Unique Alignment

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Most people know the story about David and Goliath but few know the story within the story. David is standing before King Saul explaining his confidence in his ability to slay the Philistine giant. Saul decides, “If the boy is going out to war, he ought to dress the part.” So he puts his tunic, armor, and sword on David. The youth walks around looking ridiculous in the ill fitted combat gear and declares, “Uh, I’m gonna pass on the battle rattle and go fight light.” (First Samuel 17.32-40 CWV-Chuck Wood Version) He runs out, pegs Goliath between the eyes with a small rock, and cuts off the enemy’s head with his own sword.

Here’s my point. Someone else’s armor (their alignment with God) might not fit you all that well. And although there are many areas in which will all serve God in principle (we all worship, obey, share the gospel, make disciples, etc…) it’s probably going to look unique and tailor made to each individual based on personalities, gifting, and seasons of life.

So let’s look at some Scripture that points to our unique personalities, gifting, and seasons of life.

Uniquely Crafted by God

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1.5)

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139.13-16)

Uniquely Gifted

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2.10)

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly… (Romans 12.4-6a)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (First Corinthians 12.11)

Unique Seasons of Life

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1.3)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— (Ecclesiastes 3.1)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1.6)

So why is this so important? We’ve all seen people (and maybe we’ve made this mistake ourselves) trying so hard to be like someone else. It’s either so fake or awkward that it’s almost comical. We need to take some advice from the age old philosopher, Socrates, when he said “Know Thyself.” Even as we are trying to become more like Jesus, we will see designed differences. If we study ourselves in light of the Scriptures and our uniqueness in the eyes of God, we will be doing only what we are uniquely designed to do. This will bring more clarity and alignment to our lives.

Are we trying to be like someone else so much we are robbing the kingdom of our unique contribution? Are we cramming others into our “method mold” instead of majoring on Biblical principles?

Alignment with the Creator

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Wham! The pothole was so deep I thought I was on my way to China! My steering wheel was going crazy and when I got on the highway I thought the whole car was falling apart. You guessed it, my steering had been knocked out of alignment. I wouldn’t be making a trip to the Orient but I would be visiting a mechanic ASAP.

Sometimes life can start to shimmy, drift, or even feel like the whole thing is coming apart. And like the wheels on a car, one of the main reasons is a lack of alignment with God.

You only have to go back to the beginning to see that God always intended us to be aligned with Him;

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1.27)

One of the fundamental mistakes we make is when we take matters into our own hands and align ourselves with anything else but our Creator. Ultimately, it leads to an identity crises (Which has become more than evident today with the whole gender/pronoun debacle). It all started to breakdown back in the garden when Adam and Eve decided align themselves with their own ways (which was really Satan’s ways – Genesis 3).

But Jesus is not only the Great Shepherd but He’s also the Great Mechanic. He has provided a way to be realigned with God and solve our identity crisis. Basically, we let Him take the steering wheel of our life. Consider the following Scriptures;

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2.20)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10.10-11)

But just like checking the alignment on your car, we must periodically check our alignment with God (and it’s probably a good idea to check daily). One of the ways we can do this is by reading and studying the Word of God daily. I know that if I line my life up with His Word and His ways, I’m going to be in perfect alignment. Oh, we’ll still hit some potholes a long the way but the whole thing is not going to veer off into a ditch. How’s your alignment with God going?

Next time we’ll talk about our specific alignment based on our personality, gifts, station in life, etc…

Jesus had an AIM

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I like to ask people a trick question; “Who was the wisest person to ever live?” Solomon! Nope. Jesus! That’s why when I’m looking for an example to follow, I always go to Jesus first. So when we are looking for a role model with AIM, clear purpose in life, Jesus is our “Go To” person.

So what was Jesus’s AIM? First, He was perfectly aligned with the Father and His purpose . Consider the following passages;

  • Alignment
    • Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (John 5.19)
    • For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. (John 12.49)
    • “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22.42)

But what about intimacy? What kind of example did Jesus set for us between He and the Father?

  • Intimacy
    • And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3.17)
    • All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Luke 10.22)
    • And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23.46)

And lastly, how did Jesus model a clear sense of calling to His mission or ministry?

  • Mission
    • He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (Mark 1.38)
    • For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19.10)
    • I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17.4)

So it’s pretty clear that Jesus is a great role model on what it looks like to have a crystal clear purpose in life. Jesus had His AIM. Now we need to take a page out of His playbook and discover our AIM too.

What’s your AIM?

Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air
1 Corinthians 9.26

Most of us have heard of “the fog of war.” But have you ever heard of the “fog of life.” If not, I bet you $10 and a doughnut you have experienced it! It’s where the rhythm of the mundane or the tyranny of the urgent so obscures your direction in life, you could be groping about in the dark.

Recently, we asked our son and daughter-in-law, Wes & Tina, to share their experiences of making disciples and planting churches. The biggest takeaway for the disciples gathered in our living room was Wes & Tina’s clarity in their purpose. They knew exactly what Jesus has called them to do. In fact, that message of a clear vision for life was so potent, it immediately multiplied to three generations of disciples!

I spent time meditating on what my son said. It challenged me to think about the questions I ask as a disciple-maker. One question I routinely ask is, “What’s your next major step in pursuing Jesus?” It dawned on me, I could ask that question but if a person didn’t have a clear purpose or vision for life, they could be taking the next “major step” in the wrong direction!

That’s when the Lord gave me another question; “What are you Aiming at?”

