Spreading Your Passion

When we experience passion, it will in the early stages evoke an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy.  How can I accomplish this by myself?  There’s too much to do and I don’t have the necessary resources to get it done.  It’s like there is an elephant in the room and the task is to get the elephant thru the door and the door is very small.

I remember the feeling when I started working on my second doctoral dissertation.  I wanted to find out what kind of family environments produced teenagers who had the highest self-esteem, highest self-efficacy (the ability to perceive themselves achieving something), and highest goal-stability (the ability to setting goals and maintaining them until they were realized).  It seemed overwhelming.   Where would I get the necessary teenagers to agree to the study?  How would I test the subjects? Would the results give me what I was looking for?  Would my committee agree to the study?  How many teenagers would I need to develop a significant study?  The questions went on and on.  It was a massive undertaking, but I had a passion for it and needed others if I was going to accomplish the task.

Nehemiah was sent to his home country to fulfill his passion.  I’m sure that the more he saw the more he realized he had an elephant in the room he needed to move.  “I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.”. . . .Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.”  Nehemiah‬ ‭2:11-12, 17-18‬ ‭NIV

Nehemiah realized he needed others to fulfill his passion.  He needed to understand the reality of the problem so that he could describe to the people not only what the problem was but what he was there to help them do.  He needed others.  I needed others.  You need others.

On this journey, we are not called to live out our passions by ourselves but in connection with others.  Make sure you are investing in the lives of those who can help you with your passion.

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Passion: Understanding the Problem

Before you can tackle any problem, you have to know the depth and the breadth of the problem.  You have to know what you are dealing with.  Have you ever tried to fix something and realized as you got into fixing it that you quickly were over your head with other problems?

I remember being at my moms house and saw that a drain pipe in the bathroom sink was leaking.  I had fixed sink drains many times before so I thought no big deal.  I can fix it.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that when I began to get into the project the pipes were corroded and very thin.  I mean very thin.  You get the picture.  As I put a wrench on the pipe to loosen it things began to break.  I realized rather quickly that I was in over my head.  I needed a professional plumber’s help.  I hadn’t adequately surveyed the problem before I began the project.

When Nehemiah grabbed ahold of his passion to help his people be build their city, he needed to survey the problem so that he could adequately convey the passion and how to fix the problem.  “I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.”  Nehemiah‬ ‭2:12-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Nehemiah, as he surveyed the problem, realized the enormity of the task so that he could invest his passion in the lives of others.  On this journey make sure that the passion you have is followed by some time to see the problems associated with your passion.  Understanding what needs to be done will help you succeed in your passion.


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Passion With A Plan

Passion is an essential ingredient for impacting our world.  It does alter our emotions as we stay focused on the issue that grabs our hearts.  There’s one problem that erodes the passion of our hearts.

It’s passion without a plan.  Let me explain.  How many of you have set up New Year’s resolutions over the course of your life?  I am afraid to look back on all the decades of my life and the resolutions I wanted to implement in my life at the start of the new year. I would have all the best intentions to hold the line in meeting my resolution, but my resolution would invariably begin to crumble over the weeks because of a lack of a plan.

Someone once said, “A goal without a plan without an action equals a dream.  A goal with a plan with action equals reality.  We can be the most passionate person about reaching the goal, but if we don’t have a plan or take action on that goal, we will only experience a dream and regret our not fulfilling the passion that comes our way.  I have a passion for helping marriages and families, but I needed the education and training that would provide me an opportunity to counsel couples and parents who were seeking to resolve the issues that created disconnection in their relationships.  It took many years (almost 25+ years after graduating from high school), but at 45 I had finished my last doctorate and opened the door to creating a private practice of marital and parental therapy.

Nehemiah was a man who had passion for his people who were enslaved and had experienced hopelessness in trying to become free.  Not only did he have passion for saving his people, but he had a plan when the opportunity was given him to help his people.  “The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.”  Nehemiah‬ ‭2:4-8 NIV

Nehemiah knew how long the mission would take, but also had calculated the material that would be needed to rebuild Jerusalem.  He knew that he needed security guards that would get him to his destination safely.  He had a plan.

On this journey, passion will come into our lives as we feel emotion for those less fortunate.  Make sure that passion is not the only focus of your eye gaze, but that you plan for how your desire will be realized.

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Passion That Alters

I have never been able to play poker and win.  I don’t have a poker face when I play and all the players around the table know whether I have a good hand or not just by looking at me.  I have tried to keep a straight face, but people find me out.  My face gives my cards away.

I have another problem.  I can’t put on a happy face when there are things going on in my life or issues with my family that haven’t been resolved.  Unresolved problems negatively affect me and until they are resolved, my facial mannerisms carry the tale-tell signs of the struggle wherever I go.  My wife knows when there is something bothering me.  I can’t get away with anything.  My daughters and son know me so well that they confront me when something is affecting me.  I have never been able to lie and get away with it because unresolved issues alter the external parts of my body and those around me always know.  My passion for connected relationships are altered when those connected relationships are disconnected.

I have been reading the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament and realized that Nehemiah had the same problem.  In my previous jlog, I wrote about his passion for his Jewish people who had been ravaged by war and were in disarray.  He wept and mourned and prayed for months because of his compassion for his brothers and sisters.  As you read on, you find out that Nehemiah’s job was to test the wine to see if it was fit for the King.  If the wine was poisoned, he would die and the king would live.  Every day he was to test the wine before the King would drink it.  After a few months of hearing about his people, the passion he had for them altered his external appearance.  “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”  ‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭2:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Our passion here on this earth will affect our effect.  What we find as most important to us in this world will alter our emotions and cause us to focus on that passion.  Not everyone will become passionate about what we are passionate about.  Not everyone will be impassioned to save a certain group of people.  Not everyone will be passionate for giving communicative tools to marriages and families.  Not everyone will take every waking minute to feed the homeless.

