The Struggle and The Purpose

5 02 2010

Purpose comes in many shapes and sizes.  When it’s distorted it becomes a struggle.  When the purpose dies but the effort continues, it ends with struggle.  If the purpose is defined by environment and circumstances then it will inevitably end in struggle.

The problem with all of these scenarios is the struggle.  Our purpose should be fueled by passion.  It should frame our efforts.  It should be the motivation behind our days.  That’s not to say resistance won’t come…but a passion filled purpose fights resistance with persistence.

I had this revelation as I started to analyze my blog…what was the real purpose for me…because it was feeling like a struggle.  It’s an extension of me, my life, my passions, my world.  Which often starts like this:

It’s not about being something I’m not or somebody I’m not…it starts from the heart and usually ends in a journal.  I love the picture of my journal page with the 2010 plans…because my kids joined me to help put their own piece of art in the page.  It reminds me of how important relationships are…how important family is…and how important it is to include that in the journey.

What are you struggling with?  What are your passions…what is your purpose?  Do 5 things this week to remove the struggle and replace the energy with pursuing your purpose.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris

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Hope, Encouragement, Power & Authority

24 01 2010

If I could just use 4 words to describe the holy word of God, it would be Hope, Encouragement, Power and Authority. That’s the message…that is what I run to…that is what I stand on.

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 1:10

“But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:24-25

The last thing God told Moses before he left the top of Mt. Sinai were these instructions on the Sabbath.

“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.” ~Exodus 31:15

The Sabbath is an important par of our covenant with God.  For a day dedicated to this will bring Hope, Encouragement, Power & Authority.  As we live that out, wisdom comes.  God will take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.  He takes the impossible and makes the possible.  He takes the faithful hearts and blesses the generations with Hope, Encouragement, Power & Authority.

What 4 words would you use to describe the holy word of God? Are you living in those words today?

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris





10 Primal Days — Primal Love

4 01 2010

Today I’m starting the 10 Primal days as promised from my review of Mark Batterson‘s new book Primal. To read the full review click here.  I’ll be taking a deeper look into the 10 chapters that make up the book…extracting some of the thought provoking knowledge nuggets Batterson packs in each chapter.

“When all superficialities are stripped away, what is the primal essence of Christianity?” That’s the question Batterson poses in the first chapter.  He concludes it is the great commandment…the primal commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength.” (Mark 12:30).

The challenge is not to be just “good” at the great commandment.  Batterson challenges you to be “great” at it on all four levels; heart, soul, mind and strength.  What he calls love to the fourth power.  It’s the quest for the “lost soul of Christianity” and it begins with a venture back to where we first encountered God’s love.

For me, that encounter was 13 years ago this week.  On January 7, 1997 I encountered God’s love in a way never before…and accepted that love of Jesus into my broken heart and life.  Before making that decision, I wrestled with questions of love.  I asked God 3 specific questions about love in my life.  Would I marry my girlfreind Wendy?  Would a life-long love be found in her as my wife?  Would I still love music?  Would I be condemned to the cheesey Christian music I heard of….Stryper…Petra?  And finally would I still work in the music business that I loved?

God clearly spoke to me about those areas.  He answered yes and showed me love that was so much more.  Flash forward 13 years later and I can show you every point along the path where He was faithful to bring me along that road. At times He was picking me up.  Other times pulling me back on the right road.  All the time pouring grace, mercy and forgiveness over me.

We all have had that primal encounter with God’s love. What was yours? What passion, purpose, and calling was birthed in that encounter?  When we return to those primal elements of loving God it all comes into focus…but we have to be great at it!  Make this year one where you come back to that original fire God birthed in you as you followed the primal commandment.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris





Primal Review

22 12 2009

Any word that follows “primal” takes on a new aura of mystique and raw power. So, “Primal Review” sounds much more daring than “A Review of Primal.” The new book “Primal” definitely falls in the first category, hence the blog title for Mark Batterson’s “Primal.” (Order today at this link)

I was one of the lucky bloggers selected for the “Primal” blog tour. So, being a follower of Batterson’s blog, and loving his catalog of books (“In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day,” and “Wild Goose Chase,” must reads), this was a great opportunity. It even felt like Christmas came a little early when the pre-release copy arrived 🙂

I was turned onto Batterson earlier this year at the first Catalyst event on the west coast. I picked up the first two books and dove straight in. What I really like about Batterson’s writing style is he always looks for ways to apply the knowledge. In fact, my best friend Chad and I frequently reference the “Wild Goose” as we apply those adventure principles to our journey. Batterson’s new book “Primal” is no different. The back jacket of the book really captures the heart with the statement:

Our generation needs a REFORMATION. But a single person won’t lead it. A single event won’t define it. OUR REFORMATION will be a movement of reformers LIVING COMPASSIONATELY, CREATIVELY, COURAGEOUSLY for the cause of CHRIST.

This reformation will not be forn of a new discovery. It will be the REDISCOVERY of something old, something ancient, SOMETHING PRIMAL.

Batterson takes a deep dive into what he proclaims is the primal essence of Christianity. This concept is drawn from the Great Commandment captured in the conversation Jesus had with the scribe as the Saduccees were drilling him. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Batterson has a great quote, which I find all of his books are full of, that amplifies the importance of this verse. “We can’t afford to be merely good at the Great Commandment. We’ve got to be great at the Great Commandment.

The sub-title of “Primal” is, “A Quest For The Lost Soul of Christianity.” This quest is fueled by love. It takes you on a journey through these four primal elements:

The Heart of Christianity is primal compassion.

The Soul of Christianity is primal wonder.

The Mind of Christianity is primal curiosity.

And the Strength of Christianity is primal energy.

