Purpose

I wasn’t going to do it this year.

I was tired. Really tired.

Frankly a little lost.

In a year filled with sorrows, disappointments, and a little health scare of my own, I had about decided to forego the attempt to frame this year around a central theme – my one word. (You can read more about the idea as a substitute for New Year’s resolutions here.)

Previous years saw themes emerge such as Lean, One, Advance!, and Renew.

Cynical candidates for this year included such cheery themes as Coast, Surrender, or Vegetate. Nothing else really seemed to resonate, so I had decided, despite a couple of really good suggestions from my daughter, to pass this year.  That’s when I decided to take a walk yesterday.

And about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “Yes.  Walk.” [click to continue…]

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Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies

Chariots-Of-Fire

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”

I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.

I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.

I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:

Why do you do it?

I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.

In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.

Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]

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man and woman

World changers… Meh.

We’ve turned that into a badly-worn cliché. It seems as though anybody with a Selfie Stick and a cause can be labeled a world changer.

And if your goal is to be famous – to get your 15 minutes of viral – let me just remind you that these days that cuts both ways. Thanks to the wonders of always-on video, social media and instant rushes to judgment, you can go from completely unknown to globally hated within hours. Just ask Walt Palmer or Justine Sacco.

But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to have global impact – the long-term kind, way past your local address and far past your own lifetime – without being a celebrity or even well-known? What if it were possible to shake the earth with potential without ever holding a microphone or appearing in the media? What if I told you that even when you felt swatted away like a gnat by the elites, you could still make history?

This is for those who are looking for a hero without a stage, press conference, or package to sell. This is for those who may have resigned themselves to obscurity at best, or chronic rejection at worst. This is for the ordinary guy with average intelligence or the woman who has a cause (or calling), but no one to recognize their genius or talent.

I want to introduce you to the first “power couple” in the New Testament. But let me hasten to say that these two never conducted a massive missionary campaign, started a church, wrote a book of the Bible, or even said anything that was written down for future generations. They appear to be walking wallflowers. And yet the most famous Christian of his day said something about them that he never said of anyone else. [click to continue…]

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Web

It was spring 1973 when I happened to catch a little announcement in my home church bulletin that would change my life.  It was an invitation to “Mission 73” – a youth choir trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, for anyone who had completed the ninth grade.

To say the trip was life-changing is to cheapen the phrase, and the memory of the trip.  You can read more about that here.

In the wisdom and economy of God, He decided that the best way to grow me up, call me out, expose my weaknesses, and reveal my gifts was to put me on a bus or plane with a group of people for a short-term trip, where the mission was serve Him well or fail terribly.  It started with that one trip, continued on through my high school and college years, including a couple of individual or personal partner trips for extended periods, then later internationally to places like the Ukraine, Prague, Vienna, and Thailand.

Now this year we are pleased and excited to announce the launch of a ministry that provides that opportunity to others. After months of talking, praying, planning, and waiting,  LifeVesting International will officially open its doors sometime near June 1 of this year, for the purpose of supporting the work of Christian pastors or other Christian leaders worldwide by providing assistance in the form of volunteer labor, consultation, and/or training.

We recognize that there are many different organizations, large and small, whose purpose is to fill Christ’s Great Commission.   What does the world need with another one?  Why are we doing this?  Aside from simple obedience God (the ultimate consideration), here are seven reasons. [click to continue…]

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Your Purpose Green Road Sign

Welcome back to the tour.  Hope you enjoyed the break, and I hope you have a good, roughed up version of a personal mission statement.  We’re ready to move to the advanced part of the lab.  Before we go in, remember, this is MY lab and it’s still messy.  Also remember that this work was done because of a felt need for change.  If you are absolutely satisfied that your personal mission statement is something you can organize your work and life around, with conviction and passion, leave it alone.

Oh… and if you haven’t taken the time to do a little soul work and put your mission statement together, back up to the first part of the tour and get caught up.  Otherwise, we may hijack your tombstone and just say, “He (or she) was too busy to wonder why.”

