There is something that has hit my heart recently, and it’s that many people go through life with different struggles, different obstacles, and different opportunities. Every-one has a story and an upbringing that has led them to this point in their “story”. I had the privilege, just over a month ago, of serving middle school and elementary school kids in Manila, Philippines. It was a very heart-warming and heart-melting experience as these kids have grown up in poverty their whole life and yet, not knowing the “comforts” us Americans have, they were just as happy (if not more) as any other little boy or little girl could be! The time spent with those grade school children pricked my heart to ask, “What am I living for?”. Am I living for com-fort? Am I living to eventually ‘take life easy’?

Our sister, Ruth Guteng, posing with middle-schoolers in the Philippines!

Those children were so happy, but they didn’t have Wi-Fi. They didn’t have a new laptop, or some new clothes, or money, or health care, or even the promise of a satis-fying meal every day. Yet, there was a light in their eyes that expressed happiness and con-tentment and peace and joy, in fact they knew of no other way to live! Although, what truly struck me was how dim that light got as you looked past them and over their heads to the adults and the parents of the little ones. What I believe was probably once a bright light, had dimmed to a gloomy, low-spirited, fog. Downcast faces and depression plagued the surrounding parents and grownups. Looking back at the kids, it was amazing seeing their eyes full of such wonder at such an early age, searching for life’s purpose. Although, it was sad to think of what may become of the children as they grow older and life’s hurts start to destroy their hope and faith in ever finding true purpose.

Every youngster dreams for their future. Some dream to do very extravagant things when they’re older and others, dream a bit more prudently, but everyone dreams. Even in the “land of the free, home of the brave”, many are dreaming to find purpose, with questions like: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” The only true fulfilling purpose in life is to follow the purposes of God.

Matthew 9:35-38 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shep-herd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the work-ers are few. Ask the Lord of the har-vest, therefore, to send out workers in-to his harvest field.”

Jesus looks at us and sees harassed and helpless sheep who need saving. The first step to being saved is accepting you are lost. To truly appreciate the good news we must first know the bad news and that we are all responsible for crucifying Jesus. If we have ever told one lie (liar); looked lustfully (adultery); disobeyed parents (rebellious); stole soda with a water cup (thief); used something to comfort ourselves [music, etc.] (idolater); used God’s name in vain (blasphemy); hated someone (murder); en-vied something we didn’t have (covet); then we are deserving of nothing, but death! What’s amazing is that God’s Universal Purpose is for all to be saved! His unique way of accomplishing this purpose is through Acts 17:26-27; putting a Christian in your path to reach out to you! Nothing is ever coincidence with God and He is con-stantly reaching out to us to bring us closer to Him. We must be done with the excuses and understand that God is calling us today!

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

Just before this passage Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, truly showing them what it meant to serve one another. He then com-mands them to love each other like He loved them so that others will know they are His disciples. I remember back in high school there would be lunch tables that certain groups of teenagers would claim every day. These tables or even geographic regions around the school began to be classified by who sat or spent time there often. For exam-ple, the skaters sat on the stairs, the athletic people by the sports fields, the drama kids next to the theater, the troublemakers some-how found a way to leave campus, and the wealthy hung out by their nice, new, parent-bought cars in the parking lot…etc. It’s easy to get a bunch of similar people to all hang out together, but when you have a group of totally different individuals all spending time with each other, and enjoy-ing each other like they’re related, it is a sure sign of God’s people! The church is meant to reflect this as God’s collective purpose. Whether Black, White, Latino, Asian, African, young, old, single, married, different careers, languages, upbringings, backgrounds, we must love each other deeply and sincerely to accomplish God’s Collective Purpose. It is the one place where you will ever feel like you truly be-long. Opening up your heart to the love of the person that brought you to church to-day will help you fulfill this purpose!

Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you in-to exile.” Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I love how our God has an individual plan for every single one of us! He never forc-es His plans on us, but instead asks us to seek Him first, with all of our heart to see His plans! Sadly, my past is full of hypocrisy, de-ceit, and complacency. It’s not that I never went to church or never sought-after God, but more so I rarely thought the message was God speaking to change me. I would deflect, and start thinking of who it’s really for, like maybe a friend or a family member, but me, no not me. I may walk away thinking that was a nice church service, some nice people too, but totally reject changing my life mainly because of comfortability. To seek God, it takes radical and faithful decisions! If you stay where you’re comfortable, complacency and mediocrity will plague your life forever. Though, that doesn’t need to be your case! We were created to be great! God wants to make you great! He wants to fill your heart with the same light as those little ones in the Philippines! Don’t walk away today, and re-ject God’s calling and purpose for your life! Leave here today, making the decision to fol-low the purposes of God! A great way to start is to study the bible with the person who brought you today. God is seeking after you, we pray you seek after Him too!

With much love,
Dale Bryant


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