The Impact of a Life Well Lived

We can not measure the impact we have upon others. Parents teach their children to care for others above themselves by modeling that very attitude in the everyday mundane-ness of life. Teachers impact their students far beyond the curriculum by their personal carriage and deportment. So it is in the really important matters of life as well.

There have been many whose impact on my life can be measured by my own reckoning. Others have made their mark in ways I can not distinguish or remember. Some have come into my life and passed through in what seemed to be a few insignificant encounters. Others have been a presence for a much longer period.We can never know the long-term impact. So it is with my impact upon others.

The death graduation of one man has prompted this reflection. I heard of him from others and did not quite know what to do with their accounts of his faith, especially given his past. Then I met him. I still did not know what to do with him, but I could no longer discount him.

His faith was simple yet overwhelming in its simplicity. Even in his parting word to his son as he slipped out of his physical body and into eternity, I am bewildered and led. “Its been a blast!” were the whispered words of another Stephen, willing to go wherever and do whatever God’s Spirit directed, always displaying the excitement of the adventure and the trust in his Parent like a child going through Disneyland.

God knows how many were led, not just pointed toward, but led to Jesus by Bob. I have been forever changed, and he probably had no idea the impact God had on me through him. May I be the “All In” servant used by God to impact others so profoundly. May you be as well.

Photo: Bob Hughey

An Accurate Understanding Is Important

It is reported that in 2012 a mid-level Taliban commander walked up to an United States Army checkpoint in Afghanistan presenting himself for a $100.00 “award.” For proof he was carrying a “wanted” poster with his name and picture on it. The poster was advertising a “reward.”

As ridiculous as that sounds, it is reported to be true. It is not any more ridiculous, perhaps not as ridiculous as an emotionally charged disciple who has not really checked in with God’s instruction (the Bible) about God’s expectations. This person may flit around constructing his/her own list of what God surely must want. The apostle Paul said the Hebrew people, his kinsmen, were doing that back in his day.

“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:1-3 NIV).

Being “All In” as a follower of Jesus is more than zeal. It is also more than knowledge. It is a living out of both: zeal driven by understanding what the Creator of the Universe wants from His servants. Admittedly, it is a constant evaluation, adjustment, re-evaluation process.

That Taliban commander, Mohammed Ashan, would have done well to check his understanding of the poster before becoming a prisoner instead of a “winner” of $100. You and I will do well to stay busy working on our understanding of God’s Word as we zealously go about doing “good works that He afore prepared” (Ephesians 2:10).

It is time consuming, but that should be no deterrent for someone who is “All In.”

photo credit: Checkpoint security via photopin (license)

What To Do?

Sometimes it is not easy to know what to do, even as an “All In” disciple. The principles are clear:

  1. Everything I do is to be focused upon God’s Will and His Purposes;
  2. My interactions with other people are always to be focused on the best interests of the other person(s).

But it is not always easy to balance the best interests of others. As a parent, do I punish or immediately release the stress on the child? It is a judgement call. It is certainly easier on the parent and child to release, but is that in the best interest of the child in the long term? After all, wisdom is birthed in “pain,” whether physical or emotional. Do I cheat my child the opportunity for wisdom because it is easier for me, the parent?

The same question arises in holding adults accountable for wrongs, whether lies, thefts, or assaults. When to show grace… before accountability… or after? It requires judgement, and your judgement and mine will not always be the same.

What is ultimately important is not that you and I agree on each situation, but that you and I are always motivated by the principles, both #1 & #2. God is gracious regarding matters of judgement. He’s not so gracious in matters of self-focused rebellion.

What to Do? Love God and His purposes and focus on what’s ultimately best for others. Then do the best you can with those firmly planted as intent. Let God do His work after that.

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

 

photo credit: A study in human nature, being an interpretation with character analysis chart of Hoffman’s master painting “Christ in the temple”; (1920) via photopin (license)

Adaptation Required

I admit that I am slow to change my metaphors. I automatically think in terms I grew up using. I recently, trying to compliment a waitress for her prompt service said, “You are faster than a speeding bullet. How are you with tall buildings?”

The young woman looked at me like I had one eyeball in the center of my forehead, even though she smiled. When I explained the reference to “Superman,” she just shrugged her shoulders and politely excused herself.

She did not “know” Superman. She was too young to have spent time reading his comics, besides, how many people read comics today? I suspect fewer still read Superman. I was using American English like she spoke, but it was still a different language.

Being “All In” requires that I adapt as best I can to the modern vernacular and points of reference. After all, my task is to represent the Master. The Apostle Paul captured the concept when he wrote: I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). More to the point is 1 Corinthians 14:9: Fewer words with understanding is better than many that do not communicate (my own paraphrase).

Holding on to my comfort zone is not to be my priority. After all, I am “All In.” Are you?

photo credit: Best waitress ever! via photopin (license)

The Time For Talk Is Over

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161-180 AD was a Stoic philosopher (among other things) and is reported to have said: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

Persecutions of Christians ramped up during his reign, though there is some question as to his active involvement in the process. Be that as it may, his statement is reminiscent of the story Jesus told the Jewish lawyer who had asked Him: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

That question was the springboard from which Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan” and ultimately made the stinging point to His antagonist: “This do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:28). This was a pointed answer because the Jewish “lawyers” of the time didn’t “do” anything. They just, as my friend Charles Coil said, “polished frog hairs down to the size of gnat’s whiskers.”

Godliness and righteousness is not something that can be practiced without doing. Not much of the “doing” can be done wearing anything other than “work clothes.”

Interested in being an “ALL IN” disciple? Then stop talking about it.

Do it.

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Spoiled Milk Is Still White

There are few things that elicit as rapid a response as chugging a mouth full of spoiled milk. Some people can smell the putrification without opening the container. Some do not have the ability to detect the condition by smell. One thing is for certain, spoiled milk usually still looks like unspoiled milk.

The long term impact of misjudging milk, while unpleasant, isn’t serious for most. The long term impact of other misjudgments are often more dire. Are the car tires safe? Are the propane tank fittings properly secured? Is my mentor really looking out for my best interests?

While the questions above are centered on other things and other people, the same questions really should be directed inwardly. Am I really God’s person? Am I God’s person no matter the cost, inconvenience, or immediate consequence?

Posturing and pretending to be God’s impacts eternity, both mine and those gullible to the point of following my lead. Hence the warning: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

There is a certain power and prestige that comes with having others think of you as a wise teacher. Jesus encountered some who reveled in the notariety, but did not trouble themselves by becoming: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

Being deceitful is worse than being blatantly defiant. Jesus likened it to a mouth full of spoiled milk, or in this case a tepid drink: “…because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). It takes professional help to misunderstand that!

Better to be “ALL IN” than to be spit out.

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