God's Destiny for Me on the Hamster Wheel of Life

What's the meaning of life?

Why am I here?

What's God's purpose for my life?

Why was I created?

These are questions we often regularly ask ourselves. Surely there is more to life than the never ending routine of eating, working, sleeping, and paying the bills.  Surely God put me here for a greater purpose than just jumping on the never ending hamster wheel of life, right?

The longer I live, the more I begin to think the answer to this question is "no."

I don't have a purpose for which I'm here. I don't have a destiny I'm trying to fulfill.

Rather, I have a thousand and one purposes for why I'm here.  Rather, I have a thousand and one destinies that I am pursuing.

And those purposes are fulfilled as I carry out the everyday things of this life.  Life is far too rich and complex and beautiful, and filled with too much variable and nuance, for me to ever begin to think that God has just called me to do one or two things with my life.  Rather than a handful of things to do before I die, God has called me to do a vast multitude of things. 

When I was younger, God put me in this world to be a student, to learn as much as I could so as to prepare me for the rest of my life, so that one day I might be able to get a decent job, to help take care  of my family, to serve my employers, to contribute to the world economy, and to be a blessing to others.

And as I've grown older, I've seen those purposes expand. God's purposes for my life have changed from season to season.  In different seasons God has made me to be different things, and I expect He will continue to do such.  I've seen that time and again, that one thing leads to another, and to another, and to another.  Things I never even dreamed of for my life have come to pass.

My life has too much going on to be reduced to merely to one or two purposes. And so does yours.

Our lives have so many purposes, and so many different callings. So many in fact that you and I will never know the full purpose for our lives on this side of eternity, and exactly why God put us here.

Yes, I may be conscious of a few of those things along the way, as I see the hand of God working in my life, and as I respond to the leading of His Spirit.  But God has put me here to be much more than what I do between nine and five, or what I do on Sunday mornings in church, or to relentlessly pursue some single focused calling.

I'm a son, a husband, a neighbor, a friend, a banker, a minister, a giver, a citizen, a stranger passing by....

And while my focus shifts throughout the day, and some of the things God calls me to do receive more attention in certain seasons of my life, I'm never just one of these things. My life is too big to be just that.

Yet how often do we obsess over our perceived sense of "calling?"  How often are we afraid to let go of the things that God given us to do, in order that we might now embrace a new calling and purpose in our life? 

How often do we fight against seasons spent in the proverbial wilderness, feeling like by entering into such seasons that we might somehow be missing out on our callings in this life, and doing nothing more than wasting away? 

How often do we feel like a library book, shelved with no purpose other than to sit around and collect dust?

How often do we feel like our current situation in life is holding us back from fulfilling God's "real purpose" being fulfilled in our lives? 

As a Bible college graduate who has spent much time in ministry and serving the church, God only knows how often I feel that way today.  I spent years in school studying theology, learning Greek, reading books, honing my preaching craft, serving the homeless and the poor, driving the church bus, teaching, leading small groups, preaching on street corners, visiting people in the hospital, and a million other things. 

Yet where am I today? 

I'm underwriting mortgages for a living at a big bank, working 60 hours a week, and I'm not even leading a children's Sunday school class in church.  I blog from time to time. I share my faith with others when opportunity presents itself. I chime in something edifying when I get together with other Christians. I encourage my wife.  I post things on Facebook.

Yet, I'm not anywhere near to where I thought I would be at this stage of my life, in spite of all my training and time spent in preparation for "the ministry."

Needless to say, the opportunity for feelings of doubt, self-pity, and loathing are huge.  I could be jealous of others, and angry.  I could be bitter and resentful.  I could be entering a mid-life crisis where I chase the dreams that got away by chasing things that would only destroy me.  I could be angry at God.

I could do all those things and more... that is, if I saw my life as having only one primary purpose or calling. But I don't. 

Instead, I embrace where I am at in this life.  I look at the plow set before me, and instead of figuring out the unholy mental Trinity of would've/could've/should've, I prefer to figure out how I can best be faithful to the task God has given me at hand.  Such not only helps me keep my sanity, but it actually allows me to find a great sense of joy and purpose in what God has me doing in the right here and right now.

And it is from being faithful to the task God has given me in the present that will truly allow His purposes to be accomplished in my life.  It's in the little things I do time and time again, day in and day out, things destined to easily be forgotten by me, but warmly remembered and honored by God, that when faithfully carried out, will ultimately constitute the "purpose" in my life.

