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Turning the Bible Into Behavior

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Jesus Vs. The Python Spirit

chains-19176_1920Going through the motions leaves one dry and empty with a cold religion. There is no intimacy with God. Authentic faith is about experiencing the power of the presence of God and His Spirit. You see, when we encounter Jesus our lives are changed. When we are changed, we are no longer captive to the things that used to keep us in bondage. Our great unknown today is a slave. But not just any slave, every slave. See, we are all slaves. Did you know that you are a slave? The only question is, “Who is your master?” We do not have only one slave in the story. The story is really all about spiritual power, hardness of hearts, and the ability of the gospel to change lives. This story is set up like a western showdown. It’s a showdown between different sets of slaves to see whose master is more powerful. Luke tells us the story in Acts 16:16-22:

16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain girl possessed with a python spirit met us, which gave her masters much business with her fortune telling:

snake-419043_1920The word python was originally used in Greek mythology for the snake that guarded the sacred place at Delphi, where divine prophecies were given. The python was killed by Apollo, the god of prophecy. The word was later used to describe fortune tellers who were thought to be inspired by the serpent called Python. Plutarch calls these people ventriloquists – their utterances are beyond their conscious control (they are only dummies, puppets). So she’s not really a fortune teller, so to speak. She’s a puppet through which a powerful demon speaks, telling people things about themselves that are true!

When you encounter someone like this you know that you’re dealing with one of three options: it’s God, a fraud, or a demon. There is no other way around it. The Bible warns believers to stay away from that kind of hooka-booka nonsense. At any rate, this girl brought in a lot of business with her fortune telling. And for some reason she attaches herself to the preachers. We don’t know exactly why. Perhaps in her possessed state she realized she needed some help. Perhaps the spirit in her was trying to antagonize Paul and Silas.

17 She followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, “These men are servants of the most high God, that are proclaiming to us a way of salvation.”

There is a possibility that the spirit in the girl is trying to create confusion and trouble for Paul and Silas. In Jewish and Christian circles, the expression “most high God” means the one true God, the Almighty. It’s the Greek expression for the Old Testament’s El Elyon. Genesis14:18 reads ~ “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of El Elyon, of God Most High.” But that’s not necessarily how pagans understood the expression. In Philippi the term ‘the Highest God’ could have been misleading. It was a pagan title for Zeus. Could it be that, as people are drawing in to hear about Paul’s God, this python spirit is trying to distract them and prevent people from hearing about Yahweh, about Jesus?

It makes me think of Oprah Winfrey and her spiritual guru, Eckhart Tolle. He tries to claim that the spirituality he promotes is compatible with the Christian faith. It is all under the same big spiritual umbrella. All he is really doing is confusing people from hearing the real truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eckhart Tolle says there are multiple paths to “God.” The Bible says there is one path.

demon-1294136_1280There is also a power play going on here. In the ancient world, knowing someone’s name and knowing where they come from give you power over that person. Often times people would have a public name but keep their real name private among close friends and family. In standard exorcisms the exorcist has to identify and name the spirit being cast out. The act of naming gives you power over it. In the gospels we see Jesus run into several demons. The funny thing is that they try to exorcise Jesus! They use the standard exorcism language. They identify him by name and where he is from. “I know who you are, Jesus, Son of the most high God!” They knew his name, but they didn’t really know his true power or authority.

I get that same sort of feeling here in Acts 16. Here are Paul and Silas, out and about doing ministry, telling people about God and Jesus, and here comes this spirit who tries to exert authority over them. Remember, this passage is all about mastery and slavery. The spirit wants to show that he is in control. Thus we have a showdown. It’s a showdown between slaves. On one side, the girl, slave to the python spirit. On the other side, Paul and Silas, slaves to the most high God (even the spirit recognized this).

18 And she did this many days. But Paul, wearied, turned and said to the spirit, “I proclaim to you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he went out the same hour.