AIM

  • Alignment – Becoming all God meant me to be.
  • Intimacy – Growing closer in my relationship with Jesus and others.
  • Mission – Making disciples.

In order for disciples to stay on target with their walk with God they need to have a clear vision from God for their life. They need to Aim. I’m going to spend the next few blog posts fleshing this out, starting with “How Jesus had an Aim in His life.”

Hurry it Up God!

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Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Hurry, O LORD, to help me!

Psalm 70.1

One of the things I love about King David is that he’s real. He’s believable because, quite frankly, most of us have been there. Our emotions swirling about our circumstances and in complete conflict with good theology. I identify with David’s “humanness.” But the notion of God being in a hurry, well, just ain’t so. Is God so far off that He needs to cover some ground to rescue us? Or is He surprised by our plight? Quickening God’s pace insinuates that He has been caught off guard or is somehow indisposed with something else. I understand David’s anxiety, but God is an ever-present Helper with us. He can attend to every need of every person simultaneously without breaking a sweat. Do we have confidence that our God will always be “on time?”

Simplicity – An Antidote to Worldly Culture and Tradition

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Many of us are struggling with Culture and Tradition (C/T) in the midst of modern Christianity. Lately, I’ve been looking at how Jesus delt with the problem of C/T eroding true discipleship. One of His antidotes to the C/T problem is simplicity. In Luke 10 we see the Simplicity of Ministry, Obedience, and Intimacy. First the Simplicity of Ministry. Jesus sends the disciples out two by two with nothing but the power to heal and a simple kingdom message. They see the results prophets and kings long to see. (Luke 10.1-24) Then the Simplicity of Obedience; Love God and Love People. Note that loving one’s neighbor has no miracle associated with it. The Samaritan simply takes care of the man the best he can. (Luke 10.25-37) And lastly the Simplicity of Intimacy. (Luke 10.38-42) Mary just wanted to be with and hear from Jesus. Martha, like C/T, tends to complicate things and breaks down relational intimacy. What areas are we burdened with C/T and need to simplify?

Credit Where Credit is Due –

Read (Acts 1-4) – The highest recorded number of true disciples in Jesus’s ministry was a little more than 500 disciples (1 Cor 15.6). There could have been a lot more but it’s not documented in the Scriptures. And sure, Jesus fed 5000 and 4000 but these were probably not true converts (Jn 6.26-27, 65-66) So when Peter leads 3000 people to Christ after his first sermon (Act 2.41) and 5000 after his second (Act 4.4) it seems pretty spectacular and it is. I don’t want to take anything away from Peter’s ministry but one could start getting the idea that Peter was more successful than Jesus (and the rest of the Apostles for that matter). But consider what Jesus said as the founder of the movement;I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have come into their labor.” (Read Jn 4.35-38)Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. (Read Jn 14.11-14)Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (Read Jn 12.24)It was the catalytic ministry of the Savior that set the stage for the great harvest after Peter’s sermons. It was by Jesus’s aggressive proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom throughout the whole region, His brutal execution, and His pouring out of the Holy Spirit that lit the fuse for the explosive growth experienced in Acts 2-4. The movement began with Jesus and will always belong to Jesus no matter what stage of growth it may be in at any given season. Are we taking credit for what Jesus is doing? Are we feeling short changed because we are not seeing what others may see as “success?” Are we joyful at the prospect of being a part of the greatest enterprise known to man? (Mt 28.18-20)

Emotional Intelligence –

Read (Mt 28.1-8, Mk 16.1-11, Lk 24.1-11, Jn 20.1-2) –  One of the benefits of reading the Harmony of the Gospels is that you pick up on different emotions. For instance, when the women return from the tomb of our risen Savior, they experience a whirlwind of emotions; “So they departed quickly and ran from the tomb. Trembling, astonishment, and great joy overwhelmed them.” (Sync) Wow! Can you imagine feeling all these things at once? And yet it gives us a clearer picture of the story. Emotions bring the story to life and pull us in a little closer as we identify with the characters. While reading the Scriptures, make sure you identify all the emotions. Meditate on them. Are we reading the Word like a text book or a personal letter? Are we walking with these real life characters in such a way that it transforms our lives?

How to Die –

Read (Mt 27.45-56, Mk 15.33-41, Lk 23.44-49, Jn 19.28-37) – Jesus, not only showed us how to live, but He showed us how to die. Listen to the testimony of His executioners; “When the centurion and those with him were standing opposite of Jesus and keeping watch over Him, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, and the way he breathed his last, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God! The centurion began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!”” (Sync) Will our lives be so saturated with Jesus and His gospel that when we die people will glorify God? Will our deaths proclaim the good news just as much as our lives? I’m praying for such a miracle in my passage from here into eternity.

Pride or Paradise –

Read (Mt 27.33-44, Mk 15.22-32, Lk 23.33-43, Jn 19.16b-27) – I am amazed when I contrast the reactions of the two criminals crucified with Jesus. The first criminal, even in his pain and impending death, he arrogantly mocks the Savior. I guess he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory showing that he was still in control. No respect and no remorse. On the other hand you have the epitome of brokenness and humility. The second criminal acknowledges his own guilt and then pleads with the Savior and King; “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This simple act of contrition, repentance, and faith receives this amazing response from the Messiah; “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” So simple and yet powerful (and eternal!). Have you come before Jesus in this simple way of acknowledging your failure and His right to judge or forgive? Are you telling others about this amazing King?