Following Your Passion

Magnolia

How many times have you said it?  Or heard somebody else mouth something like this…?

I just want to do God’s will.

I wish I knew what God wanted me to do.

How can I find the will of God for my life?

Tell me how this is supposed to fit into a grand plan!

I want to do God’s will, but I’m wired to lead.  Is that wrong?

I know God has a plan in all this, but for the life of me I can’t see it.

I’m willing to follow Jesus, but how can I know how it all will turn out?

I did what I thought was God’s will and instead of feeling joyful it felt terrible… instead of everything working out, it all looked like a failure.

How do I know that if I surrender my life to God’s will He won’t make me be a missionary somewhere in a place with lots of mosquitos or cannibals or something?

Ever since Jesus Christ burst onto the scene and called those fishermen to follow Him, those who have chosen to say yes have discovered the mystery and marvel of finding and fulfilling the will of the God of the Universe.  And make no mistake about it… God wants you to know His will.  But He also wants you to develop the spiritual muscles necessary to discern it.  Check this out: [click to continue…]

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three candles 2

As you celebrate in the silent night or the joyful noise that is your Christmas, I joyfully lift my prayer to the Father of lights on your behalf – praying that you would discover the unique inspiration that comes from knowing what an inspiration to others you can be.

I pray that on this day you would find your way to the Chamber of your Beloved, to rediscover the awakened intimacy that comes from having your soul restored, realizing again the central message of Christmas, that you are completely loved.

I pray that in the coming year, when you engage with the terrible and the trivial in this world, that when others are desperately looking for the light of truth and hope, they find it burning brightly still in you.

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horses

I have always loved horses.

Ever since I looped one of Mama’s belts for a stirrup and mounted the arm of our couch, using a bent coat hanger for a cowboy hat (we wuz broke back then), I have loved horses.

Ever since the days of Trigger and Silver, “My Friend Flicka,” and Black Beauty, I have loved horses.  I love the faithfulness of their companionship.  I love the elegant beauty they demonstrate when they race.  I love their strength and power, which remains to this day the standard by which mechanical engines are measured.

Even now, horses turn my head and, if it’s available, my camera.  They’re just magnificent animals.

That said, I’ve rarely ever actually ridden a horse.  Only galloped once – thought I was sure to take the dirt nap, or at least have dirt for dinner. [click to continue…]

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Dart Icons

I want to tell you about Wayne.

Wayne is a painter, and he’s doing some painting at my house.

He’s very friendly, has great rates and does fabulous work.

But that’s not what’s remarkable about Wayne.

What’s remarkable is that he loves to paint.

Now I’ve painted for money before.

I don’t love to paint.

I’ve painted for free before.

Verdict is the same.

Wayne?  He’s crazy. [click to continue…]

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Start your engines

It’s hard for Alex to force himself to go to work these days. The honeymoon there is way past over, and the only reason he shows up now is a paycheck.  He compares himself to others who have gone way too long without any job, and feels guilty for complaining.  But this work situation is starting to affect his health, his relationships, and his confidence.  He’s been looking, but no other possibilities have presented themselves.

What does Alex do? Does he endure or does he walk away?  Does he press on, or does he “step out in faith” in search of new opportunities?

Tyler and Jennifer have reached a similar decision, not about work, but about the church they attend.  The congregation has been hit hard with splits, neighborhood transition, and pastoral changes.  They have been a part of this fellowship since they married, and have faithfully served.  But they have moved to another neighborhood themselves, and it feels harder and harder to go back to what feels like a sinking ship.

What do they do? Is this a time to be “steadfast, immovable,” and all that? Or is it a time to “mount up with wings as eagles” and fly away?

(Yeah, you can make the Bible say just about anything you want it to in cases like this.)

These kinds of questions are common for any believer… [click to continue…]

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Spider

All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord… Psalm 145:10

This is a work of God.

This little guy has lived at my house longer than I have.

Throughout the summer he’s maintained this exquisite work of art, despite several collisions with humans.

He’s not alone.

He joins with all creation, using their gifts and design, worshipping their Creator.

And on days like this, I get to have a front-row seat.

Blue jays, cardinals and mockingbirds call to each other nearby. [click to continue…]

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Praying at sunrise

Cesar Malan was a famous minister from Geneva.  He showed genuine interest in the spiritual welfare of anyone he met. And get this!  He would actually ask them about it!

Once Malan asked a woman he had just met about her relationship with God.  Caught off guard, and somewhat annoyed by his question, she curtly said she didn’t care to discuss the matter.

Apparently this wasn’t the first time Cesar had faced such a response.  The minister kindly assured her that he would be praying for her salvation.

It wasn’t long before circumstances brought the two together again.  As they talked, it became apparent to Pastor Malan that the Lord was responding to his prayers.  The once-antagonistic woman had recognized her spiritual need.  Now she was asking him what was required to become a follower of Christ.

The preacher replied, “Come to Him just as you are.” [click to continue…]

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Mama and the Twins

Today my mother would have turned 76 years old.  She passed away suddenly four years ago – a reminder to anybody who’s paying attention that there are no guarantees in this life.

Like anybody whose life has touched another for that long, I have lived long enough myself to see Mama’s mental, emotional, and moral DNA flowing throughout my own and my sister’s life, as well as through the lives of her grandchildren and now seven (soon to be 9) great-grandchildren.

We had our points of disagreement, some of them quite loud.  We also had hours of conversation – some of them way past bedtime.  And like Abel in the Bible, I love the fact that long after her life here was over, she still speaks to me today.

Give her a chance, she’ll speak to you, too.  Here, in no certain order, are the life lessons I learned from her. [click to continue…]

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Photo by Michelle Newell Photography, Lynnwood and Seattle, WA

(Photo by Michelle Newell Photography, Lynnwood and Seattle, WA)

 

In a world where fame is measured in 15-minute increments, life declarations come in 140 characters or less, and you literally have nine seconds to capture somebody’s attention, it’s easy to assume you’re nothing special.

When it feels as though you’re in a rat race and the rats are winning, where your value is measured by your performance or the approval of others and neither is all that remarkable, it’s easy to get lost in the ordinariness of just blending in.

When life sometimes feels like that whac-a-mole game, where those who dare to appear above ground get pounded back to their place, it’s tempting just to hide what light you may have so nobody else will see it.

But those are the times – when life is a liar – those are the times to stand on the truth and receive again the message of grace.  Those are the times to believe again that you are the object of God’s delight. [click to continue…]

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Horseshoe

In one of old his “Peanuts” cartoons, Charles Schultz has Linus bringing manager Charlie Brown a statistical report on the baseball team.  “In twelve games,” he said, “we almost scored a run and in nine games the other team almost didn’t score before the first out.  In right field, Lucy almost caught three balls and once almost made the right play.”  Then Linus concluded in the cartoon’s last frame with this classic statement:  “We led the league in ‘almosts.’”

No doubt about it – Linus is prime preacher material.   How many times have you heard a pastor say, “We almost met our offering goal?”  Or, “We almost reached our attendance goal.”  How many people have you known who almost came to church, who almost decided to follow Christ, or who almost trusted their situation to God?  It happens – er, almost every weekend.

Come to think of it, we almost do so many things, we could start a whole new church – the First Church of Hand Grenades and Horseshoes.  [click to continue…]

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