What Am I Here For? p2 [v57]

NOVEMBER 2003

WHAT ON EARTH AM I HERE FOR? (Part 2): Last month I told you about how I was reading a chapter a day in “The Purpose-Driven Life” and I would like to share some of my insights with you.

I am halfway through the 40-day journey and I must say the material is ‘challenging’, to say the least, and has helped me think about ‘why I’m here’ in a much deeper way. The following are summaries of the seven chapters I read during the week related to the first and second ‘purposes’ of our lives; “We were planned for God’s pleasure” and “We were formed for God’s family.” I hope you enjoy them.

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Purpose-Driven Life – Week 2 Summary (Chapters 8-14)
PLANNED FOR GOD’S PLEASURE?

Last week we talked about how you were created to be loved by God. This week we are looking at the “flip side,” the first purpose of your life—God want you to love Him back. As much as He enjoys watching you be ‘you’, He wants you to choose to love Him back.

Parents can relate to this. I, for one, very much enjoy watching my kids ‘do their thing’ (most of the time). And I think the same is true with God (most of the time), watching you be you. God ‘smiled’ at your birth because He created you to enjoy you. He made you for His purpose.

Now there’s a word for this—it’s the word “worship”—knowing and loving God back. But the problem is, many think of worship as only prayer, music, a ritual, or something to do with’ church’. But worship is far, far more than all those things. Worship is my ‘response’ to God’s love—and it is the first purpose of your life.

God has taken the ‘initiative’—He created us; He saved us; He forgave us; He blesses us; and He protects us. And because of all these things and more, we ‘respond’ with our worship—‘offering’ our love and devotion to bring pleasure to Him.

The question is, ‘what’ am I supposed to offer a God who ‘has’ everything? Think of trying to find a Christmas present for a person that ‘has everything’. So, what do I give the creator of the universe? You give Him your undivided attention and exclusive love.

God has said He wants you to love Him thoughtfully, passionately, and practically—and even though He created everything in the universe, there are three things God doesn’t have unless you give them to Him—your attention, your affection, and your ability. And whenever you take the things God has given you and give them back to Him, that, is the ‘heart’ of worship.

One way you can do this is to ‘focus’ your attention on Him. He is constantly focused on us, and He wants to teach us how to focus our ‘heart’ and attention on Him. Sometimes that’s difficult—since the easiest thing to do for us humans is to ‘lose’ of focus. So, we have to ‘decide’ to focus. Choose to stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about God.

Establishing a daily time with God—starting with a few minutes during the day—can help us focus on Him. And you can ‘do’ this anywhere. Just find a place where you are not distracted and can simply ‘talk’ to Him. No ceremony or fancy words. Just be yourself, as if you were talking to an old friend.

Then try to develop a ‘constant’ conversation with Him throughout the day. Some people ‘set’ their watch to go off every 30 minutes or so to remind them to think about God, or maybe to pray for the needs of others.

As you do this, you will ‘experience’ incredible benefits. When you focus on yourself, the inevitable results are thoughts of worry, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, fear, and discouragement. But when that focus is shifted to God, all of a sudden you begin to sense gratitude, hope, confidence, and love.

Worship is also expressing your affection to God. In many religions, god is this angry tyrant, and you have to ‘appease’, avoid and run away from him. But that’s not the real God. The Bible says, “We love Him, because He first loved us” and “He is the God who is passionate about His relationship with you.” God ‘longs’ to know you, and longs for you to know Him! He doesn’t want ritual, ‘religion’, or regulation—He want a relationship—and He’s ‘passionate’ about developing a deep one with you.

Some of the ways you can express your affection to God could include simply saying “thanks” for what He has given you—your health, family, friends, and work; the home you live in, the car you drive; this country, freedom, or just that you woke up this morning. But, of course, the greatest way to express affection to God is by giving your life to Him, by yielding yourself to Him.

What seems to hold us back? Why can’t we give ourselves ‘completely’ to God? Most say they are “afraid, because He will turn me into some kind of fanatic, religious zealot, or send me to Africa as a missionary.”

