This is a blog about life, and living it to the fullest we possibly can. Jesus said the he had come to give us "life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10, ESV). If I can encourage you in this blog to start living from your heart, I will have succeeded in my intention.
This is such an amazing world we live in. Such an amazing array of plants and animals, mountains and valleys, oceans and deserts. I look at our world, and I wonder when it lost its amazement. When did we become so "scientific" in our appreciation of Creation? When did we cease being in awe of hawks in flights and bison thudering across the prairie? In his song "Calling Out Your Name," Rich Mullins described all these aspects of the wilderness, and he saw all of it as a declaration of worship towards our amazing God. The older I get, the more I have an appreciation for nature. No, I'm not going to become some tree-hugging environmentalist wacko, but whenever I see deer running through the fields, or horses running free, I can't help think how pleased God is in his creation as he designed it to be. Though this world is fallen, it is far from hideous. It is filled with beauty and adventure.
Ever wonder how to keep your passions ablaze? At our home, we burn boxes, as well as fallen tree limbs. As I was burning some of both this morning, I realized something. Most of us agree that when we are passionate about something, we feel "on fire." The question is, how can we keep that passion burning? I got to thinking as I watched the boxes burned, and the tree limbs. I noticed the boxes would flare up quickly, but soon die down. As the tree limbs burned, I noticed how they may take a little longer to ignite, but they burned longer. That's when it hit me. In order to stay passionate about something, we need to feed that passion. And to keep it long-term, we need to feed it with some "logs." If you are passionate about becoming a leader, wouldn't it make sense to study the lives of great leaders, like Winston Churchill or Theodore Roosevelt? If you want to become a better manager of your money, wouldn't it be logical to attend a weekend Total Money Makeover seminar? If you want to have a great marriage, wouldn't it be wise to study a book on marriage with your spouse? If you want to improve your skills at work, why not study the intricacies of your profession? Many who know me know I am passionate about counseling, and working on my PhD in psychology. One thing I am already stoked about is the conferences I'll be attending to learn how to improve my skills. I don't want to be a flash in the pan as a psychologist. I want to have the same passion when I'm 84 as I do now when I'm 34.
One of my favorite parables Jesus tells is the Prodigal Son. The reason I love it so much is when the wayward son comes home, his father doesn't call him a servant, slave, hired hand, or even dude. He calls him "Son." It's like that when we come to our senses, and come back to our true Father. He doesn't call us sinner, disappointment, or failure. He says, "My child is alive." God loves us, and when we return to him, he doesn't stand there, with crossed arms and a furrowed brow, saying, "Yeah?" When he sees us coming to him, He sprints out to meet us, embraces us, and throws a party, with us as the guest of honor.
I was driving home from my Sociology final (yay!) when "Africa" by Toto came on the radio. This is hands down one of my favorite songs. I love hearing about "Kilamanjaro rising above the Serengeti." As I listened, it made me think of how a story can put so much impact on our lives. In his book Epic, John Eldredge reminds us that "story is the very nature of reality." The reason we are enraptured by a great story like The Lord of the Rings or Pride and Prejudice is that we can easily relate to the characters. I'm not saying that all men are destined to be king as Aragorn, but we can relate to his struggle with overcoming what he sees as his shortcomings to embrace his destiny. Not all women are as stubborn as Elizabeth, but all women want to be swept away by true love. Another reason stories speak to us is stories have the ability to take the profound, and make it easy to understand. If anyone understood this, it was Jesus in his time on earth. the Jewish people of that time were wanting to see the Kingdom of God. But what does such a kingdom look like? How many times did Jesus say, "The Kingdom of God is like..." When addressing the Pharisees, he would use an analogy, ususally of vipers and tombs. When expressing how God reacts to a redeemed sinner, he tells one of the most famous of his parables, of a prodigal son, and a Father who sprints to embrace him. Stories are able to do that. They take head knowledge, and make it heart reality.
Several years ago, I though God was calling me to minister to men to help them live from their hearts. I still am passionate about this, but I am seeing this in less of a "gung-ho" kind of way. I am seeing God leading me to talk to men about being the leaders God has called them to be. We men need to take a stand in our homes, and lead our families. Not in a "I'm the the man, you will oey" type of fashion, but in a way that brings honor to God. We men don't need to be pushy towards our families, but neither can we be pushovers. I have read Paul Coughlin's book No More Christian Nice Guy several times. Each time I read it, I am reminded that God made men to be assertive. I love a quote Dr. Steve Brown of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando says often. He reminds us that Jesus didn't die to make us nice, but to make us his. I look back on the sniveling, whining pushover I used to be, and I honestly don't recognize him anymore. And I'm glad I don't, becuase I'd want to smack him upside the head and tell him it's time to man up!