What Am I Here For? p3 [v58]

DECEMBER 2003

WHAT ON EARTH AM I HERE FOR? (Part 3): Last month I mentioned to you that I was halfway through the 40-day ‘journey’ reading a chapter a day in “The Purpose-Driven Life” book—well, it’s hard to believe, but it has concluded. The time went by so fast!

Most of the people in the groups that I was associated with commented that the concepts that were presented in this book are things we all need to decide on—but most people don’t commit to spend the time in discovering their own answer to life’s most important question: “What on earth am I here for?”

At the beginning of this journey, I submitted to the groups that this book would give them a better understanding of the ‘big picture’ of life—how all the pieces should ‘fit’ together—and that having God’s perspective would reduce their stress, simplify their decisions, increase their satisfaction, and, most importantly, prepare them for a decision concerning what could happen to them after they die.

Not one person I asked said that I ‘misrepresented’ or ‘oversold’ the impact of these concepts presented in the book.

So, let me encourage you to go out and buy this book. Your life is worth taking the time to think about all these things. It could totally ‘transform’ your life!

[NOTE: I am planning to have a “small group” of people meet once every few weeks to further discuss these and other related topics. Contact me if you are interested in participating.]

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PDL – Final Summary (Entire book)
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED

Life is full of important decisions. Everyday we are faced with choices. Cereal or bagel for breakfast? Open the paper and read for a while, or turn on the television? Clean your garage this Saturday, or head for the beach?

Most of our numerous daily decisions are benign. They’re inconsequential. Yet, every now and then we are faced with critical choices—decisions that literally lead to life or death. The truth of this became apparent when we were told about what happened to the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company when it made a wrong turn on March 23, 2003 during the Iraq war.

This was a support unit that ordinarily would not have been in harms’ way. But, unfortunately, as its ‘formation’ was heading north, it made a wrong turn near the town of Nasirivah. They immediately found themselves in a terrible firefight, surrounded by enemy soldiers and outgunned. The chances of survival were almost nil—so they surrendered. When the shooting ceased nine Americans were dead and six were taken prisoner (It was a ‘joyous’ moment when those six were finally rescued weeks later).

Unfortunately, that tragic ‘turn’ of events started when someone made a decision that happened out to be a wrong turn—one that proved to be deadly. For nine Americans it was an irreversible decision.

That’s not how we ordinarily look at decisions. Our ‘therapeutic’ culture informs us that bad choices aren’t all that bad. Our mistakes aren’t disastrous because we learn from them. To be honest, I’m relieved to know that not every bad choice I make has permanent consequences—and that I can continue to live on and ‘learn’ from my mistakes.

Yet, not all decisions are reversible. Some have disastrous consequences that can never be changed or taken back. Just as in this familiar story from Iraq, there are some choices that we make that will lead us to a terrible place from which we will never return.

There is a decision that people are making everyday that leads to disaster—and it’s an irreversible decision—with  eternal consequences! It is the decision to live for self, rather than for God—the first thing we learned at the beginning of this journey—it’s ALL about God, NOT me!

We started these “40 Days” by saying the purpose of your life is far greater than your happiness. It’s far greater than your personal fulfillment. It is far greater than your success.  It’s far greater than your dreams or ambitions. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life won’t make sense. How many times were we told in this book that the purpose of history is for God to create a family—one that’s made to last forever. This is the most basic truth you have to learn about life; that life is not about you, it’s about God. You were made to live with God forever in eternity. You exist for God, not vice versa.

So, what’s the big deal about simply putting God on the ‘backburner’ of your life? After all, if you’re not hurting anyone, and you’re contributing to society, what’s so bad about that way of life?

Well, many people fail to realize how critical this choice is. After all, most people go about their daily business pursuing perfectly normal goals, making good decisions about their daily lives, but without realizing they are failing to make the right decision about their most important thing of all—where they will spend eternity—and with whom!

Now, if you ‘believe’ all this, it should change everything—your priorities, your perspective and the ultimate ‘aim’ of your life.

If we could just this ‘fundamental truth’ down ‘pat’—that we were made by God and for God—we would be so much happier in life. Unfortunately, lots of people are intent on proving that it is all about them. They could care less that God exists, that He has created us, and that He wants us to discover the joy of living for Him.

