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Purpose Driven Life – Day 35

Purpose Driven Life – Day 35

35 Days Down! 5 Days to Go!

Today’s chapter talks about God and our weaknesses 😦

This chapter was a hard one for me as I do not like weaknesses or even admitting them. I feel like revealing this information is a disadvantage to maintaining the power in an interaction or a relationship. I’m a planning, organization loving, image conscious control freak so weakness is definitely a sore spot.

All that being said, this was a good chapter and a reminder that I have to let go of some of my ideas and tactics surrounding weakness. The chapter gives several examples of God using people’s weaknesses for His work and how these people dealt with and saw their weaknesses. What is also shared is just like every good has its corresponding evil, every strength has its corresponding weakness.

Why Weakness is Important

The chapter shares several things about why weakness is important and even needed. The one that struck me the most is in the following passage:

Our weaknesses also encourage fellowship between believers. While strength breeds an independent spirit (“I don’t need anyone else”), our limitations show how much we need each other. When we weave the weak strands of our lives together, a rope of strength is created. Vance Havner quipped, “Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic.” Most of all, our weaknesses increase our capacity for sympathy and ministry. We are far more likely to be compassionate and considerate of the weaknesses of others.” [Emphasis mine].

Impress v. Influence

Rev. Warren shares that:

At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people. You can impress people from a distance, but you must get close to influence them, and when you do that, they will be able to see your flaws. That’s okay. The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection, but credibility.

There is a saying that shares, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” and I am reminded of this quote when reading the above passage. Sure fancy titles and accomplishments are nice but the taking on of advice or being influenced by others for me has happened with people that were honest, credible and let me see that they were concerned and cared for my personal, spiritual and educational development.

Just this week, I was talking with some friends at church about our pastor and the work that he does and not once did we share that, “oh we love our pastor and what he does because he is soooo perfect.” Actually he’s not perfect…really kinda crazy in a good way, lol 🙂 However, the things that we did share that we liked included that he was honest; that he was real; and that he shared his life as he teaches us. Frankly, I enjoy that my pastor is not perfect and is still working on some things — full disclosure, it makes me feel a lot better about me not having it all together — and I know that part of me is more susceptible to what he says and teaches because he shows his human side (not that pastor’s are not human but I hope you get what I am trying to say).

Well today’s Question to Consider is, “Am I limiting God’s power in my life by trying to hide my weaknesses? What do I need to be honest about in order to help others?”

Yes and I need to be honest that everything is not okay and that I’m struggling in some areas. I also think I need to be more open to showing how my weaknesses brought me closer to Christ and taught me other life lessons and not just share from the space of “now everything is okay,” on the other side of the lesions.

Until tomorrow, si Dios quiere,

DNMP

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Purpose Driven Life – Day 34

Purpose Driven Life – Day 34

34 Days Down! 6 Days to Go!

Today’s chapter talks about how to think like a servant. One message that Rev. Warren shares in the video, the newest edition has QR codes that link to videos by Warren, is that we are not to base our identity on what we do, what we have or how we look as these things can be taken from us or fade over time. What we should base our identity on is who we serve as that can never be taken away from you. I think its similar to thoughts on knowledge, though unfortunately with dementia even that can be taken, where people share that knowledge is power because no one can take that from you.

Adios to the Pity Party

The above line speaks to me today because I had a pity party just yesterday 😦 however reading today’s post put me in my place. Especially when the following was read:

Real servants don’t complain of unfairness, don’t have pity-parties, and don’t resent those not serving. They just trust God and keep serving.

Though my pity party was not based on anything going on in the kingdom, the final sentence above about trusting God and stay serving can apply to lots of things including a job or schoolwork. I was doing so well this summer focusing on me and my goals and what I can do but with summer fading away and the realities of a new school year closer than I desire, I shifted back. Connecting back more directly with the book, I encourage you to get this book and get to this chapter as Rev. Warren does a great job of shaping the greater context of the words above. He shares what being a servant is, how Jesus was a servant and used servant cultural norms to teach His disciples and us about how to live and how to shift our selfish human nature to a servanthood posture.

Servanthood as an Opportunity

One step in moving towards servanthood is shifting your perspective on serving. When describing servants from the Christian perspective, Rev. Warren gives this clarification:

They [servants] enjoy helping people, meeting needs, and doing ministry. They “serve the Lord with gladness [Psalm 100:2 KJV].” Why do they serve with gladness? Because they love the Lord, they’re grateful for his grace, they know serving is the highest use of life, and they know God has promised a reward.

