Thursday, January 30, 2014

Attaboy!

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord I have matured in my expectations and perspective. I appreciate the input that my pastor has had in my life. Early in ministry when I encountered a 'word' from the Lord or had some fresh revelation I assumed that if God was speaking to me then He must be speaking to everyone. With much grace and good advice he was able to temper my enthusiasm. See just like infants progress into toddlers, into children, into adolescents, into teenagers into young adults we as Christians go through (or at least we should) a similar spiritual progression.

For instance I used to long for the day when I hear God say, "well done good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25) but now after a couple of decades of following Christ I've raised my expectations. When all is said and done, when I have finished the race that God has given me to run I hope to hear Him say, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 17).

There are a few questions in life that must be answered and how we answer them impacts everything.

  1. Who is God?
  2. How does God see me?
  3. Who am I living to please?

There was a time in my life when I only saw myself as a servant, but now I see myself as a son. Makes sense when you read the following passage -

“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” - Galatians 4:1-7

See both a servant and a son desire to do well and be commended, but each work from a different motivation. One from a sense of duty or obligation and the other because of relationship. It is different working for a company than it is in the family business. When it comes to the Kingdom we are more than just people punching a clock, we are fully invested stakeholders!

"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." - 2 Corinthians 10:18

My prayer is that you are able to see yourself as God sees you, not with arrogance but with humble confidence!

Monday, January 20, 2014

In Victory and Defeat.

So I watched a great football game last night. Both teams came to play and fought tooth and nail until the very end. I love watching games that keep you on the edge of your seat and come down to the last few plays. Down by 6 points and in possession of the ball the QB hurled what could have been the game winning pass into the end zone. As the ball hung in the air the cornerback leaped and spun just in time to get a single hand on it. It proved to be just enough to deflect the pass into the hands of a nearby teammate. Game over. Done. Finished. He had single handedly sealed the fate of two teams. His team headed for the Super Bowl and their opponents to the locker room. He was a hero.

But in the heat of the moment he felt the need to antagonize the other player. After incurring a personal foul he kept digging during a post-game interview. It was pitiful to watch. In what should have been a moment of triumph he suffered personal defeat. He rose to the occasion as an athlete, but sank in the moment as a man.

It reminds me of another account of pride found in Scripture -

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success… But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense… Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead… King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.” - 2 Chronicles 26:3-21 (NIV)


Pride is like leprosy of the soul. Humility is not a sign of weakness, but rather of inner strength and character. True humility is being secure in who you are and compassionate to those around you. God wants us to be confident, not arrogant, in both victory and defeat.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Fast To Put God First

Our church is in the middle of a 21 day Fast To Put God First in 2014. Fasting is a mostly misunderstood and often underutilized tool in our Christian journey and I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the subject -
  1. First it is not a diet because the primary goal is spiritual and not physical.
  2. It is not strong-arming or manipulating God. Cut to the two year old throwing a tantrum in the Walmart checkout because he wants a candy bar.
  3. It is not punishing ourselves or even sacrificing for the sake of sacrificing. You need to fast with wisdom and people with medical conditions or taking certain medications should talk with their doctor (sounds like a pharmaceutical commercial). Remember that God is not asking you to hurt yourself.
  4. Fasting is a conscious choice to sacrifice something for a specific period of time in order to focus on something else.
  5. It is aligning our spirit, soul and body in the right priority and choosing to put God first - see Matthew 6:33.
  6. Fasting is not about bondage, it's about freedom.
  7. A true fast is not just about what you don't do, it is just as much about what you do. Take a look at Isaiah 58 for more details.
If you've never fasted you really ought to try it. You might have a bunch of questions like 'What do I fast?', 'For how long?', 'When should I start?'. Why don't you just ask God? Start small, start where you are at but the most important thing is just starting. After all Jesus said "When you fast..." not if you fast (Matthew 6:16-18).

If you want more info there are some great books available and Campus Crusade for Christ has some really helpful online resources HERE.

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