lesson at chick-fil-a

I was having lunch with some friends and their children the other day. I was in line first, so I ordered my meal and paid. He stepped up and ordered two kids’ meals…for less than I paid for my one meal. I said, “Man, it’s so cheap to have kids.” I won’t even try to explain the reaction on his face. The cashier even jumped in and jokingly said to me, “I heard that, and I would just walk away, if I were you.” We laughed, got our food, and discussed everything from ex-boyfriends to Rick Warren, during lunch.

Later that night, I was spending time with the Lord, praying for Haiti. In the privacy, security, and safety of my personal relationship with the Lord, I asked Him the questions that every person is thinking, “Why, Lord, why? I know You’re sovereign, but why?…How could You allow this to happen?…How did this get a ‘yes’ from You?”

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I know all the Scriptural answers that are possibly running through your mind. You’re thinking about God’s sovereignty, His will, His control, His absolute right to do whatever He wants. Of course, we can’t leave out of the conversation, the presence of evil and Satan. You may have even stopped actually hearing what I’m saying, because your mind is already formulating how you’re going to comment on this post and what Scripture you’re going to use to defend God.

Here’s the thing: First of all, God doesn’t need you or anyone else to defend Him. Secondly, I know all of that. AND I believe it. I do. But the hurt, pain, chaos, and death is sometimes too much for me to handle. Like I said, I asked those questions in the privacy and security of my personal relationship with the Lord. He knows my heart, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, what I need. So He allows me to cry out to Him and we work through it together. As I share my heart, He shares His. Praise You, Father, that You speak to Your children.

So as we spent time together, my gracious and glorious God spoke to my heart. The Holy Spirit brought to mind the earlier situation at Chick-fil-a. He said (and please understand, this was an impression to my heart, not an audible voice), “You aren’t the Creator of the world. You have no clue what it’s like…just like earlier today–you have no clue.” See, I don’t have kids, so my flippant comment about kids being cheap, had absolutely no credibility or understanding of reality.  In the same way that I have never bought hundreds of diapers for two kids under the age of two, I have never created the universe with a word. I haven’t had to provide every meal for two little boys since they were born, and likewise I have never created life from dust. I could go on and on with examples. Instead, I’ll just quote the living and active Word of God. Isaiah 40:13-14 says:

13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? 14Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?

The implied response to these questions is “no one.” We do not know why God does things, because His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). It’s our pride that thinks He owes us an explanation. It’s our humility that says, “I trust You.” This lesson was huge, not because I didn’t know it. Rather, it was one more opportunity for the Lord to show me His heart to comfort me, love me, and be in an intimate, covenant relationship with me. I love that He speaks to us. What is the most recent lesson spoken to your heart? I love that He cares about us. What is the most recent way that He has shown His love to you? If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior yet, be assured that He is pursuing you with His whole heart. He has nothing but love for you. Respond to Him today.

Please be in prayer for Haiti. Prayer is our opportunity to join God in His work on the earth. For whatever reason, this tragedy in Haiti got a “yes” from the Lord. We know from Scripture that God will only do or allow things that will bring glory to Himself, so we can be sure that He is working through this situation. It is our privilege to join Him. Pray.

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a fanatic?

One of my favorite teaching pastors is David Perkins, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. In one of his sermons, he says, “A FANATIC is what we call someone who loves Jesus more than we do.” Ouch. He is speaking sarcastically about our pride when someone is passionate about the Lord. I was reminded of this pointed commentary when I read Romans 12:11 today.

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit.” (English Standard)

“Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit.” (New American Standard)

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” (New International)

Thank you, ESV and NASB, slothful and lagging behind are exact translations from the Greek word. A couple added definitions I want to include in our conversation are “sluggish, backward, lazy.”

The Greek word that is translated zeal and diligence means “earnestness in striving after something” or “giving all effort” or “effort toward forwardness” Along with those definitions, it certainly connotes “haste, hurry, urgency.”

You have surely heard the saying, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” I believe that is Paul’s point. Literally, using two English definitions of the Greek words he chose, we could say, “don’t go backward in your effort to move forward.” How obvious is that statement?! What does this zeal and diligence look like in your life? How does your life display this whole-hearted effort toward spiritual growth? Is it 2-hour worship sets alone in your bedroom? Is it weekly prayer meetings with a friend? Is it sharing your faith in Jesus through the power of the Spirit when He leads? Is it reading great Christian thinkers to challenge your mind? Is it ending a relationship that you know is spiritual death to you? Is it reading through the Bible in 90 days with B90X? Is it a periodic fast? Is it listening to pastors from across the country through podcasts? Is it getting coffee with a mentor who you know will ask tough questions? Is it reading a single Psalm in honest prayer to the Lord every morning? Is it falling asleep talking to the One who created you? How are you being “earnest in your striving toward” Jesus? How are you “giving ALL effort…with urgency” to know God better? If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, please listen to Him. He’s always right.

