I remember as a young child, there were many times I found my seat beside Mama on the front pew of the Church. As you know, boys will be boys, and I sure fit the bill. I struggled with being as still, as the requirements called for in a church meeting. I had “ants in my pants,” and if I couldn’t settle down enough to get a little shut-eye while my Daddy was preaching, I usually invited the “wrath of Mama” sometime during the Church service. There were times that a trip outside was required where we would carry out our ‘Hickory Dance’ ritual(I always hated a switch!). But usually correction came with what I call, a ‘twist-a-pinch’, after I refused the warning to “Be Still!”. Just in case you don’t know what a ‘twist-a-pinch’ is, that’s when you pinch a little piece of flesh and twist at the same time. I know – I was abused!(Truth is, I – just like most of you – probably needed a few more ‘twist-a-pinches’ in my time.) It was hard – and still is – to Be Still! Yet there are times when it is necessary. Why?
1) It’s Safe! Too many times we find ourselves acting on our own without God. We are prone to get anxious, especially in difficult times, and get out of step with God. Remember, if you decide to step out there on your own, you are “on your own!” (Boy, that’s Deep stuff, ha!)
2) It’s Best! Remember when Moses is standing at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army right on his tail. Moses said to to the people “…be still and see the salvation of the Lord.”(Exodus 14) It was the Best option!
3) It’s a Guarantee! When I can allow things to be placed in God’s hands and timing, I will always come out on the winning side.
Now don’t take what I’m saying in this blog, and use it as an excuse for laziness. But, for those of us that are a ‘Type A’, aggresive type disposition, Being Still is one of the most difficult things that we will ever do. I’ve messed up so many things by acting on my own. Yet, as I have maybe mellowed a little in life, I find that one of the greatest actions that I can take is the act of “Being Still.”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”
After watching a News special about Edward Snowden the other day, I thought about the supposed “right” that we have in America to keep our personal affairs private. In no way am I in favor of an invasion of a persons private affairs. But, at the same time, I think we can go a little overboard when it comes to our private lives. I wanted to share some of my thoughts that may help in maintaining a proper private life. We all face the urge to “let things go” sometime. I challenge you to take these steps to strengthen your private life.
>> Live with a certain degree of transparency. We live such private lives in today’s society. No wonder it is easy to cover our character flaws. No one is allowed “inside” anymore. Open the door to your life to others. If I have nothing to hide, then why hide?
>> Find someone to keep you accountable. I’m not talking about a personal support group that acknowledges like flaws. I’m talking about someone who will ‘bust your butt’ when you get out of line.
>> Realize that your private conduct ultimately affects my kids. I hear people make the comment – “what I do in the privacy of my own home does not affect anybody but me!” That’s Bull! What you do in the privacy of your own home eventually walks out the door with you, or your kids into the public sector where my kids live. No one “lives to themselves.”
>> Don’t justify bad behavior. One reason people live different lives in private, is this sense of entitlement. They sometimes feel justified in the oversights and indulgences that they entertain in their private life. They “work hard” and they “pay the price” in public, and feel they deserve a recourse in the privacy of their own lives.
I realize that we are in a complex society that has placed so many demands on our lives, that there are necessary outlets. Yet those outlets can not be allowed to corrupt our character or conduct. I write this blog from the perspective of my own personal battles and challenges, recognizing there are limitations on my “Right to Privacy.”
With all of the debate about same-sex marriage, I thought it would be good to put this out there. You have to realize that more is going on than simply an extreme agenda of the LGBT movement. The agenda goes much deeper than that. I call it “Hell’s agenda.” The assault on marriage has been going on since the beginning of time. When sin entered the picture(Genesis3), the first thing that came under attack was the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Adam and Eve immediately covered themselves after their fall. With that came the separation, division, and individuality that opposes the oneness that is intended for marriage. Husband and wife together as one, is a powerful relationship.
Why has the biblical model for intimacy/sexuality come under such an assault?
1) It is the intended place for the Life of God to be reproduced.
2) It is the intended place for man to see the fullness of God. The picture of husband and wife reveals the nature of God as a loving, nurturing Mother, and a strong/providing Father.
3) It is the revelation of the Relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride – The Church. It reveals a Giving Relationship.
Most everybody knows something about the life of David, the giant-killer, who became the second king over the Kingdom of Israel. He’s the one who had a real heart for God, but got himself in hot water more than one time with the true sovereign over Israel. One of my favorite stories about someone else’s trouble is found in I Chronicles 21. Now don’t pretend that you never indulge yourself in another’s misery every once-in-a-while. You know it makes you feel better about your own short-comings!
The story tells us about David and his big idea of taking a census of all of Israel. The scripture actually alludes to this being a seductive move that Satan pulled over on David. Either way, David failed in his decision. The taking of a census does not seem to be a big deal on the surface. Yet God saw this as an evil act on David’s part. Why???
