Monday, July 7, 2008

Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life

In recent memory there are two "block-buster" Christian publications that both morphed into mega-money-making and deliriously successful endeavors as well as spectacular splashes in the "Christian marketplace" and the publishing world in general: The Prayer of Jabez and The Purpose Driven Life. Often this kind of spectacular success "ruins" ministry. Success is difficult to handle particularly when it also involves ministry. Unless such success is accompanied by a heart God is continuing to restore there is such a temptation to be proud, arrogant and a host of other heart and character issues.

It may seem upside-down but the reality is that handling "success" God's way is often far more challenging than dealing with adversity. Both success and adversity require seeking God's help in the continuing process of heart restoration! No matter what life brings, we all need Jesus every day in every way!

A friend recently sent me an interview Rick Warren gave which I read with great interest. (Just in case you've been living under a rock somewhere, Rick Warren is the senior pastor of the mega-Saddleback Church in California as well as the author of The Purpose Driven Life.) The interviewer was Paul Bradshaw.

What stood out to me in the interview was that Rick Warren seems to have been challenged since writing his book to put what he wrote into practice. For me the book was interesting but didn't particularly grab my heart. From reading the interview it seems that God has brought circumstances into Rick Warren's life that have grabbed his heart as he has lived both some good and some difficult circumstances since writing his book.

Here are some compelling quotes from the article:
  • the purpose of life is preparation for eternity.
  • Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one or you're getting ready to go into ... one.
  • God is more interested in your character than your comfort.
  • If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, ... one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
  • God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings not human doings.
Now here's the clincher: you may think that Rick Warren can say all these things because he is such a raving financial success from his book sales. He's on easy street so he can have such a "positive" attitude. Rick Warren did write a very successful book. But, he is also facing a serious life challenge. His wife Kay has breast cancer. God is giving Rick and Kay Warren an opportunity to shine in the spot-light of their success (from the book) as they demonstrate God's faithfulness in living with adversity.

The truth for us all is that life does have challenges. They may be huge or they may be small. What God is most interested in is how we respond to those challenges. AND the good news is that God is standing ready and willing to give us His strength and His grace to face whatever life brings!

The best news is that no matter what happens in the life of the one who loves and trusts Jesus every day brings God's smile when we walk hand-in-hand with Him!

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