Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Profiles in Generosity | Francis Chan

Francis Chan doesn't just preach generosity, he lives it out in his own personal life. In his book Crazy Love, Chan recounts God's prompting in his life regarding downsizing in order to give more away.
For example, when I returned from my first trip to Africa, I felt very strongly that we were to sell our house and move into something smaller, in order to give more away. The feedback I got was along the lines of "It's not fair to your kids," "It's not a prudent financial choice," and "You are doing it just for show." I do not remember a single person who encouraged me to explore it or supported me to explore it or supported the decision at the time.

We ended up moving into a house half the size of our previous home, and we haven't regretted it. My response to the cynics, in the context of eternity, was, am I the crazy one for selling my house? Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more? [pp. 135-136].
We could all learn a lesson from Francis Chan and others who have sacrificed worldly possessions in order to live a more generous lifestyle for the sake of the Kingdom. In light of eternity, everything that we have is meaningless, unless we can use it to further God's Kingdom here on earth. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Auca Indians, said it best, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Francis Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, a church he and his wife started in 1994. He is the author of two books, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God and Forgotten God: Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit. Chan is also a popular speaker at major national and international events and conferences.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The difference between happiness and joy


The words happiness and joy are used interchangeably, and we often view them as having the same meanings.

Happiness is defined as a state of well-being and contentment based on good fortune.

Joy is defined as a vivid emotion of pleasure.

So What's The Difference?

I recently heard a great explanation of the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is dependent on outward circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is internal and constant.

As believers, we have an unlimited source of joy through Jesus Christ. We shouldn't be as concerned about happiness which is dependent on outward circumstances. We should have joy in the Lord based on an internal constant - our relationship with Him.

What does the Bible say regarding joy?
  1. Psalm 4:7 - You have filled my heart with greater joy... God is the source and provider of joy in our lives.
  2. Psalm 19:8 - The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart... God's Word brings joy to the life of the believer.
  3. Psalm 92:4 - For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands... God's mighty works can bring us joy.
  4. Acts 16:34 - The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God - he and his whole family... Salvation brought joy to the Philippian jailer.
  5. 2 Corinthians 7:4b - all our troubles my joy knows no bounds... Even in the midst of problems, we can have endless joy.
  6. Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness... Joy is one of the evidences of our spiritual conversion in Christ.
  7. 1 Thessalonians 1:6b - spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy of the Holy Spirit... The Holy Spirit gives us joy.
  8. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 - Be joyful always... We are commanded to always be joyful.
  9. James 1:2 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds... We should be joyful even when we face trials in life.
Are you filled with joy, today?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Building a wish list to beat impulse purchases, increase contentment, and save money

The Wish List

Wish lists has been around for a long time, probably since the beginning of history. They are often utilized by children around the time of birthdays or Christmas in order to let their parents, family, and friends know what they are hoping to receive as gifts.

For some time now, has had a great feature on their popular book retail website - the wish list. Whenever I am reading a book, attending a conference, watching a TV program, or browsing the web and I run across a recommendation for a book, I always pull up the Amazon site and add that book to my wish list. When I have some money saved in my budget to purchase some books, then I'll revisit my wish list and order my highest priority books.

Needs and Wants

I am currently in a difficult time of life where I need to hold the line on a very tight budget in order to cash flow some current and future expenses in the next few months. At the same time, though, I have some "needs" and wants that I could pay cash for today, but I am very hesitant to spend the money on the these things at the current time.

My solution: build my own personal, prioritized wish list.

To be honest, the majority (most likely all) of the items on my list are really wants and not needs. I can survive without difficulty if I don't purchase these particular items from my list. But, I've added some items that I know would be helpful to have for what I do for a living, such as purchasing a couple of new business suits, because the couple of suits that I currently own are really wearing out!