But this showdown is short-lived. You see, there’s really no contest. The evil spirit even foreshadows his own demise! Look again at the end of verse 17: “they are proclaiming to us a way of salvation.” And then Paul whips around and says, “Hey bub, I proclaim to you, in Jesus name, come out of her!” And the demon leaves. In the Greek the word is literally “goes out.” And gives us a funny little play on words in verse 19:

19 And when her masters saw go out the hope of their business, they caught Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace to the rulers,

Luke makes a humorous play on words: the leaving of the spirit (the python spirit went out) is the same leaving of the masters’ hope for business (hope went out). When Paul exorcised the demon he exorcised their source of income as well. They don’t care about anything else, just their cash flow. Never mind the miraculous exorcism that just took place. Never mind the state and well-being of the young girl. They saw their profits dry up and they became livid! Something similar happens later on when Paul is preaching in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-29). The unbelievers react violently when the gospel threatens their income. What becomes of the girl, we are not informed. You see, the story takes a turn here.

Paul and Silas were in a confrontation with a slave to the python spirit. Now they are in a confrontation with men who are slaves to the world. Sometimes the gospel of Jesus and the people who believe it are going to come into conflict with powers and enemies. Sometimes those powers will be spiritual, demons and darkness. Sometimes those powers will be people in authority or in a position over us. You might not be struggling with an actual demonic presence, but there are other presences, other temptations, you might struggle with serving when you ought to be serving Jesus Christ.

20 and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, 21 and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.

Romans were forbidden by law to convert to Judaism. Any evangelism would be seen as contrary to that law. Paul and Silas are in a bind. They know that they shouldn’t legally be telling people about Jesus and preaching the people need to change. But they know that people DO need to change, and that people will be incomplete without Jesus in their lives. Paul and Silas, they chose to serve God no matter what the cost. So when these angry merchants bring Paul and Silas before the magistrates they don’t stand alone as men. They stand as servants of the most high God.

22 The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.

You may know how this story ends. Paul and Silas get thrown in prison. But not just the minimum security “D” block. No, they get put into the inner prison, the pit, maximum security. This is a time to get glum. This is a time to be negative. But not these guys. Tertullian was a church leader foundational in helping establish Christian theology. He introduced the word “Trinity” to Christian vocabulary. He once said, “The legs feel nothing in the stocks when the heart is in heaven.” Did they feel like worshiping? Probably not. They were likely tired, aching, and scared. Yet they worshiped anyway.

As they’re praying and singing to God through the night, a massive earthquake comes and the doors fall down and the chains fall off! There is no hint that Paul and Silas are praying for release, though the other prisoners might have felt the earthquake was an answer to prayer! What the slaves to the world tried to do to Paul and Silas God disarms in the blink of an eye.

When the jailer finds the doors and chains destroyed he’s about to kill himself. Better suicide than public humiliation, beating, or possible death at the hands of the Roman authorities. But Paul stops him saying, “Wait, we’re all here.” And the jailer calls for a light (this is the deep dungeon, remember?) and asks Paul and Silas, “What do I have to do to be saved?” What exactly the jailer meant by his question of salvation is difficult to say. He may have heard the possessed girl earlier in the week that these men had come to proclaim the way of salvation….

And Paul and Silas tell him the only thing that matters – salvation comes through Jesus Christ. In the power encounter with the girl, the slaves of God overcome the slave of evil spirits. In the power encounter with the merchants and magistrates, the slaves of God overcome the slaves of the world. And now, in the dark of the prison, the slave to the Roman authorities, the jailer, asks what it takes to switch sides and be a slave of the most high God.

Friends, if there is anything that God would have us understand through this story it’s this: slaves of the most high God are really free. The girl, slave to the python spirit, is finally set free after an encounter with the most high God. Paul and Silas are literally set free from their chains! Even the jailer, bound to the Roman authorities and about to take his own life, finds the freedom offered by being a slave to Jesus Christ. Slaves to evil spirits, the things of the world, or the people of this world are really in bondage. 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 says:

“For the slave who has been called in the Lord is the Lord’s free person. In the same way, the free person who has been called is Christ’s slave. You were bought for a price. [So] stop becoming slaves of people.”

