God Doesn’t Need You To Try So Hard


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

If I got a B on a paper I would sulk and pout and lose sleep for days over it. I couldn’t take anything but perfection when it came to grades, which I had to constantly fight to try and achieve. I stressed myself out in school, constantly worrying about my grades and my future. When I would make the grade, I could not enjoy the moment because another paper or test was pending. It was exhausting.

Any overachievers relate to me? Anyone plagued by perfectionism? Do you ever feel guilty if you don’t work yourself to death on something? Are you what some might call a control freak?  Here is a news alert… God doesn’t need you to try so hard. In fact it could be detrimental to your soul.

The Christian life is a paradox in many ways. We gain our life only when we lose it. The least will actually be first. Giving is better than receiving. When it comes to how we are to live, God is not interested in how much we can achieve for Him. That might shock you but you won’t find verses in the Bible that says, Thou shalt achieve great things for God.

He doesn’t want our efforts as much as He wants our surrender. He put His Holy Spirit in us and gave us the authority of Jesus to accomplish life altering, earth-shattering, transformative things for Him. That doesn’t come  via talent, hard work, ingenuity, or anything else we could accomplish on our own. That comes through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, in us.

It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want our best effort or to use our talents but His word is full of stories of uneducated, unqualified, unprepared participants who didn’t have any influence or position yet changed the world around them. When we read the stories of these men and women, we are not noticing what a great person they were but rather, what a great God they served!

Reality check… you are not capable or equipped to do this life your own strength in a way that will honor God. You need help. You need Jesus. Your greatest efforts will fall short of the eternal, kingdom advancing work God wants to do through you.

Some of you have worn yourself out trying to change your spouse, train your kids, make a business successful, maintain a family on the verge of falling apart, all by your will power and effort. It leaves you weary and on edge. You are frustrated on how little control you have to make things happen. Truth is God doesn’t call us to juggle all of this. He isn’t testing us to see how much we can achieve. This stuff is too big for us!

You want to be a great parent to your children? You want to be an influential grandparent on your grandchildren? You want to live for something greater than a paycheck and two garage house? Then you will have to surrender your talents, your wisdom, your control, your effort to the Lord and allow Him to inspire you, empower you, and lead you into His purposes.

That’s great Dax but what if it doesn’t work?  What if I do that and my kids, grandchildren, or job do not cooperate? Instead of getting frustrated you rest in the knowledge that you are trusting them to God and that He will work in The best way and at the right moment. You find peace in a God who sympathizes with you when those you love make horrible mistakes and refuse to change. You rest in the fact that God is doing things you can’t always see and will always prove Himself faithful.

Whatever you are going through right now, which one of these questions best speak to your approach: Am I putting more effort into trying to fix what I perceive as the problem OR more effort into submitting to the Holy Spirit to receive whatever He would have me to learn and do in this situation? There is a Grand Canyon difference between these two perspectives. One is a futile attempt to do things you cannot do. The other is a place of rest and peace as you surrender to His will. Which one you choose will make all the difference in what kind of person you are.

Don’t Look Inside Because I Don’t Like What I Will See

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“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Matthew 23:25-26

Real change requires a look inside. An infected saint knows this all too well. I have tried in every other way, but my own journey says in order to make lasting change in your life, it starts with an honest look at your insides.

What does it mean to change? You know God desires it. You know there are things hindering you that He wants removed. But if you are like me, the struggle is real, and change is extremely difficult. When you are forced to look within, you know something needs addressing. You know there is something dreadfully wrong. It creeps up when we are put on the spot or someone dislikes us or we feel foolish. Something in us feels really broken, and we want to quit thinking about it as quickly as possible. We make ourselves busy, or we shift our thinking so we don’t have to deal with the unpleasantry of the wound within.

When we take time to look on the inside, to go deeper than what is at surface level, we find that things are complicated. It only takes a moment to realize, while there are good things happening, we have a really long way to go. Our garden is not without weeds. We wish we were better than we are, but we are not. And what is the result of this? It brings strong feelings of shame to our life. Shame makes us want to hide. Sometimes, it can be strong enough to make us want to curl up in the fetal position, hide in the closet or run with all our might to escape.

