Posts Tagged ‘romans 8:28’

Every story has an arc, a line the story follows from beginning to end. Continuing stories can have multiple arcs and sometimes a plot twist will change the arc of the story but if you go back over a story, you can see the arc or arcs that have taken place to bring us to the conclusion the author has chosen.

The thing is your life is a story and it has an arc. You can see it looking back. There are probably a many things you are glad about and a few things you regret. Choices are like that and they can change the arc. I was thinking about this this morning. I have a few regrets in my life. For example, I wish I had never touched alcohol. The havoc it wreaked on my life was huge. Looking back in a different way though, had I not had that problem, my sister might not have been inspired to introduce me to someone who didn’t drink. That woman became my wife, so without her, I wouldn’t have my sons, my daughter-in-law or my grandson. More importantly, it was my wife who introduced me to the Lord. Without her, the arc of my story is very different and several people would not even exist, people that have made my life and the lives of other both full and meaningful.

So am I glad I drank? No. Did God want me to drink? No. Drinking to excess as I did was sinful behavior that was not and never will be pleasing to God. My drinking caused me and a lot of others a lot of pain. Would I be a Christian if I hadn’t had a drinking problem? Only God knows that. All in all there are a lot of unanswered and unanswerable questions in this story and my arc only comes into existence because my parents got together. Looking at it in this way it all seems pretty random. And yet each arc leads to another and arcs intersect and lives are changed and when we look back it seems less random and more infinitely complex. It’s like an amazing Author weaving an infinite story. This is how I choose to see it. God creates all of us characters and allows unto interact in the world he created. He places before us many arcs, seeing which ones we will choose and yet somehow already knowing what we will choose.

We see this in the Bible, all these story lines, of all these lives that seem to weave and intersect until eventually they converge in one man, Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. The young man thrown into a well and sold into slavery by brothers who hate him, only to become the small “s” savior of their family, a future nation and all the people of their part of the world. The baby placed in a basket in a river to save his life, only to be fished out of the river by the daughter of a king. He was raised in the home of that king until he kills someone in defense of one of his own people. He then goes on the run, only to return and rescue his birth nation from the king who raise him. Them there’s the prostitute who hides spies in exchange for her life who ends up becoming an ancestor the greatest of earthly kings. How about the young widow who defies the odds and stays with her mother-in-law only to meet her redeemer and become another ancestor of that king and the fact that both these women become ancestors to the King of Kings.

This world is an amazing story and so is your life. Every choice might set us off in a new direction and it will change the arc of our story. it is for this reason that we must make our choices carefully. I don’t understand how it works but the Author gives you free will and yet knows the choices you will make before you make them. The choices we make are still our responsibility, but the Author has told us that He will work in all things for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose. He loves you and knows what’s best. I’m living proof. Everything I have ever faced has brought me to this point. I’m convinced a loving God brought me through, whether through my choices or in some cases in spite of them. Follow Him and love Him.

Your choices make the story. Choose well.

Yesterday, I went over this page and made a few changes. I needed to add a few of the great comments I received from people who had me in to speak and I had to update the Where I’m At Next speaking schedule on the left side bar of the main page. I finished and as always, I went to check the page before shutting down for the day. When I opened the site, I was horrified to find that it looked like the page exploded. Most of the side bar “widgets” down the left side of the page moved into the main body of the site, which moved all of the copy, the stuff you come here to see, way off the page. I was more than a little upset. This is the main tool I have to communicate with the world. It was broken and I couldn’t fix it. I finally fired off a note to tech support and shut down to think and calm my nerves a bit.

After a few minutes, I had a thought. There was a line of code that was incorrect when I was working on the speaking schedule and I had fixed it. It was a really minor thing and I won’t bore you with the html coding details, but this correction was an elementary thing and was clearly the right thing to do. It should have had little to no effect on the page at all. I was actually just nit-picking the code. That said, it was the only thing, code-wise that I touched. I went back in and reverted the code to the erroneous code and it fixed the web site. Hallelujah.

So why do I share this when it has so little to do with creative arts ministry? Well to tell you the truth, there are a couple of things in this story that could really apply to our lives as creatives.

1. If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
The page was working fine for years with that one little code error, but I just had to “fix” it. My need of coding “perfection” created a lot of unnecessary stress. Perfectionism is like that and it’s best to be avoided. Sometimes what works is good enough.

2. I Don’t Know Everything
What I thought was a coding error ended up making my page work properly and when I “fixed” it, I ruined my page and almost my day. There may well be a reason the code worked the way it did. I am by no means an expert and sometimes it’s best to trust the real experts to know what they are doing. This is equally applicable in our relationship with God. He knows what He’s doing. He has a perfect order of things and knows how everything works. We mess with that order at our peril.

3. Don’t Panic
I was anything but calm as I tried in vain to figure out how I had “destroyed” my site. I almost went in and really started to mess with things, but that would probably have created something even worse. The best thing to do in that state of mind is walk away and do something else for a while. When I did that, the thing to do to fix my site became clear and seconds later, typing ONE LETTER fixed the page.