Oh man–now this is going to blow your mind–I know it did mine. The Greek word that is translated fervent?…it means “to boil with heat, be hot.” Think about boiling water. There’s movement. There’s intensity. Impurities are being extracted. The water can’t help but dance. The water is heated from an outside source–its only responsibility is to stay in the presence of the heat. Oh Jesus, help me to be on fire for you! What does that look like–to boil with heat for Jesus? Get in the Word and He’ll tell you. Get in His presence and He’ll do it. I don’t know what it looks like for you. I know what it looks like for me…and I want it…more and more….every day.

John Wesley said, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” I think that pretty well sums it up.

Who is that person that you would call a “fanatic?” Pray for him/her today…that God would stoke up the fire and that they would never be lacking in zeal. It will kill your pride. I promise. Then, be a fanatic yourself.

Kill Me, King of Light.

First of all, “NewThru30“–do it. You won’t regret it.

Second, I read Mark Artrip’s most recent blog last night, asking the question “How do we raise up leadership (specifically in small group ministry situation)?” I had my immediate thoughts but didn’t really feel like it would be anything different than what others would say, so I didn’t comment.

Before bed, I was reading 2 Corinthians. I had no idea what God was going to teach me…

I was in Chapter 4. I’ll begin quoting at verse 5.

5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We, as servants of Christ, have seen Him in some way. We have seen the beauty of the cross, we have seen the sacrifice of the blood, we have seen the glory of forgiveness. Since we have seen Jesus, we have knowledge of the glory of God, because everything about Christ reflects the glory of God. God allows our lives to shine the light of that knowledge. What a privilege.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

I know, the first thing you think of is the band. But no, actually they stole the name from Scripture…We have this magnificent knowledge of God’s glory through Jesus, yet we carry it in our earthly, weak, humble bodies. Paul says it is to make sure that everyone knows, including us, that it’s His power and glory, not ours.

8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.

This whole chapter is about ministry: Paul’s and the apostles’ ministry to the Corinthian Church and then, the Corinthians’ ministry to others. The Lord taught me last night that ministry is about death. You may be confused by that statement. We always hear how ministry “makes me feel full” or “gives life to my soul” or we hear “I love serving Jesus because that is when I feel most alive.” Don’t misunderstand: I do believe ministry has those effects, but ministry is accomplished through death (according to Paul’s words in 2 Cor 4).

Paul says that “we who live (believers, specifically those in ministry) are always being given over to death…so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in [us]…” Simply said, servants of the Gospel are (or should be) constantly dying so that life is created in those whom the Lord has allowed us to serve/lead.

My favorite part of the passage, and to be honest, the exact point where the Spirit drove this concept to my heart is, “So, death is at work in us, but life [is at work] in you.” Death HAS to be at work in me if I want life to be at work in those I serve. I have to be willing to die, to kill my flesh, to break that sinful habit, to guard my mouth, to purify my thoughts, to honor my authority, to flee immorality, to be wise with my money, to give to the poor, to stop wasting time (then say, “I don’t have time to read my Bible”) so that the Lord has “room” to manifest life through me. I must get rid of my flesh, so that I can be filled to the fullest with the Spirit, through whom only is real ministry accomplished. Ministry is a death sentence: a death sentence for my flesh. Kill me, Lord, kill me. So that Your life may be in all I lead. Make me a slave to righteousness, so that freedom may be manifested in the lives of all I serve.

15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16So we do not lose heart.

As we die and as death is at work in us, grace extends to more and more people and then they increase their joyfulness and gratitude to God. Ultimately our death brings glory to God. SO, we do not lose heart, which Paul says twice in this chapter (v.1).

Allow death to be at work in you, constantly, and your ministry will bring glory to God. So do NOT lose heart. Keep dying.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for dying for me, so that I can die for You. Kill everything in me that is not of You, that is my flesh. Destroy it. Fill me with more of Your Spirit. Thank You for Your Word. It is perfect, challenging, life-giving. May You be honored by the sharing of Your Word. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would continue to teach this to my heart every day. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE TO MINISTRY LEADERS: Make sure your staff (volunteer or paid) is allowing death to work in them daily. Your ministry will not be all that God has called it to be if they aren’t. Especially since we know that leaders duplicate themselves. You want those whom they lead, to learn how to die daily also. If your staff is not spending daily time with the Lord, I doubt that they are making conscience efforts to root out sin in their lives or kill their flesh.