Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do What You Love

What is contentment? What does it look like? How do you know you’ve found it?

Well, one thing it is not is “settling.” This is a concept I’m still working out. I’m reading a book called “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” – the co-founder of Apple computers. I think that sometimes settling for something can feel or look like contentment. But it isn’t really. It can begin as contentment. But if what starts out as contentment doesn’t move you to carry out your mission in life, then it ceases to be contentment and degrades into settling. Here’s a quote from the book:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for yourjobs lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” (Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University, quoted in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, page 21).

It would be easy to dismiss because Steve Jobs is a multi-billionaire. The perception is that he must be greedy – the opposite of contentment. But if you do a little digging into who Steve Jobs is, you will find that he really does epitomize contentment instead of greed. He found something he loved and did that with his life – not to make gobs and gobs of money but because he simply loved to do it.

And Steve Jobs didn’t stop with the Apple ][ computer, but moved on to the Macintosh. He didn’t stop at the Macintosh but continued until the iPod was introduced. He didn’t stop there but continued with the iPhone and then the iPad. He doesn’t need the money – which is easy to say now that he’s got billions. But Steve Jobs was content with having nothing, as long as he was able to do what he loved.

Like I said, I’m still working through this idea but so far it seems to be a good illustration on contentment versus greed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where Is God?

Sometimes people run away from God. They are basically good people. They were brought up by faithful parents, when to church and youth group all through high school. They may even have felt a certain calling from God.

But then they get scared and they ran from God’s calling.

Like Jay. jonah

Jay was a good man. He was financially secure. He paid off his mortgage and financially was able to do just about anything he wanted. He also was a godly man. He worshiped God regularly. He tithed willingly. He prayed daily. He thanked God for blessing Him. He prayed for his friends and family. He asked God to forgive him when he sinned. He talked to God every day.

One day God answered back.

He told Jay to go to a far away city and tell the leaders and people of that city that they need to change their ways or God will destroy them.

This did not sit well with Jay. He did not want to do it. So, instead of going to this city, Jay booked passage on a ship going in the opposite direction. Jay was a godly man, but he didn’t want to do this. Even though God asked Him to do it. So he ran away.

God found him.

God sent a storm, threatening Jay and everyone on the ship. Jay didn’t even wake up from a nap.

God made it so Jay was thrown overboard. A giant fish swallowed Jay whole. And Jay had three days in the stomach of this fish to think. To really think about where his life was at that moment.

And Jay prayed to God:

I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me….

Jay tried to run away from God. But God found Him and Jay ran back to God. He went on to do what God asked Him to do.

There are other people who feel like God has run away from them. They are also good people. They may even hear a calling from God and answer that calling. But there comes a time, maybe even a season of time, where it seems like God has run away from them.

But everything I’ve read in the Bible tells me that this isn’t the case. Not for those who are men or women seeking the will of God, seeking to be after God’s own heart.

God never runs away from a person who seeks Him.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…. (Acts 17:26-27)

So cry out to God – like Jay did. If you have trouble finding the cry outwords, use the Book of Psalms.

Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. Psalm 5:2

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! Psalm 17:1

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! Psalm 27:7

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2

To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy…. Psalm 30:8

God will answer you. How do I know this? Because this has been my own experience. I have cried out to God when it has seemed like He has abandoned me and I found that He’s been here all along. Why didn’t I see Him? Why didn’t I experience His peace? Maybe it was because I was so caught up in my own troubles I wasn’t looking to God all the time. Yes, I was praying. But maybe I was praying in such a way that I was mouthing the words but just going through the motions. Maybe I wasn’t praying in faith that God would actually do something.

That’s been my experience. God has broken through to me to show me that He is here, that He was never really at all far away.

And He has shown me that He has a plan for my tomorrows and the rest of my life.