Well, though that does happen in very infrequent instances, God just wants you to be you. He has given you certain ‘gifts’ for certain purposes. In fact, you’re not fully you until you’ve got God first in your life—you’re just existing!

In life, it’s not ‘what’ you do that matters; it’s ‘Who’ you do it for. It’s using your abilities to the ‘max’—serving Him by serving others with you gifts—practical things like an encouraging word; running an errand; fixing something that is broken; or just giving of your time to someone in need. This is all worship.

It also doesn’t matter what ‘job’ you have. You may be a carpet cleaner, attorney, nurse, homemaker, executive, sales person, or truck driver. It’s Who you do it for. God wants to know that you are doing it for Him—whatever you are doing! He doesn’t want it to only be a ‘church thing’ once a week, He wants worship to be 24/7—during the ordinary, mundane, routine things that make up ‘real’ life.

Truth is, everybody ‘worships’ something. God ‘wired’ you to worship. You couldn’t stop worshipping if you wanted to, because it’s a part of being human. It will be whatever you are giving your primary attention to; whatever you’re giving your primary affection to; whatever you’re giving your primary abilities to. In some cases it is your career; or possessions; or making money; retirement; pleasure; sex; or even another person. The greatest temptation of our lives, and the worst ‘sin’ you could possibly commit, is the temptation to worship something other than God. When you love anything more than God, it creates all kinds of havoc in your life.

Now, the greatest mistake you can make in life is to miss your primary purpose. So let me ask you: “What do you think about most?” Because whatever you think about most is what you ‘love’ the most. Consider how you spend your time and spend your money. What are the ‘discretionary’ entries in your checkbook, or the free time ‘appointments’ in your Daytimer?

The Bible says you were planned for God’s pleasure. You were made to know and love God. So, I challenge you to make as the #1 goal of your life what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “So we make it our goal to please Him.”

There’s no better goal in life to have than to please God.

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Purpose-Driven Life – Week 3 Summary (Chapters 15-21)
YOU WERE FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY

A few weeks ago, we looked at out first purpose of life was, which is to get to know and love God. The Bible calls this “worship,” because you were planned for God’s pleasure.

This past week we looked at our second purpose—you were formed for God’s ‘family’.  God wanted a family—He wanted children—and the Bible says He planned everything in the entire universe for us and to share it with Him.

The entire Bible is a ‘love story’ to us about God building His family—one that is going to last not just here on earth, but forever and ever in eternity. It is an eternal family—one you can be a part of if you choose to be.

Once you understand God’s first purpose for your life, getting to know and love God, He wants you to begin to focus and start practicing on His second purpose for your life—“loving your spiritual family.”

Why does God want us to do this? Well, first, your physical family is going to eventually ‘fall apart’. In fact, many of them fall apart here on earth. But your spiritual family is going to last forever—and you’re going to spend more time with them than you do your ‘physical’ family—so God wants you to learn to love them. This is called “fellowship.”

Now, again, this word, like the word “worship” is often misunderstood. Some would say it means a casual conversation; others would say eating out together; and others might say it’s going to church. But real fellowship is ‘deeper’ than that.

The church is not just a building; an institution; an organization; or a ‘club’—it is a ‘family’. It is not just a place to go to—it is a family you belong to—big difference.

Truth is, in God’s family there are four ‘levels’ of fellowship: belonging; sharing; working together; and loving believers like your own family.

The first level is “membership”—choosing to belong—that’s the most basic level. It means you find a church ‘family’ and choose to ‘connect’ with it. The Christian life is not just a matter of believing—it is a matter of belonging—and you must choose to belong.

When you were born, you automatically ‘became’ a part of the human race—but you have to choose to belong to the family of God, the church here on earth.

Sometime you hear people say, “Yes, I’m a Christian…but I don’t belong to any particular church.” That just doesn’t make any sense! The church is were you ‘live out’ what it means to be a Christian. It would be like saying, “I’m a football player, but I don’t want to be a part of any team.” Or like a soldier not wanting to be a part of a platoon. A Christian without a church family is an ‘orphan’.

