The Well-Lived Life

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” – Colossians 3:23

If I asked a group of people to describe their life – right now – in one word, I would expect some of the following answers: Growing. Frustrated. Disappointing. Fulfilled. Forgiven. Stuck. Struggling. Joyful. Defeated. Exciting. Empty. Discouraged.  Great. Mediocre. Painful. Dynamic. If I asked the same group if they desired more in life, my guess is everyone would answer yes.

The Home Run Life series was for those who desire more in life. There are Christians who assume that the only thing they need to do to please God and live the Home Run Life is to be saved. That if you are a Christian, God is pleased with you. But there is a difference between pleasing God because we accepted Jesus as Lord over our lives and living a Home Run Life. We must remember that a relationship with Jesus, a transformed life, is not a to-do list that can be checked off along the way.

God’s acceptance is not based on our ability to do the right things. As we study the bible, we quickly see that even on our best day, when we seem to be doing everything right, we are still a sinner. We never keep God’s commands perfectly. That’s why we needed God’s grace in the first place.

We need to understand that God is pleased with us, not because of what we do but because of who we are—his children. Through his grace, I am  “…now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3). That means when God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sin, he sees the perfection of His Son.

I am bringing this up because of the fear of failure in living a life pleasing to God, a Home Ruin Life. Then I thought of all the work the Christian life seemed to demand. How could I ever make a passing grade?  I’m finding a freedom I didn’t know before. Understanding that I don’t have to work for God’s approval hasn’t made me stop reading my Bible or memorizing Scripture. It’s actually given me a passion for it. I’m also finding that the more I learn about His love for me, the more motivated I am to love others.

What I hope you take away from the Home Run Life is that living a life pleasing to God, our heart must match the heart of God. And that means changing and transforming lives.

The ministry of Northstar is all about changing hearts. We want to change the hearts of the lost so that they might be willing to be found. We want to see their hearts changed in order that they too might experience the love and joy of a life-transforming relationship with Christ. But, our efforts won’t mean much unless our own hearts have not undergone full and complete renovation.

I am praying for the hearts of the people in our church. I am praying that our hearts will be softened. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will penetrate our hearts so radically that our hearts will be broken for those that are lost and as a result, we will do whatever it takes to see them found.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why should we care about the lost? Why should we be concerned? Why should we worry about the other person? Am I responsible for their situation?
  2. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” What does this mean in your life?
  3. What things are you more concerned about than reaching the lost with the Gospel?
  4. What is the one thing you will work on as a result of the Home Run Life series?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you live your life according to His patterns.

What We Do With Our Garbage

by Angela Martin

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9.

While I am no expert, I find technology to be very useful in every facet of life. One of the things that is very useful is the key on the computer keyboard that is spelled D-E-L. That’s right. The delete key. When working on some files, I accidentally press the delete button, only to watch all my hard work vanish into thin air. Fortunately, the computer gives me the “are you sure you want to delete these files” prompt which enables me to confirm the delete or bring the work back from the limbo it goes in.

I wish the delete key was so easy to press in real life. I wish it was that easy to remove the dealings with others that causes pain and hurt in our lives. We’d love to see the pain and bitterness gone, a non-issue, done away with the press of a button. But the problem is, we know that just pushing a button won’t make all the feelings disappear. It won’t totally undo the damage or put everything back like it was. It won’t turn back the clock. So why go to all the emotional trouble of truly forgiving others if it won’t repair the gaping hole in our hearts, at least not for a good long time?

In many ways, what happens when we trash a computer document is a vivid picture of what takes place when we truly forgive someone for an offense they’ve thrust upon us. We eliminate it. We clear the record. We treat it as if the offense never occurred in the first place. Believers, of all people, should appreciate the joy of forgiveness . . . because of knowing what a treasure it is to be purely and perfectly forgiven.

If we truly wish to forgive, we must make a conscious promise to forget as Christ forgets (Hebrews 10:17). Our promise to others is never to bring up that sin against that person again—not to God, not to the person who committed it, not to anyone else. It is a deliberate decision to deal with another’s sin by doing away with it, pressing the delete button, wiping it off our slate, or as I said on Sunday putting it into the trash.

