Jul 26, 2011

Tend To Be Driven...or Commit To Be Called

Are you successful?

What is the definition of success?
Is money success? Or fame? Education? Helping others? Being in ministry? Writing a best-seller? Accomplishing _______________ goal?
If those measure success then how will you determine when you have succeeded? How much money makes me successful? How much education before I have arrived? How many people do I have to help? When have I actually achieved my goal? Will that goal be the final goal; will I feel successful when I reach it, or will there be another goal after it?

Fame, money, education, service, even goals are all relative. There will always be someone more educated, more famous, wealthier, more compassionate. There will always be another level of goals to achieve.
There will always be someone more successful.
Which means I am less successful.
Which means I am more of a failure.
Which means I have to work even harder.
Which means I am never content.
There will always be another task to drive me...and drive me...and drive me...until I crash. Until I lose all purpose because I have failed to accomplish the thing that drove me.

If my gauge of success, though, is to do what God called me to do I will be successful based on one thing: Whether I did what He wanted.
To love God is to obey Him. To obey Him is to do His will. To do His will is to succeed. To succeed in eternal work! The only variable in this equation is my choice - will I or won't I. Yes, there will be goals, there will be tasks, there will be work involved in the doing. There may even be problems or times when I fail to reach a desired end. But I will never be a failure if I am in the will of God.

What does it look like?
It means asking God what HE wants me to do. Not picking up tasks because they are expected, or even because they are good things to do. Remember the old saying, "The good is the enemy of the best."

If God called me to be in the business world, and I give it up to go be a youth pastor, THAT is failure...even if I serve many young people, I still missed His grand plan. Everything good I do is what the Bible refers to as dead works.
If I am called to be a youth pastor and give it up to go be in business, I am a failure no matter how much money I make. Better to have been poor and a success in the Kingdom of God, than successful on earth and a failure in heaven.

God may call some to be single while all their friends are getting married. If they can be strong and content; if they can pour out their whole lives into other people, they are successful.
God may call some to be stay at home moms while other women may be ministering around the globe. If they raise their children to serve the Lord with joy and gladness, and run their home with excellence, they are successful!
God may call some to pastor small churches while their companions are CEO's of multi-million dollar companies. If they feed their flock with all devotion and dilligence, they are successful.
God may call a man to invent a product and lead a company while his classmates go on to be missionaries and preachers. He is not a failure in the Kingdom. If he uses his talent to accomplish God's will, if he develops and is diligent with his God-given skill, if he leads those under him with care and compassion, he is a great success.

Our ministry is always to the Lord, first. We are only successful when we have done what He has asked.

*Excerpt from a larger work. More to come.*

Jul 15, 2011

Soul Rejoice

Oh my soul
Why are you downcast
When He's proved His ways are perfect every time
Lift your eyes
He’s never failed me
Even now He waits to perform His mighty deeds

In this time I’ll turn to Him
As He completes what He’s begun
As He works all things together for my gain
I will believe in the God of my soul

Oh my soul
Lift up your voice in praise
As you consider all the days gone by
Never once has He
Left you alone
He's been here in every trial and every tear

And in this time I’ll glorify Him
For all that He’s done
And all He’s worked together for my gain
And I will proclaim, He’s the God of my soul

Oh my soul sing the wonderful works
The glorious ways
The reason to hope
The marvelous name

Jul 12, 2011

Hupomone Courage

Hebrews 12:1. "...run with endurance the race set before you..."

The word "endurance" is an interesting one...

hupomone:  (noun) lit., "an abiding under" (hupo, "under," meno, "to abide"), is almost invariably rendered "patience"; cheerful endurance.

When God allows trial in life, my response is often to put on my game face, grit my teeth, and bear it. But here, God challenges me to another level. Not just enduring, but enduring with cheerfulness. Not suffering through trials, but rejoicing in the middle of trials. This isn't a passive feeling of happiness--that does not occur naturally in trials--this is an active engaging of my will to rejoice in my God until the feelings change to match the attitude.

God challenges His children to put their hope of eternal reward into active use in the middle of the current situation. I am called to not just have a victim's hope that things may get better, but to have a victor's understanding that with God all things are good right now.  In this moment, life is beautiful!

There's more to this, though...

hupomeno (verb) akin to hupomonea) "to tarry behind, still abide," (Luke 2:43; Acts 17:14);  b) "to wait for" (Rom 8:24)

There is action involved in this endurance.  Imagine a person so committed to the will of God that they are willing to stay and endure even if a way out is presented. A person of real endurance--victorious, over-comer endurance--doesn't have to be forced to stay. They remain (tarry) in the fiery, testing will of God until they have reached the end...until the desired result is acheived.

A hupomone Christian will gladly stay long after everyone else has given up and gone home. They will wait it out with joy until the race has been run, the war has been won, and the testing is done.

Jul 8, 2011

Fire & Water

Two thoughts for today:

WATER always delights in going lower...it always searches for a valley, for a way to descend...it never raises itself, it never climbs, it never strives to go up. A river runs downhill always.

Have you ever heard the roar of a waterfall? It is one of the most glorious sounds as the water--in its search for lowliness--leaps from the heights to be broken on the rocks beneath. I am reminded of the Scripture that speaks of falling on the Rock to be broken and not waiting for thr Rock fall on you and crush you (Matthew 21:44). Some wait for the Lord to crush them before they obey; some come to the feet of Jesus to break open and pour out their worth like the woman in Luke's gospel with her perfume and tears. There is true beauty in willing surrender. 

The essence of humility is a correct view of oneself. It is not self-degradation, but simply an understanding of who God is and who I am in relation to Him.  My focus is not on my weakness, but on His greatness. Not on my failing, but on His perfection. In fact, it's not on myself at all! This view will put in me a holy fear of God and will cause me to never strive for a position too lofty or identity that is not my own. I will walk every day perfectly in line with His commands because I understand that He is not a God to be treated casually.
The way of the Kingdom of God is not a power struggle, it is a race to the lowest spot. In God's Kingdom only the humble are useful - and it is the humble that He teaches in His way. 

FIRE can only burn up what is corruptible and dry. The incorruptible can only be cleansed by fire, not destroyed.
  If I am going through the fire and feel as if I am being destroyed by it I realize that I must be mostly made up of what is corruptible, worldly, and finite. I must allow the corruptible to be burned up completely in the fires of God until nothing but ashes remains. Will it destroy me? Oh, yes! You see, I am corruptible.
All that is of me--my desires, my passions, my will--is on a collision course with death. All that is of Christ is eternal, living, breathing, forever. 
Who I am must die...completely...so that Christ can live His desires, His passion, His will through me daily.
Galatians 2:20 states it well: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
How do I keep from being destroyed in the fire of God? If my coat was on fire I'd throw it off before it hurt me. I must throw off and separate myself from the things that will burn away so that all that remains is the gold, silver, and precious gems of an incorruptible faith and virtue!
In brokeness we find healing; in humility we find glory, in repentance we find guiltlessness, in nothingness we find the riches of the Kingdom of God!