I am called to live with passion

Heart, Soul and Strength

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 HCSB

In the 1990s, a woman walked into a Kansas City Baskin Robbins store to buy an ice cream cone.  She’d just placed her order when another customer walked in behind her.  She turned and found herself face to face with Paul Newman.  His blue eyes made her knees buckle, and her pulse filled her ears.  Wordlessly, she paid for her cone and left.  She stepped outside the store, took a deep breath, and realized she didn’t have her ice cream.  She turned to go back in and get it when she met Paul Newman coming out. 

“Are you looking for your ice cream cone?”  he asked.  She was still too awed to speak, so she just nodded her head.  He smiled.  “You put it in your purse with your change.”

When was the last time you allowed God’s presence to totally fluster you like that?  When was the last time that His face caused you to forget everything else – the to-do list, the tension at work … the ice cream cone?  God wants us to love him like that, with all our heart.

But he wants our soul’s love, too.  In Hebrew, the word “soul” can be translated “appetite.”  He wants us to crave him daily.  It also carries the connotation of “will or choice.”  He want us to decide to follow him, even when our hearts aren’t fluttering.  Because God knows that all of love isn’t a heady emotion.

And that brings us to strength.  He wants us to love Him with my actions, regardless of what I’m feeling.  He wants me to use my soul to choose to sweat for Him, to volunteer with the kids at church, to share Christ with a friend when I’d rather be silent, to give a ride to a needy woman whose car is broken down.  None of those things may cause my heart to sing, but they express my passionate love for my God none the less.

God wants my emotions.  He wants me to be utterly in awe of Him.  But emotions are flighty things, so He wants my will, too, so that I’ll choose to serve him even when I feel depressed.  And he wants my strength, my hands and feet, my time, my actions.  He wants all of me.

I have to confess that everything I’ve written today comes out of a sermon my husband preached last week at a church in Oklahoma.  They subsequently called him to be their new pastor. We are so excited about this move and about all God has for us there.  But this week, I have been overwhelmed with painting and packing and everything it takes to sell this house and transplant our lives there.  I am exhausted and fresh out of creativity, so I snuggled up to him this morning and asked for permission to just put his words here.  He gave it.  He’s a good guy, that man I married.  He loves His God passionately.  May I do so too, even buried under boxes and bubble wrap.

I am called to live with passion

Choose Today

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve The Lord, choose for yourselves whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.”  ~Joshua 24:15, NASB

Where will you stand?

We can choose to stand behind the righteousness of Christ, believing in His finished atonement, or we can stand on our own in our sin. We call it conviction, and it is where passion is birthed. Either the Word of God is true or it isn’t, either Jesus is who He claimed to be or He isn’t. There is no middle ground.

Joshua understood this. We don’t get to sit on the fence luke-warm in our convictions. He declared to his people  “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

Make the choice. I am convinced this was a plea born of passion – boundless enthusiasm. Can you imagine the warrior leader shrugging, tossing our a flippant, half-hearted challenge. “Hey, ya know, whatever you decide, it’s all good. I’m gonna go this way, but whatever you chose, I’m sure we’ll meet up again in the end.”

No way! He’d spent time recalling, reminding, persuading. LOOK at what the LORD has done! Remember. Remember our slavery. Remember our desert wandering. Remember His promise. And now remember this land He has brought us to. He provided, defended, delivered and distributed. Now, remembering all that, choose.

And then serve. Not sit. Not straddle. Serve.

 

I am called to live with passion

To live is Christ, to Die is Gain

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  Philippians 1:21HCSB

Jim Elliot lived his life with passion.  A journey through his journals shows a young man utterly sold out to his Savior, making every decision in light of what would be most pleasing to God.  For that reason, he delayed marriage, traveled to South America, became a missionary.  For that reason, he took his bride and baby daughter to live in the Ecuadorian jungles, very near the unreached and savage Auca tribe.  With every breath, he lived this quote from his diary: “Wherever you are, be all there.”

He took that passion with him when he and four other young men went right to the heart of Auca territory, trying to make contact with these known killers who had never heard of Jesus.  But Auca warriors attacked the five missionaries on a jungle beach, spearing them to death in the sand, leaving their bodies to bleed into the river.  The missionaries had guns to defend themselves, but chose not to.  They’d promised each other they would not kill an Auca who did not know Jesus even to save their own lives.

With their dying breaths, Jim Elliot and his companions lived out this quote from Jim’s journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot could not keep his life, but he gained an eternity with Jesus and rewards untold.  And that passion inspired others.  Jim Elliot’s wife, the sister of fellow martyred missionary Nate Saint, and eventually, Nate Saint’s son all went to live among the Aucas as missionaries.  Young men and women across the United States heard about Jim Elliot’s sacrifice gave their own lives to foreign missions.  How many thousands of souls are stepping into heaven as a direct result of one life lived with passion?