Looking at life this way does not happen overnight, for me I was raised with this perspective and I still struggle at times, but I will say it is worth the investments of shifting your perspective to servanthood. One step that can be taken is finding the service side of your passion. Do you love to read? Read to some children or teach an adult to read? Do you love sports? Volunteer or even apply for work to coach kids in a sport at a local community center or league. Whether your service is paid or unpaid the true service/servanthood comes from your time given and the lessons you can share with others around you 🙂

Today’s Q2C is, “Am I usually more concerned about being served or finding ways to serve others?”

I have to say for me its the latter. Sure being served is great and I thank those who have served me and poured into me but I do find more pleasure and satisfaction in serving others. Also, I like how serving gets me out of my circumstances and/or funk. Especially, being in graduate school and under a lot of frustration and stress serving reminds me just how privileged I am and just how small my academic woes are from a bigger picture perspective.

Have a Marvelous Day!

DNMP

 

Purpose Driven Life – Day 33

Purpose Driven Life – Day 33

33 Days Down! 7 Days to Go!

Wow this time next week I will be finishing this book! It was just yesterday that I was starting this book 🙂

Today’s chapter is part one of a two parter on servanthood. One line from the chapter shares, “Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood.”

God Shaped Us for Service

In my research and in my life experiences, I have seen how culture affects and effects everything that people do and understanding and accepting the idea of us as servants definitely varies based on culture. Rev. Warren talks about how the US’ “Me”/Individualist culture makes it difficult for US citizens, residents and those cultured with US norms to accept the idea of servanthood. I have lived in and visited countries where the culture was more collectivist, where the idea of serving others or doing tasks without public acknowledgement or fame is the norm, and based on my experiences the idea of servanthood is less likely to be a problem in such places. However, no matter your cultural background, God’s culture calls for servanthood but understanding your earthly culture can assist you in figuring out what needs to get out of the way so that God’s culture becomes the dominant culture in your life. But why is a service culture important? Rev. Warren shares:

Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted  to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs…Your shape [see chapters 30 & 31] reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.

Good, Better, Best Doesn’t Matter in God’s Culture of Servanthood

Yes, as individuals we should all strive to do our best in all things however God doesn’t require us to be at our best to serve Him just like God didn’t/doesn’t require us to be at our best to accept Him as our savior. God builds us as we grow into greater relationship with Him and it is the same idea with servanthood. Good, better, best or where you start doesn’t matter, God rewards effort! Today’s OjO moment comes from the following passage:

The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done [Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT].”…One reason many people never serve is that they fear they are not good enough to serve. They have believed the lie that serving God is only for superstars. Some churches have fostered this myth by making “excellence” an idol, which makes people of average talent hesitant to get involved. You may have heard it said, “If it can’t be done with excellence, don’t do it.” Well, Jesus never said that! The truth is, almost everything we do is done poorly when we first start doing it — that’s how we learn.

Faithful and Humble

In line with the above, I feel its important to share that as we grow in relationship and servanthood in God that we all need to remind ourselves to stay faithful and to stay humble. I know I have to check my human nature (flesh) on this sometimes still. On faithfulness as a servant, Rev. Warren imparts the following:

Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments. They don’t leave a job half undone, and they don’t quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable. Faithfulness has always been a rare quality. Most people don’t know the meaning of commitment.

On staying humble and encouraged in your area of service, Rev. Warren writes this warning and encouragement:

Unfortunately, many leaders today start off as servants but end up as celebrities. They become addicted to attention, unaware that always being in the spotlight blinds you. You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose!

To close today’s Question to Consider is,”which of the six characteristics of real servants offers the greatest challenge to me?”

The characteristic that causes the greatest challenge for me is the one that talks about maintaining a low profile. Its kinda weird because as much as I don’t like keeping a low profile I like keeping a low profile…Basically, I’ll go through moments where I think, “oh why am I not being noticed like so and so,” which connects with yesterday’s message about unique gifting, but then if I do get the attention “I want” I then want to tuck my head back into my shell 😦 Most of the time I am okay with just doing my thing and doing it well (which reminds me of one of my fav Nsync songs “Do Your Thing” :)). But sometimes I think I want more but then realize maybe not so much which is why this characteristic is a challenge.

