Wednesday, June 12, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Risk, Part Two

Last week I introduced my favorite topic of the series...RISK. Did you miss it? If so, read here. Risk is step four in my six part series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." Want exclusive material from this series? If so, make sure that you have subscribed here. This week's post on risk focuses on a critical biblical story...Read on!

It’s natural that risk elicits fear. I like how Parker Palmer embraces fear with respect to living our life purpose. Reflecting upon Jesus’ command to not be afraid, he states: "'Be not afraid’ does not mean we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear…Instead, the words say we do not need to be the fear we have…” * Palmer argues that fear is not necessarily an alarming sign. Mark Twain wrote, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Faith can provide us with the courage we need to counter fear effectively. {Tweet that.}

Palmer describes what courage from faith looks like. He writes, “We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well—places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear…” * Where we choose to stand has everything to do with courage. We must not opt to stand on ground that is “riddled with the fault lines of fear.” Instead, we can stand on Christ’s firm foundation by choosing trust, hope, and faith.


There is a stunning story in the Gospel of Matthew (14:22-33) that concerns where we stand as well. The disciples are on a boat in tumultuous waters. Early in the morning, Jesus begins walking on water toward them; the disciples think he is a ghost and are terrified. Jesus identifies himself and tells them to not be afraid. Peter responds by asking Jesus to confirm his identity by commanding Peter to step off the boat and walk toward him on the water. Jesus agrees and commands him. Peter walks safely for a little while until a strong wind blows and he doubts. His feet become shaky and he starts to sink as he cries out to Jesus for help. Immediately, Jesus offers his hand. As they climb into the boat, the wind stops blowing. Jesus’ response to Peter is: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Standing on water wasn’t the problem—it was Peter’s unbelief.

There are three significant takeaways to this story. First, it’s important to recognize that Jesus commands Peter to climb out of the boat. In other words, Jesus is calling Peter to risk at the sound of his voice. Peter will have to depend upon the firm foundation that Jesus offers by faith to stand upon the stormy waters. Second, Peter does not risk until Jesus commands him to do so. Peter is not jumping out of the boat and into tumultuous waters for his own name’s sake; instead, he wants to follow the specific call of Jesus. Once he hears it, Peter knows it is safe to counter his fear by faith and act courageously. Third, this leap of faith allows Peter to do something spectacular that gives glory to the power of God. It’s only when Peter doubts that he starts to sink, and this feat isn’t possible.

We are called to risk as Christians only at the sound of Jesus’ voice. Our own fear nor the stormy waters should not stop us when we hear it. As we discern God’s voice, as we surrender to our life purpose or God’s calling in our lives, our faith can equip us to respond with courage and carry out the impossible for God’s glory too! {Tweet that.}

* Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000), 93-94.

Monday, June 3, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Risk, Part One

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week we begin step four on risk. For material on the first three steps, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them next week, so be sure that you have subscribed here. 


When I was younger, I loved to climb a tree at a neighbor’s house. You had to be a certain height to throw your arms around its lowest branch and hoist yourself up. I remember the day I was first able to do it and the fun that ensued. At first, I mounted up the tree slowly and carefully. But the tomboyish spirit of my youth quickly won out as I swung from branch to branch. I felt tall, strong, invincible. Luckily, the worst repercussion I ever experienced while climbing was a random splinter or scraped knee. 

There’s a balance of exhilaration and danger that a tree offers a young child, and I find the same to be true as I strive to fulfill my life purpose as an adult today. Daily, I need to have a comfort level with risk and sometimes, an appetite for adventure. From trying something new in ministry to writing vulnerable words on a page, when I get it right, the thrill feels like it did the first day on those high branches—it’s exhilarating! At the same time, some things don't work and some outcomes are disappointing. Pushing through those bumps and bruises is a part of the process.

American author and professor John Shedd once wrote, “A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are built for.” I’m convinced that a well-lived Christian life will involve risk; otherwise, faith would not be necessary. It’s no mistake that “do not be afraid” is the Bible’s most repeated statement. In fact, Jesus says it and its derivatives three times more than anything else. He knew we’ll never know the fun—nor view—that awaits us if we don’t have the willingness to grab that first branch.

