Who and why?

16 05 2014

worryIt’s been a crazy week. Timelines on projects have shifted, meetings have popped up, and other things have reared their head. The juggling act is becoming increasingly difficult. The funny thing about all the hustle and bustle is that, while it’s crazy, I’m not then least bit worried about any of it. As I sit here in the main auditorium of our church, writing this post, I can’t help but feel grateful for all of it. I love being Pastor Jeff!

For many of us, at least the men out there, our identity is wrapped up in our work — the better it goes the better we feel. Just the opposite is true as well…if work is horrible then we don’t do so well. Our worth is wrapped up in our successes and failures. Because of this our feelings rise and fall more than the stock market. This, however, should not be. Especially if we know Jesus. We get to sit with the creator of the universe whenever we want to. That drastically changes things. Suddenly the meetings and ’emergencies’ don’t seem so big.

I totally understand that there are pressing issues that need to be resolved. I get that appointments need to be kept and tasks need to be completed. But who we do them for and why should be firmly understood. Do we tread through the day just wanting it to be over? Do we dread Monday and celebrate Friday night and the weekend? If the answer is yes…then I suggest a perspective change.

A little boy ran out into his backyard, bat and ball in hand, declaring, “I am the greatest batter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air and swung. Strike one! He tossed it up again…missing the second time. Strike two! A third time he tried. “Strike three. You’re out!” He then announced, “I am the greatest pitcher in the world. I have just struck out the world’s greatest batter!”

When we filter our worth through our work we short change ourselves. That roller coaster ride is not a fun one to take. A life of peace, joy, and contentment is ready for all of us. We, just like that boy, need a different outlook. Paul said it this way, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23 — NLT)” The writer of Ecclesiastes said this, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…(Ecclesiastes 9:10 — NIV).”

calm

Maybe we have the issues we do because we’re not doing all we can. Do we go through our days and years trying to skate by? that’s not the way we were created. God created us for so much more. He put so much potential inside all of us. We just need to tap into it.

Or maybe we just need to change our perspective. Do we dread the days to come? Do we loathe the tasks that we are assigned and wish we could be doing something else? If the answer is yes…then it’s possible that our perspective should change. Life is not about the things that you can get…it’s more about the things you can give.

It’s time to get off the roller coaster. Change who you’re working for and why you’re doing it When that happens…joy, peace, and a different value is established. Have fun! Work for the Creator rather than the created.

For more posts like this one head over to Working For Christ. You won’t be disappointed.





Not All Scars Are Bad

13 11 2013

About a month ago I shared my experience on riding a scooter down an asphalt hill at the park. You can read about that here (please try not to laugh too hard at my expense). Most of the scabs are gone and the healing has come along quite nicely. It has, however, left me with some permanent reminders of the painful crash that day. I didn’t realize it but the road rash left some scars on my arm.

Every time I look at a scar, and I have a few of them, I am instantly reminded of the events that caused it. Some of those events were painful to endure. Some of them were because of no fault of my own…others were the consequences of bad decisions I made. Each of them look a little different. Some are harder to see than others. Some are small, others cover a larger area.

Some scars are not visible at all. Those are typically the ones that hurt the most. We hide the scar of a lost child or a divorce. We conceal the foreclosure of our home and the financial issues that went along with it. We cover up the hurt of the bad decisions that we made behind a face that looks good. Although no one sees these scars the hurt and pain they brought can be devastating.

How we deal with the scars is very important in life. They can serve as reminders of something that we went through or paralyze us with fear of the future. They can be testimonies to ourselves and others of God’s goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and grace. Or they can be roadblocks to the things that life should be full of. It all comes down to how we look at them.

When in the midst of things it is hard to see anything but the pain. It is easy to remember the suffering and hardship. Believe me…I remember what sliding on the asphalt felt like. But that isn’t what I choose to focus on. I remember the points I scored with my son when I got up and continued the walk to the store. We look at the scars now and laugh at my inability to successfully stop the scooter that was going too fast in the first place. The scars are a lesson…a lesson that I want to take to the future.

God reminds us that He is always there. The Bible is full of examples and promises where this is true (see Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 and Joshua 1:5). If we’re not careful though we can let the scars stop us from relying on Him. The fear of hurt, pain, and repeating circumstances keep us from trusting what God says to us.

surrender

  1. He says that nothing will harm us (I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10:19 — NIV).
  2. He says that we’ll get through it (When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 — NIV).
  3. He says we can trust Him to take care of us (Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 — NIV).

The one set of scars that I choose to remember are not actually mine. Jesus carries scars in His hands, feet, and side. They serve as a reminder to all humanity of what He did for us. Those scars served a greater purpose and, if we let them, ours can too.





