Blog by Mark McClure, I’m a Chaplain Candidate in the Army National Guard and live in Klamath Falls, Oregon; Licensed Professional Counselor Registered Intern; Love Jesus; and want people to come to God. God bless and leave a comment on a post if you’re up for it!
1 Corinthians 1: 1-5 “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.”
What is that “powerful demonstration by the Spirit” that Paul is talking about? I don’t believe it was magical miracles. I believe that the power He is talking about is the power of God to change one’s life and cause them to abandon everything and follow Jesus.
It doesn’t take a lot of charisma to declare the truth of Jesus’ love for people. In fact, charisma can detract from the message and put the focus on the individual rather than on the intended object–JESUS. I believe that a person who has fully submitted their life to God and is living moment by moment reliant on the Spirit of God, is prepared to declare God’s testimony to the audience He has prepared. It is from a person’s faith that the Spirit of God works and where His power is seen; it is NOT from our good speaking ability. Our ability to speak well in front of others does not point straight back to Jesus. If we are able to speak well and our words and tone are impressive, then so be it. However, that ability has nothing to do with the effectiveness of one’s ministry. Great speakers lead people astray every day–is the content and the behavior of the speaker that should be examined. Every time I have seen a great public speaker there is one thing I feel: ENVY. I want to be able to talk as good as they do, but almost always it is so that other people will think highly of me. Does this mean that being a good speaker is bad? No. But it is just a fact. It is not a prerequisite for speaking God’s truth and the one who speaks well should be careful that their human abilities are not elevated above any spiritual gift.
I submit to you that the humblest person you know who is relying on Jesus for their full sustenance is more prepared to deliver the gospel than the one who speaks like Billy Graham but whose life is their own and not submitted to Jesus. The reason is simply this: people see what only the Spirit of God can do to a person and they are captivated by that individual’s demonstration of power–the power that comes from God to enable a person to forget their life and lean on Him for everything.
Matthew 5:12 says “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven…”
When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 He essentially told them that the life of one who lives for God is characterized by an expectation of receiving ____________ in the future…not in the present. It is the life of faith that pleases God, not the life that expects satisfaction now (Hebrews 11:6). It is the concept of reaping and sowing. One does not plant a seed and yield it’s fruit in the next moment (Galatians 6:9). Christians must wait to receive their reward. Ironically, when one waits on the Lord IN FAITH they experience His peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
If we do not wait IN FAITH, then we will not have peace. That means we will be waiting with a spirit of complaining, of grumbling, and of whining because we are not getting what we think we deserve. We know that God commands us not to live as whiners (Philippians 2:14). Therefore, living IN FAITH means that we consciously understand that we expect to be satisfied at a future date, a day determined by God, and the truth is that the day of our reward may not be until after our death. In fact, we will never be completely satisfied until we reach our final destination–the presence of God.
Understand that it is our humanity that will suffer when we wait IN FAITH. It is our temporary sense of justice, of harmony, of emotion, that suffers when we allow room for God’s work to be done. God calls us to let our earthly nature die and embrace the Spirit of Jesus which has little regard for earthly comfort when God’s truth is at stake. Remember how God the Father treated God the Son: “It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…” (Isaiah 53:10).
When we undertake love as a Christ follower we are guaranteed to be persecuted. Our love will often not be received because it sheds light on the failure of people to love God and one another. Those who desire to please God will be encouraged by our love, but those who are enemies of God will punish us because we stand for Him. But remember, the reward comes later. Suffer now and go unsatisfied now–that is living IN FAITH. But when you demonstrate that type of faith, the Spirit of God will minister to you and remind you that you are in God’s will, which will make every suffering worthwhile as it happens. After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus assured us of this fact.
Matthew 5:11-12 “You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
1 Peter 1:17-19 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
A Christian is someone who has given up on this world. They no longer hold on to any comfort or peace that they used to derive from the physical elements that would occupy their time, money, and affection. All of the things on earth that used to give them a “warm fuzzy” have lost their appeal.