Like most of Batterson’s books, “Primal” is built in chapters that are easily digested. Don’t let that fool you though, they are packed with great perspective and knowledge. If you like to underline when you read and take notes, get your pen ready! The book is broken up into the four primal elements mentioned above. The way the Great Commandment is stated makes for a great climatic build in the book. It begins with a Heart, primal compassion. A Heart that we receive first, then give out in compassion. It ends with Strength, the primal energy. Strength that we receive, then live out in the name of Jesus. The flow of these primal sections in the book puts an explanation point on the soul Christianity…taking it from a mild-tempered noun, into an adventure as a fearless verb!

Primal is an amazing picture of simple truths applied to real lives. Batterson captures these truths in life portraits from his experiences with family, friends, church planting, church leading, and world leaders. He has a flair for science and history. Batterson starts each chapter with a quote from someone that applies to wisdom ahead. If you are a twitter-head who likes tweeting quotes, yes I’m guilty, this book is packed full of them.

What I really love about Primal is the perspective. It’s the new perspective on timeless truth. It’s not an abstract truth pulled from several scriptures ladened with heavy theology. No, it’s straight from our savior Jesus captured in the Gospels of His disciples Mark and Luke. These primal truths are the block and tackle, everyday stuff, basics, nuts and bolts, instructions that we breeze right over. Or we get some of right more than others.

There is a reason super bowl championship teams are champions. They apply the principles of winning football every week. They practice the rudiments. They live and breath the key principles. They apply them in game-time. And most importantly, they build dynamic plays off of the foundational rudiments. So it is with these primal commandments. They can be applied in the most rudiment way and build into the most amazing life application where God’s glory and power is displayed.

Batterson has a great quote in Primal. It’s one of those that will stick with you. It really captures what I was trying to paint with the football analogy:

The quest for the lost soul of Christianity always leads us back to the Bible. But rediscovering the wonders of Scripture requires more than reading. That’s where the quest begins, but that’s not where it ends. Not if you want to get it into your soul. You have to meditate on it. Then you have to live it out. Meditating on it turns one-dimensional knowledge into two-dimensional understanding. Living it out turns two-dimensional understanding into three-dimensional obedience.

The new reformation is coming! I’m not just saying that because I drank the primal kool-aid Batterson served up in this book. I have the honor and privilege to work for the number 1 independent Christian Music label in the world, Integrity Music. I can say from first-hand experience that the reformation has begun…and like Batterson claims in the last chapter, “Amo Dei” will be the rallying cry. English translation, “Love God.”

The next reformation will be led by millions of reformers living compassionately, creatively, and courageously for the cause of Christ. It will be marked by broken hearts and sanctified imaginations. And the driving force will be the love of God. A love that is full of compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy.

If you haven’t picked up Primal, go get it now. You won’t read the Great Commandment the same ever again. It will take you out of where you are and encourage you to go where Jesus called all of us.

Okay, so this blog well exceeds my normal length…pushing over 1k words. I could go on for a thousand more…but I may loose ya 🙂 I will continue the quest to unpack more wisdom nuggets packed in this book over my 10 Primal Days in January 2010. Until then check out more here at the official Primal movement.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris






Would The Church Rise?

6 12 2009

I had the chance to meet Marty Bowers recently. He is a homeless man making his way from northern California to south Florida. There are at least 5 more blogs I could pen from the time I got to spend with Marty. Truly amazing encounter. We had a lot in common, and our spirits really connected.

He is a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. His perspective on life, the journey from California, the people he encountered, and what God was showing him was the gospel….or as my pastor friends would say, “preachable.” Marty asked me a question that I will never forget.

“If I knocked on the door of a church around here, would they help me? I’m not talking about financial help. I mean, let me in off the streets for the night. Maybe give me something to eat, a shower, and a bed?”

I wanted to say a resounding, “Yes!” I wanted to be proud of our God’s church…His body….His people…Yes, Marty they would!!! But, I had a slight hesitation. That is when Marty interjected,

“I thought about doing it…but I never knocked. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it….I would rather not know, than knock and find out the answer is no.”

That floored me. I was speechless. I wanted to assure him that wasn’t the case…but I knew in my heart so many wouldn’t. We kept talking, and Marty didn’t dwell on it…just asked because we had shared a lot of testimony of how God has worked in our lives.

I want to be a part of the Church who answers this question with a loving YES. I long to look out over the congregation to see the beautiful face of someone like Marty. He is just as valuable as anyone else on a Sunday morning. Jesus loves him, and “nailed” that value to the cross!

We need to be the fellowship of the broken and needy….not the Sunday’s best facade so many churches are in this country. It’s not comfortable. It’s not ever a predictable attempt. It’s never convenient. It often looks like an interruption. It is these verses John, the apostle who saw Jesus live this out, penned in his first epistle:

“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:17-18

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris





The Motions…My Prayer

22 11 2009

Great song from Matthew West …. the video is a testimony, the song is my life prayer

“I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?”
— Matthew West from the song “The Motions”

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris





Steadfast Love

10 02 2009

Following God, being a true disciple requires committment, follow-through, and faithfulness. When you look in Chronicles, it’s easy to get all pumped up to make a turn towards God…a move to repentance. But, when we don’t lay it all on the altar, when we don’t look for all the false idols/distractions…when we don’t continue to crucify our selfish desires, we allow the enemy a foothold to creep back in. We fall back to being warm, not pumped up and hot for God.

As in Chronicles, it usually ends with a fall back to where we were. Which is always further away from God. It happens subtly, before we know it we are distant.

God’s love is steadfast…always red hot for us. His promise…is independant of anything we try to earn or achieve. His truth, His DNA, His charecter, is Love. We bow down to a God who is Love.

Breathe In & Smile Out
Chris