Technically Obedient

3 10 2013

Technicalities…humanity loves them. I’ve heard friends tell me of how they got out of a traffic citation because of a technicality. My kids try to invoke them all the time to get out of something. We excuse our (sometimes) misbehavior with them. It’s done all the time without a second thought.  We celebrate what we can get away with and still be inside the lines.

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Unfortunately we let them [technicalities] spill over into our life with God too. We become so accustomed to the loop holes that technicalities create that we sometimes, without thinking, use them instead of really selling out to God. “God, why aren’t You moving in this situation? I’m going to church!”  “I’m giving to the church!  Shouldn’t that count for something?” We list the commandments in order and follow them as closely as we can but as a checklist rather than out of a heart that wants to please God. We forget that even though we’re following the letter of the law with our head our heart is not in it.

I heard a story one day that just makes me chuckle when I think of it. One day little Billy was acting up in class. The teacher repeatedly scolded him and asked him to settle down. He would but then he started up again. Finally the teacher was fed up with him. “Billy, you go sit in the corner for time out!” Billy walked over to the stool in the corner and plopped down on it. He folded his arms and replied, “I’m sitting down on the outside. But I’m standing up on the inside!”  How many times have we done this with God?  He asks us to do something and, though we do it on the outside, in our heart we aren’t doing it willingly.

The writer of Hebrews really nailed this when he wrote, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 — NIV)” We’re technically obedient to God.  We’re giving to the church. We’re reading His Word. We’re praying. But when we do all these things we do them with a resistant heart. Or maybe our heart is saying, “I’ll get what I want if I do what God tells me.” All the while God sees, hears, and moves based on the attitudes of our heart.

love

In reality this boils down to following God’s lead in giving and doing. “For God so loved the world that He gave…(John 3:16)” He didn’t give because he had to. He wasn’t working a technicality but He was giving and doing out of a heart that desired relationship with His creation. He does for us not because He HAS to but because He WANTS to. It’s a revelation of His love.

When we understand God’s example of giving and doing it sheds an entirely different light on things. We begin to examine not only WHAT we do but WHY we do it. Am I giving in the offering to get something from God or am I giving because I love Him?  Have I attached conditions to my service hoping to get God to work in some situation? These are hard questions to answer but they must be addressed.

When we truly forget about the technicalities and do and give with our head and heart the rest follows. “…no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 84:11 — NIV)” So my prayer on this (and hopefully yours as well) is:

God, forgive me for the technicalities. I want to follow you with my head and heart. I’m putting it all on the line. No longer will I do things just to get by. I want to give everything to You like you gave everything to me.





Under My Control

30 08 2013

A couple of weeks ago my men’s life group leader assigned some ‘homework’. He had been thinking about the verse in Galatians 5 that lists the fruit of the Spirit. Just for all of our reference it can be found here. Over the next few days as I drove home from work (a 45 minute commute) my normal list of podcasts began taking on a theme. In particular one of my regular listening broadcasts. T D Jakes was sharing a series titled The Love Letter. He made the following statement in his message ‘Love has no Loopholes’, “If He commands me to do it…then it must be in my power to accomplish it. That means love is controllable.” And something clicked.

To really understand what clicked you need a little background. When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus gave two. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 — NIV)”

Most of us have heard and/or quoted these verses but this time it was different. I asked God to reveal something new about this and how it relates to the fruit of the Spirit. And then I started listening. Here’s what I believe He began to (and continues to) show me.

We tend to think about love as an emotion. We think of it in terms of feelings for our children, parents, friends, family, and others. How we feel about the person determines the level of love we have for them. But that’s not what Jesus is saying. He says it is a commandment. He says it is something we HAVE to do. In fact…it’s the biggest thing that we have to do.

In addition to the degrees of love that we feel for people we think it can change based on circumstances that have happened or the other person involved caused. For example…the husband or wife files for divorce stating, “I just don’t love you anymore.” The kids say that they don’t love their parents because they won’t get them the latest thing that they want. It’s all event-driven. We love based on how we FEEL.

loveBut what if love isn’t a feeling at all? No…I’m not talking about Boston’s song, “More Than a Feeling” or the cliché statements like, “Love is an action.” What if our capacity to love is based on choosing to offer grace and mercy even when we don’t feel like it? Does that sound familiar? It should. That’s what Jesus did for us.

Let’s go a little bit deeper into this. The first item mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. It’s not something that is givento us. We don’t learn to love…we choose to love. We decide whether we will follow God’s commandment or whether we will break it. It’s totally up to us.

So the next time I say the words, “I love you” to my wife they will carry a different meaning. I’m not saying that I feel something (although I definitely do). It’s a decision on my part to follow the commandment of the Almighty. I am making a choice to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and love regardless of what is returned. And let’s face it…if we all did more of that the world we live in would be a very different place.








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