Now, I know that the word “membership” means different things to different people. But did you know the word originally was a “Christian” word? It came right out of the Bible—it meant being a “member of the Body of Christ.”

Just like your hand is a ‘member’ of your body, so it is meant for you to be connected to a church—that’s how ‘tightly’ you are meant to be ‘tied’ to other believers. This isn’t about being a part of a ‘club’. This is about belonging to each other, making the choice to belong to a family.

Some people go from church to church searching for that ‘perfect’ place for them—one that meets all their needs. But, since we are a ‘work in progress’, that place doesn’t exist. But if you want to grow in the knowledge of God and see Him at work in your life, you have to join a ‘body’. Just like a liver can’t detach itself from one body and try to get attached to another, you can’t do the same when it comes to ‘attaching’ yourself to a body of believers. If you tried to do this with a liver, it would shrivel up and die—and the same thing happens to us as believers.

In an article on the skeleton by Encarta it said, that “each part of the human body is functionally related to every other part. It is impossible to find anything that works all by itself.”

The church is the ‘bride’ of Christ—and Jesus loves the church. This is a ‘group’ that He wants each member to have the same kind of love for each other as He does.

The second level of fellowship is a bit deeper—this is learning to “share”—or is sometimes called the “friendship level.”

You were created in God’s image—three ‘persons’ in perfect communion with each other— so you were made for relationship.

Just as the parts of our bodies are designed to work together, from the very beginning God intended for us to share our lives with one another. To be in relationship with other believers is normal—to be isolated is abnormal.  In other words, we were made for each other. Life is not a solo act—we need friends. Stedman Graham, author of the book, “You Can Make It Happen” explains this: “Isolating yourself is not healthy spiritually, mentally, or physically, and it is certainly not the way to achieve a better life. I believe nobody makes it alone… always keep in mind your relationships. Nurture them, build them, and lean on them when you need to. Do not be afraid to ask for help or encouragement along the way. Remember also that just as you need a hand now and then, so do those coming behind you.”

Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh that’s just your typical positive thinking mumbo-jumbo. That’s just one person’s opinion.” Well, I’ve got news for you! Research has proven that people are healthier when connected to others. In a recent study it was proven that cancer patients live longer when they are part of a support group. The simple act of sharing emotionally with others over a period of six weeks significantly increased their chances of survival even up to five years!

Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology attests to the important role that emotional connection plays in the healing process. A number of recent landmark studies have shown that the simple act of meeting with others once a week to share emotionally and provide mutual support not only improves well-being but can significantly improve the chances of recovery from life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. Emotional connection with family, friends and loved ones plays a vitally important role in the healing/recovery process. Spend time with those whom you love – tell them how important they are in your life. Friendship and love is as important—perhaps more important—than any therapy, medication or vitamin.

You can’t develop friendships without meeting together—and you can’t develop friendships without sharing. The more frequently you meet together, the closer you’re going to get.

Some people have had really deep, long-term friendships for 20, 30, or more years and others are a bit envious and note how “lucky” they are to have a friend like that. It’s not luck at all—it a choice to develop these friendships by making time for them!

Most people that say the are “lonely” don’t make time for friendships. They are too busy ‘achieving’ or doing other things. So, until you start making this a priority in your life, you will not have any ‘deep’ friends. And one way to do this is to share your ‘experiences’.

We all learn from one another. None of us have enough time to learn everything on our own. So God says you can ‘short-circuit’ this and learn a lot quicker from the experience of others. The Bible says that you can learn from ‘anybody’ (even youngsters) if you just ask the right questions. Just think of all the wealth of knowledge in your church family, and how you could learn from each other if you would just spend some time together—and one way to do this is to invite them to your home.

The home is a more intimate setting where you can really get to know one another. “Fellowship” cannot happen in a ‘crowd’ like a church service—that’s worship and celebration. Fellowship happens in a small group or one-on-one.

A recent magazine article said that they had discovered one of the reasons why the sense of community is not very strong in suburban areas, and why people who live next to their neighbors for years never even know them. They said that one of the major “culprits” is automatic garage doors. Just think of it—you come home, drive up your driveway, open the garage door, pull in, close the door and walk into your house without ever seeing your neighbor. Years ago, either you had a detached garage or none at all, and you would, at least, say “Hi” or find out what was going on with them before you entered your home.