4. The Small things Matter
One letter fixed my site but it was also one letter that messed it up. I’m creeping up on 1600 posts on this blog. At around 500 words per post, that’s a lot of words and literally millions of letters and a single letter can mess up everything. That’s how code works and it’s how life works. One small choice can really throw things off. So it’s important that we make those choices carefully.

5. Choices Snowball
When I am working on anything web related, especially those things that involve code, it’s best to check yourself before you wreck yourself, as the saying goes. Write a little code, then go check it before you do something else. This allows you to catch errors before you have a pile of them. It’s always easier to find a problem when you check yourself after just a few lines. In this way, if something falls apart, it’s easy to figure out where it happened. Choices work the same way. Check the effects of one choice before making another one and it will be a lot easier to find where things went wrong. When I was pastoring, this was something I found maddening. Few people ever came to me when things were starting to come apart. Instead they usually waited until there were explosions and carnage. Choices snowball so check yourself frequently.

One last thought. I was struggling to find something to write about for today, until this problem happened. In truth, the reason I had this struggle to begin with was because I was piddling around with the code while seeking inspiration. I caused myself a stressful situation and the stressful situation brought about the inspiration. Sometimes life works like that. Romans 8:28 reminds us that, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” When you hit a struggle, look for God’s purpose. Sooner or later it will become apparent.

I just got done reading a really pretty good book called One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do. The idea behind the book is pretty simple, and Cooke’s goal and mine are pretty similar. We’re both interested in helping people find their life’s purpose. Between his thoughts and mine, I’d like to give you four questions you can ask yourself to help you find that one thing. Those questions are:

1. What are your gifts/talents?
Consider for a moment that God knows what He’s doing. If that is the case, and of course it is, then the gifts and talents He put in you were put there for a reason. I believe that reason is for you to bring Him glory and build His kingdom. How could you use your gifts to that end? Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you have to paint pictures of Jesus or tell Bible stories, but rather that you give the world your very best gifts done in God honoring ways.

2. What are your passions?
Consider for a moment that God wants you to be joyful. If that is the case, and it is, His joy is after all our strength, then chances are the things you are passionate about may have been put there by Him to excite you about a specific mission He has for your life. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that you will be happy all the time, but He made you passionate enough to push through the pain to the prize. Chances are the good, positive things that fire you up, fire you up because that’s how God made you.

3. What are your experiences?
Consider for a moment that God has a plan. If that is the case, and it is, then the things that happen in our lives, both good and bad may just have a purpose. This is hugely encouraging if you think about it. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “…in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That means that if God has a call on your life and if you love HIm, then all the things in your life can work together into a God honoring, purpose filled life. There is even a purpose and good can even come out of the most difficult situations.

4. What drives you crazy?
Consider for a moment that God knows your heart and mind. If that is the case, and it is, then He knows just how to get through to you. Sometimes it’s the stuff that drives you crazy and the stuff that makes you mad that reveals your life’s purpose. If it weren’t for this tactic, how else would the world’s injustices be corrected and its wrongs righted. If you look at a situation, see it as intolerable and think, “Someone should do something about that” consider for a moment that “someone” might be you. Sometimes it’s the things that drive us crazy that make us find, and fight for, the solution.

You “1 Thing” will most likely be found at the intersection of these four questions.
For example. I am gifted and talented as an artist, writer and storyteller. I am passionate about helping people to know Jesus and find their God-given purpose. My experience is in making art, writing, storytelling, with vocational skills and training in graphic and web design, plus I’m an ordained minister on the positive, and on the negative, I’m a person who was bullied for most of my life, turned to alcohol and wandered through life wondering what’s my purpose (all of which God redeemed when I came to love Him and seek my calling (just like He promised in Romans 8:28). Lastly, what drives me crazy is seeing people live a hopeless existence, without Jesus, without hope and without purpose, in need of encouragement.

All of that put me in creative arts ministry.

Where is God putting you?

Well folks this is my 1300th post on I thank each of you whether you’ve been with me a short time or a long time, because you help to make all the effort worthwhile. But that’s not why I called this post victory.

You see I feel a big part of my calling is to encourage others especially us creative types, to throw off the shackles of fear and use out gifts to serve the Lord. To do that, a lot of times I will be vulnerable and share part of my story. Often these are the painful stories that I learned the hard way, whether it was through my own sin and stupidity or inflicted on me by others. All this is part of my story and don’t miss this a testimony to God’s goodness. Occasionally I hear back from some of you about how one of these stories has helped or encouraged you. That’s victory. You see when what I have been through, no matter how bad, serves to help someone else, it makes the pain make sense. It makes me look at it and see, “Oh, okay Lord, now I see what you’re doing.” I’ll say it again, that’s victory, mine and more importantly, His.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I do know this, there is victory in Jesus, even if it doesn’t look like it right now. God is good and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Romans 8:28 says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose.”

I’ve seen that lived out in my own life, time and time again.

Look for your victory. I believe it’s coming.