I am sure that we all know people who are bound up, trapped in lives, behaviors, and attitudes that enslave them. Even people in the church are in bondage when we should be experiencing freedom as slaves of the most high God. What would our Master have us do as His slaves? If we walk in the power of the presence of God’s holy spirit, how does that change our everyday lives? When we have a power encounter with Jesus Christ, we will be changed.

You may be a slave to lust and pornography. You may be a slave to gossip and slander. You may be a slave to anger or mastered by your short temper. You may wrestle with the spirit of complacency. Or maybe you are a slave to a critical and judgmental spirit. How would our Master have us act and live? There is a reason why we aren’t experiencing the freedom that comes with being a slave to the most high God? Have you asked Him? Have you hit your knees, acknowledged your slavery, and said, “God, I want to switch sides. I want to be slave to you alone and nothing else”? It’s time to get serious about who you serve.

Make up your mind.

When Faith and the U.S. Military Collide

Let me begin by pointing out (yet again) that I speak for myself. These are my opinions soldier-708711_1280and reflections. I do not speak for the military or the government. Okay, ready?

This week I read an article saying that Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is once again up in arms about a Christian in the military expressing his faith. This time his furor is directed against an Army Colonel who shared a story about his grandfather’s faith and encouraged Service Members to work on spiritual fitness through prayer. Weinstein’s statement says:

Apparently, Colonel Thomas Hundley can’t figure out whether he’s an active duty senior Army officer or an evangelical Christian missionary? Further, DoD can’t seem to, likewise, decipher whether they are paying him to be one or the other. Where the hell is the adult supervision for senior, active duty officer, Constitutional compliance at DoD?….

Colonel Hundley has absolutely no business or authority under American law to be conflating his Army officer rank, title and position with his professed evangelical Christian faith.

Let’s break down what’s really happening, okay?

1. The military recognizes that spiritual fitness is an important component in overall health. The Army defines spirituality:

Spirituality, as defined by Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, is strengthening a set of beliefs, principles or values that sustain a person beyond family, institutional, and societal sources of strength.

Did you see the part in there that defines spirituality as Christian faith? No? Because it isn’t there. What we’re talking about is the general concept that healthy and fit Service Members have a healthy spirituality WHATEVER THEIR PARTICULAR EXPRESSION LOOKS LIKE.

For the Colonel, his spirituality takes the shape of Christianity.

2. The Colonel did not tell people that his background needed to be everyone’s background. He related a story about his grandfather to share about his own journey, but there was no proselytizing – he wasn’t trying to convert anyone. Sharing personal stories isn’t the same thing as actively trying to convert others.

And finally,

3. Calling people to prayer is really the least offensive way of talking about spiritual growth. All the major religions have a form of prayer and/or meditation. I can encourage Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Atheists, EVERYONE to engage in spiritual behavior through prayer/meditation. It’s not a behavior unique to Christianity.

Let me give you some personal examples from my own ministry as a military chaplain. My job as a chaplain is NOT to walk around finding people to whack on the head with my Bible and yell, “YOU NEED JESUS!” No, my job is to see to the free exercise of religion for ALL of the Service Members I come across.

Not too long ago I was asked about facilitating a need for Islamic prayer. Easy day! I kid-1077793_1920acquired a Muslim prayer rug for the Religious Ministry Team (RMT) and gave the Service Member space for prayer. I have also given out copies of the Koran, the Book of Morman, Jewish prayer books, and yes, even Bibles, when Service Members let me know they have a need.

So no, the Chaplain Corps is not about making converts. Christians in the military are not hell-bent on making converts. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for senior leadership to suggest Service Members engage in some form of prayer/meditation as a means to strengthen their spirituality.

On a final note, it is possible for us to hold to our own beliefs while still supporting the rights of others to have their beliefs. This is where we get to the biblical behavior lesson for the day. As Christians we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are also called to treat people the way we wish to be treated. We don’t have to argue the rightness/wrongness of faith. We can be faithful to our own spirituality and still respect the faith and religions of those who disagree with us.

As the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

Dear Christian, How Can You Be in the Military?!

Let me begin with a disclaimer:

I do not represent the United States government or the Chaplain Corps. I speak for myself. My thoughts and opinions are just that – my own. 😉

Now that we got that outta the way, here we go!

