The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a minefield of thought provoking, inspiring, motivating, sometimes difficult to hear truths. It's such a brilliant book that I have split this review into two parts.
In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren unpacks the major thought that we all face:
“Why am I here and what is my purpose?”
In one of the very first chapters, Warren points out that without knowing God’s purpose for your life, you will compensate in less than ideal living. Without following God’s will, you’ll be lost in the crowd and fall trap to the biggest lie of them all ~ trying to please everyone! (Page 29)
Let me take you through the wonderful journey of learning that I went through during the handful of weeks that I spent reading this book. I hope that I can inspire and motivate you to get plugged into teaching like that of Rick Warrens, listen to his sermons or maybe pick up a book or two of his.
Let me just say from the start, this book isn't one for the faint hearted or those who are looking for a ‘feel-good’ message but all for those who long to live strong and to live to the full and don't mind a bit of hard work!
I’ve been thinking about Hope a lot, about how it's one of the driving forces that keep me moving forward and pressing on in life even when things are hard. Warren confirmed this thought in me by saying, “Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope.” (Page 31).
Living in Hope is what keeps that inner fire burning, because the sadness of life isn’t in dying, its in living astray from your purpose.
(Hebrews 6vs19~20 NLT)
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us.”
This hope we have (or don’t have) isn’t coming from us or our own abilities, but our Hope stems from Jesus Christ, He is the anchor and it is through Him that I find my direction and my purpose.
It’s not about the eloquent or flashy, not materialistic or stylish, it’s in the hearts posture. You simply ask, "Does this activity help me fulfil one of God's purposes for my life? Without a clear purpose you have no foundation” (Page 30)
On page 32, Warren talks about how focus stirs on purpose. Your focus drives your purpose which is what makes an impact in the world around you! Paul lived an intentional life, He was focused on his task of taking the Gospel throughout Rome.
(Philippians 3vs12~14 AMP)
“I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This leads to the key factor that our society struggles with so much right now...
Activity and productivity!
On page 33, Warren speaks about how easily we can fall into trying to create our memory, trying to build a legacy to leave behind when we’re gone, trying to make a statement…
and what we forget is that what we leave behind are simply memories, but the manner through which we lived will carry on into eternity.
Are you living in the fullness of what God laid down for us?
Warren walks us through two important truths about the end of our lives that we can learn from the Bible. Counter to what we’ve been led to believe, on the end day we will not be asked about our background or our views, our influence or our wealth….
...On the end day we’ll be facing the questions of; “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?" and “What did you do with what I gave you?" (Page 34).
Did you live out of love for Jesus and to proclaim His name with all your ability, or was it all for selfish gain? Did you hold the two most important commandments as the priority of your life?
(Mark 12vs30~31 NIV)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
If this life is preparation for eternity, then obeying God’s commandments is essential, The greater we focus on His words, the lesser our attention on all other things becomes and therefore the more focused on our God-given purpose will be.
Warren reminds us that every moment is an opportunity. An opportunity for our character to deepen, demonstrate our love and to depend on God even more. “Some tests seem overwhelming, while others you don't even notice. But all of them have eternal implications.” (Page 43)
You can let the trials and tests you face lead you closer to God.
“God doesn't owe you an explanation or reason for everything He asks you to do. Understanding can wait, but obedience can't. Instant obedience will teach you more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, you will never understand some commands until you obey them first. Obedience unlocks understanding.” (Page 72)
It is through the obedience of following God’s voice in all times and in all trials that our faith is strengthened and we begin to learn who we are because we grow so much closer to Him.
This is what a sacrifice of praise means.
“I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.”
As you begin to use all your abilities, gifts and talents for God’s pleasure, you will realise that every aspect of your life matters, God has a purpose for your life and He is generous to gift us with the opportunity to enjoy each moment.
“There are no unspiritual abilities, just misused ones. Start using yours for God's pleasure. God also gains pleasure in watching you enjoy his creation. He gave you eyes to enjoy beauty, ears to enjoy sounds, your nose and taste buds to enjoy smells and tastes, and the nerves under your skin to enjoy touch, Every act of enjoyment becomes an act of worship when you thank God for it." (Page 75)
(1 Timothy 6vs17 NLT)
"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment."