Why I think a wish list is a useful financial tool

Wish lists can be useful financial tools in order to accomplish the following:
  1. Conquering impulse purchases. For the most part, I have never really been plagued by impulse purchases, but I know many people in our society have this struggle. Through the process of placing a material need or want on a wish list and waiting, we can avoid an impulse purchase that we will probably regret later on.
  2. Increasing patience and contentment. Interestingly enough, when we wait to make a purchase, big or small, we grow in patience and contentment. We learn that we can "survive" without more material possessions. Exercising restraint and self-control should be a hallmark of an adult, right?
  3. Allowing God to work. Putting an item on a wish list can be an opportunity for God to provide for you in supernatural ways. Many times, though, we circumvent God's provision by getting into a hurry. Why not convert a wish list into a prayer list? Through this process, we may decide that the stuff we are praying for may not be what we truly need.
  4. Building anticipation. When I look back on my childhood, do you know what I think was the best part of Christmas? Anticipation! To be honest, I really only remember a handful of the gifts that my parents had purchased for me, but I certainly do remember that sense of breathless anticipation as I awoke early each Christmas morning in order to unwrap presents. That was fun!
  5. Becoming more resourceful. If you don't have the money to buy the things you may want or need, perhaps you could get by for a time with a less expensive substitute? Or, maybe you could barter time and talents to get something you need. Get creative.
  6. Saving money. In the end, being patient, praying over your list, allowing God to work, and becoming more resourceful will save you tons of money. This saved money can be better used for your family and God's Kingdom.
Have you ever created a wish list in order to accomplish the above? If you have, what was the end result? I'd love to hear your story.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus revolves around generosity (part 2)

Jesus spoke a lot about money while he lived here on Earth. According to Reverend Bob Sheldon, the former Director of Funds Development of the Synod of the Rocky Mountains, Jesus continued Biblical tradition about money and possessions:
  1. One of every seven verses in the first three gospels spoke on money.
  2. About one-third (16 of 38) parables are on money.
  3. 15% of everything Jesus said was about money.
  4. He spoke on money twice as much as prayer and faith combined.
  5. The Kingdom of God is the only subject that Jesus gave more attention than money.
  6. If we translate the amount of teaching Jesus did on money to our churches, pastors would preach 17 stewardship sermons per year!
The Generosity Gospel According to Jesus

Here are some examples of Jesus' own words from the gospels on the topic of generosity:
  1. Matthew 5:42 - Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Application: If someone is in need, give to them.
  2. Matthew 6:2-3 - So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Application: Don't give to others for selfish, earthly reward.
  3. Matthew 10:42 - And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. Takeaway: We earn heavenly rewards for even simple acts of kindness and generosity.
  4. Matthew 19:21 - If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Application: Giving leads to treasure in heaven and is a part of following Jesus.
  5. Matthew 23:23 - Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Application: Giving should be coupled with other important distinctives such as those given above.
  6. Matthew 25:34-36, 40 - Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me..." The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Application: Giving back to those in need not only helps others, but it is as if we did it for the Lord.
  7. Mark 10:45 - For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Application: Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of service and giving. He gave His very life for us!
  8. Mark 12:17 - Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Application: There is a level of personal responsibility involved in giving back to God.
  9. Luke 6:38 - Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Application: When we give generously, God will give us even more to give back.
  10. Luke 12:33 - Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Application: Giving to the poor lays up eternal treasure in heaven.
  11. Luke 19:8 - But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Application: An encounter with Jesus should lead to extreme generosity.
Where are you at in living a life of generosity?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus revolves around generosity (part 1)

John the Baptist laid the foundation

Even before Jesus' ministry was officially announced, John the Baptist set the foundation for the Gospel of Jesus in Luke 3 as he spoke to the crowds that were coming out to see and hear him.

From this passage of Scripture, we see the outlining of the specifics of this Gospel in the following manner:
  1. he preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (v. 3).
  2. he preached of producing good fruit in keeping with repentance (v. 8-9).
  3. he preached that good fruit would look like this: generosity! (v. 10-14).
The Generosity Gospel, not the Prosperity Gospel

First, John told the crowds to share their wealth of clothing and food. If you have two articles of clothing and someone else has no clothes, then give them one of yours. If you have food and someone else has none, then share your food (v. 11).

Second, he told the tax collectors not to collect more from people than what Roman law required them to collect (v. 12-13).