Grabbing a branch or being willing to risk is the next step on our journey toward living our life purpose. Up until this point, we have explored longing, surrender, and an inventory of our strengths to discern it. Now it’s time to use our strengths and implement what we’ve found; no doubt, this will involve risk. What’s key to our understanding is that this risk is not random—it’s calculated. It’s the very risk God is calling us to take. Being willing to follow God’s lead will bolster our faith and open new adventure. {Tweet that.}

A life of faith is supposed to be a life of adventure. God's call to action will require our dependence on him. It’s a spectacular dance of his call and our response that increases our intimacy. As we stretch for his hand of support in our obedience, we learn more about God’s trustworthiness and character. We experience the thrill of challenge side by side, together. We become more fully who we were meant to be. {Tweet that.}

The upside of healthy risk is considerable. Imagine the risk the merchant undertook to grasp the pearl; he sold everything he had, and his profession was dealing goods! While that must have been scary, he gained far more in return. We can too. In this step, I’ll explore risk using a contemporary example and scripture, continue our discussion of theology, and offer another life story. The latter will be for subscribers, so be sure you've signed up here!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Baby Boy Kirchner #3 Is Here!

Dear Readers,

My apologies for the lag in my life purpose series and delayed delivery of your bonus content! Baby Boy Kirchner came early! My water broke two weeks ago, and he arrived in the world happy and healthy...but I have been playing sleep catch up ever since! I am finally awake enough to post an update! It is with great thanksgiving that I share these pictures. Please expect your awaited bonus content this month, and my life purpose series will resume next month, probably mid-month. Check out my social media pages in the meantime for updates.



Thank you for sharing in our joy, and we would relish your love and prayers during this special time! Our new baby is a miracle in every sense, as every child is!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, Part Three

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week we continue step three, an inventory of strengths, with a theological and biblical discussion. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them next week, so be sure that you have subscribed here.

Discerning our strengths, also referred to as our talents or gifts in this series, is key to living our life purpose. I use life purpose to mean God’s comprehensive plan or direction for our life. Another term that is important to a theological understanding of this topic is vocation.

Theologians John Calvin and Martin Luther both developed specific teachings or doctrines on vocation. They understood its scope to extend well beyond traditional ministry positions, such as the monastic life, which was revolutionary in their day. Their broad description of vocation included “even the lowliest daily tasks” as means of responding to God. * Calvin believed that one could even sweep the floor for God’s glory!

The aim of Christian vocation is to give God glory. “As we honor and serve God in our daily life and labor, we worship God. Whatever our situation, we have opportunities each day to bear witness to the power of God at work within us. Therefore, for Christians, worship, work, and witness cannot be separated." * It is our responsiveness and the pervasiveness of our worship that gives God glory. 



How we honor God through our lives will vary. God left his creative thumbprint upon us as our Creator. While we have been infused with different strengths, we are all united as Christians as we serve God through them. “We all, each of us, will write the definition of what this service means as we live out our calls. Whether in the ministry of word and sacrament, in teaching, specialized ministries, administration—whatever and wherever—the common thread of service to God in Christ ties us together.” * In other words, though we have different life purposes, we have one goal. 

While God wants to utilize our strengths to do his work “whatever and wherever” in the world, God has set apart some tasks for the church. Paul addresses the concept of spiritual gifts three main times in scripture in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Because every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift or strength, they should be included in this step’s discussion too.

There two kinds of spiritual gifts. First, there are extraordinary ones like speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and miracles. Scripture also names others that are more commonly used in church life. These are the gifts of administration, artistry, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, hospitality, intercession, knowledge, leadership, mercy, vocal and instrumental music, pastoring/shepherding, service, skilled craft, teaching, wisdom, and writing. While it’s clear that certain gifts can carry over into work outside of the church, the primary function of spiritual gifts is to unite, grow, and mature the church. *

An assessment of our spiritual strengths is a factor as we live our life purpose. What unites our gifts—whether spiritual or otherwise—is that we’re meant to employ them to give God glory. Also, they are just that—gifts. They are not something we choose; they are given to us. Uncovering and utilizing them will unlock a greater joy in our lives through our Creator!

* John R. Walchenbach, "Vocation," The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology, edited by Donald K. McKim (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001) 231.
* Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, "Directory for Worship," W-5.0105.
Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 342.
* “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts Scripture Review — Printable Version,” Elca.org. 

