Be brave… read on…

 Earlier this week I received this email (below)… and when I saw the subject line I thought to myself “Nope… you probably don’t want to read that.  You know that desert you feel stuck in?!  This topic might hit a little close to home right now… you know?!  Are you sure you want to read that email?!”
Subject Line:  Stay in the Desert
Well, I got brave this morning.  And then I sat there and… what did I do?!  I cried.  Of course I did… and the message here is AMAZING.  So amazing that I have to share it with others.
If it speaks to you … great.
If you need to avoid the topic for a few days… great.
If you cry… that’s ok too.
Some background:  Last year I read Peter Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” and it rocked my world.  And more recently I picked up his new book “Emotionally Healthy Leader” (not finished with it yet) but I have also gone through their Emotionally Healthy Leader conference…. etc.  Needless to say, I’m a big fan.  So, here I go toting the wisdom of the EHS team by sharing this weeks’ email blast.  (Go to their website and sign up for their weekly emails.  You can thank me later.)
Just put your big girls’ pants on… and go read it.  You can do it.  You’re brave.  I believe in you.  And it’s ok if you cry.  Join the club…
logo-emotionally-healthy-spirituality
Stay in the Desert
The following is a story based on the life of Abba Anthony from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers that I have pondered for years:
   
Abba Anthony received a letter from Emperor Constantine to visit him in Constantinople. He wondered if he should go and asked Abba Paul who said, “If you go, you will be called Anthony, but if you stay here (in the desert alone), you will be called Abba Anthony.” 
 
What makes this story so important is that it speaks to the inner anchor of a life rooted in the love of God. We assume our overactive spirituality is normal. It is not. In fact, our tendency to seize more and more opportunities for God has destroyed many a good leader.
 
Innumerable demands and distractions confront every one of us. Doors of new opportunities swing open before us – to speak, to strategize for further expansion, to intervene in ministry problems, etc.
 
Two key insights have served me over the years to resist the pull to “travel to Constantinople” too often.
 
First, I remind myself over and over to the wisdom of W.H. Auden, poet and follower of Christ:
 
“To achieve anything today, an artist has to develop a conscious strictness in respect of time which in former ages might have seemed neurotic and selfish, for he must never forget that he is living in a state of siege.”
 
Secondly, I pay attention to God coming to me through consolations (those feelings that connect me more deeply with Him, filling me with life and energy) and desolations (those feelings that disconnect me from myself and Jesus). I watch carefully for when my doing for God goes beyond my being with Him, when my inner life with Jesus shrinks. 
       
Why? I know that if I respond to God’s voice to remain “in the desert” with Him, possibly – over a period of many years – it might result in my maturing into a person who can serve our generation like Abba Anthony did in his day.
      
May God help each of us.
– Pete

Been challenged to grow yet today?

Felt a little uncomfortable yet?  Learn anything new today?  Stretched to be a better person yet?  Or better yet, have you had your proverbial hand slapped today?   In a good way, of course… in a “you’ll be a better person for it” kind of way.

Let me share this quote with you… as shared by a friend.  I won’t lie:  it challenged me a bit… and it’s so right on!

We live in a day where we spend more time studying what others say about the Bible than studying the Bible for ourselves.  – Rob Ketterling

We read blogs and others’ rhetoric, we stand around and talk it up, we make judgments based on outward appearances instead of turning to the good book to see what it has to say on the topic.

So, here’s your hand slap… put down the phone / mobile device / pc… and go pick up your Bible.  Do a little study.  If you’re looking for something to read… check out Isaiah 61.  It’s rather promising!!!

 

Planning a wedding or a marriage?

This morning in the break room at work several of us gals got caught up in a conversation with a newly engaged male co-worker.  He was laughing at the planning board that his soon-to-be-bride is working on and the binders and binders of ideas she has put together as she plans their wedding day (and the festivities leading up to it).  We all looked at him very seriously and scolded him to not make fun of the planning board.

His wedding is over a year away and he was clearly annoyed at how much work was going in to planning for the wedding.  I wanted to say – “Good luck, buddy.  It gets worse before it gets better.”  But I held my tongue.  He’ll learn that one on his own.

