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What does submission to God look like?

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Recently, I came across a used copy of John Maxwell’s book The Difference Maker, a book about taking control and personal responsibility for our attitudes. I am very familiar with Maxwell’s works as they are particularly popular in management circles,  and I have read several of his bestsellers. After skimming through a few pages, I decided to bring the book home with me.

I have to say that I loved 99% of this book. Within its pages are numerous examples of the type of person that we all wish we were, the type of person that society elevates and the media promotes. The successful and always smiling, a.k.a. the beautiful people.

You know the type I’m sure: the person that chooses to be positive and sees good in practically every situation. The person that makes a conscious decision to not allow discouragement to defeat them. The person who takes charge of the situation. The upwardly mobile fighter that will not accept the status quo.

Yes…that person. The “I’ve got it all under control” person.

Which brings me to the 1% I did not like about this book. Reading it brought me face to face with the harsh reality that I am not always the type of person I just described. Truthfully, in some ways I seem to be very far removed from it.

And therein is the problem. None of us are perfect. All of us have flaws. We all fall short at times. In reality, there is not one person alive that is always happy, always successful, always positive, always in control of every situation.

Yet most if not all of us will inevitably compare ourselves to this impossible, unreachable standard. We can’t help ourselves because the pressure is on for all of us to conform. After all, who wants to be on the outside looking in?

Maybe I’ve been in denial, or perhaps I’ve been afflicted with the ‘ostrich syndrome’. In either case, I didn’t fully realize it until now. No, scratch that. Who am I kidding? I’ve known it for some time now. I am that person on the outside looking in!

Lately, I’ve been asking myself if any of this within my grasp. Can we reach the lofty status of the “I’ve got it all under control” person, or should we even care? Is it really possible to find that place of perfect contentment? Because if the Apostle Paul learned to be content in whatever state he found himself in, why can’t you and I? [1]

My brain says that I should give myself a pass. After all, I am now retired, and as my dear wife often reminds me, there’s nothing wrong with letting myself enjoy this next chapter. In fact, she refers to it as “having joy in the journey”. No deadlines, no stress, no performance reviews, no monthly reports, no business plans, and no budgets to worry about (except for my own).

So where is this seemingly mythical place called ‘contentment’? Having enjoyed it on an occasional basis (at best) , have I have given up the fight for it and chosen instead to simply walk away into the sunset? Have I gotten sidetracked? At times I truly wonder, and the very thought that this might be true scares the daylights out of me because this isn’t who I am!

I am NOT a “just going through the motions” kind of guy!

Now you may be asking yourself what all of this is about, so I guess I should explain. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a real servant, or follower of God. In a sense, I’m trying to better understand where I am on this journey, where I think I should be, and how I fit into God’s plan. [2]

Of course, many will say that at my age what does any of that matter. Why be concerned about where I fit into God’s plans, let the younger people deal with that. After all, isn’t that what so many do when they reach the magical ‘senior adult’ age? Why bother comparing my life to the lives of other people? Isn’t that just setting yourself up for disappointment?

For example, when I read the life stories of incredibly passionate men of God such as David Brainerd, George Whitefield, D.L.Moody, and Leonard Ravenhill, I am struck by their lack of care and concern for the things of this present world.

While it is true enough that these men had their share of faults and shortcomings, meaning none of them ever reached perfection this side of heaven, their singleness of purpose and devotion to God alone is almost ‘other-worldly’.

So I wonder, is this what submission to God looks like? If it is, I am in serious trouble, because I don’t measure up to such lofty standards.

Like so many of you, I can be pretty hard on myself, believing that if God has some sort of celestial balance scale in which we are all weighed, my missed opportunities and times of outright disobedience far outweigh any positives that might be recorded somewhere to my ‘heavenly bank account’.

In truth, I simply want to finish well. I want to come to the end of my days content in the knowledge that my last years were my best years of service to our Lord. I do NOT wish to be just another person in the pew. The thought of just going to church, singing a few songs, listening to yet another sermon, and that being my Christian “experience” makes me want to run out the door screaming NOOOOOO!!!

I want my life to count. I want others to know that I cared enough to fight the good fight. I want to be an encouragement to others, especially to those who are desperately struggling for their spiritual survival. Mostly, what I want is for my life to be an example to others of what God can do when He takes a hopeless young man and completely turns his life around. I desperately want people to know about God’s plan of redemption.

