Monday, March 13, 2006

I teach Sunday School!

I teach a Sunday School Class. I know, pretty amazing to think this sailor talking, quick-tempered, mess-up, has anything to teach anyone, especially in Church. Actually, I think God and I have a pact going on. He won’t strike me with lightening as long as I continue to go to church and participate. I think though, He’s trying to change the terms of our agreement. It appears He wants me to GROW UP. *ahem* I am such a 4 year-old in my spiritual life. There was actually a time when I was much closer to God. Of course, I was at the bottom, and desperately seeking Him, and doing ANYTHING to make Him happy. Now? It’s like dieting. I miss that relationship. I know what it’s like. I know what it takes to get back there … somehow I just can’t get free of this molasses that is sticking me to this spot. For Lint this year our church is undertaking “40 Days of Purpose”, by Rick Warren. Two weeks ago I “taught” the first weeks worth of Chapters. It’s been sticking with me … haunting me. I figure this blog is where I go to “work things out” or “get rid of stuff” … so here it is. My life is in You Lord My strength is in You Lord My hope is in You Lord In You it's in You My life is in You Lord My strength is in You Lord My hope is in You Lord In You it's in You I will praise You With all of my life I will praise You With all of my strength With all of my life With all of my strength All of my hope is in You Is in You It's in You In You Words and music by Daniel Gardner Day One – It all starts with God … It’s not about me.
  • Rick’s first point in the first chapter is, I didn’t create myself, so there is no way I can tell myself what I am created for!
  • Only the creator or our “owners-manual” can reveal our true purpose. In other words, God knows why He created me. (Something I frequently wonder about). It doesn’t matter how many skill and assessment tests I take, I’m only going to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing … when I start listening to God.
I asked the class what they thought about this, then I told them what I thought when I read it. “Of course I don’t know how to “use” me. I never know how to use anything until I use the owner’s manual. Sometimes I try and fake it … that I know what I’m doing, but then I peek at someone else’s life and think, “dang – how’d they figure that out?” Cause here’s me, still doing the same STUPID stuff and not getting anywhere. And when I ask them, they say they’ve been reading Gods word, talking TO God, not AT God … and “viola” they “know”.
  • His second point is: “Self-help is no help at all”.
Self sacrifice is the only way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self - Matthew 16:25, The Message There are two ways to determine your purpose:
  1. Speculation
  2. Revelation – through our Owners Manual (The Bible)
11 It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living.” Ephesians 1:11 So this passage is confirming:
  1. Discover your purpose thru Christ
  2. You don’t get to choose your purpose – God already did that when he created you
  3. Your purpose is not just for earthly living, it’s for all eternity!
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:16 I asked them how they felt about that. It was a long discussion. Is life pre-determined? Does this mean God allows bad-things happen on PURPOSE? The Methodist theology is, “God LOVES us”, he cares about us, he’d never deliberately hurt us. But we live in a world of free-will. Free will allows us to make decisions that can have harmful consequences. And although God isn’t random, our world is random and chaotic. Devastating events can happen to anyone, any where, and it’s not necessarily God’s judgment on us. Day Two: You are not an Accident
  • You were conceived in the mind of God. Not fate, chance or luck that we (this Sunday School Class) are all here right now, at this time, together!
I said to them, “Wow! Do you believe this? Why/why not?” (See it’s not so much that I teach – it’s more that I ask everyone to express themselves – so they can figure out what they think/believe and how it “falls in line”.)
  • God never does anything by accident, and He never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything He creates.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:16
  • God created you – and our universe – so He could love you. This is a truth to build your life on!
I asked, “Can you conceive of this type of a love? What can you equate this type of care to in your own life?” I equated this to me planning a dinner party. Nothing happens by chance when I host a dinner, I told them. I think about the theme/mood I want to set, for that particular group of people, then, I think about what season it is, and what foods are ripe/available at that time of year. I select music and a table setting to enhance the experience. And of course there are details about the menu itself! I want to food to look nice together on the plate – to make sure there are colors that compliment each other. I also take into consideration the textures, spice profiles, and seasonings of this dishes I’ll serve together. They should all build on one another, share the same, flavors, but not be the same flavor. Then I pick out wines that will compliment each course. So, God making me, is like me throwing a dinner party … but on a much grander scale.
  • We discover our meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives.
