Life Principles: It’s NOT All About You

In Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, he opens up the 40-day journey by saying “It’s Not About You”.

Say what???

Life is not about me?  But….what is life about then?  I mean…..I have desires, needs, dreams, goals!!! Come on now!

Yes, we all have desires, needs, dreams, and goals.  But WHERE did we get these things come from and WHY are we pursuing them in the first place?

God GAVE THEM TO YOU!!  God gave everyone a purpose.  God gives all of us dreams and desires and goals.

But, LIFE IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.

See, as a human being, we need each other.  WE need each other for living.  We need each other for encouragement, fellowship, and getting through the tough times.  No one can do life alone.  They may say they can–but they can’t.

What is your purpose?

What are your dreams?

Ask God.

Ask your most trusted allies.

Friends, we live in tough times.  Let’s face it!!  The economy stinks, jobs are hard to find, and some families are all living together under one roof.  One thing that we need during times like these are purpose.  If we do not have purpose, we are just breathing and going through each day—-just getting by.  Who wants to just get by? Why not find our purpose?

Here is how to find your purpose:

1. Pray-It sounds like a Sunday School answer.  And it is! 🙂   Pray for God to show you what he wants from you.  Are you in the right job?  Do you need to prune some of the branches on your tree of relationships?

2. Discuss-Talk to trusted friends and advisers. Remember this: Look at your friend’s lifestyle.  If your friend does WHATEVER they can to get ahead in life; you probably do not want to seek advice from them.  Compare morals.  Not in a Pharisee-type way but in a realistic manner.

3. Explore-Look at your education, your passions, how you spend your time.  This will show you what REALLY SETS YOU ON FIRE!!!

4. Action-Take a leap of faith.  Why sit around and wait for things to happen?  There are two kinds of people: people that sit around and complain about what should be done AND people that make things happen.

Unity from the Pulpit

(Note: This was written 3 years ago by I feel my words are just as true today!)

Unity must come from the front. I am not talking about the front pew or the front row of people who have been holding down their seats since 1955.

Unity must be preached from the pulpit.

Ah ha! A light bulb flashed in your cranium. You are ready to jump out of your seat right at this very moment. Yes, we may teach and preach on unity in our churches; however, is this just a local church unity ordeal (MY church) or are we stretching our arms out to other churches (the Church)?

Again…….unity must be preached from the pulpit. Unity is much bigger than cooperating with other churches within our denomination. It will take great humility, love, grace, and acceptance in order for unity to occur between various Christian communities.

The pastor/priest/preacher sets the tone for their respective local churches. If they teach their flock the importance of embracing other Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, the lifestyle of unity will flow freely through the congregation. If the congregation is taught that other Christian denominations are inferior to their church, the congregation will develop an elitist mindset.

John 17 20″My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Christ called us to be One. He is the Lead Shepherd (Psalm 23). All other shepherds (ministers) are to model Christ. If you are a pastor, what do you model to your congregation in regards to your attitude about other churches? If you are a church attendee, does your pastor or elders reflect an attitude of Christian unity?

Some of you reading this are thinking…”well we never partner with other churches or reach out to churches who need spiritual or financial help. I do not know what to do or where to begin. My pastor does not like those Catholics or Methodists.”

News flash. Doctrine differences between churches will always exist. We must ask ourselves…….Are we united as Godly brothers and sisters AND what is our agenda? Agenda = Walking with God as an individual and as a community. We must seek often God’s agenda.

It starts with one. One person. That person could be YOU. Approach your pastor or leadership and see where they stand on the idea of Christian unity. After all, if you attending a church, you want to know what your particular church REALLY believes about the Body of Christ. You are not attempting to start a revolution here. You just want to know the essentials……..such as…………does your church preach unity within Christianity and if so then how is this lived out in your faith community.

Resurrection

Today is Easter…………..the topic of Resurrection is on our tongues, hearts, and minds……..especially today.

I recently watched the newest James Bond movie “Skyfall”.  (SPOILER ALERT!!)  In the movie, Bond is tied to a chair and the villain is taunting Bond.  The villain talks about how he has been spending his time in all of these “hobbies”.   The villain then asks James Bond what his hobby is, to which Bond replies “resurrection”.  Bond stated this because he was believed to be dead……….his own agency moved on without him.

Today is Easter and Christians around the world will celebrate Easter.  What if we lived everyday in a resurrection mindset?  By this, I am insinuating that we live everyday like Jesus is alive.  Too often, we just celebrate the church calendar.  Nothing wrong with celebrating the church calendar,  but what if we firmly believed and lived like Jesus is alive (and Risen) everyday?

Happy Easter!!

