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Archive for Purpose

Nov
03

Book Review: The Element

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The Element is the second book by Ken Robinson I have read this year. The other book, Out of Our Minds, was recently reviewed on this site on October 5.

Robinson describes The Element as “the place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together.” In order for a person to identify their element involves four processes that are explained in four simple phrases.

1. “I get it!” This is one’s aptitude.

2. “I love it!” This is one’s passion.

3. “I want it!” This is one’s attitude.

4. “Where is it?” This is opportunity.

To be in one’s element is to discover the convergence of aptitude, passion, attitude, and opportunity.

The most helpful aspect of Robinson’s book is his discussion on vocation. He acknowledges that many people assume that finding their element and living in their element will somehow translate into job opportunities. He does a wonderful job of clarifying the difference between the amateur and the professional. Society assumes that to be an amateur means to be sub standard in quality. This is not the case. It is possible and perhaps even probable that one can identify their element and enjoy their element and never earn a living from it. That does not diminish the validity or the contribution that living in one’s element can make.

I recommended this book to a friend this week, for no other reason than the stories and testimonials that are contained within its pages. In a Chicken Soup for the Soul kind of way, Robinson spells out how to find and live in your element and documents the journey with inspirational stories of people whose lives have been transformed simply by aligning their lives with their element.

Categories : Books, Purpose
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Apr
14

A New Purpose for Living

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Evidently the Corinthians lived with a worldview that is not new to our contemporary culture: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die” (1 Corinthians 15:32-33). Since they dismissed the resurrection and the possibility of life after death, they, like many people today, determined to live for the moment regardless of the consequences. I could describe several elements of this worldview and discuss how seeking success and living for pleasure can leave one with a hollow, empty feeling. But I think its even more simple than that. At the end of it all is self. If there is no tomorrow, then I have an unparalleled responsibility to me, myself, and I.

Paul argues strongly that this kind of thinking is wrong-headed and dangerous. The resurrection reorders our worldview to a position that acknowledges that while there may not be a tomorrow, there is an eternity. What we do and how we live matters, because we’re not living for today, we’re living in light of eternity. Life is not about me. It’s about God and others.

Because we are eternal beings we have an accountability to God for our lives. We have received life as a precious gift from God, so our lives are not our own to do with as we please. We have a stewardship over the gift that God has entrusted to us. This reality drives us to move past our ambitions for self and success and to pursue eternally significant endeavors. Each day is energized with countless new possibilities to make an impact on the lives of others for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We have been given a life that is blessed to be a blessing to the world. There may not be a tomorrow. But there is an eternity, and that pursuit is worthy of our greatest allegiance and effort.

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On the surface we would believe that the early church in Acts was blessed with outstanding growth due to the anointed preaching of the apostles; their balanced practices that would evolve into much of our church programming today; and a talented and committed membership base. Only when we gaze beneath the surface do we discover that the church was framed in the midst of adversity.

 

The early church had to deal with persecution enacted by religious leaders and later, the Roman government itself. The church had to confront hypocrisy within its own ranks as certain members chose to seek reputation enhancement over character development. But in Acts 6 we find the greatest challenge of all…the question concerning what kind of church they were going to be.

This weekend in worship I framed the conversation by describing the difference between a battle ship and a cruise ship. I’ve not been on a battle ship, but it appears that everything about a battle ship and everyone on a battle ship is there in support of the mission. From the crew to the bridge, every person has an assignment that relates to the mission. Every function is evaluated in light of the mission.

A cruise ship, on the other hand, is about the comfort of the passengers. Passengers pay the fare to receive first class service, food, and entertainment. The experience is wonderful, but it’s all about the passengers.
The difference between the battleship and the cruise ship is the nature of their mission. What if the early church would have assessed their needs and their size and determined to make their mission about their “passengers” instead of staying on point with regards to their mission? It could have been disastrous! Yet many churches face the temptation to focus inwardly on the care and comfort of their members versus reaching out to their communities and the world.
What did the apostles do when they faced the problem in Acts 6 regarding food distribution to the Greek speaking widows?
The first thing they did was to guard their unity. We find the apostle’s concern for the church’s unity implied in the text. In the New Testament, unity refers to “thinking in the same direction.” In other words, unity means that everyone is on the same page, thinking the same thoughts.
The second thing the apostles did was to retain their focus. Verse two made it clear that the primary focus of the church was and would continue to be the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Third, the apostles involved their membership. They didn’t assess the problem at hand and minimize it or act as though it didn’t exist. No, they developed a plan of action and sought the community’s participation in selecting people of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to engage the need. Ministry has an important role in the church, but like football, the purpose of ministry within the body is to get the members back on the field of play where they can continue to participate in the broader mission of the church.
Next, they adjusted their organization. They made a systemic change that would serve the mission by serving the people on mission.
Finally, they increased their influence. This simple process enabled the church to continue its growth and extend its influence to the point that even Jewish priests were converting to faith in Christ.
As I prepared and delivered this message this weekend, I was amazed at the maturity and wisdom of the apostles who led the early church. I was even more impressed by their unwavering commitment to the mission of the church. When given the choice between remaining a battleship or becoming a cruise ship, they got it right. I hope we will too.
Categories : Acts, Gospel, Mission, Purpose
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Many of us began 2010 by making New Year’s Resolutions. This common practice is usually accompanied by the common practice of breaking the New Year’s Resolutions. Why do we have a hard time keeping those pesky promises we make to ourselves and to others?
The basic definition of a resolution is “a formal expression of a good intention.” And well intentioned we are.

This year I’ve decided to move past resolutions and begin living with resolve. The word resolve is defined as “a definite and earnest commitment.” Maybe the difference between resolution and resolve is semantics, but the more I think about it, the more I believe I’m on to something. So rather than live in accordance to “good intentions,” I’m choosing to make some definite and earnest commitments.

The Old Testament character Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) is an example of a person who lived his life with resolve. His life is the basis of our inaugural 2010 sermon series. Last weekend, from Genesis 12:1-4, I posed three questions to help you move from resolution to resolve.

Question one: Are you aware that God has a plan and a purpose presently at work in the world?
God’s plan and purpose has been settled from eternity past to eternity future. His plan is revealed to us in time and space, but it’s not for time and space alone. It remains eternal in its scope and dimension.
Having said that, I think it’s fundamental that you realize that God is at work in the world around you whether you recognize it or not. For example, the air around is full of radio waves and all kinds of signals. You’re consciously not aware of these signals unless your cell phone rings or you tune in to a radio station or you open your laptop to search for a wi-fi network. The activity of God is like that. It’s around us everywhere all the time.

Question two: Are you willing to be included in the activity of God that surrounds you? God’s purpose and plan includes you. In the Genesis account, Abram was not seeking God but God was seeking Abram.
Abram had no idea that his part in God’s plan would affect generations to come. Little did he
know that the choices he would make would impact the world geographically and politically for generations to come, even to this present moment. What that means is that your life is a bigger deal than you may have originally imagined! God knows you and has chosen you to participate in his purpose for the world.

The final question is this: Are you ready to participate in God’s plan and purpose? Are you ready to accept his invitation?
One thing I learned from Henry Blackaby is that God’s call to participate in his purpose is simultaneous with his timing. When God speaks, it is a present tense moment and requires an immediate response.
Are you willing and ready? It takes both to be fully obedient to God.

As you think about 2010, think about what is stirring in your heart. That may very well be a part of God’s invitation to you to join him in his awesome work. What are you going to do about it?