Sunday, January 29, 2012


Life brings constant change from the time we arrive on this planet. We change physically, intellectually and emotionally as we grow. One of the most important goals in life for the believer is to mature and grow up. Maturity takes us on to noble and inspiring places, and immaturity feeds on the petty things in life. I have, at times, struggled with resentment, but on careful examination, it was nothing more than being stuck in the stage of pettiness. When I accepted change and matured, I let the petty go and experienced a far better version of life. I have a favorite word which is the complete opposite of petty (which happens to be my least favorite word)—it is magnanimous. It means to show a lofty and courageous spirit. When I am resentful, I say to myself, “Boyd, you are being petty about this.” When I am able to let go and move to better things I say, “Boyd, you are being magnanimous.”

Ephesians 4:15-16  
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

How quickly we grow emotionally and mature in life depends on what we do with the opportunities that come our way. I once read a quote that said, “Dare to leave the shore and you will know new horizons.” Cutting loose of the secure line is the first step to experiencing new dimensions of freedom. For all of us, there are stages of our lives where we feel stuck and our world seems to shrink in size. During those times, we are inevitably faced with a choice of accepting the status quo or breaking out of our limitations.

C. S. Lewis described change in a unique way. It is like an unborn chick inside the egg. The chick is comfortable and unchallenged. The egg contains some nutrients for its sustenance, but they will soon be depleted. The chick must choose - stay in the egg and die or adventure out and live. The shell must be cracked from the inside, and in so doing, it enters an entirely new world. This world, though new to the chick, is the world for which it is made. The choice to live or die is up to the chick.[i]

I can identify with the chick. Life may be somewhat monotonous at times, but at least you know your little world. The thought of breaking out into the unknown is frightening. The one thing that has enabled me to find the courage to accept change has been the gnawing question of “What is my purpose?” As hard as change is, it is the vehicle of growth. We can’t grow and mature without change.

I have to ask myself “What is God calling me to do?” I don’t have to know what it is like on the other side of the egg shell to break through. I just have to know I’m doing the right thing. Let me ask you a question to ponder. Is your world a small, restricted space that has confined your growth? If so, maybe it is time to consider breaking the shell and experiencing the world you were made for.

[i] William L. Self,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

God's Will

Abraham Maslow was a famous psychologist who described human beings with a hierarchy of needs. At the bottom are a person’s physical needs, then safety needs, followed by the need to belong, then esteem needs. Finally, Maslow says the greatest and most fulfilling need in a human being is self-actualization. He believed a person reached their greatest state of maturity when they found their own happiness and fulfillment in life.  A majority would agree with Maslow on most of his hierarchy. The disagreement comes over what self-actualization means. For some it means to seek your self-fulfillment—the pursuit of what you want and what brings your personal happiness. As a believer who takes my cues from the Word of God, I think this step of self-actualization is addressed by Jesus.

Matthew 10:39
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Jesus’ take on self-actualization is to find a deeper purpose for your life than your own happiness. He said that if you made your happiness your primary purpose in life you would fail. It would be like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz, said what helped him survive the brutalities of the Nazi concentration camp was finding a purpose outside of his own existence.

It appears to me that Maslow’s concept of self-actualization is far more popular than Jesus’ concept. The problem is that Jesus said Maslow’s concept is a dead-end. The person who seeks self-fulfillment will actually lose himself in the search.

Just before Jesus went to the cross, he went to the garden of Gethsemane where he prayed. Jesus gives us an example of what it means to lose your “self” and find your purpose in God’s will. His agonizing prayer is recorded for us:

Matthew 26:38-39
“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”

Jesus resisted his father’s will. He struggled to accept it, so much so that he was physically sick. However, Jesus’ final and concluding prayer that night was a rejection of his self-desires and an acceptance of God’s will. He left the garden and was led as a “lamb to the slaughter” because he was completely resolved to fulfill his father’s plan.

My worst enemy in life is not another human being—it is I myself, my selfishness, my pride and my stubbornness. If I have learned anything in life, it is that I am much happier when I am helping others and serving a higher calling than my own happiness. Though it is not easy, I have learned to pray “…not as I will, but as you will.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Enoch Walked With God

Just three hours from where I grew up is Yosemite National Park, home of one the most magnificent forests on the planet.  No matter how many times I visit the giant Sequoias that stand over 30 stories tall, they leave me speechless. The spectacular trees are over 3000 years old.  When you walk through the groves, it is like walking through history.  Each tree stands as a monument to its survival against the frequent lighting strikes, drought, disease and, worst of all, the snow that can topple a majestic Sequoia.

