Have I become a …. “glory thief”?

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There I was having a conversation with an old friend. He had just gotten married and was telling me how things were going in this new stage of his life. I was enjoying this time together when he mentioned to me he was intentionally making a decision to do something in his relationship with his new wife because of some advice he was given by another of his friends.  He then went on to tell me the advice he had received.

It was an interesting experience at that moment because I could literally see a memory of my talking with my friend about a year prior where I was giving him that exact, same advice. And I remember when I told him, even where I had told him my thought. I remember him commenting  that he had never heard anything like that before.

In some way now, I was feeling like I was being robbed of credit that I deserved. I thought to myself, “I was the one who gave him that advice, not this other person”.   I thought to myself, “I deserve to be giving the credit”.  I know my pride in this situation was not a good thing. In fact, I have had to deal, for years,  with the problem of looking for attention. But nonetheless, I felt slighted in getting credit where credit was due.

With this story in mind, I think about God.  I wonder how does God do it?  He is the Creator of life, yet our culture continues to stubbornly endorse an evolution theory that life just occurred spontaneously from nothing and has evolved positively for billions of years until the crowing achievement, MAN has appeared.  We are robbing Him of the credit and gratefulness He deserves.

Then, there is the tragedy of mankind’s sinfulness.  Just look around objectively and you will be disgusted at the true condition of mankind and what we are morally capable of:  stubbornness, hatred, brutality (think ISIS), rape, human trafficking, greed, deceit, murder, unfaithfulness, on and on it could go.  Yet, recognizing the hopelessness of it all, God did something about it by giving of Himself, the very Son of God, Jesus Christ to die as a  substitute for mankind’s sinfulness. He died to take the judgment that your sin and mine deserved. Yet today, an increasing percentage have no clue what the significance of Easter is all about.   Again, we are robbing Him of the credit and gratefulness He deserves.

Sad to say, I have become convicted, deep in my spirit that too often I  can be a “glory thief”. I’m not sure where I heard that phrase recently (sorry, I’m not giving someone credit for their creativity in coming up with it), but I think it is so spot-on. Often times, I can strive after wanting to receive credit alone for something that others have contributed to in my success, and especially where I should be acknowledging my thankfulness to God.

The Bible clearly says the following:

*Ps. 127:1  (ESV) – “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain”.

*1 Cor. 4:7 (NASB)- For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

*Deut. 8:17-18 (NASB)-  “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand-made me this wealth.’  But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. ”

Apart from the provision of God Almighty, who has given me skills, opportunities, and life, I really can do nothing on my own.  He is the One who should be acknowledged as being the One who has made any success possible that I have.

Does God take this issue of being robbed of His glory seriously—you bet!

  • Acts 12:20-23 NASB – (this is a New Testament set of verses)   —-  “Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country.  On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them.  The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”  And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.  
  • Isaiah 42:8 (NLT)- “I am the Lord; that is my name!
        I will not give my glory to anyone else,
         nor share my praise with carved idols.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)  says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Lastly, I have recently been  reading in the Gospel of John.  In many ways, the Gospel of John is different than the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).   John was written several years after the others and is a kind of looking back at the life of Jesus from  a 30,000 foot view.  In the Gospel of John, we read of His eternal existence. We read of His mission of being the Messiah.  We read that if all the miracles Jesus did were to be written about that John supposes that the  world itself would not be able to contain all the books that would be written.   While doing my morning studies in the Gospel of John,  I started to notice that I was frequently hearing of this word, “glory” being mentioned.

As I’ve talked about several times in my Deuteronomy posts, when something in the Bible is repeated it is worth paying attention to.  So, with that in mind, I decided to look into this subject of glory. Did you know that this word, “glory”is mentioned 339 times (that does not include a  closely-related word like “glorify”)?   In addition, here are the all the times “glory” is mentioned in the Gospel of John (NASB):

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His gloryglory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 2:11

This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 5:41

I do not receive glory from men;

John 5:44

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

John 7:18

He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

John 8:50

But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges.

John 8:54

Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;

John 9:24

So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.”

John 11:4

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

John 11:40

Jesus *said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

John 12:41

These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

John 17:5

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 17:22

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;

John 17:24

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

 

Is this topic of “glory” important? Yeah, it is.  I think with all the many times this phrase is mentioned in the Gospel of John alone, it should give us some kind of idea that this is a very important topic to our Awesome God, who is so worthy of our honor.

Let me encourage you to be sensitive to robbing God of the glory He so richly deserves, instead of foolishly seeking glory or praise towards yourself.

As John the Baptist said, “oh that He might increase, and I decrease”.  Let that be also descriptive of our vision statement.   Don’t be a glory thief!

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Why don’t you hear about their kids?

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I heard recently Bryan Loritts  say recently a very insightful thing.  He mentioned that he is quite the reader of biographies.  One thing that he rarely encounters in all the biographies he’s read is much story about the children of  a great person.

He was saying that often times in biographies, you will read of a person born into a difficult situation and as they get older there is some kind of struggle they encounter.  They then persevere through those very difficult circumstances and develop into successful people.

