purpose


God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He has a specific role he wants each of us to play. That role is the purpose for which we were created. If you are not sure whether you believe that God has a specific purpose for each individual he creates, I suggest you read the Bible. The concept of God having a plan and a purpose for everyone he creates is referenced throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.

The prophet Isaiah was one Old Testament figure who believed this. Isaiah told Cyrus, a pagan king, about God’s purposes and plans for him. The people of Israel then began to question God for working through a pagan king. To them, Isaiah said, “Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, ‘Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?’ This is what the Lord, the Creator and Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Do you question what I do? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the millions of stars are at my command. I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide all his actions’” (Isaiah 45: 9-13). Isaiah told the people of Israel, and us, that God is sovereign, that he knows what he is doing, and that he chooses whoever he wants to do whatever he wants.

Jeremiah was another Old Testament prophet who also believed that God has a purpose and plan for everyone he creates. Jeremiah relayed this truth in a letter to the Israelites when they were in exile in Babylon: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

A New Testament figure who believed that God has a specific purpose for everyone he creates, and who had a very clear understanding, as well as an acceptance of the role God wanted him to play, was John the Baptist. “At this time, John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim… John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Teacher, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you said was the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going over there instead of coming here to us.’ John replied, ‘God in heaven appoints each person’s work. You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for Him—that is all’” (John 3:23-28).

The Apostle Paul also believed this. In a letter to the church at Corinth, he stated, “But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Corinthians 10:13).

If you want to know God’s purpose for your life and don’t know how to discover that purpose, here are some suggestions:

“Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry…God never wastes anything. He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended to use them for his glory. By identifying and understanding these factors, you can discover God’s will for your life.” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life)

“God has created every person with a purpose. But not everyone discovers what that purpose is. To find out, get to know yourself—your strengths and weaknesses. Look at your opportunities. Examine where God has put you. Then seek His counsel. He will give you a vision for your life.” (John Maxwell, Becoming a Person of Influence)

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Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

When God designed our bodies he instilled in us a natural healing process for when we get injured or when we get sick. Just watch the way a cut heals for an example of this.

The healing process doesn’t always happen in the way or the timing that we want though. This is because we are not in charge of our own healing, God is. The healing is God’s choice, it’s always God’s choice. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe he wants to heal us so we can be effective instruments in furthering his work in the world in the specific way he chose for us to do that. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.”

God wants us to fulfill the purpose he chose for us, and he wants us to fulfill it effectively. Therefore, he gave us the skills, abilities, talents, and gifts to fulfill that purpose. In addition, he gave us a passion to do it. By giving us everything we need to fulfill his purpose for our life, he wired us to succeed. We will not succeed however, if we are unhealthy emotionally and/or spiritually. Therefore, if we want to successfully walk in God’s specific will for our lives, it is imperative that we allow God to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

Remember though … God is a gentleman. Just as he doesn’t force his invitations for relationship on us, he also doesn’t force his healing on us. He gave us free will. This means we have the power to make choices, and the choices we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization based in Minneapolis, posted an awesome review of my book When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, on their website. For those who are interested, here is the link to the review: https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/review/book-review-when-going-flow-isnt-enough

What’s more, they are now stocking that book in their online bookstore! PRAISE GOD!

Continuing to read Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado. More favorite excerpts:

• History is not an endless succession of meaningless circles but a directed movement toward a great event. God has a timeline. And because of Bethlehem, we have an idea where we stand on it…We refuse to believe that this present world is the sum total of human existence. We celebrate the First Advent to whet our appetites for the Second. We long for the next coming.

• God made you on purpose with a purpose. He interwove calendar and character, circumstance and personality to create the right person for the right corner of the world, and then he paid the price to take you home.

• In the manger God loves you; through the cross God saves you. But has he taken you to his home? Not yet. He has work for you to do.

Excerpts from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Waiting is not popular in our modern society. Immediate gratification is popular. We want what we want now, and we do everything possible to get whatever it is we want now and avoid waiting. Sometimes waiting is unavoidable though and we have no choice but to wait… God appears to like waiting and seems to require it of anyone who will be used by him, particularly those who will be used in a significant way.

