Friday, July 19, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Persistence, Part Three

Step five in our six part series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose," is underway. This is our third week studying persistence. Prior steps of the series have been longing, surrender, an inventory of strengths, and risk. To catch up on prior steps, scroll through my blog. To receive exclusive material like this next week from my own story, subscribe here

1 Timothy 6:12 reads, “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (NRSV). This notion of “fighting the good fight of faith” alludes to persistence—living our faith will not always be easy, for a fight is required and mustered courage is implied.

Theologian John Calvin cleverly picks up on these principles as he writes:
Nothing can fill us with courage more than the knowledge that we have been called by God. For from that we may infer that our labor, which is under God’s direction, and in which He stretches out His hand to us, will not be in vain. Thus, it would be a very serious accusation against us to have rejected God’s call. It should, however, be the strongest encouragement to us to be told, “God hath called thee to eternal life. Beware of being distracted by anything else or of falling short in any way, before thou hast obtained it.” *
According to Calvin, no labor is in vain when we are living our life purpose. He advocates honoring the primacy of God’s call and keeping from being distracted in any way. Persistence, therefore, is necessary for a genuine observance of faith.

Calvin wants us to live each day as if our decisions and obedience really count. Considering eternal life necessitates that we number our days this side of heaven. His writing encourages a sense of focus. 


In other words, we have to dig our heels in and keep going.



John R. Walchenbach, "Vocation," The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology, edited by Donald K. McKim (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 233.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Persistence, Part Two

Step five in our six part series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose," began last week. For four weeks, we will be studying persistence. Prior steps of the series have been longing, surrender, an inventory of strengths, and risk. To catch up on prior steps, scroll through my blog. To receive exclusive material like this every month from my own story, subscribe here!

While persistence involves our own action in obedience, it can also involve our willingness to wait for God to act. Is there a blessing you've been waiting for? Is there a dream that God has put on your heart? Have been several roadblocks and disappointments along the way? Just ask a toddler if waiting is any fun. The frustration and whining of the "terrible two's" really doesn't get any easier; the struggle just becomes more internal as we age.


Scripture reveals that we’re not alone in our waiting. The Psalmist yearns, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning" (130:5-6, NRSV). But the Psalmist also declares God’s faithfulness while we wait too. The Psalmist professes in 27:13-14, "I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Asking us to “be strong” and “wait for the Lord” implies persistence.



This encouragement is important because waiting is often necessary, especially as it pertains to our life purpose. While we understand the frustration of waiting from an early age, the things we want as we get older usually take a bit more arranging. A dream come true takes more than a flick of magical wand or a cookie from our parent's hand. It's often a compilation of years of striving, faithfulness, and even heartbreak until we taste the sweet fruit of satisfaction. But the Lord promises, someway, somehow, that fruit will come. {Tweet that.}

The pinecone is an interesting metaphor for persistence. Notice that while the pinecone is one object, it's made up of many "leaves" called scales. Each scale must grow individually to produce the ovular shape we know as the pinecone. Its formation is a multi-step process. To uncover God's faithfulness in big ways, we need to be faithful in little ways. We need to allow each scale to form along the path toward the completion of our God-given purpose. Every decision matters. Frustration cannot lead to giving in or giving up while our formation is still in process. 

The Psalmist extols, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act" (37:4-5). Paul echoes the psalm in Galatians 6:9 by encouraging, "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." Both verses, along with the pinecone, reflect the tension that persistence involves not only our continued action in obedience but also our willingness to wait for God’s action too.

The faithful have waited throughout the centuries and over the course of each lifetime. The Bible resounds with God's faithfulness all the same. Time and time again, witnesses prove it. If you are weary and ready to give up, be encouraged by the promises of a faithful God. Like the pinecone, you are forming. Commit your ways to the Lord and stay tuned to witness the full expression of God's artistry through you. You're going to see something beautiful.


***


It's been a landmark week on the blog! It hit 200,000 views since its inception! Thank you to the thousands who are checking in each month! I pray God has been touching your heart through this series. Stay tuned for next week as we continue our study on persistence!

Monday, July 1, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Persistence, Part One

Step five in our six part series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose," begins today. For four weeks, we will be studying persistence. Prior steps of the series have been longing, surrender, an inventory of strengths, and risk. To catch up on prior steps, scroll through my blog. To receive exclusive material like this every month from my own story of finding and living my life purpose, subscribe here!