Now, not only are we supposed to share our homes, we are to share our ‘problems’. We are not meant to face our problems alone. You don’t always have to ‘fix’ everyone’s problems—sometimes the other person is just in need of a listening ear—a bit of sympathy and compassion.

An even deeper level is called “Partnership”—making a contribution to the family of God ‘where’ it needs you.

In every family there are ‘responsibilities’. You divide the chores up to do your ‘part’. This is the same in God’s family. We have been ‘placed’ in a certain body of believers because it needs of talents and gifts. You see, it’s great to ‘share’ your heart, but it’s even greater to ‘do’ your part.

Have you ever wanted to be a “partner” in a great business that went to the top of the “Fortune 500”? Well, as the church, we are part of the greatest ‘enterprise’ that has ever existed—we get to be a ‘partner’ of God in His plan for eternity! And when we cooperate with one another, we get more done together than we could ever have done by ourselves.

The Bible says, “The whole Body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole Body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Now, the deepest level in the family of God is called “Kinship”—an old term we don’t use much anymore that refers literally your ‘closest’ relationships. When someone has been in a terrible accident, the people in the hospital ask them for their “next-of-kin,” not their ‘third-removed cousin’ that they haven’t seen since first grade.

The word for fellowship in the Bible is the Greek word “koinonia”—the root meaning is being as committed to one another to ‘sacrifice’ for one other.

This is what life is all about—loving God and learning to love one another. If you miss this, you have missed the whole purpose of your life! Because life is not about accomplishments—it’s about relationships. When people are at “deaths door” they don’t say, “Bring me my diplomas, trophies, or gold watch for retirement from the company.” They say, “Bring me my family and friends.”

Everybody is created by God, but not everybody is a ‘child’ of God—you have to choose to be a ‘part’ of His family—and the ‘church’ is a place to belong that encourages one to share their experiences and doing their part in helping others and learning to love.

When people find a church, a place where there is genuine love, you have to ‘lock’ the doors to keep people away—because people are not looking for ‘religion’, they are looking for ‘family’. They’re not looking for ‘doctrine’, they’re looking for ‘love’.

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Though I am just getting started with this, 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!

[Excerpts from: Rick Warren]

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 (v57) for NOVEMBER 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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When my son was a toddler, washing his hair was always a problem. He would sit in the bathtub while I put shampoo on his hair. Then, when I poured on the water to make a lather, he would tip his head down so that the shampoo ran into his eyes, causing pain and tears. I explained that if he just looked straight up at me, he could avoid getting the shampoo in his face. We would agree; then as soon as I started to rinse his hair, his fear would overcome his trust, and he would look down again. Naturally the shampoo would run into his face again, and there would be more tears. Even though my son knew I loved him, he had a hard time trusting me in a panicky situation. His lack of trust hurt me, but it hurt him more. I’m sure my lack of trust hurts God very much, but how much more does it hurt me? The Bible tells us to lift our head up to God when problems come. Sometimes the answer may seem scary, but, one thing I’m sure of—He’ll never pour ‘shampoo’ in my face!  [Jeanette Strong]

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The world will not care what you know until they know that you care.  [Gene Barron]

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Whenever anyone asks me how I can be so certain about who and what God really is, I am reminded of the story of the little boy who was out flying a kite. It was a fine day to go kite-flying, the wind was brisk, and large billowy clouds were blowing across the sky. The kite went up and up until it was entirely hidden by the clouds. “What are you doing?” a man asked the little boy. “I’m flying a” “No” said the little boy, “I can’t see it, but every little while I feel a tug, so I know for sure that it’s there!” Don’t take anyone else’s word for God. Find Him for yourself, and then you too will know by the wonderful, warm ‘tug’ on your heartstring, that He is there, for sure.  [Billy Graham]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
Going to church don’t make anyone a Christian, any more than taking a wheelbarrow into a garage make it an automobile.  [Billy Sunday]

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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!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”  [Mark 12:30].

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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