Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Catching up on The Purpose Driven Life

I've fallen down on my pledge to journal a little every day on Rick Warren's book, so now I'm playing catch up.

Chapter 6, "Life Is a Temporary Assignment," is a continuation of Chapter 5's thesis that this life is only a preparation for the next life. Warren makes some good points:
"Compared with other centuries, life has never been easier for much of the Western world. We are constantly entertained, amused, and catered to...it's easy to forget that the pursuit of happiness is not what life is about. Only as we remember that life is a test, and trust and a temporary assignment will the appeal of these things lose their grip on our live. We are preparing for something even better."

We tend to look for spiritual satisfaction out of what the world offers us, when that can satisfy only momentarily.

Warren wants us to remember that "This is not your permanent home or final destination. You're just passing through, just visiting earth." And, he says, this "explains why some of God's promises seem unfulfilled, some prayers seem unanswered, and some circumstances seem unfair. This is not the end of the story."

Chapter 7, "The Reason for Everything" is for God's glory. We can bring Him glory by worshiping Him, loving other believers, becoming like Christ, serving others with our gifts, and telling others about Him. Living "for the glory of God requires a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships and everything else...sometimes choosing a difficult path."

Warren talks about "eternal rewards" and we should believe and receive. Still a little too much emphasis on works for my taste -- Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly -- not talking about material things, but in joy, peace and contentment of leading the life He wants us to have. It's not all about the "next" life. Warren gives a good summary about how to live for God, though. "It's all for him."

Warren does quote Iranaeus, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive!"

Chapter 8, "Planned for God's Pleasure" gives a good accounting of how God took pleasure in creating us; He created us for him. "You are a child of God and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created."

And how do we give pleasure to God? By worshipping Him. Warren points out that worship is far more than "worship" music before the sermon. And worship isn't for our benefit - it's for God's. We do it to bring pleasure to God, not to ourselves, and it is a continual state of praise and thanksgiving. Whatever we do, we can do for the glory of God. "This is the secret to a lifestyle of working -- doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus."

Warren compares it to when he fell in love with his wife -- he thought of her constantly and talked to himself about her and all the things he loved about her -- "abiding in her love. This is what real worship is all about -- falling in love with Jesus.

Warren's verse to remember for this chapter is, "The Lord takes pleasure in his people." Psalm 149:4a (TEV)

I like Warren's emphasis that worship is what we do with our lives -- not just a style of music or a 20-second prayer. It's a response to his pleasure in us.

Warren is telling us some very basic stuff in these chapters, a kind of Cliff notes for Christian living. And in these chapters, much more so than the earlier ones, he's getting into the relationship with God we should be seeking. To live for Him as He is our most beloved and seeking to please him above all. After all, each of us is His beloved child, whom He has chosen.

I'll post separately about Chapter 9 tonight. There's more in it that I want to discuss than I have time for this morning!

Also, a family update: My brother, Toby, moved out from the AA friend's house into a room somewhere near his work. He said there wasn't a phone there and I haven't heard from him the past couple of days. I'm afraid that he's doing another disappearing act, but I'm praying for him. Praying that something of what he heard will stick with him. That he'll turn to God for strength and comfort. I'm praying for his protection. That he called to let me know he moved is a good sign, I think.

I talked to my older brother on the phone last night. He put my mother on and she sounds in good shape physically, but each time I talk to her she seems to have gone farther downhill mentally. She had to turn to my brother and ask his name because she couldn't remember who had put her on the phone, and I think she wasn't sure who he was -- my brother or my nephew. But at least she sounded fairly content.

Lord have mercy on us all.

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