DRAWING NEAR – PART 22 – 12/20/2015
ALLOWING GOD TO MARKET AND ENDORSE US
Have you ever known someone who had a ministry and this was all they wanted to talk about? These are the ones that are constantly promoting what they have done and what God has blessed them with until they actually (unintentionally) begin to drive even their friends away. You would think that Christians would always be excited about anyone that has anything to do with Jesus and never grow tired of ministry related information but that is NOT the case. Why? Well, for one reason we humans are not always in “ministry mode” or in other words it is rare to find someone constantly focused on the spiritual world. I admit the consistency of walking in His Spirit is difficult because there are so many other things to think about and many are not tuned in to God’s “station” all the time. Spiritual awareness will grow stronger if any of us are really determined to have our minds “transformed” but change as you know is very difficult to say the least. It is true that Christians are supposed to ABIDE in Him as a student learning how to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit but we all have a tendency to drift away into our old familiar carnal attitude and when we become satisfied with this lifestyle, we are not as joyful about the Lord and especially about what anyone is doing for Him. I am sure that if we had been with Jesus when He walked the earth, we would have witnessed a person that was always spiritually focused and enthused about serving His Father. Within His everyday life there was always a discernment that provided a zeal and wisdom to include a spiritual lesson in all that He encountered and isn’t this exactly the goal we are to be pressing toward?
I want to be honest and say this past summer I have felt like the kid who was given a brand new bicycle under the Christmas tree. (Actually, I remember receiving a bicycle one year that was so awesome that when I got out on the street with it, every kid in my neighborhood was speechless. It was called the “Cobra” and had so many fancy features that it felt like I was riding in the clouds.) Well, as most of you know, I recently published a book called, “A Lifestyle of Worship” and for me this has been one of the most exciting accomplishments of my life. I invested a year and a half of my heart and soul into this project and to be honest throughout the process I was not entirely positive I would have the privilege to produce it – but the Lord allowed it. It was a considerable amount of money and I just wanted to make sure that it was a quality resource for His glory. I have written 6 other books that are in manuscript form but chose to release a spiritual topic that is associated with music and God’s presence which both are very near and dear to my heart. This is all “happy land” for me in my little world, but this has also been a bitter-sweet experience as I find myself turning into the person that I mentioned in the beginning of this letter. I am having an awkward time knowing when to mention the book and when to keep silent. This is not really anything new to me as I have experienced this in a similar way in the past because I have been writing and recording music for 30 years. So, when I am talking with people and they want to know what I have done and what is going on in my life, I am sometimes not sure whether to tell them I worked in industrial freight shipping – or my ministry labors. Of course I want to say, “I have just written a book” but then it sounds like I am trying to sell them a copy. This is a huge turn-off and awkward to people who do not want it. Most of the time people fail to understand that you are only proud of it and are excited as they are only trying to figure out a way to change the subject. If I become embarrassed or ashamed to mention it, then my joy is turned to sorrow and discouragement because of the old familiar emotions of rejection.
