Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is Your Soul Sold, or For Sale?

Is your soul sold, or is it for sale?  This question just struck me as I read these verses;

"The king said to Ittai the Gittite, 'Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland.  You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen. May kindness and faithfulness be with you.'

But Ittai replied to the king, 'As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.' " (2 Samuel 15:19-20).

This response from Ittai is pretty striking.  He had only arrived in Judah one day earlier, was an exiled foreigner, had nothing to fear from Absalom, and had just been granted a peaceful parting by the king...and yet here he is committing to follow David in his wanderings, with no idea where David is going or what the future is.  Ittai commits to follow David in life or even in death.  He soul is sold...sold out to following David.  A little later we read that David puts Ittai in charge of 1/3 of his army.  I wonder why...?

What are you sold out to?  What am I?  When we signed up to become a disciple of Christ, did we do it with the spirit of Ittai?  No turning back?  In life or death?  Or did we somehow expect a certain lifestyle?  Blessings, health, money, houses and cars, nice vacations, children that are well-behaved, etc.  Christ, of course, calls us to follow strings attached.

There's really only one other option to being sold; being for sale.  If your'e for sale, watch out.  The devil who masquerades as an angel of light has many, many things he'd like to sell you.

Being sold out to Christ is both a one-time commitment where you step over the line and into eternity, and a daily, moment by moment decision to remain in Him.  Not that you move in and out of salvation, but that we are being challenged and tested constantly.  A Christian, you recall, is a "Little-Christ."  Being sold out is not to have attained to being a perfect Christian, but it is a commitment to following Him...a commitment to living a holy life, "set-apart."  What does it look like?  I think the apostle Paul puts it best;

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)

Run hard, run fast, commit to following Him in life or death, and make sure your soul is not for sale.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Path

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." (Proverbs 27:12)

I recently started reading a book called The Principle of the Path written by Andy Stanley.  If you follow this blog you know that I rarely, if ever, write a book review - and to be true, this is not a review of the book. However, it has grabbed me simply because of it's "no duh" premise, which so many of us (including myself) violate over and over.

If you plan on reading this book and don't want any spoilers, stop here.  Otherwise, keep going.

The main thrust of the book is this; "direction, not intention, determines your destination."  I told you it was a "no duh" premise, so what's the point?  The point is this; most of us, including myself, seem to live by a different principle that goes something like this; my intentions and plans determine my destination.

For example, you intend to be healthy and in good shape, therefore you will be.  It's your intention. Meanwhile, you eat fast food, never exercise, drink lots of soda and mochas, and somehow expect to end up healthy.  Oh, for sure, you plan to "get around to it" some day.  But then, another day goes by...

Or you desire to be close to Christ and develop an intimate relationship with him, yet you spend more time watching espn and reading the paper than you do in God's Word and prayer.  Hmmmm.  Direction = Destination.  I wonder...

As I read this book I'm already being challenged to either 1) examine my life and determine what parts need a direction change in order to lead me to my desired destination, or 2) read the book and say "some day I'll get around to incorporating that into my life" and then putting it on the shelf like so many others.  As Stanley himself says, "Knowing doesn't make the difference.  Doing does."

I hate books like this....but I need them.

If I had to describe in one word the kind of life I want to live, it would be this word; intentional.  I don't want life to "happen to me," I don't want to live reactionary.  I want to live an intentional life...a life with a purpose, on purpose.  Maybe that's why this book resonates with me, because in many ways, it's putting words to what I already believe.  I challenge you to find any great leader or person you admire who just "accidentally" arrived at where they are now.  Still, just because I want to live an intentional life, doesn't mean I am or I will.  I have to DO it.