And that purpose is to ultimately make me more and more like Jesus, no matter what I do to occupy my time between the date of my birth and the date of my death, even if all I did was eat, work, sleep, and pay the bills.  For being faithful to the task Jesus has placed in your hand, that is no small thing.  That indeed, is the greatest thing you could ever hope to do with your life.  It was the purpose for which you and I were ultimately created. 

And until we learn to be happy in that, we will never be truly happy in anything else. 


How to Find a New Church

After much discussion, my wife and I recently decided it was time to find a new church to call home.  Thankfully, we did not have to search very long, and I am happy to report that after only visiting 3 different churches in the area over a short period of time, the Lord brought us to a church that both of us are very happy to be a part of.

Thinking on our brief journey, my mind naturally turned to those who might find themselves in a similar situation.  I've known some people who have spent months and years trying to find a church to belong to, but for a number of reasons, they never manage to settle down somewhere.  My hopes in reading this brief article, you'll be able to narrow down your search and that the Lord will help you find somewhere that you can grow and serve. 

Here are my tips on finding a new church:

1.  Keep it Local:

I believe this to be one of the most crucial things in finding a church as well as the most practical.  I've been part of a church before where I had to drive 30+ minutes on average Sunday morning just to get to church.  Such makes mid-week activities and fellowship outside of Sunday morning gatherings very difficult, especially if you live in a large city like I do, and have to battle terrible traffic.  And like any other relationship, long distances often creates problems. 

Therefore, I believe if you are looking for a new church, unless you live in a very rural area, you need to get out a map (like Google Maps), and draw a circle within a 10-15 minute drive of your house, and limit your search for a new church to congregations located within that distance from your home.  Church isn't just supposed to be a Sunday morning activity.  It's supposed to be part of your life.  And the proximity you have to drive to be involved at church and in frequent fellowship with other believers becomes increasingly difficult the further you get away from home.  If you have to drive a far distance to be involved in the life of your church, it will ultimately hurt the quality of the fellowship you enjoy.

2. Leave the Checklist at Home:

For some people, finding a new church is often like dating.  People build ridiculously long checklists of things they are looking for in a church, and as a result, they never find that perfect church to belong to.  I did this for a few years when I was dating.  And as a result, I found starting new relationships very difficult, because nobody out there was good enough for me, as they didn't meet my highly itemized list of have's/have not's.  The result?  I was the king of first dates, but I didn't have many second dates.  And that's because I dismissed many girls outright simply because they didn't conform to this long list of what I thought the perfect girl for me would actually look like. 

It was only when I finally gave up on dating a list and looking to build real relationships that I found the woman who became my wife.  And if I compared my wife to some of the ridiculous things I had put on my ever growing list, I probably wouldn't be married as I am this day.  And if you approach finding a church this way, the chances are, you'll never find a church to belong to.  The perfect church, like the perfect woman, simply doesn't exist. 

A church is a highly relational community, therefore, you should engage each potential church you consider joining in a very relational way.  Be gracious.  There is no such thing as a perfect church.  If there were, you would ruin it by showing up.  Show each church you visit a bunch of grace and cut them some slack.  If they do things a little differently than you are typically accustomed to doing at church, don't pass judgment on them, rather, simply embrace them in the same way Christ has embraced you.  Get to know the people there and find out why they do things the way they do.  You might actually find out that you prefer their unique approach to things.

3. Go to Serve:

While it is important when looking for a church to find somewhere that can help meet you and your family's needs, don't pick a church just because they have great preaching, great singing, and a great youth program.  Don't go to church with a consumeristic mindset, thinking of only what you can get out of belonging to a certain congregation.

Rather, have the attitude of Christ, and look at each church as a place you are going in order to ultimately serve.  Only in looking to be a blessing to others will you ultimately be blessed.  And only in serving your local church will you be able to rightfully say a certain church is "your" church.  Don't go to church to get, go to church to give.  See what you can bring to the table instead of the other way around.

4. Don't Stumble Over Theology or Denominational Affiliations:

While the theology of a church is important, it should not be the primary reason why you pick a particular church.  And denominational affiliation should have very little weight in your mind as to why you decide to attend a certain church (most folks don't really care about denominational affiliations these days anyway, except those who have their bread and butter made by them).  Over the years I've learned that no matter what the official denominational affiliation a church has, and no matter what creed is printed in its bylaws, most churches tend to have a very wide spectrum of beliefs in each congregation anyway.  This is seen even in churches that are very theologically rigid, or have strict practical commitments.