Third, he told the Roman soldiers three things in verse 14:
  1. don't extort money.
  2. don't accuse people falsely.
  3. be content with your pay.
Life Application

So, how do we as Rich Christians apply the teachings of John the Baptist:
  1. Give back generously to others. If you see people hurting financially, you demonstrate the love of God and true repentance through helping others with your material possessions.
  2. Don't Steal. If people owe you money, ask for what is owed you, not what you think you can get out of others. This application could be applied in a business setting. Establish a fair and equitable charge for the time and talent you bring to your service.
  3. Don't use extortion or illegal methods to obtain money that is not truly owed to you. I doubt this a problem for most of us. Again, the application would most likely be useful in the arena of business.
  4. Don't lie. Always tell the truth in money matters. Maintain integrity in your finances.
  5. Be content. Display satisfaction with God's material blessings in your life.
So, how are you doing in each of these five areas of generosity and financial responsibility?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Put your money where your heart is...

Most believers should be familiar with Christ's words found in Matthew 6:21,
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In the book The Treasure Principle, author Randy Alcorn states that "My heart always goes where I put God's money." If we could take a look at your bank statement, we could see where your heart is. If you're putting God's money into fancy cars, that's where your heart is. If you are putting God's money into a luxury home, that's where your heart will be. In his book, Randy writes,
By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, "Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement, and your receipts, and I'll show you where your heart is."

Suppose you buy shares of General Motors. What happens? You suddenly develop interest in GM. You check the financial pages. You see a magazine article about GM and read every word, even though a month ago you would have passed right over it.

Suppose you're giving to help African children with AIDS. When you see an article on the subject, you're hooked. If you're sending money to plant churches in India and an earthquake hits India, you watch the news and fervently pray.

As surely as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow.

I've heard people say, "I want more of a heart for missions." I always respond, "Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put your money in missions - and in your church and the poor - and your heart will follow."

Do you wish you cared more about eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Watch what happens.
God has blessed us as American Christians with incredible wealth, not to put our money into unimportant, frivolous, temporal things. When we do that, our hearts become attached to the things of this world. If the truth be told, many Christians don't long for a heavenly home because their hearts are here on earth.

Our desire should be on our reward in heaven. We should put our money into what matters for eternity and then our hearts will follow.

So, how about you, Christian? Where's your heart? Perhaps the more telling question is where is your money going?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Edging God Out

I recently heard a great acronym for the word Ego:


As you invest in yourself, it's easy to get stuck on yourself. If your focus turns inward too far, you take your eyes off the Lord. Your ego becomes inflated.

Wiktionary defines ego as the self, especially with overtones of self-importance.

We must be extremely cautious as believers to not let this take place. Edging God out of our lives puts us in the dangerous position of setting ourselves up as more important than Him. In a sense, we set ourselves up as a god of our lives.

Jesus addressed the issue of ego in connection with wealth in Luke 12: 16-20,
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."'

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
Did you notice all of the personal pronouns in this story about the rich man? This guy was stuck on himself. Everything about his life was all about him. He never acknowledged God for his blessing of wealth and what God wanted him to do with it. It was all about what he was going to do with it in order to enjoy a life of ease and luxury. This guy had a huge ego.

As you pursue success and even significance, it's really easy to take the "I'm the captain of my own destiny" mentality. I believe God wants us to pursue a healthy success and significance that is rooted in His plan for our life.

In contrast to Jesus' story about this rich man, John the Baptist had a healthy perspective on his own ego and life mission. He had accomplished success and significance as he went about Israel proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. As Jesus' ministry began, John's ministry naturally began to fade. His ministry was no longer needed, because the Messiah's ministry had finally begun.

In John 3, we read that an argument had developed between John the Baptist's disciples and a certain Jew regarding ceremonial washing. When these disciples went to John to talk about this topic, a discussion broke out about how everyone was now beginning to follow Jesus instead of John.
To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ' I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less (vs. 25-30).
John was filled with joy because he had accomplished God's mission for his life. He proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus' ministry had now begun. John had a healthy perspective on who he was and his mission. He kept his ego in check.

How's your ego? Are you edging God out of your life, or do you have a healthy perspective on what He wants to accomplish through you here on earth?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rich through poverty

This title makes no sense. How in the world can we as Christians be rich through poverty?