Sometimes a woman will come up to me and say, “I’ve forgiven my husband” or “I’ve forgiven so-and-so”—and then she’ll begin listing all the hurtful things that person has done to her. While I can applaud her for recognizing what she needs to do, her own words reveal that she hasn’t truly, fully forgiven—because forgiveness is a promise. She hasn’t hit the delete button so the hurt is still there.

Not only is forgiveness our promise to others, but it’s also a promise God has made to us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12). Yes, what we did to Him was real. What we continue to do against Him is real. But by the atoning blood of His Son, God has chosen not to remember our offenses.

This matter of forgiveness is truly at the core—the very heart—of the gospel. Even our excuses for not forgiving keep bringing us back to the cross, back to where forgiveness was perfectly applied, not to a group of people who’d gone through all the right steps to become forgivable, but to us—to people who didn’t deserve it.

By continuing to monitor our lives and dealing with any trash that comes our way, we can keep clutter to a minimum and any relapses will be temporary. Then we begin to see our emotional trash for what it is, garbage. Today is garbage day. Take it out and then leave it there!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there any trash in your life that you are holding onto? What would you need to do to delete it?
  2. How do I know if I have forgiven?
  3. How could extending forgiveness heal a relationship? How might it heal the other person? How might it heal you?
  4. When you refuse to forgive, you are giving the person who hurt you the opportunity to hurt you again in your memory.  Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  5. Share an example from your own experience when refusing to forgive hurt you.
  6. Pray and ask Jesus, the ultimate forgiver, to empower you, remembering that He has forgiven you.

What We Do With Our Forgiveness

by Angela Martin

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

Pastor’s wives are often placed on a pedestal high enough to trigger altitude sickness. People can assume that Genesis 17:1, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless” was written for Pastors and their wives. Actually, Acts 10:26 is probably more befitting: “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”

The truth is that Marty, my two children and I are not perfect. I face challenges and temptations. I fight with my husband, get frustrated with my children, and struggle to forgive some people. I am not super-human. I have feelings and insecurities. I make mistakes. But I care. I want to be approachable to you. I cannot live up to perfection or balance on a pedestal. God is working in my life in the areas of influence, and as I mentioned on Sunday, in the area of forgiveness. Rather than cover what I talked about on Sunday, I would like to summarize a powerful story of forgiveness.

It is the story of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. She was imprisoned for her actions. She was speaking in a church in Munich in 1947 when she saw him. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. This man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where Corrie and her sister, Betsie, had been sent.

There he stood in front of her, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fräulein. How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” Corrie was not sure how she recognized him, but she remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt.

He admitted he was a guard at Ravensbruck. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulen, –  again the hand came out—will you forgive me?”

Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply by asking? She stood there with a coldness clutching her heart. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. And so mechanically, she thrust her hand into his. As she did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in her shoulder, raced down her arm, sprang into their joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood her whole being, bringing tears to her eyes. “I forgive you, brother!” she cried. “With all my heart!” Corrie later said that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover the prisoner was you.”

For some people, like Corrie ten Boom, the changes in their lives are drastic. For others, they start out with small changes like forgiving slights, or actions in the past that have been blown out of proportion. But, start somewhere and start now. Things will not work well, when your mind is filled with vivid pictures of times when it hasn’t. If you’re wondering how to heal the past and get some forward momentum going, the answer is without a doubt, forgiveness.

How about you? No doubt there are countless people who have injured you; they have said false things about you; they have wounded you with their actions and reactions. Maybe the hardship came from a supervisor at work, or a neighbor across the street, or a teacher in school, but regardless of where it came from, the fallout from unforgiveness is more harmful, to you.

My prayer is that you learn to forgive.

Discussion Question:

  1. What if I cannot forgive myself?
  2. How do I know if I have forgiven?
  3. How quickly should I forgive? (Matthew 5:25)
  4. Women often ask, “What if the offense was a grave one and I am still hurting? Shouldn’t I wait to forgive until I can be honest about it? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to do otherwise?”
  5. What does the cross have to do with our ability to forgive?
  6. Pray and ask God for the courage and strength to forgive those who have wronged you.