And I walked back to my desk, quietly giggling to myself.  Once again I was grateful for our quietly planned elopement… which we later surprised our family and friends with.

But in all seriousness, I have a question for you… my 3 faithful readers.

Did you plan more for your day-long wedding and festivities than you did for your lifelong marriage?

Most people do.  In fact, when you do a Google search on “planning for a marriage” Google suggests that planning for a WEDDING is what you’re really out to find.  So it comes back with wedding planning tips instead…

marriage #1

Planning for a marriage SHOULD take even more time and effort.  Newly married brides are probably laughing at me right now because they know how much work they put into their weddings… how could ANYTHING take up more time?

But it’s true.  Planning for a lifelong commitment takes more time and, believe it or not, more moxie.  And yet so many of us spend so little time doing that.  We fall in love with the idea of falling in love and it feels right so we jump in with both feet before we even have our first “lovers’ quarrel”.  And then we’re afraid of having our first fight so we bite our tongues, biting harder than we’ve EVER bitten our tongues.  And then we might even start resenting the other person for not knowing that we’re biting our tongues… and blaming them for not queuing in to the silence.  And… the list goes on.  But that’s another topic for another blog post.

Planning for a lifelong marriage commitment is serious business.  But good news… it probably won’t be as expensive as planning a wedding and reception!   But it will take some time, dedication and resilience.  And it will require 100% commitment from both parties.

You know what’s really sad?  I’ll leave you with this.  The same Google search about planning a marriage also includes search results for divorce.  As if Google is suggesting it was over before it even began.  Granted, in some cases it may have been.

 

marriage #2

My WHY is where I thrive!

INTRO:  Thank you to Simon Sinek and Janell Vonigas for helping me tap into my WHY.  Neither of you know me but thank you for the guidance, background, perspective, inspiration.

To Simon Sinek – I’m reading “Start with Why” (about 2/3 of the way through – and I’m totally digging it).  With each page I’ve become a bit more panicked over what my WHY is and just can’t tap into it.  Until today.  (Simon Sinek is an author best known for popularizing the concept of “the golden circle” and to “Start With Why”, described at a TED Conference as “a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership.)

To Janell Vonigas – Thank you for your tips in a recent biz Q&A video where you answered questions from your team and shared it with anyone that wanted to watch.  I had a total light bulb moment   And I’m not even on your biz team.  Thanks for freely sharing of your insight like you do!  (Janell Vonigas is a wife | mom | essential oil junkie | control freak | sassy pants.)

I’ve “been in the biz” for over a year now and am just now figuring out what my WHY.  Yes, a whole year later.  I tried to force it… nothing made sense to me until now.  I’ve actually enjoyed the learning process of figuring out what motivates/excites me and makes me stay up way past my bed time vs what brings me down and what tasks I procrastinate on.  So what biz am I talking about?  You know it doesn’t even matter… MY WHY is MY WHY.   And it’s MY WHY no matter what field I’m in.

But it would help if you had some perspective.  So I’ll tell you… but let me preface it with saying I had no business committing to anything else in my personal time.  At the time I decided to do the oily biz I was also doing the following:  working a full-time job, serving on a women’s ministry team (organizing community events / handling social media needs), writing regular blog posts / hosting guest bloggers on a regular basis, organizing / participating in vendor events (primarily vendors of handmade products), mentoring other vendors, managing social media / promotions for a local start-up and balancing home life.  Oh wait, I’m sure I’m leaving something out.  Oh yes!  And managing my own handmade products business out of my home – which included an Etsy shop, vendor events, etc.  You see, I had no business taking on another endeavor.

But I couldn’t help myself.  (The story of my life!)

