Archives for posts with tag: passion

delight heart

Our culture seems fixated on finding passion. Channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon shows sports fans that pay lots of money to attend games where they can be part of the crowd, enthusiastically cheering for their team. Jerseys, foam fingers, and face paint are evidence of the depth of passion for their team.

We like the thrill of being caught up in the moment, and we pursue that thrill every chance we get. But the thrills we pursue are so often short lived. We have substituted  pornography for intimacy, sex for love. The passion of our political arguments usually change nothing but the other person’s opinion of us, not their politics. We choose to be a part of the cheering crowd, rather than a participant in the event. The delights of our hearts in those moments are short lived and, too often, disappointing.

I thoroughly enjoy a close score or race. It is exciting to watch people give their all in pursuit of their goal. But the outcome of the match or game rarely matters in the grand scheme of life. The thrill of that moment…only lasts for a moment. Sex becomes the impediment, rather than the first step, to deep relationship. Two weeks from now, a year from now, we spectators may not even be able to remember which teams played, much less the score. Our passion from the “stadium seats” doesn’t really impact anything but our moment and their advertising dollars. The events that bring a smile to our hearts for the rest of our lives come only from lives invested in the relationship, in the victory. We can’t know profound victory from the cheap seats. We spend our passion in pursuit of things that do not feed our souls.

God created us with the capability for deep passion. Our free will governs what passions we will pursue. What feels good in the moment may disappoint us in the long run. What is difficult in the moment may fulfill us in the long run.

What would change if we were as passionate for the things of God as we are for things of this world? How would those around you be impacted if your passion for God was as obvious as your political opinion? How would your life be different if your most enthusiastic moments were in the presence of God, rather than in front of your TV? If the thrill of your life was seeing God at work in the situations of your life, rather than just being a spectator of someone else’s success?

Many believers see Lent as a time to sacrifice – to consecrate themselves – to remove things from their life that threaten their purity or to use the desire for those things to remind themselves to pray in order to deepen their relationship with and understanding of God, to increase their holiness. God commands us to be holy – to be set apart from this world, and when we consecrate ourselves to that end, He will do mighty things for us, in us, and through us.

Don’t settle for the temporary, shallow thrills of this world. Don’t just study the stories of others who knew God. Ask God for a front row seat to his power and presence in your own story with Him. Let this season of Lent be a time when you intentionally, consistently expect Him in your day, and let your life show evidence of increasing holiness and decreasing worldliness. Ask God to give you the desires of His heart as you seek Him with all of your heart.

what is your why

Lately, God has been walking me through some deep, difficult questions. The more I study the way biblical people answered those questions, the more I recognize that my answer to “why” I do what I do matters so much more than “what” I want to do.

I heard a fascinating interview with Simon Sineck. He has written a book called Start with Why. In the interview he said, “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” Sinek’s philosophy is not scripture based, but he has captured biblical truth in his philosophy. “Finding ourselves” is not about discovering what we want; we see ourselves most clearly when we begin to understand ourselves in connection to God.

God has given us the answer to “why”. We are intentionally created in his image to know him and be in relationship with him. Everything else about our lives is a “what”. He gifts each of us uniquely and individually that may make our “what” look different from others, but ultimately our “what” is less important than our “why”. Your gift may lead you to work with numbers or children, to teach or organize. Your faithfulness in using your gift will make all the difference to your joy and the needs of those around you. But that gift, in and of itself, is not your purpose. What you do with that gift, why you use it, is your purpose. A teacher whose purpose is to win an award or gain notoriety is very different from a teacher who seeks to educate his students. When we focus on the “what” of our gifts, we may very well lose sight of the “why”.

But when our gifts and our passion merge, there is a thrill and joy that makes whatever we sacrifice seem insignificant. I seriously doubt that Mozart’s mother had to bribe him to practice his harpsichord or that Leonardo da Vinci’s parents had to make him study. Pick any professional sports player today….chances are he was the last one to leave the field or court when practice was over. Mother Theresa didn’t resent the sick who needed her attention; Billy Graham isn’t bored by Bible study. The goal of each of those was never just to “do it one more time”; the goal was always to improve their “what” so that their “why” improved.

