I Want Results


I am admittedly a fan of the show The Biggest Loser. One of the things I like best about the show is the unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what shocking game twist they will come up with each season to keep things interesting. The current season of “No Excuses” is certainly not lacking in unexpected game changers. In a recent episode, two of the contestants were so upset by the decision of the producers to allow all previously eliminated contestants from this season to return and compete for the opportunity to be in the finale that they quit the game altogether. Of the three remaining contestants who chose to stay on the ranch, Jeremy lost the weigh in and was forced to compete with all the eliminated contestants for the final spot in the finale. His situation made him so frustrated that he became completely distracted during his workout and was putting forth very little effort to participate. Dolvett, his trainer, noticed Jeremy’s lack of effort and pulled him aside to ask him what was wrong. Jeremy explained that he was mad and didn’t even feel like trying because he was now in jeopardy of losing the game.

Dolvett’s response was wisdom-filled advice that could apply to all of our lives. He told Jeremy that his problem was that he was in love with the results when he needed to be in love with the work which would lead to the results. He explained that Jeremy was only focused on his desire to get to the finish line. But what he was missing was trust in the process that would get him there. Dolvett encouraged him that if he loved the hard work and the discipline that was required more than his desire for the end result and he put his trust in the process, then he would achieve the result he was after. Refocused, Jeremy worked out harder than he ever had and was able to beat all the other contestants for the spot in the finale.

As Christians we many times become focused on the result (getting to heaven) and miss the process entirely (a relationship with God). I remember when I responded to the message of the gospel and the promise that if I asked Jesus into my heart, believed that He died for my sins and that I was forgiven, that I would spend eternity in heaven. I responded because I wanted to be sure that I would go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me because I believed in Him. But after my initial response to the gospel, I returned to the same way of life I had been living by doing whatever I wanted to do, not what God desired for me to do. I returned to the actions and behaviors that had made me so miserable before and had created so much drama in my life. I returned to the very things that initially drove me to the realization of how desperate I was for a Savior. My problem was that I was in love with the result – I wanted to go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me. But I didn’t want to give up my own desires in order to follow Him and seek His will for my life. I wanted the result without the process. I was unwilling to surrender my life to God in order to be transformed into His image. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior but not my Lord.

Life continued and I kept doing the same old things but expected different results because after all, I was saved now so I thought things would be different. But because of a lack of true repentance and surrender on my part, things were the same as they had always been. Through God’s grace, I ended up attending a church that taught about discipleship and Lordship – two terms I had never heard before. I learned that nothing was every going to change in my life if nothing ever changed. I had to stop trying to run my own life and trust in God to be the Lord of my life. I began to fall in love with the process of building a relationship with my Lord and Savior. I began to trust in His will for my life as I lived in obedience to His word – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I surrended to God’s will for my life and I began to experience changes. I was re-focused on trusting in the process and not looking only for the results. I began to be more joyful than I had ever been. When everything wasn’t going exactly as I wanted, it no longer consumed me. There was much less drama in my life and I had peace even in the midst of challenges and difficulties. My attitudes and my behaviors changed as I spent more time working on my relationship with Jesus through reading and studying His word and spending time in prayer. I was encouraged and hopeful but no longer condemned. I felt freedom from the hold that sin had on my life and healing for the wounds that had been part of me for so long.

I learned from faithful followers of Christ who gave of their time to disciple me and teach me how to not just believe in God for salvation, but to follow Him as His disciple. I was forever changed because of their willingness to pour into my life. By putting my trust in the process of discipleship and growing in my relationship with God through obedience, I got the results I desired. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I am assured that I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. Now that’s what I call achieving the results you’re after.

Advertisements

What’s Your Story?


A testimony is a statement or declaration by a witness which typically provides supporting evidence to a fact or statement. In the context of religion a testimony is when someone openly declares or professes their faith in God by sharing supporting evidence of His existence based on their personal experience and relationship with Him. Many Christians have overcome incredible situations, not because of anything they did by their own strength, but because they trusted God to release them from a particular area of their lives that held them captive. I have known people who have been freed from the bondage of addiction, who have been able to forgive those who have done unspeakable things to them when they were children, or who now have an incredibly healthy and fully restored marriage after suffering though the hurt of adultery. I’ve known those who have been miraculously healed from a disease and those who have conceived a child after having been told they would never be able to do so. All of them have one thing in common – they trusted God to overcome the impossible in their lives and because of it they share their story with others who face the same circumstances in order to encourage them that God is more than able to do it in their lives too. Sharing your testimony is a powerful tool to bring hope and faith to those in hopeless circumstances.