What We Do With Our Fear

by Angela Martin

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” – 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

Fear happens to every woman at some time in her life. You may wake up late because your alarm didn’t go off. Instantaneous panic as you wonder if you will be late to work and what will the boss say. Or you get every mom’s worst nightmare in the form of a phone call from someone close to you who says, “I’ve got some bad news”. Worry comes flooding in. Or a medical prognosis seems to take away your dreams and future at the same time. Or your kids are starting to go in the wrong direction and you can’t seem to reach them. These can be times that sap our influence and our walk with God.

Being afraid can become standard operating procedure if we let it. But I don’t want my life to be controlled by fear. When faced with critical moments fueled by fear I look at biblical examples of people dealing with their own fears. Like Joshua who was given the opportunity to lead the entire nation of Israel after Moses passed away. He already had a history of seeing past the present obstacles and fears that could have blinded him to something greater beyond. In these few sentences we find the flip side of fear: “Be strong and very courageous. …Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

When fear fills our hearts and minds, there’s essentially no room for anything else. If we let it rule us, it can become a way of life. It’s like standing within reach of a light switch, but choosing to leave the room dark. Fear is the opposite of trust. And we have a God who is completely trustworthy. His record is clear. He keeps every promise. Faith can conquer your fears.

Think of the things that cause you fear and stress. Is there anything you’ve come up with that’s too big for God to handle? Anything that’s too tough for Him? A health issue? He created your body. Financial stresses? He owns everything. A schedule out of control? He holds time in His hands. Family members or friends in trouble? He knows them inside out. Whatever the challenge, the Father loves you and He desires to shoulder the burden for you. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

There are times where fear grips us and as a result we feel like we are stumbling through life. We try to do our best for God, but still often feeling like there is a long way to go before we are a godly woman. Living focused on Jesus is something I always want to be better at. To become a more godly woman with Him at the center of everything I do.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a child, what was one of your greatest fears? What helped you to cope?
  2. How do you deal with fear in your life?
  3. In what ways does your fear imprison you? Describe what your life could be like without your fear.
  4. How can we help those who are struggling with fear?
  5. Pray and meditate on facing the fears that God is asking you to face.

What We Do With Our Wisdom

by Angela Martin

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” – Proverbs 19:20

Tyler Perry said: “What I’ve found about it is that there are some folks you can talk to until you’re blue in the face–they’re never going to get it and they’re never going to change. But every once in a while, you’ll run into someone who is eager to listen, eager to learn, and willing to try new things. Those are the people we need to reach. We have a responsibility as parents, older people, teachers, people in the neighborhood to recognize that.”

I believe the same is true of the church. And older, more mature women, have the responsibility to use their wisdom, experiences and influence to mentor and speak into the lives of younger women. A mentor is a godly, older friend who is willing to invest her time and talents into sharing her life, her struggles, and her wisdom with younger women.  Younger women are the 20-somethings with two small children, husband, and a demanding job living hundreds of miles from her parents. She often has few friends, no network of fellowship with like-minded women, yet she has to try and make sense of all that is happening around her. She needs someone who can shape, encourage, and inspire her in her journey as a woman, a wife, and a mother.

Titus 2 talks about how to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living. “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

For every woman who attends Northstar, there are some older and some younger. To those older, you are to look and see if they are an example of Christ—if they are, ask them to show you what they have learned and how they do it. For those who are younger, try and assist them to help them bring every area of their lives to Jesus. This can occur in informal settings, such as one on one, or in Northstar Groups. We need to remember that many of the young woman who attend our church were not raised in the church.

Having a mentor in your life means you’re going to have some learning to do, because your life as it is now, may be challenged. While that may be a good thing, it isn’t always an easy thing.

My prayer is that every woman in our church will have other women placed into their lives as an example, encouragement, and role model.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you view mentoring as ministry?
  2. Do you know someone who you believe you could help? What is stopping you from connecting with that person?
  3. A heart for God, experience in life, a love for people and availability. If you have these characteristics, you can mentor someone else. Agree or disagree?
  4. God placed the first two priorities in the Titus 2 list for women: to love their husbands and love their children. What is keeping us from fulfilling those two responsibilities?
  5. Pray and ask God to put a mentor in your life, or to mentor to someone, who can benefit from your wisdom and experiences?

