Dying 2 Live...!

Dying 2 Live...!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where's HOPE When You Need It?

Even on our desired days off, we usually still hear bitterness, guile and hatred spew out of the mouths of numerous individuals. It's a daily basis kind of thing that makes it hard to relax while watching television. If you don't believe me, just tune into one of your 24-hour news networks---anchors will be screaming political ideology from Fox News Channel about how the democrats are left-winged jerks, godless liberals and out-of-touch with reality; or from MSNBC anchors' jargon will give way to republicans being identified as right-winged hypocrites, inconsiderate conservatives and greedy idiots. And that's negativity all day, not even counting the late-breaking horror-stories of crime coming from your area's local news station.

If that wasn't enough, try turning the channel to check out dysfunctional relationships: from the fights on Jerry Springer to the affairs and promiscuity on soap operas. Hit the clicker one more time, you may garner the privilege of being privy to some sort of new scandal in the world of sports: assistant coach molest little boys, athlete cheats on his wife with multiple partners or organization runs three-year bounty scheme.

So you wisely turn off the tube. Enough is enough. You're drained, not relaxed at all, feeling mentally exhausted, discouraged and in the dumps. But wait! We haven't even gotten to your actual life. On tomorrow, you may have to head back to work. You wake up early the next morning, shower, get dressed, grab some coffee and head off into hideous traffic. For some apparent reason, deadlines have been pushed up and your body is still sleepwalking. Your boss isn't the greatest. Most of your coworkers love to gossip, constantly complain and work your last nerve. After this, you still have to go back home.

Unfortunately, your place of residence is no oasis. After dealing with some more hideous traffic, you pull into the driveway. On your way to the mail box, you step into some dog dung. While wiping your shoes on the grass as well as checking the mail, you notice it's filled with increasing bills. Eventually, you walk into the front door. The house is loud, messy, children are running a muck, a migraine is quickly coming on and in order to get some type of relief you flop on the sofa, turning on the television. And you start to realize this is feeling so similar to your day off, all over again, but even worse. You wonder what can get you out of this rut, this cycle---new found fame, a vacation, hitting the lottery, a perfect spouse or a new career.

Sadly, this is a normal day in the lives of many individuals on the planet. And this is referring to most individuals living the so called "good life." A life consisting of one having a decent job, a home, a vehicle, a family, a dog, etc. Now if this is a seemingly goodlife, what about added problems to the equation? What if you get fired, your health starts failing, children get suspended, etc...? If you're struggling to hold it together when things are "normal," you'll simply fall apart at the sign of any major problem.

Fortunately for you, there's HOPE! Some people would like to know, "Where's hope when you need it?" When normality seems so crazy having you going in every wrong direction possible. Bad decision after bad decision, life turning your world upside down. Well, the next few blog posts will seek to give you some hopeful hiding places away from that type of normality.

What does normality look like for you, is it similar to this post or even worse?

Where have you found everyday HOPE, and how difficult was it to find?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's Your Number?

What's Your Number? is a movie based on Karyn Bosnak's book---20 Times a Lady. The plot is based on this storyline: 

"When Delilah reads a survey revealing most people have 10.5 sexual partners in their lifetime, she begins to feel like a tramp. She's slept with 19 men so far—almost twice the national average. During a self-help moment, Delilah vows to cap her "number" at 20, swearing that she'll save her last spot for the right guy. But after losing her job she has a wild night on the town and falls into bed with Mr. Wrong.

Unwilling to up her number but unable to imagine a life of celibacy, Delilah dreams up a foolproof plan: she'll track down every man she's ever slept with in a last-ditch effort to make it work with one of them. Hitting the road in a rental car, she begins a madcap adventure that takes her across the country, from New York to Chicago, New Orleans to LA.

A hilarious romp through Delilah's past loves, What's Your Number? shines a spotlight on every woman's dirty little secret and proves that, when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes numbers only tell a fraction of the story." (from Bosnak's Blog)

Now I'm by no means acknowledging fornication and promiscuity; but, I'm rather more focused on the title than the storyline. So "What your number?" is the topic at hand, not the novel or movie.

