Reposted from Radical Mentoring
My church just had its annual Man Night. Quite a production with campfires, bacon snacks, brownies and milk, film clips . . . you know, real guy stuff. At the end of the main talk, 6 truths about identity were put up on the screen along with this question, “Which of these do you struggle to accept and believe about yourself?”
Here are the 6 . . .
- I am forgiven
- I am not alone
- I am chosen
- I am complete in Christ
- I am significant
- I am loved
Now I’ve been walking with God for a long time so I assumed nothing they could throw up there would trip me up. But my eyes locked on this one . . .
I am complete in Christ
Do I really believe that? Isn’t that arrogant? What happened to “I’m a work in progress”? What about sanctification? Growing in holiness? If I start believing I’m complete, won’t I get lazy?
This ‘big idea’ of being complete comes from Colossians 2:10 where Paul writes, “you have been made complete in Christ.” Another translation says, “in Christ, you have been brought to fullness.” Through Jesus, I am complete. That means full. You can’t be more complete than complete. More full than full.
If I think ‘spiritual’ things like church work, giving, reading, writing, speaking, or mentoring are about trying to become complete, I’m wasting time and insulting the Father by discrediting His work of amazing grace.
My identity says I am complete in Him . . . that’s who I am. But I want to mature in my faith . . . to become more like who He is.1 I’m more likely to do that in community with other Jesus-following men. I want to know and understand the Bible and apply it to my everyday life in a meaningful way. I want to grow in personal holiness . . . being honest, bouncing my eyes, avoiding temptation. I’m learning to walk intimately with the Father by praying without ceasing, praising Him and thanking Him throughout my days. And I want to bring Him glory by loving my wife, my kids and every other person with the love of Jesus. We never get better at this stuff flying solo. We need the love and eyeballs of other trustworthy guys we invite into our dark corners.
So here’s my net-out. Believing “I am complete in Christ” means shutting down any doubt about my salvation or my status as an adopted son of the King of Kings. It means cranking up my efforts to grow in my faith, but not being duped into believing I have to perform for my faith. Out of gratitude for His love and for making me complete, I choose to pursue spiritual growth and Christian service.
Scripture: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form. And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
Imagine you’re 85 years old, living in a nursing home and your health is beginning to fail. Your grandson has always had a special place in his heart for you but over the last few years, he’s been busy finishing college, getting married and starting his family. One day, out of the blue, he calls and asks to visit. “I want to talk to you about real life Papa” he says. “I wanna hear your story.”
What story will you tell?
It’s easy to tell him your career story. About finishing school, getting your first job, getting promoted (or let go), starting your own thing, selling your company, becoming a Principal, finishing your residency, starting a practice, becoming a partner, selling out, retiring, getting forced out . . . whatever. He won’t care.
Of course, you can tell him your family story. Your parents, siblings and how you grew up. How you met your wife . . . the divorce, his mom or dad’s birth, his uncles and aunts. This story’s a little harder to tell. There’s some raw spots you have to tread lightly around . . . the divorce or the distant relationship you had with his grandma or even his mom or dad. He might be mildly interested.
If you’re a church person, you can tell him your faith story. How you were baptized (or not), how you came to believe, the churches you’ve been a part of, and maybe your favorite parts of the Bible. His attention span will depend on his own faith story.
But what your grandson really wants to hear is your life story. He wants to hear about your heart. What mattered to you when you were young and what matters to you now. How you saw things then and how you see them now. Sure, you want to tell him about your successes and things you’re proud of. He’ll be much more attentive as you tell him about your failures, your bad decisions, your regrets and your missed opportunities.
Unless you’re 85 and in a nursing home, your story isn’t over. You get to choose how you finish your story. When they make movies in Hollywood, they often film multiple endings and show them to focus groups to decide which ending resonates best. So, which of these ‘endings’ would you rather tell your grandson?
“I really wanted to be happy and successful, so I ‘doubled-down’ at work. I was able to send the kids to private school and great colleges. I took golf lessons and hired a personal trainer. I got in the best shape of my life and lowered my handicap 8 strokes. I moved our family into the big house on Tuxedo Road where we lived until your grandmother left and put me here in assisted living. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot to show for my life and it’s pretty lonely here. Can you come back to see me again soon?”