Subscribers will receive exclusive material, sent right to their inbox, to conclude this step next week! I will continue sharing my personal story with them as I have found my life purpose—don't miss it! 
Have you watched my recent interview? It's hit over 2K views! Watch here. To see my most recent sermon, click here.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, Part Two

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week continue step three, which is an inventory of strengths, with six specific pointers. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here


Assessing and inventorying our strengths takes time and effort; it is a process. Some have likened it to completing a dot to dot picture. As a child connects the numbered dots, a picture takes shape. Likewise, as we faithfully inventory the gifts we’ve received from our Creator, an image of our life purpose will form. It’s important to recognize that while this image involves our surrender and service, it should not feel imposed. In fact, surrendering to it paradoxically brings us freedom and life. Author Rebekah Lyons describes our purpose as living the life that makes our heart sing.

Asking insightful questions of ourselves can unearth our strengths and God-given life purpose. The following are pointers to help us do that; watch how they are rooted in what brings us joy:

1.     Describe a memorable life experience in which you felt “most alive, creative, inspired, in harmony with yourself and the world.”
2.     Can you recall a time in which you felt the things listed in pointer one specifically in a productive work environment? 
3.     Describe a time in your life when you were “most aware of the Holy, the sacred, or God’s presence.” If you are new to faith or unaware of such a time, use this description as a guide: “Many such experiences are associated with feelings of timelessness, harmony, peace, unity with all people and things, a sense of well-being, or a sense of being part of a loving mystery that is bigger than the person.”
4.     Take an inventory of what you value most about yourself, home, work, and work environment.
5.     Think intentionally about meaning by discerning how you derive it, i.e. from what kinds of values, activities, or things? 
6.     Finally, take an inventory of your wishes for the future by including two wishes each for your personal life, work life, and the world.

These pointers are taken from a book designed to help people discern their life purpose comprehensively by saying yes to God, their neighbor, and themselves. * Our strengths will factor into this assessment and undergird several answers. For instance, pointers one and two will probably reveal them to you in action and pointer four will help you articulate them about yourself. What did you discover? Stay tuned as our exploration continues next week!

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32 and 34.

Did you miss my recent sermon or Chaos to Calm show with NYT bestselling author, Dr. Leonard Sax? To watch the sermon and a surprise reading by acclaimed children's author Laura Sassi, click here. To hear Dr. Sax weigh in on boys' education and the effects of video games, click here. Don't forget to "thumbs up" the videos! Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, Part One

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week we begin step three, which is an inventory of strengths. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here.



Pinpointing our longing and surrendering to God are key factors to living our life purpose. Another aspect that’s essential to living it is an honest assessment of our strengths and a willingness to use them. In other words, we must discern God’s plan and then give the best of our very selves.

Sometimes it’s easy to be nitpicky with ourselves. Rather than having gratitude and appreciation for what we’re doing right, we focus on our shortcomings and what we’re doing wrong. Living our purpose calls us to use and build upon our strengths. One psychologist claims, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” * We can't forget that our Creator has gifted us for a reason.

Sometimes we are aware of our signature strengths because we’ve manifested and cultivated them from an early age. Sometimes they need some reflection. Maybe they’ve long been latent, and it takes the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of others to bring them to light. Or new experiences unearth talent we never knew we had. Or we see our strength functioning one way, but God takes it in a completely different direction that somehow still “fits.”

Being mindful of our strengths is essential because it is a biblical imperative that we use them. Jesus teaches us this in the Parable of the Talents. In Matthew 25, a master gives three servants a sum of money to look after in his absence. Two of the three servants successfully trade and double their master’s money. One servant, however, buries his money in the ground in fear. Upon his return, the master commends the first two and banishes the third.

While the talents are money in the parable, they also represent our own giftedness or strengths. We are to use those our Creator God has given us in Jesus’ service. Rather than shrink back in fear, we are called to employ and multiply those gifts for God’s glory. The parable is clear that God will not only acknowledge our willingness through a close accounting but will also richly reward it.

This conclusion fits with the parable of the pearl too. In that parable, the merchant receives a great reward indeed. This exchange costs him everything he owns, however. Mining our gifts for our Creator’s plan shows the wise investing of our very selves for God’s glory. Stay tuned for helpful pointers to help us do just that from a contemporary resource, continued study of theology and scripture, and examples from my own life story as we further explore this step!

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32.

Did you miss my recent sermon or Chaos to Calm show with NYT bestselling author, Dr. Leonard Sax? To watch the sermon and a surprise reading by acclaimed children's author Laura Sassi, click here. To hear Dr. Sax weigh in on boys' education and the effects of video games, click here. Don't forget to "thumbs up" the videos! Thank you for your support!

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