“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed” (Proverbs 16:3—Amplified).
I don’t know about you, but not everything I’ve done has been a success. Even those things I’ve given over to God have not always met with the kind of success I’ve hoped for. Only after digging into Proverbs 16:3 did I begin to understand what God was up to.
I first memorized this Scripture from the NIV, which tells me to “commit” my plans to the Lord. But when I found the same word is translated “roll” in the Amplified, I began a study of the word. In the Hebrew, the word commit does mean roll, but it also means to move a stone by getting it out of the way, to roll in blood or to be dyed red.
This tells me that every plan I have must be in conjunction with the will of God, according to the price paid by the blood of Jesus, if my plans are going to succeed. This is why every selfish, vain, prideful plan I’ve had has failed. Even if I rolled my plans into the clothes of religious terminology (“I declare, in Jesus name, to take control over the devil’s schemes so the gates of hell will not prevail against it, for the glory of God! Amen!!”), the plan will fail if it is not a plan that glorifies God.
Furthermore, I’m still discovering I cannot commit something to God if I am not willing to let it go. It is impossible to roll a bowling ball down the lane if you refuse to let it go. Too often, I have been guilty of “committing” my plans to God, only to keep one hand on the plan and try to steer the direction it will take. Continue Reading
In the Parable of the Yeast (Matthew 13:33), Jesus tells us a little something about ourselves that we don’t always like to admit – we aren’t perfect. I know I’m not the only one bothered by that concept, but as a pastor I need to grasp onto this idea and allow myself to be transparent and vulnerable in that transparency, for those are key items in living a life of integrity.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability . . . . To be alive is to be vulnerable.” This really is the essence of walking in Christ-like leadership – transparency and vulnerability. Only when we lack integrity and character will we close our lives to the view of people, not allowing them to see us for who we really are.
I believe that for too many years some church leaders (my self included) have taught or implied that being “perfect in Christ” meant “without moral error” or “sinless.” In doing so, we have presented ourselves as perfect models of Christ and expected our people to live up to the same standard. This wasn’t based on anything that even remotely looked like reality, but it was the image of the church that we promoted all the same. Continue Reading
“Jesus said to the woman, ‘I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.’ But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, ‘Lord, help me!’” Matthew 15:24-25
A few weeks ago a pastor in my town brought this passage to my attention. It is the story of Jesus leaving Galilee and going north into Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile territory. A woman who lived there came to Him and pleaded for Jesus to heal her daughter, who was tormented by a demon. As a response to this request, Jesus remained silent.
Today, silence is a most hated concept. With iPods and the internet and radio and television blaring everywhere we go, we’ve learned to distrust the sound of silence. Silence is wrong. Silence means something is broke. Silence makes us wonder if we’re still alive if all we hear is our own breathing.
Add to that silence the fact the people hanging out with Jesus urge Him to send her away and you have an emotional breakdown in the making. But she doesn’t go away. She just stands there and waits for the Son of David to answer her request. And when Jesus does speak, it is not as the meek and mild Jesus we sing about in church.
“I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel,” He says. Great. Not only is Jesus treating her with silence, now He says he wasn’t sent for her. Apparently, there are people whose needs are greater or better or more deserving than a mother with a child possessed by a demon.
At this point in the story, I’d be ready to tell the Son of David what He can do with His Messiah complex. I mean, if God is going to be that callused as to tell me that others are more deserving of His mercy and grace, then it’s time to find another god.
But what this woman does next just astounds me. Continue Reading
For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from my book,Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
As I found out traveling around the country with the community, different parishes had different tolerance levels for Assemblies of God monks teaching in their church. My unique situation was welcomed with open arms in many cities, but this was not the case in a visit to Dodge City, Kansas. Here, the priest asked me not to tell the congregation that I was not a Catholic. I was ready for this, because it was not an unusual request. It fell under the heading, “No one can pick on my baby brother but me.”
Too often, we will tolerate any amount of disagreement or criticism as long as it comes from within our ranks. However, if that criticism comes from an outsider, then we often find it unacceptable. For instance, I can tell Jewish jokes all I want, because my mom’s family is Jewish. But if those same jokes are told by anyone else, then people start screaming antisemitism. The same goes for jokes pertaining to religion.
However, I also understand and respect the pastor of a church who knows his people well enough to understand their limitations. I was always obedient to the wishes of the priests who invited us to minister. To do anything less would be to dishonor God’s appointed leadership. Continue Reading
In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” When I read this sentence, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about possessions is my “stuff.” And I’d be correct, for Jesus said this in reply to two brothers who were having a not-so-friendly family argument over an inheritance. He then went on to tell a parable about a rich man who built bigger barns to hold his crop, only to die and leave everything he had hoarded to someone else.
But I want to extend to you the possibility that not only is the property we own to be held lightly, but so are our thoughts. I believe every one of us tends to be as jealous over the control of our thoughts as we are of our things. I know I am. Like most of us, I believe when I have a thought it is probably a good one and therefore worth keeping. This is especially true when an editor wants me to change a sentence in an article, or worse, eliminate something! I want to say, “This is my BABY! This is good stuff and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and now you want to edit God’s inspiration?!?” But they are usually right, which is why I hire them in the first place. The bigger problem starts, however, when the thoughts I hold come into disagreement with the thoughts of God. Continue Reading