Control or Contentment? Success or Selfishness?

I’m hearing lots about eliminating “toxic” people from my life–those who don’t contribute to my “success”–about walking away. I really like this idea, but does God?* In listening to and reading motivational “success” gurus I know I’ve gotta get up at 5:00 a.m. if I’m going to “be somebody.” But God says I am somebody. People always want to know what I “do” and the temptation is to say, “I’m a writer,” as this, unlike homemaking, is an approved occupation. But God approves of me. Just because.

Still, the messages are so compelling, as are the ideas of writing bestsellers and achieving other lauded goals, having an actually heeded day planner, and checking off my to-do lists each day. And the facts that vision boards don’t work for me, and my plans almost always are superceded by “life” doesn’t faze me. It can’t be that all those people are missing something–after all, they’re “successful”–I MUST TRY HARDER. FASTER, FASTER, WORK, WORK!

As I ponder all these things, and wonder why Christian motivational speakers consider non-Christians “successful” simply because they’re famous, I suddenly remember something I once heard, and now I am listening: If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry, a hen. Ah, now that sounds like success to me. My daughter recently roasted a fat chicken in the Hobbit way – bacon, butter, herbs, and those things under as well as atop the skin. The chicken was first rinsed and then patted dry, to be cooked on high heat, and all in pursuit of a very crispy and delicious skin. Roasted along this dear bird were root vegetables, and all hearts were made glad.

When Rebekah asked what I wanted done with the chicken I could have told her my plan. Rather, I asked for her suggestions and out came An Unexpected Cookbook–The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. Not my plan, but better than. I’m liking the sound of that: Not my plan, but better than. My daughter is happy, my family enjoys an excellent meal, and I don’t have to cook. Success!

* In Andrew Murray’s classic book, Humility, he writes: “Look upon every fellow man who tries or vexes you as a means of grace to humble you.”

Bring on the Persecution! Bring on the Power!

The Bible says we’re to rejoice when people persecute us and tell all kinds of lies about us. So, rather than getting all shook up when the IRS seems to target the most effective ministers, or when a group of politicians tries to impeach a president who isn’t even in office, and when the media hands out lies like Halloween candy, let’s say, “Hey! That guy must be doing something right! If that gal is rejoicing every time she’s plagued and persecuted, her life is one big party!”

Let us not be surprised or dismayed or angered about what we’re told is coming. Jesus told Paul, in a nutshell, “They hated me, they’re gonna hate you.”

It’s not personal. It’s just darkness vs. light and there’s no hiding from it. We may as well stand up and fight.

How to stand? For what to fight?

We stand by humbly bowing to Him, by obeying His . . . command . . . to Love . . .

We stand by rejoicing because we are being continually filled with His Spirit via hanging out with and obeying Him, acting, thinking and talking like Him. Talking like Him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Thinking like Him, “It’s not about politics in America. It’s about the Good News being preached throughout the earth.” Acting like Him, “I forgive my persecutors.” (Good Newsflash: When we’re continually spirit-filled, we have the power to forgive–we look like the One we say we serve.)

Praying, as He suggested? No, as He commanded. Praying for our enemies, that they may turn from darkness to light.

For what to fight? We fight for the Light, not to be right, not to “win” an argument (there are no winners where there is strife). We fight for the Light. How will they turn to light if there is no light? Will there be light if we refuse to obey? When we disobey, our own hearts convict us and we are sick inside, dark, without light to share, cut off from power.

The light is Love, Who loves the persecuted, and the persecutors. “Where,” they ask, even as they revile and hate us, “is the Love?” “How and why,” the astute among them marvel, “do they serve my master Satan even more effectively than do I?”

We stand by repentance. There is no problem on earth, and no solution on earth, apart from the Church. Let us pray, beginning with, “Father, forgive us, for we know exactly what we DON’T do, haven’t done, refuse to stop doing. Make us strong (humble) enough to admit our weakensses and failures, strong enough to stop looking at the weaknesses and failures of others, strong enough to disregard the opinions of man, and consider only Yours. Create in us clean hearts, O God. Hearts mighty in Love.”

Love is mighty enough to tell the truth, and to withstand the consequences of doing so. Love is of God, and is up to any task or trial. When all else fails, such as supreme courts, parties, legislatures, media, medicine, education and other things of man, we will turn to the One Who cannot fail, and cannot lie. We will cease looking for natural solutions, and seek the supernatural.

When we stop returning hate for hatred, reviling for reviling, and become living testimonies of the power of Love, the enemy will have nothing to work with. We will see victory in Jesus, when we are “in Jesus” and His Spirit in us.

“How much longer,” God must be asking, “are you going to walk in circles in this wilderness?”

We can come right out anytime we decide our way isn’t working, anytime we believe that apart from Him we can do NOTHING, anytime we stop the insanity of disrespecting, disdaining, and disregarding of the Blood-bought freedom of Calvary.

Why not now?

Focus on Freedom

He came to set us free, indeed to make us “free indeed.” Freedom must be the song we sing, the thoughts we think, the air we breathe. We must, as we walk out history, as we’re amid the battle of our lives, understand and know that we’re all here for such a time as this.

This Red Sea moment is about the spiritual taking of Dominion, and we are in the glorious position of seeing manmade solutions fail. Let us not be dismayed or disconcerted about Supreme Court, FBI, Attorney General, and/or any other disappointments.

Let’s wait for the miraculous healing, deliverance and victory that is our promised end, and the outcome that gives God all the glory–ours simply via humbling ourselves, seeking His face, turning from our wicked ways.

Wicked ways–might I suggest that what’s true for me is perhaps true for you? Could it be that there’s a bit of pride still at work, of lacks both in the love and in the humility departments? Could it be that it’s way past time to stop ignoring God’s promises, that it’s time to take Him at His Word?

Let’s focus, press in, pray. Let’s believe that He is Who He says He is.

He’s our only hope, and that’s more than enough.