In the same way, living as a Christian requires intentionality.  It means making choices that will put you on a path that leads you closer to Christ.  Direction, not intentions = Destination.  Which leaves us with one simple question; where are you headed?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Christ + ? (2 of 2)

First, if you haven't read my previous post titled "Secret Things," go back and read it. This post kind of takes off from there.  I ended that post with this Scripture verse found in Deuteronomy;

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut 4:29)

I am daily confronted with something in myself that I hate, but seem powerless to get rid of.  Pride, Selfishness, Desires.  I pray, but often my prayers are for my comfort.  I pray for health, for provision, for job security, for a raise or bonus, for recognition for things I've done, for honor.  Even my prayer for other people are often self-motivated.  Sure, I might "pray" for closeness with God, but so often they seem to be merely words.  Truth?  I'll grow closer to God as I go through tests, trials or tragedies, yet I would never pray for those things.  I would grow closer to God if I experienced persecution, yet I never ask for that.

It seems that I've settled for a different Gospel.  Christ + ________ (fill in the blank); or worse, ________ (fill in the blank) + Christ.  What I want is "my life + Christ."  But when I read the Bible, I see Jesus said this;

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:25).

The gospel is Jesus + nothing.  It's Christ and Christ alone.  It's total and complete surrender.  It's the "free gift that will cost you everything" or enemy of God.

This is a challenging truth to live out and I confess I don't have this one nailed.  I am blessed.  God has blessed me in so many way; a beautiful wife, a son, a house and cars, health, a great family, a great country where I'm free to live and worship, retirement accounts (even if they are low), and so much more.  Would I give all of it up for Christ if He asked for it?

The truth?  Jesus + nothing = everything.

Here's the challenge, for me at least.  I am wired as one of those people who loves to "finish" things, to check off the boxes and cross items off the to-do list.  I have a hard time when I have projects unfinished hanging over my head.  And yet, I know that to be a Christian, I will never "arrive."  It's a daily struggle to run this race.  I am wired for the 40 yard dash, and yet God has called me to run a 50k.

My goal must be to live today, for Christ, and for nothing else.  Go back to that verse in Deuteronomy; If I pursue him with 3/4 of my heart, not enough.  If I give Him 95% of my soul, not good enough.

My encouragement for you?  Don't you dare, for one single second, take your eyes off of Christ.  He MUST be everything in your life; your strength, your insurance, your motivation.  He won't settle for anything fact, He demands this from us.

What right does He have to demand this from us?  One word.  Cross.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Secret Things...(1 of 2)

We want answers, and we want them now.  The media feasts on this desire, often making up answers just to appease their audience, (us), who can't bear to live with unanswered questions.  When something weird happens, we want an answer.  When something bad happens, we want justice.  When something we can't explain happens, we want/demand an explanation.  Closure.  Answers.

The person I fear the most is someone who appears to have all the answers. Consider;

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Cor 1:27)

"Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." (Isaiah 29:14)

"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34, quoting Isaiah 40:13)

Do you ever stop to consider the greatness of God?  Consider eternity for a moment; think about it.  With God there is no time; there is no past, present or future.  He is eternal.  Before time began, He was.  He has always been.  Beyond the farthest galaxy, He exists.  There has never been a moment in time, if time existed with Him, that He was not.  And when our "finite" life on earth has ended, we will step into eternity with Him...or apart from Him. end, no beginning.  It kind of blows my mind...I can't figure it out, and that kind of bugs me.  I think Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived put it best;

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:10)

Think about the word "holy" for a moment, which literally means "set apart."  God is holy.  He is not like us, but he is set apart.  Do you ever stop to consider the "otherness" of God?  He is a mystery, He is a Spirit.  His ways are above our ways.

And yet, He calls us to worship Him, to pray to Him, to commune with Him.  He calls us into a relationship with Him, and because of His love for us, He desires us to live with Him to eternity.

"The secret things belong to the Lord..." (Deuteronomy 29:29)

"What's your point?" you ask?  My point is this.  This holy, infinite God who holds all wisdom and the keys to the secret things, has made a way for you and me to know Him.  Do we?  Do I?  Not know about Him, but really know Him?  Proverbs 3:5-6 talks about "acknowledging God in all our ways."  That word for "acknowledge" literally translates as "know him" and implies an intimacy with Him.  Remember Jesus' prayer for us was that we would be "one" with Him; He in us, and us in Him. heart, one mind, one know the Father.

"How" you ask?  That is a lifetime answer.  But this much I know...