Ready to go in?  Let’s to this. [click to continue…]

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Plasma Ball

Hello everybody and welcome to the laboratory.  I hope this is educational or helpful to you, and we’ll go inside in just a minute.  Just a couple of guidelines first, so you can benefit the most from the tour.

First, this is MY lab.  It’s up to you to set up YOUR laboratory however you think best.

Second, it’s a little raw and messy because I just finished a major project redesign.  At least I THINK it’s finished.

One other thing… as your tour guide, my job is to remind you, this is not a museum, but an active living and learning space.  So every once in a while I’ll ask you to stop and apply this to your own life and learning.  Deal?  Okay, let’s go… [click to continue…]

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Old compass on the beach with sand and sea

President Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forgot the errand.”

Have you forgotten the errand lately?  Maybe it’s time for a look under the hood.

At least it is for me.  And maybe for you, too.

I’m involved in some pretty big initiatives lately (you’ll be seeing more of that soon).  And those initiatives are added to an already-very-busy life. Never a day goes by when I don’t lay my head on the pillow with plenty more to do tomorrow that I left undone today.  Most days I’m fine with that.  But lately in the middle of all the time and resource challenges I’ve found myself frustrated, more tired than I should be, and actually feeling anxious about some things that should have me feeling excited and hopeful.  And in the middle it all is this nagging question:

Is this really what I’m about?

That brings me back to something I’ve been pretty passionate about for a long time – a clearly-defined sense of personal mission or purpose. [click to continue…]

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Beautiful view of silhouette of airplane

(A Fable)

Aging and sad, a grand hulk of useless machinery sits in an airplane hangar when it probably should have been sold for scrap.  Designed by an Engineer as an elegant flying machine, this plane has never left the ground or even taxied the runway.  For reasons that still don’t make sense, when the time came to assemble all the parts, in the end the plane looked more assaulted than assembled.

To an untrained eye everything appeared to be in place.  There was a fuselage, wings, wheels, and engine shrouds.  But if you looked closer, you would see that the assemblers failed to actually install the engines.

The assemblers did other damage to the interior of the plane as it was being put together – so much, in fact, that the order was canceled and a new plane secured. Having royally failed inspection, the plane was unwanted and unneeded.  It would have cost more to fix what was broken than it would have simply to start over.  So for years, lost in the shadow of what could have been, the airplane sat, exposed to the elements, powerless, lifeless, and unwanted.

Word reached the Engineer of the plight of the flying machine. Moved by a sense of love for his designed creation and a conviction that airplanes were made to fly, the Engineer did the unthinkable.  [click to continue…]

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Man with hands folded in prayer

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

Yes, I have searched you and known you.

Now I want you to search me and know Me. 

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

I want you to know when I sit down and rise up.

You understand my thought from afar.

I want you to understand my thoughts,

even in the places that seem distant.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,

I want you to search Me like that.

And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

I can be found!

I can make you intimately acquainted with all My ways. [click to continue…]

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Making the right choice

It’s been a couple of years now since I repented of New Year’s resolutions.  I knew it was time when somebody asked me about mine a few years ago and I said, “Oh, you know, the usual.”

(Totally irrelevant side note:  Wouldn’t be funny to go into a gym today or tomorrow and find some dude who’s built like a tank and who looks like he’s lifting one and say to him as those muscles rip through his shirt – “Ya’ know, those New Year’s resolutions never really work.”  Anyway…)

That’s why when somebody introduced me to Mike Ashcroft’s idea and book a few years ago it really hit a nerve.  The idea is very simple:  Build your year around one simple word – one theme that describes who or where you want to be at the end of the year.  What amazes me is how easy it is to land on a theme based on what I call my descants of the soul – the themes that seem to be repeating themselves in my life recently.

In 2011, my one word was Finish!  I didn’t finish a lot, but it was exciting to think about.  Lean was the word in 2013.   And my one word for 2014 was One.  Both have been helpful in shaping my thinking and focus for the year.

This one is different.  It’s more of a call to action, and frankly, a part of me doesn’t like it.  I’ve reached a point in my life where a significant part of me is screaming out for quiet, simplicity, retreat, and life on the porch.

Not time for that yet. [click to continue…]

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