Pursuit Of Happiness?

I was driving behind an SUV this morning which had the following decal on its rear window—

In Pursuit Of Happiness

Interesting. So I began having an imaginary conversation with the driver of the SUV. (Don’t laugh; you know you’ve done the same thing with other drivers on the road!)

“So is the day a complete waste if you’re unhappy because you got fired? Or because it rained when you planned a picnic? Or because the ice cream store was out of your favorite flavor?

“How far will you go in your pursuit of happiness? Would you cut corners? Would you compromise your values? Would you break the law?”

I like what John Piper says,

“The chief end of man is not just to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. And if we don’t enjoy Him, we don’t glorify Him.”

The pursuit of happiness will leave you disappointed. The pursuit of happiness will tempt you to cut corners.

But the pursuit of God’s glory and the enjoyment of His favor will never leave you disappointed nor cause you to compromise a thing. And do you know what else: the pursuit of God will bring a deep-down joy that will bubble up in happiness.

Instead of pursuing happiness, pursue God with all you got.

I’m in this pursuit with you today!

Moving Day(s)

Today’s the day! We’re moving out of Whitmore Lake (our home for the last 7+ years) and heading to Cedar Springs. It’s a day for both see-ya-later’s and great-to-see-ya’s. And it’s a couple of days to load up and then unload the moving truck.

Would you like to lend a hand? If you’re around and available, we’d appreciate the help. Here’s the schedule:

Friday (8/28) — the pizza will arrive at noon at our Whitmore Lake home. After we eat we’ll be loading up the truck. My friends that have some experience in this tell me that we’ll have everything loaded by about 3:00pm.

Saturday (8/29) — the coffee and sweet treats will be ready at 10:00am at our Cedar Springs home, and we’ll begin unloading the truck around 11:00am.

If you can help (packing/unpacking or carrying) at either location for even 30 minutes, we would be very grateful for the help. Or if you can only stop by for 60 seconds to say “goodbye” or “hello,” we would be grateful for that too.

Gotta go pack some more boxes….

The Compliment Of Application

As a pastor, sometimes I wonder if all of the time and effort I put into prayer, study, message prep, and message delivery are effective. How do I gauge my effectiveness?

One word: application.

I love seeing people not just listening, but doing. Applying what they’ve heard and what’s been revealed to them by the Holy Spirit is the greatest compliment a congregation could give a pastor.Sophie

So I am absolutely thrilled to see the incredible folks from Calvary Assembly of God so quickly applying what we’ve been discussing!

My inaugural series was called “I My Church.” We looked at the practical ways the Acts 2 Church turned dechurched people—those who knew about God but didn’t have a personal relationship with Him—into those who ’d their church. How exciting it is to see such immediate application in our community.

Just a couple of examples:

  • The message board in the lobby immediately sported the message “You are the church.”
  • Stephanie helped Sophie get into the act with her new t-shirt.
  • A group of our Impact! students volunteered their afternoon yesterday packing more food boxes than they could count for the needy.
  • Last week we cleaned the house of a woman recovering from hip surgery.
  • Tomorrow we’re helping a family move into their new house.

Wow, am I a proud pastor! I can’t wait to see how God is going to continue to use this group of committed people to change the world!

Undecided Or Uncommitted?

I’ve noticed a concerning trend in our busy culture. It’s in the way we can parse our words to make others think we are saying one thing, while we are actually giving ourselves an “out” in case we need it. You know, giving ourselves a little wiggle room.

Let me illustrate. I ask someone, “Are you going to the party on Friday night?” And the answers I get sound like this:

  • “I’m planning on it.”
  • “Sure gonna try.”
  • “It looks like I’ll be there.”

They walk away smiling, and I’m left standing there wondering, “Was that a yes? Are they really going to be there? Or are they keeping their options open in case a better offer comes along?”

Even on Facebook’s event invitations, I have the option to check “Attending,” “Not Attending” or “Maybe Attending.”

Are we truly undecided? Or are we uncommitted to our decisions?

Here’s the danger in being undecided about something as innocent as going to a party: The indecision anywhere can start a pattern that carries over to every part of my life, and then undecided in one area can easily be uncommitted in all areas.

The greatest danger: being uncommitted to the life God has called you and me to live.

  • “God, I’ll follow You anywhere (as long as I have a comfy bed every night).”
  • “I’m totally committed to You (but I have to take care of my family).”
  • “I’ve put You first (but I want to have some fun too).”

Undecided … parsing words … giving yourself an out … saying what you haven’t committed to … Jesus directly addressed the dangers of this type of speech—

And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it, or saying, “God be with you,” and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say “yes” and “no.” When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong. (Matthew 5:33-37, The Message)

If you say “yes,” make your “yes” mean “yes.” Or else, just say “no.”

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Not my words, but Christ’s: “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”

Decide … commit … say it … mean it.