Why? Because it is all going down in flames! We who are called Christians now live with a healthy fear of God because we have come to believe that He is going to hold people accountable for their lives–for the decisions that they made on this earth. This is why we forget this world because it has only brought us judgment. The only thing that remains is the love of God that we know of because it was revealed when Jesus came. We who love God love Jesus because Jesus is His perfect representation–this is why He called Him His Son.
So, today, like Paul, consider everything that is a part of this temporary life to be as worthless in view of the surpassing value of getting to know who Jesus is. Every thing you try to do to improve your life today must be filtered through the blood of Jesus. We can make our lives all nice and neat and achieve great things for ourselves and our communities that mean nothing in light of eternity. Our priorities, goals, and decisions today must be set and made in light of the fact that only the eternal will remain. Therefore, cut away anything in your life that does not glorify God. Restructure any passion or goal that is out of alignment because it does not have Jesus at the top of it. We can be tricked into thinking that there are pieces of our lives that God does not care if we do on our own. This is a lie! Every single second of our day can and should be committed to Jesus. We should desire above all else to be molded and crafted into the image of God–to look like Jesus.
May your day be blessed and may you live in victory today as you shed the impulses you have to satisfy your temporary urges. I pray today that you will live out the will of God by first and foremost giving up your will to live the way that you always have and to instead live a life totally focused on the eternal relationship you will have with Jesus.
People treat us bad, things go wrong, life is not working out like we want…this is where the excuses begin and life ends.
At the outset, this sounds harsh, but stay with me–there is redemption. When we are mistreated there is an emotional response that begins within us. Justice starts to cry out and demands to shine through like the noon day sun. However, justice is often blocked out by the clouds of unfairness. In every moment of everyday we are involved in the reconstruction of what is just, right, and fair, because the world is broken. We often find ourselves on the receiving end of injustice which makes the issue that much more real and important. What this dynamic creates for each of us mere mortals is a vacuum that sucks in and steals our forward progress. If we thought we could improve or be happy, we were wrong, because ________________ happened and now we must spend our time recovering from the emotional fallout that results from guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, and sorrow. The disappointments of life are the landmines that take our legs out from underneath us and too often cripple us from living in the fullness of what God has designed us for. The truth is that justice fails. It fails big time. For some people it is enough for them to end their own life. For others, it keeps them oppressed under the crushing despair and cycle of addiction and self harm. Those who should be held responsible are not. And we are doomed to live under the unyielding misery that comes with a lack of accountability…right?!
Just when it seems that injustice has won the day, there is a savior that flanks it–spears it–and moves forward like a champion. That hero is OWNERSHIP.
When we get beat down it is because we are too busy fighting injustice; we cannot help ourselves from trying to defeat it. But all the time we are fighting one injustice another one jumps on our backs. Then another one punches us in the gut. Even if we got one victory, the onslaught never ceases. How can one defeat the cunning and ever so accurate jabs of injustice? The simple answer is OWNERSHIP. You may ask, “How can I take ownership of something that I did not do?” or “Why should I be responsible for the bad behavior of someone else? Isn’t this akin to being a whipping post or a doormat?”
Those are reasonable questions. Why this seems so counter intuitive is because injustice is like a magician who uses smoke and mirrors to distract its opponent from what is really going on; keeping the victim’s eyes fixed on the distraction, or the illusion. The problem with seeking justice in our daily lives, in our every problem, is that it does nothing to address the emotional wound that was delivered. Someone was punished, someone got what they deserved, the truth was told–but we are still hurting. ______________ still happened! These evil magicians, once their tricks are discovered, only leave us feeling bad. We do not feel refreshed and recharged. At best it was a wash; we wish we never would have seen it or have gone through it and hope to forget about it. It’s like a murderer getting sent to the electric chair for a crime he did commit. There is satisfaction that justice was served, but the victim’s family would give anything for the whole thing to have never happened. Which brings us back around to how we can take ownership during times of injustice.