What We Do With Our Influence

by Angela Martin

“What if you don’t say anything at this time? Then help for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your family will die. Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.” Esther 4:14

Influence is the ability or power to change or affect someone or something: the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.

Women have the ability to influence, either good or bad. In the Bible we see some examples: Deborah was a warrior and judge (Judges 4 & 5), Esther saved her people (Book of Esther), Eve was the first woman (Genesis 1-3), and Mary was Jesus’ mother (Luke 2:1-7). Whether positively or negatively, all of these women were influential.

And so it remains today. As women, we have the power to influence our husbands, our children, our families, our co-workers, our churches, and our communities. Our goal should be to draw closer to Jesus and allow Him to transform us into godly women whose influence brings others toward salvation through Jesus Christ.

Where there are dedicated women, rooted in the things of God and in His Word, I believe there will be healthy families, strong men, confident children and thriving churches. Our mission as a woman is to be all we can be through Christ Jesus.

We desire and pursue growth in spiritual maturity so that we can take God’s love outside of the four walls of the church and into our workplace, schools, the grocery store, and our neighborhoods.

A woman’s attitude can affect the whole atmosphere of her home. I believe that to be true in the church. We can help one another in ways we never thought possible. 1 Corinthians 12:21, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” Every part of the body is indispensable. The relationships we build and the connecting of each person’s gifts make us indispensable.

Lately, I have been thinking about the power of influence. Who has had influence in your life? Today I am thankful for the influence of godly women. A godly woman leaves a mark on your life. She inspires us. She encourages us. She changes us for the better.

Are we a godly influence like that? Are we inspiring people to fall in love with Jesus? Are we leaving a legacy of influence for Him? Those are questions we should ponder. Let’s ask God to help us today to choose to be a godly influence in the lives of all those around us.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you feel you have influence? Do you focus your influence in specific areas?
  2. What is the difference between trying to change a person (husband, child, co-worker, friend. neighbor) and trying to influence them?
  3. What is an area where your attitude may be influencing someone in a negative way? What is one thing you can do to help change that?
  4. It’s easy to look at other people’s stories and believe that God is writing a greater story. It’s harder to believe that God is doing the same in our own lives—that He wants to join His story to our stories. Do we want God to use us? Can we truly have influence?

A Tribute To Mom

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands…She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family…She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night…She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue…a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:10-30.

There are so many things to say about mothers that it is nearly impossible to do justice to the special, unconditional and unwavering love a mother feels for her child. When we are happy, sad, anxious or just need a listening ear—for many of us—mom fills the bill. The simple truth is no matter how far we go in life or who we know, mothers always hold a special place in our hearts.

Sure mothers get frustrated, disappointed, annoyed and even angry at times. And why not? They are often the disciplinarians, nurses, psychologists, chefs, housekeepers and the voice of reason who have loved us when we were not lovable, stood up for us, encouraged us, cried for and with us, buoyed our spirits, punished us, rewarded us, and stayed up all night praying for us. It is always amusing how as we grow older we have an increasing appreciation for the sacrifices, uncommon love and wisdom of our moms.

On Sunday, May 10, we will recognize and honor all our moms. We know your mother is special, ours are too. That’s why on May 10th we are going to show and express our gratitude for one of God’s greatest gifts to the family. Make plans right now and invite your mother to be with you in a service on this special day.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Growing up, what was your favorite thing about your mom? Growing up, what was the craziest thing about your mom?
  2. Instead of honoring the women in our lives only once a year, what are some ways that we can live in constant respect and honor for them that makes them feel valuable, appreciated, and thought of throughout the year?
  3. How can we best pray for the mothers in our church? With motherhood more challenging than ever, what do they need in the way of prayer support?
  4. Pray for God to renew and strengthen our mothes and give them hope. Pray that they would flourish, that they would reach their full potential, and for their gifts and abilities to rise to the surface. And pray that they would carry the grace of the Lord to speak life into people they influence.

Hitting For The Cycle

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40: 29-3.

