I can remember distinctly the time that my life shifted from a desire to please people, make a good living, and have nice stuff into something distinctly different. It began as I turned thirty. I realized all of the sudden that I really wanted to make a difference. At the time I wanted to please people, make a good living, have nice stuff, and make a difference for the Kingdom of God. I wanted it all.
It did not take long before I found myself at an impasse. I knew what Jesus was saying about my life. Things like:
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:28–33, ESV)
This is one example of a theme that is all over the words of Jesus. I began to realize that I can’t want for all the stuff this world has and expect to serve the Kingdom too. Jesus says:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24, ESV)
Please don’t think I am saying that if someone pleases people, makes a good living, and has nice stuff then they cannot serve God or make a difference in the Kingdom.
That is not the case, and not what I am saying!
What I am saying is that as I found myself trying to give my allegiance to pleasing people and serving God the way I knew He wanted me to, I discovered that it has to be one or the other. Inevitably the King would ask me to serve Him in a capacity that I was afraid would not please people and I had to chose–Kingdom values or peoples’ expectations. Or the things I would do or say were in opposition to Jesus’ values but fit with what people around me thought or felt was valuable. In the same way, my pursuit of money and nice stuff put a divide between God and the things I so badly wanted. God would ask me to sacrifice for His purposes, and the part of me I devoted to Giants’ memorabilia or cable TV begged me not to do it. At times, I became so focused on the luxuries around me that I would find a way to reinterpret all of Jesus’ words to mean something much less than there plain understanding or directed at a group of people that couldn’t possibly include me.
It is an issue of what motivates you. Who or what do you serve?
A little while back I spent time studying Job. He was both Godly and wealthy. He had it all, and yet, when everything he owned was stripped from him. When his family was taken from him, Job worshipped. He struggled, questioned, fought through the difficulty… but his first reaction was to worship and after all the struggles, he recognized the God of all creation for Who He is. Job humbled himself and laid his life at the feet of God. Job was motivated by a love for God, not all his stuff!
Jesus had this encounter:
“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”” (Luke 12:13–21, ESV)
The foolishness lies in the reality that the man of whom Jesus speaks is motivated by safety, wealth, and comfort. Think of all the time, effort, and thought that was directed at getting to this place… only to die–barns full and life wasted.
I turned 33 yesterday. I am embarking on the age that my Savior gave it all for me. He walked an impossible road for anyone but Him. He pursued the Kingdom in a way that I will likely never achieve but am desperately striving for.
This year I want to make a difference in the Kingdom-to love its values and to live them. To be motivated by my King. I know that it can’t be a divided allegiance. It must be a fully surrendered thing. Pray with me and my family as we pursue that, both in the time we are preparing to go to Ethiopia and in our time there.
Specifically, you can pray with us that:
1. Our state and federal non-profits will go through quickly and smoothly.
2. That God would provide many prayer warriors on our behalf.
3. That we would see funds come in quickly so that we can achieve our goal of being in Ethiopia by January.
4. That Habi’s adoption would be completed quickly and without a bunch of unexpected fees.
5. That all the paperwork that has to be processed in Ethiopia would be completed quickly.
6. That God would send many guests to the guest house that we will establish in Ethiopia.
7. That God would lead us to the holistic street child ministry that He desires for our family, and that we can be vessels for Kingdom growth through the ministry.