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Living on Purpose
Money will buy many things—recognition, pleasure, friendship, self-esteem and fear—fear of losing it all. What is it in life, then, that really matters?

Steve Fossett has no intention of stopping.

It's his ambition to break the world record for, well, breaking world records. Despite gaining recognition on the race track and in a sail boat, circumnavigating the world in a balloon and most recently, in an airplane, the 60-year-old millionaire adventurist says he's always seeking new challenges to overcome.

Living on Purpose
Photo courtesy Big Machine Media

Yet he's not the only one who's chasing after something.

Cosmo Girl Helen Gurley Brown, hired as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine in 1965, has worked tirelessly to maintain her market value, her Manhattan office, and even her looks because for her, there's nothing else.

"I am driven," admitted the 78-year-old honorary International Editor to The Daily Telegraph. "The drive comes from yearning, from needing, from fear. Work gets me money, recognition and pleasure. It buys you … friendship and self-esteem."

She has millions in the bank and the face and body of a 50-year-old, yet for as long as Brown can remember, she's awoken each day in what she calls a deep "melancholy," fearful of losing it all.

Whether in a magazine, on-screen, or on the Internet, today's culture revolves around 'me.' It's existentialism—the belief that a person's worth is based on what they can become. Choice, the freedom to choose one's destiny, is all one has.

Former Baywatch beauty Carmen Electra finds value in her fame. "Life is not worth living unless there's a camera around," admits Electra.

For others, their net worth is based on their financial worth.

Andrew "Jack" Whittaker Jr. can attest to the fact that not even $315 million US is enough. Before winning the richest undivided lottery jackpot in American history, Whittaker was a boisterous, happy-go-lucky guy in a big cowboy hat who loved his family, work, and promised to share his good fortune with the poor.

Two years later saw Whittaker as a haggard, somber, high-stake gambler, with numerous run-ins with the law, including drunk driving. "I wish all of this never would have happened," declared his wife of 38 years, Jewel Whittaker, to the Associated Press. "I wish I would have torn the ticket up." Like many, Whittaker has failed to look beyond himself.

Unfortunately, there's no denying how transient our time on earth is. This raises the question, What really matters?

For actor Stephen Baldwin, what mattered was building up the "Stevie B" empire. Four years ago, the Baldwin brother known as the "playful" one was also known for his four bikes, five cars, a fleet of hotrods and a promising film career. He's starred in over 60 movies, from the critically-acclaimed Usual Suspects to the universally-panned Bio-Dome; now, he turns down roles, including that of Jennifer Garner's boyfriend on Alias, for moral convictions.

Most people would think Baldwin had gone off the deep end. … he's never been happier.

He used to ride a 2000 cc replica of the Captain America chopper; now he gets around on a 125 cc Italjet scooter. "All the toys are gone," he says. "Everything's gone, and I'm making 25 percent of my usual income."

Most people would think Baldwin had gone off the deep end. And the 37-year-old father of two would admit that he has—and he's never been happier. Baldwin credits his radical change to a spiritual awakening inspired by the 9/11 tragedy. "[It] represented an event that … I believed … was totally impossible—so when something in my adult life happens that I deemed impossible, it means the impossible is possible … and if anything's possible, I realized, then I believe it's possible for (Jesus) Christ to come back tomorrow!"

In actuality, Baldwin's spiritual journey began in 1999 when his wife and best friend, Kennya, learned of Christ's sacrifice from their Brazilian cleaning woman, and subsequently gave her life to Him. The change that Baldwin witnessed in Kennya was "so authentic and genuine and powerful, that it made me want to start to get into it," he explains to Living Light News.

Then, shaken by the terrorist attack, Baldwin says he 'cut a deal with God.'

"(I) got all the perks I wanted. The only role I had to play was the guy who was willing to do whatever He wanted. That was the deal I made with God."

Baldwin realized that God had a plan for his life, a reason for creating him. And it wasn't about buying more cars or chasing after bigger roles.

As a result, one of Hollywood's most versatile actors has now become one of its most forthright. Baldwin tells everyone of his white-hot passion for Jesus Christ, and his newfound purpose, serving God. This comes from a former alcohol and drug addict who "almost died, secretly, behind closed doors."

"It's very tangible," Baldwin says of his faith. "It's very real. It allowed me and enabled me to become the person that I couldn't on my own … "

This explains his new outlook on material things. "The more … I purge myself of the stuff that had my focus so turned away from God … the more I have a greater connection to God.

"That is becoming more important to me than pursuing the things that I thought were important, which [were] making money and career and all this other stuff."

Now Baldwin doesn't just talk the talk; he's Livin' It—literally, with his new position as head of Luis Palau Ministries' skateboard outreach, and producer of the DVD, Livin' It—75,000 of which were distributed this year, alone. The DVD features Baldwin's documentary of athletes exhibiting their boarding skills—and their Christian faith.

For Baldwin, he's found his purpose—and the journey has only just begun.

"It's very exciting times with what [God] is doing! I know He's started something that's bigger than I can even wildly imagine, so I'm just going to keep taking things one day at a time."

As for all that he's given up, Baldwin simply says, "There's no comparison to being fulfilled by material things and being fulfilled by Christ."

Emily Wierenga is the associate editor of Living Light News.

Originally published in Living Light News, May/June 2005.




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