Outlive Your Life

1.75 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.

1 billion are hungry.

147 million children are orphans.

It’s hard to even comprehend those numbers, let alone begin to figure out what can be done to fix them.

Then, there is the neighbor who just lost a job.

A friend who lost a child.

A grandmother who has lost her memory.

So, what are we to do about all of the needs and hurts in the world? Can we really even make a difference? Can one person really do enough make an impact?

Max Lucado says, “Yes!” We can make a difference, in fact, we were made to make a difference! In his newest book, Outlive Your Life, Lucado says we should stop seeing the above statistics as unfixable problems and start seeing them as opportunities to step up, make a difference and share God’s love with the world.

Outlive Your Life is based on the book of Acts from the Bible and the stories of early Christ followers. They were ordinary people who made a difference, eventually spreading the hope found in God to the far reaches of the globe. Lucado weaves throughout more modern stories of people who did things that seemed small but had a huge impact on the lives of others.

My favorite story is about a Texas high school football coach with a winning team who asked his fans to cheer for their opponent, a team of kids from a correctional facility. More than 200 fans made banners, learned the names of players and cheered their hearts out for a group of kids that usually have no one on their side. It completely stunned the opposing team. After the game, one of the incarcerated kids participated in a group prayer. “Lord,” he said, “I don’t know how this happened, so I don’t know how to say thank you, but I never would’ve known there was so many people in the world that cared about us.” (Page 124)

I highly recommend this book. As with all Lucado books, I love his story-telling style and ability to make Bible stories come to life. Outlive Your Life will not leave you feeling condemned for not doing enough. Instead, you will feel encouraged and inspired to act in ways where God leads. Lucado uses Biblical principles to give practical advice to figure out how God has uniquely designed you to make a difference. The book has short, easy to read chapters, making it ideal for anyone.

In keeping with the message of the book, all of the author’s royalties are being used to help children and families through World Vision and other faith-based compassion ministries.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Where's your starfish?

I have always liked this little story: The Starfish Story, by Loren Eisley.

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. 

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?  You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said … “I made a difference for that one.”

I often have the misguided notion that I must do something big and grand in order to make a difference in life. When there is such a huge need, it seems like any effort will be fruitless, because it can’t possibly bring an end to the vast need.

The truth is, though, that we really can make a difference by doing something small. Even if it only makes a difference in one life, it is still making a difference! And when many people decide to do something that might seem small, the result can be amazing and huge.

Our local grocery store  conducts a fundraising opportunity for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. For $1, you can put your name on a little clover that gets put on the store’s front window. Giving $1 seems pretty small, until you return the next week and see little clovers plastered across the window. Many people giving $1 adds up to several hundred dollars.

Every Christmas we try to find a project or person to give to. This past Christmas, we decided to join up with the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child project. The goal is to pack a shoebox with small toys, personal hygeine items, school supplies, etc. for a child in another country who has few material possessions. Our two oldest children were old enough to participate, and we packed two shoeboxes to ship overseas. We used an online option that let us know where our boxes were taken. We had one box go to the Dominican Republic and one to Malawi. (It’s in Africa. We had to look it up.) Our two boxes joined 8.2 million — yes, million! — shoeboxes that traveled around the world to bring a smile to a child.

Several weeks ago, we got a large envelope in our mailbox, addressed to our son. I wondered who would be sending our son some mail. I glanced at the return address, “Republica Dominicana,” it said. I could hardly believe my eyes as I tore open the envelope! Inside was a letter from the pastor of a church and photos of dozens of beautiful children that come to the church. The pastor thanked us for sending the box and also said he would pray for our family. I’m still amazed that such a small gift made an impact.

And, really, the greatest impact may have been made on me. When I feel troubled that I can’t possibly do enough or give enough to solve all of the problems of the world, I need to remember that I can’t do enough or give enough to meet life’s needs. But, I can do what I can and give what I can, and that will make a difference, even if it’s only to one starfish.