Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Cease striving and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10)

A life with God, a life of service, a life of Godliness is not a life of striving. In the church culture, there is a drive to strive. The 20% who do 80% of the work are exposing their families to a drug culture--where they are drug to church every time the doors are open. We meet, greet, teach, clean, sing, and serve 10-20 hours a week in our local churches. Our families, personal schedules, even our work schedules revolve around the priority of service to our local church. I am a part of that culture. And, yet, I am learning something new. The outside may appear the same, but the inward motivation and thinking are changing.

I have come to realize that a life of service is a life of rest. It is, simply, walk by by faith one day, one hour, at a time. It is depending on God not only to see what needs to be done, but with the confidence that He will empower and equip me for His work. The only work, then, is an exertion that is directed, empowered, and undergirded by God Himself. How hard can it be? It is impossible.

In all honesty, I like to strive. Striving may bring failure, but it also brings achievement, honor, recognition. To lay aside striving is to lay aside my personal means to recognition and achievement. To stop seeking self-gain and depend wholly on the Master is a God-sized task. Only God can replace my desire to strive. I cannot. It is too much a part of who I am.

To surrender my plans and desires requires a renewing of my mind. Jim Berg (Changed Into His Image) tells us it is spending time in God's Word to get a dose of reality. Jim's book explains from the Bible how to apply the principles of putting off my self, renewing my mind, and putting on Godliness.

Once the desire has been replaced (repeatedly, and only on a short-term basis, again and again), God's empowering and enabling is a constant process. I must continue to complete the tasks set before me in faith that God has custom-designed each task and set of circumstances. When I know the objective--the be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-31)--the task before me is simply a vehicle, not an outcome. The goal is to depend on God, by His Spirit, to respond in a way that is loving, kind, and joyful, maintaining peace, gentleness, and faithfulness even as my Savior did (and does).

Cease striving and God will show Himself. He is not glorified or magnified by my self effort. He alone is God. How can I serve, honor, and magnify Him? By resting, waiting, and depending on Him to accomplish His will. By being a conduit of His love and grace. By remaining transparent, invisible, so others will see the Creator in place of the image He created. Service is not striving, it is resting--knowing He is God.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Today I escorted a large group of high school students to and from a nearby church. As we were arriving back at the high school, I began a silly conversation with a group of them. One student made a guffawing remark and I responded. Three sets into our guffaw match, she took the Lord's Name in vain. With a tactfully short remark, our guffawing ended and other students asked "Who needs God anyway?" "Doesn't Jesus need God?"

The conversation spun in a very serious, reflective arc. And what an opportunity to walk along the way speaking truth! There was no emotional charge, no breath-stopping clutching; simply a moment to share and drop. Draw a handful of seeds and discharge them in automatic pilot. How God has prepared the way with our own children as we cook, swim, walk, work, rest, travel! It has so become a part of life that the words are no different to young people who are not my own than from those who are. The sense of learning, of curiosity, of thinking and reflecting are powerful engines creatively designed in the heart and mind of each of us.

The sharing itself, the ease and comfort of it, brought great joy. To simply be used is a great blessing. "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:16) Walking today provided the blessing of sharing Jesus Christ. How's your walk?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Profitable Service

How much is your life worth? The media portrays human life along all points in the spectrum: from dispensable to indispensable, from burdensome to winsome. In my reading of Psalm 30 today, the psalmist interestingly pleads with God for his life, "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?"(v.9).
The psalmist's life declared its value by the Manufacturer's stamp. God, the Manufacturer, had placed his stamp on each day of the psalmist's life. His words declared his Maker, his choices declared His Maker, his daily intentions declared his Maker. His label was read, much like Pierre Cardin or Armani, not because he wore it tacked to his outer lapel, but because of the style his life portrayed.
As I meditated on the psalmist's words, I wondered how my life would be different if I had the same argument as the psalmist? How would my life look today if I could say, "God, You can take me now, today, but my life is a living testimony of your grace. Give me just one more day to praise you, one more day to proclaim your goodness. God, for love of Yourself and Your glory, extend my life that it may make a difference for one more lost, condemned soul. Once I reach eternity, my chances of declaring you to the ungodly will have ended. Make today count, dear Lord, make it Yours."
This then, is a life worth living, a life that openly declares the stamp of the Manufacturer, a life that extends itself in profitable service to God in meeting the needs of others. How will I allow God to change me today that I might profit Him?