Me, My Self, and I

Doing the “Right Things”

Recently, in a discussion, someone said they didn’t understand why they had this constant struggle as a Christian to do the right things. “I guess I am a bad Christian,” they said. Usually, there are the pat answers given to this statement. “You’re not praying enough. You don’t have enough faith or you haven’t given it to God.” I say these are pat answers since they seem to be all too common in Christian circles.

Now, before you feel I am being too harsh here to those who have said these things in response, know that I have said them many times myself and to myself. But I have come to realize that is where the problem lies: with the Self.

I am attempting to complete a devotional book that stemmed from me texting my children bible quotes and a little explanation as to what they meant and what I felt God was saying to me through those scriptures. They would send these to their friends and others would also begin to join the text list. Before I knew it I would spend fifteen to twenty minutes each time typing in the phone numbers for all the people who were following the texts. I would end the little devotion with the phrase: It’s a choice.

Hear Me Out

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses

Doing the “right thing” is a choice. Please hear me out. It’s not always an easy choice, but it is a choice. A choice, a decision that you make. Each and every time. We are faced with thousands of choices every day and how we choose determines our results. I have heard it said, “You are where you are because of the choices you made.” Immediately, I can hear someone say “I didn’t choose for my parents to die…” or fill in any tragedy. True, but you choose how you respond and how you respond will determine where you will be. What about instinctive reactions?

Let me break it down like I did recently to a person who made something similar to my opening statement. That is, look at the Me, My Self, and I. Me is the combined Self and I working in unison. The “Self” is the body, the flesh, as the Apostle Paul put it. The “I” is the conscious thought or personality of the Person within the Self. Also called the Spirit. (Not to be confused with the Holy Spirit). The “I” cannot always control the Self, because the Self will do whatever comes naturally to the Self. Ah, but the “I” or the Spirit can train the Self.

Self and Spirit

gray and white short coated cat on brown wooden table top

Let’s say we could take the “I” or Spirit portion out of a human and put it in a cat, which, by-the-way spends two-thirds of its life sleeping. There may be a symbiotic relationship developed over time, but the cat is going to do what cats do. Ever try to control a cat? The Spirit could train the cat eventually, but it will always be a cat and will probably behave like a cat even when the Spirit works feverishly to train the cat. The first part of learning to train the cat would be for the Spirit to learn about cats and then work with the cat to a desired end, knowing all along that the cat will still sometimes act out of instinct.

Now, look at the human being in the same light. You have a depraved, fallen human who, though created in the image of God, acts like a depraved fallen human and in many respects as an animal. (See Galatians 5:19-21) This is the Self. Think of these phrases in this light:

  • I lost control of my Self.
  • I couldn’t help my Self.
  • I have really let my Self go.
  • Get a hold of your Self.
  • Would you look at your Self?
  • Get your Self some rest.
  • Get your Self something to eat.

Who lost control of the Self? The Spirit. The situation is even worse. Inside the Self resides a fallen, depraved, darkened, blinded Spirit. The Spirit inside the Self, which is a spark of the Divine, is dead, and the Self is only operating off training and instinct. Autopilot if you will. Subsequently, the Self will continue to act and behave like the depraved, fallen creature that it is. It should not surprise Christians when non-believers act the way they do. They are acting according to their nature and they cannot control nor help their Selves. They are slaves to this nature.

What is one to do?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

The Spirit within must be reborn. That spark of the Divine within must be quickened, as the Bible calls it. It must be exposed to the light of the transforming power of Jesus. It must be made alive. Jesus didn’t come to earth to make bad people good. No, He came to earth to make Spiritually dead people, alive. This is the only way the Self can be tamed and trained. And with the help of the Holy Spirit that now will be there within to help get the Self under control.

In this new state, the Spirit takes on the “new creation”, but the Self is still depraved and fallen. Yet, control can be exerted. Granted, the Self will still act up and do things that leave the Spirit wondering “what just happened or why did I say or do that?” However, the Spirit under the direction, leadership, and power of the Holy Spirit can take control. That is why it says in Galatians that one of the fruits of the (Holy) Spirit is “self-control.”

Summary – What Now?

Here are summary statements that I have found helpful.

