7 Ways to Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado
Buy It on Amazon
I’ve just finished reading Max Lucado’snewest book, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference, and I feel… challenged! The premise of the book is that we have a choice to do things that will make an impact that outlasts us. Life is a temporary assignment, but the effects of our lives are permanent.

Lucado begs the question over and over again, what are you doing to outlive your life? What are you doing that matters in eternity? How are you investing yourself and giving yourself away? And as I read through each chapter, I was faced with new questions and new issues. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many ways to outlive our lives, including…

  1. Pray. A lot. Prayer affects eternity. As Spurgeon said, “prayer moves the arm that moves the world.” Do it without ceasing.
  2. Be hospitable and welcoming. Welfare and food stamp programs can help assuage the physical problem of hunger, but opening ourselves to others addresses much deeper issues.
  3. Stand up for Christ, even in the face of persecution and criticism.
  4. Loosen your grip on your goods. It’s not that you have to give everything away, it’s that everything needs to be available at all times since it all belongs to God anyway.
  5. Come out of your shell. It’s easy to pull a mental curtain around us so we can block out the images we see of suffering, but we need to open our eyes to the hurt and pain of the world.
  6. Always be investing in someone.
  7. You can dine in and give your steak dinner money to buy a meal for someone.

When it comes to helping people in need, we do all kinds of things to protect ourselves from having to open our eyes and our hearts. We have our stock answers ready… well we can’t help everyone… those people should help themselves… I’m not going to enable them… they’re probably criminals… But when Peter and John met the lame man at the gate called Beautiful, they didn’t run a background check. They also didn’t give him any money. They healed him, in Jesus’ name, and watched him leaping and praising God as a witness to other hopeless people.

This is a tough post to write. Why? Because I’m not doing enough to outlive my own life. So I’m taking a bit of a risk in having readers question me on what I’m doing, and I might very well come up short. But here’s the thing, I’ve never met a truly generous, giving person who spent time questioning the giving of others. Challenging others to give? Perhaps. But let each one of us look within and ask, what is God leading me to do to outlive my life?

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for review, but was not asked to give a positive review. And the Amazon links above are affiliate links. I would earn a small commission from any sales generated through them.

Blog Action Day: Give the Gift of Water

Cup of Cold WaterIt’s Blog Action Day, which is a web-wide event in which bloggers and media companies give attention to a significant need in the world. Today is all about water.

Water is everywhere. I live next to the Pacific Ocean, which is one big part of the world covered by water. Sometimes, looking across the surface of the sea, you forget just how precious clean, drinkable water is throughout the world. That’s true in the United States (in places like Las Vegas), but it’s far more pronounced in other places in the world. Did you know that every week, 38,000 children die from unsafe drinking water?

Wars are fought over water. Nations collide over boundaries, wells, and water rights. The most common substance on earth is also the most precious. We need it for crops. We need it for life.

Thankfully, there are people who are doing something about the issue. Two such national charities are charity:water and water.org. But I also have some friends who run a ministry to the people of Haiti. Bill Moore gets his hands dirty with germ-filled water on a regular basis and has devoted himself to providing clean drinking water to the people of the northern mountains of the poorest country in this hemisphere.

Aid For Developing Countries is a ministry that makes regular trips to Haiti to deliver supplies, offer medical care clinics, construct and repair clean wells, and most importantly, offer the gospel – the good news that God loves Haitians and wants to save them for all of eternity.

Jesus said this in Matthew 10:42…

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (ESV)

I think we should be obedient. Give to a national charity. Give to Aid for Developing Countries. I have a friend who is running in a 5K for water and I gave to him. Take action and give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name!

photo credit: jenny downing

Thoughts About Feeding the Hungry

Homeless in Sugamo 2Last night we had a very special dedication time for our Storehouse food distribution ministry. Everything has been done with excellence. We’re well prepared and ready to go. Tomorrow the doors will open and we’ll be feeding the hungry and providing groceries to families in need.

