For this week’s Discovery Challenge we are encouraged to delineate our Origin Story like that of a movie character.
Once upon a time I was the guy who could not get up in front of others and speak. I would stutter or get nervous, so I just chose not to do it. I also was not a Christian, but just because I had never taken the required step of asking Jesus to be in my life. Luckily I had someone in my life who cared enough to make sure I understood the importance of that decision. You know how it is to have a real life angel that knows how to guide your steps? I had that.
As I matured, I learned what it meant to have a relationship with Christ and knew I needed that. I was sixteen when I finally took the step or steps to the front of my small Methodist church in Meadowview, Virginia. Little did I know that that moment would forever change my path in life and that my inability to speak would also be changed.
Slowly at first I began to feel more comfortable speaking in public. It was mostly in front of friends at church, but eventually I got the chance to do so in more public spaces in front of larger amounts of people. I knew that it was God’s hand that was giving me this ability and I made a commitment to always speak in his name when I could.
Before long I was speaking in front of larger crowds as I communicated plans for mission projects in our church. There was also moments when words needed to be communicated at community events like Relay For Life. With every opportunity my confidence grew.
In 2012 I got the chance to go on an international mission trip and the following year when I returned I read a Christmas Story to about 60 children. Also during that time my wife and I began to lead our church’s effort to provide a teen bible school for around thirty youth. There was no way I could let nerves bother me then, because I was communicating directly about God’s love.
This past December I had the extreme pleasure of delivering an ad-lib puppet show for about twenty-five minutes to a group of nearly one hundred children and adults. There were no nerves to be found, because God was blessing our effort. From an origin of doubt has come a life of serving for God.
Just last night as we talked about something called the posture of a Christian, I stoop before two dozen teenagers and another half dozen adults and shared how God had worked in my life. My origin was more like a stumble than a leap, but with God you can do anything.
Today the Daily Post Topic is Playful. We just started Vacation Bible School at our church and for the third year my wife and I are leading a class for teens. Unlike many churches we have a large group of youth and there is a definite need for a more grown up approach. We have a video series lesson from J.D. Greear we are teaching, but we started the day yesterday with some time at a local park.
Our original plan involved a local Kayaking, tubing and rafting attraction, but due to some locally heavy storms and dubious weather forecasts we had to alter the destination. After more than one secondary choice we finally settled on a local park that provided just what the kids were looking for.
I rely on my camera phone because it is much less obtrusive and accordingly I cannot always take multiple shots rapid-fire, so I missed the interval between the first shot and the second, but you can see the result well enough to know what occurred.
By now the group had made the choice to walk down stream and had just made their way beneath a bridge. It was not something I had planned to do with them, but eventually I realized if I was going to document any more of their adventures I had to join the crowd.
There is only twelve of the eighteen that took part in this adventure pictured, but you tell me, have you ever tried to get eighteen teens together all at one time? It is much harder than you think.
We will have five more days of opportunity to have fun and learn about assurance of salvation, our topic for the week. I hope you enjoy the Playful theme I chose for today’s daily post topic.
Today the one word prompt from Daily Post land is Purpose.
I was blessed to have an earthly angel in my life to guide me into an understanding of what it meant to have a Christian relationship with the creator of the universe. Yes, I am a Christian and not ashamed of it at all. I am sure you did not expect to find yourself here, on a faith based blog, but that in a nutshell will describe my primary purpose in life: to share my faith with others.
One of the primary instructions to all Christians is to share our faith. If you do not know, it is called the Great Commission. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. This to me is something I think about every day as I go about my life. Am I living the kind of life others will be interested in? Am I treating others in a way they will want to know more about my purpose?
Without a purpose we are destined to wander aimlessly fulfilling our own selfish desires which not only serves no one else, but can be ultimately harmful to us. A purpose which involves assisting others gets us past a narrowed path that means we will leave this earth no better than we found it. Part of my philosophy grows from the J.O.Y. Principle. This principle goes as follows: Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. Yes, that is right, you must not focus solely on your desires and wants. I am much happier when I am serving God or others than serving my own selfish desires. You can learn more about the J.O.Y. principle here.
Not so long ago there was a huge bible study by Rick Warren called The Purpose Driven Life. Many folks completed this study and live more fulfilled lives as a result. We have to have a purpose and a direction to succeed. My purpose has grown stronger as I have learned under great bible teachers in the churches I have attended my entire life.
I look forward to reading your description of Purpose.
Do you feel like you have somehow drawn unwanted attention from the enemy of God? Can you feel his demons working their way into your plans, causing havoc and delays as you try to do what you have been taught all of your Christian life? Then you are definitely doing something right.
Satan is God’s enemy, we all know that. From the time he chose to rebel against God he has laid plans to battle God and his angels, trying eternally to prevent what we know is ultimately going to happen, Jesus’ return to earth to reign forever. No matter what Satan does he cannot overcome our Lord and Savior. But that does not mean he will ever stop trying to short-circuit your Christian development or willingness to do as instructed by God through the Holy Bible.
So what did you do to draw Satan’s attention? Was it praying, or serving, or teaching a class? Perhaps it was informing a younger Christian about the way our enemy will try to hinder them. In my recent experience it came as we were trying to set up a plan to witness and share information about our upcoming Vacation Bible School at a local one day festival. Even as we were collected in a prayer circle a week before the actual event began I acknowledged the reality that Satan knew what was coming, didn’t like it and did not want it to succeed, so he was busy laying obstacles in our path. So did this make me want to stop trying to do what I was planning? No, it only convinced me what we were doing was right.