  • You’re not going to get it right all the time. Even the Apostle Paul stated that he (the super saint) still did things that he did not want to. His Self still acted out. That’s why he said he buffeted his body. He was still struggling with his fallen Self even with a redeemed Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, for I John 1:9.
  • Seek to understand your Self with all its quirks, tendencies, traits, likes and dislikes. Your Self is unique and you have to understand the basic human first and then understand the Self in which you reside.
  • Cut your Self some slack. God does. That doesn’t mean you are to give the Self a pass. It means keep moving toward maturity under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does expect you to head in that direction.
  • When you fall, and you will, pick your Self back up and go again. Proverbs says a righteous man will fall seven times and get back up again. Don’t wallow in Self pity and feel sorry for your Self. You are a child of the King of the Universe.
  • Don’t beat your Self up for being its Self. You don’t beat your cat or dog for being a cat or a dog. You train them. Train your Self. It takes patience, time, and the help of the Holy Spirit Trainer to train your Self. Read the training manual used by the Trainer. It’s called the Bible and that is why it is there.
  • Love your Self. See your Self as God sees your Self. Worthy of loving and investing in. He sent His Son to reconcile you back to Him.

If you have not come to a place where you know for sure that your Spirit is made new. You can. God waits to renew your Spirit. Click here for more information.

Unprofitable Servant

Learning Lessons

abc books chalk chalkboard

I have it said before “If you stop learning, you’re dead.” I suppose that is true. Even if it is only little trivial things, we learn something new each day. It never ceases to amaze me how God will work with His children to teach them. This is done by the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways.

“Wow!” You might say, “Are you telling me God audible speaks to you?”

My answer is that the voice of God is more than audible. I don’t want to get onto a discussion of how God speaks in this article. I will save that for another. Here, I want to give you an example of how God was dealing with me about something he wanted to reinforce.

Pondering

analysis blackboard board bubble

I awoke Monday morning with two words on my brain –“unprofitable servant.” I have to admit; I was scratching my head as my mind focused from sleep. Was God calling me this? Was there a lesson to learn? Was he reinforcing something I had learned? I mean, I had been reading the book of James, and I didn’t remember coming across that term or concept there.

As I went about my morning routine, the words would not go away. I poured a cup of coffee. I asked the Lord what he was trying to tell me because I was clueless. No answer. Well, ok. I went out to feed our animals. After everything had been fed, and still getting no answer to my musing, I just stopped and thought about what the phrase could mean. Not that my chickens had an answer. They are worse theologians than conversationalists.

I did what any modern-day Bible scholar would do – I googled it. The scripture passage Luke 17:7-10 came up in the search engine. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and explains when a servant should come in from the field, the master would not tell him to sit at the table and be served. Rather, the master would instruct the servant to get cleaned up and serve the master. The master will not thank the servant for doing what his duty is – this is expected service. Jesus tells the disciples to be like the servant and do their duty because it is expected. Oh, and by the way, they shouldn’t expect anything more and to call themselves “unprofitable servants.”

“Okay, Lord.” I said, “Seems a little harsh, but I am still not sure where this is going. Was I expecting more from a situation than I should have?” As with any good study of any Bible passage, I looked at the scripture before and after. Before: Jesus is talking to the disciples about extending forgiveness. After: Luke tells the story of ten lepers who Jesus healed and only one came back to thank Jesus.

I read a few commentaries on the passage to get another view. The fog began to clear as I read on. Jesus told the disciples to extend forgiveness even if the person came to ask forgiveness seven times. The disciples responded with “increase our faith.” Jesus answered that they could do miraculous things like move mountains if they had the faith of a mustard seed.

In short, Jesus was saying “Guys it has nothing to do with faith. It has everything to do with obedience. You call yourselves servants of God (Christians)? To extend forgiveness is just your basic duty. This doesn’t require some great act of faith. It is part of the job. And you shouldn’t expect some great reward for doing it. That is true of this or anything else. In fact, your attitude should be such that it is a privilege and an honor to serve God. You should be grateful for the opportunity and recognize that without God you are unprofitable.”

The term unprofitable can also be translated as unworthy. When Jesus told the disciples to extend forgiveness, they responded as this was some lofty thing that they could only accomplish by great feats and faith, that surely only they could obtain. Jesus responded with the opposite extreme in an attempt to pull them to the middle.