Here is some baseball trivia. Who was the last player to hit for the natural cycle? The answer: Texas Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. on September 13, 2006. Matthews started with a single in the first, added a double in the second and a triple in the fourth, and then finished it off with a home run in the sixth.

If you are not a baseball fan, hitting for the cycle is the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game. Collecting the hits in that order is known as a “natural cycle”. Only 14 players have ever hit for a natural cycle in a major league game. Statistics indicate the probability of natural cycle is once every 52,600 games.

God is asking us to hit for a natural cycle. In other words, start at home by connecting with God. Hit a single and get to first base, which is our character. Hit a double to get to second base which is community. Then a triple which is competence. And finally hit a home run life by circling the bases in our next bat. Easy? No, it is not. But it is the pattern that God established and the path to a Home Run Life.

Staying with the baseball theme, let me add a few thoughts to summarize the Home Run Life series. First, we are on a team, so we need to be a team player. A baseball team can only be successful when they work together. We are not running the Home Run Life by ourselves. We are in this thing together, so it doesn’t matter whether you are the pitcher, the catcher, first baseman, second, third, fielder or whatever. It doesn’t make any difference whether you are the pastor, an elder, KiD’s teacher, park cars, or serve coffee. Romans 15:1-2 says, ”We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” In other words, let’s do things that help, bless, build, and encourage one another in the areas of character, community and careers.

Second, living a Home Run Life is a lot easier when we listen, learn and obey the manager or coach. It seems pretty basic and  self-evident to listen to the Lord of Lords, the Son of God.  Yet we do not always play the game according to His rules. Luke 6: 46 says “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” We need to listen to the coach if we want to live a Home Run Life.

The third thing is you may get hurt, but that should not stop us from trying to improve our character, connect with community and place the creator ahead of our career. Lou Gehrig is called the “iron man of baseball” for a very good reason. For 15 years in the 1920’s and 30’s he played first base for the New York Yankees. He played 2,130 consecutive games. And after he retired they took X-rays of both of his hands and found that every finger had been broken at least one time, yet he never missed a game. That says something about his character and his commitment to baseball.

Every Christian will experience hurt and pain in some form or another and for one reason or another. The apostle Paul lived the Home Run Life, yet he endured a lot of hardship most of us will never face. “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13) Yes, we may get hurt, but I encourage you to continue to run the bases, trusting in God.

My prayer is that you will not be content in just being a spectator, someone who doesn’t care if they are playing on the team. Someone who just wants to be there. That is enough for some. Some people would much rather sit back and just watch anyway, content just to be at the game. Like the Christian who loves being at church, but doesn’t really want to make a commitment to Christ. They would rather just sit and watch. Just being at church is enough for them.

My prayer for this series is that we will have a renewed passion and love for being on the team and living a Home Run Life. That we will do whatever it takes to become a better baseball player. That we will set our sights on the Hall of Fame.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is my connection with God where it needs to be? What do I need to do differently?
  2. Is my character reflective of my Christianity? What do I need to do differently?
  3. Am I an active member of the community?
  4. Is my priority my creator or my career? Am I waiting until the later innings before I start running the bases?
  5. Do I tend to be a spectator or benchwarmer rather than an active participant in the Home Run Life? Is just being at church enough for me?

Garbage In Garbage Out

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

Years ago at the start of the computer revolution, a new word was coined. In those days computers were new and people were struggling on how to maximize their effectiveness. Bad data was consistently entered leading to a universal truth: If the raw data is bad, the computer can’t do anything good with it. What you put into a computer determines what comes out. This led to a new word, GIGO. It stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. If your input is garbage, guess what your output will be? Yep, garbage. The computer cannot fix or make sense of bad input.

What is true of computers is also true of Christians. Just as the computer quickly knows that the data is bad and unusable, God knows when we are submitting bad data to Him. He knows garbage when He sees it. I used the word “crap” in Sunday’s message but garbage sounds a little less descriptive and a little less earthy.

The truth is Christians collect a lot of garbage over their lives. Garbage that we need to rid ourselves of in order to have a better relationship with God. Because if we don’t, it starts to smell and eventually harms our relationship with God. And we talked about on Sunday, one area of garbage is when we try to run the bases our way, to ignore the patterns set forth by God and then ask for His blessing. God sees it is garbage in and will not bless us or show us favor.