Waiting on God means that you are willing to look to God for guidance and direction, and are willing to abide by his timing regarding the events in your life. It means accepting that God knows better than you do what is in your best interest. It means putting God in the driver’s seat of your life. Waiting on God requires surrendering to him.

In light of all of this though, waiting on God is not passive waiting. It is not helpless waiting. It is not unproductive waiting. Waiting on God is active waiting. Waiting on God requires a conscious decision to trust God and wait on him no matter what, to not let fear run your life and to live by faith, putting one foot in front of the other even when you can’t see the path.

Waiting on God also requires a clear understanding of what I can do and what I cannot do, what I have control over and what I do not have control over. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. We need to do what we can do, and leave to God the things we cannot do.

If one is to willingly agree to wait on God one first has to know God, the real God not a distorted image of God. The real God is love. He doesn’t have love. He doesn’t show love. He is love. It’s his character.

Trust is inherent in waiting. It’s easy to trust God when everything is going well for us, when our life circumstances and situations are in our favor. It’s not so easy to trust him when life seems to turn against us.

I am currently reading Lisa Bevere’s book Lioness Arising. The following excerpt particularly caught my attention: “Consider the word submission for a moment. What comes to mind? Probably Ephesians 5:22, about wives submitting to their husbands. Interestingly, many Christians have taken this verse and created an extreme and limiting definition for the word. I believe the word submission has been distorted beyond God’s intent for it. Many Christian women have believed their primary value lies in their ability to serve men. They have not realized that speaking in the church, respectfully voicing their opinions, or taking on the responsibility of a leadership role is serving. I heard a definition of submission that framed and aligned it with God’s plan for all Christians…Consider this: the prefix sub means under, and mission is an assignment.”

According to this definition then, submission means under assignment. I take this to mean assignment from God. Therefore, to live in submission means to be obedient to your assignment or purpose or calling from God.

Political and social movements which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo, the willingness to deal with the consequences of swimming upstream, and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

Though tremendous legislative strides have been made regarding both racial and gender equality, it is sad but true to acknowledge that racism and sexism still exist. They exist because “isms” are not legal conditions, they are heart conditions and legislation does not change hearts. Civil rights legislation taught us that. I believe that if sexism and racism are to truly come to an end, hearts need to change in a way that leaves people color-blind and gender-blind, seeing each other as equal—different yet equal.

My newest book, When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream, discusses how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the U.S. Throughout the book I encourage people to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they see it. Excerpt from Introduction: “Helen Keller once said, ‘I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.’” Final words of the book: “Because God planted a passion inside me for a very specific calling and wired me with the temperament to fulfill this calling, I will not refuse to do the something I can do. I hope you do too.” Because I wrote these words I feel compelled to live them, i.e. walk the talk.

When Bobby Kennedy campaigned for the democratic presidential nomination in 1968 he repeatedly stated “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”

My dream is that individuals will be able to make choices re: roles within families and relationships based on talents, abilities and spiritual gifts, rather than being assigned roles based on gender. Though I have this dream, I do not have any illusions that I will lead a political or social movement which will result in full gender equality. I also have no illusions that gender equality will become a reality in my lifetime. I wrote the book and try very hard to walk the talk in the hope that I will plant seeds for change in some hearts

Word of Caution: Those of us who are called to fight for gender equality in the church need to be careful about how we measure success. We need to remember that we can only control what we do, we cannot control what anyone else does in response to what we do. We also need to remember that this change in the church will only come when hearts change, and we cannot change hearts. Only God can change a heart. He may use us as instruments to change hearts, but he is the one who does the heart changing.

Another word of caution: As we swim upstream to advocate or fight for gender equality in the church, conflict and controversy will inevitably follow. We need to face it head on and deal with it in healthy ways. That’s what Jesus and the early apostles did when conflict and controversy erupted in response to their efforts to transition people from the old covenant to the new covenant. We cannot however, be conflict creators. We cannot create conflict for the sake of creating conflict. If we do that we are not operating out of pure motives. On the other hand, we cannot be conflict avoiders. If we are conflict avoiders we are operating out of fear, and “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the record, it is not easy to swim upstream and walk the talk. Please know that I understand that what I’m asking people to do is not easy, and that I am not asking anyone to do anything I am not willing to do myself.

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