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."  (Deut 4:29).

Have you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Never Alone

Like many people around the world today, I am transfixed by the drama unfolding in Chile as the 33 miners who have spent 69 days 2000' underground are pulled to the surface one by one.  I can't imagine the ordeal they went through as day after day went by with an uncertain future.

In reading the CNN article on this story, (so far, as of noon on Wednesday), one line jumped out at me.

"To say there were 33 trapped in the mine is wrong, Ramirez said. There were 33 men -- and God."

I've had a few phone calls this week with folks who are facing uncertain futures, and fighting with despair. Whether it's health issues, job issues, divorce, addictions, or a myriad of other challenges that our people are facing, the challenge remains the same; an uncertain future.

It is imperative that we remember one critical truth as we navigate our life on earth; you are never alone.  For those who have called and trusted in the name of Jesus, you will never again be alone.  It's you + God and that is an equation built for success.  Consider the following Scriptures;

[Jesus] "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)

No matter what we face in life; whether it's a test or a trial, grief or sin, remember that you're never alone.  As the popular worship song by Matt Redman says,

Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm,
Oh, no, You never let go, through every high and every low,
Oh, no, You never let go, Lord you never let go of me.

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

My prayer is that you would be reminded today that Christ is IN you.  I leave you with this;

"And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you." (Romans 8:10-11)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Axioms, Adages, and Proverbs (3): Rest

"The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it." (author unknown)

Why is it we are so task driven? Why is it I often feel so guilty whenever I have an afternoon to rest?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Have you ever taken an entire afternoon to just rest?  
I read that quote above and wonder, what is it that makes this man successful, the one who spends an afternoon on the bank of a river? I think it's found in these words; solitude, reflection, self-awareness, prayer, and strength.

I just got back from a week at Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands with my wife and son. It was like a breath of fresh air. Physically restful, no, not with a 6 month old. But mentally and spiritually restful? Absolutely. Thanks to my amazing wife, I was able to find moments almost every day to rest my mind. I often took a kayak out into the middle of the bay and just drifted. There I found time to pray, to rest, to have solitude and quiet, to read, and in all of that, to find strength. The hardest part? Not feeling guilty about it.

How about you? When's the last time you rested?  Go ahead, pull up a chair and take a load off.  It's command #4 by the way.  (
Click here to read all my posts on "rest").

Friday, October 1, 2010


What's POV, you ask?  So glad you asked!  It stands for "Point of View" as in, "depending on your 'point of view,' " the Huskies loss to Nebraska last Saturday is either a blip on their way to their first bowl game in years, or a sign of another sub-.500 season.  Or "depending on your 'point of view,' " Starbucks epitomizes what good coffee should be, or, they over-roast their beans and have merely cashed in on American's caffeine addition.  Or "depending on your 'point of view,' " jazz instrumental music is only fit for elevators, or jazz instrumental music show-cases incredibly talented and creative musicians.

Depending on your 'point of view,' God is a task-master, or God is a genie in heaven, or He is so Holy we could never come close to Him, or He is our best friend.  He is either the forgiver who never holds our sin against us, or He is a just and righteous God that demands our awe.
You have to be careful with point of view.  Point of view is often based more on our experiences rather than facts.  The thing is, our 'point of view's' change so quickly.  Take these two pictures, for example.  Same building, same day, same minute, but very different pictures.  The only difference?  About 10 feet.  In photography, often the difference between a good picture and a great picture all boils down to your Point of View.  You have to move a few feet, or sometimes just a few inches to get the angle and lighting just right.

In life, often the difference between a bitter person and a joyful person, is simply how they view their lives.  Is the glass half-empty, or half-full?  Do I spend more time counting blessings, or worrying about trials?  What is your point of view as you go through life?

"Be joyful always; 
pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

What's your point of view?  Is your glass half-empty, or half-full?  If you're struggling right now with some sort of test or trial, some circumstance that has hit you or something that has you worried constantly, STOP!  Pause for a moment and write down on a piece of paper all that you're thankful for.  Try it - it just might change your point of view.