My New Year’s Resolution/Revelation

Child holding megaphone Have you ever looked at life as you’re living it in the “right here and now” and thought, “I’m just not happy with the way things are, but, after this or that happens, I’m going to be so much happier, and everything is going to be just the way I’ve always wanted it to be?”  I’m sure if you were being honest with yourself you would be saying “yes” to this question. Funny thing is, once we get to the new place or get that new thing, the happiness only lasts so long and we find ourselves back in the unhappy state we were before. There we are looking and waiting for the next thing that is going to help us take that step and finally become the person we’ve always wanted to be.

I mean really, if we wanted more proof of this being true, just take a look at “New Year’s Resolutions”.  How many people use the starting of a new year as the solve-all benchmark of changing everything about themselves that they are unhappy with? Did you know that health clubs always have the greatest influx of new customers at the beginning of the year? But by the middle of the year more than eighty percent of the new members have ether dropped their membership, or just stopped coming all together.

Have you been successful with change?

     I’ve recently understood what it means to grasp, and hold onto change. Before God reviled the answer to me I often found myself frustrated and unsure of how to remain changed. I truly thought I had the answer and believed it was perfectly clear. My solution went something like this… First, I’ve got to be real sick of who I am or how I’ve let myself become. Then, I need to decide who or what I want to be, set some goals, and determine how I’m going to reach those goals. Once I’ve got all that down, it’s time for the major steps! Big step number one, go to God! Start out by telling Him what a failure I’ve been and how all that is going to change from here on out. Of course I need to make some big promises that I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep, because remember, I’m really sick of who I’ve become! Once that’s taken care of, it’s big step number two. Sit down with my family and drop the bomb of changes we are going to make, because let’s face it, we as a family have not been pleasing to God, so it’s time that we all “put the nose to the grind stone” and get the job done! That one always put a big damper on the family. I mean come on, I’ve been letting everyone get away with all this junk over the last year and now due to a “New Year’s Resolution” I’ve somehow magically become a super Christian that wants to please God all the time?! My family should understand and want get on board with the excitement and decide that they are as sick of their lives too, and want to please God as much as I do! Right? Sure… I could remain successful for a time, but in the end it almost always turned out the same, I would go back to my old way of living and let my family fall back into its old patterns. I hated the cycle! I had come to the conclusion that I just wasn’t a good Christian because I couldn’t keep up the promises I had made to God.

How to hold on to change

     The answer is simple. God wants us to let go of the things that are in our hands so we can take a hold of the things He is trying to offer us. It’s the understanding of “letting go” that has us troubled. I can promise you this, it’s easy to let go when we have a revelation of God’s love toward us. The first step of change is to grasp the simple concept that we can never earn more of God’s love. No matter how much we change our lives. He will always love us with a passionate love, one that desires us to be close to Him and Him to us. Nor can we lose out on God’s love because of how we have been living. It’s a revelation of His perfect love toward us that will begin to heal what’s been broken all along. 

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.”                    –1John 4:18

Revelation makes all the difference.  Revelation is simply having an understanding that we didn’t have before. An understanding that drives us to change! There is no condemnation in revelation! The apostle John had this to say about condemnation, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned:” (John 3:17-18). When you understand that He’s not beating you up because of the changes you need to make, it’s much easier to get started on making those changes.

How to make changes

     Revelation should always be the driving force behind every change. I remember when I used to beat myself up over not reading the Bible enough. I finally told God that I just really wanted to know Him more and I desired to understand Him in a way I never had before. He began to direct my attention toward the Bible, and for the first time, it truly spoke to me. As it spoke to me I received a revelation of His deep love toward me. It shook my world and changed me forever! It started with a hunger and ended with a revelation. This revelation of His love has not only changed me, but it has changed those who I have shared it with. And because of my willingness to share God’s revelation of love with others, He has given me revelations of others struggles and how to help them through them. It has resulted in being used in the gifts of the spirit and in other ways I could never have imagined.

The revelation will change those around you

     I used to beg God to use me in a powerful way but would always feel unworthy to be used. Until finally I got the revelation of His desire to use me, and to share His love for others. My family also began to respond to me and to my authority differently because I no longer felt like I had to hold it over their heads in order bring about the changes that needed to be accomplished. They could feel my excitement, love, and passion toward God. Not the weight of my authority. Revelation will always change the one who receives it, and in the end, the ones in their lives.

It’s revelation, not a new year’s resolution that will change your world and your family forever!

Religion…So What’s The Problem?

Re·li·gion: Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Religion, while having many problems, has a lot of great things to offer, the greatest of which is family; however, is it just me or does it seem like many people are becoming disgruntled with all sorts of things concerning religion?  People are ultimately, walking away and claiming no real allegiance to any religion at all.  In all honesty, I’ve noticed myself growing a bit jaded with religion and what it has come to; but unless I can be honest with myself and see my own faults, how can I contribute to the mending of what is becoming broken?

The Real Problem

You see, the real problem isn’t religion; it’s us, the people! We’re the ones with selfishness, pride, and greed. We quickly point fingers of contempt and disapproval at the ministers who ask us to do things we feel aren’t entirely biblical or reasonable. We gather our friends together and share our complaints and disapproval in hopes of saving them from a ministry of wrong teachings. We complain when the church asks us for money because we feel like we’ve worked hard for that money and we’re barely making it the way it is! Then we go and trade our 22-inch televisions for a 44-inch flat screen. We complain of the teachings of modesty because we want to go on vacation, or let our kids go to school and “fit in” by wearing what all the other girls are wearing at school or on the beach. Then unscrupulous men, who have a problem with pornography,  look at our daughters with sick and twisted sexual desires. We complain about the pastor not being in touch with reality, while we make ridiculous statements like, “If my boss would just give me a raise, I would work harder.” We have the audacity to complain about our pastors “not preaching it hard enough” on subjects we think he should. And then we sit at a restaurant, stuffing our faces, and conveniently push away the Scriptures that clearly tell us gluttony is a sin.