So, don't get too hung up on the particular theological bent or denominational affiliation (or lack thereof)  of any given congregation.  Churches tend to be made up of actual people, and not systematic theologians who are interested in doing nothing more than defending and propagating their pet theology.  Every person is at different places in their walk in Christ, and not every person is going to see eye to eye on all of the particulars of the faith.  We all see a little bit dimly.

Therefore, while I would caution against being involved with churches who don't commit to at least a basic evangelical theology and lifestyle as a community, keep in mind that the apostle Paul was a minister to congregations where some people had doubts about if Jesus Christ was really bodily resurrected!  They weren't really altogether sure about that fact.  Some had their doubts.  And many other churches that Paul wrote letters to were struggling with accepting some very other basic Christian beliefs that we tend to take for granted today.

So, keep an open heart and mind about wherever it is the Lord may be leading you and your family to worship and serve alongside.  The Christian community is a very diverse community, and each congregation often has a long history.  Engage each church relationally, and you'll find theological and denominational affiliations tend to not be the giant hurdles that some have made them into over the years. 

In my opinion, so long as you can see Jesus Christ living in the lives of others, and you find fellowship in the Holy Spirit, that is all that you ultimately need in order to belong to a church.  And as you relate to others in the congregation as actual people, instead of a mission field of people you need to convert and reform or correct, and I believe you'll find a lot of these traditional barriers to fellowship fall to the wayside, and you might just find yourself planted firmly by the Lord in a church that is full of folks struggling with their theology just like you.


Above all, when searching for a new church, trust the Lord to guide you to the right place.  And give an ear to those who care about you in your life, and see where the Lord might be leading you through them.  And if you are married, work very hard with your spouse to come into agreement about where you and your family should serve the body of Christ. 

Finding a new church can sometimes be a difficult thing to do, but it doesn't need to be needlessly difficult.  I firmly believe if you take the things written above to heart, you'll find your search for a new church comes to an end very, very soon.

God be with you in your journey.


When Should You Not Vote?

Talking to some, one would almost think it was a mortal sin not to vote.  There might even be a certain place in hell for people who don't vote.  It's a wonder Dante didn't write about the topic.

And of course, it is said if you don't vote, you lose the right to complain.

But I would like to challenge this conventional wisdom.  I find it a little too ill thought out.  I think there are plenty of times you should deeply consider not voting. 

1. Don't Vote Just to Vote

I believe voting just to vote is deeply immoral.  Voting just to vote is like being on a jury and finding somebody guilty or innocent "just because."  Voting just to vote is unjust.  Don't "rock the vote" just because MTV thinks you mindlessly pulling a lever is better than you not voting.  If you do that, you are just a sheep falling into somebody else's power game.  Voting just to vote makes you and everyone else in our society a victim, and not an actual participant in our democracy.

2. Don't Vote If You Don't Know the Candidate

If you are going to cast your lot for a certain candidate, you should only do so because you've considered ALL the possible candidates you are voting for in each office, thought about where they stand on the issues, have considered their general character and qualifications to hold office, and believe they in some way represent what you believe is important for our society. 

Going into the voting booth and pulling the lever for somebody because they belong to a certain political party, or because you saw an ad on the TV and thought they'd be a great person to have a beer with, is rather idiotic.  Don't be stupid.  Vote straight party if you feel you think every candidate in that party represents you and what you believe to be good for the country.  But if you don't know that to be factually true, don't vote straight party.  In voting straight party, you are quite possibly voting for some really terrible candidates who don't have your interests in mind, and you are empowering such people simply because they have an R, D, or L next to their name. 

In my opinion, having the option to vote straight party should be illegal.  There should be no party names next to any persons' name.  Such only encourages uninformed voting, and making people useful idiots.

Don't vote out of ignorance or because you decided it'd be fun to randomly pick a few people that you know little to nothing about.  Don't do things like randomly select county commissioners, sheriffs, judges, or other such people, simply because you have this nervous itch to vote with a completed ballot, and having an incomplete ballot drives your "type A" personality insane.  It's ok if your ballot is incomplete.  This isn't a graded quiz.  Your ballot doesn't need to be completed.  You aren't going to get an F on your report card if you don't fill in every category. 

