Archive for September, 2007

Is it EVER about me?

September 28, 2007


I have bit of a habit of analyzing, over-analyzing, thinking about and over-thinking most ideas that land in my noggin. It’s a fascinating personality trait, unless you’re married to me.

One of the things that I ponder regularly is motivation. Why did someone say a particular thing or react a certain way? Why do any of us pour enormous amounts of energy into certain endeavors and little or no energy into others? While this habit of mine may be somewhat annoying to family members, I have discovered that it is especially useful in gaining a little insight into the enemy’s motivations in choosing the particular ways that he decides to temp us and lure us away from the things of God.

You know the story of the enemy, right? It goes like this: God given rank in heaven, then pride, rebellion, banishment, anger, hatred, revenge and jealousy. The jealousy part is where we come in. Satan, the enemy of our soul, lost his place in eternity. So did we. The difference is that God, in His unending, over the top, outrageous love for his children, made a way for us to regain our status in the family and in eternity – Jesus. Satan will never be given that chance and he hates those of us who have. He cannot work his way back into an eternity with God, and he can’t take away what God has sealed in us. What’s he to do then? That’s where I start thinking about his motivation. Of all the many, many, many countless ways that the devil works in humanity to bring about destruction and loss (Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8) the common place that every temptation begins is with ‘self’. He gets us to focus on ourselves and how we are treated, and how we feel, and if we got our share, and did we get our recognition, and every other question that contains the words I, or me, or my, or mine. Then you throw in some feelings of offense, a little resentment, bitterness, anger and hatred and you can generate sin in so many different directions it will make your head spin! Yes indeed, it all starts with taking the bait when he tempts us to think about ourselves for too long. (John Bevere has THE book on the subject – The Bait of Satan). Besides all of the sin and other yuck that comes from a selfish mindset, what other motivation could the devil have in focusing so much of his energy to keep us functioning this way? It’s easy to figure out that his goal is to lead us in a direction that is 100% opposite of the direction that God has called us to.

Consider this. God calls us to turn the other cheek. The devil suggests revenge because our feelings have been hurt. God tells us to forgive offense. The devil invites us to hold a never-ending grudge because we deserve an apology. God assures us that He will provide for us. The devil tells us that we have to take what we need. God says that He will promote us when we are ready. The devil whispers that the world owes us something now. God wants us to “esteem others more highly than ourselves”. The devil wants us to look out for number 1.

It’s pretty clear that if we are consumed with I, me, my and mine, we will most likely never fulfill the purposes for which God created us. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

We were created in God’s image to love, serve, give, sacrifice, love, forgive, trust, serve, love, give, love, sacrifice, love, trust, love, give, love, love, love, until we look so much like Jesus that God does a double-take.

It’s not about our agenda . . . it’s about His.

It’s not about our comfort here and now . . . it’s about living and breathing so close to God that we forget that we had an agenda of our own. It’s about God first, then others. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

That’s what God has anointed us to do. It makes perfect sense that the devil would work to make sure that we don’t take our eyes off of ourselves long enough to really “get it”.

Alrighty then. In all of our brilliance we’ve figured out a fundamental precept of the kingdom. Yay us! If we’re honest with ourselves though, there is still a quirky little question hanging around in the back of our minds that we’d like to ignore. But it won’t let us. We know that we shouldn’t be obsessed with our own needs/desires – rather we should be concerned with what concerns God. . . . . . .but . . . . . .

(Is it EVER about me?)

There, I said it.

In the deepest part of us, we truly want to love and please God. We really do. It’s just that, . . . well . . . in all of this . . . when is it about me?

Good news! That’s God’s job. Creation was about me. We were created for fellowship with God. The law and the prophets were about me. We needed to know His heart and His plan. Sending Jesus was ALL about me. He made a way to get us back into relationship with Himself. Eternity is about me. It’s our real home and He’s been preparing it, like . . . forever, and He is waiting for us to get there!

We need to be all about God’s business here on earth.  That’s our job. And we don’t have to spend so much time worrying about our personal situations because, that’s His job.

Is it EVER about me? . . . In His heart, it’s always been about me!







September 9, 2007

In heartache and in Joy, You are Sovereign.

In confusion and in Certainty,

In difficulty and in Ease, You are Sovereign.

In lack and in Abundance,

In bondage and in Freedom,

In darkness and in Light, You are Sovereign.

In tears and in Rejoicing,

In fear and in Courage,

In failure and in Victory,

In loss and in Gain, You are Sovereign.

In weakness and in Strength,

In death and in Life, You are Sovereign.

Faithful, True, Holy, Amazing!

Oh God, who is like You in all the earth?

When I can’t hear you – You are there.

When I can’t see you,

When I can’t feel you – You are there.

When I can not find you,

When I’m not looking for you – You are there.