Our journey in this series began with a discussion of the parable of the pearl. You can find it here. The scripture itself, from Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV), records Jesus saying: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."

I cannot imagine the resolve that the merchant must have had to sell everything he owned for the pearl. As he parted with each piece of property bit by bit, his fingers trembled as tinges of fear crept in. It is not hard to believe that he could have been experiencing full-blown panic. He was letting go of the security he had made for himself to receive far greater security solely by faith. He was being transformed. Now Jesus offers him as an example of how to respond to God’s call in our lives, because he willingly remains persistent even in risk to claim his prize.

The merchant’s parable understandably involves goods. His goods stand for whatever we depend upon for our livelihoods. God is the ultimate source of our security—not just spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. God wants our relationship with him to be the guiding factor for our lives. For this relationship to mature and deepen, we must remain persistent in our obedience and pursuit of him. In so doing, we slowly draw nearer to the pearl ourselves.

Persistence is a rich biblical principle; growth in the kingdom of God requires it. When I was in high school, I remember feeling impatient to begin ministering. I saw what a difference I could make on a mission trip, and I wanted to feel that real-time difference everyday instead of being buried under mounds of future homework. But my youth pastor encouraged me to look to nature for wisdom in my frustration. A sapling, he said, springs up quickly, but its roots are shallow and its trajectory is small. A mighty oak, however, allows time for its roots to burrow deeply into the ground. These roots weather many winters, but that makes the tree stronger and eventually more productive: It has more shade, lumber, and beauty to share. The same can be said of us. The kingdom of heaven often hinges upon slow, quiet, persistent growth as God actively transforms us. {Tweet that.}



Our transformations will look different because we have different life purposes. Persistence may be needed in our training, in our work inside or outside of the home, or certainly in our diligent pursuit of God. The key is that we do not give up; we do not waver despite potential risk or actual cost. Paul agrees, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine). Here, perseverance and persistence are interchangeable. Paul is arguing that having persistence is inherent to the Christian call; it not only produces external results, it also develops an inner fortitude as we grow in relationship and trust in Jesus. Both are key to living our God-given life purpose.

Questions to think about this week: Can you remember a time when you were persistent and it paid off? How might God be calling you to be persistent now, and what might the benefits be?

Monday, June 17, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Risk, Part Three

Step four in my "How to Live Your Life Purpose" series continues this week with risk. Did you miss the prior two weeks? You can catch up by reading week one and week two on risk. The final installment of this step will be sent exclusively to subscribers next week, so be sure that you have subscribed here!


Peter’s ability to walk on water in our study last week gave glory to God. Paul urges all Christians to “…do everything for the glory of God” in I Corinthians 10:31. Christian theology agrees. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: “What is the chief end of humanity?” The answer is our chief end is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” One way that we can glorify God is by offering him our very lives in obedience.

I love how the Directory for Worship for my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), defines the Christian life. It states, “Christian life springs from Christian worship, where we find our identity as believers and discover our calling as disciples. Christian life flows back into worship as we present to God the prayers of our hearts and the offering of our lives” (W-5.0101). Our lives become offerings when we surrender to God’s plan and show a willingness to hear him. Like Peter, this offering will sometimes call us to leave the safety of our boats and embrace risk at God’s direction. {Tweet that.}

Our obedience will not only help us; it will also benefit the church. As Christians, we obey and risk to fulfill our God-given purpose, and this purpose is connected to God’s larger plan for the world. Living out our life purpose enables us to be God’s redemptive hands and feet as we follow his direction. {Tweet that.} Our courage to counter risk by faith can inspire others to be bold and effect kingdom victories of their own too!

Questions to think about this week: Have you ever considered how what God is calling you to do could connect to his larger plan for the world? Have you ever observed how a simple act of your obedience to God produced a ripple effect that you did not expect? 

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!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Watch NOW: Extended Chaos to Calm Episode Special!


I had the honor of sitting down with the New York Times bestselling author Dr. Leonard Sax for a second Chaos to Calm episode this month! This time, I interviewed him on his most popular book to date, Boys Adrift. We talked about barriers to boys' education and the effects of video games on boys' development—issues that are so important, we shot an extended episode special!

Watch HERE:


Dr. Sax delves into issues like:

What is the evidence that boys are lagging behind girls in school?
What can a parent do to advocate for their son?
What can educational experts do to make schools more boy-friendly by using the research?
How do video games really impact my child?
Are some video games more "dangerous" to my child's development than others?

For all of these reasons and for many more, you won't want to miss this expert's opinion and practical advice that you can implement right now to help your son, your school, or your community.

