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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

Four words you never expect to hear in church

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“You’re Not Good Enough”.

Stinging, painful words of rebuke. Whether they were deliberately spoken in order to hurt you doesn’t matter. What matters is they hurt. They cut deeply and wound our hearts.

Some of you have heard these words spoken to you or about you. Maybe not verbatim, but they may as well have been because the hurt is the same. Those four little words possess an enormous ability to tear down and destroy.

I heard these words from someone at my church last Sunday. And they hurt. They hurt deeply because they cut me deeply. They reached a part of my heart that I thought couldn’t be reached with such words. I thought the walls guarding my heart were impenetrable. But I was wrong. I was so very wrong about that.

For accuracy’s sake, those exact words weren’t spoken. But what was spoken was interpreted as “You’re not good enough to be permitted to do a certain thing here”. And to make sure there wasn’t any confusion about it, the point was made that I would never be good enough.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

All of my adult life, and particularly in the business world, I have been told that I wasn’t ‘good enough’.

  • Not enough education
  • Not enough experience
  • Not enough connections
  • Not good enough

Because I was labeled as such, I was forced to work much harder and longer to achieve what others did in a much shorter amount of time. I accepted that as just how it was, and never allowed others to impose their limitations upon me. That is how God created me, and it has served me well for over six decades now.

So, back to the point I wanted to make. It took me all of Sunday and part of Monday to process this. And do you know what the Lord showed me about this? He showed me that He alone sets the standard, not man. He reminded me once again that there is no one that is ‘good enough’ except for the Lord.

As for me, with the Lord’s help I have moved past those four stinging words. In fact, I choose instead to focus on a different set of words because in them I am assured that it is the Lord that ultimately gets to decide who is ‘good enough’.

But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.   2nd Cor. 10:17,18.  NKJV

The next time someone tries to tear you down by telling you that you aren’t ‘good enough’, you just remind them that when it’s all said and done, God alone will determine who is ‘good enough’, not the person telling you that.

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

 

Worthiness…

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Worthiness.

Many of us do not understand how powerful this word is. Nor do we realize how much of our lives are spent agonizing over this subject.Often,we do it without even thinking about it,as if somehow we are already programmed to feel less than,or unworthy.

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If you think about it,we deal with this issue of unworthiness from a very young age up until we depart this life. School children learn early about pass/fail,which equates to worth/ unworth.Adults have their worthiness judged regularly in the workplace by performance reviews or some other means of determining their level of performance.

 

Our western society is based upon the premise of worthiness.If everyone played by the rules,the worthy would get the degree,the deal,the job,the new car,the promotion,the happy marriage.

The unworthy get the leftovers.The crumbs.They get the dirty factory jobs.In other words,they get what the “worthy”discard.They carry with them the label of “less than”.

For the Christian however,we are not measured by the world’s standards.Our self-worth cannot be based on what others think of us,or whatever particular box they want to place us in.

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There is only one opinion,or authority, of our self-worth that should concern us.That of course is what Jesus Christ thinks of us.

Knowing this of course does not stop the enemy from doing all he can to persuade us otherwise.A great many Christians continue to struggle daily with inferiority and depression.To think that these battles can be easily and quickly won only reveal that we have deceived ourselves.

I have struggled with this issue of worthiness in my own life for as long as I can remember.Perhaps you have as well.From my early childhood I was told that I was never going to amount to anything,and for a long time I believed that.In truth,it became a part of me.

But not any longer.

It took a while, but I have learned that in this life the quest to become “worthy enough” by the worlds standards is a fools game.You can attend all the seminars,sign up for all the self help classes,take all of the personality profile tests there are and end up at best temporarily feeling better.No,the worlds standard of worthiness is unobtainable.

I never realized the gravity of this until I met the Lord and asked Him to forgive me of my sins and to come,live within me.I soon understood that the world does not give,it only takes,but Jesus was a giver.And He never looks down at any of us.

That is why we should always remember that we were “worth” dying for. We are never a “less than” in His sight. Hardly! We who the world thought unworthy have become heirs of God,and joint heirs with Christ.Does that sound to you like God thinks of you as unworthy? Believe me,Jesus has no losers!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life“.  John 3:16   NKJV

To all who struggle with feelings of never being good enough,or that you are damaged goods,or somehow will never make the 1st team,I want to leave you with this:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”.   Jer 29:11   NKJV

Have a blessed Sunday!

Ron