When I have a clear understanding of why I do what I do, my choices become much easier. So much of my wasted time and selfish behavior occurs when I focus on what, rather than why. If my home is about my family, my focus will be on their protection and blessing. When they spill something on my freshly scrubbed floor, my response shouldn’t be based on the floor; it should be based on my family. When my quiet time with God is about hearing from him and finding fresh understanding of his word, I move into my day knowing I’m loved and blessed beyond measure, regardless of my circumstances. When my quiet time is simply something I do because I feel I should, I move into my day with one more thing checked off my “to do” list.

How would our marriages be different if we were more focused on the health of the marriage than on what our spouse does that displeases us? How much more effective would our government leaders be if their goal was to serve and protect the people who elected them to office and focus less on their own reelection? If the church focused on making disciples and proclaiming the gospel, rather than dividing itself over issues that matter far more to us than they do to God? How would our lives be different if our energy was invested in learning to love and serve God, rather than demanding the love and service of those around us?

This day, choose to be defined by your why. Recognize that you are utterly loved by God. Let your choices and actions, your attitudes and behaviors be a reflection of his love in you. Joyfully invest your “what” in your “why”.

The Passion of a Story

He brought the stories and the history to life. He told me things I didn’t know and brought new meaning to details I knew, but hadn’t thought were significant. People and stories of the Bible that I only understood on the black and white pages of my Bible became real, 3-D, live action adventure stories. His great love for his country and his deep knowledge and understanding of its past and present led me to see what he sees and begin to love what he loves. I am only one face out of thousands of tourists that he introduced to his country, but for me, he is the face of Israel.

Ezra Eini was a soldier in the Six Day War. He and his wife raised their three boys (one of whom was killed by terrorists) in a nation constantly threatened by violence, and he has dedicated his life to teaching about the place and the people that God chose for himself. His passion for his country, his knowledge and his professionalism, mixed with humor and genuine compassion, make him the ideal ambassador to introduce people like me to his culture and country. I am forever changed by what I saw and learned, and I have encouraged everyone I know to go and experience what I experienced.

His calling is as a guide and teacher for tourists in the country of Israel. He stripped away the façade built by the American media and helped us see Israel as it actually is. But it occurs to me that every Christian has the same calling he does. Ecc 3:11 says that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” God wants to be known and loved by his people, and our first priority is to be in relationship with him. But because he loves all of us, we are required to be guides and teachers for God to those who don’t yet know him. During the course of my life, I have learned things about God that others need to know. After years of study, I understand things about his word and the stories contained in scripture that have given me hope and understanding and peace. Those stories have given me the courage to trust God as they did, and now I have some stories of my own.

God recorded his word as our Bible, but he didn’t intend for us to just know its stories. He wants each of us to come to understand his love for us as demonstrated in those stories, and trust him enough to have our own stories with him. True change doesn’t occur by accumulating facts. I could have read a book on Israel and learned a lot. But experiencing it, learning about it through the heart of one who loves it, made it significant to me, helped me learn to love it as well. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said, “Go and make disciples.” (Matt 28:19) He didn’t say “Go give information”; making disciples involves relationship and change in perspective and expectation.

God calls each of us to be his ambassadors. We’re not all preachers or teachers, but once we have a story of how God has worked in our lives, he requires that we share it so others can see him, can know his power, and can learn to love what he loves. He has “set eternity in our hearts” because he wants us to find comfort and delight in what he has planned for us, regardless of the circumstances we face this day.

May your love for God and your story of his love for you be the means by which God introduces himself to someone you know. May your love for your Savior and Lord lead others to see him as he is, and may your passion and your story inspire others to trust and obey and more deeply love the God who loved them first.