Monday, April 4, 2016

How to know God's will.

I received a message from a friend who is facing a big decision. And so the person asked, "How do you know if something is or isn't God's will?"

I hope my answer will help you...

Honestly, it's hard to know sometimes...but here are some simple steps.

Obviously #1 is does Scripture tell you not to... no brainer right?

Then, does it complement or complicate your life? Will moving forward or saying yes to the opportunity complement your walk with Christ? If you are married will it complement your relationship with each other... and your children? Or does it complicate or conflict with your priorities... ex: if a new job will take you away from family more or for longer periods of time then you would need to be very careful. [This would be a great conversation starter for a couple as they consider a new opportunity.]

And then, is there a sense of peace or a check in your spirit. This is different than fear or uncertainty. Sometimes you can be scared to do what you should... but if there is a check in your spirit that something is wrong, you should slow stop. I have faced many life-changing decisions in my life. Sometimes it was really scary. But while there was a level of fear of the unknown, there was peace that this was the right move for us.

For example, over thirty years ago my wife and I decided to move to Memphis TN to attend Seminary. Neither of us had jobs lined up. We had just enough money to make it a couple of months, but we had an overwhelming sense of peace that this was exactly what we should do. We did and it was the most awesome move we could have ever made. It moved us out of our comfort zones at every level. We left all family connections 800 miles behind. We had each other and Jesus! And it was the best thing we could have ever done, period!

Two things: If you make a move that turns out to have been a mistake. There is more than enough grace and mercy to help you grow through the difficulty. There is no place you can't choose to fall deeper in love with Jesus and with each other. There is no place like a hard place to help you prioritize your life.

However, I must warn you, if you have ignored God's word and deceived yourself or your mate,there will be consequences. If you have ignored every warning and every check in your spirit, no amount of regret or even repentance can remove the consequences.

Listen! If we have a habit in our life of ignoring or disobeing God's direction in the simple areas of our life, it is very likely we will ignore and disobey God's directions in the complex decisions. Be careful.

Proverbs 3:5-7

Friday, October 30, 2015

Even Season

Have you ever seen someone having success at something and it made you angry...I mean mad? The right word is angry but real word is mad. You saw them doing something that you could do or should do and they were succeeding. It might have even been that they were doing the same thing as you and you were struggling and they were soaring!

And if you are like someone else I know you started picking apart what they were doing or how they were doing it. You started listing out in your mind about how shallow they were or how ineffective they were. Or even how the people with whom they were being successful were probably fake shallow or just pretending. No? Me either. Just asking for a friend...

Well, I had one of those moments recently and I was reminded of two things. The first, everything and everyone has a season. Everyone of us goes through seasons of up and seasons of down. Seasons when what we like to do or are paid to do goes really well and we feel great! And then there are those times when our old game is exactly that, our old game. And know body seems to want to play with us anymore. 

One quick observation about that. We usually over-estimate our role in our season of up and we over-estimate our role when we are down. The truth is we all have seasons when we are up and seasons when we are down. Just ask any professional athlete.  

But that is true for all of us. No matter what we do or how big or small our field might be we all go through seasons.

The second thing my little mad-moment did was remind me, God is not fair. God is not being fair when we are up and God is not being fair when we are down. God is not being fair when someone else is up and we are down. Just so I am clear let me say it again. God is not fair. God is never fair.

He is always right. He is always merciful and gracious and patient. He is never fair! He never gives us what we deserve, what we've earned, or what is fair. And seeing that and understanding that is so crucial.

So the next time you see someone enjoying a different season than you. Try not to get ma... angry. Try not to start dismantling them or their season of success. Remember that God shows us favor when we need it, where we need it and how we need it. Remember the other person has been down and they will be down again and you may or may not be around to see it. But you can at least know that in the end God is always good, even in the season we are in. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How's your serve?

What an interesting word. If you are in a restaurant the word serve or service means how well the staff takes care of you. Are they prompt, courteous, attentive? Often a restaurant will succeed or fail as much upon the service they provide as the food they “serve.” Mediocre food that is served well can be very satisfying while a great meal can be ruined by bad service.

Take the word serve into tennis or volleyball and you have a whole new meaning. When one tennis player rears back and hits the ball as hard as they can at the other player, it’s called serving. However they do so with every intention of causing the opponent to either miss the ball completely or otherwise fail to return the ball properly. In this instance the word serve really means self-serving. I doubt very seriously that Venus Williams’ opponent was all that pleased to be served a tennis ball at 127 mph, a new record at Wimbledon for a woman. I don’t even want to think about how silly I would look trying to return a serve like that.

But what does the word serve look like in ministry. Is it the effort and intention to provide something for someone else? For many it is truly about putting others above and better than themselves. That is what Jesus did and that is what He calls us to. But sometimes like out of date milk, service can go bad. Really bad!

In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul had to call a few folks out because as they served the Lord’s Supper it became all about their appetites and their indulgences and bore no resemblance to actually serving others…which is the clearest reminder in the experience…Jesus sacrificed everything to serve his body and blood to us!

Serving can become a guise for control and selfishness. Someone can say they want to serve in a certain area or position but the service has nothing to do with what they provide to others, but rather it is all about what they gain, feel, or can influence.

However, make no mistake. It is just about impossible to serve and not get something out of it. Every time you try to lift someone else up or seek to be a blessing to another you will get blessed. Short of experiencing extreme physical pain or personal loss, it is often difficult to not be more blessed by your own act of service than the one you were intending to bless. Which brings us to the crucial word in all of our acts of service, our intentions. It is the heart.

If a person has the heart of a true servant then their service will be selfless and deeply satisfying. If they are seeking to serve their own agenda and aggression, then it will be quite likely they will end up serving in a way that is not really meant for the good of the recipient.

Isn’t it odd that in tennis a powerful serve results in love for the opponent? And only in tennis does the word serve not mean servant hood but love really means zero.  How’s your serve?