So WHY did I decide to jump in with both feet in doing the oil biz when I was already over-tasked and over-scheduled?  Well… I’m glad you’re here.  It means you’re thinking about your WHY as well.  Keep reading…
why thrive cropped

MY WHY:  The Epiphany

First off, let me just share a bit about myself:

  1. I’m a complex person.  (For example: I appear to be an extrovert, but really I recharge when I’m by myself.  I understand that makes me more of an introvert.  Maybe I’m what people call an extroverted-introvert.  Or is it an introverted-extrovert?)
  2. I’m a creative person but I don’t always like to create things.
  3. I’m an analytical thinker but I don’t always like to be deep in analyzing mode.
  4. I love music.  I have a strong desire to have music on all the time.
  5. I have a deep spiritual faith.
  6. I’ve gone through a lot of trials in my lifetime and value each one as a learning opportunity, instead of being a victim because of them.
  7. I’ve been blessed beyond belief in my lifetime.  I do not deserve the goodness that has been bestowed on me.
  8. A lifetime of forgiveness and mercy is my story.  I’d love to tell you about it someday.
  9. I easily make friends of all ages, shapes/sizes, races, and religious beliefs.
  10. I’m part Bohemian and part Norwegian. ←— that explains a lot.

What does that all boil down to?  I’m a continual learner.

 

I live to learn new things.  I read books, ask questions, watch videos, surf the interwebs…

Additionally, I am deeply motivated by adding value to others’ lives.  I absolutely love having the opportunity to come alongside someone and show them something new or sharing a story with them.

I love to educate.  Even more so I love seeing the light bulb go on over someone’s head as they figure something out, or are driven to set a goal.

Even more so I love standing in the shadows and cheering those people on as they hustle to meet that goal and / or are blessed with opportunities to walk through doors that some never get to walk through.

I am big believer in using both hemispheres of the brain in day-to-day life – from planning a party to solving complex problems, while handling inter-personal issues and tackling a project a home and even while putting a grocery list together.  We are more fully ourselves when we utilize both sides of our brains – putting our creative AND analytical skills to work.

Wait a minute – you say you aren’t analytical?  Or didn’t get the creative gene?  I call balderdash!

Whether you believe it or not – you did.  You can creatively problem solve.  And you can skillfully have fun, being more analytical than you thought you were.  I promise.  You may have a dominant type, but you’re already using both sides of the brain right now whether you knew it or not.

If you have a “weaker” side, I challenge you to put yourself to the test.  GIve yourself a personal challenge… for your weaker side.  Go analyze something or go create something.  I guarantee you – you’re going to be better / do better / have more fun than you think.  I promise… go take a painting class, sit down and Google Excel tips if you want to learn how to do spreadsheets better… you get the point.  Just do it!

 

See?!  There I go… pushing you to get off your duff and go learn something.

In a nutshell, my WHY is to add value to others’ lives.  I live to see someone learn something.  I thrive on those light bulb moments.  I love to watch someone hit a goal they set for themselves and then hustle to accomplish that goal.

That’s My WHY.

I thrive when I put THAT to work… whether it be in a vocation, how I spend my personal time, where I volunteer my time, etc.  I have found my sweet spot.

All of the skills I’ve put to use in my lifetime merge here.  My WHY is where I thrive.

It’s a choice – Rejoice!

When we read Paul’s words in Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always”, let’s be careful not to read it wrong.  It’s not saying “Rejoice in all circumstances.”

rejoice

I listened to a recent message (via these amazing interwebs) by Pastor Ray Bentley at Maranatha Chapel and had to pass along some of these thoughts.

 

What this verse is saying is that no matter what your circumstances are… you can always rejoice in the Lord.  He’s always with you.  He will never forsake you.

Choose to rejoice – this is a choice.

It is possible to be hurt by circumstances and not be bitter.  it is possible to be so hurt by what comes into life that you know was allowed by God.  you are so hurt that you are weeping and you can’t stop weeping.  you are sorrowful.  you are so hurt that you feel like your world is upside down and inside out.  you could be so hurt that you’ve been betrayed… that you are depressed and hurt.  that’s not the same thing as bitterness.

It’s possible to be hurt and yet choose to rejoice in the Lord.  That’s a choice.

I can rejoice in Jesus and I know He knows what I’m going through because of what He went through on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweating rain drops of blood.  It’s ok to be hurt.

Bitterness is when you embrace it and love it and you are afraid to let go of the pain.  At some point God is going to say it’s ok that you’re hurt.  I understand that you’re hurt.  I’m not finished.  You’re not done.  This too shall pass.”

