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42-Day Devotional

Day 42: Why?

Have you ever finished something and then realized you had just begun? I feel this way about my life and spiritual journey in understanding God. Just as soon as I believe I find the answer to one why about life, three more surface in the process. I have been asking this question all of my life. I have been on a lifelong pursuit of answering the “why?”

Why defined means “for what reason or purpose.” We begin to ask “why” as soon as we can speak it. We all long for a purpose, a reason for living. We are not satisfied with a world that is random. We long for a reason that is bigger than ourselves.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” You can watch the life of a person and see the drive to understand, to know, to have a direction. It is when a person quits the pursuit of answering the why when they begin to die. We can quickly lose ourselves in the misery of purposelessness. No reason for living means despair, no hope, no answer.

This is how my faith in a God of purpose propels me daily to seek him. I have found there is nothing else in life that has or can bring me the answers to my “why.” I found that answer in July of 1971, on my knees in my bedroom with my mother and brother. I found the reason I could live for. I found Jesus.

William Barclay summarizes my discovery very well: “There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

That day I started my “why” journey and began to get answers, reasons for living, serving, working, loving, playing….the list goes on.

You have completed a Rick Warren book study of 42 days of reading. My hope is that it has not only started to answer the “why” in your life but also propelled you daily to seek Him.

Start with why.

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Day 41: The envy trap

By Kristin Ashley

Envy. Jealousy. Resentment. Discontent. These are the dark green monsters that creep into our thoughts slowly and make our thinking toxic. These feelings rob the joy we have toward others, while at the same time robbing us of having gratitude toward the gifts we have.

Through the Transformation of the Heart class I have been truly doing some deep and personal reflection. It hasn’t been easy and has revealed dark spots in my thinking that I was letting myself believe were acceptable. One of my biggest takeaways is that “in Christ, I AM ENOUGH!” Even writing it and reading it, the words sting because I am trying so hard to let those thoughts sink into the fiber of WHO I truly am, and believe me to be.

In reflection of this, I am reminded of fond memories of Sunday dinners at my grandma’s house. Our whole family would gather and enjoy a delicious meal my grandma would create. She loved to cook and share tasty meals and especially celebrated sweet desserts. When she would ask to fill your glass or plate, she would gently have us tell her when there was enough to eat or drink. She always added a “little more.”

She always showed her care for us and in sharing the meal she wanted there to be an abundance. This reminds me of our Heavenly Father and Creator now. I know that God made each one of us unique. He intimately designs each one of us in a magnificent way. When He creates each one of us He is generous with a “little more.”

Now, the amazing and beautiful gift is that God knows exactly what “more” I needed, and what different gifts of “more” you needed.

In the reading today, Rick Warren reminds us that we each “have a unique thumbprint, eyeprint, voiceprint, footprint, and heartbeat.” He went on to remind us that the Bible tells us “we are God’s masterpiece.” He truly pours into us what we need to be individuals. He knows our needs, our wants, our future.

It has been humbling to think that there have been times I compared myself to others, which meant I doubted His holy hand and wisdom in creating me. There have been times I have been selfish, when I didn’t allow myself gratitude with what I have been given by God. There have been times I desired the talents, the gifts, the things that others have had, which meant I robbed myself of true contentment that comes from God.

Today I am reminded that “in Christ, I am enough!” And knowing what I see in nature, and the people around me, God even gave me a “little more.”

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Day 40: Living with purpose

By Tricia Murphy

Erwin McManus once said that there are no practice moments in life. Every moment matters and brings eternal significance. I have been pondering what living with purpose really means to me personally. What will my purpose statement include?

I just watched more than a thousand college students walk across a stage and receive a diploma that in essence says they have finished their current season of higher education and are ready to go out into the world and “live with purpose”. I couldn’t help but wonder what that means to them personally as young 20-somethings.

I observed first-hand the emotions both high and low during this bittersweet week of endings, celebrations, goodbyes, unknowns, move-outs, new beginnings and fresh starts. Hidden behind all the parties and smiles, I believe most of them are scared to death by the reality of putting into practice all they have learned inside and outside the classroom.

They have questions, such as…

Is it really over?

What is next?

Do I have to get a full-time job?