“As I took stock of my life, I realized that everything I’d done in my life was for myself. So I started to pray and ask God what He’d have me do with my life. He gave me the idea of investing time in men who are a couple seasons of life behind me. I started mentoring younger guys and that became my purpose and my calling. I got my church engaged and now there’s a bunch of guys involved. I found that joy and fulfillment comes from loving and serving others, showing them Jesus and encouraging them to follow Him. I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me. God is so good!”
So, what’s it gonna be? What story will you tell?
Scripture: Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalms 71:18)
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
I get a little nervous when I hear the preacher say “Surrender your life to Jesus.” I don’t remember Jesus using those words. I thought He talked about giving us “life to the full.” What’s this surrender thing about?
When I think about surrendering, I see a scene at the end of a war movie. The fight has gone on and on and finally, one side is surrounded. Absolutely no way out. So, they hoist a white flag and come out with their hands over their heads, yielding themselves to the more powerful. Now it’s up to the victors to decide what happens. The will of the losers has been yielded to the will of the victors.
I can relate to those losers. Why? Because I was one when I surrendered. After flailing around for years, trying to matter through career success and all the trappings that come with it, I found myself in my backyard. Alone. Broken. Out of options. I turned my eyes to the sky and I surrendered. I said, “Lord, I give up. I have totally screwed up my life. I know you’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I accept your forgiveness. I’m yours. Whatever happens from here on out, it’s up to you. I trust you. I know you love me. It’s you and me Lord . . . you and me!”
That was the end of the life that I knew . . . the one where I was in charge. The one where I didn’t think or care about anyone else. But it was the beginning of a new life. One that matters. A life of peace, love and meaning. And it began with surrender.
So, what does it really mean to surrender? To trust God with everything? My friend Larry Green has taught me a lot about surrender. He shared the Total Surrender Contract with me a few years back and it’s become a part of my mentoring group process. I hand it to my guys during our Commencement Retreat and challenge them to sign it only when they’re absolutely ready to abide by its terms.
My challenge for you is the same. Download the document here. Print it. Read it. Read it again. Pray. Pray more. Ask God to give you the courage to sign it and honor its terms for the rest of your life. Then, when you’re ready, sign it and put it somewhere you’ll always remember . . . maybe somewhere you’ll see it every day.
Total Surrender Contract
I give myself to You without reservation, and surrender to You my will, my mind, my emotions, my body, my plans, my hopes and my dreams. I give You my home, my marriage, my spouse, my children, my geographical location, my recreation, my entertainment, my career. I commit into Your hands my successes, my failures, my habits, my finances, my problems, my time, my integrity, my character, my attitude, my business conduct and relationships, my Christian walk and my response to authority.
I am relinquishing the following rights to You . . .
My right to . . .
- my possessions
- my reputation
- acceptance from others
- be successful
- have pleasant circumstances
- presume upon what your will may be for me
- beauty or strength
- have friendships
- be heard
- take up offense
- avoid reaping from what I have sown
- handle or control my addictions
- be right
- see results
- be loved by others
- change others
- life itself
I give You permission to do anything You wish with me, to me, in me or through me. I claimed the above once as mine. Now I acknowledge that they all belong to You and are under Your control. You can do with them as You please. I willingly make this commitment in the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I recognize that this is an agreement with You that can never be broken. Now that I have surrendered ownership of my life to You, I understand that You will never give ownership back to me. I accept that I am “not my own . . . that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit . . . and that I have been bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Amen.
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
A treadmill . . . a rowing machine . . . an elliptical . . . the piece of exercise equipment doesn’t really matter. With each one, no matter how hard you work, when you finish, you’re still in the same spot as when you started. If I’m being transparent, that feels much like the season of life I find myself in right now . . . busy, tired, and not making much progress. Summer baseball and a family health issue combined with my work not to mention a few new aches and pains (I guess I’m getting older) have led me to do a little self-assessment and reflection. And guess what I realized? I’ve been leaving no time for me and Jesus. Yes, I’m listening to some sermons via podcast and sprinkling in some worship music but its all becoming the background music to my (self-inflicted) busy life.