Don’t bow down to bitterness.  It will crush you.  It will consume you.  It will destroy you.

He is still sovereign.  He is the divine comforter.  You may still be hurt.  But don’t be bitter.

 

 

18 years ago today…

Let me tell you a little bit about May 27, 1997.  It was a Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day.

18 years ago today …

  • Hanson’s song “MMMBop” was the current hit on the radio.   Titanic was the big movie that year.  That takes you back, huh?
  • I can also tell you what I wore 18 years ago today… a periwinkle colored, double-breasted suit that has since been turned out to the landfill.
  • I experienced the first migraine of my life that day.
  • I can tell you I was in the bathroom puking for a good portion of the day (because of the migraine).
  • It was the worst day and the best day of my life, up to that point.

It was also the first day of my employment at Brandes.

I got myself up early that morning and drove to Del Mar (although the Del Mar-tians will tell you this part of town is called “Carmel Valley”).   And I met a whole group of people who would quickly become my daytime family.  I was hired shortly before this picture was taken… I think I was employee #159 (or something close to that).

group photo

I didn’t know I was getting ready to blossom.

In fact, I feel like this place has allowed me to flourish!  I’m a better person, employee, team-mate, leader, student, friend, etc … for what I’ve learned here in 18 years.  I’ve learned from my managers who became friends.  I’ve learned from friends who became managers.  I’ve learned from leadership and about leadership.  I’ve learned about conflict and how to avoid and/or resolve.  I’ve learned more about myself.  I’ve learned more about how to read others.  I’ve learned… period.  These past 18 years have been one long lesson in life… and it’s still going.  Daily, I’m learning something new.

There are almost two decades of memories floating around these halls (well, these halls and in the halls of our previous buildings as well).  There are a ton of fun stories to tell, and I even have some pictures as evidence as well… but not many of those will be shared here.

The firm has been around about twice as long as I have been … but it’s been my second home for the past 18 years.  Like a family we’ve been through our ups and downs.  We’ve lost “family members” to sickness and what not… but we’re never too far in spirit.

18 years is a long time to grow and blossom and flourish…  I’m grateful for every day.

And so, on a lighter note, I’ll leave you with this video…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHozn0YXAeE

Living the Dream

psalm374
I’m facing a bit of a crisis in my life… ok, I’m being a bit dramatic.  Beae with me on this one.  Several weeks ago someone complimented me on “living the dream”.  I don’t know if they were joking or jealous.  But being the literal person that I am… I responded, “What IS the dream?”

Wait.  Really.  Am I supposed to be living the dream?  What IS my dream?  Why don’t I know what my dream is?  There I stood at a cross roads. Do I even have a dream?

Honestly, I can see why people go through a midlife crisis… jumping from one opportunity to “follow their bliss” to the next until they figure out what their dream is… yeah, midlife crisis waiting to happen.   And the thought-tunnel for this blog post started there.  So, this topic has now been brewing for some time.  Wander down this path with me?


Dreamy things

Sure… they have happened to me… great, amazing, jaw-dropping opportunities have come my way.  I have a sweet looking life from my Facebook and Instagram posts:  I have an amazing (and good lookin’) hubby, adorable dog that loves me so much she could lick my face off, we’re living in a stylin’ place, drive some pretty great wheels, etc.  I have a blessed life.  I truly do.  Things have happened to me that I could have never dreamed up on my own.  And still I ran with them.  I mean, I literally RAN with them.  I was HANDED those opportunities – you better believe I jumped on board.

For instance, having some of my handcrafted creations featured in a national best-selling magazine?!  My response:  “Yes, Madam Editor, I’ll send you some of my designs so you can include them in a photo shoot.  Oh!  You want to put it on the COVER of the magazine?!  Sure – I’ll put something together for you STAT!”  I set to work to strategize how to make the logistics come together to meet their expectations in delivery time and quality of product.  I jumped on that opportunity train and rode it all the way out of the station…

Winning the middle school science fair?  OK!  (Yes, THIS, my friends, is the epitome of “success”!)  I won 2nd place!  The premise of my research and testing?  I sampled and tested the reading rate of various subjects when they read black letters on various colors of paper.  Yeah, that was a very scientific study and I’m sure the big publishing houses could benefit from this information.  I mean clearly, they’ll all want to use orange paper instead of white going forward, right?  Because it’ll help their readers get through the books faster and their customers will have time to buy/read more books.  Right?!  And as an astute 12-year-old I set out with a mind to win 2nd place knowing that, right?!  No.  But boy, I pushed myself to do the best I could in completing the task.