Next week, we'll be picking back up on our life purpose series with step three. Are you already a subscriber? If not, subscribe here to receive future exclusive bonus content from this series!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Watch My Newest Sermon: "The Best Legacy"

I'm excited to share with you my favorite sermon yet—one from the heart! I returned to preach at my church's contemporary service this March seven months pregnant. For the message, I shared my grandmother's miraculous faith healing from cancer. Her story challenges us to believe in God's continued miraculous work in the world and also encourages us to share our faith, which is her most lasting legacy to me. 

As a special treat, acclaimed children's book author Laura Sassi read her newest book, Love is Kind, for the children's message. Watch as she relates to the children in an endearing way to equip them to share their faith and love with others too! I hope you enjoy it!

Watch HERE:


The story of my grandmother's miracle reminds me of I Chronicles 16:8-12:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles...

After watching, I hope you will consider all that God has done for you and feel inspired to tell others about it!

Stay tuned for another recording coming next week! I've also taped an extended episode special for my TV show, Chaos to Calm, with repeat guest Dr. Leonard Sax. I interviewed him on his recently updated and most popular book, Boys' Adrift, for this boy-centered episode. Hear this New York Times bestselling author hone in on the modern challenges to boys' success in education and the effects of video games on boys' development. He offers parents loads of practical advice that I hope you won't miss!

Our life purpose series will begin again in two weeks!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Sneak Peek into Bonus Material!

Next week, subscribers to my blog will receive the second installment of exclusive material relating to my newest series, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the series, I divide living your life purpose into six steps. The exclusive material relates to my own journey of living my life purpose for each of those steps. As a courtesy, I wanted to share what subscribers received as the first installment; it relates to longing. Next week's installment will pick up there and relate to surrender. Be sure that you have subscribed here to follow along!



The Day I First Thought Minister

I discovered the orienting principle of life purpose one day by a lakeshore. As I reflect on it now, it was a moment reminiscent of Jesus’ call to his early disciples by the seaside. Matthew 4:19-20 describes how they put down their nets at the sound of his voice. Centuries later, his voice calls on. I heard it call to me one spring afternoon.

I sat in prayerful tears by the quiet shores of Lake Michigan. I was experiencing longing and petitioning God like Hannah. I was in your typical college uniform — worn jeans and a loose T-shirt, and I was leaning against my pre-med backpack that was always too heavy. As the waves repeatedly crashed on the nearby shore and the winds softly stroked my cheek, it was as if I had climbed into the lap of the Father. My frustration was not your typical overworked, worn-out pre-med one. I was presenting my Father with a hole in my heart — I could sense that something was missing — but I knew that only he and I could understand it. That’s when my soul heard the word, “ministry.” It was not what I expected.

A divine word. The entire world came into being through them. Jesus was the living, breathing existence of them. And now the Creator had spoken one to my very spirit. Words of God bring direction, purpose. They turned a formless void into miraculous earthly life. They allowed us to see with clarity the incredible heart of God through the God-man Jesus. And now, one word had granted me a vision for my life. I only had a glimpse, I only had the notion, but this new seed sunk deep within and resonated with the soil of my past. I had wanted to heal as a faith-filled doctor, but God opened me to the possibility of healing souls instead of bodies. While my pre-med work was draining, the very idea of ministry inspired me.

I realized the One who knew me and shaped me had been guiding me all along. In that one word, I experienced God’s love and pleasure. In that one word, I felt overwhelming elation and awe as he revealed his purpose for me, a creation forged and covered with his fingerprints. Isaiah professes, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). I was sticky with clay, opening my eyes as if for the first time. 

I left that lakeshore rock with my answer just as Hannah had left the temple. But little did I know this divine answer was just the beginning of my journey.

Questions to think about this week: Can you pinpoint a time that you have experienced answered prayer? Did the answer surprise you? In what ways, overt or subtle, have you felt God lead your heart in terms of your chosen life direction?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. We are currently exploring the second step, which is surrender. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more biblically and theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the second step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with surrender and my life purpose. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. Thank you for your support!

Discerning the footprint of the Creator in our makeup is the first step of surrender; the second step is actively responding to what we discover. The idea of God’s call and our response is integral to theology. God starts the process with a call to faith. Our response is then two-fold: to believe and to act obediently to God’s direction in our lives. The latter certainly includes our willingness to assume our life purpose. It’s important to recognize that God is always the initiator in this process: “God in Christ is always the subject. God issues the call, the invitation, the summons. It remains for humans to respond.” * And our response to God matters.

