Stewardship Resource

Living On Purpose – A Lent Meditation A Legacy Of Faith And Giving

Sermon  Sermon
  • Author: Ron Frick is a member of St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, Plymouth, MN, who agreed to publicly share his faith journey.
  • Updated: 05/24/2006
  • Copyright: Ron Frick, a member of St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, 17205 County Road 6, Plymouth, MN  55447 - 763-475-7128

Different members of the congregation were invited to speak about their whole life mission statement during the mid-week Lent services.  This is one example. 

Ron declares that his mission is "to build a legacy of faith and giving."


Living On Purpose -- Lent Meditations
Mission: To Build A Legacy Of Faith And Giving

Introduction

What I really need to share with you is my faith journey - why am I here. 
I'm going to share how my mission statement came to be.

It came to be because of  two things -- first listening and second  passion.  You see, without listening I wouldn't have found my purpose and without passion my purpose would have never come to life.

I hope sharing my personal stories about listening and passion I can help one of you find your purpose in life, too.  

Listening

So, listening.  I'm not a good listener.  Just ask my wife.  

What does listening have to do with me being here?    It wasn't until I started listening for God's voice that I found my purpose. 

You see, my family grew up in this area during the mid 1800's.  If you drive past the new high School (on Troy Lane) there is a small brick farm house just a mile north.   My mom grew up with 12 brothers and sisters in that small house.  Why is this relevant to my story?  For those of you who guessed - yes,  I grew up Catholic.   And you would sure think that a kid who went to Church school everyday of his life for 7 years would know how to listen to God's voice.  Well, I didn't. 

So how did I learn to listen to God?  It is what I call the 2 x 4 lesson.   My first encounter with the 2 x 4 lesson was 6 years ago. 

My father-in-law led a tough life.  His mother led a tough life and as you know, sometimes it is tough to break a vicious cycle. Luckily for my family my father-in-law was able to break the cycle. 

He was a good guy, but he just never found his purpose.  He was depressed and frustrated.  He was always looking for the big deal and quick fix but it just never happened.  We all know even if it did, that wasn't going to be what made him happy.  Compounding the issues or maybe as a result of the issue, he had diabetes.   Seven years ago he had his foot amputated - then his leg, then the other foot and then the other leg.  He was bed ridden and could no longer run from his problems - understandably he lost all his hope and faith. 

My youngest daughter, who was 5 at the time, came along on a visit to see her Grandpa.  As usual,  he was yelling at the nurses, and cursing his legs -  or lack thereof.  My daughter said, "Grandpa, don't be mad.  You will get your legs back when you go to heaven."

His faced changed from a pale "sickly" white to a warm red - tears rolled down his face.  He looked at my daughter and sobbed, "You're  right." 

During the next week, he called all of those family/friends he had alienated and asked for their forgiveness.  He began to pray with my wife while she pushed him around in his  wheel-chair at Methodist Hospital.  He died peacefully the next week at 59.  That week was probably the most peaceful week of his entire life. 

I grew up and was taught that even if you found Jesus one minute before you died, you were saved.  I felt guilty doubting this - it just didn't seem possible that after 58 years, and 51 weeks of doubt and sin, it could all be wiped away by one week of belief and faith.    I prayed and hoped he was in heaven.  My daughter knew he was.

On the day of his funeral, my mother-in-law was looking at the dozens of flowers she received.  The day was overcast - exactly how she was feeling.   

Then something even more amazing than what we witnessed the week before. Through the clouds and rain one ray of light shone through onto a hibiscus next to her knee.  In front of her eyes the flower opened up and she felt an overwhelming peace.  She knew he was in heaven.

For those skeptics (like me),  I tried to rationalize the scientific reasons for how one single ray of sunlight could shine thru the rain and how a hibiscus could bloom in seconds.  I almost had myself convinced this wasn't a miracle until my mother-in-law shared with me that this flower showed up at her door with  no note, no name and to this day we still don't know who sent it.   Well, I know where it came from...and the sun that shone through the cloud that day was not the SUN sun, it was the SON son. 

That was my first 2 x 4 experience  -  yes,  I felt like I was hit in the head by a 8 foot 2 x 4.  A message, from God, clear as could be - no doubts.  I heard it 1000 times going to church school everyday, but it wasn't until that day that I realized what it meant.  To be saved is complete peace, a place in heaven, where you get back your legs or whatever it was you were missing.

Have you had 2 x 4 experiences?  Look back - think about what God was trying to tell you.  For me, it was my wake up call to start listening for his voice.  

After this experience, I looked back to see what else I had missed.  When I was 19 years old my brother, who was 23 at the time, was diagnosed with Bone cancer.  As he was waking up from the initial surgery, he heard his doctors conversing about how the cancer was inoperable - it was eating up his vertebrae and they couldn't operate around his spinal chord.   He heard the doctors mentioning how terrible that such a young man was going to die. 

I didn't want to think about it.  My brother, my best friend, was dying, and I couldn't let my mind go to that place.   I was in my first year of college and buried my worries and concerns into school. My mom would go to church everyday and pray for hours.  She had all of her friends join in a prayer circle.  Miraculously, the cancer went away.  I was so relieved - but life went on as it did before.  I completely missed this 2 x 4 experience.  I wasn't listening, and wasted 22 years not knowing the peace of Jesus' promise, not listening for his guidance in my life.