Be glad for Jesus’ Resurrection today and the amount of second chances that he gives us.  His love never fails.

 

 

 

Child-like Faith

Have you ever noticed the faith of a child?

Innocent.

Honest.

Open.

You see, children do not have the baggage that us adults do.  Let’s be honest-we have all been burned by the Church.  All of us.  And if you have ever been in leadership (paid or unpaid) in the Church–you have definitely been burnt.  Some of us have never recovered.  Some have recovered and some are still healing.

I am reminded of child-like faith by our daughter.  She is 2 and is such a joyous and loving person.  She loves to laugh and enjoys being silly.  She likes to learn and enjoys being taught.

Although our daughter is young, my wife and I have found is vital to begin to teach her the basics.  Mackenzie loves the stained glass windows at church and the many crosses and statues of Jesus; however, she knows this much—–Jesus is in her heart.  We have taught her that and she knows this.  While I respect the beauty of our church and many other churches, I want her to know there is more to knowing Jesus than having a pretty church building.

What if we approached our faith—like a child does?  A child does not sway in faith because of denominational ties or pressures from leadership.  A child embraces themselves and their faith…….without worring what others think.

Here’s the irony.  We live in a culture where everyone thinks they are “independent” and can think for themselves.  Yet, when it comes to faith/church/beliefs……people often take the comfortable road.  They don’t question the doctrines that are placed before them.  They don’t engage in conversations about Jesus, etc……..other than in church on Sunday mornings.   Friends, your FAITH is in you.

Your faith is not stuck in your local church building.  Let it out!  Talk about your faith.  If you don’t have like-minded friends, make some.  Befriend people who have views opposite you so you don’t live on the 5th floor of an ivory tower—above everyone else.  And be real in your faith journey.  We all experience joy, heartbreak, illness, hopes, dreams, and setbacks.

Will you have childlike faith—-with arms wide open?

A Real Man…………

Many of us will often ask the question:  What does a real man look like?

Some people picture the model, Fabio, with the perfect hair, chiseled body, and the flawless smile.   Other people picture a real man as a guy that lets nothing in the world bother him.  Everyone has their idea of what a real man looks like.

I know a real man.  His name is Paul Miller, Sr.

When I was a high school punk, I was invited to church by a friend.  I was hesitant because my exposure to “the religious crowd” was not that pleasant growing up.  I was baptized as an infant but that was about it as far as sporadic church attendance as a child.   Now you can understand my unwillingness to “try youth group”.

Let’s flash back to the fall of 1999 when I attended a Lock-In at a local church.  I thought I was going to experience cute girls and basketball.  Nothing is better than that!  I also thought that I could deal with this “Jesus stuff” later on.  I did not have time for that stuff at the moment–or so I thought.  I went to a few events and slowly became part of the church crowd.  Now, friends…..let me remind you, there is great power in community, awesome power in the context of community.  In this church community, I noticed that some of these adult volunteers were different. They were capable of a great transformation within me.

I could write about all of my awesome youth leaders that I had a teenager, but there is not enough space on this blog for that.  Our youth group leaders were great.  They talked about Jesus and they lived out their faith.  This one guy though, he really stuck out to me.  This guy is that “real man”, Paul Miller, Sr.

Paul and his lovely wife, Shelly, hosted several of our youth group events.  Paul attended several events, while at the same time, operated his own trucking business, too.  Needless to say, he could have spent his free time doing something else other than hanging with a bunch of teenagers.  The more I got to know Paul, the more I could not help myself but to want to learn from him.

We went through leadership changes at our youth group.  Paul and other leaders stuck with us when it would have been easy to abandon ship.  I was really getting to know Paul just when, well, we toilet-papered his house.  Let’s just say that peer pressure in our youth group consisted of talking others into doing things like toilet-papering houses.  Good, clean fun….literally!  🙂

So we TP-ed the Millers’ home one weekend.  And one week later, we ran into Paul’s son (Paul Jr) in a friend’s neighborhood.  It was random because they did not live near our friend’s house.  Later that night, my friend’s home was TP-ed.  It was the artwork of Paul Jr.  These kind of things are what we partook in for fun during our youth group years.  Obviously we participated in the typical church camps, retreats, weekly gatherings, etc. but Paul’s ability to laugh about the TP incident reflected the vision of forgiveness that we’re taught Jesus has for us.

I continued to get to know Paul (and his family) as I finished out high school and left for college.  As the years unfolded, I was blessed to witness both of Paul and Shelly’s children get married.  Grandchildren were born.  Paul Sr. was still active in his family business.

Today, the legacy continues.

Let’s get back to the focus of this post.

What makes a real man?

