Pause – and Remember What Memorial Day Really Means

On this Memorial Day, take a moment and honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  Let the words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address guide you:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

High Impact Life…

Who lives a High Impact Life?

Does Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or the volunteer at the homeless shelter have more impact?

Does Kim Kardashian or Sandra Bullock or the preschool teacher have more impact?

Does Beyonce’ or Adele or the Dad who turns down a promotion so his kids can stay in a school they love have more impact?

Does President Obama or Speaker of the House Paul Ryan or the neighbor who brings you a meal when you are recovering from surgery have more impact?

Does Joel Osteen or John Hagee or the older Bible teacher who has taught the same group for forty years have more impact?

Does Stephen Curry or Lebron James or the little league coach who encourages ten years old have more impact?

Does Oprah or Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel or the Deacon who visits someone in the hospital have more impact?

Here is the unsatisfying answer:  Only God knows.

But with that in mind, it is wise to remember God is not particularly impressed with talent, wealth, fame, or power.  He knows all of those things are temporary tools people hold.  God invites us to weigh our lives on an eternal scale.

No matter how God answers the question about “Who has a high impact life?,” you can see the real truth.  If you have the gift of life, your life matters.  You can have impact.  God gave you time, gifts, and character so you can make an impact with your life.  What matters is not whether everyone in the world notices, but whether our Father in Heaven says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Never not share because you think your gift or your life couldn’t have impact.  Remember, only God knows the real impact people have.  He wants your life to count, and He will show you how to make an impact of good.

Seven Questions to Ask if You Want a High Impact Life

Seven Questions to ask if you want a High Impact Life:

  1. Are you the “go-to” person at work, home, and in friendships?
  2. Can you rejoice when other people succeed?
  3. Do you know what your gifts are and are you sharing them?
  4. You share your character whether you intend to or not.  Is it worth sharing?
  5. What are the results from sharing your life – positive or negative?
  6. Are you creating opportunities for other people to succeed?
  7. Does anyone look at you and  say, “That must be how Jesus would live?”

Praying on Empty…

Empty is a vicious word.  It brings fear of being stranded without gas, of having nothing to eat, and of feeling like no one cares.

Most of us will feel empty at some point.  We have poured out all we can, and feel like we have nothing left to give.  We feel numb, because our emotions have been run over time after time.  We feel like something is missing – a child, an opportunity, a future, a hope.

Emptiness breeds shame.  We hide the hollows of our souls.  We assume we are the only ones who feel the ache of something missing.  So we smile vacant smiles, go through the motions, and hope no one sees the vacancy sign flashing over our lives.  We withdraw, sometimes physically, often emotionally.  We mask our loneliness from people, even from God.  Somehow we think that if we don’t pray, if we don’t worship, if we don’t gather with His people, God will not know we are empty.  We think emptiness is not something to be shared with our Father in Heaven.

Preserved for us in the ancient texts of the Bible are prayers called “Laments.”  A lament is prayer offered with deep emotion that cries out to God for help.  There are laments about emptiness:  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from helping (Ps. 22:1)?”  Solomon, who had wealth, wine, and women, said, “Emptiness, Emptiness, emptiness of emptiness!  All is empty (Eccl. 1:2).”  Apparently, these people thought it was a good idea to tell God, “We feel empty.”

 

So how do you pray when your soul is on empty?  Start by being honest.  “God, I feel empty.”  No sense in pretending with God.  Tell Him how you feel.  I call this dealing in reality.

Second, make sure you are thinking about God correctly.  God is not a helpless old man with arthritis seated on a throne on a cloud.  He is the Might God, who stands ready to do battle, with angel armies standing behind him.  A small god cannot fill your needs; a Mighty God can.This is staying connected to God, to who He really is.

Bring your request to God.  No matter how ridiculous it sounds, ask the Father to bring justice, to right wrongs, to show His presence, to teach you what really counts.  One of the dumbest things I hear people say is “Don’t pray for patience!  God will make something happen so you will learn it.”  God knows what you need and He is arranging an answer that meet your deepest need.

Finally, don’t stop praying until you have peace.  People sometimes erroneously say “Pray until God answers.”  A better strategy is to pray until you experience the grace and peace of God.  You might ask for answers, and God may not give you any.  Instead, God will offer you Himself, which is infinitely better.

When you feel empty, do not let shame take control.  Fight against all the shame messages and bring your empty soul to your Heavenly Father.  Your emptiness doesn’t frighten Him.  In fact, He is the only one who can fill the hole in your soul.

How a Mother’s Soul Works

How a Mother’s Soul Works:

  • She makes decisions for her life based not on what is best for her, but what is best for her children.
  • She thinks about her children – a lot.  Some people call this worry.  Maybe it’s better understood as circling the child to make sure she misses nothing.
  • She feels for her children.  There is something beyond love in the way a mother loves her children.  She will fight for them.  She will encourage them.  She will discipline them.  It rises out of a deep well of feeling words cannot describe.
  • She gives her body to her children.  Her children’s lives begin inside her.  She nourishes them.  She will push, go without sleep, and do whatever is required to give her children what they need.
  • She aches whenever the relationship with her children changes.  When they go from dependent babies to toddlers, from preschoolers to teenagers, from college student to being married themselves, she grieves when the relationship changes.  She knows her children still need her, but it is tough when the gears shift.

The most important thing for a Mom to remember about how her soul works?  It needs to be filled with Jesus.  He is the only one who can keep her soul filled.

When to Pray Big

Pray Big:

  • when God tells you to.
  • when it will draw people to believe in God.
  • when something will accomplish part of God’s big plan seen through history.
  • when your country needs to change direction.
  • when your community has problems only God can solve.
  • when your church is seeking to do something big for God.
  • when your family needs a miracle.
  • when your friends need a miracle.
  • when your leadership role of Jesus needs to be validated.
  • when you see an opportunity for God to do something only God can do.