Ethics & Religion
March 2, 2017
Grow Closer to God This Lent
By Mike McManus
Lent began this week - 40 days before Easter which Christians use for
the soul's spring training. It is a perfect time to ask "What on earth
am I here for?" writes Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life,
which 33 million people have bought.
Moses was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai. Jesus was empowered by
40 days in the wilderness and his disciples were transformed by 40 days
with Jesus after the Resurrection.
His powerful book is written in 40 brief chapters, to be read one each
day. The Bible says, "Let God transform you into a new person by
changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do"
Warren, is founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California
attended by 20,000 people weekly. He quotes Proverbs 11:28: "A life
devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a
I urge you to buy the book, and underline key passages.
It is natural to begin with ourselves: What do I want to be? However,
Warren writes, "You didn't create yourself, so there is no way you can
tell yourself what you were created for...You must begin with God, your
Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made
by God and for God - and until you understand that, life will never make
God determined your natural talents and your unique personality. Warren
writes, "While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate
children." They may have been unplanned by their parents, but not by
There are many "self-help" books. They suggest that you "Consider your
dreams. Set some goals. Aim high. Believe you can achieve your goals."
However, Warren warns, "Being successful and fulfilling your life's
purpose are not at all the same thing." Rather, he suggests becoming
what God created you to be.
How do you discover God's purpose? One option is to speculate. That's
what most people do. However, God "has clearly revealed his five
purposes for our lives" in the Bible, which Warren calls our Owner's
The first purpose of God is to worship him. C.S. Lewis wrote, "In
commanding us to glorify him, God is inviting us to enjoy him." Warren
asserts God wants our worship "to be motivated by love, thanksgiving and
delight, not duty."
We tend to think of worship as praising, singing and praying to God. But
Warren writes, "Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving him, and
giving ourselves to be used for his purposes."
The second great purpose to recognize that "We bring God glory by loving
other believers." When you were born again, you became a member of God's
family. It is not enough to believe in God. We must also learn to love
the family of God.
Jesus said, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this
all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"
Warren asserts our third great purpose is "to grow to spiritual
maturity...becoming like Jesus in the way we think, feel, and act."
Our fourth great goal is to serve others. Each of us has "talents,
gifts, skills and abilities" that are not to be used for selfish
purposes, but to benefit others. Warren notes that "Thousands of books
have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood...God shaped you
for service, not self-centeredness."
John Wesley's motto was: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you
can, in all the ways you can, in all of the places you can, at all the
times you can, to all the people, as long as you ever can."
At Saddleback Church a group of CEOs and business owners are trying to
make as much as possible so they can give much more to further the
kingdom of God.
Our fifth great purpose is to tell others about him. "God doesn't want
his love and purposes kept a secret. Once we know the truth, he expects
us to share it with others," Warren writes.
Living the rest of your life for God will require changes of priorities,
schedule, relationships - and often a difficult path. Even Jesus
struggled with this. Knowing he was about to be crucified, he cried out,
"My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say. `Father, save me
from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father,
glorify Thy name."
This Lent grow closer to God by reading this book.
Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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