Posts From May 2012
Have you ever had points in your life where you have felt totally defeated? Have you ever felt that no matter how much effort or strength you put into something that you will continue to get knocked down over and over again? I have had seasons like this. The thing for me is that it isn’t just one or two things, it becomes a series of little things that just seem overpowering. No matter how much fight and energy I put in to it, I still feel like I come out on the other side as the biggest loser.
There are also times in my life where I have felt like I needed to prove myself. Some people call it a rite of passage, others call it growing up and part of life. No matter what it is and what label it carries, everyone seems to go through times like this, too. Aren’t you glad you’re not alone on this journey of life? I certainly am! I am glad that there is nothing new under the sun and the things that I deal with others have gone through similar trials and circumstances.
I love the times where I have the opportunity to prove myself and I end up doing it! I end up making it! It’s such a feeling of complete satisfaction, gratification, and accomplishment. It’s not done out of revenge or out of spite. For me, it’s a time of revealing the character and integrity that are building up inside of me. As much as we want to be that guy that is proving ourselves constantly and able to shine, I look back over time and am grateful for the seasons that I have been able to come through! It has been worth it to not always be that guy because it wouldn’t have felt special for the times of being able to succeed and pass with flying colors.
I have been thinking about this idea of success lately and what does it mean to be spiritually successful. Many pastors and church leaders equate success to having large churches and constantly focusing on the next building project. Goals are good, but this can become very exhausting. Others think about success from a perspective that deals with external circumstances. This, too, is dangerous ground. I think what it means to be spiritually successful is to simply be one that is a conduit of availability to allow God and the Holy Spirit to simply do His work and show Himself off.
That’s it! It’s pretty simple and straight forward. It’s not too elaborate. In the specific case of giving proof as one who is spiritually successful, it means to simply get out of the way. Don’t be the interruption that we can so easily be on the work of God. I want to be one who is giving proof by moving with the ebb and flow of God and His will, direction, and desire for my life. It’s an adventure, a dream, and an incredible privilege that we all have the opportunity to be part of. Unfortunately we neglect it and sort of just do our own thing.
So… give proof. Give proof of your faith by doing what God wants you to do. Get out of the way and watch Him to the incredible and the seemingly impossible. When life happens beyond you, then you know the one in charge is greater than you could ever be.
Now, go get ‘em!
Matters of the Heart
There is a lot made out of people’s gifting, abilities, and talents. I’ve been around environments where there has been continual flattery for what one can do and accomplish based off of previous experiences. It’s nice to value what people offer, but who they are can often take a backseat to what they can do for us.
We objectify people. I do it. I have done it in the past and I am sure that it might happen again in the future. I don’t intend for this to take place, but I often find myself making phone calls and contacting people in order to get something done that they do well. I don’t always call and message someone to reconnect with them and be relational, I do it to get a task done that needs work. And herein lies the problem, I work for a relationally driven ministry!
I have to be intentional about fostering and building and maintaining relationships with those that are closest to me. If it involves a project or a task, I need to put down the type-A, driven side of me and simply ask to see how someone is doing. I need to be deliberate on connecting with the people that I do ministry with on an ongoing basis. I’m getting better at this – relating and connecting and loving on people just because and nothing more!
The heart of the matter of all of this is love. Love is more than a feeling, it is a decision and a choice a times. This is particularly true with things and people that won’t always love you back! Without love, it doesn’t matter how talented one is, they have nothing, they are nothing, and they gain nothing. Paul writes about this in his first letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 13, he writes about how the spiritual gifts are meaningless without the roots of love that fuel the effectiveness of the gift.
It’s true, right? Have you been around gifted people that have lacked love? What’s the overall opinion of those situations? For me it is all a show, a spectacle. Love is the motivator and the catalyst for the effectiveness of our gifts and abilities and talents. Let’s use them for redemptive and Kingdom gain rather than for self or to simply fulfill a task. Let’s be motivated and made by love that is unconditional! After all, what’s the alternative? Noisy nothingness… That is what lies before us without love.
So.., go love in people today. I will be doing the same. Let’s be intentional about relationships and put down the tasks at hand in order to foster this goal. Love on the unlovely in your life. You might be surprised by how many people’s lives you’ll impact.
Go get ‘em!
The Numbers Game
There is nothing like understanding the importance of preparedness. I want to be part of excellent things, prepared things that lead to completeness, wholeness, and greatness. I want to lead things that are done well as they are a direct representation of me and, more importantly, God.
There are times in life where we are called out for not being adequately prepared. This recently happened to me and I have to tell you that it was done in love and with total encouragement. It came from a person that I trust and respect. He was right on, spot on. I haven’t taken up the torch of preparing well and giving it my best.