Finding an amazing love story and being brave enough to trust again (after dealing with years of horrendous pain and shame)…. landing an amazing job that gave me more opportunities to grow and explore… purchasing a home as a single woman (just years after being left with nothing)… enjoying the amount of globe-trotting I’ve done… the list goes on…

Spending 4 months of my life living/working in Geneva, Switzerland and getting a chance to roam around and travel the surrounding area on the weekends?  YES PLEASE!!!  Having my parents come out for a 10 day visit, giving my mom a chance to travel outside the USA for the first time?  Thank you, fancy company that I love working for, and working hard for!

Speaking of, having the opportunity to use my talents on a daily basis by adding value to a firm and their clients and their objectives… and for the most part enjoying doing it for over 18 years now!  I actually LIKE Mondays… yes, I’m weird.

Being asked to speak in church…  about sex… in Romania.  Craziness!  This is crazy because I was a woman speaking in a church in Romania at a time when women were not permitted to speak in church, let alone even sit next to their husbands.  Yes, in a Christian church.  Men sat on one side of the aisle, and the women sat on the other side of the aisle.  And there I was talking to the women of the church, on the stage, behind the pulpit, teaching them what the BIble says about the importance of sexually purity.  (And one of the male Romanian Pastors was standing just outside the back door listening in.)  Besides being so vulnerable about the topic, my presence behind that pulpit was laying some important groundwork for their future leadership roles among the other women in the church.  I can promise you, when I was five years old I never said to myself “When I grow up I want to leave a legacy for the women in the church of Romania.”  Never.  And yet I was given the opportunity and you better believe me when I say I ran with it.

Having some of my photographs published in poetry books, as cover art for a jazz album, in corporate calendars and marketing pieces, and more?  OK!  What a treat!!!  Did I take expensive and technical classes and use fancy equipment with hopes of being recognized for my superior skill?  No.  I just followed my gut and took pictures that appealed to my sense of style and feeling.  But I sure worked hard at balancing all of that creativity!  (wink)

 

I am not THAT lucky

Literally… I could not have dreamt these things up.  (If anyone would have told this girl who did horribly in ALL of her math courses that she would enjoy working at an investment firm probably would have been laughed at!)  I know that a lot of people dream and dream and pray and hope endlessly for good things to finally happen to them.  Not me.  I didn’t go out of my way seeking these amazing opportunities.  The doors opened and I saw the opportunities and I jumped on them!  I fully comprehend that I am blessed to have been given these opportunities.

But dare I say that I also worked HARD to prove I was worthy of these opportunities.  I am a perpetual learner.  I have constantly pushed myself to be the best ME I could be.  But to dream up these specific types of dreams?  No.  These things that have happened to me – these are things that wild dreams are made of.  I’m creative – but not that creative.  These were opportunities.  And as they say “opportunities are what dreams are made of”… right?  RIGHT?!


What do I want to do “when I grow up”?

So, here I am… still asking myself “What ARE my dreams?  Do I have a dream?  Do I know what I want to do ‘when I grow up’?  And is that my dream?”

And I’m feeling my mid-life crisis creep closer…  (wink)

OK – I can dream about financial freedom, more days off, a life of leisure on the back of a yacht with a mimosa in my hand.  I could dream of a quiet, simple life with no cares in the world.  I could dream of all the wealth this world can hold and more.  I could dream of a studio (my own creative space) for a place to play in all day long.  The list could truly go on…

And maybe I’d be happy with some of these things for a short period of time… but in reality I know I simply wouldn’t be fulfilled by any of these things.

I’m not kidding.  That’s just not how I’m wired.  That’s not to say that those things can’t be someone else’s dream.  But they aren’t mine.