We will spend far more time on the ‘other side’ of death, than we will on this side. This life is the ‘staging’ area. The author, Rick Warren wrote early on in the book, “It is the practice workout before the actual game; the warm-up lap before the race begins. At most, you will live a hundred years on earth, but you will spend forever in eternity.” This life is ‘preparation for eternity’!

‘Validation’ for this is found not only in Scripture, but ‘in’ the human heart. The Bible says, “God has planted eternity in the human heart” [Ecclesiastes 11:3]. If we look deep within and listen, we will ‘hear’ God saying, “I designed you to live forever, not just 70 or so years. Let me give you the gift of eternal life!”

Another place in the Bible says, “This world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever” [1 John 2:17].

When one looks forward to an eternity, you don’t have to ‘get everything’ in the here and now. The fact that you were made to last forever ‘proves’ your significance above anything else in this world. There’s no job that can give you significance above this fact—the fact that God wants you, loves you, and desires to have you a part of His family forever! There is nothing or nobody in this world that can give you any more significance over that fact. This should give you the ‘confidence’ to change your perspective and give you new ‘priorities’ to live for.

Thing is, it takes a ‘lifetime’ for us to learn this—and the only way, at least for me, to remember something that is this significant, is to review it.

So here goes: You were planned for God’s pleasure (worship); formed for His family (fellowship); created to become like Christ (discipleship); ‘shaped’ to serve others (ministry); and are responsible to tell everyone you meet the Good News (mission).

That’s the purpose of life. That’s why you’re here on this earth! So, when you ‘really’ get a hold of this, you realize that you are not an ‘accident’—and that you have a very important purpose to accomplish!

So, are you willing to take what you have learned and apply it? Many people make New Year’s resolutions, but only the ones who make a ‘commitment’ are the ones that follow through and experience a marked change. It’s no different with your spiritual journey. We ‘grow’ through personal commitments. However, we also grow through commitments to others, or through ‘fellowship’—because God’s plan for us always involves what He loves most…people.

The Bible says in James 2:17, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.”  You can go to the ‘gym’ yourself the rest of your life, but if you don’t make any ‘concrete’ commitments about something specific, it will do you very little good and is very hard to keep up the commitment. That’s why you need to be around other people that have the same ambition—to encourage each other along the journey. There is ‘strength’ in numbers!

This is why I’ve been talking about “small groups”—because you cannot grow substantially without other people. You can only make ‘measurable’ changes when you are in ‘intimate’ fellowship with a select few.

The Bible also says, “We should not stop gathering together with other believers. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more” [Hebrews 10:25]. Why? Because we’ve been created for relationship—whether it be with God or with others. We grow through fellowship.

Though it may be a bit uncomfortable at first, the best way to ‘get over’ a fear is to “just do it!” The Bible tells of some instances that the person just had to take the first ‘step’ in faith, and God rewarded them with enormous ‘blessing’. All the knowledge in the world is worthless unless you practice it. John 13 in the Bible reads: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” The blessing doesn’t come from ‘knowing’ the purposes of life. The blessing comes from ‘doing’ the purposes of life.

Did you know that you are more ‘responsible’ than you were 40 days ago? You know more.  You know what life is all about—and God says you can’t go back to the old way of living! God said, through the Apostle Paul, “Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do” [Ephesians 5].

Let me give you a couple suggestions for doing this. Our minds (at least mine) have an amazing capacity to forget things. So I want to suggest that you reread the book. It is ‘exactly’ 40 days until Christmas day—so START TODAY!

You could read a chapter a day again and maybe, this time, get a journal—and maybe start writing down some of your thoughts. Also, there are 36 questions in the back of the book, written for groups, that I didn’t even use during these “40 Days” summaries—you could reflect over them.

Another thing you could do is to keep having your daily ‘devotional’ time that you spent reading the book—and spend that time in prayer ‘talking’ to God. As I previously mentioned, I will be putting all the daily and weekly summaries I sent you into a web site that you could use as a review and/or a guide (hopefully sometime in December). The Purpose-Driven Life web site also has a daily devotional they will send you. But, whatever you choose to do, it is most important that you start living what you have learned.

