The Purpose of Failure

You try to be productive and focus. But a flood of thoughts come and your mind becomes a messy haze. It is hard to focus on any particular point. It is a moment when you have been told you have monumentally messed up and are going to lose something of immense value in your life, something similar to your job. Or a moment where your decision making reveals your lack of ethics.

You wrack your mind, asking how and why you came to a place where you went wrong. You consider every possible extreme scenario that could end up hurting you.

You wonder, “Why me? Why did I have to go and mess up so badly? Things could have been so much different for me if only I had made better decisions.” Or some version of that.

I was considering the purpose and impact of failure in the course of our lives. Why do we fail? Why does God allow us to go through seasons of failure and lack of success/progress?

I have been through such experiences to realize that failure and the lessons that arise from it can be the driving force to your success.

After down moments in life such as these, I’ve found it incredibly easy to hide in a corner and increasingly desire to be invisible and alone in your mire of despair.

But in hindsight alone is it discovered that the path to your God-intended purpose included this very troublesome but necessary step. The deep anxiety faced in your current struggle and the ability to overcome that arises are the very forces that ultimately propel you to your final purpose.

If you are in that place of failure and doubt about your future, don’t stay there. Move forward; stay focused and don’t let your past hold you back.

In the words of writer and theologian C.S. Lewis, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

The Time is … NOW

Read this quote from Franklin Graham, founder of Samaritan’s Purse and son of Evg. Billy Graham from a recent Charisma Magazine article regarding this year’s National Day of Prayer:

“I think no question … religious freedom is under attack,” Graham told The 700 Club in a recent interview. “There has been an erosion now for many years, but we have seen it really accelerate in the last 10 years.

“This political correctness that has crept in, that if we stand for what we believe in, [all of a] sudden we are not tolerant,” he added. “They almost make it look like we are participating in hate speech when we say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and there’s no way to God except through Christ and Christ alone. They are interpreting that now as being hostile and hate speech.”

Read more: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/news/28222-national-day-of-prayer-may-be-largest-ever-#ixzz0nYCPczd6

When I read this, I am personally challenged. A casual observance of many believers today, including myself, is that we live with a sense of apathy toward God. And to read this quote from a Christian leader such as Franklin Graham is provoking, in the sense that it challenges the status quo life that I tend to lead.

Many of us claim to be believers. We go to church on Sunday, we even serve on worship and leadership teams in ministries, but does our life reflect a sense of urgency in making sure those around us who are unsaved have the saving knowledge of the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does it matter? Does it matter when the beliefs we espouse so strongly at some moments of our lives are being looked at as “intolerant” when believing them used to be seen as living out your faith in Christ? Today’s world is all about relativism, nothing is wrong, live as you please, in the moment, satisfy your flesh for the moment and feel the regret later. It’s okay, God will forgive you.

The words of Phil Wickham’s The Time is Now come to mind:
VERSE 1:
The battle line is drawn, it’s all in black and white.
Hope is pulling forward, can feel it from behind, it’s time.
It’s time to make a move, so what will you decide?
The clock is ticking on, don’t let it pass you by, it’s time.
It’s time.
CHORUS:
The time is now, for lifting souls.
The time is now, for letting go.
From your skin, to your core.
Let light, and love, come rushing through the door.
Oh, come rushing through the door.
BRIDGE 1:
You’ve learned every song, memorized the verse,
took the bread and wine, and even bought the shirt,
it’s time.
VERSE 2:
it’s time to hold your shield,
it’s time to draw your sword,
let’s lead the resistance,
oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, it’s time.
Yeah it’s time.
CHORUS:
The time is now, for lifting souls.
The time is now, for letting go.
From your skin, to your core.
Let light, and love, come rushing through the door.

If you are professed believer in Jesus Christ, are you taking a stand for him today? I know I’m not fully, and I must make the decison in my life to do so. Do you know where you are?

Potential: You have it in you, don’t let it go to waste.

Potential (as defined by Merriam-Webster):
“something that can develop or become actual”

Inside each person there is potential to become something great, but too often there are obstacles that stop many from reaching their full potential and thus impacting the lives they could have.

We are all designed by God with a specific skill set or talents to achieve a particular purpose, regardless of how worthless we might perceive ourselves to be.

Far too often, and this is especially true for myself, it is when we focus on comparing ourselves and our accomplishments to that of others that we completely miss what gifts and talents God has given us and forget that we can excel in something that others can’t.