In a sermon on this passage in Luke, Charles Spurgeon explains the reasonable duty of all Christians. He said that we are not to be too lofty or too lowly, but to stay in the middle. We are to be available to God to be used by God, and if we say we follow God, then we are his servants. Servants do their duty because that is part of the job and the servant shouldn’t expect anything beyond that. Christians likewise are obedient because they are servants and should have the attitude of a useful servant. When you enlist in God’s army, you are a soldier in that army and are to do what is your duty. End of story.

“Okay!” my flesh whined, “I get the point of the passage, but what has that to do with me? Was I being haughty or unworthy?”

I sat quietly – waiting.

Flashback

close up photography of woman in black long sleeved top

My mind wandered back to an incident the day before – Sunday. We had not gone to church that morning. We had been out of town and told folks we would probably not be back in time. My vehicle started to malfunction so we came back on Saturday night and Sunday morning, my daughter and I took my truck to drop it off at the shop for repair.

On the way home the sky looked stormy and threatened rain. A few miles from our house, the rain came in waves of water. My daughter slowed down, partly because of the rain and partly because we approached a truck with a camper attached sitting on the side of the road. The blown out tire in the middle of the road told the story.

“Should we stop and remove that from the road?” She asked. I paused. I knew we needed to extract the dead tire remnant safely, but I also wanted to offer assistance to the truck owners without endangering my daughter.

“Uh, yes,” I said. “Pull up, and I will get the tire. You stay in the car and out of the rain.” I don’t stop to help everyone, but I felt in my spirit this was a situation where I should offer help. As far as telling my daughter to stay in the car, the truth was, I used the rain to keep my daughter away from the truck and camper until I checked it out. Yes, I am a paranoid daddy. It’s my job. It’s what I do. Moving on.

I removed the blown out tread from the road and approached the truck. Inside was an elderly couple. She saw me first from the passenger side of the vehicle and motioned to her husband that I was at the window, which he rolled down. He had been looking at his phone.

“Do you need some help?” I asked.

“Well,” he answered, “We were trying to find someone to change the flat on the camper.”

“I’ll be right back,” I said and jogged to the car. I explained the situation to my daughter, and we obtained the scissor jack from her trunk.

Long story short – the jack barely lifted the camper. I had to strain to get it to work. Then I had to man-handle several of the lug nuts to get them off. They had obviously been put on with an air tool. Then all of them wouldn’t go back on, and I had to hand the gentleman one to have put on later. I did all this while kneeling on one of my flip-flops – in the rain; all the while knuckleheaded drivers whizzed by trying to avoid us and to pass others who were slowing down to either watch or be courteous.

When I stood up, the gentleman asked me what he owed me. I told him nothing and that I was sure someone would do the same for me someday. I put the dead tire in his truck. I cleaned up the jack and accessories, placing them in the trunk. I shook his hand and wished him well. He thanked me and then was on his way.

I was feeling pretty good as I sat down in the passenger seat of the car, except my back hurt. I thought about how our pastor had once said: “It’s okay to miss church if you are out being the church.” I was pretty pleased with myself and was wondering if this moment was a gold moment in my record. You know, the Apostle Paul said that the foundation of our Christian lives is Christ, but all that is built upon it (our actions) are wood, hay, stubble or gold, silver, or precious stones. I was jockeying for a gold moment here.

In the middle of remembering this moment from the day before, the Holy Spirit interrupted my thoughts. He tapped me on my spiritual shoulder (sometimes he thumps me in the spiritual forehead).

“Excuse me,” he said. “Weren’t you just being obedient in helping the couple? In fact, when your wife said you were a Good Samaritan, that’s what you told her.”

“Yeah, but wouldn’t you agree that was a gold moment? Maybe at least it gets a silver?”

“Or maybe ‘So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

“I didn’t thank you for the opportunity, did I?”

“No.”

“Then when I thought I was being spiritual, I was really wanting extra and a pat on the back, wasn’t I?”

“Yep.”

“I was really wanting someone to notice my good deed and compliment me Matthew-chapter-five-style, wasn’t I?’

“Un-huh.”

“Man. Pride goes before a fall.”

“Yes, it does.”

“Will you forgive me for the wrong attitude I had toward helping that couple?”