I used to watch the cartoon “Kim Possible” with my children when they were younger. Kim would always get a message on her communications device from her friend, Wade, when a situation arose that needed her attention. Her first response was always “What’s the sitch, Wade?” and her friend would fill her in on the details that required her to respond with her superhero abilities. There was a never-ending array of “situations” for Kim Possible to battle. And like Kim Possible, most Christians I know face a seemingly endless amount of situations in their lives with the difference being we need God to prevail on our behalf, not a super hero. But what if you’ve never been through some major “sitch” in your life? What if you chose to follow Jesus from a very young age and have never encountered a major storm of life? Does that mean you do not have a testimony?

The truth is that no matter what you have been through or whether you’ve been through nothing at all, we are all sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The bible says we are born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). Because we are born human we are capable of sin and have a propensity toward it. And when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, “sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12). Sin levels the playing field for us all. No matter how “good” you think you’ve lived your life or how “bad” you think you are because of your past, we are all sinners who need the forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in order to become redeemed and return to right standing with God. And we all have a story that needs to be shared.

If you are someone who has followed Christ for as long as you can remember and have been spared from having made choices that lead to grievous moral failures, then be grateful to God for having His hand upon you as protection throughout your life and know that it is only by the grace of God that you did not follow a different path. But know also that you should never feel “less than” anyone else because your testimony isn’t filled with regretful choices that led to major problems. You have a powerful testimony that you were born into sin and in need of a Savior. But by the grace of God you were spared from difficulties that many others have faced but you are nonetheless redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You are proof that you don’t have to go through horrible circumstances to have a testimony and that you can follow Christ for life without succumbing to damaging temptations. You are proof it can be done, don’t ever underestimate the power of that message.

Nobody Loves Me


There is a worship song that says “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s a reminder that the measure by which I am loved is solely based on what God did for me when He sacrificed His son on the cross. Because of God’s love for me and His forgiveness of my sins, I am no longer separated from Him and I have the assurance of spending eternity with my Father in Heaven. It is the litmus test by which I measure whether I am loved or not. The definition of litmus test is this: a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive. The determination of whether I am loved or not is solely based on the fact that God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone (including me) who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. That is the basis for which I am loved. Not whether I feel loved or not. Not whether someone who I thought loved me told me they no longer do. Not that someone who was supposed to love me and take care of me didn’t. The reason I know that I am loved is because God said so in His Word.

But many people determine whether they are loved or not based on how fulfilling their personal relationships are in their lives. They “feel” loved when someone treats them well and meets their emotional needs. But as soon as that person fails to do so, they begin to feel unloved. They falsely believe that when someone rejects them or disappoints them that they are no longer loved. While it may be true that they are no longer loved by the individual, it does not mean they are not loved. The only love that will never fail to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs is God’s love. People will undoubtedly let you down, but God’s love is unfailing.

Right now there may be someone in your life who is failing to make you feel loved. Or maybe someone you thought was there for you has given up on you and you feel the hurt of rejection and disappointment. Maybe your spouse has run out on you and you feel alone and think nobody loves you. But there is One who loves you more than anyone here on this earth can ever love you. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is unconditional, everlasting, and unfailing. His love is healing, comforting and liberating. His love has no limits and knows no bounds. His love is giving but it won’t cost you. His loves brings clarity to your confusion and light to your darkness. His love is pure, forgiving and redeeming. His love covers you and strengthens you in times of weakness. His love drives out fear and builds up faith. His love is immeasureable and secure. His love cleanses and restores. His love is protective and inviting. His love fulfills and completes. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

Going Dark


One of my all-time favorite TV shows was “24” – to this day I’m still holding out hope that a “24” movie is forthcoming. When the lead character, Jack Bauer, was entering into a situation where he would no longer be in communication with his command point, he would always say “I’m going dark”. That meant they would not be able to reach him and there would be no contact whatsoever until it was safe to do so. When Jack was in his “stealth mode” the object was for him to not be exposed. He was to be unseen and unheard. If the mission became about him, it would all be over and the mission would fail.