A well-known biblical character receives a direct summons from the Lord and, instead of obeying it, runs away. God not only calls Jonah to a place where he doesn’t want to go, but to his worst enemy. God’s message for the people of Nineveh could in fact redeem them, and Jonah wants no part of it. As he is fleeing, his boat encounters stormy waters and he is thrown overboard, only to be swallowed by a whale. He isn’t spit out at once. Instead, he lives in the fish.


This kind of engulfment has spiritual resonance. We may not have been eaten by a fish, but we can certainly be mired in depression and longing when we do not surrender to God’s plan for our lives. In some instances, it feels like we are living in a self-imposed trap. The redeeming element of Jonah’s story is not only the deliverance he experiences from the fish through his eventual obedience, but an acknowledgment that sometimes this act of surrender can be hard—very hard. 

It’s no mistake that the first two Ten Commandments concern the primacy that God wants to have in our lives. I’m convinced God is aware of the strength of the forces that would pull us otherwise. God’s call and our surrender can challenge our comfort-level, security, need for social approval, and the expectations of our parents or boss, for instance. For Jonah, it even offended his sense of personal justice! Our willingness to obey and surrender despite the perceived costs not only effects our own deliverance of sorts, but it also unites us with other Christians who are resolved to do the same. No matter our different lives, different directions, or different challenges, we are all called by God.

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), 336.

Questions to think about this week: What forces are particularly strong in your life that challenge your obedience to God's call? Have you experienced a kind of engulfment as a result? What would surrender look like for you? 

Monday, February 25, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. The second step is surrender, which I introduced last week. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Stay tuned for part three on surrender next week!

Surrender is a counter-intuitive step to living our life purpose given the nature of most self-help literature today. We want to do something; to make something happen. But the spiritual path differs from this perspective. Vocation and life coaching experts Robert and Kim Voyle write, “Your life is not something you own. You did not create it and it’s not for you to tell it, or God, what it should be. You may however gratefully and humbly awaken to your life, discover its purpose and manifest it in the world. In this your deepest longings will be fulfilled…” * To do so, we must tune into the voice within and to our Creator.

The Bible says that our Creator formed us with purpose and intention. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably seen hard proof of this. Children can express tendencies and personalities that are unique to them instead of cultivated by you. We can raise each of our children the same way, and yet they can turn out so differently. Psalm 139 confirms this by testifying that our Creator God is at work forming us with a plan before birth.



Christian author Parker Palmer realized this not as a parent, but as a grandfather. He marveled at the unique tendencies of his granddaughter from birth and decided to start recording them in the form of a letter. Parker had experienced depression in his own life before reconnecting with his purpose, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to his granddaughter. In his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation, he explains, 
When my granddaughter reaches her late teens or early twenties, I will make sure that my letter finds its way to her, with a preface something like this: 'Here is a sketch of who you were from your earliest days in this world. It is not a definitive picture – only you can draw that. But it was sketched by a person who loves you very much. Perhaps these notes will help you do sooner something your grandfather did only later: remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.' *
Whether it’s a rediscovery or kind of evolution, the spiritual life requires the time to discern and surrender when it comes to living our purpose. *

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32.
* Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000), 12.
* Note: This material is an excerpt from my article for iBelieve.com, "How to Know Your Life Purpose" (April 13, 2017), and is reprinted here with permission.

Questions to think about this week: What are some of your earliest memories of things that you have enjoyed doing in your life? What persistent personality traits have you expressed? How well do those observations marry with what you do now?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. This week, I'm introducing the second step, which is surrender. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Last week, subscribers received the story of my personal call to ministry!



As we have been exploring, the first step to living our life purpose is understanding longing. Given our multi-dimensional lives, it’s crucial that we create space for introspection to unpack the source of our longing as we strive to live our life purpose. When we do not take this time, our longing abides; we live with full schedules but thin souls. Keep in mind that thin souls result even when our schedules are filled with good things, as long as they are not the best things. 

Author Lysa TerKeurst takes up wise decision-making in her New York Times bestselling book The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in The Midst of Endless Demands. She describes a scenario that perhaps you will relate with too:
In this great day when most [people] wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents. We’ll tell you all about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today. 
All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls. And from these holes leaks the cry of the unfulfilled calling [or purpose] that never quite happened. We said yes to so much that we missed what I call our ‘Best Yes’ assignments — simply because we didn’t heed the warning of the whispers within that subtle place…
I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don’t know they’re part of the equation. I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes…
A Best Yes is you playing your part [in God’s plan]. *
Lysa’s words underline the concept that life purpose brings direction to our lives through the choices we make.