Working out Your plan,

In Your time –

In Your way –

To Your Glory.

The Most High is Sovereign over all the kingdoms of men. (Daniel4:32b)

You are Faithful, True, Holy, Amazing!

Chess and a Barrel of Monkeys

September 4, 2007

I am a planner. I have always been a planner. Planners believe that planning will save everyone from unexpected problems and any kind of waste. We don’t like wasted time, wasted money . . . wasted anything. So rather than risk losing time or money or anything else, we believe that everyone should step aside and let us think through the situation at hand, and plan for every potential obstacle, thereby solving all future problems. It’s simple actually. And, though we probably wouldn’t say it out loud, we’re pretty sure that God really likes us more than folks who just “wing it” in life. (Actually, sometimes we even feel sorry for those who don’t seem as “gifted” at planning – the poor guys – always being surprised by one situation or another. It’s sad really.)

Planners live by the belief that lost time, energy, money, etc. are evidence of some kind of error on their part. They believe that proper planning wouldn’t have allowed those errors to occur in life.

Planners spend time meticulously planning for every future event (important and insignificant events) believing that it will allow them to enjoy this future event more fully if all the potential problems have been thought of, worked out and solved ahead of time.

Planners live life like a chess game – THINKING about each move for hours (or days, or years) before actually making any kind of move  .  .  .  .  and they’re gonna KEEP their hand on that chess piece for a really long time before they let go and actually commit to the move.

The problem is . . . God really doesn’t look at all of our planning the same way we do. What we like to call “planning” is really just an attempt to control everything in our lives. We think that if we carefully keep an eye on as many variables as possible, we might eliminate the errors, unexpected surprises and losses. And, while a certain amount of planning and control can be useful, spending all of our energy to keep life “controlled” doesn’t honor God. That’s because at the root of control, we always find fear. We “plan” or attempt to control all of life’s variables because we’re afraid that any errors might cost us more than we can pay – or we’re afraid that the unexpected events might be painful – or we’re afraid that we might actually lose something or someone. Fear.

Fear is not faith.

Fear hangs out with doubt and worry and anxiety.

Fear keeps us bound, deceived and blinded.

Fear disrupts the flow of the miraculous.

Fear isn’t comfortable with the unexpected.

Fear gives the enemy control.

Fear makes no room for childlike faith.

Instead of spending our lives in planning sessions, fearful of errors and problems, maybe we could trust that God is more than able to turn our errors into something beautiful. And He wants to. (Isaiah 61:3)

Instead of spending time endlessly planning for some future “event”, maybe we could just relax and believe that God “knows the plans that He has for us” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Instead of living life like a chess game where we are afraid to make a move without big goofy amounts of planning, we could enjoy life more like a game of a Barrel of Monkeys. . . not a lot of planning required – just reach in and pull out a monkey. Maybe there will be another monkey attached to the one we pull out – or 2 or 3. Maybe we should just play the game and let God deal with the unexpected monkeys that show up in life. (2 Chronicles 20:15) He is in the game too, so there’s no need to worry. If a monkey falls off the monkey chain, He can handle it. We’ll get another turn. God is still God and He is on our team! (Romans 8:31)

It’s true. Most of us try to “plan” and over-“plan” because we fear loss, painful circumstances, and failure.

The problem is . . . God really doesn’t look at our failure the same way we do. We see it as the end — just more proof that we don’t deserve God’s blessings or attention. But, failure is God’s favorite terrain! In our failures He has the chance to show His awesome mercy, grace and forgiveness. Our mistakes give Him opportunity to come to our rescue. Grace isn’t just some holy-sounding Bible word. Grace is God’s on-purpose decision to love us, comfort us, save us, heal us, deliver us, and prepare us for the kingdom even WHILE we are still sick, lost, deceived, sad, clueless, unfaithful and mostly undeserving. That’s GOOD NEWS! We don’t have to plan it all out perfectly because He already has. We don’t have to leave the game every time we make an error or experience failure because He’s got it covered. We don’t lose our claim on His promise of grace (if) when we goof up. The truth is, it isn’t until we make a mistake, fail at something, or take a wrong turn, that we even qualify. Only sick people need doctors; only thirsty people need water; only mistake-happy relatives of Adam and Eve need constant forgiveness, second chances, renewed minds, strength, softened hearts, deliverance, comfort, joy, etc., etc., etc., – AKA – grace.

The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)

I will make known to you the path of life. (Psalm 16:11)

I know the plans I have for you. . . (Jeremiah 29:11)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. (Psalm 32:8)

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:17)

The One who is all knowing and all seeing – the One who is the beginning and the end – the One who created it all for His own perfect purpose – the One who has counted the hairs on our head – He has already planned every detail and is always in complete control — so we don’t have to be.

Bring on the Monkeys!