If you are going to vote your conscience, then you need to make a vote based on actual knowledge.  If you don't know, don't vote!  Your vote impacts our society, and the last thing our society needs is some politician in office who got there by a bunch of people who randomly picked their name out of a hat.  This isn't a lottery or magic trick you are participating in.

3. Don't Vote If All the Choices are Bad

A lot of people are upset about the candidates in the 2016 election.  Donald Trump seems like a terrible candidate.  Hillary Clinton is terrible too.  Jill Stein doesn't offer me anything I really want in a president.  As of now, I plan on voting for Gary Johnson, but there are some stances he takes that I'm not very excited about, and make me pause and question whether I should even be voting at all.  I'm almost at the point I would consider not voting for any of the 2016 presidential candidates.  And you know what?  That's ok.  And guess what?  If I do I am not forfeiting my right to complain or participate in our democracy (in spite of what people mindlessly parrot). 

In our form of government, our elected officials are supposed to be people we elect that represent us.  They are elected to congress or the presidency in order to represent our interests.  Therefore, you should NEVER vote for somebody who doesn't represent you in any way, shape, or form. 

Don't hold your nose to vote.  Only vote if somebody truly represents you and where you stand on the issues.  If somebody doesn't represent most of the views you hold, and if you don't think they'd attempt to do most of the things you don't want done, then voting for somebody just to vote is about the dumbest thing you could possibly do. 

Why in God's name would you do something like that?  It simply lacks sense.  That means you are intentionally voting for somebody who is going to represent the total opposite of what you want done in office.  Do you realize how stupid that is?  Don't choose to be stupid.  Rather, choose not to vote!

Not voting is an option, and one you should seriously consider if there are simply no candidates who represent you running for elected office.  Choose not to vote, then exercise your right to give your opinion in public about why you think voting for any of the candidates is a dumb idea.  It's the only reasonable thing to do.  In truth, voting just to vote is the only way you forfeit your right to an opinion in our democracy.  If you vote for somebody who doesn't represent your point of view, then you are actually silencing your point of view and forfeiting your opinion.  Your opinion is the one that truly doesn't count when you vote against your interests!


Don't rock the vote just to rock the vote.  If you just can't bring yourself to vote for any candidate, then don't.  It's the only morally right thing to do. Corrupt politicians and corporations may prod the sheep into voting just to vote, because for them, it's simply a numbers and power game.  Don't be some corrupt politicians sheep or useful idiot. 

Politicians fear you not voting more than they fear you voting for somebody else.  Otherwise, they wouldn't push as hard as they do for large voter turnouts.  There is nothing politicians fear more than a low voter turnout.  For a low voter turnout robs them of money, power, and the ability to ultimately influence the world we live in, and to accomplish their agendas. 

A low voter turnout is practically a death sentence to a politicians' political career.  And if you refuse to vote because all the candidates are terrible, such a "protest vote" sends a signal to the powers that be that better candidates are needed.  Otherwise, if they know that the masses are going to vote just to vote, and if they can count on you mindlessly voting, then they will continue to put forward terrible candidates that will only further ruin our country, because they know you will vote for them anyway.  And that, in my opinion, is one of major reasons why we often have such terrible candidates running for office.

At the end of the day, sometimes the only way to make a difference and give your opinion in our society is to not vote.  Sometimes voting "none of the above" is the only logical and ethical decision possible.  And if you identify with some of the points I raised in this post, seriously, prayerfully consider not voting this election cycle.


I'm not Afraid of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump is the devil.  If he gets elected, we will all be ruined.

Hillary Clinton is the devil.  If she gets elected, we will all be ruined.

So whoever you vote for this election season, you need to make sure you vote so as to make sure the other guy (or gal) doesn't get elected, because their election would be apocalyptic in nature, and a complete disaster for this country!

Or so the rhetoric goes...

I don't know about you, but I am rather tired of this rhetoric.  I'm only 34 years old, but it seems like I've heard this argument every election cycle since as far back as I can remember.  This argument is getting really old.  And the longer I live, the more silly I find it to be.  How so many people continue to fall for this nonsense is beyond me.

