It Tolls for All of Us!

In 1623 the English poet, John Donne wrote:

“No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.”


The message of this poem is this: No single person is absolutely independent of all other persons! Every person is a part of the whole! Therefore, whatever happens to one has an effect on everyone else! I am a firm believer in this philosophy! The God I read about in the Bible is a God of purpose. Everything God did and everything God does was and is driven by purpose. Purpose pre-dated creation! God did not create and then found purpose; purpose was the reason for the creation! Therefore, the fact that you and I are here at this present time is proof that God has a purpose for our lives! Our births were not accidents, nor were they from unplanned incidents! (Those incidents may have been unplanned by our parents, but they didn’t catch God by surprise!) Our life has purpose!

Now, the reason I am so concerned about your life and your purpose is because your life and your purpose have a direct bearing upon my life! You see, your purpose is not just about you and my purpose is not just about me! Our purpose is about each other and others! Therefore, it is important to me that you become the you that God created you to be and it is important to you that I become the me God created me to be! I’ve been saying this to my church family for years and now I want to share it with you: I am convinced that the answers to many of the world’s ills are, even now, locked up in the mind of some young man or woman who have no idea of their purpose! And since they have no idea of their purpose; they are not fulfilling their purpose and we all are suffering as a consequence!

In Christian circles, we place a tremendous amount of effort in getting people “saved” so they might go to Heaven when they die. But salvation is about more than just a ticket to the Heavenly Banquet or a Free Pass from Hell! Salvation is also about being “saved from” a life of uselessness and being “saved to” the God-purposed life! Just as any creation cannot know the “why” of its existence without insight from the one who created it; we cannot know our purpose apart from the revelation that comes from a relationship with the One who created us with purpose in mind.

Consider this simplified illustration: Let’s supposed that it was God’s purpose for a certain young man to ultimately be a pharmaceutical chemist who would develop a drug to cure a debilitating illness that God knew you and several other people would have in the prime of your life. However, this young man never made it to college or med-school because he got involved in illegal activities and was sent to prison or killed. So, as time goes on, you develop disease that he was born to develop the drug to cure. But because he missed his purpose; you will suffer and perhaps even die pre-maturely! Now this may sound a little too simple and far-fetched to you, but have you thought about how much life would be different if Abraham Lincoln had never won the presidency? What if Adolf Hitler or Mussolini had been converted to Christianity? What if Martin Luther King, Jr., had decided that just being a local pastor was all he was supposed to do? Just as the decisions and lives of these men affect us even years after they are no longer alive, so do our decisions and lives impact the lives of people around us today and for years to come!

That is the real tragedy of the young gang-banger or the innocent victim getting killed in the streets! It was never God’s intention or God’s purpose for him to be a gang-banger or for the innocent victim to die an early death! Their deaths are not just tragic for their families and the people who knew and loved them; their deaths are tragic for all of us! We will never know “who or what they were meant to be!” We will never benefit from the gift (purpose) they were born to give! They may have been born to be the doctor to perfect a life-saving medical procedure. But because they didn’t fulfill their purpose and died much too early; others will also die pre-mature and unnecessary deaths!

Yes! It’s true what the poet said; “Any (in fact, every) man’s death diminishes me because I am involved with mankind!” Therefore when I hear of young people killing one another and killing innocent victims, I cry! I cry, not only for their families and friends, I cry for you and me! I cry because we all suffer because of their deaths! We all suffer because of their incarceration in the prison system! We all suffer because of the destruction of their potential! Their purpose, which was given to benefit the rest of us, has been aborted! Therefore, when we hear of any person’s death; we should never send to know for whom the bell tolls, because it tolls for all of us!

Spend Completely, Then Recharge!

iphone chargeRecently, my wife and I stopped by one of our local Best Buy stores and traded in our iPhone 4’s for the iPhone 5. As many of you know, when you get a new phone or tablet, the battery is already partially charged. Well, the first couple of days after our upgrades, we were busy and every time we charged them completely, the charge would not even last the whole day! Then, I remembered a trick I learned some time ago: In order to get the best battery life from your phone, your tablet, or any electronic device, when you first get it, you need to spend or drain the battery charge completely and then recharge! So, I told my wife not to recharge her phone after she unplugged it in the morning and to use it as much as she could during the day. Later on that evening, when the phones were showing about 30% of battery life left, I started playing some YouTube videos along with some other apps that I knew would quickly use a lot of energy. I played YouTube videos and the other apps on both phones until their batteries were completely spent and the phones died from battery drain. Then, I recharged both phones completely. Every since I did that, the batteries in our phones are lasting all day and even to bedtime without needing to be recharged! In fact at bedtime, after a normal day of use, we still have over 50% of battery charge left!

Well, I was thinking about that and I wonder could that be the reason why many people don’t get the best results in their lives? Could it be that they are constantly recharging without being fully spent first? Let me show you what I’m talking about: Most people are not willing to give anything their all. In other words, most people are always holding back in whatever they do. Whether it’s their job, their hobbies, or even recreation; they expend just enough energy to get by or just enough energy to attain a certain degree of success, but they never give it their all. As a result, they find themselves having to recharge often before the task is completed.