I can share another time when this was true. The other occurrence was in December 2012 when four members of my church went on the first International mission trip ever from our church. Between the four of us (one married couple and two other men) we left nine family members behind and without fail each of them developed some form of the flu. To say it caused no small amount of concern would be true. But due to the nature of the trip, flying 1,300 miles to Belize, no one could immediately turn around and return home.
We pushed through and followed God’s instructions, planting seeds of faith and ministering to the children we were blessed to touch and teach. From this a fabulous and rich Christian service connection has grown that allows us to support a growing mission organization and a couple who have devoted themselves to instructing children about God’s love and provision in their lives.
If we had given in to Satan and allowed his impediments to stop us we would have missed many rich blessings! As you mature in your Christian walk this will become more evident to you and you will know how to deal with the inevitable hurdles set in your path.
Are you an acceptance seeker? You know, the kind of person that wants people to acknowledge what you do and reaffirm you are worthy? It is okay, we all have this innate desire to matter. I hear some people say, with attitude that they really don’t care what people think of them. I think that is malarkey, because humans go to great lengths to change who they are all the time. In fact, there is a multi-billion dollar plastic surgery process to improve looks in many, sometimes drastic, ways.
What we don’t fathom in our human and vain states, is that the real changes that will serve us during our brief time on God’s green earth come from within. We are so much better served by the relationship and understanding we have with God. God made each of us exactly as we are for a reason. We discuss this with our Middle School Sunday School class regularly. With the experience of two children, a boy and a girl behind us we know how they struggle to find their place in the grand scheme of things.
The media and advertisers scream at us, trying to convince us about what is the acceptable body type, face decoration for women or how we can “improve” what the master craftsman of the universe blessed us with. I can remember having similar feelings when I was a teen. Thankfully God’s influence came in the form of my neighbor and Christian mentor Minnie Bryan, who helped me see the commendation that matters the most of all is that we get from our relationship with Jesus Christ. I invite you to read this blog post, The J.O.Y. Principle, to see how Minnie helped me understand this idea.
I’ll tell you something I learned a long time ago. When you lie down at night and conduct a review of your day, if you do such, the one you must make happy is yourself. Worrying about what others think or fell is a tiring and unnecessary task to add to your load. God tells us to give him our burdens as he is all powerful and never tires. God will grow you if you allow to where you will seek his approval or commendation as you make your way through life.
I am just as human as anyone who will read this post, I am not anxious to end the life I am living on earth. I have a wife and two children I dearly love and work to make happy and feel loved and provided for every day. I look forward to the chance to enjoy many more years with them. However, I know that the only resolution for a mortal life is a mortal death. But then I get to experience the eternal life with God promised the day I followed John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We will all face Jesus in heaven to account for what we did or did not do on earth. I, just as many others, have many missed opportunities that will be recounted on that day, but I know through the instruction I have received that I also will have many positive encounters that Jesus will acknowledge. To me His commendation will matter the most.
During a recent edition of my weekly men’s bible study our leader posed a thought-provoking question, the kind each of us needs to revisit on a regular basis. What’s your Witness. Wow! What an invasive question. How dare someone ask me such a thing. I mean I go to church, pray before meals and am a known Christian. Why would I think about this?
Well, for me, it stems from another part of this same week’s class and a piece of the lecture where we heard about a study completed in a neighboring county. Of the roughly 100,000 residents in this county, only 20% told the survey that they attended church. I was flabbergasted the number was so low. I mean I knew it was dropping, but not at this rate. The trend has been steadily worsening and shows no signs of stopping.
So how important is it for us to be a witness for Christ? The Great Commission tells us to tell everyone we meet about Christ, His love and the salvation offered through Him.If you are a Christian you know this is due to another sharing the good news of Christ’s love and offer of salvation with you. Whether it came about in a revival, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, at church camp or somehow in your day to day interaction, someone cared enough to invest the time necessary to give you the right amount of information to make an informed choice. I have never met a Christian who has regret from making this choice. To choose to serve Christ and then follow that choice up with investing in the time to learn more is something that will open up a future for you that is beyond your wildest dreams.
A large component of being a Christian however, is acting like one at all times, not just when you are expected to or around your other Christian friends. I tell my children as well as the youngsters in the Middle School age Sunday School class as well as my daughter’s teen age friends from church that it is vital to always “wear” your Christian persona.
My favorite example is this and I use it often with my teen age daughter as well as the kids in the Middle School Sunday School class my wife and I teach at church. My wife’s best friend is a girl I went to school with for about ten years. We weren’t great friends then, maybe just good acquaintances. Today my daughter and her daughter have been best friends for 16 of their 18 years. What if I had not acted in a Christian way and treated her badly all those years ago. We may never have had such a wonderful connection between our families. I love her girls as if they were my own and I feel like they have the same affection for my family.
I will share one more example before I close this post. I used to work at a distribution center in Piney Flats, TN for Fingerhut. You remember the Fingerhut catalog that used to come by mail? You could order basically anything you wanted and pay for it for a few dollars a month. Well, my experience there confirmed I was reflecting my Christian values. I had been working on one side of the huge 1 million square foot building and got the opportunity to take a promotion. The people I worked with had a small send off and one of the things they handed me was a card that said basically, we appreciate your Christian faith and the way you live what you believe. There was some other, more tangible gifts, but those words meant more than a million dollars to me.
The thing about a Christian walk many people don’t appreciate is that you can work on it your whole life and blow it with one misplaced episode. You have to remain vigilant to stay on the narrow path every day in every situation. The Enemy knows your weaknesses and will try to cause you to stumble, especially if you prove to be a worthy foe. If you would like to know a great way to practice your Christian faith please check out my post called The J.O.Y. Principle.