What's all this fascination with continuous counting, numerous zeros, projection figures and lofty numbers? Why does it matter so much? It's not unusual to see someone counting their calories, making certain they don't go over their prescribed daily intake. It's not unusual to hear water cooler lingo surrounding the amount of zeros in this month's lottery winnings. It's not even unusual to watch your supervisor pressure your team to match, maybe even exceed, projection figures for the company. And it's not really unusual to find leaders evaluating high numbers, large crowds and a hefty following as equivalent to success.

But what about the Church? What about your local church? What about the leaders there? Should we all be caught up in numbers? Even if it's an accepted way of life, is that how it really should be? Are numbers the main thing that matter, across the board (work, church, school, family, etc.)? Sometimes these questions prick a nerve, which tend to indicate something's grossly wrong here. Too often, many Christians base success by an astronomical number system. The local church has to be a mega one, or have at least multiple locations. The pastor has to reach millions through radio, television, books and online. Or else, their ministry is not a growing one, with power and relevancy. The giving has to come to a certain amount in the offering, if not, the members there are robbing God. The list can go on and on.

As of late, I have experienced Christian leaders, who are immersed with the numbers. So they purchase buildings they really can't afford, for an expectant influx of attendees. Others have jumped from conference to conference looking for the latest leading trend to follow, that presents large numbers. For some apparent reason many have forgot the sentiment that,

"Bigger and more expensive is not always better." 

Jesus discipled 12 men, and one of them betrayed Him. But the others, including the apostle Paul, were used to revolutionize the world. He didn't mind teaching lessons on leaving the 99 to go after the one, with heaven and the angels still rejoicing over that single soul. According to Barna, small churches of 200 or less are the majority of churches in America. You can be greatly effective, even if you only assist a few elderly at the nursing home. Or instead of feeding the world, you help restock your area's local food bank. Mentoring a small group of teens or visiting some prisoners can work wonders for their morale. Let's get away from only impressing the masses, catering to the crowds and going after the numbers. The small things in life count, and we should not mind counting them as big things.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Purpose-Given Life

Many aspects of life are uncertain: Where should I live? Who will I marry? Should I take this job or that one? How long will I live? What's my real purpose in life? These questions are abundant, to say the least. And as we age, they increase. Some have even sought to give us solace for our concerns in this area. Much of that solace has alluded to us discovering our own purpose in God.

Most are familiar with the renowned pastor of Southern California's Saddleback Church---Rick Warren. As a pastoral leader, millions highly respect him and associate much of his international acclaim with his book, The Purpose Driven Life.

In the book selling over 30 million copies to date, Warren focuses on the blueprint for Christian living in the 21st Century. The book's 40 chapters highlight 6 major categories for living out one's purpose (focusing more heavily on the last 5):

1.) What on Earth Am I Here For? (Identity)

2.) You Were Planned for God's Pleasure (Worship)

3.) You Were Formed for God's Family (Fellowship)

4.) You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)

5.) You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)

6.) You Were Made for a Mission (Mission)

As noted earlier, his following is abundant and many have adopted his Purpose-Driven philosophy, even a large group of notable church leaders. So it's pretty clear to see that he's on to something here. Anything uniting the Body of Christ in a positive manner is extremely beneficial. John 17:20-26 validates this as a primary focus of Jesus, in comparison to the connection between Him & His Father (God) being united.

The church I presently attend and have attended for the past 6 years are huge fans of Warren's ministry paradigm.

"Unsurprisingly, Warren's concepts are impactful, life-transforming and relational."

But they're incomplete. What? Incomplete! How? Now, before you all panic, hear me out! Don't get me wrong, I like Rick Warren. But there are some aspects he could have added, even he admits that in some of His small group video series. Thus, he promoted connecting studies on Life's Healing Choices by John Baker, The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay & a series on 40 Days of Love. And it wouldn't surprise me if many more studies are to come, all of which will aid the original Purpose-Driven one.  