Paul is a family man.  Paul loves his wife and children and his daughter-in-law and son-in-law as his own.  He is an equally awesome grandfather.  Oh, and when I say he is a family man, I am not referring to just going to church on Sundays “just because”.  He lives out his faith.  He practices what he preaches.  And he has made an impact on many people’s lives.

Recently, Paul began to face a serious illness.  In fact, I will post the story on here from the donation website because my words cannot do it justice:

Paul Miller Sr. was taken to the ER at York Hospital on Feb 4th for what his wife thought was the flu. Once there the doctors realized he wasn’t getting oxygen to his extremities. They immediately put him in an induced coma and put him on a ventilator. At this time his body was going through Toxic Shock due to bacteria in his blood. He had purple blotches all over his skin and his hands and feet did not have good blood flow.

On Feb 7th the doctors at York Hospital decided they had done all they could and had Paul airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown . It was there that the doctors treated his infection which turned out to be Streptococcus Pneumonia. The rest of his body was healing with the antibiotics except for his hands and feet.

On Feb 12th the doctors determined that the tissues in both of Paul’s hands were dead and that they needed to be amputated. The procedure was done on Feb 13th. Two days later on Feb 15th the decision was made to amputate his feet which also had no viable tissue left. The money raised through this fundraiser will be put towards the cost of medical expenses and prosthetic hands and feet.

One of the fundraisers last Sunday was at Alfredo’s Pizza II in Hanover.  They donated a portion of sales to help the family and also had raffles and coupon booklets.  My two leading ladies (my wife and daughter) and I went up there to join the dinner crowd.  The place was PACKED!  Friends of mine also attended lunch shift and said it was equally PACKED!  As we were eating our pizza, I saw several people that I personally knew, from church or youth group, that had been greatly influenced by Paul.   Alfredo’s Pizza staff were gracious despite a packed and hectic atmosphere.  While inhaling my pizza, Alfredo’s staff took pictures of everyone there.  I overheard stories of how people knew Paul or his family and how much he meant to them.  Paul continues to fight towards recovery but he has continued to build a legacy.

For me personally, I know Jesus because of Paul and a few other real men, who invested in me as a teenager.  They loved me despite of where I had been or what I was doing in the present.  They put me in check when I needed it and let me vent to them when I needed to clear my head and my heart.   Paul and these other men showed me that there is great value in living from the heart.

Friends, what legacy are you building for your family and friends? How about for those whom know you personally and professionally?  What difference are you making in your work? There is a difference between making money and making a difference.  Do people know that you will fight for what is right?  Do your spouse and children know how much you love them?

If you want to make a difference, I encourage you to help and get involved.  Follow the link below to make your donation.

http:/donatemillerfamily.com/

My Dream for the Church

I had a dream……………

…..that churches would share buildings, resources, and even staff to better reach their communities.

……that churches would not compare themselves to the church down the street.

…..that Christians would not view non-believers as the enemy.  There is one Enemy, his name is Satan, and he is much worse than someone whom does not hold same religious beliefs as you.

…..that the Church would focus on Jesus FIRST before any other doctrines and traditions.  Doctrines and traditions are nice……but if you do not have Jesus……you don’t have Christianity.  You now have _ _ _ _ _ _ ianity.  (no Jesus)

…..that we would be more concerned with pleasing God than in pleasing others.

……that we would be different from the world; however, we would not be distance ourselves from the world as “holier than thou”.

…..that we would invest in the children and youth of the church more in terms of programs, staffing, etc.

…..that our churches would be better with money.  Yes, tithes belong to God but people worked hard for that money in today’s rough economy.  Maybe we should actually pray before we make financial decisions in the church.

…..that our leaders would get along.  Enough said.

What is your dream for the Church?

When Church is Not Enough

Another one bites the dust.  Another Sunday that is.

Many people view Sunday as a day of church, etc.  A day of “church”.   Because church is an event to some people.  Similar to going to a sporting event.  Sit back……see the main event (preaching or music)…..give your feedback (giving money or yelling “amen”)…..then you leave promptly when the show is over.

I can feel the rage of many of my readers already.  🙂

Hey, I like church.  I like attending. Don’t get me wrong.  However, I am not a fan of what we have been expecting these days from going to church.  Many people view church as the sole requirement for Christianity these days.  Get Jesus to punch your time card on Sundays…and then you are good for the week.

Church attendance is not enough.

This is not a blog on guilt; guilt for you to be the do-all, be-all Jesus follower.

Church (in general) is not enough—-because we are called TO BE THE CHURCH: the hands and feet of Jesus.  We are called to be in the presence of Jesus in all places throughout the week.  Jesus is not confined to just your church or my church.  You see…Jesus is MUCH bigger than that.   Satan could not hold Jesus back from accomplishing his mission either in the past or the present.