A couple months ago a friend asked me about my chosen profession as a military chaplain

LT Chris Linzey, CHC, USN
LT Chris Linzey, CHC, USN

(I’ve spent 5 years in the Army Reserve and am now an Active Duty Navy Chaplain). The questions went like this:

How can you carry out Christ’s commands to love our enemies, to not resist evil, to overcome evil with good, to not kill – now that you’ve taken an oath to the military and abide by its laws? What are you counseling the service men and women?

This post isn’t going to get into the ins and outs of Just War Theory. I’ve written about it elsewhere (as have MANY others who understand it a lot better than I do).

But I do want to address the idea that Christians should not be in the military because we are called by God to be set apart.

1) From a biblical perspective, all of the instructions in the New Testament about loving enemies, overcoming evil with good, etc. are not instructions to officials about the best way to run a government. They are instructions about how we ought to conduct ourselves in our personal relationships. Remember that in the Old Testament the God who commands, “Thou shall not kill” is the same God that allows capital punishment for certain crimes. There is a difference between our personal ethics and our corporate ethics – and this difference isn’t a bad thing. It’s what allows us to pursue peace and healthy relationships while still being a society that deals in justice and punishment.

2) Coming to faith has never meant resigning from military service. Even in the Bible, Soldiers were not condemned for their military service or told to quit. In fact, the Bible tells us about Soldiers coming to faith.

John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…. “Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance….” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He answered them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” (Luke 3:3-14)

If being a Soldier in the Roman army were wrong, why are Soldiers not condemned? Rather, they are told to be satisfied with their wages. That means they’re staying in the service!

3) Finally, as a Chaplain, it’s not my job to fight. The two purposes of military Chaplains are a) to spiritually care for service members and b) to advise Command about ethics, moral, and spirituality. In that sense, John the Baptist was the first Chaplain beginning in the New Testament era! He spiritually cared for Soldiers and helped them move in a godly direction.soldiers-praying

I’m not making a case for or against any particular war or military action. We will be debating the morality of military action until the end of time. My only point is that there is nothing intrinsically immoral or ungodly about Christians serving in the military.

In the military we are taught to obey ALL lawful orders. Should the time come when the military gives Christians orders that are unlawful or conflict with personal morality and ethics, Service Members are free to disobey the orders – just know that you will have to face the consequences of that decision 😉

At the end of the day I believe the Chaplain Corps makes the military a better place. We get to speak to issues of ethics and morality. We get to help Service Members pursue spiritual health. And, since the Bible clearly has no problem with God-followers serving in the military, I will not feel guilty about wearing the cloth of my nation.

I proudly serve my God while I proudly serve in my country’s armed forces.

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I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Dead Flies Aren’t Especially Tasty

So there I was, eating lunch in the dining facility on base. I had decided that I was going to eat healthy over the course of Officer Development School, so I regularly ate salads, fruit, yogurt, etc. You know, the kind of stuff my wife would be pleased to know I was eating even though she wasn’t around 😉 Fly on a Stretcher

After eating four or five bites of my salad I saw it.

I was a dead fly on the side of the bowl, hiding out on a spinach leaf.

That did it for me – I lost my appetite. I couldn’t eat one more bite of salad, not even from the “clean” side of the salad.

And, true story, I was instantly reminded of the passages in the Bible that talk about a little bit of yeast leavening the whole batch of dough. Dough

Paul twice talks about it:

Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough…. (1 Corinthians 5:6)

and

You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth? That enticement does not come from the one who called you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. (Galatians 5:7-9)

In both passages Paul is talking about how allowing a little bit of something to exist within the community can negatively impact the entire group. The first passage is dealing with personal sin in the group. The second passage is dealing with spiritual leaders who preach a false gospel and corrupt the group.

The principle can be extended into our personal lives as well. When we allow the wrongs things to continue to exist in our lives then our entire lives can be negatively affected. Rather than trying to tough it out and eat around the dead flies, we’re better off chucking the whole salad and starting fresh.

What is the dead fly in your salad?