The thing about all of this, too, is seeing the warning signs of it coming. I specifically remember the Lord bringing to my mind the whole story of a man going on a journey and leaving his servants in charge of the finances in Matthew 25. In this story, three different servants were handed bags of money, one was given five bags, another two bags, and the last servant a single bag. The servants with five and two bags respectively invested the money and brought back double the money entrusted to them.
The servant with a single bag did something a little different. He buried it! He lived in fear and worried that we would be invested in the wrong thing. He worried about losing it! By responding this way, he didn’t make his master any money.
The time came for the master to come back on the scene and for each servant to present what they did with the money entrusted to them. The first two shared their investment with great joy. The third one was embarrassed because he didn’t do anything worthwhile with what had been entrusted to him! His bag of money was eventually given to the first servant that was trusted with some incredible responsibility the first go around. The end result with the third servant was that he was left with nothing.
I don’t want to live in fear and bury things because of fear. Faith is the motivator, not fear. Fear can cause some to do some individuals some incredibly irrational things that don’t honor the Lord in any way. As mentioned earlier, it is often times difficult to see when one is in this reality.
It’s great to be able to have people like this speak into your life. It’s filled with tons of distractions and obstacles. I’m glad people take the time to see this reality, too, not to gossip, but to build another up in the faith.
I say all this first of all to be vulnerable and honest, but also to make sure that you are on the road, too, towards excellence and preparedness. It is worth it! Why? Simply put, it is for the kingdom of God. His sacrifice was prepared and excellent, why should what I do be any less? I think if we have this mentality, it will motivate us to continue to strive for excellence and prepare for greatness because this is what God did for us through His son on the cross.
Now… Go get ‘em.
Have you ever worked in retail before? I remember some of my jobs growing up. They were all interesting places. Some of them required me to take a shower after work because the smell of the store remained on me. Other times, I left with a bad attitude because of infighting with my fellow employees. Each job had its good points and negative ones. At the end of it all, these positions have served some use to open up new possibilities and chapters on the journey of life.
In all of this, one job really sticks out. I have had some of my best days working here and some of my worst. It all depends on the people, because it was in retail. With retail, you are working with people all the time. There are different seasons of retail, too. You have dead times and restful times depending on the day, month, etc….
And then you also have Christmas! These, my friends, were the times that I wanted to quit, but I had to grin and bear it. It was awful. We would get tourist bus after tourist bus of people. These people were on a mission and they didn’t retreat people like fellow human beings. We became objects, gates of passage if you will, to equip people to get their latest desires, wants, and supposed “needs.”
I looked forward to January because it would be time for a different season. We would clean the store and get things back in order. We didn’t deal with as much grumpy people because the Christmas shopping season was done. It was simply crazy!
There are two things that come to mind about this whole idea, especially when it comes to ministry and the dealings with Infuzion. Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians: “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
Isn’t it crazy to think that people use God and His word like a sales pitch? Like retail? I don’t want to be one that is making God out to be this product that you buy and purchase and somehow your life is more complete and whole because of the holiness product purchased. No, the ways of the Lord and holiness are a lifestyle. It’s not a religious experience or a personal spiritual sensationalism. It’s a way of life! He’s the only way of life!
I understand that ministries and churches are organizations and that there is a business and administrative end to things. But when it comes to marketing something and losing relationship to do it, then you have all of a sudden forgotten the main motivation behind what we do in the first place. People need rescuing. Revival is not a program, but a transformation of one’s heart. This isn’t retail and it is certainly something that one cannot peddle.
Alas, I digress because I could continue this rant for several more paragraphs. I think that you get the idea. The second thought that I would like to share is in this same passage in chapter two of this letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about being a Godly fragrance. My desire and my heart is for the lasting impact and fragments of my ministry in a particular area to be the fragrance of Christ. I want my fragments, my leftovers, to be even greater than when we were there because it is Jesus on the move.
The cool thing with air by itself is the difficulty of keeping it contained. Odor travels! This can be a good thing or a bad one, depending on what type of odor is left behind. My challenge is to allow and make sure that Christ is in all that we do. The ministry, after all, is His. This isn’t retail… This is about spiritual rescue.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Have you ever used God’s spiritual things to peddle an agenda on someone else? I know that I have. Share your experiences and let’s learn from one another. Know that it doesn’t have to continue to be the way it was. Grow in Him and may you leave behind a fragrant offering that just is so full of the scent of God that no one would confuse it with anything else.
Now… go get ‘em!