The answer: Stop trying to figure out why you are right. Stop trying to defend yourself. Stop trying to demonstrate that someone else is wrong.
If your default response to pain in your life was to accept it, the pits of injustice would no longer be an issue. You could keep moving forward with your own life, your own goals, and your own dreams because there would be nothing stopping you. When you accept everything that happens in your life with your eyes wide open you will begin to see that there are many things that you brought on yourself. There are many things that you should be responsible for that you are desperately seeking to hide from. And then there are things that just plain suck and you were completely a victim of.
At any rate, you take OWNERSHIP of your feelings, of your behaviors–even the ones that you feel justified for AFTER you were clearly wronged by someone else. When you can do that and not blame someone else for your actions, even if it seems justified, you will exit the fight with injustice and start living for what really matters–your destiny. What happened to you that was wrong was a distraction. But choose not to be distracted. Learn from it. Accept it. Grant forgiveness where you can–this allows you to let go of the fight. Every fight that you step out of means that you are able to move faster down your path.
To go back and address the concern of being a doormat and a whipping post; this is a misconception. Now you can be those things, but taking ownership does not entail taking responsibility for what SOMEONE ELSE did. Ownership is taking FULL RESPONSIBILITY for what YOU did, and more importantly, what you will do. There will be a day of reckoning, a day when justice will be served. God Almighty will sort out every wrong doing, we need not worry about that. Taking ownership does not let other people off the hook. This is where we often stay our whole lives. We won’t take responsibility for ourselves because there is something that someone else has done that we are waiting for them to take responsibility for or otherwise be punished for. This will destroy our destiny. This will kill every ounce of purpose and forward movement that we have. They will get theirs in the end. Forgiving someone does not remove accountability of their actions. They will pay. Or God will forgive. But that is above our pay grade. In this life we cannot control those things. But if we want to live with joy and a sense of peace, we have to put to death our compulsion to judge others. We have much to be forgiven for ourselves.
It happened. Whatever it was, it happened. Sometimes you had a part to play in why it happened and other times you did not. You cannot change it. You cannot improve it–not in the historical sense. It is what it is and you feel the way you feel. Do not be afraid to take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for every thing that originated from you–even if those actions were influenced by whatever another person did. Own your response. Learn to be one cares more about listening to others than convincing them why you have the right to be inconsolable. In the end, you did what you did and you could have done it differently, good or bad–know the difference. They did what they did. If we take responsibility now, in the day of accountability, where God judges every person for every thought and deed, there will be no surprises, no regrets, and no excuses.
“You are the most influential player on this team. If you walk around defeated, so will they.” – Facing the Giants
We are influencing someone. Our actions inspire someone to do something. In the home we are privileged to exercise leadership in God’s format; by his design. To someone in your family, you are the most influential person in their life–whether good or bad.
You have been given a mantle of responsibility, of leadership, by God, that requires you to stand out in front and lead by example. Undoubtedly, mothers have influence as well, but God has ordained men to be the heads of families, for men to be the ones that the family learns how to be like Jesus from and how to love the world. Every child and every wife should feel that their husband knows the Lord more than they do. How can a father be expected to teach his family if the family (mother or children) is more knowledgeable about spiritual things? What if students knew more than their teachers? This implies that the Lord grants understanding and discernment in a different way to the father. Certainly the woman possess these things, but not in the same way that the man does.
Fathers and husbands are strong. Not always in a physical sense, but many times they are. But even if their physical strength is lacking, they possess a strong inclination for the well-being of their flock. They are born with a sense of confrontation that drives them to defeat anything that seeks to harm those under their care. The leading man in the house should be seen and known as one who protects his family and sacrifices everything for them–his life, his food, his possessions, and anything that would make the family more vulnerable to attack from something or someone outside. Spiritual or physical attack. What distracts you from being this man of leadership? Get rid of it. Claim your responsibility and shoulder it with pride and enthusiasm. Every wife and every child will see your dedication, submission, and commitment to your ordained place in life and will be inspired to fulfill theirs as well. Just as they watch you, you are watching someone too. Is it Jesus? If so, it will be evident. Is it your friends, yourself, culture–mankind? If so, it will be evident? Just remember, that rebellion in God’s kingdom is not met with ungodly discipline and condemnation. It is met with peace, long suffering, patience, and love. Always teach the truth, but be patient and always encourage your family to follow the right path; never crushing them for insubordination and never frustrating them to the point that they want to give up because you have made it impossible to reach your standards. Never waiver on truth and always leave room for reconciliation and change. Remember God’s patience with you as he molds you into the leader you are called to be and do the same for those under your charge.