 

A few things come to mind, but at first glance they seem more like items from a bucket list or personal goals.  But they aren’t really big fat “DREAMS”… are they?


Lori’s Bucket List

  • Write a book or two, maybe even finish that cookbook I’ve been threatening
  • Ride a zipline when I hit my next weight loss goal
  • Have coffee with Linda Carter (yes, seriously)
  • Hold the hands of my parents and grandparents as they take their last breaths
  • Go on a bike ride with George W. Bush (yes, seriously… ok, that one might be pushing it)
  • Take my husband to Romania, to give him a tour of the places and people who changed my outlook on life
  • Live in Paris for a month
  • Participate as an Honor Flight chaperone
  • Visit and tour Jerusalem and the countries of my heritage (Norway and Germany)
  • Go skydiving
  • Have my ashes scattered into the Black Sea – yes, I have a bucket list item for that too (hopefully not on the same trip as taking my hubby to Romania for a visit)
  • … the list goes on…

And that’s a really good start to a bucket list (you should see the things I’ve already marked off that list in my 40+ years).  And I’m sure this list will continue to grow over the years.  I am bound to set some more goals and I’ll work towards marking those off the list.  But in all honesty, it’s not my dying DREAM to sit down for coffee with Linda Carter.  I would just really like to do that one of these days.  

Which brings me to this question…  if all the wealth in the world or coffee with Linda Carter isn’t going to do it for me… then why am I here?


Why were we created?  

So here’s my question – what if the long-held belief of chasing our dreams / of following our bliss… was plain ol’ bad advice for living?  Are we really created for the purpose of finding and following our bliss?  Do we really get up every day, clean up and get dressed, and go out to our paying “day jobs”… just to work towards what we do when we’re old enough to retire?  Or is there more to this existence than that?  Logically I know there should be more to this life than that.

What if my purpose is beyond me?  What if focusing on what motivates me is more fulfilling than “living the dream”?  What if my purpose is to live a fulfilled life?  What if my purpose is meet some needs in others’ lives?  What if my purpose is way beyond my own hopes and dreams and the things I think I want out of life?

What if my purpose is to worship my Creator in everything I do?  What if He knew what truly fulfilled my inner drive and intertwined that into my reason for existence, my purpose?  What if He created me to use His gifts… and THAT was in turn “following my bliss”?  What if I am “living the dream”?

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

 

What if this day-to-day life (the life that sometimes looks mundane) is all about worshipping my Creator in everything I do?  What if I was created to be used by Him?  What if I was created to use the gifts He gave me to worship Him and in turn be literally ”living the dream?”


“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:10

This I know: I am fulfilled and I believe He is pleased during my acts of literal worship (singing) to using my talents (the physical act of honoring Him with my talents) to being obedient when He asks me to go out of my comfort zone and do something (that list is long).

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that living in His presence and under His wing of protection is where I’m supposed to be.  And when I listen for His direction and He opens doors of opportunity and guides me toward them?  At that moment, I am living out His plans for my life, and that often intersects with my place of fulfillment, and therefore my dream.


So, I think I’ve figured it out.  So, what IS my dream?  

My dream is multi-faceted:  1) I want to live a fulfilled life.  2) I long to use the gifts and talents He has given me to make a difference in the world.  3) I strive to be obedient to His plan for my life.  4) I desire to worship my Heavenly Father all along the way.

What’s cool about that?  My friend was right…  I am living the dream!


However, and for the record, I won’t turn down a request to have coffee with Linda Carter.  You know, just for the record…

A tribute to Pastor Chico Goff

The words shared from the pulpit this past Sunday were difficult words to hear.  And yet they were also therapeutic.  They were difficult to process, and yet it was a healing process.  Our Pastor, Chico Goff, announced his resignation.

These words, mirrored after a similar tribute written about my own father (also a Pastor) were penned on my heart several weeks ago… as I prayed the circumstances wouldn’t come to this.  But come to this, it did…

sheep

To my pastor (and friend), Chico Goff… thank you for your shepherd’s heart… 

He dedicated our children… and baptized our believers.

