financial compensation which led me away from job opportunities that would have been more design orientated, to firms that specialized in more utilitarian projects.  Don’t get me wrong, though I would have loved working projects like Kahn did, but I much rather have the life that I have now.  I am happily married and have a close relationship with my daughters and financial stability unlike my architectural idol.

After sharing my experience at the Salk, a co-worker lent me a documentary film that was made by his son Nathaniel Kahn called “My Architect,”  Phenomenally produced, the younger Kahn blended family history with site visits to his father’s buildings and interviews with people who knew and worked with Louis Kahn, in an effort to learn about whom the man was that died when he was just 11 years old in 1973, (just 1 year before I was born!)  Kahn died from a heart attack in Penn Station, NY in a men’s room after returning from a business trip.  Because he scratched off his address on his passport, this word-renowned architect remained in the morgue for 3 days until he was finally claimed.  What I found out through this gut wrenching search from my hero’s son, was that the man who created these incredible masterpieces was half a million dollars in debt at the time of his death, and the father of 3 children, one from his wife, and the others from two mistresses.  I know that you should never put people on a pedestal but I was taken aback by this revelation.  My heart went out to Nathaniel Kahn, a middle-aged man who clearly had deep father wounds from a man who valued work far above relationships, and was quite selfish in how he treated the mothers of his illegitimate children.  If that was not bad enough, in the documentary several times they played a clip of Louis Kahn staying….

"How accidental our existences are, really, and how full of influence by circumstance."
“How accidental our existences are, really, and how full of influence by circumstance.”

Sad…My heart dropped…All I could think of, was how tragic this man’s view of life was.  Believing that his existence was merely accidental was the saddest fact that I learned about him.  This quote has haunted me, because though I looked up to the “architect” Louis Kahn, the man behind the buildings clearly was broken and lost in his view of the meaning of life.

Maybe you share this view of life, and today, with every fiber of my being, I want you to know that is the farthest thing from the truth!  Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says,

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Charles Stanley wrote a Life Lesson on this verse in his Life Principle’s Bible which illuminates this verse…

“No one understands you better than God – He knows you far more profoundly than you can even know yourself.  In fact, the Lord knows what you were created to be and all the great things He could accomplish through you if you were to surrender yourself to Him.  He has designed you for a specific, fulfilling purpose, but you cannot find it or achieve it on your own.  Rather, it is only by abiding in Him that it will come to fruition in your life.”

God has a plan for your life and He wants you to know that it’s been planned for a long time…There is nothing random or accidental with God! 

87 - Daily Dependence - Cliff Notes on EstherIn the Old Testament there was girl named Esther who was became queen to King Xerxes.  I will attempt give you the “Cliff Notes” version on her background (but I highly recommend you read the whole book of Esther, incredible history!)  After becoming Queen, her cousin Mordecai warned her to keep secret her family background and nationality since she was a Jew.  Haman was the King’s right hand man, who was higher than that of all the other nobles.  At the time of his promotion, Mordecai refused to bow down to him and give him honor so Haman sought to destroy not only Mordecai but all the Jews.  He convinced the King that the Jews needed to be eliminated and in Esther 3:13a (NIV1984) it says that

“Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews–young and old, women and little children–on a single day”

Mordecai came to Queen Esther for help to beg for mercy so that the King would change this law.  She was in a precarious situation of whether to allow her people to be executed or to go before King Xerxes and risk being killed herself, because at that time there was a law that any man or woman any man or woman who approached the king without being summoned could be put to death unless the king to extend the gold scepter to them to spare their life.  Like anyone in a position like that, fear made Esther waver about whether to heed Mordecai’s request or not.  In Esther 4:14 (NIV1984) Mordecai made this powerful statement.

You can read the whole account between Mordecai and Esther in Esther Chapter 4.  This is such an amazing story that is just as relevant today as it was back when it happened in Mid-to-Late Fifth Century B.C. (464 – 415 B.C.).  You may feel like your life is just a random set of experiences and accidental as Louis Kahn stated, but God wants you to know you are not alone and that He has a plan and a purpose for you!  Just like he used Esther (who did ultimately go to see King Xerxes and convince him to save her people,) God can use you to do great things as well.  In fact who knows, you could be in your current situation to prepare you for the next phase of your life as Esther was!  God created you and I intentionally, not accidentally.  As I wrote in the ★ Thought for the Day – Confidence In Who’s You Are ★, we are the “apple of His Eye!”  I just wish that Louis Kahn had heard this truth.  Stop for a moment and meditate on what Psalms 8:3-6 (NLT) says, 87 - Daily Dependence - Salk Institute - Psalms‬ ‭8-3 - 6

I like how the message translation puts it.

“Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?”

The answer is because we are significant and valuable to God.  No one wastes their time on things that do not matter.  In our last post, ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, we discussed the importance of developing a quiet time with God so that we can center our lives on Him and get to know who His Son Jesus Christ through reading the Bible.  We need to make it a priority to spend time with God because He has already made you and me a priority in His life!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) says,

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Eternity has been planted in your heart!  Let me ask you, what Reminds You of God’s Presence?  Or what is evidence to you of His Handiwork?  For me it is sunsets…Everyday God paints the sky with a beautiful and tangible reminder of His omnipresence.  Going back to Psalms 8:3-5 the writer uses this imagery to describe the majesty of God’s creation…“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers”…God positioned the moon and the stars but yet He took the time to create mankind and to continue to care about us even after being rejected over and over by His children…It is amazing!  The next time you see a beautiful sunset, take notice of His Majesty, God is calling out to you to remind you that regardless of the day you just had, He is ever-present and He loves you!

YOU ARE NOT AN ACCIDENT!

Maybe you are reading this and God is stirring your heart to make a change…

Below is a prayer you can pray to start your relationship, the words you say really don’t matter, there is nothing special about them, but the emotion and belief in your heart does.  Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17!)  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life! 

Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

If you would like to read the next post, go here…★ Thought for the Day – Begging God For_____? ★

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day –  Our Tongues Should Point People to Jesus ★ 

The whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, not to ourselves.
Check out this awesome Instagram account http://instagram.com/undeservedgrace__

“The whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, not to ourselves.”  Kristen Clark

As I have been reading through the Book of James, God has been showing me areas that I can improve on, so that I help point people to Jesus.  (I highly recommend you read it for yourself.)  One of the ways is in “Controlling My Tongue.”  My prayer and suggestion is for God to help us NOT TO BE LIKE what it says in James 3:7-10…

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.  It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”

Nothing will turn people off from Jesus faster than hearing someone who professes to be a Christian, gossip, tell lies or use profanity.  INSTEAD we need TO BE LIKE what it says in James 3:13-17 which tells us that True Wisdom Comes from God…

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.  For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

  • But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  
  • It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  
  • It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds.  
  • It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

So if the whole purpose of our lives is to point others to Christ, then we most learn to control our tongues!!  If we don’t then we will turn people away from what the point of our lives is all about.  We need to live our lives “mission-minded,” to see every moment, of every day as an opportunity to show the love of Christ to others.  In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples.”  We cannot do that if we are NOT CONTROLLING OUR TONGUES!  

Continue reading