Actually, these aren't the main things he left out. Believe it or not, the overall focus is what's basically incomplete. No, it's not necessarily wrong but it is incomplete. What am I getting at? Well, it's simply this: This life is not primarily about you or I and our individual purpose. What? That's right, it's not! The main thing will always remain the main thing, and that's clearly God.

"It's about God's purpose for us, not our own individual one."

God is not so focused on us living out The American Dream, or any other dream for that matter. He never promised that we will all be married to the love-of-our-life, enjoy a budding career, have a palatial home with a 2-car garage, perfect health, 3 beautiful kids, and an obedient dog. But many of us believe that is what He promised, and we have replaced God's purpose for our ideal purpose. Some have not, and have went immediately into the opposite direction. They feel their individual purpose must be poor, miserable and filled with preaching, in order to honor God. How so? Simply put, God has purposed you for what He's purposed you for. You don't fully control it. Even before you were born, it was already set-in-stone. See, God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). You just need to live life (with its ups and downs, bumps and bruises) and be obedience unto Him.

It's His purpose for you, not your purpose for Him. So let's be more about living out The Purpose-Given Life, as well as the Driven one.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) NKJV  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Woulda, Coulda or Shoulda

"I wish I got married sooner; I wish I had waited to get married. I wish I studied harder in school and went on to college; I wish I'd skipped the college-scene and began earlier in the work force making money while gaining experience. I wish I had spent more time with my family; I wish I had a better family. I wish had a lot more friends; I wish I had only a few committed friends I could rely on..." Of course, this song and dance could go on forever. And it still wouldn't change this reality:

"Sadly, regrets are simply a part of life!"

Even if you don't fully believe it, that doesn't stop it from happening. That doesn't stop you from putting your foot in your mouth, at times, or wanting to redo something better if given a second chance. Understand, we reside in a fallen and depraved world, with sinful people. Actually, you're one of them! I have heard people say, "I don't have any regrets," only months afterward, regretting that very statement. Your life isn't as perfect as you would like for us to believe it is. God knows that and, honestly, so do you. So let's stop kidding ourselves!

There are many things in life God gave you a chance to get right. And to this day, some are still left undone. The first thing we can do is...

"Be Real!"

Next, we can open ourselves up to becoming better. And if that means we need to make restitution, then make restitution. If we need to forgive, then let's forgive. If we need to apologize, then get at it. What are you waiting for? If we need to walk in Godly wisdom, then immediately start walking. If we need to relinquish our self-inflicted fears, then let them go and loosen your grasp.

Lastly, we must get away from the woulda, coulda or shoulda routine. One of the best ways to do that is to stop living in the past. You remember the past, learn from the past; but, you shouldn't be living there. You need to stop allowing your past to stifle your present and taint your future. The video above and poem below should build some motivation in you taking those pertinent steps out of a life of regret.

Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda  BY Shel Silverstein

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

Layin' in the sun,

Talkin' 'bout the things

They woulda coulda shoulda done...

But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

All ran away and hid

From one little Did.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Who's Your Daddy?

It's no new thing to know:"Many have been raised without a physical father figure in their life." They have been labeled as coming from a single-parent household. And mom was forced to play the role of mother and father simultaneously---a double role she's incapable of performing and one that was never designed for her.

This is a debatable discussion for those who feel feministic in their views and devalue the role of males in society. Should the male role even be valued in the home, community or society at large? Regardless of my opinion or yours, God's perspective is what's most meaningful. And He highly values the role of father figure. Better yet, He chooses to fulfill the role of father figure Himself.

We have all seen the void boys and girls experience from the lack of this role in the home. They tend to spend much of their lives trying to fight off the feelings of neglect and abandonment. Or the over-achieving dissapointment they feel from seeking to measure up to a dad they never knew. Some even go throughout life with a spiteful determination never be anything like their father. And others are longing for a father's love and acceptance; so they go from relationship to relationship searching for that desired love.

Again, God has made it clear where He stands on the matter...

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5 NIV

Former NFL player and present pastor Freddie Scott, II has written a book dedicated to this entire ordeal. He helps provide some pertinent background for the cause and solutional remedies for the cure to the problem of fatherlessness. Check out info on his book at the link below: