by Doug Malear on March 18th, 2011

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “ONE THING you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21 (NKJ)

February is "Black History Month". Since our church is racially mixed, we celebrate it each year through different presentations throughout the month. One year, the kids from three of our Sunday school classes presented something special on that theme each successive Sunday of the month. And, of course, the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King are always highlighted at some point every year. Rev. King said many profound things and we always have plenty of his quotes on hand. The one that has really stuck with me through much of my life was from a 1964 speech made by King in my home town of Detroit. I don’t have it word for word here, but he said, "If a man doesn't have something worth dying for, it's not worth living." King believed so strongly in equality for all people that he devoted his life to that one important cause and was martyred in his quest for it. Jesus said, "He that gives his life for my sake will find it" (Matt 10:39). Certainly Rev. King was striving for the one overriding thing that Jesus taught believers; that we need to love one another with the love that comes from God.

The point is: that having a focus in life is important. It is beneficial in so many ways; it simplifies our lives, helps us stay on track and even blesses others. It gives purpose to our days by bringing an order to our lives which helps us to function. Do you have something you feel that strongly about, something larger than you? Something that is so important to you that you would give it your all.... your very life?

In the 1991 movie "City Slickers," starring Jack Palance and Billy Crystal, we are once again reminded of finding something, one major thing, in our life, that gives us meaning and purpose. In the movie Billy Crystal and some friends, who all live and work in New York, are going through a mid-life crisis trying to find what is truly important. The daily grind and ‘same old same old’ of their existence has left them craving something new and fresh. They decide to go out West and participate in an authentic cattle drive with real cowboys, in an effort to do something totally opposite of their ordinary, hum-drum, daily routines. But they are from the big city and know nothing of western life.

On their arrival at the cattle ranch they are met by a crusty old cowboy named “Curly” played by actor Jack Palance. He is the epitome of the tough, wind-worn, grizzled, larger than life trail-boss. He and Billy Crystal get off on the wrong foot and Crystal is a bit fearful of him. One day the two of them are riding along next to one another driving the herd and separated from everyone else. Curly looks over at Crystal, with a hand rolled cigarette hanging from his lips and says, “You city fellas arrive here all uptight and stressed out. You think one week out here will work out all your kinks and even reveal the meaning of life to you.” Then he holds up his pointer finger and says, "There's just ONE THING that’s really important in life." Crystal, of course, has been on a personal quest looking for answers to his questions about life; why am I here, what am I created to do, what is important in life? He asks excitedly, "What is it Curly? What is that ONE THING?" Curly chuckles as he draws on his cigarette and replies in a somewhat benevolent tone, "That's what you have to find out."

And so it is. Each one of us has to answer that question for ourselves at some point. "What is so important to me that I'm willing to give my life for it?" The Apostle Paul said, "I am being poured out as a drink offering....." (2 Timothy 4:6). He literally poured his life out in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. That was his ‘Bread & Butter,’ his ‘Meat & Potatoes,’ his life’s calling that he was willing to, and eventually did, give his very life for. At Hope Lighthouse Ministries, we feel so strongly about ministry to the poor, at risk children, the disenfranchised, the addicts and those who just do not fit the "American Dream" that we have given our lives to it since 1996. It's not always pretty; it's not often easy, and there are no over-riding financial benefits. As a matter of fact, my pay is often a few weeks behind. But, it's what we live for, to see people who feel forgotten find love and acceptance. We do that through meeting their practical needs, which models the love of Christ, and gives us credibility to speak to them about their major spiritual need, Jesus Christ.

We have a vision to change the lives of as many people as the Lord will entrust to us in the community we live in, and beyond. Again, we do this by first meeting them where they are at. Then, genuinely caring for their needs while showing them love tempered with dignity, and teaching them that God is no respecter of persons. Someone has said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Then, as always, we point them toward the Savior who beckons. If people can see the real Jesus modeled in us, we have done the “ONE THING” we feel we are called to do. God has given us a mandate to reach the least, the last and the lost with His saving grace. Do you have a burden for hurting people, throw-away children, ex-prisoners, addicts, etc., to know Jesus? These people, when saved, will live changed lives, which will change others, which will change communities, which will change our world.

Martin Luther King had that “ONE THING” in his life that made life worth living. Curly, the old cowboy knew that it was that “ONE THING” that made his life a great fulfilling adventure. What is your “ONE THING?”

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