A Seaman's Quest

One man's search for truth

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Embracing My Life Purpose

Live out your dreams

What we dream for says a lot about who we are. Evaluate your dreams. How are you fulfilling them? Let this be a focal power in your prayer time. Your deepest dreams are a reflection of God's purpose for you. God gradually changes what you most desire.

Because of this transformation, we can be confident that he will give us his dreams. These are a direct reflection of his purpose for our lives. Of course, this is only true to the extent that we are following him. It is not simply automatic because we call ourselves Christian.

God will fulfill every desire that he has placed within you. You get your deepest needs met because they are completely aligned with his purpose for you. As you are transformed you desire the things that God does.

You can truly know God's will for your life. It does not need to be a mystery any longer. Your dreams are a unique reflection of God's plan for you.

This is also why the process of transformation can be painful. The Lord messes with the things that you most value. He is continuously shaping your desires. When he is done you will look a lot more like him.

This plan is specific to you, so don't let anyone else define what you ought to be. God will reveal his purpose to you as you seek to be obedient to him. The dreams that you have for your life are one of the primary ways that God guides you.

Take the time to get in touch with the things that you really long for. Create your own list and pray over it. Make it a focal point of dialog with God. This approach can help you make decisions with greater clarify and confidence.

Embrace your dreams and fears

To truly understand what is in a person's heart you must understand their deepest emotions. We care about some things so much that they seem to drive everything we do.

You may have strong emotions that cause certain behaviors that you are not even fully conscious of. This can cause a lot of additional turmoil in your life and for those around you.

Identifying you top dreams is a great step in coming to grips with motivational issues. The top dreams are the ones that are close to your central identify. These are the things that define the difference between a good day and a bad one.

Your top dreams are not always obvious. They are almost never a simple career goal or a role to play. They go much deeper than that. But your top dreams may have a lot to do with your career choices and roles that you take on.

To capture your dreams try this simple exercise. Find a quiet place and make a list of the five things you most want from your life. This is the first cut but probably not the core list.

Now test it. Assume that the things you wrote down are all that you get for the rest of your life. You must give up everything else to get these five things. Did you miss anything?

Now it is time to be more specific. Select each dream and see if you can identify the crux of what makes that dream important to you. What is the smallest thing that truly captures the essence of your dream?

I did a similar exercise related to my core fears at a different time. I was surprised to find almost complete overlap in the lists. It makes sense that, what we long for is also what we fear losing most.

Share these things with your two closest friends. Tell how these dreams define who you are. Get their feedback to help refine your language on each of them. You will find this conversation very liberating.

Your dreams are a large part of what defines you. You are what you dream about.

The Source for What You Need

"So don't worry about where you will live or how you will pay your bills. These types of things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." -- Jesus

Jesus is the only source of everything that is truly good in our lives. Although this sounds like a platitude that every believer would agree with, I often deny it by trusting in other things.

Accepting Jesus as our Lord is not a one-time act, but a continual posture of the heart. Each day presents many opportunities to seek or deny him.

He has a wonderful plan for each day of my life. Yet, I frequently opt for my own short-sighted goals instead. I am often so blind to the implications of doing this and the consequences of not pursuing him wholeheartedly.

I have been thinking about this process a lot lately. I want to follow God in every way. At the same time, I want to be in control. This creates a built-in conflict.

The bible teaches us that Jesus is the one that starts the work of redemption in us. We can not muster either the desire or the ability in ourselves.

What is true at the beginning, holds throughout our lives. He continually sustains the transformation. Will power is not enough to do the deep work required.

I experience this on a personal level when I spend time alone with God. I pick a quiet and isolated spot and invite him to make me aware of his presence. This gives him an opportunity to speak while I am consciously listening to him.

My practice is simply to look at him, while he looks at me. This is sometimes a supernatural experience where he touches my spirit and brings refreshing. He may bring his peace, plans, or correction to me in that quiet place of openness.

At other times, nothing much happens, but we enjoy each other's company. These times of solitude have a lingering effect throughout my day. I am more aware of his presence in the middle of life's turmoil.

This practice of being alone with God and quietly enjoying his presence has become the most important activity that I have neglected for so many years.

A Matter of Heart and Hands

The art of solitude is wrongly understood if it is seen as leading to withdrawal from others. It is not meant to enhance the self at the cost of maintaining concern for others. Instead, solitude is a way to enrich the self in order that we may more fully join with others. Solitude is meant to enrich the practice of community.