Did I pick the right major?

What if I don’t meet that special someone?

How do I know what God’s plan is for my life?

Where will I live in a month? A year? 10 years?

Will I really use what I learned in math class?

Will my parents let me move back in?

What is my purpose in life?

Being almost 30 years ahead, I can embrace them with all their questions and fears and assure them that God hears every question, every worry, every anxious thought, every concern. He hasn’t abandoned them just because they are unsure of what should or could come next.

It’s not really about what they will do for work or who they will marry or where they will live. It is about eternal significance. If there aren’t any practice moments, and every moment matters, will this next moment bring positive or negative eternal significance?

Tricia Murphy is GO director at Green Bay Community Church

 

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Day 39: Give me presence, not presents

By Cindy Vandermause

The Great Commandments found in Matthew 22 prompted me to reflect on this past Mother’s Day, especially the second part about loving people:

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

On holidays, like Mother’s Day, we can tend to focus on cards and gifts. What is someone going to give me? How am I going to be celebrated? How is this day going to be special for me?

None of my children live near me so I don’t see them on a daily basis. Jenny is a busy mom of three living across the state. David has established his career and life in Milwaukee. Rachel is traveling abroad for a year or so and is currently in India. Jon is finishing up his senior year of college in New Hampshire. So I wasn’t sure what this Mother’s Day would bring.

Whether near or far, my children loved me well on Mother’s Day weekend ... not with presents but with their presence. Each one reached out in a unique way to express love. There was a long walk, a tight hug with an “I love you, Mom,” a phone call, a text expressing admiration and gratitude, a 24-mile bike ride, and sweet conversation over a gourmet meal.

They each made a choice to give their time and their presence, which made this mama’s heart full. Who can you love and give your presence to today?

Cindy Vandermause is guest relations director at Green Bay Community Church

Day 38: World-class Christian vs. worldly one

By Bobby Coverston 

I was the mystery reader for my son Joel’s kindergarten class over a year ago. Mystery readers give the teacher some factoids about themselves, and the kids try to determine from the clues who the mystery reader is. My little trivia nugget was that I have been on six of the seven continents (Antarctica being the only exception).

The kids had learned the continents so they thought that was pretty cool. However, they thought it would have been really cool to go to Antarctica and asked more questions about whether I would ever go there.

I have seen some parts of the world that are on people’s bucket list. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph in France, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Big Ben in London, The Vatican, The Colosseum, the waterways of Venice, The Spanish Steps, Robin Island in South Africa, Rock of Gibraltar, the Buddhist temples of Bangkok and more.

Almost all of these trips were some form of church related ministry trip. But before you go thinking that I am bragging about my world travels with such noble causes, don’t judge just yet.

I felt a strong wave of conviction after reading today’s challenge. I have been all over the world, but I don’t know that I am the kind of world-class Christian that Pastor Rick Warren described.

I don’t believe I was in sin or that my motives were evil when I boarded the planes to these countries, but I was pretty enamored with the experience. “Wow, I get to go to South Africa! (twice).” I think some of that amazement is natural and human. My perspective certainly was changed and my faith was sharpened. I saw people from other cultures with unbelievable faith in the same Jesus we believe in, expressing their hearts for him in ways and venues I never dreamed. That was mind blowing, humbling, awesome, life changing, and unforgettable. These experiences have made a lasting imprint on my life and ministry today.

But ...

My heart still feel like it’s a long way off from having the missional backbone that Pastor Warren points to. In my very first blog in this series, I confessed my attraction toward materialism, comfort and praise. I liked these trips because of what I got out of them as well as what I was there to do. Is that wrong? I honestly don’t know.

My ministry to the world right now is discipling my kids to be world changers. Even as I type that I feel like a complete failure. My own pride and temper have done more harm to that goal than good. I have turned down some international trips because of wanting to be here for my kids in these very formative years. Again, is that wrong?

I long to have the heart of Jesus that has compassion on people regardless of their location or circumstance, but am I willing to go anywhere and do anything to see that come to fruition? I’d like to say yes, and I hope that Jesus is changing my heart to that, but if I’m being honest, I’m not there yet. I need transformation. I need a missional heart. I need Jesus.

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