“Seventy times seven.”

“Thanks, Lord for the lesson, your grace, mercy, and forgiveness.”

“Your welcome.”

“Do you still love me?”

“You have to ask?”

What is “too big” for God?

The Question

pexels-photo-206448.jpeg  The question goes: “Can God create a rock too big for even Him to pick up?” Most folks usually ask this question trying to stump the religious or to get them off track of an ongoing discussion. Just like the Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered at the well. She tried to change the subject of the discussion by asking Jesus where the right place to worship was. So it is with the question at hand.

The Discussion

To properly answer questions like this I ask questions of my own. The discussions I have had in the past go something like this:

“Define ‘too big,’” I say.

“Well if God could not pick it up, then it is too big,” they answer.

“So it would have to be bigger than God Himself?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“So, how big is God?”

“I don’t know.”

“So how would you know if the rock was bigger than God if you don’t know how big God is?”

Head scratching.

“So you are asking a question that even if you saw the answer, you still would not know if the answer was correct?”

More head scratching.

“So, if God could make a rock too big for Him to pick up, why would He?”

A deer in the headlight look.

pexels-photo.jpg   “I think the focus of the question is wrong. Let’s say there is a reason why God would need or want to create this rock. Let’s say that all of humanity is doomed to an eternity away from God because they have rebelled against God. The only way for a man to be saved from this eternal separation from God is for God to create a rock too big for Him to pick up. Are you following me? Does that make sense?”

“Uh, yeah. I think so.”

“Based on what you know of God, can you kill God?”

“No.”

“It would be impossible to kill God or for Him to die, right?”

“Right.”

“Because He is God and there is no way to kill God?”

“Right.”

“Could God kill Himself?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Hmm. Did Jesus claim to be God?”

“Yes. The Son of God.”

“Ok, He is the Son of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, right?” Most people would agree at this point.

“Was Jesus killed? Did He die on the cross?”

“Yes.”

“Was He God?”

“Yes.”

“Then God was killed. He experienced death. He died.”

“I guess so.”

“So, the impossible was done?”

Blank look.

“It was. In fact, not only was the impossible done, it was done by God. He orchestrated the death of Himself. To ask the question if God could create a rock too big for Him to pick up is like asking if a virgin could have a baby or can someone be resurrected from the dead or can God die. The main question is why God would do the impossible? The answer would be because He knows it is the best way to accomplish something. God knew the only way for humanity to be saved from eternal separation from Him was for someone holy to die in man’s place, to take the penalty for his rebellion. So He became a man, born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, was crucified on a cross, was buried, and on the third day was resurrected again. He did these impossible things all on purpose. Why? Because He loves us and He knows it is the only way to save humanity from their fallen condition. There is one more part; each man has to believe that they are in a fallen condition and God did all this for them to save them. Each man has to ask God to save them.”

The Conclusion

Silence. I hope by now they are pondering what I am offering.

“So you tell me, can God create a rock too big for Him to pick up? Can God do the impossible or better yet, have you come to a point in your life that you have accepted what Jesus did for you so you can have this eternal life He offers?”

The Answer

Click on this link to find out what Jesus meant by “being born again.”

The Da Vinci Syndrome

Introduction

mona-lisa-leonardo-da-vinci-la-gioconda-oil-painting-40997.jpeg     Ok, maybe this is not a real malady, but there is a reason it is named, even if only in urban legend, after Leonardo Da Vinci. He is a man revered as a genius, brilliant, and talented. He is often spoken of as the premier Renaissance man. He was a sculptor, painter, engineer, and inventor, but he is also known to history as a man who often left projects undone or took longer than needed to complete.

Once, a large amount of bronze was donated to him to complete a cast of a horse as a tribute. It would have been the third largest equestrian statue of his time. He never completed it. War was raging in Europe, and the battle was getting closer, so the bronze was used for making cannons for the defense of the city. Of this very cast, Michelangelo, Da Vinci’s contemporary, allegedly implied that Da Vinci would never complete it.

Pope Leo X commented of Da Vinci, “This man will never accomplish anything! He thinks of the end before the beginning.” Unfortunately, Da Vinci had to be threatened by many of the people he contracted with to finish the project or find his funds cut off. So was Da Vinci’s reputation.

