Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Middle Age Math

I love having children. Yesterday we went to the mall for a few moments, and the youngest girls wanted to experience the escalator, which they rarely do at home (there are only two buildings I know of that have escalators and 90% of the time they don’t work). So they asked permission to ride up and down. I let them do it three times in a row, and they were laughing and jumping like it was Big Thunder Railroad at Disney World. I waved to them and thought how cool it was to be so excited at everything. Being young is great.

Then I thought, that as wonderful as it was to be a six year old, I would not want to be a six year old. I would not want to spend all of my life as a six year old. Can you imagine being a six year old for sixty years? Being six is fantastic, but being 10, 16, 21, and 35 also have their advantages. So, if I would not want to be six again, why do we cling to 40? Do we think that all of life has happened by that age? Do we not believe that God can do things through us, use us, and bless us at 50? Or 60? Or 70? I would not want to be six, not because six wasn’t a fun time of life, but because of all that I have experienced since then. I know that life has so much more to offer than liking an escalator.

As we get older, we tend to replace our dreams with memories and our vision with nostalgia. That is when we start withering away. I believe that our dreams should grow with our age. But, the problem that we face is how to do more with less energy. How can we make a difference when it hurts our back to make the bed?

The key is to do what Jesus did. He focused on the few and the result was that He changed the world. We need to change our perspectives of what it means to impact. Let me explain with a simple math example. We need to stop adding value to the lives of others, and instead multiply ourselves in the world. As we grow older, our ability to produce goes down, but our ability to influence goes up. We need to do what Moses did in Exodus. He realized that he could not do everything, so instead of doing everything he started simply seeing that everything got done. Instead of doing the work, he trained workers. Instead of teaching the millions, he taught teachers.

I asked in my last blog how I could do more with less energy, and received a lot of good feedback. Here is the answer that I see. I need to invest my time and my energy in people who will invest themselves in others. In a somewhat humorous way, it is an eternal multi-level marketing format. I can impact people who impact people.

For example, I taught at a school for pastors in Bolivia. Each person there led a church…I led them. As I taught these pastors how to better equip, train, teach, plan, administrate, communicate and lead their churches, I was in effect impacting the lives of every person who they touched.

This is what I want to do with my life. This is the key to my midlife crisis. Invest in people who invest in people. Change the lives of change agents. Make a difference in difference makers. Impact impacters.

Join me in praying that I could be effective in multiplying myself in the lives of others…so that a model like 2 Timothy 2 could happen in my life.

For those of you who are my age, near my age, or slightly older…are you impacting lives? Are you really living as you change others around you, or simply existing by meeting your own needs?

Lets live!

Leia Mais…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Pain Doesn't Lie

On December 19th my son had a problem with his car. He asked me to look at it, so I followed him outside and checked it out. I figured out what the issue was, and told him that we would have to take it to a garage for repairs, because the bracket holding his alternator was in need of welding. I turned to walk away, and suddenly, there was a little something ‘funny’ in my back. No pain. No noise. No real identifiable or explainable event, I just felt a little weird spot as I walked. Now mind you, I had not lifted anything, bent over, or fallen. I just turned to walk away.

The next day, I could not tie my shoes, brush my teeth, put on my socks, or even put gel on my hair. My back HURT. It hurt bad. I don’t have insurance, so I did not go to the Dr., instead I ‘borrowed’ some meds from a friend. (is that illegal…don’t judge me! I was in pain). The meds were just muscle relaxers. They did not help.

I hurt bad until last week, and it was this morning, February 10th, that I put on my shoes with no pain. I still cannot touch my toes.

This pain is another reminder that I am growing older. My teenagers and twentyagers do not understand at all how much it hurts, or that it got hurt doing nothing. They cannot relate to a pulled ligament. I couldn’t either when I was young. But, alas, I am not young. I am not old, but I am not young.

These are the things that I have been thinking about lately. My mid-life crisis is not the same as many men have. I am not going to go purchase a sports car and start wearing bling. I am not going to try to relive my High School/College days. I do not want to act young.

But I don’t want to be old.

I don’t want to be old because it is a reminder that my life is not a line, it is a line segment. It had a beginning and it will have an end. I am mortal. This mortality that I face as I wince while brushing my teeth due to my strained back tells me that I do not have that many years left to invest my life in the lives of others. I do not have that many years left to put treasure in heaven. I do not have that many years left to impact this world.

That is my crisis. My life is here for a reason and I want it to count. I am not scared of dying. I am not scared of living. I just want to live a life that outlives my life. As I look at the years ahead of me, I must realize that even though I have years ahead, each year I will have less ability to be productive than the year before. My energy and ability are declining.

My mid-life crisis is this. How do I make the second half of my life impact more people and invest more treasure in eternity than the first half has…when I know that I will have less resources to invest?

Suggestions? I have been thinking about this a lot and have some ideas, but what are you thinking?