While community is the reality we are to live, solitude helps us to live there. Nouwen says that "community ... is primarily a quality of the heart." It is not primarily a matter of particular structures. It is first of all a recognition that in the faces of other people, I am aware of Christ's call to interdependence, sharing, serving, receiving, mutuality, encouragement, and companionship. Community is thus, first of all, a particular vision of life.

But it also involves a practical joining together. Nouwen notes that "we will never know what community is if we never come together in one place." Heart and hands must therefore meet. Ideals must find a practical outworking. Our dreams of cooperation and sharing life together must be realized with courage and perseverance in an age characterized by independence, self-sufficiency, and isolation.

In the quest of realizing our dreams, we need to make sure that the matter of the heart does not get lost through a preoccupation with the structures of community.

Charles R Ringma. Dare to Journey--with Henri Nouwen

What does God expect of his people?

The Jewish prophet Micah wrote an interesting prophesy in 700 BC. In it he describes exactly what it would look like to follow God.
This same message was highlighted in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus seven centuries later.

God's people must demonstrate Love in Action or they are not really God's people at all but simply impostors that are posing as the faithful in order to gain wealth and power. This can be used as a litmus test since it is impossible to fake.

Justice, Mercy, and Humility - what God expects

What can we bring to the Lord?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
with offerings of yearling calves?

Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

- Micah 6:8

The prophet Micah gives a message where he questions what God really wants from his people. He asks if God is truly interested in the outrageous sacrifices that we are willing to give him in place of our obedience. This message is clear.. sacrifice from an evil heart makes God mad.

So what does he really want from us?

Justice

We are to do what is right, no matter the cost. When we see injustice we are compelled to confront it. God is always on the side of the oppressed and defenseless, never on the side of the oppressors.

Mercy

Jesus exudes mercy and if we follow him them so do we. Being merciful means that the Spirit is in control; being belligerent, critical, and judgmental means that he is not.

Humility

We cannot be following God and soaked in pride at the same time. Being open to God's leadership requires humility. This is the hallmark of people that are truly seeking him.

These three things define what it means to follow God. Making extraordinary sacrifices has nothing to do with the true and honest pursuit of the King of Kings.

John Wesley's Manifesto

Many of the issues of our day were addressed by John Wesley over 200 years ago. We can learn a lot from those who have gone before us.

What issues did John Wesley care about and write about in the 18th century?

  1. Reduce the gap between rich people and poor people

  2. Help everyone to have a job

  3. Help the poorest, including introducing a living wage

  4. Offer the best possible education

  5. Help everyone to feel they can make a difference

  6. Promote tolerance

  7. Promote equal treatment for women

  8. Create a society based on values and not on profits and consumerism

  9. End all forms of slavery

  10. Avoid getting into wars

  11. Share the love of God with everyone

  12. Care for the environment

John Wesley – in his own words

  1. Be ye ready to distribute to everyone, according to their necessity.

  2. Wickedly, devilishly false is that common objection, ‘They are poor only because they are idle ... Find them work ... They will then earn and eat their own bread.’

  3. How many are there in this Christian country that toil, and labor, and sweat... but struggle with weariness and hunger together? Is it not worse for one, after a hard days labour, to come back to a poor, cold, dirty, uncomfortable lodging, and to find there not even the food which is needful to repair his wasted strength?

  4. Beware of that common, but accursed, way of making children parrots ... Regard not how much, but how well, to what good purpose, they read ... The end of education ... is to help us discover every false judgement of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts... and to understand as much as we are able.

  5. I continue to dream... of the time when the potential of each person can be unleashed.

  6. Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?

  7. May not women as well as men bear an honourable part ... yield not to the vile bondage any longer. You, as well as men, are rational creatures. You, like them, were made in the image of God.

  8. In seeking happiness from riches, you are only striving to drink out of empty cups. And let them be painted and gilded ever so finely, they are empty still

  9. Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary action. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion! ... Do with everyone else as you would he should do to you.

  10. War: What farther proof of do we need of the utter degeneracy of all nations from the plainest principles of reason and virtue? Of the absolute want, both of common sense and common humanity, which runs through the whole race of mankind?

  11. The world is my parish.

  12. Lead us beyond an exclusive concern for the well-being of other human beings to the broader concern for the well-being of the birds in our backyards, the fish in our rivers, and every living creature on the face of the earth.