Reality Check


 

thUCGH0M3XI admit it – I like reality TV. I watch the shows knowing that the term “reality” is to be taken loosely but how can you make someone say or do something? It’s captured on camera, right? Well, according to an article I read, here’s the truth from a reality TV insider: “I can manufacture love where it doesn’t exist, hate where it doesn’t exist, I can make it seem like you’re tired or excited or angry, anything.” Nooooo, tell me it isn’t so!!

And then there’s photoshop. Most of us know that the pictures we see on magazine covers are not real yet many women still strive to look the way the celebrities and models in the doctored photos appear. And many times when I’ve helped myself to a few less pounds and when people have commented on my picture asking how I stay looking so great, I explain to them that there’s an app for that!

And don’t get me started on the news media! With parody and satire websites that post fictional articles and media outlets that spin stories like a politician, who knows what’s really going on in the world we live in?! There’s so many conflicting stories, we’re left wondering “who’s telling the truth?!”

In these times of such uncertainty, deception and confusion, it’s vital that we cling to what we know is the truth. For me, there are a few realities that I can be assured of even when everything else around me seems in doubt.

Reality-Check1. Jesus is still on the throne – when the world seems dark and broken and it appears that Satan is gaining ground, I can trust in the fact that Jesus is in control and I am assured of how it all will end. No matter how bad things may get and no matter how hard life may be, Jesus is still the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. One day, when He decides, all will be made right in the world and I find great assurance in that fact.

2. God’s word is truth. I like to read a lot. Some of it is fiction and some of it is supposedly non-fiction. But really, when I read articles or news stories I can’t be sure if what I’m reading is the truth. In most instances it’s one person’s perspective and opinion and no matter how convincing they may seem, I never really know for sure if they are 100% accurate. But one thing I can know for sure – the Word is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. When the news gets me down or an article I read leaves me in doubt, I can always go to God’s word for truth, encouragement and the building of my faith.

3. My salvation is assured because Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Many people wonder what their purpose is or why they are here. They fear death because for them it’s a huge question of what will happen when they die. Others live their life filled with guilt and condemnation associated with their mistakes, poor choices or circumstances that still hang heavy over their lives. I know because I was one of those people. But the moment Jesus became my Lord and Savior, my life was forever changed. I no longer fear eternity because I know it will be spent in heaven with my Father. I no longer live with the burden of my mistakes because I have received forgiveness for my sins because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I no longer deal with sadness, anger, bitterness and resentment because I am filled with the joy that only the Holy Spirit of God can provide. This is a truth that can be reality for anyone who asks and that’s why this truth is the greatest reality of all.

4. I have biological and spiritual family that love me, accept me and are there for me in my greatest times of need. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are loved and accepted by God but having family that loves you and accepts you is a close second. For many people today, their relationships are in question. Much like everything else in our world, they don’t know how real or how solid their relationships are. They find themselves questioning the authenticity of each person in their life. And even though you may not have biological family that you can depend on, spiritual family can fill a need we all have for authentic relationships.

5. I may not know what my future holds but I know who holds it. I know that if the time comes when I have nothing but God, I have all I need. The reality is that He is the answer to all my fears, all my doubts, all my questions and all my needs. He is my reality.

thXTBUEOJMIf your reality is uncertain, maybe it’s time to cling to what is real. Maybe it’s time to surrender to the reality that God loves you, accepts you and is waiting for you to turn to Him. He desires to be in a relationship with you. He longs to give you the gift of salvation and forgiveness. All you have to do is ask. He is so much more than you could ever ask for or imagine. Don’t spend another day in doubt when the One who is real is right in front of you.

 

 

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.

Who’s the Boss?


One of my favorite TV shows in the 1980’s was the sitcom “Who’s the Boss”. As the title eludes, the show was about the clear role reversal of the two lead characters, where a woman was the breadwinner and a man (who was her live-in housekeeper) stayed at home and took care of the domestic duties. As their friendship and trust in each other grew and the lines became crossed, there was an underlying tension between the two of them of who was really in control of the decision-making in the home.

We live in a world that constantly attempts to remind us through all forms of media that we are in control of our lives. That we are the ones with the power to direct our path in life. Actress Drew Barrymore once said “I don’t want to sit around and hope good things happen. I want to make them happen.” She clearly believes she is the one who ultimately determines the outcome of her life. We all have seen or experienced marriages in which husbands and wives fight for control of each other. Or parents who try both successfully and unsuccessfully to control their children. In the workplace and in the school classrooms it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s in control. And while it’s true that we are, for the most part, in control of the choices we make, it is in those choices that we are ultimately giving up control. We falsely believe that because we are free to make our own choices then that means we are in control of our lives. There are much bigger forces at play and much more at stake than we realize.

I am a self confessed control freak. I get it when people tell me it’s hard to give up control and to trust in someone else to guide their decisions. I was one of those people who held on to control of all areas of my life (my marriage, my work, my money) even as I was watching them all slowly spiral out of control. People who were far wiser than I ever will be told me to surrender control of my life to God. To trust in Him to “fix” all the areas of my life I was incapable of fixing myself, as long as I was relying on my own strength and abilities. I held on tight-fisted to control until I almost lost it all. I believed that I knew what was best for my life and thought “how in the world can I just release all this to God? It’s too hard!” Even though I believed that I was the one in control and that the choices were either “I’m the boss” or “God’s the boss”, the truth was that I was never in control. Either I was going to surrender and allow God to be in control or I was going to continue to give into my own desires and allow the enemy of God to be in control. We are extremely deceived if we believe we are ever truly in control.

It isn’t easy and I use the present tense because it is a daily surrender to the desires of my heart and of my flesh. But thankfully I don’t have to rely any longer on my own strength or on my own abilities to do so. And I now know that God’s ways are always better than my own. I made the choice about 15 years ago to surrender my life to Jesus Christ, to relinquish the burden of control to Him. And since that time I have learned that what our world would perceive as weakness was the single-most freeing thing I’ve ever done. I believed the lie that freedom was found in being in control of my own life and on not relying on anyone but myself to make the decisions that affected my destiny. But the truth was that I was enslaved to my need to be in control. (Gal. 5:1) Now, I no longer have to carry the burden of trying to fix everything, do everything, be everything or know everything. I have the joy of experiencing freedom from being in control – yes freedom from not freedom in being in control. It is bondage to hang on to the belief that you are in control of your life. (1Kings 18:21). Remember, either you have surrendered to God and He’s in control or you’ve surrendered to your own desires and the enemy is in control. So, who’s your boss?