According to the Free Online Dictionary, Medical Section, the definition of the Da Vinci Syndrome or DVS is thus:

“A popular term for a possible “condition” that may affect a highly creative person who gets new idea and visions faster than he or she can implement them, or even fully record or describe, leading  them to constantly start new projects without finishing the old ones.”

The Symptoms

Hmm. As I explored this further, I could not find this listed as an actual medical condition with diagnosed symptoms. However, as a fellow sufferer, I feel I am qualified to offer some possible indications and side effects of the condition. Some of these are based on the above-listed definition, some from personal experience, and some from “research” into this malady. See if any of these apply to you or someone you know.

  1. Highly creative
  2. Loves learning something new, has an inquisitive mind
  3. Has many interests
  4. Has many ideas
  5. Starts many projects
  6. Leaves projects undone
  7. Wants to make sure projects are completed correctly
  8. Sometimes cannot sleep at night because they just cannot get their brain to shut pexels-photo-959286.jpegdown
  9. Lose interest in projects if they lose their challenge…. Squirrel!
  10. Are frustrated if they forget their ideas or when reminded of their unfinished projects

Though this is not a complete list, it does serve as a starting foundation, and identifying a problem or condition is ninety percent of the cure. So, what is one to do in combating this syndrome? One option is to put it off until you can do it right. For example, I thought about finishing this article later when I was able to come up with a better answer, but that would be enabling myself to continue down this DVS road. The struggle is real. I’m just saying.

There is help

Here are my suggestions to combat, or help your loved ones combat DVS:green-attraction-war-museum.jpg

  1. Accept that this is how God made you. He has a reason for it.
  2. Write down your ideas as they come to you. If you can’t sleep, write down enough of what is in your head to get your mind clear enough to sleep. (That is what I am doing right now, even though I have to get up at 5:00 am, and it is midnight).
  3. Find time to think. Your thoughts will ruminate in your brain. If you take time to be still and ponder your ideas, then you will strip away all the dead wood and keep the good stuff.
  4. Realize that just because you think it is a grand idea that not everyone else will, because it really might not be.
  5. Set goals and stick to them. Review them regularly and get rid of unrealistic ones.
  6. Break the big tasks down into small tasks and stay with it until it is done, even if it is in small increments. Focus on one task at a time. The way you cover a roof is one shingle at a time (I don’t eat elephants, so I never really liked that analogy). Another one is, you cover a floor one tile at a time.
  7. Set a deadline for it to be done and stick to it.
  8. Set a reward to celebrate the achievement.
  9. Realize that completion will take hard work, but it will be worth it.
  10. Learn to say no.

Yes, there was a bit of whimsical and creative license in the way I wrote this article. It was in no wise meant to make fun of anyone in particular – well, maybe myself. If this hasn’t helped you in some way, maybe it successfully brought a smile to your face. If that was the case, then I successfully completed that project. Of course, I don’t know if you don’t tell me, especially if you put it off to a better time.

Extending Grace in the Workplace

dogsIt’s An Attitude

It has been said those who extend grace are weak. Such an attitude embraces a “dog eat dog” world and mindset. You have to look out for number one you know. If you don’t who will. I beg to differ. It is easier to take the “me first and foremost” approach. It takes a much stronger person to keep themselves in control and to offer grace. It’s not natural or usually our first reaction, but it can pay huge dividends, immediately and in the future.

It Happened to Me

pexels-photo-567633.jpeg  I remember one time when I was promoted to a position two levels above where I was currently. Someone higher up the chain believed in me and spoke up for me. I didn’t know this until years after I was promoted. The set up was a little different than I was used to. I have two people I answered to. One was my direct boss, and the other was more of a functional boss. That is, one was local and managed the local business, and the other was corporate and managed the support department that I was now in.

Very early on I found out some things were happening that seemed to be wrong. It fell more into the technical side than the local side. It even appeared like the local administration was privy and allowed the practice. I found out later that this was not true. The corporate boss went around my local boss and told all the local subordinates to desist all work involved until an investigation into the matter was conducted.

I did not know the action the corporate boss was going to do and my local boss was furious. He called me into his office and asked me to close the door. We had a long discussion on how he felt I had “thrown him under the bus.” He asked me why I did not come to him so we could investigate the matter. The truth was, I didn’t know him good enough to trust him at this point. Regardless, I handled it poorly and the disappointment was warranted.

