Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finding Your Purpose

Jentezen Franklin in his book, “Believe You Can” relates the following story. “One winter day in Biloxi, Mississippi, a twenty-five-year-old woman decided to kill herself. She couldn't take it anymore and she wanted her life to be over. She went to a bridge over the Mississippi River. The water was frigid, and the bridge was high. She climbed over the railing and threw herself over. She hit the water with a terrible smack and started sinking. Unbeknownst to her, a man on the bank of the river saw her jump. When he did not see her surface, he jumped in to rescue her. She was sinking deeper when she heard him dive in. And then she started to hear this poor man flailing around. When he jumped in, he had forgotten that he didn't know how to swim! This heroic idiot was splashing and screaming, "Help! Help!" So the woman who was trying to kill herself swam to him and pulled him out onto the bank. He was choking, so she gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Somebody called 911, and both of them were taken to the hospital. Both of them survived.” Franklin continues by saying, “I read about this in a news article, and the journalist who wrote up the story ended it with these words:” ‘That night, it wasn't the man who saved her life. It was purpose that saved her life.’ Her purpose was to save the drowning man. Instantly, she had a mission. And having a mission saved her own life.” I wonder how many people are thrashing around in those same waters. Purpose is must for all of us and most often we try to find it while being focused upon ourselves. However, it is not found by hopelessly jumping into the abyss of our own personal struggles. Rather, we discover it as we concentrate on pulling others out of theirs. This truth was solidified by the critique of those observing the crucifixion of Jesus. Little did they know their words, “He saved others; let him save himself” was the prescription for lifelong purpose. Even greater was their failure in realizing Jesus’ action on the cross was accomplishing the very thing they were suggesting. He in fact was “saving himself by saving others.” Jesus fulfilled his purpose, have you found yours?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Unlimited Potential

As you read this blog I will be in India on a mission’s trip. Our scheduled itinerary will take us to Hyderabad, Vijawada and Bangalore. We will be conducting two crusades, two pastor’s conferences, and prison ministry in a juvenile detention center that houses 150 young boys. As we approach this assignment we realize that opposition can be expected. This country is steeped with the curse of poverty and false religion. The majority of the population lives in deprived surroundings and is blinded by the power of sin. Hinduism represents around 81% of the religious affiliation, while Islam accounts for another 13%. The remaining 6% is divided between other religions with Christianity only accounting for around 2 ½ % or less. This low percentage might result in some saying, “why go when there is so little to work with.” I go thinking about the story of the two shoe salesmen who found themselves working a territory that was very remote and economically challenged. When the two men arrived they saw very few people wearing shoes. One salesman called his home office greatly discouraged. He said, “No one here wears shoes. I don’t expect to make any sales so I am returning home.” The other salesman called his distributer with incredible excitement and said, “Send all the shoes you can. There is unlimited potential here because no one has shoes.” No prognosticator would have predicted success for the disciples as they started to fulfill the great commission. Everywhere they went they immediately encountered religious strongholds, and disbelief. Yet in just a matter of months, they had turned the world upside down with the gospel. I am believing God for the same. I ask that you join our team in prayer helping us to reap a ripe harvest for the kingdom sake.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Erasing Wrongs

We all have random experiences that leave us with a lasting impression. One of those came for me while taking an English Composition class in the late 70’s. When time came for the final exam the professor walked into the room with a hand full of pencils. He gave one to each student along with his assignment. “I want you to write a 500 word theme about the use of your pencil.” While dumbfounded at first, the ideas eventually began to flow. One of the primary thoughts I developed focused upon the eraser. With one end you scribe your mistakes, but with the other you have the ability to remove them. It would be wonderful if we could use the same tool to remove all of life’s blunders and pain, however we are not so fortunate. Having this knowledge is what prompted Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 13:5 “love thinks no evil.” The word “think” used here is a bookkeeper’s term. It has to do with keeping records. In essence this prolific writer was saying “Love is life’s eraser that helps us to deal with the wrongs done.” Peter expressed it this way, “Love covers a multitude of sin.” So what is the lesson to be learned? When one operates in love there is no Sin that cannot be forgiven, no wound that cannot be healed, and no feeling of emptiness that cannot be filled. Love is the eraser that God uses when He looks at us and suddenly has a case of amnesia. He encourages us to use the same. It’s easy for us to focus upon the pointed end of the pencil listing every wrong done. Yet, serenity and happiness in life comes when using the eraser.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In Over Your Head

There was once a somewhat backward farmer who stopped by his neighbors to tell them that their son was stuck in a mud hole. “How deep is he sunk?” the boy’s father asked “About to his ankles,” the farmer replied lazily. “Well” said the father, “only up to his ankles—we’ve got time to set awhile and have a drink before we go. “I don’t think so.” The laid-back farmer answered. “He’s in head first.” Have you ever felt like you were in over your head? I think that must have been the way Jacob felt in Genesis 42:36. His sons had just returned from Egypt. They were required to leave Simeon behind and were told if they planned to visit again they must bring their youngest brother with them. This distressed father felt he had lost too much. Listen to his agonizing words. “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you will take Benjamin away, all these things are against me.” Indeed it appeared as if Jacob was losing it all. That’s how you feel when you’re in over your head. However, when feeling this way we need only to look at the rest of the story. By doing so we like Jacob are left with some wonderful truths that bring consolation. Let me mention a few for consideration: First, things are never as bad as they appear to be. Second, much of what we think is lost continues to live. Third, at the end of every request is retribution. And finally, in the midst of our problems we find a Prince that’s looking to help us rather than harm us. While things may look out of control, further investigation may just reveal that you are not in over your head at all.