Some people look at others and perceive that those people have it all together, their balance in life is good. And they begin to think they can never be like those “together” people. Like they’re too messed up to be brought back to order.

We all have a place in life, and even if it seems unimportant to us, understand that in God’s eyes your purpose is very important, even if it is something that you do not see as relevant and essential or as good as someone else’s position or role. Keep in mind that God has all of time in His hand, and nothing happens by accident to anyone.

Don’t let your life go by without using the potential God has given you. Let God use you, and be willing to follow where he leads; there is no other worthy route.

“Rising from the Dust”

The thought for this posting came from attending Pastor Glenn Badonsky’s evening meeting at First IPC, while at the altar call.

We were singing a prophetic song about rising from the dust, and the thought came to my mind about what it would practically take to really rise from the “dust” of our past, our afflictions, the things that have weighed us down so much in the past.

After this meeting was over, I was faced with the usual stigma of feeling frustrated over something really simple (not worth detailing) and I began to wonder did what I said at the alter really matter if I was already frustrated with something so simple and unimportant in the big picture?

A few thoughts that come to mind:

In order to completely rise from the dust of your past, you need to decide to change your old behavior patterns.
-If you have a bad habit or addiction you’re trying to overcome in your life and you make a decision to overcome that problem with the help of God, it does not make practical sense to put yourself in the same situations and places you were in before.
If you have a tendency to react negatively to what people say and it’s hard for you to let go of the resentment or emotions you feel, you have to make a conscious decision to look at that situation in a different light. If you have a tendency to respond to a harsh word with anger or outburst, you have to make a real effort to respond in a Christ-like manner; that is what demonstrates a real change of heart and effort to live as God desires.

Any thought that says it is right and acceptable to act in a manner that is clearly against the ways of God is a clear deception from the devil, and you must take that CAPTIVE and conform it to God’s Word.

Our lives are filled with deceptions from the devil, from thoughts that say immoral behavior and actions are appropriate in God’s eyes to thoughts that say it is acceptable to say a “half-truth,” leaving out part of the truth and thinking no harm was done. Or thoughts that say it is okay to gossip and trash a person behind their backs. Paul, in Romans 1:29, lists “gossip” as one of the problems along with envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. The New King James Version uses “whisperers” instead of gossip.
Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament offers this thought on “whisperers”:
“Those who secretly, and in a sly manner, by hints and innuendoes, detract from others, or excite suspicion of them. It does not mean those who openly calumniate, but that more dangerous class who give hints of evil in others, who affect great knowledge, and communicate the evil report under an injunction of secrecy, knowing that it will be divulged. This class of people abounds everywhere, and there is scarcely any one more dangerous to the peace or happiness of society.”

Are we “rising from the dust” of our past when we continue to talk about other people and put them down in the “injunctions of secrecy” that are mentioned above?

One of the biggest deceptions is that because of our past sins and mistakes, we are somehow not good enough for God. That is where the grace, or “unmerited favor” of God comes in. When we fall into sin and away from God, it is vital that rather turn to continuing that pattern of sin, we recognize the wrong we did and do an immediate turn on the road to God because He desires us to come to Him Through the death of Christ we are redeemed and have the right to approach the throne of God.

I’ll add more later, but to surmise for now, it is one thing to stand at an altar and say we’re going to change our ways, but when it comes to directly after the meeting we react the same way we used to react, did it all make a difference? Or was it for another motive? I challenge myself with this thought more than anything else.

Narrowing Your Vision

A continued reflection on “How to Live Life on Purpose” by Pastor Art Sepulveda

So I’m still in Chapter 1 and want to highlight a portion that is key to understanding how to narrow your vision to something specific and how to get there.

An excerpt (Page 4):
Vision brings your future into focus. The word “focus” is the key to understanding what clear vision really is why it is necessary to accurately see your future. Once you have had a vision, you still need a strategy to bring it into reality. King Solomon once prayed, “…give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart…” (1 Kings 3:9, Amplified). This tells us there are TWO STEPS involved in a vision being formed and fulfilled:
Step#1: Having a hearing heart (the initial desire, dreams, and vision).
Step#2: Having an understanding mind (strategy, direction, and pathway)

Pastor Art states that he wants to “see people transformed by the life-changing power of God into victorious Christians.” But he understands that he can’t possibly reach everyone with such a broad goal. So here is his narrower goal: “When I focus my desire to a narrower scope, my vision is to build a local, New Testament church in Honolulu, Hawaii, that will make successful Christians out of as many people as possible by reaching them with the life-impacting message of Jesus Christ.

