my utmost for his highest – who influences who you are becoming?

You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. – Matthew 5:14-15

Derek Maul (the original)

As much as we like to imagine ourselves as originals, we are all influenced in some way or another by a host of people, places, and ideas that help to root and shape the way we think and the way that we live.

I love to explore what that looks like, and I often encourage people to talk about the constituent parts that have contributed to who they are today.

Sunday evening, for example, nine friends sat around our dinner table, and I asked, “What was your ‘ah-ha’ moment when it comes to food? When, or how, did you realize food was more than just fuel for the body? Do you have a ‘food-awakening’ story?”

Absolutely everyone had a meaningful story. The answers turned out to be deep, soul-searching, and full with love. We had some amazing cooks around the table, and when they prepare food they are building on a narrative rooted in history and family and relationships.

Influences on my writing:

710k06BSSFL-002Every part of who I am is influenced by others: their work, their creativity, their journey; I could write a fairly lengthy book just peeling back the layers.

As a writer, and as a thinker, I’m indebted to literally hundreds of authors, and among the notables I include C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Katherine Paterson, the Apostle Paul, and Oswald Chambers.

At the moment, Rebekah and I are re-reading Chambers’ classic devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest. The more I read Chambers (and I’ve read him – and about him – a lot over the years) the more I realize we’d have been natural friends had we lived at the same time. He’s one of those historical figures I’d love to have a long, conversational meal with, followed by coffee and more sharing. It’s something we’ll take care of one day in heaven.

I read Chambers’ thoughts from August 30 at my men’s meeting Wednesday evening. We often talk about what it means to follow Jesus, and a lot of the guys have a hard time moving away from a kind of legalism that keeps a checklist of rule keeping, good deeds, and correct thinking. Typically, I remind them that what’s critically important for us is simply to draw closer to Jesus, to fill ourselves with his kind of love, and to let that light and love flow out from us to the world we inhabit.

IMG_1815“Then we don’t have to be worried about correctness,” I say, “because Jesus will be shining in and through us.”

Here’s how Oswald put it, over 100 years ago:

“Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you… When once you are rightly related to God… remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfil God’s purpose, as long as you keep in the light…”

Okay; “what he said!” Peace and more peace – DEREK


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