What is God’s will for my life

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Dear Legacy Dads,

understanding-gods-will-for-our-lives-custom-672x372I want to apologize to all of you for being absent these past several weeks.  As life would have it, my father passed away at the end of September and we have been in all out take care of family and finalize details for his burial and add to that fall break vacation with the wife and kids.

This is a bitterly sweet moment for me in that my dad is no longer in pain, no longer suffering and with Jesus and my mom.  The bitter part is that I don’t get to see him or talk to him until I see him in Heaven.

All this being said, brings me to this blog post, “What is God’s will for my life?”

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10 Books That Changed My Life

I’ve read and listened to hundreds of books over the years, some better than others.  Some are written like a thesis paper and are hard to get through and others are written in a common vernacular that seems to speak like a wise friend giving advice.  While many of the books I’ve read have provided insight, learning, and growth – I tried to narrow a list down to ten books that I know have had a profound impact on my life (besides the Bible of course.)

10 Books

Some of these were just timing, the age I was at or the season of life I was in, while others have proven to be timeless classics that I often re-read.  It was difficult to narrow the list down to ten but these are the ten, for me personally, that influenced me at various times in my life.  They are listed in no particular order.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

I was blessed to be able to attend a conference by John Maxwell on this book back in 1999.  I was in my mid 20’s then and just starting to take on real leadership roles.  Maxwell uses these 21 “Laws” to illustrate attributes of successful leaders.  Maxwell helps the reader understand that leadership is a privilege and should be used to help others, build teams, and advance the organizational goals. Maxwell uses the idea of Servant Leadership, casting a vision, and influencing others to follow you not because of your position or title but because they believe in you as a leader and the cause you are working towards. Now, I often give this book to leaders as they start out in life or when starting a new venture.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

People either love this book or hate it.  Manning was a former Franciscan Priest turned alcoholic who very openly and transparently explains his discover of God’s redeeming Grace.  Manning rejects the idea of earning salvation or Christians who try to grade others by a list of Do’s and Don’ts.  He uses powerful literary illustrations to show the reader our own personal biases and paints the picture that Christ died for all of us, even those we may detest.  Coming from a conservative Christian or Catholic background, this book opens the reader up to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrine that we are saved by grace, through faith alone.  “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” 

Twelve Ordinary Men by John F. MacArthur

On my bookshelf, I have an original copy of the 1871 book The Training of the Twelve which is one of the most in-depth books on how Christ discipled His chosen 12. Twelve Ordinary Men was originally a sermon series by MacArthur that finally became a book. This is probably the most in-depth study of the 12 original apostles of Christ taken from Scripture and known church history, to include their final fates. This book truly illustrated to me how Christ chose (and still chooses) ordinary people to fulfill His mission.  Christ did not choose religious scholars but men from varying backgrounds and even some with questionable pasts, to ultimately lead his Church after he was gone.  Not only is this a great historical account of the apostles, but it may also spark a fire in you that God can use you right now, where you are, to fulfill His Great Commission.

Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by Henri Nouwen

This book was given to me by a Chaplain as I prepared to go to combat for the 4th time. I was initially skeptical as Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest but within the first few pages, I realized that this book not only had solid theology, but was a lifetime of wisdom and obedience wrapped up in an easy to read few hundred pages.  Nouwen touches on Christian community, accountability, and realizing our limitations and boundaries.  In the ultimate act of a servant of God, Nouwen left a prestigious position at Harvard and ended up ministering to a handful of mentally challenged individuals. He left prestige for obedience. This book is for those who are still searching, still wanting to grow and mature in the faith.  However, if you tend to compartmentalize your faith and not live it out openly on a daily basis, this book will be difficult for you.  However, if you are ready to get a healthy dose of what sanctification truly looks like, read this book a few times through and soak up the wisdom.

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

I’ve read countless books on marriage, been to many marriage retreats, and even attended marriage counseling during some rough patches in the early years of my marriage. However, Love and Respect was when the idea of unconditional love finally sank into my thick skull.  Although we don’t want to admit it, often times we hold back in our marriages, we keep a count of the times we were wronged by our spouse, and we argue with our spouse to win the debate rather than trying to seek understanding and maintain the peace. This books taught me that no matter what my spouse does, my job is to love and support her unconditionally, with 100% of my effort, at all times. Even if my needs are not being met, even if she is not intimate with me, even if she is mean or disrespectfully to me – I will love her and show her my love every single day.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Most Christians have read this classic apologetic on the Christian faith.  While John Stott, N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Wayne Grudem have probably provided a more elaborate and in-depth examination of the Christian faith, Lewis is still a master at rhetorical argument for and depiction of the Christian faith. Lewis asserted that he was not a theologian, although he was trained in philosophy, therefore Mere Christianity reads as a “common persons” thoughts on faith. It’s not going to convince the skeptic to jump on the Christian ship, but instead lays out the basic tenants of the Christian faith in easily understandable terms.

