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Perfect Life Strife

Proclaiming Christ as the Lord of your life puts one in such a precarious place.  The “Christian Life” becomes the perfect conundrum.   The perfect life strife begins.

Shall I list all the things that are supposed to now be perfect as a result of your position in Christ?  Behavior, family, relationships (married, single, etc.), children, work relations, attitude, yard, house, car, driving, exercise, prayer life, music, health, theology, eating habits, and finances just to name a few.  Each of these should be done perfectly.  It is not that you don’t want your life to be changed, but the expectations can be daunting.

Of course, these expectations of perfection come from family, friends, enemies, church, coworkers, teachers, strangers, and the general public, just to name a few.  Each of their opinions of your “Christian Life” is from their understanding of what your perfect “Christian Life” should look like.   Are you feeling the strife?

You can’t make too much money.  To others you already make (and waste) too much money.  How about you shouldn’t make any money?  Or it could be you should make it and give it all away.  Of course you better give it away to the right group.  You see this perfect frustration?

The 757,000 words of the Bible (English Standard Version) become a figurative mine field to be placed around you by those observing your “Christian Life”. Of course in making that spiritual assessment their interpretation can take many shades along the spectrum from accurate to completely off base. Who is to judge?  Of course, there may even be multiple interpretations of the spiritual assessment of your perfect positioning.  Fun, huh?

What is a man or women of God to do in this seemingly hostile environment?  Is there a safe zone for anyone seeking to live the “Christian Life”?  In the midst of this perfect conundrum, how can a leader make it in this environment?

For me it has been the recognition that I will never on this planet be perfect and will never be perfectly assessed.  I will never be the father I desire to be.  I will never be the leader I would love to think I exemplify.  I will never have the right attitude most of the time…

Sound defeated?  Well for me it is not defeated; it is gaining the proper position.  I have always needed a Savior.  Even though I have put my trust in Christ as a Savior, I will continue to always need a Savior.  Of course, correct me if I am wrong.

To be a father I need Him.  To be a husband I need Him.  To be a leader I need Him.  You name it.  I need Him.  When I recognize my deep spiritual need for Him and attempt to please Him, well then I am heading in the right direction.

When heading in the right direction and thinking I have perfectly arrived in my “Christian Life”.  Well, that’s when I need Him the most.

How do you handle the perfect life strife?

Do you find yourself frustrated with these issues?

Moses Misgiving; My Malady

I can’t do it.  Me?  Not in my skill set.  Way past my comfort zone.  Do what?  I can’t.  I have never done it.  They don’t deserve it.  They will think I am crazy.  How can I afford it?

Have you ever had a directive, idea, mission, or vision to do something and you believe the Lord inspired it?  One of the ways you know the Lord is inspiring it is because when you think about accomplishing it you know it is impossible to accomplish.

I am challenged with a vision to eliminate the need for abortion in Southeast Georgia.  It seems impossible.  I also struggle with a mission to empower youth to embrace purity in relationships and postpone sex until marriage.  Really?  Do this in our culture?

It is not always some grand vision or mission.  It could be to forgive or love someone who you think is unlovable.  This can be the greatest challenges of all.  You may be completely unwilling to go there.

If you are like me you may find yourself in the trap of the first paragraph, giving all the reasons why you are incapable to fulfill the mission.  This is a common malady for me.

Don’t worry if you find yourself sharing this malady.   Some really great people share the same misgivings.  Great biblical leaders like Moses have had this issue.

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”  (Exodus 4:1 ESV)

But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10 ESV)

But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” (Exodus 6:12 ESV)

God gave Moses a vision of His people being set free from bondage and Moses began laying out all his misgivings.  He explained to God why he was not suitable to complete the mission.  In the midst of my stumbling and bumbling with my own hesitations, I have uncovered a few things about Moses misgivings and ways to deal with my tendency to join in his malady.

Recognize that you were not called by God to fulfill the task because you are able to accomplish it.  The cliché, He did not call you for your ability but for your availability.

