My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Who Is Your Hero?

In the beginning of each semester in the College Success course I teach I ask the students a question, “Who is a hero that you look up to?”. Some students look quizzically at me so I explain further what I mean. Who do they admire and respect to the point that they would like to be like that person? Often the response is a family member or relative. Some mention historical figures or religious figures. Every now and then a comic book hero comes up. It is an important question as it is helpful as to how we shape our lives. Often a significant person has an effect on how we shape our lives. As we view people or read stories of people of high ethical character, courage, and creativity their stories and life examples can encourage us to improve how we live our lives.

I mention the importance of heroes as I just finished reading the book – The Heroes of Faithfulness by Steve Barckholtz. He is a former Pastor who has followed a career path that he feels God has called him to as a full-time writer. His book is an in-depth look at Hebrews chapter 11. Over the years I have heard many sermons on Sundays about Hebrews 11. Often the messages call the chapter the Bible’s Hall of Fame. The chapter is a listing of many of the famous Biblical cast of characters: Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, David and many others that people often look up to from the Old Testament. Is this chapter simply about hero worship of these people?

Steve in his book offers a twist on the often considered thought that this is a chapter concerning the heroes of the faith that we should look up to. He takes the reader through a personal look at each of these biblical characters showing their human failings. He reminds us that they are people just like us not to be worshiped. He then shows though, how God had a unique plan for each of them that was developed not by their own greatness but by their faith in a Faithful God. The book opens the reader’s eyes to the real hero of the chapter. The hero we should be following is God. He is the faithful one who will not disappoint and faithfully be there in our time of need.

Steve Barckholtz, by reminding us to keep our hero eyes on Jesus, we can trust Him to work out God’s plan for each of our lives. The stories that we are reminded of in Hebrews 11 are of people who followed the faithfulness of God with a deep faith and accomplished amazing things for God. Moses a man on the run for murdering an Egyptian became the man who led Israel out of bondage. David started out as a shepherd and youngest of his family but became the great King of Israel. One of my favorites, the story of Joseph who endured abuse and injustice throughout much of his life, was one who would have had every reason to turn his back on God with a chip on his shoulder. Instead Joseph kept his faith in God and was lifted up to a position to preserve Egypt and God’s people Israel during a great time of famine.

I was struck by Steve’s description for the type of faith God desires in our lives. He taps into Jesus’ parable of the Mustard seed in Matthew 13. He reminds the reader what Jesus was getting at, was not to simply stay with faith the size of a small seed but the listener in those times would understand the mustard seed would grow as he describes it, “an outrageously large, wild and unkempt tree.” (page 225). He goes on to say the God does not want us to live with minimal just getting by faith but a faith that is “large, crazy, wild and out of control”. Meaning -- out of our control but living in God’s faithful control. Living out God’s plan for our lives. That is a very challenging thought on how to live our life but it fits well my thinking which has been the basis for my blogging – Living More Than OK. We are meant for living a great life for God.

Reflection: Reflect over who is a hero in your life? What Bible character have you especially connected with in your reading of the Bible? What does it mean to you to have God as your hero? What does it mean to have a large wild and crazy faith?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Career Calling As Being Or Doing?

This is the time of year for graduations from high schools, colleges and universities. It is a time of year when students are moving from their education into looking for jobs and their first career area. Many of them go forward with passion and dreams desiring to move into their calling for their life that they have studied so hard for, be it in the area of healthcare, education, business or some other career area. Many times the lofty dreams run smack dab into the harsh realities of difficulties in the workplace. Or as we see now simply difficult economic times trying to find a job. I was reminded afresh of this time period as we recently watched the movie, This Is Our Time.

The movie looks at the lives of 5 young Christian university graduates full of excitement as to how they plan to shake up the world with their career dreams and their education. The story continues to show instead of seeing their dreams come true shows them running in to difficulties and tragedies of their own making and happenstance occurrences. Knowing this was a Christian movie I was afraid it would be a syrupy and sappy story of showing how everything magically falls into place in life for Christians. This in reality rarely happens. Instead the story delves into a real life possible tragedy that forces the main characters to battle with doubt of where God is at in times of trouble. It also looks at the complexities of their career lives and the subject of having a calling in one’s life.

The mentor for the group of students is a former Professor of theirs who on the subject of calling brings up the idea that following a calling is not just what you are doing in your job, but a matter of being. Who are you in your core values and inner being? With careers, when the subject of calling is discussed it often is looked at from the standpoint of following a particular career path. It is the job that you are “doing”. The Professor was trying to have them look at the inward view of who they were in their core values as a major part of calling. From their standpoints of being Christians, the professor was trying to get across to them whether they were doing sandwich making or missions work in India, were they building up the values of Christ internally in their hearts and minds?

Personally for me I see calling as both doing and being. The doing reminds me the Apostle Paul’s statement in Colossians 3:23 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men”. All that we do; and of course our work is a doing, we should do with passion as serving God not the boss or supervisor. Then the being side of calling relates in my thinking to another writing of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1 & 2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This moves beyond mere doing as Paul speaks of the transforming of the mindset that affects our core values internally.

The movie, This Is Our Time, has a thoughtful story line that challenges how we use our time on this journey here on earth. It also reminded me to think through how I am following His calling in my personal and work life – the doing and being of life.

Reflection: What comes to mind as you think of life calling? Do you think it is more doing or being?