So the other morning, I grabbed my Kindle and began looking for something to read. I landed on a book I read once before, Speaking of Jesus. The author, Carl Medearis is a Jesus-follower with a huge heart for the Middle East and specifically for introducing Jesus to leaders in the Arab World. Carl loves Jesus . . . not Christianity. He focuses his time on ‘pointing people to his friend’ instead of on the ‘us vs. them’ mentality plaguing us today.
In Speaking of Jesus, Carl explains how we often get caught up presenting Christianity to others instead of just introducing them to Jesus. While probably not his original intent in writing the book, for me it served as a beautiful reminder of my friend Jesus . . . who I had left behind in my quest to conquer the seemingly important but ultimately insignificant matters dominating my calendar. It was a powerful reminder and I wanted to share some of my insights with you as I would venture a guess I’m not the only one who has been in this spot recently.
- “We have an unfair advantage. We know the Creator. We’re friends with the King.” – In almost every area of life, we all look for advantages. Yet, I found that in my faith, where I already have the greatest advantage, I was leaving Jesus on the sideline.
- “We have salvation insecurity. We want to measure, scrutinize, and secure our place.” – Others call it eternity amnesia; either way, I had it. I’d replaced spending time with Him with spending time simply doing things.
- “Follow Me” is a matter of personal contact – Jesus gives us a simple invitation with simple instructions.
- “My faults don’t keep Jesus from me, but they keep me from Him.” – Too often, I allow my sin and shame to build a wall between Jesus and myself.
- “We spend so much time laughing at Peter for sinking, when in reality, every single one of us would probably have stayed in the boat.” – Peter had what I’ve lost: the wonder of Jesus.1
So, my plan for this summer is to reintroduce myself to Jesus. As Medearis writes, “living a life like Jesus must begin with being a student of Jesus.” I am going to dig into the Gospels . . . to see how Jesus treated others, to read what He said, to better understand who He was and is today.
Scripture: You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately tried to keep it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
It’s not hard to find someone who is for the Georgia Bulldogs. Or for the Clemson Tigers. Americans are for America. We relish our identity as Americans when we celebrate our independence each July 4th. As husbands, we’re for our wives and our kids. When you’re for something, you identify with it, you advocate for it and you even set your priorities around it.
Merriam-Webster says ‘for’ is “used to indicate the person or thing that something is sent or given to.” But what are we ‘given to’ in our daily lives? What (or who) do we think about? Identify with? Advocate for? Set priorities around? Could it be one (or more) of the following . . .
- Our work and career?
- Our golf game?
- Our favorite college team?
- Our vacations and time off?
- Our home and/or lawn?
- Our church?
- Our wives?
- Our kids?
- Our parents?
- Our retirement?
- Our kids’ sports?
- Our finances?
- Our health and fitness?
- Our friends?
- Our problems?
God is about motives. He’s about the why far more than about the what, when or where. Through all of history, God has been about relationship. That’s the why. He created us to be in a personal relationship with Him. We’re called “Christians” because of that relationship, but somehow we still don’t have much time for Him.When we think about the time and attention we give God every day compared to the time and attention we devote to the things on the above list, it’s almost comical. When it comes to the Creator God who invited us to call him Father, the omnipotent Almighty God of the universe who wants to be our best friend, who controls everything . . . well, He gets a few minutes each day before we hit the gym (if we don’t forget). Except for maybe ‘our problems,’ there’s not a single bad thing on that list . . . they’re all good and some of them are even necessary. So, what gives? What does God want from us?
And lest you think I’m throwing rocks, I live in a glass house. As much as I love God and try to follow Him, I’d hate to see a pie chart of my daily thoughts. God would be there but I’d be ashamed of how little I actually think of Him or talk to Him. But oh . . . when I’m under pressure or in a crisis, His piece of my time, attention, energy and mindshare gets really big!
We live for the Lord when we’re constantly praising and thanking Him. When we’re looking for opportunities to serve others. And when we slow down enough to read His Book, listen to His voice and live as He wants us to live, we feel His peace and His presence in our lives. That’s what He wants for us.
Scriptures: If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12