Own the responsibility of His challenge.  He gave it to you.

Humbly receive the honor and privilege as He has considered you worthy of receiving more responsibility.

Go ahead and communicate with the Lord your misgivings.  He knows it already.  You will note that Moses was not annihilated for communicating his with the Lord.

Surrender yourself to prepare for and do the next step.  The Lord has a tendency to reveal just the next creative step.  No one step will accomplish the God-sized task, because then it would not be God-sized.

Upon being faithful to complete the next step He will provide what is necessary for the next step.

Before you know it the people of God are on their way out of Egypt.  In other words, the God-sized directive, idea, mission, or vision is accomplished.  Of course, as you have shown yourself faithful on this course, the honor of the next directive, idea, mission, or vision will be presented.  Don’t worry you can’t handle it, so just start again.

Do you, like Moses, struggle with the directive, idea, mission, or vision you believe God has put on your heart?

What have you done to deal with your misgivings?

Love Most Logistics

“Love is giving the other person what they need the most when they deserve it the least because God has done that for me.”

In my last opportunity to speak with a youth group on relationships I used a definition of love that I picked up from Chip Ingram.

“Love is giving the other person what they need the most when they deserve it the least because God has done that for me.”

I know if you are like me you are recognizing this is an absolutely appropriate but a challenging definition of love.  When lived out this is a phenomenal representation of selfless love.  Can you imagine how marriages, families, churches, work environments, and communities would be changed if this definition of love became the norm? I don’t have my arms around that definition yet, but I sure do aspire towards it.  I may have intentionally been there a few times and hit on it accidentally some more times.  I just don’t live there like I would like.

I want to make the choice to be there regularly in my relationships.  My wife certainly has done this for me.  I say done this for me, because I absolutely do recognize it as a choice.  You don’t live out this definition of love without making a conscience effort.  Maybe I should say I don’t live it out without making a choice.

Then by nature I set myself up to need to receive this kind of love.  I am grateful my wife has made the choice to love me when I least deserve it.  What a great honor and privilege to receive her love in this way. I know I often put my children in a similar place where they must give what I don’t deserve.

I don’t know about you, but I know why the Apostle Paul encourages dads not to exasperate or provoke their children to anger.  (Ephesians 6:4) If most dads are like me it comes pretty natural.  I have some innate skill in this area.  Often when I have exasperated them most they have chosen to love me at my worst.   I don’t deserve it.  I am grateful this reckoning of undeserved love.

Of course, the greatest example of this love is within the definition.  Our loving Father sent His only son to die for us.   We did not deserve it.  We did not earn it.    Yet, by His great grace we are happy recipients.  I am grateful he gave me what I needed the most when I did not even know I needed it and definitely did not deserve it.

When looking at Chip’s definition of love, how is your love life?

Do you share my thoughts that this definition of love is a choice?  What makes you believe your answer?

Foggy Stops Lifted

I expressed in Foggy Stops that I often find myself in a quandary. I am in the midst of ministry and I find myself wondering if I should stop for ministry. How can I be fair? What should I do?

One of the greatest examples I have of adequately handling this challenge is found in the Bible, Luke 8:40-50. Jesus is in the midst of heading for ministry to Jairus’ daughter who is on her death bed. On the way there he is clearly interrupted by ministry, but does not seem to be interrupted at all.

A woman, who has been bleeding physically for twelve years, touches the fringe of his garment and is physically healed. Ministry work accomplished, right? Wrong! Jesus recognized the opportunity for ministry and stopped for ministry.

In a wonderful act of compassion, Jesus recognized in her religious tradition twelve years of bleeding physically left her also bleeding socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus revealed the real need and welcomed her back into public life again.  He set her free from the chains that bound her for twelve years.

Following this empathetic ministry to her, Jesus moved on to His next opportunity for ministry. This is the premiere example of effective ministry without getting lost in the fog.

As you know from  Foggy Stops I can’t say that I have been there as much as I would like. I sure do want to experience this ministry mix exemplified by Jesus’ fine tuned connection with the Father. I want to handle my stops like Him.