The Apostle Paul addresses this perplexing oxymoron in 2 Corinthians 8:9,
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty might become rich.
Have you ever considered that our wealth as rich Christians all began through poverty? The Creator of the universe, who owns everything, sent His Son into the world as a poor, helpless baby boy. Jesus grew up in the home of a humble, Jewish carpenter. I'm sure his life on earth was very simple and non-assuming. In today's terminology, Jesus was raised in a lower income, blue-collar home.

As the Son of God, he was accustomed to all the trappings of Heaven. He knew, though, that he had a mission to fulfill here on earth. At the appointed time in history, he willingly left his wealth in Heaven and obeyed his heavenly Father. Philippians 2:6-8 states,
Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Fortunately for us, Jesus was just passing through! After his burial and resurrection three days later, his wealth was re-established and he was appointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV).
And because of this awesome transformation from death to life and rags to riches, those of us that have proclaimed Christ as Lord, have been adopted into God's family. We have inherited the wealth of the universe!
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:16-18, NIV).
Living out the Christian life on earth may not lead to a life of luxury and ease. In fact, throughout the New Testament, we read that suffering is a more common state for the believer. Fortunately for us, we have the promise of the wealth of the universe waiting for us in our heavenly home.

In your personal worship today, thank the Lord for sacrificing all so that we might be made rich in Him!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Expanding your influence with people (part 2)

Expanding your influence on a practical level

In my last post, we looked at the beginning point of expanding your influence with others. It all begins with allowing God's influence to permeate your life before attempting to expand out into other's lives. Once this has taken place, how do we influence others on a practical, everyday level [Source: Business summaries - John Maxwell]:
  1. Integrity. It's difficult to be much of an influence on others if you don't have integrity. When people can trust you as a person, then they will welcome your efforts at influencing them and adding value to their lives. When you speak, people need to know that you personally believe in what your saying and that they can believe what your telling them.
  2. Nurture. Why do you think most parents have a strong influence in their children's lives? Because the best parents understand the importance of nurturing their kids. They love on them through their words and physical touch. They treat them with respect by validating their feelings, preferences, opinions, and contributions. They give them a sense of security. They give recognition to their accomplishments. Finally, their children are supported and given encouragement. When we desire to have an influence in those around us, we need to have the attitude and actions similar to that of nurturing parents.
  3. Faith. A person of influence believes in others, even before success takes place. You have faith that the people around you can win. You are able to draw success out of them by instilling confidence and expecting them to rise to the occasion.
  4. Listen. If you want to have influence, you need to be a good listener. When you are a good listener, you show respect, build relationships, increase knowledge, generate ideas, build loyalty, and help others.
  5. Understand. A person of influence understands people. They understand that people want to feel important, cared for, encouraged, and believed in. Influential people are good at seeing the perspective of others and demonstrate personal empathy.
  6. Enlarge. Influential people have a way of coming alongside people and really getting involved in their lives, which involves mentoring. Mentoring is simply moving others to grow and develop their areas of strength.
  7. Navigate. As you help others grow, you will need to be their navigator by helping them move through unpleasant situations, setbacks, or problems. You help people build bridges to cross from where they are to where they want to go.
  8. Connect. Connecting with people is essential in the mentoring process. In order to connect, we can't take people for granted. We must initiate movement toward them. We look for common ground between us. We recognize and respect differences in personality. We communicate from the heart. Finally, we share common experiences in our lives.
  9. Empower. When you empower people, you enable them to reach the highest levels of their personal and professional potential. Demonstrate to others that you believe in them, and trust their decisions. Give them permission to take on challenges. Share your power and delegate your responsibilities. Release them to continue on their own as soon as they are ready.
  10. Reproduce. Your ultimate goal should be to invest your lives into others, so that they will in turn influence those around them.
In what areas do you need to work on in order to expand your own sphere of influence?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Expanding your influence with people (part 1)

Wiktionary defines influence as "an action exerted by a person or thing with such a power on another to cause change." Leadership guru John Maxwell often makes the statement that "Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less."

All of us can wield influence in people's lives, whether it be good or bad, but prayerfully all of us can be positive influences in the lives that we touch. David, the future king of Israel, was one such individual.

During the time period in which David was fleeing from King Saul, David attracted people to him. We read in 1 Samuel 22:2, "All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him." I've often wondered why these people were so drawn to David. Did he have a magnetic personality? Was he an encourager to the hurting? Did he bring hope to the hopeless?