I too, as a minister of the gospel, have sat with fellow ministers and felt justified to speak against other ministers and the way they go about ministering. I’ve spoken against, preached against, and even made fun of other religions that don’t believe like I do. I’ve gone as far as claiming that, “If you don’t like what you are hearing here, you can go down the street to one of the other churches where they will let you do whatever you want.” Why would I say such things? How could I feel so justified to speak against a fellow minister, or another religion? Can I honestly say that they don’t love God with the same level of passion, simply because they don’t serve God the same way I do?

Yes, I am guilty! I too, as a minister of the gospel, have made statements like “Well, the one thing we can do is eat!” I too, as a minister of the gospel, have not given to causes when God specifically told me to because I was thinking only of myself and what I wanted, or of my own bills that needed the money, only to get up and “preach it hard” about giving. I too, as a minister of the gospel, have been a guilty party, causing religion to be riddled with problems and too few solutions.

Look at this warning the Lord gives to Ezekiel,  “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16:48-50 NLT)

The Answer

The truth is, any of us can sit around and talk about what we disapprove of.  Any of us can pick up rocks and throw them at those we don’t like or don’t understand. And any one of us can continue to live in denial about the fact that there is a real problem with religion as we know it today. But the sad fact will still remain. Who will be a part of the solution rather than compounding the problem? When will those who are not being loved start to feel cared about? When will the child who cries himself to sleep at night be loved and embraced by the very hands that now are filled with rocks of ungratefulness and contempt? How long will we ignore the fact that the new babes who come into our churches are seen as little more than “one more that we can get on our side” or “another to add to our clique”? How long will we ignore the fact that our churches, US, WE THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH, AND US PASTORS AND EVANGELISTS, have left our passionate love for others behind only to grab hold of our own selfish causes, and conveniently hide it under the banner of “truth?”

Is it enough to keep “fighting for the truth” and say such things as “Well, at least we still hold to the truth,” even though we’ve lost our deep, intimate, passionate connection and love for both God and others? We ignore the problems in society that rage all around us because we’re too caught up in fighting for our causes. Does it really fix the problem to walk away from a church or religion and say, “They just don’t understand how things are! They don’t care about me, or even love me, because if they did they wouldn’t ask such things of me!”

Is there a real problem? Yes! But saints of God, the real problem isn’t religion or every pastor, it’s you! Pastor and Evangelist, the real problem isn’t the people you pastor or preach to, it’s you! It’s me! It’s our selfish pride and ambition! We don’t want to say the words, “I’m sorry.”  We tell ourselves, “He’s the pastor, he should know better! Let him come to me first,” Or “I’m the pastor! They’re the rebellious sheep! Let them come to me first!”  WHEN DO THE SHEEP GET LOVED IN EITHER OF THESE TWO SCENARIOS?

We can live with denial all we like, but one day, selfish saint, selfish pastor, and evangelist, we will give an answer to God as to why we let religion become this way! Anyone can point out a problem, but few are willing, or even care to know how to fix it. Some who read this will focus on one or two lines and will twist the words and meanings so that they will be justified in being angry, and not have to fix what is broken in their own heart.

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1-7 NLT)

You have heard that our ancestors were told, `You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:21-24 NLT)

Useless Until Broken

If Pride equates to wholeness, and Humility brokenness: then I truly am useless until Broken.

Pride the Bigot 

Why does humility so easily elude us? Is it because no matter how much we desire humility it’s impossible to achieve by our own strength? No matter how much we deny self, self always rises back up again in conquering victory. It seems to me that even when I feel as if I’ve conquered pride and have finally allowed humility its proper place in my life, I become proud of how humble I am! Even the times I write or speak about humility, trying my hardest to help others out of the dangers of pride, I find myself repenting deeply. After the writing was done or the sermon was over God exposes the root of pride in my own heart. There it was, written between the lines, hidden within the words of the sermon, attacking, accusing, beating down those I thought I was helping to overcome pride.

I notice groups of people everywhere trying their hardest to live a life of humility; so much so, that they have gone to great lengths to separate themselves from the rest of us. But all I see is more pride. I even find myself working so hard to live the Christian life of separation, only to fall deeper into the deadly trap of pride. The trap so easily concealed under the comparison of myself to those around me. I begin feeling like I’ve reached the mark of true holiness only due to the fact that I’ve become more separate from the sins of this world than my fellow Christian. Oh the foolishness and folly of such comparisons that I make!  The holiness I give to God must spring from my very own desire to please Him, not to be better than my brother or sister.

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV)

Learning Humility

Could it be that the only way to truly preach against pride is to live humility out-loud? And could it be that the only way to live it out-loud is to have love for those who have given up the fight or have never really known how to fight in the first place? Or to continue to lift up those around us that are also fighting the fight of faith? Paul said this, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT)

Moses, the man of Humility

I’m reminded of Moses, the man of whom the Bible had this to say;  “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” (Numbers 12:3 NLT). It was during a very trying time of Moses’ leadership that the Bible makes that statement. His very own brother (Aaron) and sister (Miriam) no longer believed in his leadership and in rebellion spoke out against him. God was angry with them and cursed Miriam with leprosy. But Moses, being humble, prayed for her and begged God to heal her.

Time and again Moses prayed for those who angered God by speaking out against the two of them, and thereby bring trouble and even death upon themselves. It was his prayers for those who didn’t understand how to fight, even when they hurt him that earned him,Moses, the title, “the most humble man on earth”.

“Therefore I do not run without definite aim. I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But like a boxer, I buffet my body, I handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)