Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Recipes for Success- Which do you want to make?

Colossians 3:1-4
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Sunday at church we had an amazing sermon that has had me thinking. It really complemented all that God has taught me from the Mother Teresa book. Don't you love when He speaks from all different directions and resources to shape your thinking in an area?

Here is an overview of some of the points my pastor hit me with:

  • We are easily distracted. We live in a world with too many distractions.
  • Sometimes the "good stuff" we do can get in the way and keep us from God's "best" for us.
  • Am I defining my world and my circumstances by Christ and His plan and kingdom or by my own thoughts, feelings, or the world's leading?
  • Am I seeking His agenda or my own?
  • Which is more important? My Lordship and my plan or His Lordship and His plan?
  • Am I choosing to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) or do I still think I know quite a bit and interject my "wisdom" into all my decisions in spite of what God thinks?
  • How am I defining success?
  • The world says "what you see is what you get" meaning if you "look" successful on the outside (a good job, stylish clothes, nice car and home, pretty family, financial security...etc.) then you are successful.
  • But what does Jesus say about success?
  • How is success measured in the kingdom?
  • When I stand before God will He be impressed by this outward "success" or is He looking for something entirely different and I have been "duped"?
  • What will be important then?
I think of Mother Teresa (since we just finished reading her story) and imagine how pleased the Father must have been with her life's investment. She did not gather up treasures for herself, but gave herself entirely to a mission of loving the unlovable in Jesus name. I compare this to myself. What is my investment? I have known Jesus for 12 years now. I have studied my Bible continuously since He saved me. I have sought ways to share my faith, attended church faithfully, and am raising four children to know and love Him. But I have done all this while remaining in the comfort and safety of my Kentucky home where I live in a gorgeous neighborhood, surrounded by pretty people with plenty to eat and wear. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about earning my salvation. My salvation is complete and secure in Christ. I am talking about using my life wisely for His glory. Being Jesus hands and feet. Focusing on things above rather than the here and now. It is so easy to get caught up in THIS life and forget that there are those who have yet to hear the gospel and are dying as we speak!

Rusty and I were privileged to hear Dennis Rainey, the founder of Family Life Ministries, speak at an adoption dinner recently and he said something that has really stuck with me. He said that when we are near to something it matters to us and we care, but when we are far away (removed) we lose interest and it is more difficult to care. Basically the old "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. This is exactly why Mother Teresa chose to go and live among the poorest of the poor rather than serving them while living in the convent up on the hill, separate. She wanted to live AMONG the people, eat what they ate, live the way they lived so she would have true compassion for their situation. So as I'm listening to the sermon on Sunday I was thinking...if Rusty and I were on a plane that crashed on a deserted island and we were the only 2 who were un-injured and mobile, we would be up and running, helping the other crash victims. We would do our best to nurse them back to health. It would be a desperate situation that calls for immediate help. Isn't that the truth of the situation we live in today? Around the world there are so many sick, dying, starving, impoverished, orphaned, lost people and here we are able-bodied and equipped with resources to help and yet we have chosen to live separate from the problem. We aren't close enough to see it, to feel it, to have compassion. We have "moved" to the other side of the "island" to our comfy neighborhood and ignored the need hoping "someone else" would help. We make the mistake (or choose to believe) or (allow ourselves to be deceived) of thinking that we don't have what it takes to make a difference. We (want to) think it takes lots of money or special gifts and talents we don't posses. I think this is what God showed me in MT life, she was an ordinary woman with no money, no resources, and no outward "gifting" to set her apart and yet she made a dramatic difference in our world for the sake of Christ. And she did it in a completely unconventional way! No spreadsheets, no goal-setting, no self-promotion, no fancy fund-raising, no catchy slogans or ministry titles, no cross country speaking tour, no ten year plan, no expensive or elaborate building plans or programs. She simply followed God to position herself in a place of need and then set about meeting those needs in a simple, loving way every day. She drew near to the problem no one else wanted to be close to. That is courage. That is love. That is the gospel!

Mother Teresa didn't have the worlds definition of "success", but I feel sure she was a true success in the eyes of our Lord. The question is which version are you striving for?

Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)
He Is Your Life
1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

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