From Scripture, I think we can infer this to be true about David. More importantly though, God was with David and all Israel knew it. From the beginning of his military career with the defeat of Goliath and through his fleeing from Saul, all of Israel recognized David as the next leader of the nation. David held influence with people and was successful in all that he did, because God was with him. Our own influence with others begins with God's influence in our lives.

If you want to expand your influence with people, then allow God to expand His influence in your life.

There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple, and useful life. - Booker T. Washington

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. - George Elliot

Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. - The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).

Are you a positive influence in the lives of others? Are people drawn to you? If not, are you allowing God to be your primary influence in your own life?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Who's your "Jonathan?" | One key friendship

When you are investing in relationships with people, it's important to have at least one great friend on your journey. Sometimes, the friendship might last for a season, or it might even last a lifetime. For some, this one friend may be their spouse. For others, it may be just a close friend they have known for years.

In 1 Samuel 18, we read about the close friendship of Jonathan and David:

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself... And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt (1 Samuel 18: 1, 3-5, NIV).

Theirs was an interesting relationship because Jonathan was the firstborn son of King Saul and next in line to become the king of Israel. Unfortunately, because of Saul's disobedience, God told Saul through Samuel that Saul's kingship would be taken from him and given to someone else close to him. Both Saul and Jonathan knew that David was to be the next king of Israel, but father and son had two entirely different reactions. Saul was jealous of David and tried to kill him on a number of occasions. Jonathan, on the other hand, loved David as his best friend. He protected his friend from his father. He and David made a unique covenant with each other that they would watch over each other and their descendants. Once David became king, he made good on this covenant after the deaths of Saul and Jonathan when he brought Jonathan's crippled son Mephibosheth into the king's palace (2 Samuel 9).

All of us need a Jonathan. Someone in whom we can turn to when we are encountering serious problems. Someone in whom we can trust with our very lives.

Do you have a Jonathan? Are you building strong, covenant relationships with others?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you'" (Mark 16:5-7, NIV).

Today, Christians all over the world are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. Almost 2,000 years ago, our Savior hung on a tree, was buried, and rose again on the third day!

We are rich in Christ through the power of the resurrection. As believers, we can walk through this mortal life with power and hope because of Him.

Thank you for being a faithful reader of the Rich Christian, Poor Christian blog. I wish all of you a Happy Easter! Have a wonderful day of worship and celebration. He is Risen!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Moving from success to significance

Somewhere in the middle of our lives, the reality usually sets in that we will not live forever in our mortal bodies. We are all going to die someday. We are going to go the way of all men and women - the grave.

Those of us who follow Christ have our hope in Him. We believe that through faith in his death, burial, and resurrection that one day we will be united with Him in Heaven. Ultimately, our souls and resurrected bodies will be reunited as well. We will live for eternity in our glorified bodies in the presence of Almighty God and our fellow believers. Before we get there, though, we must live out God's mission for us here on earth.

The first half of our lives is spent growing, learning, reproducing, and accumulating. We grow up, move out of our parents home, get an education, land the job, get married, have children, and accumulate wealth. After we get to our 30s and 40s though, we start looking around at everything we have and begin to say, "is this really all there is to life?"

Mid-life crisis begins and a period of discontent settles in. If not worked through properly, you might end up with some expensive vehicles and/or a failed marriage due to extra-marital affairs. The key is to work through your own "holy discontent" in the correct way.

In the book Half Time, Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, author Bob Buford writes the following about this period of discontent:
While the first half is all about gaining, which sometimes results in loss, the second half is more about releasing and relinquishing, which usually results in strength. You do not see that clearly when you are twenty-six years old (p. 113).

Yet, most agree that success eventually loses its luster and that significance is what we're really after. The secular person generally finds significance in some form of altruism; the Christian simply has a biblical framework to define his altruism (p. 114).

I choose to believe that it is God who speaks quietly inside us - that it is he who put the question deep within. And when we answer yes, he reveals the meaning he has chosen for us to enjoy; he unveils the goal that he has been keeping for us all along. I love how Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:10,

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (p. 114).
So where are you at in your life? First half? Second half? Are you currently in half-time? Have you moved from success to significance, yet, in your life?