Leia Mais…

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Midnight Delivery Courtesy Of Amoeba Air

I was really sick one night and had thrown up so much that I was about to go to the hospital (this was in Bolivia of course). I was dehydrated and sick of being sick. At this point, I actually thought of the fact that people my age die. Where did that thought come from? I had never thought about dying before. Seven times in my life I have had guns pointed at me. I have been tied up, laid on the floor and had a shotgun pressed against my forehead. I have been threatened by mobs and robbed. Yet, in all of these things, even when staring death in the face, I was not scared of it. Yet, here I was with an amoeba and thinking of—actually scared of—dying. Once more, where did that thought, that fear…where did that idea come from?

It was hand delivered to me by my midlife crisis. I think it was sent to me by the death of my father. When my dad died, it meant that I was at the top of my living generations. All my grandparents and both my parents are gone. Whatever the psychobabble reason for it, I was thinking that I could die. Well, I lived, (so much for the cliffhanger) but after everything was cleaned up and I was healthy, I just kept thinking about this truth: I am going to die. Hopefully not this week, but in the scheme of life and eternity, my death is just around the corner. This life is a blip on the scope of eternity. I have already lived over 47 years; many of the people I graduated High School with have grandchildren. It is like I blinked and 30 years went by. I now understand what my dad meant when he said, “The older I get the faster life goes by.”

So, my midlife crisis is here. An unexpected friend has moved in with me. I call him a friend because in a way he is like the verse that says it is better to go to a funeral home than to a party (Eccl. 7.2) because going to the funeral home makes you stop and think.

Stop and think. It is funny that I am doing this after so long, when one of my life verses is this, quoted from “The Message” translation because I like the way it translates the meaning…. “God says, ‘Take a good, hard look at your life.’” (Haggai 1:5)

A good, hard look at your life. Stop and think. Consider your ways. Examine yourselves. I have been doing that, and in some ways it has been pretty and in others, well, it is ugly.

You see, as I look at my life with criteria greater than personal gain and comfort, it gets scary. I kept hearing questions like this: How much of your life is oriented around your comfort? How much of your life is focused on personal gain? How much of your life is about your life? What is your purpose and why are you here?

Life is either meaningless or it has a purpose. I think it boils down to this. If my life is a cosmic accident then there is no purpose to it and even looking for a purpose is a waste of the short life I have. However, if my life was intentional, if it was formed on purpose then it has a purpose. In this case, NOT looking for the purpose is a waste of the short life that I have.

I believe and am certain that my life was given to me by God and that there is a purpose to it. Therefore, if I am to truly be the person that I SHOULD or COULD be, then I must find that purpose and fulfill it. My fulfillment in life will happen as I accomplish that for which I was created. Having said that, I am confident that the purpose of my creation is not my personal comfort and/or power over others.

What do you think? “God says, ‘Take a good, hard look at your life.’” (Haggai 1:5). Look at your life as we journey together over these next few blog entries. Are you fulfilled? Are you satisfied? Are you being or becoming who you could be?

Leia Mais…

Friday, February 4, 2011

Middle Of The Night, Middle Of The Life

It started in the middle of the night, about a year ago. I woke up for my nightly jaunt to the toilet and then could not go back to sleep. As I lay in bed, my mind began to think on serious things, really serious things. I began to have an anxiety attack. I was wide awake. I got out of bed. I prayed. I got back in bed. I got out of bed again. I walked around. I thought. I jotted notes down on a piece of paper. Finally, a couple of hours later, I went back to sleep.

It happened again a few nights later. Then driving down the road. Then on a date with Denise. During a sermon at church. It has been happening over and over. Finally, I think maybe as a cathartic, I am going to jot some things down on cyber-paper.

Here is what is happening.

I am having a mid-life crisis.

I thought I was immune to it. Yet, here I am just looking at my life, at the accomplishments behind me and the road ahead of me and asking myself, “What am I doing that really matters? Is the world a better place because I am alive? What am I doing that is more important than me? What will outlive me? Why am I doing what I am doing? What is the purpose of all this?”

Now before you start spouting off answers, let me tell you that I KNOW all the answers. I have counseled people on this issue. I have preached on it. I have a life mission statement (I have had one for the last 15 years). I am a pastor and a missionary. I have devoted my adult life to the pursuit of eternal purpose. I KNOW the answers.

But this is the first time I have ever struggled with the questions. It is weird. Knowing the answers when you haven’t really dealt with the questions is not the same thing as having the question scream in your spirit when you try to go to sleep. “What are you doing that matters!”

My midlife crisis has me thinking of my future, of the future, of death, of eternity, and of significance. I have been looking at the years of productivity that I have ahead of me and wondering about my investment portfolio. My eternal investment portfolio. Am I laying up treasures in heaven? Am I changing the souls of men? Am I going to have anything that will last at the judgment seat of Christ?

I am going to write a few blogs on this, but let me close by asking you my readers this: “Have you ever dealt with the real meaning of YOUR life, WHY you are here, and WHAT you are doing?”

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Frosty's Bad Day

Leia Mais…