Running with Purpose

I heard a new family story over the holidays. My niece, Meghan—I’ve written before of her excellence as a high school track athlete—was competing one day in the 400-meter dash. As she ran this grueling event, her mind actually wandered for a while, losing sight of her situation until at some point she snapped back to the reality of the moment. “And I realized, ‘I’m in a race!’” she recalled. Then regaining her focus, Meghan mustered a final “kick” and won. I find her story to be so unrelatable on so many levels—running fast and thinking about anything other than gasping for air, to name a couple. Yet in another sense, Meghan’s story serves as a reminder to all of us that our life here is more than going through the motions while we stride toward the finish line and what awaits us on the other side—we run this life with a very specific purpose.

And what might this purpose be? What is it that demands our all? We are here to bring glory to God. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus exhorted those gathered to hear him, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”1 We do this by letting Jesus shine in us and through us in all things and at all times. Wrote Paul to Corinthian believers, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”2 The glory of God—this is why we are here; this is “the reality of the moment” on which we fix our focus.

Then how does this celestial aspiration become reality in our terrestrial existence? We align our will with God’s will in trusting union with Him, so that we “do not run aimlessly.”3 And we rely on His strength, for “by his power he [brings] to fruition [our] every desire for goodness and [our] every deed prompted by faith . . . so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in [us], and [we] in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”4

We’re in a race! We run with purpose: To bring God glory. We win in Christ.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:8

Father, sometimes my mind wanders and my focus drifts away from You. Draw me back into the moment that I would live with purpose—to glorify You in all things by the power of Your Spirit. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 5:16
2 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
3 1 Corinthians 9:26 ESV
4 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12


Christmas Still Shines

[As a Salvation Army advisory board member, I was asked to write the message to be included with the food and toys distributed to central Ohio families through this year’s Christmas Cheer program. I post it here for you. Merry Christmas, everyone!]

Do you remember those “2020 glasses” people wore as we rang in the new year almost twelve months ago? They were great party props, of course, but even if they had come with lenses, we still could not have envisioned the year that awaited us. A global pandemic with its spreading emotions, appalling injustices and a united outcry against them, and partisan politics to disturbing extremes even as our hearts yearn for goodness and peace—we have never experienced anything quite like 2020, have we? The year is mostly in hindsight now, and it will linger long in our memories. Yet it is not over—Christmas has come.

Christmas is certainty in uncertain times. At Christmas we remember God’s faithfulness: in sending Jesus, His Son, God kept His promise to be with us for a time and for a purpose. At Christmas we consider God’s compassion: in Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for our sins, He became hope for a hurting humanity who had no hope. At Christmas we rejoice in God’s love: all of us who place our faith and hope in Christ Jesus are welcomed as children of God. At Christmas we celebrate new life—the Spirit of God is born in us as we believe in the Son of God born to us so many Christmases ago. Christmas has come, and Christmas still shines.

Then let us welcome Christmas into our hearts, and let it be for us what Christmas can be for us. Let this be a time to pause and reflect on our promise-keeping God and His life-giving Son. May this be a time of drawing near to God through our honest prayers and His powerful Word, that we would find deep, refreshing rest for our soul. Let this Christmas be a time of forgiving others with the same restoring forgiveness we have received from God. May this be a time of teaching our children about the grace, truth and eternal life we find in Jesus. And may we set our sights not so much on what the world brings to us along the way, but on bringing to a longing world the hope that is found in Christ—certainty in uncertain times. For Christmas has come. Christmas still shines. Christmas always will.

Merry Christmas to you today and every day of the year.

Written by Paul Nordman
Advisory board member of The Salvation Army Columbus Area Services and author of two books—Christ in Me and Working in Us What Is Pleasing to Him


What a Friend!

“She knows how to be a friend,” my wife observed of another. Peggy seemed to have given the matter some thought, so I asked her what she meant. “A friend initiates contact and stays in touch; she is kind, and she listens and shares.” I was convinced (and a little convicted). In fact, can we all agree relationships take effort? They require the most demanding type of work, calling us to give though we prefer to receive, to self-sacrifice instead of self-satisfaction, and to inconvenience when we want comfort.

How many times have we heard—or maybe said—“Christianity is not a religion but a relationship”? In truth, it is both. Insofar as Christianity is the belief in a supernatural power, we would rightly call it a religion. But not merely so, for the true God—He in whom all things exist—is not reduced to an idea, a philosophy or a mere worldview in a cafeteria of many, nor is He content to be distanced from a people who cannot approach him by merit. So, He who made us in His image came to us in our image, that He would take upon Himself the punishment for our sin and redeem us as His people. In other words, He knows how to be a friend.

Which begs the question: Do we? Stated differently, if Christianity is an intimate relationship with the God of all there is, then why don’t we listen more for His voice through His Word and His presence within? How does anything keep us from speaking with Him openly and confidently throughout the day? An exhortation seems in order here: If Christianity is a relationship, then relate! Left to ourselves, however, “Relate!” would be yet another burden to bear in our own power; “Read and pray!” would be just two more commandments in the opposite direction of our natural inclination. So, what is missing?

I think friendship with God lives and breathes in this: “We love because he first loved us.”1 This is not the imposition of an obligatory quid pro quo, i.e., He loved me first, so I am duty-bound to return His love and to pay it forward; rather it is the celebration of a liberating truth—that God knows everything about me, and He still loves me, forgives me, unites me with Himself, lives in me, and makes me forever new. God’s love for us is truth that sets us free2 and sends us forth in the joy of friendship with God. He knows how to be a friend, and in His liberating love, so can we.

Father, how greatly You love us! Draw us near to you, that, knowing Your love, we will live in open, trusting friendship with You. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 1 John 4:19 ESV
2 John 8:31-32