Many of us have big dreams, big visions. Some lyrics from “Dream Big”, a song performed on American Idol by then-contestant David Cook:
“When I was a little boy, I swore that I would change the world. When I grow up, nothing else would be enough. I see it every day, we settle for safe. And we lose ourselves along the way. If you don’t dream big, then what’s the use in dreaming? If you don’t have faith, there’s nothing worth believing in. It takes one hope to make a start worth reaching for.”

But if you don’t narrow those dreams down to specifics, you will be left dreaming big and accomplishing nothing. This is where GOALS come in. “Goals are simply ‘bite-size’ pieces of your vision that can be measured and attained. Without goals, a vision never goes beyond a dream.”

One final excerpt that exemplifies the differences between a mission, a vision, and a goal from Pastor Art:
“Let’s say your mission is to build a successful business. Your vision might be to build a car dealership and sell cars; your goal then could be to sell “x” number of cars each month. Someone else may have a mission to be a farmer. His vision is to grow wheat and his goal is to grow “x” number of bushels of wheat a year.

So to summarize, don’t just have big dreams. Consider those dreams, then narrow them down to specific, attainable goals. And God will take you down a journey of a lifetime, sometimes on a route you didn’t expect. Personal example: I graduated with a degree in journalism from UCO in December, and thought that the highest probability of a job was in the newspaper industry. Yet now I am a copy editor in the book publishing industry, and I can potentially visualize a future for myself in it. But I believe this job is God’s purpose for a specific reason: Before submitting each job application that I have sent out in the last several weeks, I prayed a specific prayer understanding that God is a sovereign God who knows my beginning and my end, which path my life will take me on: I prayed that God would open the right doors and close the wrong doors. And after submitting multiple applications, God opened this door.

You may have a certain dream/vision for your life, but when you dedicate and submit it to God, He will guide you along a path that may not seem right at the moment, but He will reveal His purpose to you at the right time. Never lose that faith.

Until next time, God bless!

How to Discover Your Calling

The 2004 book by Pastor Art Sepulveda (Word of Life Church – Hawaii) “How to Live Life on Purpose” is a very practical book in regards to finding the meaning in your life and living in a way that follows that God-given purpose and not just whatever path comes your way.

I’m in the middle of Chapter 1, which emphasizes Art’s point that we need to “Value the Power of Vision” and he offers this definition:
Vision is the ability to see God’s presence, perceive God’s power, and focus on God’s plan in spite of obstacles.

The quote that precedes this chapter is “Vision is a mental picture of a future state” – Casey Treat. Art states that most people today live in one of two realms, neither of which exist: the past and the future. Why? Because they don’t understand the need of a strategy for the present in order to leave the past and and powerfully step into a better future.

If you ask most people today what they envision for their future, what would they say? Would they have a specific outlook for their life that is their vision for their life? How important is it to have a vision for your future?

I know for me this was a challenging thought, especially this particular reflection from Pastor Art:
Many years ago at a conference I heard Dr. David Yongi Cho, the pastor of one of the largest churches in the world, make a statement that challenged the course of my life then and that continues to be a “journey maker” for clarity in my life today. He said, “Show me your vision, and I’ll show you your future.” Then he said, “If you can’t tell me about your vision, what you’re saying is that you have no future; and if you can’t describe your future, you’re unclear about your vision.”
This shocked me as I realized that by omitting one-a clear vision-I had automatically disqualified myself for achieving the other-a meaningful future. As a young college graduate, I had a great deal of knowledge, but I had no clear vision of my future. Only when I allowed God to paint a picture of my future on the tablets of my heart, did I begin to understand the power of vision. It was then that I saw my vision as a strategy to take me out of my present and into my future.

I aim to continue this chapter’s thoughts later, but let these thoughts challenge you at this moment. I know I was impacted, especially by the lines I bolded. I am a recent college graduate, yet I have no clear vision for my future. Yes I have ideas and vague plans, but I have yet to clearly define what that is.

What is your status? Do you have a vision? Do you know where you want to be in the future? On a deeper note, is your vision God-centered or self-centered?

Anyhow, more later on.