Thursday, May 01, 2008

Day 28: Footprint

We make a living by what we get;
We make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

Kerry Shook starts today by noting that when we leave this earth we want to leave a small environmental imprint but a large spiritual imprint. Let me quote two of his paragraphs that look at God's power to change us so we can leave this kind of imprint.

God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way. Phillipians 2:13 puts it this way; For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. Our Father empowers us to live transformed lives when we admit our mistakes and their consequences. The Bible says God gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud (Proverbs 3:34). So when we humble ourselves and say, "God, I need You to give me the power to change; I need You to give me the power to love; I need You to give me the power to do the things You ask me to do,: then he fills us with his strength.

Grace accepts me where I am, but grace also gives me the power to change. Titus 2:11-12 says, For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. When we're in the atmosphere of God's grace and feel totally accepted, we crave change. We want to know him and be more like him. page 212, 213

Do you crave change? Why or why not? What area of your life have you chosen not to change or thought you didn't have the power to change? Bring it to God and tell him that you are not only asking for the power but willing to receive it and act on it by faith.

Day 27: Making a World of Difference

Today Kerry Shook looks at our willingness to get involved in helping others even when our impact seems insignificant. He retells the "Starfish" story...about the boy who came across a beach full of starfish. Even though there were hundreds of them stranded there, he threw back in as many as he could because he knew that everyone that he helped was at least one saved.

Kerry suggests three things we can do to create a world-conscious heart:

1. Pray for the needs of others. The more you pray about them the more your heart becomes soft to the issue and opens you to how you might actually be of help.

2. Invest your time, talent and treasure (money). Proverbs says, "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." 21:13. It's the old "golden rule". If you were in financial need, wouldn't you want others who had a surplus to help you? To those who have been given much, much is required. The Bible is full of commands to share our plenty with those who have less.

3. Work in community. No one is called to tackle the world problems alone. Join with others; your small group, your church, your neighborhood association, a non-profit organization, etc. to become a force of good in this world.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 26: Preventing Life's Crashes

When was the last time you experienced a life collision, a season or experience in which you found yourself coming apart at the seams? How did you respond to it? How will you respond to the next collision differently based on what you learned from that experience?

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. Psalm 37:3-5

Kerry Shook uses Psalm 37 to suggest threes ways to avoid future crashes by staying in God's will.

1. Obey God. Kerry compares it to submitting to God driving your car while you ride in the passenger seat. We think we know better than he does. But you have to let him go where he wants to go. You need to trust that he knows what he's doing and obey him.

2. Delight yourself in the Lord. God wants us to long to be with him in the car more than we want to get to our destination.

3. Commit your way to the Lord. God's will isn't one option among many for us to consider. God wants us to commit ourself to his will BEFORE he reveals it to us. He expects that kind of trust.

Our time in this life is limited. If we truly want to ensure that we've fulfilled our purpose when it's our time to go then we must stay squarely in God's will, trusting, delighting, and committing to His path. He's the only One who can rebuild our lives and redirect us when our will collides with His.

If you only had one month to live, what three actions would you want to take to align your remaining time with God's will?

Day 25: Eternal Building Materials

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Henry David Thoreau

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 that our work on earth will be judged as having been built with gold, silver or straw, etc. This isn't judging between heaven and hell as our destination. This is merely judging the eternal vs. temporary worth of our labor on earth. To those that build with gold and silver will be given great reward.

Kerry Shook tells us that... We're designed by our Creator to fulfill a vital purpose that no one else can accomplish but us. We're hard-wired with the longing to have an impact, to make a difference that will echo throughout eternity long after our bodies have turned to dust. p. 188

In order to make that lasting impact Kerry suggests three building materials:

1. Convictions. These are more than beliefs. A belief is something you hold on to but a conviction is something that holds you. A conviction is a core value from God's Word that anchors us, shapes us, permeates our lives, and becomes such a part of us that it's who we are. p. 189. Convictions are what drive you to want to leave a legacy.

2. Character. This is the only thing that goes with us when we die. God is more concerned about your character than any achievement or possession you might have on earth. And that's why God uses problems, pressures and people in your life to shape your character to be more like Jesus. Character is what guides the formation of your legacy.

3. Community. Without fellow believers who share your convictions and character it's pretty hard to leave a legacy. But together - filled with God's Spirit - you are a force. Community is where the encouragement, innovation and celebration come from that are so necessary to creating a legacy. Are you flowing with a community of fellow believers to create a legacy?

If we build our lives on convictions, character and community then we will have established an eternal memorial that will benefit countless lives for untold generations. We will have spent our lives creating a bridge that ultimately leads others to God, and there's no more satisfying legacy than that. p. 192

Monday, April 28, 2008

Day 24: Planting Seeds

The metaphor today is planting seeds. My summary is primarily two long quotes from Kerry Shook in his book One Month to Live.

When people look at your life from the outside, they may be impressed because you're planting "big things"; a hefty bank account, major achievements, lofty goals, a weighty reputation. From all appearances, you're a successful farmer, but what fruit will these "big things" yield? It doesn't matter how significant your portfolio is or how ambitious your plans are. If all you're doing is accumulating things and trying to impress people, then the moment you die, your influence ends. The size of the rock doesn't matter. Whether it's a pebble or a boulder, [if it's not a seed and...] you plant it in the ground, it will beve be seen again. Zero Impact. p. 183

If you plant temporary things, you are going to harvest temporary things. If you plant eternal seeds, you are going to harvest eternal fruit. If you plant generosity, you are going to harvest generosity. If you give grace and compassion, you are going to get grace and compassion. Whatever you give out in life, you are going to get back. Accoording to the law of harvest, we reap what we sow, but we also reap much more than we sow. If I plant one seed, I don't get one seed or even one apple in return but a tree full of apples, season after season. A bushel of blessing comes from a tiny seed of faith. p. 185

So the question for today is...are you planting temporary things that reap a temporary one time harvest? Or are you planting eternal things that keep giving and giving?