What exists that can negatively impact your entire spirituality? Perhaps it’s a person. Maybe it’s a behavior. Whatever it is, do you understand that leaving it unchecked can eventually wreak havoc in your life?

Get it out. Start fresh.

Don’t eat that fly.

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I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Dear Oprah, You Make Me Sick

oprahwinfreyThat may be a little extreme. I don’t actually feel a gag reflex to puke. But that’s the emotion (and it’s a REALLY strong emotion) I feel reading about your upcoming tour “The Life You Want.”

It’s not that I have a problem with empowering people. I think it’s a good thing to help motivate people to be the best they can be. Even the Apostle Paul (he wrote bunch of stuff in the Bible) once wrote:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have 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)

Here’s the difference between a your empowerment and what Paul is talking about: you want people to get better to live a better life for THEIR glory. You even say, “Take your glory and run!” Um…what? Paul wants people to get better and live a changed life for CHRIST’S glory.

You are ME-CENTERED.

Christianity is CHRIST-CENTERED.

This tour is just another in a long line of scams on humanity. It plays to our instinctual drive to be successful. But success isn’t the goal of humanity. And, contrary to what you, Joel Osteen, and others teach, success is NOT possible for everyone.

The Bible (that’s the book that Christians from era to era and culture to culture agree is the revelation of God to humanity) makes it quite clear that sometimes bad things will happen even to the best of people.

Jesus (he’s the ONE the Christian faith recognizes as God-incarnate, the Messiah and Savior of humanity) said:

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

It’s not about “The Life You Want.” The Bible notes:

Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

There’s so much more than living your best life now (that sounds so familiar – it would make a catchy book title). Our best life now means nothing because this life ends. What really matters is living life now with eternal focus. That means we take the focus off of us and put in on Christ and his kingdom.

It saddens me that many Christians will be sucked in to your scheme. Many will be fooled into thinking that you have the ticket to a happy and fulfilling life. Your pseudo-spirituality will sucker a lot of shallow people who don’t realize that Christian faith is exclusive to Jesus; that life will have ups and downs; that good and faithful people will sometimes live hard and crappy lives and die broke.

Yeah, you make me sick.

So until I’m blue in the face I’m going to tell Christians that this is hogwash. My hope is that there are enough of us willing to spread the message that your message stinks.

Sincerely,

Me.

Fruity Christians

Image courtesy of -Marcus- at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of -Marcus- at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you want to discover what a person wants, what a person loves, look at what they do. It’s a simply fact of life that people do what they love. That is to say, what people do is an outward expression of their passions, desires, wants, and loves. If you love your kids it shows in an outward expression of taking time to go to their softball games or school plays. If you love your significant other it shows in an outward expression of taking her out to dinner or massaging her tired feet. If you love television it shows in an outward expression of working your DVR overtime. If you love social interaction it shows in an outward expression of wanting to be at every party or event you hear about. If you love private time it shows in an outward expression of avoiding every party or event you hear about. You do what you love. Jesus talks about this principle. In Matthew 7 he says:

16 By their fruit you will know them. Grapes aren’t gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Every tree not producing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into a fire. 20 So by their fruit you will know them.

In this passage, Jesus is specifically referring to false prophets. The biblical prophet was not just someone who talked about upcoming events. Even though prophets sometimes told people about the future, the main role of biblical prophet is to be the voice of the Lord, to speak on God’s behalf. Jesus’ emphasis in this passage is saying that, even if people come speaking good words, words that sound like they are from God, words alone don’t mean much. In fact, he calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing. They may seem right, but the underneath doesn’t match up. Well-spoken prophets (and people in general) can still be counterfeits.

To know the true measure of a person, look at the fruit – look to their actions as the outward manifestation of their hearts. In other words, Jesus is saying, “You do what you love.” Ancient Rabbis often debated what was more important: hearing the law or doing the law. You can’t do without hearing. Hearing without doing is meaningless. Forget what people say – you can tell their hearts by what they do.

