Who Has Called?

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Ephesians 4:1 NLT

The truth is, we all make rapid adjustments based on who is trying to connect with us.  Am I dressed right? How do I need to greet this person? I hope they don’t bring up that conflict from the past.  And the list goes on…

We all have a strong desire to do well with people trying to connect with us.  In a group setting, peer pressure presents responses that, unexamined, can move us in the wrong direction.  Most of us are reluctant to stand out in a group situation.

Many years ago I interviewed for the position I currently serve in as the Executive Director of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center.  It was a thorough process with a full combination of written responses, consultant evaluation, and a wide variety of group meetings.  I came away from those interviews wanting to do a great job, in part, because of the people God had used to call me.  Their call to me to take this job really mattered.

The Apostle Paul writes to all of us when he says “ Therefore I, as a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Ephesians 4:1 NLT

Imagine God texting you with the following:  “I want to talk to you about your future.  You have some great opportunities and responsibilities I want to give you. Can we meet?”  I know that I would be very excited, and maybe, a bit anxious for that meeting.

The main point is that we should be focused on the one who has called us… God, Himself.  He has called us.  He has made a relationship with Him possible through Jesus Christ.  He has asked us to live in this world in a way that demonstrates His love.  He has given us the Holy Spirit to be able to live out the call.  He doesn’t expect perfection, because He is perfection.  He asks us to come closer to Him,  to align our lives with Him and the work of His Kingdom.

What adjustments will you make today knowing that in the midst of all the other interactions you have, God has called you.  Let’s remember who has called us. Let’s live our life worthy of His call…because…He has called.

Wisdom or Intrigue…Discerning the Difference

When I was a young leader, I would often mistake intrigue for wisdom. Intrigue wakes up curiosity. Curiosity can be helpful to propel thinking and imagination. Curiosity can spur on exploration and the pursuit of “a better way” or a healthier solution.

Intrigue and curiosity can also create a great amount of trouble.  Intrigue and curiosity unchecked can create momentum that override the due diligence of spiritual discernment, listening to God and seeking good counsel.  Group think can take over sound reasoning of people seeking and pursuing together.

Wisdom welcomes intrigue and curiosity with the real boundaries of knowledge, faith and experience. Wisdom slows intrigue and curiosity down for rigorous evaluation and vetting. Wisdom recognizes that curiosity and intrigue lack staying power.  They always have a need for the next thing.

Wisdom has staying power that is made stronger through faithful endurance. Wisdom is something God gives in unlimited measure to those who ask for it with a resolved focus and commitment to God.  Wisdom sees a way through in a profound and powerful way.  Wisdom rarely makes a big splash, as by its very nature, it is humble, yet incredibly effective.  The power of wisdom comes from the sheer effectiveness that flows from God himself.

Having been down the road of leadership, I now pause when I hear the words “that’s intriguing” in relationship to a real challenge.  Questions of wisdom emerge.  Does this make sense?  Why is this intriguing?  Is the curiosity rooted in fear?  What would have to be considered?  Should this intrigue be given any play time?  How does this idea relate to who God has called us to be and what he has called us to do?

Submit the difficult situations to wisdom.  While intrigue and curiosity may provide a little bit of help, be aware of just how fleeting they are.  Choose wisdom.  Ask God for wisdom.  He gives it generously to those who ask Him with focused resolve.

Sucker Punched

We all get “sucker punched” by things that are wrong in this world.  It is possible that we have also thrown a “cheap shot” or two ourselves in the process.

As a follower of Jesus, I am asked to respond to life’s blows in a way that is much different than I might want to.  Jesus tells us to respond to life’s difficult and unfair situations with truth, compassion and forgiveness.

Truth – Sometimes I would like to dodge the truth of a situation.  Sometimes I want to “spin” the situation.  Jesus has a different answer.  Speak the truth in love.

Compassion – When I want to verbally “take someone out”, Jesus says, “bless those who curse you.”

Forgiveness – I have such a strong desire to hold a grudge.  Jesus himself says, “forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

The next time you get sucker punched by the world, hold off on that reactive tweet or facebook rant and consider Jesus’ challenge to a better way.

Speak the truth in love, don’t dodge it.  Show compassion to those who have hurt you.  Always be ready to forgive.

Joyful are People of Integrity

Everyone of us is marked by brokenness in one way or another.  We all live with realities that are far from what we would prefer or hope for.  In the middle of this reality come some great words from the Psalms:  “Joyful are people of integrity…”

In the midst of all that is wrong in the world I can be a person of integrity who communicates with joy.  I can cultivate a culture of joy and integrity in my marriage, family, business, neighborhood and ministry.

So where does integrity come from?  “Joyful are people of integrity who follow the instructions of the Lord.  Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts.”  Psalm 119:1-2 NLT

It turns out that I am NOT the source of integrity.  God is!  I am made in His image and that means I am designed for integrity and joy.

When I was a child, there was a plaque on the wall of our home that read, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”  This joy flows from a life of integrity through seeking after God.

Would you like more joy in your life?  Look to integrity.  To experience integrity, connect with God.

This Feels Like Coming Home

A young couple got out of their car, just arriving for a week at Warm Beach Camp, and walked up the sidewalk to Cedar Lodge.  The young man turned to his wife and said, “I feel like I am coming home.”

There is a desire in all of us to feel like we are coming home.  The descriptions of “home” may vary from person to person, but it is unconditional love, acceptance, relationships, traditions and a place and space that feeds the soul that are what make up this ideal of “home.”

Bev, my wife, often asks me this question, “Does it feed your soul?”  What a great question when we think about home and all that it means.  My favorite place at home is our fire circle.  Recently, I went to the fire circle by myself and built a fire.  The family began to gather.  We laughed, talked, prayed and even spent time just staring into the beauty and warmth of the fire.  I was home.  My soul was being fed.

The truth is, this desire to come home is from God.  He is with us on a journey that brings us home to be with Him forever.  Being with Him is the ultimate place of unconditional love, acceptance, relationships and traditions that will last forever.  With Him, we know that our soul is fed.

Whatever it means to you to come home, know that it is evidence of a deeper reality: God, through His son Jesus Christ, invites us home to live with Him forever.