The way to rid ourselves of the garbage in this area is by finding our purpose in our creator, not my career which means we run the bases and follow the patterns God has set for us. We can start by acknowledging that we can’t do it alone, and ask for Jesus’ help. We then have to surrender our will to His, meaning we will let God’s Holy Spirit work in us to move us from base to base in the right order.

Doing things God’s way is how you find joy and fulfillment. God has sustaining grace for each base in the Home Run Life. His timing is perfect. His purposes are powerful.  As a Christian, seek God’s convicting power to be at work in your life to expose any area of garbage or crap in your life. Then resolve within your heart to walk in the Spirit and ask for God’s grace to enable and assist you in your desire to live a life glorifying to God. Doing things “my way” can at most achieve goals within that person’s capabilities. Doing things God’s way opens the way to achieving goals that lie within God’s capabilities.

To do this we must practice the various spiritual disciplines, such as attending weekly worship services, praying, having a daily quiet time (such as using our daily devotional), and participating in a Northstar Group. That may seem like a lot of work, but it isn’t. These eventually become part of your life, and pretty soon you can’t imagine a day without them. Do these things and the amount of garbage in your life will diminish.

The best thing we can offer God is an undivided heart. God is looking for people who are willing to put Him first, to push away distractions and make Jesus central. When we are willing to live a Home Run Life according to God’s instructions, we will receive the favor and blessings of God.

Discussion Question:

  1. Have you ever run the bases backwards? Have you ever thought about running the bases backwards?
  2. Do you have a tendency to see half the baseball diamond as God’s (or sacred) and half yours (secular)?
  3. How effective is your garbage removal system? How often do you take the garbage out?
  4. True life change comes only through partnership with God and must begin with a rejection of all faulty, self-centered methods. These faulty, self-centered methods have become a part of our culture and even our own way of life. Where do you think these faulty methods of change came from? Why do people cling to these methods? In what ways do these faulty methods have a partial truth that can seem to be correct?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you follow His patterns and His commands for life.

God At Work

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

Perhaps every young man who has put on a baseball uniform has had a dream to become a major league baseball player. Who would not want to be in the limelight and make millions to boot. The road to the major leagues is a long and difficult one. It takes more hard work and determination than you can imagine. There is constant instruction designed to fix flaws or make what is good better. They have to constantly improve and work as hard as they can because somebody wants to take their place and is putting in the hard work and hours necessary to be better. To be the best, you have to push yourself. Remember there are only 750 major league baseball players in the United Sates.

As Christians, what should our view of work be? There are Christians who view it as the penalty of living in a fallen world. Others make a distinction between what they perceive as the sacred—serving God—and the secular—everything else. Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life:  “Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His presence.”

Many people point to Christians as the reason they have a problem with Christianity. They believe we act one way in church and a completely different way outside the church. In some cases they may have a point. In some cases, it may just be an excuse. The way we live for God should permeate all areas of life. And the workplace is no exception.

There is one over-riding principle we can apply to all work and we find it in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” This directive not only means that we should be working to the best of our abilities, because that is what God deserves.

And since our true boss is God, we should do the best we can and with integrity, knowing that our reward is from Him. John 19:11 tells us that, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above….” Since all authority on earth is God-given we should obey our superiors unless, of course, our boss tells us to do something that goes against scripture. And finally, all those we work with and for are valuable to God and as a result should be valuable to us.

Consider trying the following: imagine yourself as the boss and ask, “how would I like employees to work, even when I’m not watching them?”

Even when jobs or coworkers are hard to like, we are to work as though God is our boss. That means doing tasks with joy, a servant attitude, respect for others, diligence, and obedience to those in authority.

However hard we feel we have to work, it is vital we make time to rest, to spend time with God and with our family and friends. If we do not do this, we are in danger of pushing God into our “outboxes”.

Discussion Question:

  1. Is it difficult to separate the work you do in church and the work you do outside of church? Why?
  2. Does it matter whether you enjoy your job or not?
  3. Proverbs 12:11 “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” What does that mean to you?
  4. Pray and ask God to give you a view of work consistent with His.