He patiently explained to me that he expected me to come to him in the future if there were any issues. Further, he expected me to be honest with him even if I thought it would make him mad. He said he forgave me for leaving him out of the loop and for the embarrassment. I could tell it hurt him deeply and that he felt betrayed. I think we have all been there. Later I found out that he was the one who had put in a good word for me to get the position. Talk about feeling like a heel.

Our relationship survived those early days, and he has been one of my strongest supporters, and I have gone out of my way to make sure he was not blindsided by anything that had to do with my department. He had every bit of authority to fire me. Maybe not right then, but at other times when I messed up (but not to that degree), he had plenty of opportunities. Instead, he offered grace, and he also gave me advice and encouragement.

What Grace Does

Here’s what a person of grace does, and I believe he did:

  1. They try to understand before being understood. Why did this happen? There are always two sides to a story.
  2. They acknowledge that there was a wrong and extend forgiveness while holding others accountable.
  3. They confront in a non-judgmental way. Grace says, “Hey, you hurt me. You want to tell me about that?”
  4. They remember times when it was extended to them.
  5. They know there will be a time in the future when they will need grace again.
  6. They seek the better outcome for all.
  7. They know that there are times when separation is needed, but they handle it with grace. There are times that the best outcome for all is to let someone go.

Being gracious is not being weak. Ponder this: would you rather work with someone who is gracious, but firm or someone who is ungracious and wishy-washy. Graciousness goes two ways though and even when others are not extending grace we should. We don’t know the story of others. You may be the only one who shows them grace, and that may be just what they need to make it through.

Luck?

My Irish Heritage

I remember growing up and having an interest in my genealogy. My mother would answer my questions of what nationality we came from with this: “You are half German, a quarter Irish and a quarter Mohawk.” Knowing me, that was probably the easiest answer to give. Subsequently, I wanted to visit Germany, Ireland, and the Land of the Mohawk to see where my forefathers had lived and died. Nobel thought, huh? I thought so. We lived in Washington State at the time so I was fortunate to see how the Nisqually lived in that day and to visit the reservations. So I had some idea of how all Native Americans lived.

When I was ten years old, we moved to Florida where my grandparents had moved to several years before. I was excited to finally spend some time with them and get to know them. One day I asked my grandmother about our Irish heritage since she obviously knew more about them. She quickly responded in a heavy New York accent, with “I oughta smack you in the puss.” Several things happened at once. First, I froze as I wasn’t sure what part of my body she was about to smack and second, I wondered what I had said wrong. She explained that we were more Spanish than Irish. It wasn’t that she denied the Irish heritage, it was that she was proud of the Spanish more. Her maiden name was Ricardo. That was something new to me.

So faded my affinity to have the Luck of the Irish and to be heavily affiliated with that magical land. I would never have a pot of gold anyway. Not that I believe in luck anyway, especially as I got older and my relationship with Jesus grew.

I don’t believe in luck

I believe in God. I see people who are superstitious with luck charms (not the cereal) hoping and praying for favorable outcomes; while cursing the gods when things go wrong. I see people playing the lottery and gambling hoping to one-day strick it rich. The last ones are really some that I avoid. I play cards and Yahtzee with my wife and consistently kicks my butt. So, no Vegas or Atlantic City for me.

Why gamble when you can be sure?

Like you, I work too hard for my money to just be giving it to the government. They take enough of it without my permission anyway and take more and more each year. Plus, I am not impressed with how they handle what they get now. Why would I want to give any more to them? Yes, we could debate back and forth how several states use the lottery to fund education, and how our state’s money is going to some other state. I could counter with 95% of people who win the lottery are bankrupt and worse off than when they won and could quote statistics from other states who have to pay for the washout of addiction. I think this debate misses the point. When you boil it all down, the question is: what do you believe, or more plainly, where is your heart?

The One Sure Thing

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills the bible says. So, couldn’t this same God give me a million dollars if He really wanted me to have it? Is that what my relationship with Him is all about? It has to go much deeper with Him.

