Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From The Archives...

I have been admittedly a bit distracted lately. I haven't felt like the Lord has been impressing anything specific on my heart over the last couple weeks that needs to be shared here. But, really, I probably have not been in a position to pay due attention and hear whatever he might want to say.

So, from one pre-occupied heart to another, here is a message from the archives... one that is as much for me today as it is for you. Be blessed!

Then [Jesus] told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.' Then he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I'll sit back and say to myself, "My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!"'
"But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?'
"Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God." Luke 12:16-21 NLT
This passage of Scripture has been a recurring theme lately in my own self-denial story. It has been a slow process that began about a year and a half ago, when the Lord grabbed hold of my heart and called me to hand over a part of my life that most would consider one of the few areas that we should hold onto. Since then, the Lord has actually been redirecting my heart and mind closer to a middle ground, but continuously reminding me that HE is the Lord of life and only he is qualified to determine when and if a life is created.

Since that time, there have been a number of other areas in my life that have been pulled apart and exposed, quite painfully at times, opening my eyes to the fact that the moment I begin to believe that I have finally given everything over to the Lord, He is there, waiting to reveal the next one. The truth I have finally come to realize is that in my human selfishness, there will always be something that I am still holding back; but I am thankful that God is patient with me and that, as long as I am willing to ask, he will be willing to reveal each and every one of those idols in my life, one at a time, until I am finally standing in front of him and that work is finally complete (Phil. 1:6).

The most recent of these "idols" in my life, and the one that resonates the clearest with the passage of Scripture above, is in my love of beautiful surroundings: my home. I love watching HGTV and dreaming about the house that I am going to live in someday. I love thinking about, and not just thinking but realistically planning, when and where we are going to buy this house, budgeting for renovations on an old house with lots of character, right down to the last tufted pillow on the living room sofa.

Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a nice house, having beautiful things, even spending time and money on a project like a home renovation. The Bible does not say that "money" or any of the things that you can buy with money are evil in and of themselves; it says that the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).

Now, I wouldn't say that I am so obsessed with having this dream house that it interferes with my service for the Lord. The issue isn't so much whether or not I can have these things; it just keeps coming back to why I want them. I mean, really, what's the point? I know that God has given us material things to enjoy, and we don't need to feel guilty when we do enjoy those things, but the theme that keeps running through my head is, "Why do I even want this in the first place?" I just keep thinking, "What if we go buy this house and spend the next two years and thousands of dollars fixing it up, and the day after we hammer the last nail into the last cabinet door, Jesus raptures his church? What then? I know there's nothing wrong with having the house and spending that money, but will I honestly be content to stand before the Lord on that day and say "Look what I did with these last two years and all that money."? I don't want to look Jesus in the eye and wonder, "Could I have used that time and money more wisely?" I want to know that I have been a good steward of the gifts he has given me.

So, as my priorities keep changing and my eyes turn more and more fully towards the real prize, I offer this testimony as a reminder that we are running out of time (Rev. 22:7, 12-13, 20) and that we need to be using "our" time and talents to accomplish the work of the kingdom rather than storing up material treasures, building a name for ourselves in the business world, or even promoting our church when we should be promoting simply Jesus. Notice in that passage above, we are told that it is important to have a rich relationship with the Lord, not just a relationship, but a rich one.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have --Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials --gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgement day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. 1 Corin. 3:11-15
I don't want to enter heaven by the skin of my teeth. I want to have lived a life that will come through the fire and be worthy of reward. The clearest way I see to accomplish that is simply to rid my life of as many stumbling blocks as possible and fill those gaps with things that will edify me and bless others.

What's something in your life that has maybe become more of an "idol" than it should be? What are some things you are doing to prepare for the coming of our King?

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