Here are 3 reasons why I'm not afraid of whoever gets elected:

1. Jesus Christ is Large and in Charge

First and foremost of all, as a person of faith, I believe Jesus Christ to be the Lord of heaven and earth.  And no matter how bad things get in this world, I believe that He is ultimately in control.  Yes, things can get very bad.  Hitler styled dictators do rise to power.  But at the end of the day, Jesus Christ is still Lord, and He's greater than Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton. 

No matter who gets elected, I will continue to confess Psalm 23 over my life. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures.  He makes me to lie beside the still waters.  He restores my soul, and leads me along the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  Though I walk through they valley of the shadow of death, I shall not fear, for His rod and His staff, they comfort me.  He prepares for me a table in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil, and my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.  And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

When I look at the world with the eyes of faith and see Jesus is large and in charge, I realize that God's ultimately got my back, no matter who gets elected.  Jesus Christ impacts my daily life more than any elected official ever will.  He leads me and guides me. Wherever I am, the pasture is always green.  I refuse to live in fear, so much so I could even have dinner with my mortal enemies and still be at peace.  My cup runs over, no matter who gets elected.

2.  The Constitution Severely Limits the President

Secondly, we have a great system of government in the United States, and we often forget that.  We have a very powerful system of checks and balances that severely limits the President from doing all that much.  In the wisdom of our founding fathers, when they setup our form of government, they ultimately set up a form of government that operates as if it were in a perpetual traffic jam.  And they did such knowing that there would be nut jobs like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton who could possibly get elected and possibly do a lot of damaging things.  So they severely limited their powers, making it very hard for any elected official to do very much.

As a result, history has shown that no matter what goofball we've managed to elect, by in large, most presidents accomplish only incremental changes and don't do a lot.  They don't do a lot that is great, nor do they do a lot that is bad.  And even the most radical of political ideologues that get elected are generally forced to govern somewhere more in the middle of the political spectrum.  Of the 43 elected presidents our country has had, only a handful have managed to make a major and noticeable impact on our country.  The few that have managed to do such, you could easily name. 

And we have the founding fathers and the U.S. Constitution to thank for that.  Very few of us could point to anything significant that has happened in our lives and directly connect it to the actions taken by the presidency.  And even if you could, such events would be few and far in between.  So, even if we elect a devil to the executive branch of our government, they wouldn't be able to do very much to damage our country. Likewise, we could elect the archangel of heaven into office, and they would find themselves limited in the amount of good they could accomplish. And why?  Checks and balances highly limit what presidents can do. 

3.  The Reality:  Life is Pretty Good.

My life is pretty good, and I'm guessing yours is pretty good too. 

My wife and I have decent jobs.   We aren't rich, but we live comfortably and securely. We enjoy some creature comforts.  We can afford to give to those in need.  So far as I know, my rights aren't actively being violated.  I have food in the fridge, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head.  I have a family that loves me.  And while I may occasionally question my level of safety, like when somebody rang our door bell at 4 am on a Sunday morning recently, generally speaking, I don't have to give too much thought to being physically harmed on a daily basis.   And while typing this blog, I am able to do so from a miraculous piece of technology that allows me to instantly communicate with just about anybody around the world in the blink of an eye. 

So, relatively speaking, life is pretty good!  And my life is pretty good, even though during my lifetime we've had a couple presidents that were anything but good.  Yet in spite of electing a couple goofballs, a lot of amazing and wonderful things have happened, not only in my life, but the life of countless people across this country. 

And my guess is that whether we elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the next election, my life is going to continue to be pretty good.  Even the most powerful and reckless of presidents have very little ability to impact my daily life.  The CEO's of Facebook and Apple impact your life more on a daily basis than president Obama has in the past 8 years, and they are likely to continue to do so, no matter who we elect in the next election.


Don't buy into the media hype, or the hype of friends and family who are worried to death about the outcome of this next election.  Don't be terrified about the outcome of this next election.  Chances are, whoever wins will make very little difference.  In spite of what you might believe, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not the devil.  Yes, they are both deeply flawed candidates, and both appear to be complete slime balls.  But their ability to make a major impact on your life or the life of anyone you know is very minimal.  And that is the God's honest truth. 

Let this truth sink into your heart instead of the shallow and mindless rhetoric that a lot of people are engaged in at this time of year.  And be prepared to remind everyone that Jesus Christ is Lord, that presidents are very limited in what they can do because of our system of checks and balances, and that our lives are ultimately pretty good, no matter who we elect as the next president. 

I'm not afraid of the outcome of this election, and neither should you be.