I see many Christians who serve the church, their family and friends, their community, and even complete strangers with the same “stealth-mode” mentality. They understand that if their ministry to others becomes about them and not about God’s mission to reach the lost, then the mission will fail. They essentially go dark in order to remain unseen so that God may be seen through them as they selflessly serve others.

I’ve had the honor and privilege to visit Kenya, Africa where I met a couple, who quietly and with no fanfare at all, have served the orphaned children of their community for over 20 years. They have an incredible testimony and a story worth telling. But many years ago when they first arrived in Kenya, they felt God told them that if their ministry ever became about them, it would cease to exist. Because of their incredible love for the children they serve and their abounding humility, they have fiercly guarded themselves against pride. Their ministry has grown beyond anything they could have ever imagined. And they know that if they were to share their story in the United States, they could greatly increase their financial support and further the ministry to reach farther than they ever could with their meager support. But what would be lost is the ability to transform lives through the power of God. Because the ministry is not about them, the impact is far more reaching because God is able to show Himself mighty by meeting their needs time after time when they put their trust in Him. For that reason, they do everything they can to ensure they remain camouflaged and unseen so that God may receive the glory for the hearts that are transformed through they tireless and humble work.

Their story is so extraordinary because humility is the most difficult thing to possess and very few of us have it. And just about the time you think you got it, you’ve lost it. Everything in our culture screams “it’s all about me”. We are programmed to think about ourselves first before thinking of others and that we deserve to have it all so why not look out for number one? No one else is looking out for you, right? But humility says to put others first by giving up what we think we deserve. It means we treat others as if they are more important than us. How often, outside of God’s Word, do you hear that message in our world today? Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less often. We cannot consume our own thoughts. We have to re-train our minds against what we are bombarded with on a daily basis and we must learn to think of others first. And because this goes against everything in our human nature, when it occurs God is glorified because there is no way other than by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can put others first. We just don’t have it in us. And when we do people will be drawn to Him and not us.

Are there areas of your life that need some camouflage? If you think you don’t have a problem with pride, there’s red flag number one. Trust me on this one, you do not want to get so full of yourself that it will take a humiliating moment to bring about more humility in your life. I know from my own experience, just about the time I thought I didn’t have a pride issue, God showed me just how much of one I did have. (Matt. 23:12, Prov. 16:18). We all need a reminder sometimes that it’s not all about us. Ask God to show you the areas of pride in your life and then when He does, repent and go dark.

Blind Obedience


Have you ever heard the term “blind ambition”? Most people have, but could you define it if someone asked you to? My son recently asked me what it meant and like most parents faced with a difficult question, I picked up my laptop and googled it. There is not an exact definition for the term but here’s the best explanation I found: “Blind Ambition is simply that.  You do not have a particular ‘focus’ as to where you are going, or what you want to do.  You just KNOW you want to do something, but where exactly you are headed is uncertain.  You can’t make up your mind, yet you’d do anything to anyone to get there as quickly as you can.  Make sense?  I thought not..but it’s true.”

It’s kind of like having a goal, having the ambition to reach the goal, going full speed ahead toward it but having no specific plan on how you will achieve the goal. It’s when you just “go for it” without really thinking it through first. Like the definition above states – it doesn’t make sense and you don’t know what the results will be but you do it anyway.

So that got me thinking. What if all followers of Jesus Christ practiced blind obedience – the kind of obedience that doesn’t always make sense but you do it anyway. As believers we don’t obey a set of rules, but as an act of love we are called to obey God’s commands not because we have to but because we want to. We shouldn’t need to know all the details and know how everything will turn out. All we have to do is to trust God and obey what He calls us to do. He is certainly not required nor should we expect Him to explain the “why” behind every opportunity He gives us to obey Him. God doesn’t need us to fully understand all that He asks of us. But He does want us to completely obey. Besides, we would be beyond overwhelmed if God showed us the “big picture” of every aspect of our lives.

