Monday, May 20, 2013

Inspiration Is A Calling

How do you get a person to a place where they want to learn?

I remember taking a class in high school on world history.  I was looking for an elective type of class and I enjoy the stories of history.  I don’t remember dates well, but the stories behind the information is what makes me enjoy history.  Our history teacher was not known to be a very gentle spirit.  In fact he was rather gruff, stated the information, and if you didn’t retain it, well, that was your fault.  I remember even having a run in with him as he chastised the class for doing poorly on a test that he thought we should have done well on. 

The entire class did poorly.

There was some sort of prompting along the lines of, “What do you have to say for yourselves?”  The quiet teenager that I was, I raised my hand. 

“You know, you don’t really inspire me to learn more about history.  I want to be inspired to learn.”

What followed, I now realize, was a conversation on responsibility and duty versus joy and fulfillment.  My teacher responded that his job was not to inspire me but to present information.  My rebuttal was something along the lines of asking if he enjoyed history.  He responded, “It doesn’t matter if I enjoy it, it matters if you retain the information I give you.”

I didn’t push it much further than that.  I found out later that this teacher enjoyed my company about as much as much as oil enjoys the presence of water.

I was a terrible student in high school and only did well in one class that wasn’t a cake class.  My basic classes like English/Grammar, Math, etc were horrible.  I was relieved to see a “C” on reports.  I did have one teacher in my Biology class that seemed to get me.  He inspired me to care about what we were learning, understood that I didn’t learn as the status quo, and in that class I had a solid “B”.

I keep these two in my mind as I work on, ironically, being a sort of teacher myself.  In matters of faith we, who are believers, are called to make disciples or “learners”.

So how does one do that?

Well, I can tell you that if our concept of attracting “learners” is merely to present information, we will fail.  If our attitude about our faith fits that of the History teacher, I can tell you that most people (like me) are going to react similarly and ask, “Why would I want to learn about something that you aren’t passionate about?  Sure you know the information, but how does that inspire me to want to know the information?”

I think the western church may unintentionally have fallen into this trap.  It isn’t that this group is mean, nasty, and snide.  It is that they don’t look much different than anyone else and when they try to give their point of view, they look rather silly trying to “teach” others to live what they aren’t passionate about themselves.

On the other side of things, as my Biology teacher taught, he was passionate and excited about what he taught.  If he saw someone struggling (like me) he would find ways to incorporate me into what he was passionate about.  His fervor for what he taught made me want to learn.  He didn’t force me to learn, in fact there were others that did not respond well to his style of teaching…but they didn’t respond to any teaching.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn, it was that I wasn’t inspired to due to numerous things happening in the background of life.

                The point is, as believers, are we inspired?  Are we living a life of passion and from that life of passion, incorporating others to join in with us?  I am not asking you to go all Ned Flanders, please don’t misread what I am trying to say.  We will definitely have tough times in life and hove down seasons, but even in our darkest times we can reveal our passion by relying on Christ. 

The passion in our lives is the inspiration to the next person we are called to teach or disciple.

Don’t let your walk become duty or forced, rather, let it be your joy.  Don’t let the enemy steal that joy, it is our strength.  Otherwise, the students that are watching us may learn nothing of the love that God has for them.  We must be passionate students teaching others to be passionate students as well. 

That is the great calling of the great commission!

Inspiration is a calling!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


       This past week my daughter, Arianna (3), unplugged my mother –in-laws cell phone from the charger and was carrying it around playing with it and acting like she was talking on it.  About ten minutes later my wife (Denise) noticed that Arianna wasn’t carrying the phone around anymore. 

“Arianna, where did you put the phone?”

Arianna’s eyes grew…

“I dunno.”

             I can only imagine it was one of those moments like when I was a child and my mom asked me a question and I realized I had lost something I shouldn’t have been playing with or had gotten into something I shouldn’t have and gotten caught.  You know that feeling, whatever it is.  That, “Oh man, I am busted and I need to think of something to make it seem like it isn’t as bad as it really is” feeling.

         I got that same feeling this past week as I was preparing to share on Sunday from Matthew 8:28-34.  The passage opens up with Jesus landing on the other side of the sea.  He and the disciples get out of the boat and are met by the demoniacs.  What transpires from there is a story of freedom for the men possessed, a conquered enemy, and a town full of people that cared more for their possessions and income than a persons’ life or the very presence of God.

Caring more for possessions than God or others…

…Love God…Love others…

…aren’t those two the most important commandments?

         I had to really look within myself.  I am not, what I would call, a frivolous man.  I drive an old car.  Most of my clothes are gifts from Christmas, birthdays, or some other event.  I look for deals, buy used, and enjoy being accused of being a spendthrift.  However, it all comes back to the question…

“If all I had was my relationship with Jesus, would it be enough?”

        I John 1:1-4 tells us that experiencing God and from that having fellowship or sharing that experience with others (whether telling your experience or sharing experiences) makes our joy complete.  So, why do I find myself relying on so many other things for joy?  Why do I feel unhappy if I have to let go of something, or feel that God may be telling me I should let go of something or not spend as much time focused on a matter?  Have I made something else more of a priority that God?  More of a priority that others?   I mean, who hasn’t gotten a little off course in that area?  However, it is our job or our calling as believers to cling to what we hear in I John and continually search for that connection with God, that experiencing of the presence of God.  Then taking that experience and sharing it. 

         I kind of feel like I was called out, kind of questioned, “Adam, where is the time that you need to commit to me?  Are you actively looking for at least one person to share your experience with Me? ”  Much like Arianna, my eyes grew as I knew I “caught” in losing focus on what truly matters.  It isn’t about guilt, although the enemy would love for it to become that.  It is about the great God of the universe, full of love, mercy, grace, truth, power, justice, and infinitely more coming here to die for our reconnection to Him and us understanding that that reconnection is the best thing for us and not a labor or duty. 

If we expect the life God has for us, we must search to experience His presence as a priority.

If we expect the life God has for others, we must share our experience.

         Have we experienced?  If so, we find that it is so worth it to experience His presence.  Sometimes we experience and then we get busy and lose focus.  In those times, we must not approach with guilt and fear, rather, we enter with joy in knowing God is longing for our time that we spend with Him and will meet us.  As we share with others, there may be a little fear, but don’t let it cripple you.  I am not saying to shove your beliefs down someone’s throat.  I am suggesting sharing your personal experience.  Be ready for the opportunity to present itself and react.

       Today, take time to reflect and take time for Him.  Seek an experience with God and don’t be afraid of what He may ask of you.  If He is asking you to reprioritize, realize that He will empower you to do so.  The enemy will distract, but remain faithful in your relationship with God.  Be encouraged, after all, the God of all things wants to spend time with you…and that is pretty exciting.

...By the way, we never found the phone lol.