However, we can’t let surrender to the will of God become an excuse for laziness, because it's in laying down fleshly desires for an opportunity to discover the greatness he has in store for you.
“Surrendering to God is not passive resignation, fatalism, or an excuse for laziness, It is not accepting the status quo. It may mean the exact opposite: sacrificing your life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed. God often calls surrendered people to do battle on his behalf. Surrendering is not for cowards or doormats, C. S. Lewis observed, "The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become--because he made us”. (Page 80)
It only makes sense that the more I turn to Christ, the more myself I become. If I am made in His image, then the more of myself that I give in surrender, the more of who I truly am I will pick up.
Living like this means doesn't mean you demand your own rights, it means that you don’t rush to accusation and defensiveness.“E. Stanley Jones said, "If you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos." (Page 82)
To live this out in action means that you have to give God more working space than a Sunday at Church. More working space than even just your morning quiet time....
“He wants more than an appointment in your schedule. He wants to be a known, loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is Gods greatest pleasure. Included in every activity, every conversation, every problem, and even in every thought. You can carry on a continuous, open ended conversation with him throughout your day, talking with him about whatever you are doing or thinking about” (Page 87)
This is what it means to live by the word of Paul “to pray without ceasing.” This could look like what Warren describes on page 89 as ‘breath prayers’ where you journey with God throughout your day. Discussing all sorts of matters with him. Matters on the external and on the internal. Warren teaches that this sort of practice of letting God into your inner thinking is that first step to letting him review the truths in your mind, it opens the space to letting Him direct your though patterns.
(1 Thessalonians 5vs16~18 ESV)
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
On page 95, Warren talks about obedience.
It is through obedience that we step out in faith. It is through obedience that we grow closer to him.
Jesus said that we are His friends if we do what he commands... This is being obedient!
From page 102 through to 106, Warren discusses worship. He teaches that worship is not a style of music or a section in a service. It’s not a routine that you get into nor is it a one size fits all.
Here’s a quote that Warren includes from a friend of his; “If God intentionally made us all different, why are we led to worship God in the same way?”
There are so many way to enjoy and to learn intimacy with God.
"Being outdoors, studying, singing, reading, dancing, creating art, serving others, having solitude, enjoying fellowship, and participating in dozens of other activities.” (Page 103)
We also have the opportunity to be specific in our praise, “If someone approached you and repeated, "I praise you!" ten times, you would probably think, For what? You would rather receive two specific compliments than twenty vague generalities. So would God.” (Page 104)
(Mark 12vs30 NIV)
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
If you want to be known for being someone after God’s heart (like David was, like Jesus most certainly is) then you’ve got to seek Him in everything.
“God took pleasure in calling him "a man after my own heart." Yet David frequently complained of God's apparent absence.” (Page 108)
So how do you keep praising even when you’re not rejoicing in your situation?
“How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they're full of tears? You do what lob did in Job 1: "Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I come from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gives and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Page 110)
It’s the faith because you believe even when it’s not written plainly, when it’s not consistently broadcast.
V. Raymond Edman said, "Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light." When Job's life fell apart, and God was silent, Job still found things he could praise God for.” (Page 111)
How are you intentionally setting out to do this?
How are you living each day in faith and with love?
You begin by going to the source of all love.
“Pray this: ‘God whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people--because that's what life is all about. I don't want to waste this day.’ Why should God give you another day if you're going to waste it? (Page 126)
“That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time…. Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is "T-I-M-E." (Page 127)
"You can give your time remorsefully and hands down you’ll walk away in regret, or you can embrace the effort and build love with your output. “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” (Page 128)
Living out of love is the key commandment. But to model your life after Jesus means a transformation of character. Not personality ~ that’s uniquely God~given, but a Christlike character leads your actions and direction and determines whether you are living out the light of Jesus on this earth.
That's where I'm going to leave this part of the review for today. What a lot there is to chew on! I hope you'll join me next week for Part two.
~ X ~