(1)David had a need to know his empire’s strength. Any time you begin to gauge your ability to accomplish God’s purpose through human strength, you’ve began to think more highly of self than you should. David’s act was like a man standing in front of a mirror and flexing his muscles, all the time thinking to himself, “Boy, you look GOOOOD!”.
(2)David had begun to derive his confidence from the size of his army rather than God. It was not necessary for David to know the number of fighting men that were in Israel. Just ask Gideon!
You see, any time we begin to adjust our faith by the numbers, we limit what God can do. Our success is never determined by the size of our army, our church, our denomination, or our pocketbook, but rather by the size of our God. You can live life by FAITH, or you can live it by the numbers.
In Ephesians 5:1, we are encouraged to “…therefore be followers of God.” In some of the newer translations, it uses the word ‘imitators’ instead of ‘followers’. In other words, we are called to imitate or mimic God – God copycats. We are to act just like God. Boy, that’s a challenge! Before you throw in the towel and give up on that notion, look a little bit closer. The phrase “..be ye therefore…” carries with it, the necessity of a process. The statement could actually read like this: “So make sure you are continually in the process of becoming an imitator of God.” Man, that helps me realize that I’m on my way to becoming more like him! And for me, that has been a long and enduring process. Hey, I realize that some of you “saints” out there were so close from the start that you did not require much processing, but I did.
Why is it important to mimic God? Because that’s the only way many people will ever see him – through your life. I hope you do feel some of the responsibility of that if you are a believer. You need to be “followerable”. As you follow him, maybe you will lead someone in the right direction.
How does that work?
1-Let your walk match your talk. Like I read somewhere, “God forgives and forgets, but people keep scrapbooks.”
2-Act right! You know how to act in a restaurant. You know how to act at work. Begin to ACT like God. WWJD?
3-Be Real! People despise hypocrites. If they know you’re real as a human being, and they see your passion for God, they want trip over your flaws.
4-Love People! I’m not talking about a feeling. I’m talking about a commitment to caring for people in spite of their flaws.
Try those things out and people might find you “followerable”.
Many people are trying to figure out their purpose at 22, 32, or even 42. Yet at the young age of 12, Jesus had a distinct knowledge of the purpose for his life. That is an idea that is selling in bookstores by the millions today. But, maybe the discovery of our life’s mission or purpose is not as complex as we seem to make it. Here are a few things that stand out about Jesus at this time in his young life.
You may want to refer to this passage: Luke 2:39-52.
1) He found favor. He lived within the realm of God’s grace for his life. Many times we strive to find our life’s purpose outside of what we’ve been graced for. That only leads to frustration.
2) He asked questions. One of the keys to discovering your mission/purpose in life is asking the right questions. Not only did he ask the questions, he listened to the answers. Now there’s a thought!
3) He was affirmed in his Greatness. Those around him were “astonished.” They recognized his wisdom and gifted-ness while he was still young. You may feel you have nothing to do with this aspect of your life. But I would encourage you to find a place and a people, that will recognize and celebrate your potential.
4) He was subject. Even though he was the son of God, he subjected himself to his earthly parents. Affirmation without submission to the authorities in your life lead only to an ego trip. The pat on the back may need to be a PAT on the butt every once in a while.
You have a purpose in life. The process of discovery may be a little more difficult for some. But, don’t live another day without a sense of finding The Mission for your life!
Easter Sunday morning we had a “mock” arrest of my son during the service, to illustrate the fact that Jesus took our guilt even though he was innocent. If you were here at BST, you felt the tension that built throughout the congregation as this was acted out. And, you felt the release that came when you realized it was just an illustration. If you were not, I hope you realize the gift that God gave us when he exchanged the innocence and purity of his son, for the guilt of our sins. II Cor. 5:21 says…”For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Some takeaways from last Sunday:
1) Every one of us are considered guilty in the courtroom of heaven, yet pardoned by the mercy of God! We receive an innocent man’s sentence. Freedom! Man, that’s great news!
2) Even though my wife and I knew the arrest was all fake, we still felt the despair of seeing our son in handcuffs. The father in Heaven had to feel the sorrow of separation when Jesus hung on the cross. Even though he knew the end of the story, the Father had to let his son be taken into the grip of Hades because of our sin.
3) We have some folks at BST that would fight for injustice. I LOVE the fact that there are people who refuse to just sit back and take it! There was a moment during the arrest, that we were on the verge of an uprising! I LOVE that mentality! I hope we can learn to carry that into the proper arenas. Get mad about the right things, in the right way, at the right time!
4) We had people from age 5 to 60 to accept Jesus as there savior. What an exchange – our sin for his righteousness! That is always worth celebrating!