But in mentioning the success of these people and the wealth and fame that come along with it, the children of these “stars”  rarely ever get written about.  It seems as these children rarely have to experience  similar tough circumstances and because of that, they are not stretched in their development and personal growth.

As I’ve thought about Bryan’s observation it struck me how astute that really was.  To me, it was another reminder that tough times can really be a blessing in disguise.  They can stretch me to think more creatively, act in a more focused kind of way and challenge me to not give up.

As is often the case, it comes down to perspective and our responsibility in the choices we each make.

Bryan’s insight was an encouragement for me to keep pressing on!

Hold on! –my being vulnerable in the interchange of my mind

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Before you read on, I’d like to ask you a favor please. I’d welcome your 2 stage input on this post. If you could please let me know your initial comments to this post, right after you read it, then again, 24 hours later after you ”ve given it some thought, I would greatly appreciate it.

At some time or another, most of us have taken a long drive in a car. We’ve experienced long hours of driving in rural areas and then we come to city traffic. In the city, we find our adrenaline pumping because we seem to have entered a NASCAR race. There are drivers zipping in and out all around us. There are tolls to be paid. There are billboards and signs screaming out to get our attention, and there are many exits and on and off ramps to take us to various destinations.

Similar to the circle interchange (as they call it in Chicago), where there is a merger in the city of fast-moving highways, my many thoughts , experiences and questions have intersected in my mind and are seeking a place to exit and a sure destination to head towards.

Bob Buford in his excellent book “Halftime, moving from Success to Significance” talks about two halves in people’s lives. There is the first half where there is a strong drive for personal success, and then a second half filled with the desire for significance.

As I look back on my quest for personal success, I am so grateful for being such an avid reader. When I recall the number of biographies I have read and been inspired by, various people who have worked hard (and smart), who showed great courage, and were given opportunities and succeeded, I feel grateful I have been able to take from so many experiences. Over the years, I have been inspired by reading about people like Theodore Roosevelt, John Wanamaker, Sam Walton, Meriwether Lewis, D.L. Moody, and on and on my list could go. The collective learning I have received from the reading of “successful” people has had a huge impact on the choices I have made in my own life.

Another huge factor regarding living successfully has been a deep-seated belief in striving for excellence in all the areas of my responsibilities (devotion to God, personal health, family, stewardship, work, ministry, and personal leisure).

Those who have taken a long car trip know that they will drive for hours on quiet, rural highways and then enter the intense ‘race” through crowded cities to find a focused escape and finally exit onto a road that leads them out of the city back towards quietness.

I have recently found myself at a stage of my life similar to the city interchange. I find that my many thoughts and experiences have gathered or converged into a crowded, crazy place. However, up ahead of me, I have caught the highway sign I’ve been looking for, which shows me the exit ramp I need to take to depart from the city and to get onto the ramp that leads (in Bob Buford’s words) to the road called “Significance.”

What my internal GPS is telling me is that whereas I came into this interchange in a car, I find myself about to exit the city in a truck. Like a semi-truck that has the name of a company written on the outside of it, I leave the city with “CHRISTIAN” clearly labeled on my vehicle

Although I am still mindful of my personal responsibilities (devotion to God, family, health, stewardship, etc.), the capacity of my semi-truck vehicle has now greatly enhanced the opportunities I have to carry more burdens and move more resources to other people.

A great change has occurred at the interchange in my mind”, it is a realization that my life is not really about me. It is a recognition that my life is a gift from a Gracious Giver. It is a conviction that has arisen that Almighty God deserves to be recognized for the Loving, Sovereign, and Holy God that He is.

And now, as I’m about to exit this interchange and enter this new road, there is a toll to be paid -its a toll of praise. Its a momentary opportunity to pause and express thankfulness to a personal God who chooses to do life with us–to take the wheel and give us significance.

Regarding ambition, be careful of…

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“when ambition takes the lead, the ends justify the means so that accomplishing the thing is more important than the way we accomplish it. Ambition is meant to follow and strengthen, not lead and dominate.”

excerpt from “Whatever the Cost”   by David & Jason Benham

– What are you passionate about ?

– What desires do you have that you long to see happen?

(with these  ambitious desires, do you ever stop to ask yourself if you are cutting any corners from doing what is right?  and are you always being considerate of others?)

 

Is it time to get out of your seat?