Romans 12:3 3... The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. – The Message Then I reversed that verse to make it more powerful. The reverse became, “If you don’t understand God and understand what he does – then you can’t understand yourself.” The ending verse is Isaiah 44:2 2 This is what the LORD says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. Day 3: What drives your life? The word drive means to: Guide, control, direct. Here are our most common “drivers”.
  • Guilt – running from regrets and hiding from shame. God’s purpose is not limited by your past!
  • Resentment and Anger – What’s your profile?
    • Some people clam-up and internalize these feelings
    • Others blow-up and explode these feelings onto others
      • You (meaning me – this is what I took away from this) are only hurting yourself with your bitterness. *hmmm*
  • Fear – a self-imposed prison keeping you from becoming what God intends you to be
  • Materialism – self-worth & net-worth are not the same
  • Approval – Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purpose for you life. ***Great, now I know why I’m not getting anywhere***
Benefits of a purpose driven living:
  • Purpose allows us to “bear” life
  • Purpose simplifies our life for us
  • Purpose focuses your life – it concentrates you on specific things
  • Purpose motivates – when you have purpose you have passion
Isaiah 26:3 3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Living on purpose is the path to peace. Day Four: Made to last forever
  • Achieving our purpose will bring us our reward in heaven. We will be rewarded for our faithfulness on earth and reassigned to do the work we will enjoy doing!
I asked the class what they felt about that. I told them I felt like a load was taken off of me. I struggle sometimes with my cooking skills – am I to use them as an income generator? Is it ok to only use these talents as a ministry to friends? For self-pleasure? But this answers the question – for me! I will be reassigned in heaven to be God’s cook! How exciting – I’ll be doing what I love – and won’t ever grow tired of it. *yea* Now I just have to figure out what I should be doing here … *boo*
  • The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 5:6 Day Five: Seeing life from God’s view
  • The way you see your life shapes your life!
I asked the class for their personal metaphors for their lives. Are they, “Lost at sea”, “On a merry-go-round”, “Running an endless race”, “Living the good life”? However you see your life is how you’ll live your life. **hmmmm** (How do I see my life? I feel like a ship, who’s looking for a safe/secure port to anchor in, from time-to-time. Not all the time, mind you … just when the storms get too bad and the waves wash over me.)
  • Hezekiah had enjoyed a close fellowship with God, but at a crucial point in his life God left him alone to test his character, to reveal a weakness, and to prepare him for more responsibility.
  • Life on earth is a TEST. All of our tests have eternal implications.
(And I thought to myself … “Dear Lord, I will be living in the dog house or in the dunce corner for all of my days in heaven.” *sigh*)
  • Life on earth is a TRUST. We are stewards of the gifts God has given us. Are we using them wisely? To His benefit? To his GLORY?
I asked the class to think about the Nature Conservancy and stewardship of land. Are we as individuals taking care of our own treasures? Are we leaving them in better shape than when we came here? Are we protecting them, improving them?
  • Fulfilling God’s purpose entails me being a good steward of His gifts to me
Luke 16:11 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? NIV Day Six: Life is a Temporary Assignment
  • In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discomfort and dissatisfaction in life – longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity.
We are not to be completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be! Earth is not our final home; we were created for something much better! (Well, no worries there … I personally am ready to shed this life at any time. "It’s been a nice visit … but” were my thoughts.) Hebrews 11:13, 16 13 All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them. Day Seven: The Reason for Everything
  • The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God.
  • We cannot add anything to God’s glory, just as it would be impossible to make the sun shine brighter.
  • We are commanded to recognize his glory, honor, declare, praise, reflect and live for His glory!!
(It’s not about ME!) I asked the class, “Why? Why are we called to do these things and live this way?”
  • All sin, at its root is failing to give God glory. It is loving something/anything else more than God.
Then I asked the class, “How can you bring glory to God?”
  • Jesus honored God by fulfilling his purpose on earth. We need to do the same.
We can do this by:
  • Worshipping
  • Loving other believers
  • Becoming Christ-like in our actions
  • Serving with our gifts
  • Witnessing
It’s not easy following this path John 12:27-28 27 "Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? "Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. 28I'll say, "Father, put your glory on display.'" A voice came out of the sky: "I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again." But if we do it right, John 11:36 36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" All righty then, that was my 50 minutes lesson. Amazing to say, we got up to Day Six …. I have no idea how. And now that I’ve typed out these notes, I have no idea how I put together this lesson in 2 hours on a Sunday morning! God is Good!

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