Your children are watching your every move; they need and depend on you so much. You are the intermediary between them and their father. When they were born, you handed the child to them (in a manner of speaking). You present the child to their father as a gift; as one who has been shaped and formed by you. They have been given to you for a reason. They fall directly under your sphere of influence. Whereas the father is expected to raise and carry the standard for the whole family and oversee the family’s purpose, the mother is expected to engage in the physical, spiritual, and emotional development of their children first and foremost. Again, fathers do this as well, but when in a heightened position of leadership one is unable to rub elbows with those below them to the degree that lower level leadership can. By design, that is truth. Fathers set the standard of love by interacting with their wives and children in a Christlike way, by serving them through sacrifice and personal devotion, teaching the whole family the precepts of the Lord. Mothers have traditionally, by God’s design, spent the most time with the children, and are called to demonstrate not only a commitment to truth and love, but to pass on a bond that can only come through a mother’s love. Fathers do not give birth and cannot possess the same connection to their babies that mothers can. It is impossible. Nature declares this truth. Look at almost any animal in the world and you will see the difference between the roles of a mother and a father.
This teaching is not popular today, but it is straight from the Bible. Straight from the Apostle Paul who wrote the majority of the New Testament. Wives and mothers should not be the gatekeepers to their family’s spiritual, physical, and emotional well being. This is the father’s role–meaning that he ensures that these areas are being taken care of. At times he may have to come in close and correct, encourage, and fill in the gaps where the mother is not able. Perhaps the mother was not cared for by her parents and was never enabled to love the way God would have her to. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT. YOU WATCHED YOUR PARENTS. This mother learned by watching her mother and her father. This process should lead to the mother gaining understanding of her role and eventually rising to it. How blessed are children and a husband who experience a wife and mother who has taken her place in the family and is always seeking to fulfill her leadership role as the one who directly helps/assists in the growth and development of her family. She can do something that her husband cannot if she is operating in a Biblical way. She gets to have a connection with her children that the husband will not, if she is operating in a Biblical way. Why do you think the athlete on T.V. always exclaims “Hi mom!”? Be the mother to your children that God has ordained you to be and be the wife to your husband that God has ordained you to be and seek nothing more. For this is your calling and what an amazing and special one it is.
Realize that someone in your home is watching you. The way you act is the way that they will act–why would you expect something different? What does this inspire you to do? Hopefully you recognize the need to fully submit to the Lord and his guidance so that you can pass that spirit on to whoever is under your charge. If you try to go alone, or follow worldly advice and passions, then you will demonstrate to those who are by default, your followers, that an ungodly and selfish way of life is acceptable. We are a family of God and we have a map of how to successfully be one–the Bible. This world has its own understanding, but we do not follow the world. Look in the faces of those in your family who belong to you and picture them behaving, speaking, and feeling the way that you do. If that is unsettling, change it. Ask the Lord for strength to humble yourself and submit to Him. Jesus desperately wants us to unify as a family so that we can show everyone how to truly love others unconditionally; which can only be accomplished when we view others as more important than ourselves.
*REMEMBER THIS: We have all learned by our parents how to live ungodly and selfish lives in some way. Every human being has sinned and has passed their failures onto their children. But the humility that comes with submitting to the Lord will be your greatest asset as you work through those difficulties, that confusion, when you are fulfilling your role of leadership in the family. Jesus will guide you through those bad habits you learned from your caregivers, but He requires you to own it yourself.