I am inspired by these trees but also by men and women who have lived faithful lives and refused to be toppled by temptations that have been so common to humanity. The Bible is replete with inspiring testimonies of great men and women. I would like to talk about one of them named Enoch.

Genesis 5:24 “Enoch walked with God; then was no more, because God took him away.”

In a cemetery you find engraved for each person the dates of birth and death and the dashes between the two. The small dashes represent each life as it existed between those two points. We find Enoch had a beginning date, dash, but no ending date. However, there was an incredible comment on the dash, “Enoch walked with God.”

Occasionally I see that someone I know, and sometimes even admire, has abandoned the race and thrown their faith overboard. Every time that happens, I reexamine my priorities. I am in this for the long-haul, and I want to learn from those who finished the race like Enoch.

Hebrews 11:5
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”

Enoch made the Hall of Fame of Faith and is known as one who pleased God. Hebrews adds that the first ingredient of pleasing God is to have faith. As Enoch’s character bore a striking distinction to the shiftless morality of the fickle people of his day, so does the man or woman of faith stand out today. 

Enoch’s faith gave him a grasp of truth. His morality came from God. To believe that truth comes from God will totally set you aside today.  Our world has become accustomed to seeing lies presented as truth. To walk with God means to see the wrong that has become accepted as normal and expose it as the distortion it is. 

Truth builds convictions which enable us to see our world from God’s perspective.  It means we will undoubtedly choose to become nonconformists—by conforming to God’s ways.  Our beliefs move beyond beliefs to convictions. 

Enoch skipped death and went supernaturally to be with God. Death is the big bully who boasts “nobody leaves this life without first checking in with me.” Enoch and Elijah are two Old Testament examples who escaped death, and that speaks hope to each of us. Another man met death by hanging on a cross and was buried that same day. Early on Sunday morning, he broke the bonds of death and arose from the grave. Because Jesus conquered death and arose from the grave, we have the promise of experiencing the same encounter with God that Enoch had.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Self Control

One of the most difficult theological concepts to grasp is the sovereignty of God. To believe that God is in control of everything, everywhere, at all times is hard for us to accept. It seems incongruent because things appear chaotic and out of control. Our mind tells us that if God is in control, then he is doing a terrible job. Things shouldn’t go wrong, and bad things shouldn’t happen. That might be the case if God had left us without free choice and without the ability to reject him. That, however, is not the way God chose to design our world. He gave us the tools we needed to write God off and completely reject him. Just think about that for a moment. If you could give yourself the ultimate power to control everyone in your world, would you give them the power to reject your ideas and rebel against you? Well, that is exactly what God did. He didn’t create mindless robots; he created people with the ability to think and make choices. Obviously, those choices can take them toward God or away from God.
The Biblical doctrine of God’s Sovereignty means God is always in control—that his plan will ultimately triumph, and there is no one who can thwart his plans. No time in history looked more like a disaster than the Passion Week as Jesus was on his way to the cross. He was betrayed by one of his own and forced to go through the sham of a trial which ignored legal protocol. He was traded like a pawn between the Jewish leaders, Pilate and Herod. He was abused, mocked, scourged, ridiculed and eventually crucified—the hideous death of the worst criminal. Could God the Father not have stopped this miscarriage of justice? Could God not have said, “This is enough!” Could he not have said, “You will not do this to my beloved son?” He could have, but he didn’t. He did not intervene, nor did he send his angels to save his son from the horrific death on the cross. From a human view point, God could never have seemed more powerless, but from a Biblical viewpoint, God was behind the events. He had declared through his prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 53:10
“Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”

When Jesus let Judas leave the Last Supper to finish his conspiracy to murder, he was in control. When Jesus stood up and faced his opposition in the garden of Gethsemane, he was in control. When he looked down from the cross and gave instructions for the care of his mother, he was in control. When he prayed for his enemies while hanging from the cross, he was in control. Jesus’ actions during what we call the Passion Week give us a picture of the sovereignty of God. If Jesus, when walking only a few steps away from death, could demonstrate unparalleled control and purpose, how much more can he lead us through our tough times.
My belief in the sovereignty of God tells me that I am never alone and never without his help. God can be trusted because he has shown us how to live. He knows what it is like to have your world fall apart and still hold your course and live out your purpose. If you want to know more self-control, then surrender to the one who controls the universe.