He married our young.

He held the hands of those dying… and sat with those losing their loved ones.

He buried our dead.

Mission Hills Church will sorely miss our shepherd.

He listened to our hearts and gave us comfort in sorrow… and stood with us as our wounded hearts cried out in despair.

He rejoiced with us in success.

His servant-like spirit challenged me to be a better leader, partner, spouse, friend, believer.

His willingness to be real with us spoke volumes.

His love for “doing life” together resonated deep in my soul.

He has been an adviser, a confidant, and a peacemaker.

He faithfully delivered the Word of God in service after service, and in the hallways and courtyard… in class after class, sermon upon sermon, lesson upon lesson… in thousands upon thousands of occasions.  He led us to truth and light and life… warned us of dangers… encouraged righteousness… and modeled humility.

He personally led many to Jesus Christ… and many more of us back to a relationship with Christ.

He allowed for those of us who were hurt to be hurt and take the time to heal.  He gave us the space we needed to learn to trust again.

For me he has modeled patience… godliness… gentleness… integrity… stability… kindness… faithfulness… sound leadership… wisdom… brotherly love.

He has sacrificed for us, because he loves us.  As my shepherd he humbly led me when I was lost.

In my life, for a decade, but for thousands of others for nearly two decades… and in a million different ways… he has shown us Jesus.

Pastor Chico … you will be greatly missed.

2015 LOVE Series…

The last of the 2015 LOVE Series posts has been brewing for years.  Admittedly, I have written it, and re-written it from many angles… but in my opinion it cannot be written any better than how it is shared on this website:  Ministry Tools Resource Center

I ran into this site many years back… and I keep coming back to it. Ministry Tools Resource Center is committed to equipping teachers, leaders, and others serving within the local Christian church.

And so we reflect on this wisdom for today’s final post in the 2015 LOVE Series… what it means to BE THE CHURCH, in our modern-day.  I found this post and just have to share it.

Let’s start with this…

 “The primary purpose of the church is the same as it was for God’s people from the beginning of time. Jesus clearly summed up all the commandments of the law and all the preaching of the prophets with a small but powerful word — LOVE.”  – Ministry Tools Resource Center

 

Unchanging Aspect of God’s Purpose

“Jesus’ first commandment in Matthew 22:37 reiterated what was already commanded to His people back in Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind/strength.” All that you are and all that you have is to be poured into loving God.

The first four of the Ten Commandments describe ways people could show their love to God by keeping Him first, by honoring Him, and by remembering Him. The remaining six commandments communicate love for people by doing them no harm but rather good. Love for God will spill over into love for people. If we do not love people, we should question our love for God. 1 John 4:20-21)

God’s purposes have not changed in the church age. “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 Jn. 3:11). “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 Jn. 4:21). Jesus said that by such love “all men will know you are my disciples” (Jn. 13:34-35).

 

Ability to Fulfill God’s Purpose

What has changed is that the Christian has a greater motivation, a greater power, and a greater confidence “to live a life of love,” as commanded in Ephesians 5:1-2, than those in previous ages.

A Greater Motivation: Prior to the church, people could only look forward to the highest example of love — the death of Jesus. We stand on the other side of the cross, looking back at what He has done. We have a fuller understanding of what love is which becomes a source of motivation for us to love as He loved. (1 Jn. 3:16)

A Greater Power: Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples the Holy Spirit who would come and permanently dwell within them. The Spirit always existed and always worked but in the Old Testament time He came on people temporarily as the occasion required to do a work for God. As we live by the Spirit within us, we will “not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” but rather exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, primary of which is love (Gal. 5:1622-23). We have a Helper within us unlike those in previous ages.

A Greater Confidence: When Jesus died, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in half symbolizing the direct access we now have to God. We no longer must go through the human agent of a priest. We are direct recipients of all God has to give us. That builds within us a boldness to approach God’s throne and a confidence to love as He loves. (1 Jn. 4:16-18)
The purpose is the same but the Church is in a unique position to fulfill God’s purpose. Of all people through all times, we should have the motivation, power, and confidence to move out in ways that show love for God and love for people. “