When have you effectively made the transition to ministry on the way to ministry?

What do you think is the key to doing ministry the “Jesus Way”?

Mastering Foggy Stops

I expressed in Foggy Stops that I often find myself in a quandary. I am in the midst of ministry and I find myself wondering if I should stop for ministry. How can I be fair? What should I do?

One of the greatest examples I have of adequately handling this challenge is found in Luke 8:40-50. Jesus is in the midst of heading for ministry to Jairus’ daughter who is on her death bed. On the way there he is clearly interrupted by ministry, but does not seem to be interrupted at all.

A woman, who has been bleeding physically for twelve years, touches the fringe of his garment and is physically healed. Ministry work accomplished, right? Wrong! Jesus recognized the opportunity for ministry and stopped for ministry.

In a wonderful act of compassion, Jesus recognized in her religious tradition twelve years of bleeding physically left her also bleeding socially, emotionally, and spirituall

Mastering Foggy Stops

I expressed in Foggy Stops that I often find myself in a quandary.  I am in the midst of ministry and I find myself wondering if I should stop for ministry.  How can I be fair?  What should I do?

One of the greatest examples I have of adequately handling this challenge is found in Luke 8:40-50.  Jesus is in the midst of heading for ministry to Jairus’ daughter who is on her death bed.  On the way there he is clearly interrupted by ministry, but does not seem to be interrupted at all.

A woman, who has been bleeding physically for twelve years, touches the fringe of his garment and is physically healed.  Ministry work accomplished, right?  Wrong!  Jesus recognized the opportunity for ministry and stopped for ministry.

In a wonderful act of compassion, Jesus recognized in her religious tradition twelve years of bleeding physically left her also bleeding socially, emotionally, and spiritually.  Jesus recognized the need and welcomed her into the public life again free from the chains that bound her for twelve years.

Following this empathetic ministry to her Jesus moved on to His next opportunity for ministry.  This is the premiere example of effective ministry without getting lost in the fog.

As you know from my Foggy Stops post I can’t say that I have been there as much as I would like.  I sure do want to experience this ministry mix exemplified by Jesus’ fine tuned connection with the Father.  I sure do want to be there.

Have you ever effectively made the transition to ministry on the way to ministry?

What do you think is the key to doing ministry the “Jesus Way”?

y. Jesus recognized the need and welcomed her into the public life again free from the chains that bound her for twelve years.

Following this empathetic ministry to her Jesus moved on to His next opportunity for ministry. This is the premiere example of effective ministry without getting lost in the fog.

As you know from my Foggy Stops post I can’t say that I have been there as much as I would like. I sure do want to experience this ministry mix exemplified by Jesus’ fine tuned connection with the Father. I sure do want to be there.

Have you ever effectively made the transition to ministry on the way to ministry?

What do you think is the key to doing ministry the “Jesus Way”?

Foggy Stops

One challenge of being involved with a Christ-centered ministry is navigating ministry opportunities.  Actually this is a challenge of a Christian who wants to make a difference.

In my world there is ministry to the clients who walk in the doors, their family or significant others,  the volunteers who themselves come to serve, my staff, the students to whom I speak, their teachers and parents, the donors who graciously give or can’t give right now, the people with whom I go to church, and then there is my own family.

Everyone is just chocked full of ministry opportunities for the man or woman who wants to make a difference.  Each individual or group presents their own prospect for care, encouragement, support, compassion, exhortation, insights, time, love, confrontation, etcetera, etcetera.

Here is the rub.   In this thick ministry fog it is a challenge to know where to start or stop next.  With all I am doing how can I ever stop for other ministry?

Of course, there is the analysis of these missed opportunities.  Wasn’t I already busy helping in one area already?  How can I help everyone?  Did I miss it?  Am I just callous to the needs of others?  Where is the compassion?  How can I be fair?  Am I supposed to be fair?

Have you ever found yourself in the fog of ministry opportunities wondering how to navigate?

What navigational aids do you use to get you through the fog?

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