Monday, September 15, 2014

The Story of Your Life (The Path of Life #7)


When we tell the story of their lives, we mention three different things: What’s been done for us, what’s been done to us, and what we decided to do. “What’s been done for us” is another way of talking about the things others have done that prepared us or helped us through life.
  • I was born and raised as a Weber, surrounded by godly family. I have one sibling by birth and one by adoption. My parents loved me.
  • I was born Mennonite. I learned the Bible and good theology; my pastors and Sunday School teachers and youth leaders taught me about God and for the most part showed me Christ.
  • I was born and raised in Alabama, moved to Oregon, then to Ohio where I naturally became a Buckeye. These were important experiences in molding my life.
  • My parents sent me to Christian schools all my life. I made godly friends; my teachers taught me taught me truth and modeled both justice and grace as they put up with a lot from me.
  • Doctors sowed up my cut-off toes (and both bad knees and a foot and soon a shoulder)
  • TC Christian and this church have put up with me while giving me time to mature as a teacher, a preacher, a pastor, a coach, and person.
  • My wife said “yes” and then has said “I forgive you” a lot of times.
  • My friends put up with my idiosyncracies and faults.
  • Jesus Christ gave his life so that I could live.
 So “What’s been done for us” is a list of things that have helped us to thrive. “What’s been done to us” is another way of saying things that happened that made life hard.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How To Ask Directions (The Path of Life #6)

When my family went to the Grand Rapids Zoo a couple weeks ago, the first thing we did was get a map. Why? We all use maps. We like to know where we are and where we should go and how to get there. There’s two ways we get them: people give them to us, and we choose them.
Because we wanted to know where to go to see the things we wanted to see. We wanted to be able to know where we were. We wanted to know how to handle our time so we could be done before the zoo closed.

Sometimes, other people hand us a map that we use it consciously or subconsciously. We think it shows us where we are in life and where we are supposed to go. 
  • Parents who say, “You will never be good enough” or act like they are ashamed of their children are handing them a map that says, “You are here in the City of Never Good Enough.”
  • Parents who say, “Do your best; it’s okay if it’s not perfect!” and treat them as of they are precious gifts from God are handing them a map that says, “You are here in a City where your Worth is not the same as Your Accomplishments.”
  • People who treat us like objects and misuse or abuse us are handing us a map that says, “You are here in the city of Worthless.”
  • People who love us with the love of Christ are handing us a map that says, “You are here in the City of Eternal Value.”
If we aren’t able to see the bad maps for what they are, we believe them. When we move in life we take the road that we think we deserve. “You are here” has always meant, “I am unworthy of love and respect,” so we keep taking the road that takes us to other familiar places. Everywhere we go we subconsciously do things that ensure we will end up in another town – another relationship, another situation – that confirms this.  

On the other hand, if we believe that “You are here” means “I am a beloved child of God with eternal value and worth,” then we move toward the places where we both experience and pass on these things. Even when we see optional paths and different destinations, we tend to follow the path and journey toward the place that makes those assumptions continue.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Divine GPS: Submission and Trust (The Path of Life #5)

I remember watching a television game show where the winning contestant was asked to choose one of three
prizes behind closed curtains. Generally there would be one of very little monetary value behind one, and then another of greater value, and lastly, one of very great value (an all expense paid trip, plus a set of expensive luggage, plus a pocket full of cash to spend on the trip). Seems that more often than not, the contestant would choose the lesser-valued items - and then, of course, everyone would GASP when the other curtains were opened and the other wonderful prizes were revealed!

The contestants can’t be blamed, of course, for their poor choices because there was no way to know what was behind each curtain! If the curtains had been wide open from the start of the game show, I suspect most contestants would have chosen more wisely. This morning we’ll look at three important premises about our choices, and hopefully, we’ll gain some insight into charting a better course for ourselves from here on.* Here’s the first premise:

Premise 1 - Choices are now – outcomes are later.

"Duh," you might say. Seems so obvious! The student who doesn’t study on Sunday night for a scheduled test on Monday morning isn’t surprised when he fails miserably. The ice fisherman who drives his Trail Blazer out onto the lake the morning after the first freeze isn’t surprised when his SUV becomes a submarine. These cause and effect situations aren’t a great surprise to any of us. and generally we survive these without destroying our lives. But a lot of these outcomes aren’t just later; they’re often much later! In the real world of living successfully, it’s these choice-patterns with the distant outcomes that tend to really matter in our lives.