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Vacation preparation and Purpose (2004-02-15 - 8:31 a.m.)

Today, I’m doing my devotions before I even turn on the Internet browser. Every Sunday for the past I don’t know how many weeks, I have wasted all my time reading mail, etc., and not had adequate time for the important stuff.

First of all, a note…it snowed yesterday. Of course, if you read Rachel’s diary, you already know that. We hand enough to make at least two snowmen in the front yard, and have a small snowball fight. Alas, the snowmen fell soon, for the temperature was not too terribly low. But we had a good time with it while it lasted. Snow on Valentine’s Day. How romantic!

We are really gearing up for our vacation to California, now. Christi did a lot of work yesterday and got a route set up to visit as many “Buffy” sites as we can find around the L.A. area. We will return to Torrance High School, the home of Sunnydale H.S. for the first three seasons of BtVS. We will discreetly visit the house that served as Buffy’s house during those same three seasons. It is probably less than half a mile from the school. We will visit and possibly tour the Sony Pictures building, which serves as the Wolfram and Hart offices on Angel. I think we have a location for the apartment complex that was Angel’s office in season’s 2-4, the Hyperion Hotel. There are a few other places, as well, like one of the main cemeteries from BtVS. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could visit that place at night?

Well, enough about that, let’s get on to the “spiritual” stuff. By the way, don’t think that I take this lightly, because I don’t. I just don’t mind talking about less important stuff first.

The Chambers reading starts off with a bang today. “Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible for other souls spiritually before God?” The title of today’s reading is “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” He continues by saying, “For instance, if I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers.” I know this to be true from personal experience. When I am not at my best, spiritually, my family suffers. They may not realize it, and they may not understand why, but it is true. One might wonder who could stand under such a standard. The answer is simple, yet complex. Our sufficiency is in God, and Him alone. The scripture reference is Romans 14:7, which tells us that “none of us lives to himself.” In other words, like it or not, “no man is an island.”

Moving right along in the Daily Bible, I’m up to February 8, now. Only a week behind. “Yeehaw.” It begins in Exodus 27, in which God is continuing to give instructions for the various elements of the tabernacle. Many scholars have racked their collective brains trying to come up with a symbolic meaning for every tent peg and stitch in the tabernacle. I think they have gone a bit overboard. There are some obvious symbols and foreshadowings, but I don’t think we have to find hidden meaning in everything. John MacArthur’s commentary on the readings for the 7th says, “The New Testament points repeatedly to the awesome fact of God’s presence with people as represented in the Tabernacle.” This was the purpose for the Tabernacle.

Psalm 20:1-5 is a great prayer to pray for a brother or sister in Christ. I especially like verse 4, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.”

Matthew 24 has always been a passage that has been studied profusely, as it almost exclusively deals with the return of Christ. The passage beginning in verse 36 is especially interesting. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” There are two interesting points here. First is that even Jesus does not appear to know when He will return. I’m not sure I understand how this is possible, as He is equal with the Father, but so this passage seems to say. Second is the condition of the world at the return of Jesus. It is compared to the days of Noah. But notice that it is not compared to the evil and wickedness of the days of Noah. It is compared to the mundane, everyday activities. People will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” etc. In other words, people will just be going about their lives, oblivious to what is about to happen. I would say that pretty much describes our world in 2004. We are admonished twice, once in verse 42 and again in verse 44 to be ready and watching, for we do not know what hour He will return. I don’t believe this means we shouldn’t eat and drink and marry (some would carry it that far…those same people sell all their stuff, quit their jobs and go wait on a mountaintop for Jesus to return…and wait…and wait). We should be watchful while we do these things, not being oblivious like the rest of the world. This warning comes again in chapter 25 after the parable of the ten virgins. This parable seems to indicate (contrary to the opinions of the “pre-trib rapture” camp) that there will be no second chance after Christ returns.

I’m getting back to The Purpose Driven Life today. I had begun Chapter 3, “What Drives Your Life?” back on February 5. I’m reviewing the first part of that chapter this morning, then continuing to finish it. The author lists five benefits of having a “purpose-driven life.” First, “Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life.” “Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.” Okay, to me, “significance” and “meaning” are much the same thing. But I do agree that life must have purpose and meaning in order to have hope. Second, “Knowing your purpose simplifies your life.” Who doesn’t need that? My life could use mounds of simplification! He says, “Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t.” I agree with this, but I don’t think that means we should eliminate all “non-essential” activities. I believe that even the most spiritual man needs recreation from time to time. “All work and no play…” As I read further, I see where he is going with this. If we don’t understand purpose, we let other people and circumstances around us dictate what activities we participate in. We try to do too much. This causes stress, fatigue and conflict.

Third, “Knowing your purpose focuses your life.” Warren describes people with the focus of purpose as people who are constantly changing things in their lives. They change jobs, relationships, churches, etc., always hoping that this next change will fill the emptiness that they feel. Here’s a great quote: “Never confuse activity with productivity.” This goes hand in hand with Oswald Chambers’ writings about getting too caught up in the “doing.”

Fourth, “Knowing your purpose motivates your life. Purpose always produces passion.” Hey there’s that word again.

Finally, “Knowing your purpose prepares you for eternity.” What matters most? We can spend all our time trying to produce a legacy on the earth, hoping that someone here will remember us for what we did. But in the words of James Dobson, “Given enough time, all your trophies will be trashed by someone else!”

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