What you are on the inside – what you love – results in the fruit of your life – what you do. This is an interesting way of evaluating our lives. You can look at your own life and determine what your loves are by what you do. I’ve shared with people about my love of food and my struggle with my weight. In the middle of that struggle, when I was not practicing healthy habits, my wife said to me, “I thought you wanted to lose weight.” “I do, I really want to be slimmer,” I said. She replied, “If you really wanted it you would do it.” She was right – you do what you love, and I loved food more than the idea of being healthy.

You make sacrifices to do what you love. Given the choice of health/weight loss or eating whatever, whenever, I showed my real love by my actions. You can tell what you love by how you prioritize your life and the choices you make between one thing and another. You put aside other things to do what you love.

There are some great biblical examples of people who did what they loved. In Acts 6-7 we find the story of Stephen. When we talk about we do what we love, Stephen is a cut above the rest. He begins preaching to the Jews and religious leaders, telling them how all of Israel’s history points to the coming of Christ. The religious leaders get so upset that they start calling him names and they grind their teeth at him. But he continues to tell them anyway, so they take him out and stone him to death, and as the rocks are flying at him he prays a simple prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, don’t hold this against them.” What did he love? He loved Jesus and telling others about Jesus. What was he willing to sacrifice to do what he loved? His own life.

It’s important that we know who we are – that we evaluate who we are. What do you love? What do you do? Look at that passage from Matthew again:

16 By their fruit you will know them. Grapes aren’t gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Every tree not producing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into a fire. 20 So by their fruit you will know them.

You can’t fake it. You do what you love. In this passage, what you do is called fruit. Since some fruit is good and some is bad, Jesus would seem to be saying that what we love and what we do aren’t always the right things. The question, then, is this: since we do what we love, are the things we love the same things God loves? Are our values God’s values? Are our values influencing our behavior appropriately? What are our values?

Our values determine our distinctives. What sets us apart from others? The values of a Christian set him apart from a Buddhist who has different values. Values also communicate what is important – they signal my bottom line. “This is what I stand for.” Values influence my overall behavior and determine our direction. God has values, and His values determine His behavior. For example, look at His behavior in John 3:16 – He gave his unique son as a sacrifice for sin. This behavior reflects His values. What does God value? God values lost people. Look at His behavior in Genesis 11 – Humans try to build a tower to heaven and God confuses their language and scatters them abroad.

What does God value? God values humility – knowing your place before the Almighty God. These are just a couple of the things God values. When our values begin to mirror God’s values, what we end up doing is what God wants done. We do what we love. When we do what God loves then we are fulfilling His will for us. This is true in our personal lives and the life of our church. So what do we, as a church, value? Remember, you do what you love. What is the evidence that we value these things? Is there anything that we want to value but don’t yet evidence? Is there anything we should value that isn’t seen in how we act?

When I first realized that you do what you love it changed the way I looked at my behavior. I realized that I couldn’t be a victim of circumstance any more. Picture six birds sitting in a row on an unshielded power line with the power turned off. The first three birds decide that they’re just gonna sit there the whole day and not fly around. The last three decide think that they’re gonna take off and go fly. When the power gets turned on, what’s the difference between the 1st three birds and the 2nd three birds? No difference at all – they’re all toast, because deciding to fly isn’t the same thing as actually flying.

 

Image courtesy of pisitphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of pisitphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our actions need to be influenced by our values and our loves. Everything I was doing was the result of my own choice. I struggle with my weight, not because food is just too good, but because I love eating more than I love my health. I argue with my wife, not because she deserves it, but because I love defending myself and being right more than I love her feelings.

When I realized that you do what you love, I started to look at all of my behavior. I was motivated to let my actions reflect what I say I loved – to let my actions reflect what I should love – to let my actions reflect what God loves. I was motivated to change my own behavior, and if you know me you know that I don’t like new things. They’re scary. But God is saying, value what I value. Love what I love. Do what I do. When our lives begin to look like this, we start living in God’s will every day.

We may have to change some things in our lives. Are we willing to change/sacrifice to embrace God’s values and His loves? Can we sacrifice our comfort zones? Our time commitments? I don’t know what God will call us to change – maybe a lot, maybe not so much. But it’s time to love what He loves and do what He does. Are you ready to get on board?

 

How about you? What do you love? What will you sacrifice to do what you love?

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