Philippians 1:21.  To me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.  Paul penned those words in a prison.  He got it.  He knew what was really important – not nice houses or comfortable pay checks.  Not vacations or new cars.  But, eternity, the forever beyond this 70-something years we’ve got on earth.  May I passionately live for God, knowing that even losing my life is gain.

I am called to live with passion

Fake Pearls and Real Treasures

 “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ~Luke 18:22, NASB

I have a confession. I am driven by success. Truly. I thrive on the sparse waters of good grades, scholastic awards, athletic trophies, and more recently, writing recognition.

This habit of success-driven living is about as healthy as living on a steady diet of snickers and ice-cream. Not. Good. Instead of pursuing passionately after Christ, I find myself stuck–tied in knots because I’ve dedicated my energy to chasing personal achievements. For me. Because I want attention.

Our pastor relayed a story–one that is common, I suppose, among those familiar with Christianese. But it hit me where I needed it as I am mulling over living passionately for Christ. (Not for me. Sorry–I have to keep reminding myself. Bare with the slow learner here). Here it is, in the New Jen Version, because I don’t have access to the original.

There was a little girl who spied a string of pearls in the dress-up section at the toy store. She adored those white globes, and determined to have them. So, she saved and saved and purchased that string of toy pearls. And she loved them. Wore them everyday–wouldn’t even take them off to bathe.

One night her daddy asked, “Daughter, do you love me?”

“Yes Daddy.”

He smiled. “Okay, give me your pearls.”

She sat in horrified silence and then shook her head. Her father left without the pearls.

The next night, the same conversation happened.

“Daughter, do you love me?”

Tears glistened her eyes. “Yes Daddy,” she choked.

“Okay, let me have your pearls.”

She refused again. This went on for a week, and on Friday, before her father sat down to tuck her in, with a trembling lip she held out her hand.

Her father sat, love shining in his eyes. “You love these pearls, don’t you?”

“Yes Daddy.” A tear slipped down her cheek.

“I know that.” He brushed the trail of moisture with his thumb and then reached into his pocket. “But I wanted you to have a real treasure.”

A string of real pearls settled on her neck.

God, please help me trade my plastic treasure for real pearls. Success is nothing when I compare it to an ordinary life lived for you.

I am called to live with passion

I am Called to Live With Passion: A Joint Post

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB

From Jen:

What drove the biblical characters?

Consider a man, advanced in years, but comfortable in his life-long home. Why would he pack up all that he owned, set his wife on a camel, and begin wandering without a backward glance? Past a midlife crisis, I doubt he was looking for adventure. What drove him into the unknown?

If we asked him, “Abram, where are you going?”

He’d respond, “To the place God will show me.”

Push him further. “Why?”

He’d level us a steady look. “Because He said go.”

Huh. What is that?

How about young David—a shepherd by trade, and the youngest, scrawniest of his large family of boys. Why would he square up to a killer, a man over nine-feet tall and a warrior of renown? Was the kid flat-out crazy? Maybe—he only took a sling and few stones from the creek.

“David, what are you doing. That guy could eat you in three quick gulps.”

“He insulted my God.”

“But there are bigger guys around you. Real men, in armor. Let them take care of it.”

“But they aren’t. Don’t worry, though. God’s got it handled.”

Why would anyone do that?

Or what about an innocent man—sinless in all His ways. Why would He submit to the cruelty of crucifixion?

“You are blameless, Jesus, why won’t you tell them so? Why have you let them torture you?”

“Because you need me to.”

What is this pursuit—these lives bursting with zeal? Where does passion like this come from, and how can I get it?

From Susan

Imagine yourself the heroine of an adventure movie, one who is grave peril, one whose life is about to be snuffed out. And then imagine the hero on the white stallion sweeping in and taking the death-blow for you, saving your life. His dying words to you, as you cradle his head in your lap, are: “I love you—you’re worth dying for. Live for me.”

Would you not do it? Would you not make your hero’s passions your own? Would you not devote your life to the causes he held dear? This is indeed the relationship between you and Jesus. He died in your place. He commissions you to live for Him.

May that reality fuel my passions. May I be like Abram, pack up all my belongings and move whenever God says to do it, not holding a house or a country or a school district more precious than my Savior. May I be like David, boldly confronting those who make a mockery of my God, willing to pay any cost for defending His name. May I be like Jesus Himself, taking up my cross daily to deny my selfishness and put others first in the mundane affairs of life as well as the dramatic ones.

Father, create that kind of passion in me. Let me not be entangled by the sin and worries that so often trip me up. Keep me focused on what is truly important. It’s a God sized task, taming this wayward heart of mine. I am often more complacent than passionate. Father, create in me a new heart, one that is truly sold-out for You.