It's my hope for you that you don't ignore your 2 x 4 experiences.    

Passion

So, now that I was listening, how did I apply it to my life?  Twelve months ago I had a great business idea.  What were baby boomers going to do when they retire?  Chances are they will sell their large 4 and 5 bedroom homes in the suburbs and move back to downtown areas where there is convenience, walking distance to everything and small maintenance free yards.   I wrote an awesome business plan and executed our first deal. I spent 3 months gutting and fixing up a 1940 house in Hopkins.    It was an absolute blast - doing what I love, and making money at it too.  

That is when I ran into Pastor John Hogenson (Administrative Pastor at St. Philip the Deacon) at a bar (Maynards in Excelsior).  No, he wasn't drinking.  He was actually helping out his wife for a charity event. 

John asked what I thought about the book "Living on Purpose." I said it had some interesting parts.  I didn't like how familiar "Boom City" was,  but I wasn't sure how to apply it to my life.  I attempted to write a mission statement that was 2 paragraphs long. It was something about how I was nervous about my girls growing up in a world that didn't have the faith lessons I was taught.  I was afraid that 100 years from now, our heritage, our faith would be lost.   I was afraid that they would believe it is governments' responsibility to take care of people ... unlike in my mom/dad's time when it was neighbors responsibility.  I talked about my business idea and how it might link into the book.  He asked if it was okay to use in a sermon.  I agreed, but I was not sure what he saw in my story.

He got up the next Sunday and talked about how I found something I love - a passion for  real-estate, investing, and home improvement, how I was using this passion to expand into my purpose and how I wanted to build a legacy of faith for my kids and teach them how to give back to the community.  All of a sudden, my mission became crystal clear, "I want to build a legacy of faith and giving."  While this was almost a 2 x  4 experience, it was different.  Two 2 different "subtle" events connected -- one at a bar with a beer in my hand and another during worship at church.  It was obvious God was sending me a message. 

In your faith journey, God will give you hints of what he wants for you.  In my experience, it is what comes naturally to you and from which you are rewarded.  It is your passion.  While it may seem strange that I could find God's purpose in investing, home Improvement and shopping at Menards - I did. 

What do you love to do?  What would you do even if you didn't get paid?  That is your passion.  I believe that is what God wants you to use to serve him.  Your purpose is something you love.  It is not a painful thing due to guilt. 

So I listened and found my passion.  How did I apply it to my life?

Apply to Life

I named my new business "Faith Homes."  The rental income will go back into the Hopkins community (faith based programs), and the value appreciation will go to my kids and their kids.  No,  not a trust ... they can take 0% loans for school and first homes, but before they use 1 dollar, they have to give 10% to faith based programs.  It is my hope that 3 generations from now, that I've built a legacy of faith and giving.
 
Does the story end here?  No, why am I physically here?

Journey Here

Pastor Cheryl Mathison gave a sermon in January.   I have never written a note to a pastor in my life nor had I ever even met Cheryl, but I felt compelled to tell her the sermon and her new presentation style was awesome. 

Three days later, I came to church for my daughter's confirmation preparation and John Hogenson introduced me to Pastor Cheryl.  Cheryl asked me to present today.  I already knew the answer.  I said "I'll think about it" and then say "no" later over the phone.

That Sunday, it was Pastor John's turn for a sermon.  What did it happen to be - it was about not making excuses to spread your faith.  My painless "NO" was wrought with guilt.  Either this was my 3rd coincidental event pointing me toward today, or John/Cheryl chatted after my "Ill think about it" response, and changed that Sunday's sermon.  I am pretty sure sermons are set more than 3 days in advance.

So, Cheryl sends me an invite to today and I say "yes."   I go home and think to myself,
"What am I going to talk about?  How did I get myself into this mess?  I'll never write another nice note to a pastor again."

I went down stairs and got on my tread mill to run.  That is where I do my thinking.  I turned on my headphones and picked a CD my wife gave me for Christmas (Rascal Flatts).  They sing country, not Christian songs.  But when I pressed play the verse I heard was "I set out on a narrow way, many years ago, hoping I would find true love along the broken road.  But I got lost a time or two.  Wiped my brow and kept pushing thru, I couldn't see how every sign was pointed straight to you."  

I knew what I needed to talk about.  My journey down the road pointed me straight to you and Jesus.  Wow -- another 2 x 4 experience - two subtle messages and now I'm linking together 4 disconnected messages with a song.  My listening skills are getting better -- although my wife doesn't think so. 

Summary

So, as I end today, I want you to think about two things.  Look back in your life, what was your happiest moment?  What gives you energy and passion?  What are the chances that what God wants you to use a purpose that correlates with what you have energy and passion to do?   Now what do you do with it?  Listen!  Listen for those bizarre moments we think was just a coincidence.  This will be what he wants you to do with your passion.  He is given you hints.  You just need to listen.

My prayer for you is that those subtle messages from God hit you like a 2 x 4. 

God bless you, your passions and your purpose in life.


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