Until tomorrow,

DNMP

 

Purpose Driven Life – Day 32

Purpose Driven Life – Day 32

32 Days Down! 8 Days to Go!

Today’s chapter discusses the importance of using your gifts and the importance of not comparing yourself to others. One of the things that Rev. Warren talks about in today’s lesson is the fact that God won’t judge me based on what others do or are doing but He will judge me based on what He gave me. I also found it interesting that Rev. Warren stresses the importance of loving our SHAPE based on the acronym that he created but while reading I also thought how this can transform to our physical shape as well…this lesson can also be a nice reminder to love the skin you are in 🙂

“What you are is God’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God.” Danish proverb

I almost feel like a broken record with all the times I’ve said or thought about sharing the importance of using your unique gift and that your unique gift is important but they say repetition is key 🙂 Rev. Warren definately got that memo as I feel that this gift message has been stressed a lot over the last few chapters. Two things on gifts that are discussed in today’s chapter are:

1) The Discovery Process to Find Your Gifts:

Many books get the discovery process backwards. They say, “Discover your spiritual gift and then you’ll know what ministry you’re supposed to have.” It actually works the exact opposite way. Just start serving, experimenting with different ministries, and then you’ll discover your gifts. Until you’re actually involved in serving, you’re not going to know what you’re good at.

2) Hindsight is 20/20:

We rarely see God’s good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. When Jesus washed Peter’s feet, he said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand [John 13:7 NIV].” Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good.

Maybe I keep stressing this unique gift thing as a reminder to myself…I’ve been on a good track recently in being okay with where I am spiritually and happy for all the growth I have made while reading this book and in the last year or so but I know I will still have moments where I get caught up in other people’s gifts and other people’s position. As a graduate student, it has been really hard for me to be still and do less than I would normally do because I have to focus on my studies. I know long term that this time is needed but at times I do wish I could help more now. But in times that I feel like this I guess I have to remember what is shared in today’s chapter, “Don’t be envious of the runner in the lane next to you; just focus on finishing your race.”

Today’s Question to Consider is, “How can I make the best use of what God has given me?”

I don’t know why this question seems so simple to me but the first words I thought of was to just use what He have given me. But thinking while writing this I see the complexity. Just using what God has given us is easier said than done. So I’ll amend my earlier answer by sharing that I can best use what God has given me by moving past fear and discouragement and temptation to use what God has given me; remembering that in the long run using my gifts is not just what God wants me to do but it will offer the best reward and satisfaction here on earth and in heaven.

Have a great day!

DNMP

 

Butterflies v. Soul Stirring

Butterflies v. Soul Stirring

So yesterday at my church was Youth Sunday (Yay fifth Sundays :)) and the youth choir sang a song by Tasha Cobbs called “Happy”

When I heard the song in church I liked it almost immediately, well really when the song got to this part, “Your Life Saved My Life/With You is where I belong/I’m so in love with You.” Well after figuring out who sings the song, thanks @yobreezy, and listening to it a few times (had my morning praise and worship today). I started to get some revelation about my love for God.

I’ve always struggled with the love thing, getting better, thanks to having my heart broken a few times and this struggle affected me to a point where I wasn’t able to express my love towards God because I was afraid He would reject me too (wasn’t logical since God is love but a wounded person will make sense out of almost anything). Anyways, I’ve moved from that place and between hearing this song and some other recent events it kinda hit me this morning about God love v. people love which is how this post is called “Butterflies v. Soul Stirring.”

Background

Recently, I have been asking God to show me how I can love Him and love a man. Basically, in my singleness I have been really working the last two years on improving my relationship with God but I don’t want to be single forever and I don’t want to loose God, by my doing of course, when the time comes for me to get into a romantic relationship again (Dear Future Husband, God comes first punto!).

In relation to this seeking of God, one of the verses I would say to myself to God in my quiet time and praise and worship time is from Psalm 27: 8 which I know better in Spanish (I explain a bit about this below), “Me dice el corazón: <<Busca su rostro>>. Sí, tu rostro, Señor, es lo que busco;” Basically, here David is sharing with God that he is seeking God’s face. I am doing the same thing but one thing I feared was loosing God when the time came for me to not be single anymore or to be in that process of moving from singleness.