So why do we feel such a need to know what’s coming next? Why do we find it so hard to just obey the step that God has placed before us? Pride and fear are two obstacles that get in the way of blind obedience. We believe we know better than God what the best plan of action would be or we’re too afraid to step out in faith and do what He has called us to do. What is it that you know that God has told you to do that you’re waiting for the full picture to develop before acting on it? Could it be that God is giving you the opportunity to practice blind obedience and to trust Him even though it may not all make sense right now? In John 14:15 Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” It’s not complicated or difficult to understand. Do you love Jesus? Then just obey Him, even if it means you can’t see beyond the first step. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

When You Live To Be 100


This past weekend we celebrated the 100th birthday of my grandmother, Sissy, as she is affectionly known by to her family and friends. It was a celebration of a life that began in 1912 and has been witness to many incredible events throughout this century. Sissy began working as a telephone operator when she was just 16. At the time, she was the youngest employee to ever work for the phone company. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee which she and her three sisters and two brothers helped maintain in order to provide for the family’s needs. I believe it was through her humble beginnings she developed lifelong habits that are worth sharing and learning from.

Wash your face before breakfast – I’m sure this habit was necessary growing up for Sissy because her day began long before breakfast with chores on the farm. She came in after morning chores to “wash up” for breakfast. She still does this every day. I know that I need to “wash up” in the Word before I start my day. The spiritual cleansing that comes from beginning the day with God sets the tone for the entire day.

Have something sweet with every meal – Sissy has a dessert with every meal. Now that may sound crazy for those of us desperately trying to watch our weight but her small indulgence at mealtimes prevents her from a fullblown, whole cheesecake meltdown that might occur if she deprived herself. Every day she has 1 small chocolate donut at breakfast, 1 small chocolate chip cookie at lunch and a 1-scoop ice cream cone after dinner. Moderation is the key that has allowed her to enjoy the things she likes while maintaining self control.

Get excited about the small things – Every day at 3:00 pm Sissy looks out her window with great expectation as she anticipates the delivery of the day’s mail. She if filled with joy when there is something in the mailbox that is meant just for her. Too often we miss the pleasure of the small things in life because they become too routine for us.

Make molehills out of mountains – Whenever something big happens in Sissy’s life that would send others into a stressful frenzy, she seems to have a knack for letting it roll off her back. She doesn’t waste her energy and emotions on getting upset about the things she knows are ultimately in God’s control and chooses to spend her energy and emotions on the people that matter most to her

Keep a routine – Sissy is as predictable as they come and has been for as long as I can remember. She wakes up at the same time every day, washes up, has breakfast, reads the paper, has lunch, watches the same soap opera that she has watched for over 45 years and then enjoys a little afternoon nap (which she vehemently denies). Knowing what your day holds and the peace of knowing the One who holds it in His hands takes the guesswork out of how to respond when the routine is interrupted. She knows what her plans are every day and when the unexpected happens she turns to God and trusts Him with that which is out of her control.

Tell your story often – I’ve heard them all a hundred times but I still enjoy hearing Sissy tell the stories of how she started with the phone company, how she met my grandfather, what it was like to live during the Great Depression and where she was when JFK was shot. She loves to tell her story to anyone who will listen. And no matter how many times you tell your story there’s always a part that someone may have not heard before. Or there is someone out there who needs to hear your story, that needs to know they are not the only one who has experienced what they are going through. Tell your story and tell it often.

Make an actual phone call at least once a week – Sissy is pretty hip but she she is definitely not up to speed on social networking and texting. She uses her old rotary dial telephone to keep in touch with her friends and family. There is something special about a real phone call and hearing the voice on the other end that is lost through emails, texting and social media. People need to know we’re willing to take the time to pick up the phone and call them. I bet right now there is someone you’re thinking of that you should call.

Put on your make-up when you’re expecting guests – Even at 100 years old, Sissy still takes time to care about her physical self. As difficult as it can be for her she puts on her make-up, sprays a little perfume and combs her hair when she knows someone is coming to see her. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20) and we are never too old to take care of ourselves and our bodies in honor of God.

We may not live to be 100 years old but we sure can learn some valuable lessons from someone who has. I know I definitely have. Thanks Sissy.