Prepare for the New Year: Make Your Life Count For God:
Have you ever thought about the end of your life? When you look back over all you’ve done, how will you view your choices? After I married, my husband talked about that a lot. At first, it seemed grim. After all, we were in our twenties. Over time, however, I changed my mind. Psalm 92 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may have a heart of wisdom.” Such good advice!
As we enter a new year, this is a great time to consider our purpose in life. Consider Romans 12:3: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
This verse commands us to have sober judgment, which means to think clearly about ourselves. I find it easy to be self-centered and to feel as if life revolves around me, but that’s not true. In fact, this passage tells us to acknowledge the measure of faith God has given us. If you keep reading Romans 12, you’ll discover Paul moves into spiritual gifts. He describes the church as a body and individuals as members. When you come to Christ, He gives you a spiritual gift. That’s the measure of faith Paul speaks of. When you think correctly, you realize your value in relationship to the rest of the body of Christ. The head needs the hands to do its bidding and feet for movement and balance. The body of Christ doesn’t have useless parts. You have a special gifting for your time that no one else can fill like you can. You aren’t the whole body, but a valuable part of the whole. (What a great recipe for self-esteem: doing God’s will.)
So how do you find your purpose, your gifting? Poppy Smith is my guest. She wrote: Go For It! Make Your Life Count For God. She helps women uncover their gifts and live up to their potential.
3:00 How can we live on purpose?
5:00 How does God prepare us to be used?
7:05 His shaping.
7:40 How can we learn what we are best suited for?
Facing death can make you serious about life. When the Apostle Paul faced death, he wrote the following words: ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8 ESV)
Have you ever considered what you might think on your deathbed? What would you be glad you did? What actions would you like to change?
Several months ago, I started seeing double, and as a retired nurse, I was afraid. I couldn’t think of any illness that wasn’t quite serious that would produce those symptoms. I hurried to my doctor, very glad he could see me quickly, and I prayed for God’s presence. It made me think seriously. Am I loving others enough? Or Am I too selfish? It’s easier to ignore a little jam stuck to the countertops when life and death issues emerge.
Today I have two guests, one is Paul Perkins. He’s a banker from Missouri who has had severe health issues and died several times. His tortuous journey included a kidney transplant and a heart transplant. He’s telling his story along with Anita Brooks. Anita Brooks had her own near-death experience. She’s an author and speaker who assisted Paul with the book.
2:15 Paul, how did facing death change you?
3:50 What lessons stuck?
7:30 Anita, what got you through hard times?
10:00 Paul, you received two organs. How does it feel to have organs that belonged to someone else?
12:05 Anita, how does it feel to be an organ donor?
13:25 Anita, what was the recovery like for you?
15:45 Share how these experiences gave you courage
I can recall when I was a child in class. We were getting ready to study the human body, and I was so excited to learn what my internal organs did. I had some strange idea that my organs did wonderful things for the world. How disappointing to discover they merely kept me alive. Of course, in adolescence, the question of identity rose.Those questions are important to ask because it’s difficult to live without meaning.On the other hand, it’s very easy to build our self-worth around what we do.
When I finished school, I became a nurse, but I gave up that career to raise five children. That made me really sad, but I’ve been giving up my whole life in some ways. Later I found myself as a young mother who nursed her babies, but that didn’t last either. I grieved that role when I weaned my youngest child. Then I saw myself as a homeschool mother. That job lasted longer, but that distinction disappeared also. Each time my job description changed, I felt pain and had to adjust. I had to rethink life as a child of God. Someone Jesus loved and died for, but that transition can be tough.
Sometimes life really falls apart. How can we pull the shreds of life back together? How can we get through those times of disappointment when we wonder who we are?
Cynthia Rutchti is my guest. She has written Song of Silence. In this novel, the main character loses her gifting and finds herself afloat.
4:30 The main character, Lucy, was giving to others from her gift of music. How can we find that sweet spot so we can bless those around us?
6:30 Lucy was based on a real person who ministered through music.
8:40 Music contains rests, and Lucy taught her students to ‘play the rests.’ How can we do that by using those hard times in life?
10:10 What if we resist that reset time?
11:20 What does a healthy identity look like? How can Christians get there?
13:50 How can we achieve a healthy marriage in later years like Lucy and her husband?
16:25 Lucy’s family did things to comfort her she didn’t like. How can we avoid facing that in a crisis?
19:00 Lucy’s doctor sent her to a club. What was that great idea about?
Have you ever considered ministering to your pastor? That thought might catch some of you by surprise. Often times we think of the pastor as the one who ministers, not the other way around. In America, we tend to have a consumer mentality as we approach church shopping, and look for the elements we need for our family. Maybe we seek out a good youth program or a Sunday school that engages our preschoolers. Still others might scour local churches for a minister who keeps them spell bound when he steps into the pulpit. None of these are bad, but that’s not the whole picture.
God makes it clear in Scripture that we should look out for the needs of others, and he enables us to do that. When someone places his faith in Jesus, God bestows a gift on him to use in the body of Christ. Note what the apostle Peter commanded in his first epistle, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” In fact, every believer has a vital spot in the church body, including the pastor and his wife.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. That may seem like another event the media imposes on us. However, read I Timothy 5:17, ” Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” In light of that, Nan Jones and Patti Harris give us tips on what life is like for a pastor’s wife. Listen and learn how to reach out to your pastor and his family.
Once I heard someone describe the song Amazing Grace as a white spiritual. After getting over my shock, I realized this man thought the song was written to express our disappointment over life’s hardships. Clearly he didn’t grasp redemption, but all of us realize things aren’t right. Let’s face it, our world is broken. God didn’t design us to live in a damaged world.
Romans chapter eight talks about this. My husband calls this passage groaning 101. Verse twenty-two and twenty-three say, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Sometimes those groans blaze into a raging fire. What then?
Today I have Carol McLeod. Her ministry is all about suffering. Her latest book is Refined.