Direction and fulfillment hinge upon the quality of our choices. {Click to Tweet} Undergirding Lysa’s whole premise is the realization that our Best Yes opportunities, or best choices, stem from surrender. We discern them by seeking God’s will. We are selective in our scheduling to create space for what our Creator has destined for us. In other words, we’re not building our own vision of our lives; we’re allowing God to inform our choices so that we can increasingly embody his plan and reflect whom God created us to be.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore the essence of surrender and what it asks of us. Surrender is not foreign to Jesus’ discussion of the pearl from step one either. The merchant had to sell everything he owned to grasp it. Living our life purpose demands that we put pursuit of God’s call before everything else too. Our goal is not self-serving, but God will reward our effort all the same, which I'll discuss in later steps. For now, stay tuned as we unpack surrender through scripture, another contemporary author, theology, and continued elements of my personal story.

* Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2014), 5.

Questions to think about this week: Do you resonate with the expression that it's easy to live today with a "full schedule and thin soul?" What forces contribute to your full schedule? How do you experience a thin soul? 

Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. We are currently exploring the first step, which is longing. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the first step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with longing and the day I first received my call to ministry. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. And stay tuned for the next post here in two weeks. We'll begin step two, which is surrender. Thank you for your support!



Pacifying our longing will no doubt require our obedience to God in a variety of contexts, just as it did for Rebekah. She needed to express multiple roles such as mother, Christian, and writer to find fulfillment. While her expression meant adding something, for others it might mean pulling back. Regardless, its expression will not be unidimensional. Scholar Donald McKim agrees:
Our vocation is to be Christians in all we are, in all we do. For we are much more, as human beings, than merely our professions, important as they may be. We live as relational individuals, related to many, many people in complex networks of human communities. Should we not see our vocations as extending into all these arenas? Should we not see ourselves comprehensively as people called by God to involvement in all these fibers of human life and bring ourselves as Christians to them all? Yes, we should. *
In this context, living one’s vocation is synonymous with living their life purpose. A recognition of the complexities of life purpose allows us to better recognize and label our longing.

Mathew Arnold conveyed this truth poetically, “Resolve to be thyself: and know that he, who finds himself, loses his misery!” While longing and its associated misery can be alleviated by living our life purpose, there is a human tendency to avoid it. Theologian John Calvin observed “with what great restlessness human nature flames, with what fickleness it is borne hither and thither, how its ambition longs to embrace various things at once.” Living our life purpose therefore is a call to an obedient discipline of sorts. Its fruit is not only satisfaction, but direction. 

Direction is a gift ripe for our modern age. It’s so easy to live with full schedules and thin souls. We can live pressed for time and mired in commitment, such that life’s intangibles are choked out. These intangibles can include quality family time, faith experiences, relaxation, and the mental space for discernment. Checklists and resumes tell one side of the story; they don’t convey what opportunities were lost. Sitting with our longing, our thin souls, and taking time for introspection can allow us to make different decisions, better decisions. In effect, it’s God’s way of orienting our lives back to him as we grasp our full purpose like a pearl. In an exclusive story available only to subscribers next week, I will share what a moment like this looked like for me!

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), 341.

Questions to think about this week: Do you regularly allow time for introspection? How is it easiest for you to commune with God in daily living? Can you identify any challenges to proactively addressing longing in your life?

Monday, January 28, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last week, I introduced the first step, which is longing. This week, I'll explore what the Bible and a popular modern author have to say about longing. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here


When I open the pages of I Samuel, it is as if I can hear a woman crying. Hannah is crying so loudly at the temple gates that the priest thinks she is drunk. No doubt, she knows the emptiness of longing. That longing has rooted down deep inside of her and is bubbling out in hollow, irrational wails. Her heart aches, her soul cries, and she doesn’t care who sees it. While the scene initially offends the temple priest, what she is doing is right. She is taking her longing to the Lord.

Hannah wants a child. She feels becoming a mother is a part of her life purpose and her attempts have been futile. She feels the ache of her empty arms and appeals to the One who gave her that longing and could satisfy it in the first place. Upon learning about her situation, the temple priest blesses her. Priest Eli states, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him” (I Samuel 1:17). Soon, she has a newborn son.