But why don’t people give it all they have? It could be that they are afraid that even after they give it their all; they will still fail! And so, they’re in a catch-22 situation: They don’t give it their all because they fear failure, but in most cases the very reason for failure is the lack of total commitment! So most of the time they end up expending just enough energy to get by and sometimes they don’t put forth any real effort at all! Sometimes it is because of the potential of embarrassment. They don’t spend it all (put forth a 100% effort) because they are afraid of being embarrassed by failure. Therefore, they go through life, playing it safe; only engaging in endeavors that don’t require their best effort or a lot of energy. Because of this, most of the time, life to them is boring; they are the walking dead, living on auto-pilot.

The Preacher says in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 9:10): “Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might, because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, the place where you will eventually go.” (NET)  In other words; spend completely and don’t hold back! Leave it all out on the playing field because when the game of life is over, it’s over! Set high goals! If you reach for the moon and fail, you still might land upon a star! And even if you miss the star, you will still have the satisfaction of knowing that you gave it your best! You don’t want to get to the end of your life and have regrets, thinking about what you could have done or what you should have done.

And remember, after you have given it your all and after you are completely spent; it’s not over! You have within you the potential to recharge and come back more energized than ever because any long distance runner will tell you: “After you have given your best and spent all, there is always a ‘second wind!” So remember, to get the maximum potential out of your life; spend completely and then recharge!

Are You Settling for Good?

This post is a re-blog from 

Thomas Merton said, “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” This reminds me of something that one of my seminary professors said in a sermon. He argued that the greatest temptation for most of us is not to do that which is wrong. Many of us have that temptation, but it is not the greatest one. He said, the greatest temptation is to do that which is “good” rather than that which is “great.”

Here the temptation is to stop because what you have accomplished is “good” or “good enough.” how many preachers do you know are stagnant in their preaching ministry. They are “good” but never go through the effort and pain to push on towards the fullness of God’s purpose. I am sure we all have fallen into that trap more than once in our lives. God may have given us a vision, but we stop for whatever reason. We then rationalize that what we are accomplishing is “good enough.”

Flickr_-_Official_U.S._Navy_Imagery_-_Runners_at_the_2012_Washington_D.C._Special_Olympics_represent_the_U.S._Navy_and_Army_during_a_4x100_meter_relay_race_at_the_2012_Washington_D.C._Special_Olympics.God has called us all to some particular work. Like Jeremiah, God knew us before we were born and apointed us for a particular work. (Jeremiah 1:5)

Now this work is not always easy. It may not be the work where you will make the most money. It may not be the work where you will gain the most noteriety. It may not be the work that grandma, momma, and daddy want you to do. It may not even be the work that you think you want to do, but many of us know that work and that calling.

Natural Ability Is Not EnoughNow you may have a natural ability for this work, but remember we are not talking about being “good” at his work, we are talking about doing a God-given “great” work. It will not be easy to move from Good to Great. This requires more ability than you have. In addition, it requires more power and endurance than you have. In short, your God given task is something that requires your faith so that you can grasp ahold of the One who is mighty and desires above all things to bless us. We will literally not be able to see where God is taking us unless we look by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

You will be tempted to only do that which you could have done without the Spirit of God empowering you. But God has enough of the “good,” God needs someone willing to follow God into “greatness.” Some Christians use their own power and end up coming short of where God wants to take them.

Doing What Is Easy For You Is Not EnoughGod needs someone to speak to Pharoah to let my people go (Exodus 5:1), but many would instead speak to their friends and collegues abouth where they wish they could go. God has placed in someone’s heart to start agencies to feed thousands when there are not enough funds to accomplish this, but instead they settle for giving a dollar to the man on the side of the street. I don’t mean to belittle the one on one helping of others. that is important and needed. but if God has called you to something else, you might be using these “good” works to keep you from your God given mission.

Let me put it this way, if you can fully see the way of the road you are walking on. If you understand fully where you are going. If the path you are following doesn’t require faith to accomplish. If the path you are on doesn’t require more of you than you think you can do. Then you might be contemplating a path that is “good” rather than pushing to “great.”

Move Forward To GreatGood may get you accolades, good may cause someone to pat you on the back, Good may cause you to wreck the house. But great will unsettle the “present evil world.” (Galatians 1:4) Great will throw the evil one’s kingdom off its foundation (Acts 17:6). “Great” will do what “good” can’t even attempt.

Stop settling for good, God has called you to great. Be like Abraham. God found him in a good situation. He was comfortable living in the land of his parents in Ur. (Genesis 12:1) But God had other plans for Abraham, and God has other plans for you. God called him to go to a land that Abraham didn’t know of, the promised land. In leaving, Abraham was making that long trek from “good” to “great.

God has called you to greatness, stop settling for good.