Butterflies

So butterflies 🙂 are probably one of the best discoveries of puberty, lol. I STILL remember the first boy that gave me butterflies. I was in 7th grade and he was an 8th grader. The song I had for him was Fantasy by Mariah Carey (I mean this was the late 90s).

I thought he was sooooooo cute and every time I would see him my stomach would flutter. Either that or I would think about him and sing to him, to myself, when “Fantasy” would start and Carey belts out, “Oh when you walk by every night/talking sweet and looking fine/I get kinda hectic insiiiidddeeee/Oh baby I’m so into you…” (Yes after all these years I STILL have that opening memorized :D).

So after my 7th grade crush, I knew that when butterflies showed up…I really liked a guy 🙂

Soul Stirring

So the soul stirring thing I admit is newer than butterflies. But the more I’ve listened to Christian music and read my Bible and gained an understanding of who God is and what He has done for me and us as people on this planet this soul stirring, its hard to put what happens in words, happens more and more. Additionally, I’ve noticed that I get a deeper understanding of the words that gospel artists share when they sing. My recent shift has even gotten to a point where sometimes when I listen to R&B, instead of thinking about a crush, present or past, I think about God or think that well…those feelings, as shared in the song, are a bit much to be having for just a person.

For me, soul stirring is also a feeling like butterflies but its deeper and instead of being a distraction, as butterflies often are, soul stirring focuses me. And, it allows me to understand my love of God on another deeper level. This stirring also brings up memories but God memories…times in the past where God was there when no one else was there or when God sent me things like Psalm 27 when I was struggling in Spain as a study abroad student who always wanted to go to Spain but felt torn when they didn’t like it as much as they thought they should and who was also getting over their first love. It was a lot but God came through, and I’m not sure how much I understood that at the time but it did help, and Spain got better and I had a great time and the hurt from the first love eventually healed.

So what got my soul stirring to get me to write today? My meditation on these “Happy” song lyrics:

You Make Me Happy/You Make Me Whole/You Take the pain away..I’m So in love with you/Everything about you is Right…Covers all my wrong/Your Life Saved My Life/With You is where I belong/I’M SO IN LOVE WITH YOU./CAN’T MAKE IT WITHOUT YOU/I LIVE TO WORSHIP YOU/FOREVER ME AND YOU

When I heard these words, especially those last four lines, there was this instant connection like, “that’s me! that’s my story! that’s how I feel!” Soul stirring…Then the more I listened and reflected and meditated on the words of this song and some other things that’s when I understood that the fear I felt about mixing up my love for God and the future love of a man is something I don’t have to worry about because God’s love hits me in a way that no human can! [Praise pause :)] A human can’t stir my soul and if I ever get to that point I know that something is wrong.

All of This to Say…

That I’m really glad to get the insight that I got. I’m also glad that both butterflies and soul stirring are so enjoyable and that I can appreciate both things in new ways. Finally, I’m really glad that, “I’m so in love with You [God],” and that I am more and more aware of it every day.

Thanks for reading and until next time…

DNMP

 

Purpose Driven Life – Day 31

Purpose Driven Life – Day 31

31 Days Down! 9 Days to Go!

Happy Sunday! Today’s chapter finishes up the discussion on your abilities and how to use them in the Church and beyond. One interesting aspect about this chapter is that it talks about how to use the “bad” thing and/or trials that you have gone through as your ministry. This is definitely been something that has been on my spirit for a while, about a year, to do. I haven’t completely figured out how but when I do I guess that is when I will have to act.

It is interesting that just yesterday or the day before yesterday, I talked about how I have always gotten more out of hearing that someone who is “prominent” in ministry or any Christian really that dealt with a struggle or hard situation and were STILL able to stay close to God or get stronger in God or come to God in the first place than someone who says I’ve always known God and everything has always gone well, not that such people exist, we all go through in our own way, but you get my point :)…hopefully.

Your Unique Ability is Needed

One thing that was stressed yesterday and today is that we are all made uniquely to make a unique contribution here on earth. And an additional support to the idea of just how unique we are is:

…your brain can store 100 trillion facts. Your mind can handle 15,000 decisions a second, as is the case when your digestive system is working. Your nose can smell up to 10,000 different odors. Your touch can detect an item 1/25,000th of an inch thick, and your tongue can taste one part of quinine in 2 million parts of water. You are a bundle of incredible abilities, an amazing creation of God.