Attending church may be vital—but it is not the most essential thing to Christianity.  The most important element is a relationship with Jesus.  It is still important to get involved in community within Christianity; this is why people go to church, small groups, fellowships, etc.  We get taught within the context of community.  We get encouraged and receive life within the Christian community.  If you ARE NOT receiving life within your faith community, I challenge you with the following questions:

1.  Why do I REALLY go to this church?

2. What hurts my faith by being a part of this faith community?

I ask you these questions not so you can hate the Church or have a massive exodus from our churches; I ask these questions because I know so many people who feel stuck at their churches.  They feel guilty for staying (for whatever reason) and they want to leave however they refuse to leave.  They are scared.  Scared of what?  Scared of what people may think?  Scared of Jesus?  Yes, I am pretty sure Jesus would want you to be spiritually nourished at your church INSTEAD of scared and starving within your soul.

I will go the opposite route now………

If you ARE receiving life within your faith community, I challenge you with the following questions:

1. What draws you to this church?

2. How can you use the ministries of this church to help others?

Friends, it’s about Jesus.  Simply that.

Experiencing JESUS in LENT………

We are a few days removed from the beginning of Lent.

Many people will give something up.  Some will give up things that are small struggles and others will give up something that majorly impacts their daily living.

It is okay to focus on what we will  give up; however, it is vital to also focus on what we hope to gain from the season known as Lent.

Life is tough.  It is quite easy to think about things that hold us down.

But what about what we need in our lives?

I am not equating needs with material stuff.  Yes, we could all use more money, a better vehicle, or help with home repairs.  But our needs are far more greater than materialistic.  We have internal needs.  Needs for peace and comfort in this ever changing and chaotic world.  We have needs for love in a world that often tells us we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not ___________ enough (fill in the blank).

This is where having a different perspective on Lent comes into play…………..

Many people simply view Lent as giving something up. The issue with this is I know a lot of people who would not even consider themselves as “spiritual” or “Christian” who give something up for Lent.  So if you are a Christian and you are reading this post–perhaps putting a different twist to LENT would be more appropriate.

What could you add to your life or do differently during Lent?  Maybe you need to read Bible more or journal your thoughts.  Maybe you need to try to mend some relationships that went sour.  Do Lent differently.  Anyone can give something up but you need to grow too!

Ponder the following questions:

—-What can I give up for Lent ? (stumbling block)

—-What can I add to my life? (for growth)

—–How can I simplify my life? (work/personal)

Any questions?  Comment on here and I will get back to you!

Open/What-Is-Spiritual DIRECTION ? ! ?

Be open.

Be open to growth his year, 2013.

Set some goals.  Eat better. Get more sleep.  Etc, etc, etc.

What about this………Spiritual Direction.  It sounds cliche.  People are engaged in “spiritual direction” all of the time.  Church on Sundays.  Small group during the week.  Listen to some Christian music while driving to work in your car.

The spiritual direction that I am referring to is one-on-one.

You must understand this: large group spiritual direction is great but it is easy to hide in the crowd on Sunday morning at church.  It is easy to say “I am fine” while enrolled in a small group.  However, one-on-one spiritual direction is just that–one-on-one.  One-on-one spiritual direction can engage the soul of a person in ways that a corporate setting cannot.

Do you have someone who guides you in spiritual direction?  A friend?  Pastor?  Trusted professional?

I have some people that I go to for spiritual direction.  I try to get together with them monthly because consistency is key.  We will be honest before God and they will speak into all areas of my life.  It makes me vulnerable to change—and change is needed for those of us desiring to be like Jesus daily.  Let me emphasize this: spiritual direction can be intimidating and revealing.  Whoever is speaking INTO your life and peering into your heart–they have great power.  Be careful whom you go to for spiritual direction.  Since spiritual direction is revealing–make sure you trust the person.  You do not want your business all over Facebook.

Let me give you some reasons why one-on-one spiritual direction is needed for EVERY CHRISTIAN:

—–Direction: When you are meeting with someone consistently (weekly, bi weekly, or monthly); it provides you with direction.  The person aiding you can probe your intentions, help you with your struggles, and map out your goals with you.

—-Consistency: People are more successful when they are journeying with others.  Accountability equals growth.

—-Creativity:  Meeting with someone else in spiritual direction may bring out your creative side.  Maybe a talent or idea will come to light due to meeting with someone and allowing them to see your true colors.

—-Growth: In order to grow, sometimes we need others to guide us.  This is normal.  We all need someone to guide us.

Need spiritual direction?  Contact me.   I am willing to work out a rate with you and a plan with you.