The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley

In the Spring of 2000, I saw this book on a display at a local bookstore. Being young and thinking that money will solve all my problems and make me happy, I bought the book hoping to learn the unknown secrets of millionaires. Instead, I was introduced to Stanley’s research and interviews with “real millionaires” (not people who buy expensive cars and big houses on credit to look wealthy) but people with 7-8 figures or more in semi-liquid assets. What I learned from this book is that the average million doesn’t “make it rain”, vacation on exotic, private islands nor did they go to Ivy League schools. The average millionaire lives below their means, buys quality or second hand, and invests their income in their own businesses or assets that put money in their pockets.  They are normally B and C students with a strong work ethic, high integrity, but they are willing to take calculated risks like starting their own business.  Stanley’s research in this book will flip your ideas (and hopefully your habits) into what it takes to actually become a real millionaire.

The Christ Files by John Dickson

As a former atheist, I really loved this book. The Christ Files goes a step further than Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ by illustrating the peer-reviewed academic, scientific, and anthropological evidence for the New Testament and Jesus Christ.  What I love is that Dickson draws his research from unbiased historians who have little interest in debunking or defending Christ or Christianity. These researchers are interested in historical accuracy and treat the writings of the New Testament as they would any other historical documents. Dickson also explains some of the tools historians use when authenticating historical documents such as coherence, dissimilarity, and multiple attestation.  Dickson covers dating the Gospels and the New Testament, the accuracy of oral tradition in anthropology, why the Gnostic gospels and other early church writings were not included in the final Canon. Dickson also introduces other historical writings of the time, outside of Christianity, that write and speak of Jesus and his following.  This book is a great primer for historical accuracy and authenticity of the Bible.

Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

I discovered this book when my kids were almost school age, after reading it, the book changed my entire parenting philosophy.  Kimmel highlights two popular extremes in parenting—legalism and permissiveness.  Kimmel also discusses many popular parenting fads – micromanaging children’s lives, focusing too much on academics and sports – and teaches readers about the three driving inner needs of every child, how to develop character in children, and how our parenting practices need to be Biblically balanced between truth and grace. Grace Based Parenting uses the example of Jesus and how He discipled others as the primer for this parenting philosophy.  Grace Based Parenting focuses on an overall parenting philosophy not necessarily a step-by-step formula.  I highly recommend parents combine this book with Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and Parenting by Paul David Tripp for a well rounded parenting strategy.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg

I read this book while I was in Europe in 2006 and it uses the story of Peter walking on the water with Christ to illustrate how God can use us if we trust in Him and get outside of our comfort zones. Far too often Christians “stay in the boat” and play it safe in life rather than answering the call to advance God’s Kingdom and fulfill the Great Commission. God has repeatedly asks ordinary people to engage in acts of extraordinary trust for the glory of His Kingdom, this is getting out of the boat and walking towards Jesus. This book highlights that you don’t always need to have all the answers or need to have a 5 year plan in place, often we need just enough faith to walk towards Jesus. Ortberg notes that the water was scary, getting out of the boat took courage and faith but the water is where Jesus is and Peter was the only one who walked with Christ on the water. Jesus is waiting to meet you in ways that will change your life forever, deepening your character and your trust in God…You just have to get out of your boat.

Sheep Amongst Wolves

Obedience In A Comfort Drive Culture

I’m sitting in the bay of a C-130 aircraft, the heat of the exhaust and smell of fuel constantly blows in your face.  Suddenly, the side doors open and the heat is changed into crisp, cold air while the morning sun awakens my fellow jumpers from a quick snooze.  The Jumpmaster walks us through a series of commands involving standing, hooking up our static lines, and checking each others parachutes.  64 men and women wait in anticipation staring at a light near the door.  The light turns green and the Jumpmaster yells “Go, Go, Go!”  We each walk towards the door as each of my fellow jumpers disappear.  When you get to the door, you feel the rush of the wind from the speed of the aircraft, you look down and see the landscape – vehicles, hills, and trees look miniature.  At that moment, your conscious brain and logic screams “What I Am Doing!” It is against all your human nature to jump from a moving aircraft in flight.  In that split second, there is no time for hesitation or second guessing, you trust your training and your chute and simply walk out the door.  Sometimes being obedient to God can feel the exact same way.


Jesus’ final command to his disciples was Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20. Regardless of what we may think, the command “Go” does not apply only to vocational pastors, laypersons, and missionaries but to all believers and followers of Christ.  Furthermore, the command “Go” in the original Hebrew really translates to as you go meaning as you go about your daily lives.  

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I will praise you in the storm

through trials and tribulations

thank-youRomans 8:18-37New International Version (NIV)

Present Suffering and Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

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What is so special about men coming together studying God’s Word anyway?

Galatians 6:1-2 & James 5:19-20

Galatians 6:1-2English Standard Version (ESV)

Bear One Another’s Burdens
6 Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Act like men

James 5:19-20English Standard Version (ESV)

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We need God's Fruit....

RevivalJonah 4New International Version (NIV)

Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Compassion

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now,Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die,and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh,in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

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One of the greatest plays in baseball

(Where is your citizenship)


Philippians 3:20New International Version (NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,


Some questions for us to ponder:

  • How important is God’s word to us?
  • How important is God’s truth to us?
  • How important is our sanctification to God?
  • What’s holding you back from taking your citizenship seriously?