Basically, even science supports your uniqueness 🙂

“God Never Wastes a Hurt”

One of the first Bible verses I committed to memory was Ecclesiastics 3:1, “To everything [there is] a season, A time for every purpose under heaven [NKJV].” The whole first section of this chapter talks about how there is a time to live and a time to die a time for war and a time for peace and more. I think one of the messages that Rev. Warren is sharing in this chapter touches on this in a new way showing that even bad things happen(ed) for a reason and with God these bad things can be used for good. In this chapter the following is shared:

God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others. The Bible says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us [2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT].” If you really desire to be used by God, you must understand a powerful truth: The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life — the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget — are the experiences God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry! For God to use your painful experiences, you must be willing to share them. You have to stop covering them up, and you must honestly admit your faults, failures, and fears. Doing this will probably be your most effective ministry. People are always more encouraged when we share how God’s grace helped us in weakness than when we brag about our strengths.

I feel its important to say that using your pain or bad experiences is not me or Rev. Warren, I’m assuming, saying that you shouldn’t feel how you feel when going through these situations. I feel that working through your feelings is important in order to move forward from any situation that is encountered. What I see the book saying is along the lines of paying it forward. Why not help someone avoid what you went through or help someone who is in what you were in to get out sooner? For me it makes that old pain a bit more bearable if I’ve done something to make sure others don’t go through what I went through. Let us all help each other make this world a better place than we left it and then take those tools to heaven for whatever God has planned for us there too 🙂

Today’s Q2C is, “What God-given ability or personal experience can I offer my church?”

Well as I have shared I do share some of my abilities and experiences with my church by serving in the witnessing ministry. I also give my time and Spanish skills during the back to school and holiday drives. One thing I could figure out how to give to my church is my experience with an addiction I had as a pre-teen. Going through that is one of the reasons why I feel its so important for the Church to talk about all topics from the Bible perspective even the ones that make the adults talking about it uncomfortable.

Hasta luego…si Dios quiere,

DNMP

 

Purpose Driven Life – Day 30

Purpose Driven Life – Day 30

30 Days Down! 10 Days to Go!

Let the official home stretch countdown begin 🙂

Today’s topic is learning about your gifts and how to figure out what they are. Rev. Warren focuses on the fact that each of us has our own set of gifts from God to be used in His ministry and more generally to make the world a better place. As an extension of this, we need everyone to use their gifts because if not there is something that we are not receiving. He shares in this chapter, “When we use our gifts together, we all benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated.”

An Important Note on Spiritual Gifts

Today’s chapter was shorter as it was an intro chapter to an idea that will be discussed over the next two chapters but there is one passage that I want to share from this chapter that I think is important. I am also sharing this because at times I have felt sad that I wasn’t as “spiritually advanced” as those around me (as an overachiever I tend to place people around me who are more advanced which helps me get ahead but can also frustrate me when I forget that they are further along than I am). Luckily, I heard some sermons around this area and so I don’t tend to suffer from this frustration as much, but…I do have my moments. Anyway, check out this passage and remember it. The short of it is that your gifts are needed just as you have made it this far because of the gifts of others :):

Whenever we forget these basic truths about gifts, it always causes trouble in the church. Two common problems are “gift-envy” and “gift-projection.” The first occurs when we compare our gifts with others’, feel dissatisfied with what God gave us, and become resentful or jealous of how God uses others. The second problem happens when we expect everyone else to have our gifts, do what we are called to do, and feel as passionate about it as we do. The Bible says, “There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving [1 Corinthians 12:5 NLT].”

Today’s Q2C is, “In what way can I see myself passionately serving others and loving it?”

Well I love languages and I love technology and I love sharing information about the environment so anything that will allow me to do that I am happy about. I have volunteered during back to school and Thanksgiving and Christmas drives at my church because I can use my Spanish skills to talk with some of the people in need that come. I also get to use my Spanish in the witnessing ministry that I am a part of. Finally, I have found that I like serving by doing “menial tasks” mainly because many people don’t like to do those types of activities but its something that I can do and do what I want with. Those in charge of events and spaces where these tasks need to get done have been grateful for my joy in serving here, lol.

Until the next time…

DNMP