While not everyone is a parent, all of us know the ache of longing. An important lesson from this biblical story is to remember to bring our longing to the Lord. It is Hannah’s boldness in prayer and willingness to approach the temple that brings about her fulfillment. God not only has the power to do what we cannot, but he yearns for us to approach him as the Wellspring of our longing. The psalmist describes our Creator God by proclaiming, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1). The church father Augustine, in turn, states, “Thou hast made us for thyself; and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.”

Author Rebekah Lyons knows restlessness well. In her book Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning, she writes about experiencing depression and panic attacks until she unearths a new life purpose. Her experience is not unique, especially among women. She conveys a startling statistic:
One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime. From anxiety attacks, as in my case, to mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on, women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely in the twenty-five to forty-four-year-old age bracket. We aren’t depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives. During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck. *
Rebekah believes the flurry of modern life with its constant demands plus a lack of felt life purpose feeds these numbers. Frequently caregivers for children during these years, women tend to overlook themselves. But overlooking ourselves is not limited to this predicament, gender, or age range.

Rebekah’s experience and statistics reveal longing. It’s important to recognize that she was active in ministry during this time of distress in her life. It’s not that she was making poor choices; her longing instead stood for a deeper need. Gifts were lurking beneath the surface. Once she started writing, she began to experience the freedom and relief of embodying her true self, whom God made her to be. Discovering her life purpose and giftedness enabled her to find healing.

While not all depression is rooted in a lack of life purpose, ignoring our life purpose will inevitably result in unhappiness. This is true for women and men. What’s intriguing about Rebekah’s example is that it recognizes the complexities of the enterprise itself. Rebekah is a wife, mother, ministry worker, and now writer. Life purpose is the compilation of many roles and many goals; it is a comprehensive expression of all of whom our Creator has designed us to be. {Click to Tweet} Whether it concerns a career, work inside the home, or volunteerism, it will look different for every person. For Rebekah, an important piece of that expression had been missing. 

* Rebekah Lyons, Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 66-67.

Questions to think about this week: In what roles or goals in your life are you happy, and which one or ones need improvement? Does either Hannah or Rebekah's ache resonate with your experience? Have you presented your ache to the Lord, and if so, how has God answered you or how is God prompting your heart right now?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, Part One

Beginning a new year marks the opportunity for a new beginning. 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 my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." 

In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Further, each step has subsections. I will be sharing a new subsection each week. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here

The parable of the pearl (Matthew 13:45-46) has long fascinated me. In it, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a rare and beautiful pearl, a pearl of great price. The merchant sells everything for that one pearl. While the reward is rich, the cost is steep—and many will walk away from the offer. Imagine that Jesus is stretching out his hand to offer you a single pearl right now. To grab it, you must go on a journey of six steps. Each of these steps will take you closer to understanding what you must leave behind and grapple with. It will also unlock greater value than you could know otherwise—a treasure from God’s own hand.

The pearl isn’t just about how we spend the afterlife. It’s about the choices we make right now. It’s about the various things, often compelling, that pull at us and effectively rob us of a greater prize. In this series, that prize is the monumental task of doing what we were meant to do on this earth. 

Living your life purpose is not a trivial pursuit. It’s living the life your heart beats for. It’s living the life destined for you by our Creator. Discerning and surrendering to it will unlock some of the richest fulfillment you can find on earth; that’s the power of living in sync with our Creator. Yet, while spiritual principles are plain and simple, living them is sometimes not as easy. We are often unwilling to grasp the pearl.


The first indication that we have not yet grasped the pearl is longing. God leaves his fingerprints on us regardless of our recognition or not. When we do not honor our God-given purpose with the everyday activities of our lives, we experience frustration and longing for change. Longing often feels like a consuming emptiness. Perhaps rallying for your day-to-day life takes a lot of convincing. That’s a sign that God has something better in store for you.

Because this longing can manifest itself in a variety of ways, we’re going to take a closer look at it. We’re going to look at a compelling example from scripture, a contemporary author, theology, and a story from my own life. Keep in mind that this is step one of the journey; God does not want to keep us here. But to grasp the pearl, we must come to terms with our longing for it in the first place. Just like the merchant who is searching for the pearl in Jesus’ parable, our longing is indicative of the need for our search.

Questions to think about this week: Do you feel like your heart is longing for something? Do you feel like anyone else really understands — whether you're experiencing a subtle ache or consuming dissatisfaction? Do you think that's God trying to lead your heart as only your Creator can? 

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