When God helps us create something we are thrilled and proud of it and I believe it is normal to want everyone to see it and know about it. I am always wondering how will anyone know you have written a book if you do not mention it? But, I also am reminded that something like this may fall into the category of divine appointment instead of fleshly enthusiasm. I recently went to a Dallas Holm concert (yes I am that old) and I recognized that he is very proud of the music he has written and the awards he has been given (because he talked about it). He is a veteran in the Christian music business and his success has given him a little swagger in the fact that he is widely known among many older Christians. Actually, he was influential in my music ministry back in the early to mid-eighties because I was playing his songs. I tried to speak with him the other night and it seemed he was much more interested in loading his truck than he was to stop and talk with me but anyway, I signed a copy of my book and gave it to him as I tried to squeeze in a serious “thank you” for his ministry. Later on, I was thinking about the encounter and how important it is to learn how to have discernment and sincerity if we are to be an effective Christian. I guess he was rushing out of there to go to a restaurant and I was trying to make a contact with someone that I used to look up to and this brief encounter reminded me of two ships passing in the night. We were two individuals involved in ministry and yet not really being able to connect personally. I realize we are not to compromise or be ashamed of what God is doing in our life but don’t you think sticking Him in front of everyone’s face constantly may be something we need to be LED by His Spirit about? Trying to shove our visions and accomplishments down someone’s throat even if it is about Jesus may run people off before we have a chance to let them know who we are. Wouldn’t it be much better to listen to Him for divine appointments than be a bull (preacher) in a china shop? I know we have zeal for the Lord and that is wonderful, but are we proud of Him or what we have done for Him? I believe if we have the genuine love and compassion of God operating in us, people will sense His presence and be drawn to HIS life and light – not ours. When we come right down to it, the ministry is not really about us, it is about Him! If serving ever becomes about us then we are using His divine platform as an opportunity to steal a part of His glory. I have no intention of bringing condemnation on anyone or even myself, but just wanting to make sure that I have my heart in the right place not only so that people will stop rolling their eyes and running away when they see me coming but that I might be representing Christ the way I am supposed to be. I remember long ago, there was a person that was close to me and they were really aggressive with the gospel which did not bother me but everyone else treated him like he had the plague. With everything from long and drawn out repentance filled prayers at special occasions to writing letters to family members and certain individuals, urging them to repent and the realities of hell along with pleading for them to receive Jesus as their Savior, to say the least he was the victim of much animosity and resentment. Yes, it is absolutely true that he struggled with consistency like we all do in his Christian walk and he had his own battles with demons that tortured him and caused him to be a less than desirable witness however, I believe the point that I received from the entire situation is that our greatest testimony is how we LIVE more than what we SAY! Our message needs to go along with our lifestyle or it loses its power. The most spiritual person you can think of in this world would not have an ounce of respect if they did not live what they believe. People are drawn to revivals, healing services and preachers and singers that are generating an anointing from heaven because they trust that God is truly with these servants and they are convinced they are practicing what they are preaching. If they discovered these people were phonies no one would listen to them! For example, Billy Graham has always been trusted because he proved throughout his life that he is a decent man and not someone that is only in it for the money or fame. He is not perfect, but it is widely accepted that he tried to do the best he could and remained focused on “love” the basic simple message of the gospel.
This is not to say that only successful people are filled with God because sadly the masses cannot tell the difference between a spiritual person and their own feelings. May I remind everyone (including myself) there are many wealthy and popular ministers and singers that are “talented” but not led by God. On the other hand there are many pastors and servants of God that are truly anointed and sowing the absolute truth of God’s Word that are relatively unknown. If you have even been discouraged because you thought that no one wanted to hear your ministry and you have wondered if the Lord has even called you – this is NOT how God sees you. In the context of the passage found in Matthew 19:29-30, the phrase “first will be last and the last will be first” does NOT mean one person gains MORE honor or respect than another in God’s kingdom. In chapter 20 He also uses the same phrase as He tells the story of those who joined the work of the Lord at different times in their lives and yet He gives them ALL the equal gift of eternal life. If He tells you to share your heart with 10 people and you obey Him – He is very pleased with you and will reward you according to your love and the surrendering your will. If He tells someone else to share their heart with a million people and they do the same thing, is He not pleased equally with both? Be encouraged this day – God will NOT forget you and your labors are NOT in vain. So, as I have been trying to figure out whether to keep my books under the bed and wait for Him to endorse them or take the initiative of bringing them out everywhere I go like “show and tell” at school, I just want to have a pure heart in all of it. I do not want the joy of producing a book to be lowered down into something that is like I am selling a vacuum cleaner. I just want to contribute something for His Kingdom that is an encouragement like all the other resources that God is using in this world. It is the Lord that holds the keys to every locked door and He is not keeping them closed because He does not want us to succeed – He is just waiting for us to listen and obey. I am always thinking, Lord if you do not hurry I will be so old that it will not matter! But you know, His ways are perfect, He is always good and always on time. Amen.