I am a Rich Fool, Time to burn my Barn.

We love a good story.  These stories connect through emotion, humor, and related experiences.  Story telling is one of the common themes for the best blog articles on the internet.  Jesus Christ, was the greatest blogger of all time.  He currently has over infinity followers (although many are not engaged followers), and is still pushing great content. He tells a great story about a man seeking heaven.  In Mathew, chapter 19: 16-30, Jesus meets a young rich man who takes this opportunity to assure himself of eternal salvation.  Like many of us, this man feels like he is doing all the right things, but still lacks that assurance of salvation. “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  Jesus tells him to obey the commandments.  Here, he gives a quick run down of the ten commandments.  The young man, feeling a little better, yet still unsure replies, ” All of these I observed. What do I still lack?”  Jesus, not mincing words replies with the following words that are clear as day, yet so difficult to understand.  He says: if you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”.  The man leaves, after hearing this.  He leaves in despair because he has many possessions.  Jesus, knowing human nature better than anyone, turns to his followers to clarify, ” Again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells  another parable of a  rich fool. Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus tells his followers about a rich young man so with so many possessions, he cannot possibly need them all.  He tears down his barns and builds bigger and bigger barns to store his stuff. God calls him a fool…:”for tonight your life will be demanded of you…thus it will be the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God”.

barn collapsing (5)

barn collapsing (5) (Photo credit: Eric Willis (superic))

God is too smart to buy into simple box checking.  He is jealous and wants is all.  Trusting in him looks different for each one of us.  Living intentionally involves a lot of personal accountability.  Sometimes, the 5 am cup of coffee in front of the computer is real lonely.  This sense of “me against the world” or at least “me against my unaccomplished goals”, gives me a false sense of empowerment.  Am I the one doing the work?  I must remind myself that it is not I providing the inspirations, the drive, and tools.  God is providing, so that I can ultimately achieve the main goal, and that is living a charitable life of trust and love, where I share my God given talents and treasures with the world and ultimately get to heaven. What good post on intentionality would pose an opportunity such as eternal salvation without at least scratching the surface of instruction.  Here is a list of the first 3 things to rid myself of being a rich fool.  Take these and make them your own.
1.  Be intentional about prayer.  Yes, I am actually scheduling prayer time twice per day.  Hoping for inspiration to pray is not a good strategy for me.  This will come later, once prayer becomes a bigger part of my life.  Tailor this to your needs.  If you already pray a lot, schedule more time to pray.
2.  Read the Bible.  Start small and realistic.  I am starting with Mathew and reading about 10 minutes per night.  Find what works for you.  The Bible is God’s instruction manual for everything “awesome”.  If you are reading this at the expense of Bible time, your priorities are wrong.
3. Go do something charitable.  Don’t just read or write about it, do something.  Go to a soup kitchen, thrift shop, local church, etc.  Actions are way more impactful than thought.
Time for a barn burner.  What treasures are taking space in your heart? What one thing are you intentionally going to change TODAY to fix this?

Intentional Sinner

Things were easier when I couldn’t figure how to get things done.  I hadn’t discovered the power of the intentional life and could always put things off until tomorrow.  Nothing is more important to me than my relationship with the Lord.  I tell myself that everyday. I told myself this today as I slept in, read 30 pages of a fiction novel, watched 2 hours of baseball, about an hour of social media, and countless moments doing things without giving the Lord a second thought.  It’s certainly true that we can be conscious of God even in mundane everyday tasks, but that wasn’t the case for me.  It rarely is.  I’m fed up with being a mediocre Christian. I felt a tug on my soul today. Call it the Holy Spirit or call it indigestion, here is what the frustrated, not at all crazy, conversation with myself looked like:

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know what to do to get where I wanna be, honestly, I don’t even know where I want to be.  What does the vision of my family look like when it comes to a Christian life? Are we trying to be holy and struggle for perfection or are we accepting of God’s grace and celebrating him and that grace? My joy in The Lord is like a troubled child who is happy, even joyous, to receive Christmas gifts and maybe even a hug from his dad. That’s not enough. God calls us to have a pure, unconditional love for him…unashamed joy. A connection. I see how happy my son is just to have a hug from me. That hug doesn’t “recharge his batteries”, it simply brings him joy.  I DON’T feel that connection with the Lord. I know the problem is ME and not The Lord. WHY am I not able to connect with him? I don’t trust, I don’t give, I don’t commit…
Personal accountability to our values must be the driving force of our personal mission. If you struggle to simply make the bed everyday and get anything done, this post probably doesn’t speak to you.  We have a lot of work ahead of us. You have an excuse.  If you feel in control and are able to accomplish goals, but miss the boat when it comes to your relationship with the Lord, then welcome to the club.

Author and professor Steve Brown says we are so busy trying to be holy, that we end up being bad.  We miss the point.  He shares his take in his book, 3 free sins,

that we as sinners are forgiven with  the blood from the cross.  This is where to start.  God’s love.  Incorporating more intentional faith into our lives is no different than waking up early to work on our blogs, books, paintings, or any other passion we enjoy.  The motivation to grow our relationship with God should dwarf our other endeavors.  Start with a vision. Build your plan to take you to your vision.  You GOT this!

How are you being intentional with your relationship with the Lord TODAY?
Rocco De Leo

God Doesn’t Care How You Finish

This is the season for the SAT test.  As I sipped my cofee Saturday morning waiting for my 17 year old daughter to finish getting ready for her second round with the SAT, I openned up Feedly to read Seth Godin’s post, Measuring without Measuring.  In his witty, and for the moment “timely” manner, he states that the SAT is the best measure to see how a person will do on the SAT.   In two weeks we will have results showing kids who showed up and “fell” into great scores, kids who showed tremendous effort and growth to get “average scores” and very smart kids who struggle through tests only to get bad scores.  What are we hoping to gain from making hundres of thousands of kids take this test?  Colleges want results. They want to stack the odds in their favor that accepting more freshman with higher SAT scores will provide better results (ie, grades, student involvement, graduation).  The measuring stick of our life is results.  This is not one of those egalitarian posts about giving every kid a trophy or the self esteem movement anyone in thier 30s can remember.  We must measure results because we are not God.  We get paid to deliver results.  God is all knowing and measures something greater because he is reading the entire story.  He measures intentions.  He knows your heart. He paid the price on Calvary 2000 years ago to guarentee the results. All he asks for is you to love him, to have faith like a child (Luke 18:17)

Praise God

Praise God (Photo credit: GlacierTim)

What God gives us that the rest of life doesn’t, is a place to put our heart where we are guarenteed success.

We can put our efforts on sales numbers, amount of blog posts, and the soccer score. Yet It doesn’t matter. The results don’t change the core of who we are. In a world that will accept results regardless of intentions, we will never accept intentions without results. Only God will do that. True purpose is aligning your results with your intentions. In other words, you are not only good at something, but you want to be good at it as well. As I push through the self doubt about my writing ( I am not good enough, not writing enough, etc. ) and my parenting (who am I to raise these kids?) and my work results (numbers are down again?), I am comforted by the true measure of who I am by my heart.  This fuels my ambition to take on the self doubt through intentionality and  consistently “showing up”.

Only you and God know your true heart.  What’s your intention with him?
Rocco De Leo