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There you are, in box seats at your favorite stadium.  Your seats are great!   You can see the uniformed players out on the field. In fact, you are so close, you can see their facial expressions.  Some players are smiling and look like they are having a fun time. Some players are very  intense.  You can’t tell if these players are frustrated or just so focused on playing well.
Then, the most interesting thing happens, the manager comes over to you and asks you if you want to put on the uniform, listen to him as the manager, and play in the game. Wow!  You can’t believe it.
But you are hesitant. Why?
You know there is something that appeals to you about playing.  You know that its going to be more satisfying,  being involved with something that has a  purpose, than in watching the game from the seats. In fact, you personally know some of the players on the field. You know they find great joy in playing the game.
You sit back in your seat and wonder, “So what’s my issue?  Why won’t I play in the game?  Is it that I would have to listen to a manager tell me what to do?  Well, that shouldn’t be an issue”, you tell yourself,  “every team, every organization needs someone in charge- that only makes sense.””
So you keep on with your interrogation, “Is it that I love sitting in these hard, but “so close to the field” box seats?  I don’t know that doesn’t seem to make sense either because I’d rather be playing?  So, what is my issue?”
Let me get to my point in telling of this story:
I am a Christian and I am out on the field playing. I have been created to be a part of this team.  In fact, I wasn’t always on this team.  At one point, I was in the seats until I understood that the manager, Jesus Christ laid down His life for me, so that all the debt for my sin could be repaid and I could now be transferred to His team.  I was given an invitation by Jesus Christ and an understanding of how much He wanted me to be a part of His team.
So, how about you?  Some of you know exactly what I’m describing in my little story and in my own explanation.
However, there are others that might be a bit confused.   You know deep in your gut that you are not currently “on the field” playing as a Christian.
So, what prevents you from getting out of your seat right now and getting on Jesus’ team and being a Christian?  Do you understand that right now, you are not on His team, even though you might be wearing a fake uniform you bought at some store?  (maybe you go to church occasionally out of duty–the point though is that you can’t buy or earn your way on to the Christian team–you have to be asked.
Do you understand this manager, Jesus Christ loves you so much and is inviting you personally to be a part of His team?
Do you understand that you will find so much more satisfaction in your life by playing on His team, rather than sitting in the seats?
So, again, the manager is coming to you and extending His hands (with their nail holes and all)  for you to be a part of His team.  But first, He wants you to acknowledge:
* that even though you might be wearing a fake, look alike uniform, it is not the real thing– and you, right now, are not a part of the team.
* that if you are going to be on Jesus’ team, you need to change your attitude about you being in charge and submit to Him as the boss
* and lastly, you need to understand that it cost a lot for Him to be able to make you this offer–He died for you on a cross (and was raised to life), but He died for you because He loves you so much–do you understand that?
Well, is it time for you to get out of your seat and play on the Christian team?

Expect the Unexpected…. this weekend!

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I’ve been married for over 29 years. During those many years, I have come to understand the importance of TRUST in a relationship. It is foundational if a relationship is to not only survive, but thrive.
By now, I’m sure you have heard of the Ashley Madison crisis.  I say “crisis” because the fallout is going to be noticeable.  There will be devastation in the aftermath of this scandal. Already there have been  reported  suicides attributed to this hack attack.
Many divorce lawyers, I’m sure,  are licking their chops at the thought of a surge in unexpected new business as heartbroken spouses file their cases.
Unfortunately, this Sunday, at churches, I expect that there will be resignations coming from the pulpit, either voluntarily or board-induced. I first was exposed to this very unfortunate likelihood through an Ed Stetzer post Either way it will be a tragedy.
Rightfully, we should  be angry about the thousands of individuals who have signed up on this website looking to have affairs. The sheer number of people willing to betray such a sacred trust, as marriage is disturbing in so many ways.
Compassionately,we should carry ourselves towards others and be aware that there are individuals, relationships, families, churches, communities, and state and federal agencies that are going to be greatly impacted because of the release of this information. There are going to many people who are going to be so caught off guard by this situation, and who will deal with a sense of being OVERWHELMED and not know if they can handle all the consequences of a spouse’s unfaithfulness.
Soberly, we should  be aware of the power of sin and humanity’s weakness to deal with it, apart from the power of God.  “There, but for the grace of God, so am I” should be a thought at the forefront of our mind.  Yeah, I never signed up on this Ashley Madison website, but would I like for all my thoughts and actions be displayed before the world—NO WAY!   I have to fight the power of sin every day and so should you.
Prayerfully consider how best to respond.   You can pray for those individuals caught up in such a state of mind that they would sign up on a website like this to have an affair. Something in their lives is terribly off.   You can pray for those affected by other’s transgressions.  You can pray for yourself to be vigilant in your own walk, so that you don’t get drawn away in to behaviors that are just wrong and hurtful to others.

“The problem with a pity party is…”

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“The problem with a pity party is that, after a while, you notice you’re the only one there.”

–  anonymous –

We all have difficulties. We all have troubles.

We also all have choices on how we will react to challenges that come our way.  One common choice people make is to turn  our attention on ourselves and the circumstances we are in and feel sorry for ourselves.  “Wo  is me!” we  cry out to anyone who will listen.   We want others to know we have been dealt a bad hand.

But, what does such a self-centered attitude do?  Really, nothing but make your hardships even harder because people around you will begin separating themselves from you because they will get tired of hearing of your problems because most likely they have their own troubles.

So, how should we deal with the tough times when they come (and they will come)?

  • first, is to follow Biblical principles and “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you”
  • second is to acknowledge the realities of all your current troubles and be honest with your emotions on how you feel about your troubles
  • third, find some space to just get a way.  Spend some time in prayer, take a bike ride, take a drive, work out, play an instrument, take a nap
  • fourth, confide in a friend what is going on  ( I believe you will find support knowing someone else is aware of your situation and expressing it to them)
  • lastly, begin taking steps (small ones at first) to working your way out of the problem.  Be patient as you look to recover-it will take time!