As part of our church family’s time together, I shared some general thoughts about feeding and serving from God’s Word. They’re random, but I wanted to post them here…

Continue reading Thoughts About Feeding the Hungry

The Storehouse Is Almost Ready

storehouse-logoToday was exciting in that we received an enormous amount of food at a great price for Bethel’s new Storehouse Ministry which will be launching Tuesday as our way of feeding hungry people in northwest Arkansas. We’re still in need of food and volunteers, and probably will be for a long time to come, but we’re getting closer.

Storehouse Food DistributionI’ve been moved by the spirit of cooperation and teamwork going into this venture. It’s a blessing to me to be a part of a church with such a great spirit. We’re currently talking about being on a Search & Rescue mission with God, and this is part of it. Feeding people helps, but our greater vision is to feed the soul, to introduce people to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and to see lives changed forever.

Pray for us. Donate food if you’re close by and don’t already give elsewhere. Volunteer if you’re a part of our church family. Can’t wait till Tuesday!

To God’s People: In Times of Gloom… Shine!

No Snow, Just RainbowsEarly mid-morning yesterday, reports began trickling in from various sources that Walmart was laying off people from the home office (located here in Bentonville, Arkansas). By day’s end, I think the number was around 850, maybe more. Walmart, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts were three of the only companies that I had read about in the last month or two that seemed to be doing well in the midst of the recession.

Something about the news reports, emails, and phone calls brought a sense of locality to the recession – it has hit the somewhat shielded northwest Arkansas economy now. Like an approaching thunderstorm, it’s here on top of us now. So the clouds have gathered. The thunder rumbles. Jobless people lie awake at night wondering where they will go next.

Poverty isn’t a new challenge to the church. In the New Testament, an interesting story unfolds about the church in Jerusalem’s suffering. People didn’t know where their next meal would come from. The churches across Macedonia (ancient Greece) were suffering from th economic downturn as well, but they responded in an amazing way… they gave. Without ever knowing or meeting their family-in-Christ across the Mediterranean, they dug deep into their pockets (and their hearts) and gave. Paul said it this way…

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power (ability) they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty (begging us) that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. ~ 2 Corithians 8:3-4 KJV (emphasis mine)

In dark times, God’s people have the opportunity to shine! How?

  • By realizing and valuing the connections we have with the eternal family of God, regardless of geographic, cultural, and racial distances.
  • By praying… after all, God has obligated Himself to do certain things only in response to prayer.
  • By giving… even until it hurts.

I’m proud to be a part of Bethel Baptist Church in Bentonville. I’ve watched us give away about 1,000 pair of shoes in the last year. We’ve helped families within our church family, and without. Our people have made themselves available to neighbors and friends in whatever way is most helpful. And we’re in the planning stages of a major food supply initiative in our community.

We chose the slogan “the church on the hill” for two reasons. One, we’re on a hill and that’s how people identify us… “Yeah, you guys are that church on the hill!” Yep, that’s us. But then there is the issue of our mission within our community. Jesus said “a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” He went on to challenge God’s people to “so let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” That’s the real reason I’m proud to be a part of the church on the hill.

So, God’s people, shine. Pray, give, love, go, and tell the life-changing story of Jesus. Interrupt the darkness with some real sunshine!

Creative Commons License photo credit: macfanmd

Stories About Giving… Starting with Shoes

Shoe GiveawayThis past Sunday, I talked about giving. Toward the end of the message, I challenged people to take off their shoes and leave them at church. We give away shoes several times per year and hundreds of people come with a need. As people walked out of church barefoot across the cold, hard concrete, they were to feel just a bit of what it is to be homeless and shoeless. So dozens left their shoes and our lobby is now covered with them!

What has really encouraged me is the stories I’ve heard since Sunday. I wanted to relay a few that might encourage you also…

Continue reading Stories About Giving… Starting with Shoes