On this journey, God has a specific purpose for each of us and will give us a passion for that niche if we are available to hear His call.  Be careful.  It will alter how you view life.

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What Is Your Passion?

Early in my adult life, I was sent to Tampa, Florida to work with college students at the University of South Florida.  While there I attended Christ Community Church.  I began to notice a lot of young couples in the church who had no organized time to gather nor was there any pastor to give them guidance on their marital journey.  As I talked with some of them they were floundering in their desire to have a better marriage and didn’t have anywhere to go to get answers to their issues.

It was after talking to them that I began to have a burning desire to help them.  I went to the head pastor and asked if I could start a young couples group to talk about some of these issues.  He said to me that it would be okay but there was no space available to do so.  I saw a huge shade tree outside his window and asked if we could meet under it and he had no problem with the idea.  The next week we advertised the group starting and when the day came for the first meeting over 20 couples showed up.

That Sunday school class fueled my passion for working with married couples.  After pursuing 4 post-graduate degrees and spending countless hours of counseling couples and families over the years, my passion has not been abated.  The more counseling I do the more I love it.  It reminds me of a passion another person had in the bible as I was reading today.  It’s the story of Nehemiah after he heard about his people and their fate.  “The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When Nehemiah heard about his brothers and sisters in distress, he fasted and mourned and wept and prayed for days.  Nehemiah began to experience passion when he heard about a disaster that occurred with people he loved.  His whole life was taken up with the seeking to fix the disaster he heard about.

What drives your passion?  What keeps you up at night or wakes you up early in the morning?  What thoughts do you have that you can’t seem to shake?  I believe that God put Nehemiah here on this earth to build the wall of Jerusalem.  I know He put me here on this earth to work with marriages and families.  What is your passion He has or is calling you to do?

On this journey I believe that we all have a purpose and we all have certain gifts and abilities He wants us to use.  Take some time on your journey to find your passion.  Keeping your eyes open to hurts and problems in life is the first step in the process.

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Impartial Judges

I have a problem with the way judges come up with their decisions today.  Mind you my experience is very limited and has been skewed by my being an expert witness in court only a few times in child custody cases.  As a result of those decisions I determined I would never go into a courtroom as an expert witness again.  Let me give you one example.

A 12-year-old child was being physically abused by the father and step mom.  He would come home to his mother with black and blue bruises that were documented by a physician to take to court.  The father was driving a new Mercedes and was a building contractor, but only reported $6000 of income each year.  The child didn’t want to go back to the abusive father and wanted to stay permanently with the mother and her husband. The ruling by the judge was that full custody was given to the father and the mother had to pay child support to him.  You tell me the justice in that.

I tell you this example because I came across a passage that I would love to have every judge in the country read.  Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, talked to all the judges he hired and told them the following.  “He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” II Chronicles 19:5-7 NIV

Wouldn’t it be nice if all judges were told this truth and had the fear of God put in them!  Did you get the phrase, “With the LORD our God, there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could depend upon the court system to hand out judgments that way.  You can be assured that in the end, crooked judges will have consequences for the way they have judged.  For that matter, so will we.

We can be assured that on this journey, the God of the universe will make all things right, even if we have experienced judgments that are partial and filled with bribery.  Gods’ judgments will ultimately prevail.




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Going With The Crowd

All of us have experienced peer pressure at some point in our lives.  We want to fit in and be a part of the group so we go along to get along.  Now even as I write this I know that some of you and maybe many of you are strong-willed and balk at me saying we’ve all done it.  If you haven’t ever given into peer pressure good for you.  But for the rest of us it’s hard at times in our lives when everyone else is doing something to stand by our principles.  It becomes easier when we become an adult to stand alone, but in the teen years it’s difficult because the peers are so important.

In grade school it may be a popular group we want to be in so we do what the group does to be accepted.  In the junior high and high school years, it may involve trying alcohol or drugs or smoking a cigarette or marijuana.   As an adult, when everyone is speeding over the limit and passing you by, do you hold to the speed limit and move over to the slow lane?  It takes will power to hold to our principles when it seems that everyone is going in the opposite direction.

I was reading in the bible about an individual who was pressured to go with the crowd.  His name was Micaiah and he was a prophet.  The backdrop of the story had the King of Israel wanting the king of Judah to go to battle with him.  The king of Judah wanted to seek the Lord before going to battle to see what He wanted.  “So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?” “Go,” they answered, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”  II Chronicles 18:5

The response of the 400 prophets of Israel didn’t satisfy the king of Judah so he wanted one who would prophesy in the name of the Lord.  There was only one prophet in the country who did that and his name was Micaiah.  They sent for him and this is what they said to him.  All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.” The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” 2 Chronicles‬ ‭18: 11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As you read the rest of the story, Micaiah initially did what the other 400 prophets wanted him to do–say the same thing they had said.  But when the king of Judah challenged him to speak in the name of the Lord, he spoke from the Lord and told them that if they went they would be defeated.

Speaking up and saying the right thing knowing you are going against the crowd is difficult because you will stand alone when you do it.  Do you want to be known for being in the crowd or doing and saying the right thing even if you have to go it alone.

On this journey, there will be times when you are called to be the lone voice speaking the truth to others.  It will be at times seem lonely, but know that God will never leave nor forsake those who follow Him fully.


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