One of the most fundamental truths I learned right after I gave my life to Christ was this, and it changed my life: You only keep what you ‘give away’—and you will not retain the things you have learned unless you pass them on. God doesn’t want you to be a ‘reservoir’—He wants you to be a’ funnel’ or a ‘viaduct’.

As I officially ‘close’ this virtual group, I want you to know that I am praying for each and every one of you—and would be ‘honored’ to be of any help to you in your pursuit to live a purpose-driven life!

I want to leave you with a ‘devotional’ that you can printout and put in a prominent place to remind you of what your purpose in life is. Put it on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, computer monitor, or someplace like that.

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Since life is preparation for eternity,
I want to use my time on earth fulfilling
God’s five purposes for me:

I was planned to bring pleasure to God by knowing and
loving Him more each day through “worship”

I was formed to experience life together with
other believers through “fellowship”

I was created to grow my character  to be
more like Christ through “discipleship”

I was shaped to serve the needs of other
believers through “ministry”

I was made to share the Good News with
unbelievers through “evangelism”

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“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard,
and the God of peace will be with you” [Philippians 4:9].

Soli Deo Gloria,
Mark
[Excerpts from: Rick Warren]
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P.S. Again, if you would like more information about the book and available resources, click on this link:  http://www.purposedrivenlife.com/

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v58) for DECEMBER 2003
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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The story is told of a small dog which had been struck by a car and was lying by the side of the road. A doctor, driving by, noticed that the dog was still alive, stopped his car, picked up the dog, and took him home with him. There he discovered that the dog had been stunned, had suffered a few minor cuts and abrasions, but was otherwise all right. He revived the dog, cleaned up the wounds and was carrying the animal from the house to the garage when suddenly it jumped from his arms and scampered off. “What an ungrateful little dog,” the doctor said to himself. He thought no more about the incident until the next evening when he heard a scratching at the door. When he opened it, there was the little dog he had treated with another hurt dog.
[Anon]

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Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
[Dr. Viktor E. Frankl]

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LOOKS GOOD, SMELLS GREAT…BUT NO THANKS!
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” [John 15:5].

Imagine that you have been invited to a special meal at a friend’s home. This friend has prepared a feast and you are the guest of honor. All of your favorite foods are sitting around the table. All of the food looks great. Everything smells delicious. Everyone sits down at the table.

“Help yourself,” says the host. People begin to pick up bowls and platters and pass them your way. You hold a bowl and say, “Uhhmmmmm, it smells so wonderful.” Then you pass the plate without taking any food. A platter is passed to you. Again, you comment as you pass the plate on to someone else, “This looks terrific!” You keep passing the plates never taking any of the food.

Imagine the host’s response. “What are you doing? Why won’t you take anything? I’ve worked so hard! Don’t you care for it? I thought these foods were your favorite!” Finally, you reply, “Well yes, they are my favorite foods, but no, I don’t actually eat the food. I just look and breathe in the aromas.”

Clearly, unless someone was on a very special diet, no one would do this! Yet, as Christ-followers, I’m afraid many of us do this very thing, spiritually speaking. We gather around a feast of good things that God prepares for us to strengthen and build our lives, such as the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship with other believers, worship and serving others in ministry. Too often our response is similar to the imaginary story described above. “Mmmm. Boy that mission project sure looks good, but no thanks,’ or “Wow, I know that small Group Bible study is so wonderful, but it’s not for me.” And so, we sit at the table of a spiritual feast—talk a good game—and then pass the plates without taking anything.

God wants us to move beyond a safe, mediocre diet of Christianity—to experience all of what God offers in order to build our lives—so that we truly become all that He has created us to be. We need an ongoing connection to Jesus in order to remain healthy and effective as His servants! Today, whatever spiritual growth opportunities present themselves, be sure to dig in!   [Jim Liebelt]

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There is much in our nature that perplexes us. Many people are disturbed as they confront the troubling riddle of their own existence. They are bewildered by their proneness to sin and evil. They quake and tremble at the thought of their inability to cope with their own lives. Christ can give you satisfying answers to such questions as “Who am I?” “Why was I born?” “What an I doing here?” “Where an I going?” all of the greatest questions of life can be measured when you come by faith to Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Lord. Let Him be your Pilot. He can take away the worry from your life.  [Billy Graham]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.  [W Clement Stone]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”  [Proverbs 3:5-6].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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