Fall Down Attitude

Fall

This Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God we start a brand new series called Fall: We all fall, but falling doesn’t have to be fatal. If we have the right attitude about it, the times that we fall can be some of the most instructional times of our lives.

A man with a great fall down attitude was Thomas Alva Edison. Check out these snippets from this inventor’s life:

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed.” —Edison’s answer to a newspaper reporter’s question about how he felt about his 10,000 failed attempts to perfect the incandescent light bulb

“Son, there’s great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God we can start all over again.” —Edison, at age 67, speaking to his son Charles while they were watching his laboratory being destroyed by fire

“I’ve had a lot of success with failure.”

Falling down doesn’t have to be fatal. With the right attitude, falling down can be one of the most instructional times of our lives. Come join me on Sunday morning at 10:30am to hear more about the attitude that makes success out of failure.

Just One

DSCN0821“If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (Jeremiah 5:1).

Through just one person’s pursuit of righteousness, God will save an entire city! One person.

Just one.

Just one who decides to not give in to sin. Just one who is a radical counter-culturalist. Just one who fears God and is not afraid of man’s reaction. Just one who deals honestly. Just one who seeks God’s truth.

Just one.

“When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immoveable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed my world.” —Written on the Westminster Abbey tomb of an eleventh-century Anglican bishop

God is looking for just one in your family. Will you be that one?

God is looking for just one in your city. Will you be that one?

God is looking for just one at your work. Will you be that one?

It takes just one for God to do something amazing—just one.

Please, be that just one.

The Q Series

The Q Series

I l-o-v-e answering questions.

One of the best Q&Aers in history was Jesus. Take a look through the Gospels and take note of the question marks. People were always asking Jesus questions. Some He answered very directly, and some He answered with a question of His own so that the questioner could learn the answer through self-discovery. Whatever His method, Jesus addressed all of their questions.

In our Impact! youth service, I’m turning the agenda over to our students. For the next three weeks they are throwing out the Qs and I’m going to attempt to come up with the biblical As. If that sounds scary… it is! I know I’m going to get some very challenging questions.

You can be involved too. Feel free to submit a question or two. I won’t use your name (unless you want me to). You can get your questions to me in several ways:

  • Comment on this post below.
  • Through Facebook.
  • Through Twitter.
  • By using an anonymous form at the church.

Then come and join us over the next three Wednesdays at 7:00 PM for The Q Series as I attempt to answer your questions. It’s going to be great!

Pursuing

“They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves” (Jeremiah 2:5).

Simple principle: I become what I pursue.

Pursuing things that will not last into eternity is worthless, and the pursuit of them will make my life worthless too. Allow me to elaborate with a few modified quotes:

“For where your [pursuit] is, there your heart will be also” (Jesus).

“All [pursuits] that are not eternal are eternally useless” (C.S. Lewis).

“But more than anything else, put God’s [pursuits] first and do what He wants” (Jesus).

“The impulse to [pursue] God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are [pursuing] Him we are already in His hand” (A.W. Tozer).

“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each of us has [pursued]. The fire will show if a person’s [pursuit] had any value” (Paul).

“The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he [pursues]” (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus).

“I love those who love Me, and those who [pursue] Me always catch Me” (God).

“‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will [pursue] his principles unto death” (Thomas Paine).

As each week wraps up, I’m trying to remember to ask myself, “Did I pursue the right things this week? Were my pursuits eternal and God-honoring?” Good questions. Perhaps you could take some time to assess your pursuits too.

Remember, you will become what you pursue, so pursue wisely.

Opposites

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. (Solomon)

Everything in life has an opposite.

For every hello, there’s a goodbye.

Every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else.

Sweet has its bitter, and bitter has its sweet.

Your day may be gloomy, but the sun will shine.

You may have sorrow, but there will be joy.

You may be in the dark night of your soul, but a bright dawn will appear.

Just remember: God has made everything beautiful in its time.

Too Busy

Life’s coming at me way too fast today!

Like a runaway commuter train.

I’ve got way too much to get done today!

Like a shorthanded deli owner at the peak of the lunch rush.

My To-Do list is longer than my To-Day’s hours.

What goes first?

What can wait until tomorrow?

What can I delegate to someone else?

Wait… listen to this odd counsel about busyness:

“Tomorrow I plan to work, work, from early until late. I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer” (Martin Luther).

The first hours praying?!?

Not responding to emails.

Not getting a head start on the piles of stuff.

Not folding laundry before the kids get up.

Not going to the office before the phones start ringing.

Yes, get up earlier to pray more!

God knows your schedule.

He knows your To-Do list.

He knows your To-Day’s hours.

He knows what’s important … really important.

God says, “Love Me. Love others. Serve the world.”

“You must love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And you must love your neighbor as yourself. Nothing else on your To-Do list is more important than these” (Jesus).

Too busy today?

Get up earlier tomorrow and talk to God about it.

“I direct the steps of those who seek Me. I delight in every detail of their lives” (God).

Get up and get praying.

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