Maybe that’s what submission to God looks like!

Ron

[1] Philippians 4:11

[2] Luke 9:3

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice”! Philippians 4:4 NKJV

Sorry Chick-fil-A, this isn’t your fight

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By now most of America and beyond has heard the news about Chick-fil-A issuing a statement saying they will no longer support certain charitable groups such as The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

According to the press release from the company the restaurant chain has decided it “will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger”. Noticeably absent is any mention of faith-based groups, long a recipient of Chick-fil-A’s generosity.

Almost immediately after this press release, Christians came out of the woodwork accusing Chick-fil-A of caving in to the relentless pressure from the LGBT community. On the surface, that is exactly what it looks like has happened.

Reading the entire press release however leads one to believe otherwise. As any company has the right to do, Chick-fil-A says it has decided to go a different direction with it’s philanthropic endeavors by contributing $9 million dollars in more specific ways. [1]

Only time will tell the whole truth. Personally, I would like to believe that they did not in fact cave to external pressure, and are simply changing their course in mid stream.

The pessimist in me however believes that the company grew tired of the constant fear of boycotts and picketers,(along with an unending stream of negative publicity) and decided they had had enough.

Seriously, who could blame them if they did?

Now, all of this fuss over chicken nuggets (granted, the tastiest chicken nuggets on the planet) has always been blown out of proportion. Of course, it is no secret that the LGBT community would rather see every Chick-fil-A restaurant go bankrupt then continue to operate it’s business on Christian principles.  This is after all a spiritual battle, not a fight over who has the best chicken sandwich.

Just as obvious is the fact that had Chick-fil-A and Jesus never been mentioned in the same breath, they would have been thought of in the same manner as KFC,Zaxby’s, and Popeye’s. Just another chicken joint.

I think we all get that.

What concerns me far more than a systematic attack on a Christian-based restaurant chain however is the fact that Chick-fil-A has been forced to the forefront in defending Christianity. Why is that a concern you ask?

It is a concern because it is NOT the responsibility of Chick-fil-A (or any other business)to defend Jesus, Christianity, or the Church.

That responsibility falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of the Church, the Body of Christ. That’s you and me beloved.  Yes, the very same ones who couldn’t wait to criticize Chick-fil-A. Who, by the way, were noticeably absent when they could have used our support.

Yep, that’s you and me beloved. Quick to judge, so slow to defend.

How sad is it that a national restaurant chain is forced to defend not only it’s foundational operating beliefs, but the whole of Christianity itself while the church sits by silently? Aside from a recent post by Franklin Graham, I am unaware of any Christian leaders taking up the fight to proclaim the gospel alongside Chick-fil-A in the face of unbelievable hostilities.

Am I the only one that wonders when the famous TV preachers are going to remove their hand from your wallet and get back to preaching the WHOLE counsel of God? [2] As the days draw darker shouldn’t God’s anointed rise up in power and authority to confront the sins of our day? After all, that is exactly what our spiritual predecessors did!

Defending the faith is of course a very unpopular thing to do. It always has been. It cost eleven of the twelve Disciples their lives. Additionally, history has recorded that defending the faith has cost millions of believers their lives through various persecutions, inquisitions, and genocides. Sadly, this continues unabated in many parts of the world today. [3] [4]

The Church should be fearless and tireless in its efforts to proclaim God’s word to this generation. All of God’s word, not just a selective few “feel good verses”. She should not be hiding behind the counter of a chicken restaurant, afraid to declare what “thus says the Lord”.

These are dangerous days, even hostile days for Christians everywhere. Whether fighting over the right to operate a business based upon Christian principles or simply desiring to live one’s faith in a peaceful manner, the cost to do so is increasing daily.

I have said for many years that the day would come here in America when Christians would be largely on their own in the fight against the forces of darkness because the institutionalized Church would not have the courage to do so.

Don’t look now, but that day is at hand.

Be encouraged, in Jesus name!

Ron

 

[1] The complete news release from Chick-fil-A can be read here.

[2] Acts 20:27

[3] Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews (verses 35-37) for a detailed description of what many have been forced to endure while defending the faith.

[4] https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/