We want to feel whole. We want to feel like things are good and in order. We don’t want to feel empty or rejected. We avoid it at all costs. Yet, without an honest look at what is going on inside, how can we ever really change? How can we ever become like Christ? How can we ever experience the joy that is ours in Him?

Looking inside brings real fear. We are not sure we can face it and make it. It requires loads of courage to investigate deeper into our soul. If we want to change, we have to face our own sin and insecurities. We can’t be like the Pharisees who put out an image to everyone that was not consistent with who they really were in their souls. We have to face the pain, the shame, the guilt, the weakness. We have to face it in confidence that Christ’s grace is greater than our sin. That He will not leave us exposed and condemned.

How do we receive this great grace? We face courageously the depth of our sinfulness and we repent. Repentance moves us from deceiving ourselves that everything is okay to trusting in Christ’s work. Repentance produces a growing strength and stability in our inner core. It produces a change of character. It is the Gospel at work in us.

Let your complacency be disrupted by looking within. Change can only happen when we are first unsettled at our core. When we take the time to face our demons and get the help we need. Once we do, change is possible with the work of Christ and the accountability and support of others. God wants to do a mighty work in you – so have the courage to trust Him as He reveals the depths of your soul to you and changes you from the inside out.

 

10 Signs You Might Be A Lukewarm Christian

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 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Inspired by Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, I set out to write my own top 10 list of indicators you might be living a lukewarm Christianity. Be warned toes will hurt if you read. Be honest with yourself. Read above and see the Lord’s warning for living lukewarm. And remember if you are not guilty of one or two of these it doesn’t make you hot for the Lord.

  1. You think mostly about how to be comfortable and happy on this earth with little thought of Heaven and eternal life.

  2. You give God the leftovers rather than the first fruits of yourself.

  3. You seek God but usually only if you are in a bind.

  4. You don’t share you faith with the lost but you have really good excuses why this is.

  5. You say you believe in God but if we were to record your Monday-Saturday it would reveal that you live as if God doesn’t even exist.

  6. You spend more on your cell phone bill than you give to God.

  7. Someone outside of who you see on Sundays asks you what you love most and Jesus doesn’t get mentioned.

  8. You would rather your kids be happy and popular rather than holy and devoted to God.

  9. You are quick to volunteer at your kids school or sporting event but make excuses why you cannot volunteer at church.

  10. You know you practice sin but justify by saying “doesn’t everyone?”

Christian Your Views Are No Longer Tolerated

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.  Acts 5:29

Things are changing rapidly in our culture. We have hit a tipping point. For years movements like the LGBT have been preaching equality and winning over society.  Sexual freedom is glorified more and more. The idea of waiting to have sex until marriage has become taboo. Tolerance is being rammed down our throats at every turn. It is no longer enough that these lifestyles be allowed in our culture.  They have become bolder in their demands. There is a demand for it to be accepted.

People are losing their jobs for speaking out against these lifestyles. Christians are being seen as bigots because they are unwilling to accept what they consider to be immoral actions. Society will not allow Christians to love them without agreeing with them. Yet, this is our calling.  People don’t like feeling guilty so the rise in anger increases in order to try and shut the mouths of Christians. Here is the reality. Persecution is coming.

More and more momentum is building to tolerate every group but Christians. It is ok for you to do about anything you want and it be accepted anymore. Morality has been replaced with anything goes mentality. The loud voice of our culture preaches toleration for everyone except those who disagree and take a stand. That will not be tolerated. It can’t be. If someone disagrees hey might have to face the possibility it is wrong. That will not be allowed.

The tipping point is here. It used to be just angry dismissal of Christians. Now if one speaks out publicly, their job is on the line. Very soon society will demand churches conform or there will be consequences. Government will bow to the pressure of the majority and begin to take freedoms away from the church. It might be our tax exempt status or a censorship of sermon topics or forcing ministers to marry those of LGBT community. It might be all of these. Is there a day coming when Christians will face jail time if they don’t conform? I think it might.

So what are we to do?  Stand up. Count the cost. Hold firm to our conviction. Trust Jesus to the very end. We don’t want to start a war but we are already in a war. We can’t compromise. We can’t lose faith.

And while they spit at us and call us names we are to love. Not retaliate. We are to pray for them and show them kindness even if they seek to destroy us. It is what Jesus did.

We must obey God rather than men!