Jesus told us to worship God the Father with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When He blesses me, what is my reaction? Well, I deserve this. I work harder than most folks. I am more favored. Can’t you tell by how well I am blessed? Or, look at me. I am all that and a bag of fries baby! Supersized at that.

If God chooses to take everything from me, what would my reaction be then? That’s not fair! Hey, I worked hard for all that! Why are you picking on me? Why I am losing all this and those people over there aren’t even working at all and have more than me? Notice these are all heart issues? Many I have had to deal with before and maybe you have to. Would to God I would have the attitude rather of David and Job.

God said David was a man after God’s own heart. Job said after all he had lost, that even if God chose to slay him, He would still be his God. God is a present help not only in times of trouble (thank you, Jesus) but also in times of plenty. How we handle all times is based on how deep our relationship is with Him.

God loves you if you play the lottery and if you don’t. He loves you when you seem to be doing well and when you are not. What He is after is your heart in order to have a deep, meaningful relationship with you. He wants the best for you and to be a vital part of your life.

Are you, like David, after God’s own heart? Put another way, are you seeking what God’s heart seeks. God further said of David that “he will do what I want him to do.” Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” and “where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” Where your heart is, is where you will spend the most time, talent, effort, energy, and money. On what do you base your future and look to for direction; luck, chance, fate, crossing your fingers, the stars, horoscope? I don’t believe in luck, I believe in God. I still want to go to Ireland and Spain now.

You Are Called

This last week a young man came to me at our church to ask what it would take for him to become a deacon. I smiled and asked why he would want to be a deacon. He said he wanted to be more committed to God and the church. I remembered when I felt called to go deeper in my commitment to Christ. I went to our pastor and asked. I remember our pastor loved me enough to tell me that I was not ready to be in the ministry or even licensed to preach. I was hurt. I thought this was the next steps when God calls you.

Back to the young man. As I was trying to figure out how to answer him without crushing his spirit, I told him he had to be married. I was stalling. “You’re making that up,” he said. I took out my bible and turned to I Timothy 3 and showed him the qualifications of a deacon. “Look, you’re supposed to have children too,” I pointed out. He said, “Well, what does it take to be an usher?” I began to laugh. I told him that I admired his desire and for him to study the passage in the bible and we would talk again.

The Main Question

The main question here would be: is everyone called? I think the answer is yes. Too often we associate our call with some kind of church work or missionary endeavor. I don’t believe the bible shares this point of view. Here’s why. If God only called people to church vocations then who would farm? Who would teach? Who would enforce the law? Who would do any vocation? God is sovereign. The world, though now fallen was created perfectly by Him and He didn’t just walk away afterward.  What did he call the first man and woman to do? To tend the garden. The bible further shows how God called kings as well as prophets. It tells how He set times, peoples, and nations. He is a God of order.

Our Race

pexels-photo-618612.jpeg    In the bible in the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, we are instructed to run our race. That race is different for all of us. The main problem with the world is that mankind thinks they know better than God. Again, look at the Garden of Eden. If we all did what God called us to do then the world would function perfectly. We, mankind, are flawed and subsequently, our ways are also flawed. Still, there is within all of us a calling. Some call it a passion. Either way, it is there.

pexels-photo-696573.jpeg    I had a chance to talk with this young man again on another day. I explained to him that he indeed had a calling. God did not create us first and then think, “Hmm, what could I have him do?” No, God had a purpose in mind when He created each of us. That is our race. God had the race first and then He created someone to run that race. The young man asked me how to find his calling. I asked him what he was passionate about. He told me his dreams. I told him to start there. I also told him that he could do a process of elimination. I.e. did he feel led to farm, police work, or teaching. He said, “No.” Then I said he could rule these out. I told him to try different things and if he failed not to see these are failures, but as learning opportunities to find his purpose.

Are you looking for your purpose? Here are five things you could do, just like I told the young man and others to get going in the right direction:

  1. Know that without a doubt you were created for a purpose and that God wants you to know it. Hebrews 12:1 and following.
  2. Read the bible for examples where God called men and women from all walks of life.
  3. Read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and start with the five things that God has called us all to do.
  4. Eliminate what you know for sure you don’t have any interest in doing. I would suggest, if possible by trying it first.
  5. Seek out the things that do interest you and try them. Once you try them, you might find out you really weren’t as interested as you first thought.