Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lives of Significance

Christians are called by God to grow to spiritual maturity. At the heart of growth are spiritual disciplines. In the past we have looked at the reality that if we ever want to find the time to spend with God; if we want to find the time to nurture our relationship with God and family and brothers and sisters in Christ, we are going to have to simplify our lives.

If we are ever going to have the resources, the time, money and energy, to be able to do meaningful ministry and reach out to our community in the name of Christ, we are going to have to simplify our lives. I want to encourage us to take a fresh look at our lives; what we own, where we live, how we live, how we use and invest our time and money. To ask the simple question, “Why do I own this or why am I doing this?” “Why am I living like I am living?” I have been trying to think of a way to help make this real to you. Instead of just irritating you, I want to motivate you.

When we decide to simplify our lives, what will happen? What would that look like? I believe we will be freed to do what we are designed to do. We are designed to live lives of significance. Think for a moment about this quote from Wild at Heart Field Manual, by John Eldredge. "When it comes to the story of your life, how it will be told ages hence around the campfires of the kingdom…"

 I just want to share with you about three men I have known who impacted my life and I believe the way they lived could inform all of us. 

The president of my fraternity was a fellow from Cincinnati named Ron Pinsenschaum. He was a quality guy in college. Mr. Popularity, All Conference Baseball player on full scholarship while making great grades. After college we lost touch and I didn’t hear anything about him until around 1994. The fraternity alumni decided, through the miracle of the internet and e-mail to reestablish contact. It was about that time that I learned that Ron had died. No details, just that he was gone. I was amazingly saddened by the news and decided to honor Ron by paying his alumni dues each year.

A few months later one of the brothers decided that it would be a good idea to nominate Ron, an outstanding athlete, to the Eastern Kentucky University Athletic Hall of Fame and asked if anyone had any info on Ron after he had left school. No one answered so I decided I would take a stab at some research. I googled his name and got 6 hits. All but one of those weren’t about Ron Pinsenschaum. The one was an article from the Dayton Daily News about a soccer game played in the Ron Pinsenschaum Memorial Stadium. The article said the stadium was at the Dayton Christian High School. So I googled that and found a generic e-mail address and sent a request for information.

This was the reply the next day. “Dr. McConnell, I forwarded your email to our former Superintendent, Bud Schindler, as well as Ron's widow, Jan. I believe they will give you all of the information that you are looking for plus more! I personally knew Mr. P as a teacher when I was in High School and I have to say that he has definitely left a legacy with all of us who knew him or had the privilege of sitting under his teaching.”

Then I received this note: Dear Dr. McConnell, Your email was forwarded to me – you were inquiring about Ron Pinsenschaum. You do indeed have the same Ron Pinsenschaum. He served the Lord faithfully at Dayton Christian Schools until God chose to take him home some years ago. I consider without hesitation he would be a strong, strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. No man had a greater impact upon the students in our community and in the State of Ohio than Ron did during his tenure here at Dayton Christian Schools. In His Service, Bud Schindler, former Superintendent of Dayton Christian Schools

Ron died in 1987 at the age of 42. After college, He served in Viet Nam, was promoted to Captain. Won several metals including the Silver Star for valor and 4 Purple Hearts. He went to seminary and became a Youth Minister and taught school at Dayton Christian High School. He introduced Soccer to the school system – In fact, the year he passed on he was selected by the public and private school coaches as Soccer Coach of the Year for the State of Ohio. An award for the coach with the best character was named for Ron and has been awarded every year since 1988. The soccer and track stadium at Dayton Christian High School was built and named in his memory. At his death, several newspaper columns appeared in the Dayton Daily News. Literally thousands of people attended his visitation and funeral. As dozens spoke of a life that mattered one student put it like this, “Mr. P loved out loud.” Ron lived a life of significance.

The ultimate use of our time and resources is not to produce more for ourselves; it is not to consume as much as we can manage to consume in our lifetimes; it is not to do everything within our power to remain as comfortable as possible. A life of significance is a life that is invested in others. Ultimately to help them know and love God. We do that by sharing life with others. Whose life are you impacting for Jesus?

This is a picture of a young sailor. I believe the picture was taken some time in 1942. The world is at war and he has joined up to serve his country. He is a college graduate, recently married with two little girls. He is away from home with time on his hands to think about the meaning of life. There is a better than good chance he won’t live to see his girls grow up. I have a letter in my possession that he wrote to his cousin Chester. He calls him Check. I will share just a little of the letter.
“My time is up here around the 1st of September and I guess I will be shipping out then. I have my fingers crossed that maybe something will happen by that time… The only thing that worries me is that something will happen to me and that I won’t be able to spend the rest of my life with my wife and my kids. Check, I have learned one thing in this Navy that I will hopefully never forget. I used to think that a big job and money were essential to a happy family – but that was all wrong. When I get out of this mess I am going to spend the rest of my life doing the things that I want to do which are making my family happy and enjoying my friends. I have though a hundred times that I would like to build me a nice home out in the country – fairly close to my work and have you and the girls and Mildred live with us.” (And though this young man is a part of a generation of men who don’t share much emotion, he signed his letter), “All my love, Bill”

This sailor is my father. What he hoped for happened. Remember that he hoped something would happen? The night before his battalion was shipped out to go to war, a battalion that suffered more than 90% casualties, my dad’s throat got sore. He was sent to sick bay and diagnosed with the mumps. He didn’t ship out that next morning and survived the war. And he did exactly what he dreamed of doing. When he got back from the war, He spent his life making his family happy, built a home in the country and I lost count of all the relatives who came and lived with us over the years. It was a home filled with love and people and fun and sharing. It was a place where I lived with a man who learned a lesson in war and never forgot it. He learned what is important in life. People! He impacted my life. His was a life of significance.

Scientists and God tell us that Human beings are designed to live in community. Life is to be shared. At the present time we are, generally speaking, living our lives in isolation.

Dr. Will Miller wrote a book titled Refrigerator Rights. In this wonderful book he asks,
“Who do you know, other than family, who can walk into your home, walk to the refrigerator and pour themselves a glass of tea? In whose home can you do the same?” These are called Refrigerator Rights. Other than family, few people ever earn Refrigerator Rights. Because we never allow them to be that close.

While serving a church in a small town in Iowa, I shared refrigerator rights with several people. These people deeply impacted my life and my walk with God. My best friend was Gary Lawrence. He was a former All American hammer thrower from Kansas State. We worked together, prayed together, coached together, ran together, rebuilt a house together, and destroyed a perfectly good piano together. We shared life together.

Gary and Sue Lawrence came to visit a few weeks ago. I had not seen them in 30 years. He was one of the best friends I have ever had. At dinner Gary got up, went to the refrigerator, poured himself a glass of tea and asked if anyone else needed anything. After 30 years, he still had refrigerator rights in my home. It was a different home but since it was my home, he had Refrigerator Rights. It felt good. Human beings are designed to live in community. Life is to be shared. Gary has lived a life of significance.

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2:41-47)

Those in the New Testament Church lived lives of significance in community and it was a powerful thing. It could and would be just as powerful today.
So, I am encouraging you to ask yourself some questions. These are important questions. We have an opportunity to decide what is important in life and how that decision will inform how we live life. And we don’t have to live thru a war to figure this out.

A life of what the world defines as success or a life of significance, a life that really counts. It is our choice. Don’t allow anyone to make the decision for you. Just honestly answer these three questions.
1.      With whom are you sharing your life?
2.      "When it comes to the story of your life, how it will be told ages hence around the campfires of the kingdom…"
3.      Whose life are you impacting for Jesus?

Copyright © 2017, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press. He can be contacted @ Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

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