Thursday, November 10, 2005

Worth, Work & Rejoicing NOT that . . .

REJOICING IN WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US
What are You Worth? How Do you Know?
Kerry S. Doyal – www.GetGraced.org


It’s Saturday and I am in college. My big plans for most Saturday nights were to sit in the dorm lobby and wait for a phone call. I would set up vigil near the big wooden phone booth, guard it from any one fool hearty enough to try to use it and wait.

In the early 80’s, this was the cheapest way to keep in touch with my parents and Robin, now my wife. Dad worked for the phone company and got a deal on long distance. Robin would drive over to their house for the call and we all would catch up on the week’s news.

Yes, I know that sounds pathetic. Regular old Good Time Charlie, eh? In our era of cheap long distance and cell phones, it is hard to fathom. Oh well, I guess those were my good old days.

Another memory I have of those calls was a pattern of “Q & A” between my Dad and I. “How you doing?” he would ask. “Good.” I would reply. “I had a good week, I got a lot done.”

Some seven years later, while struggling through a long, dark season of life & ministry, I reflected on that part of our Saturday ritual. “How you doing?” “Good. I got a lot done.”

Mulling over that exchange, bells and lights of self-revelation went off. No doubt about it, as a good American male, my worth was clearly tied to my productivity, my successes, my accomplishments.

When I was getting things done, seeing lives changed, furthering His work, I felt good about me. Worse still, it was in such times I felt God felt good about me. Being lovable at such times, I was loved.

However, successes were few and failures seemed many during those doubt-filled days of ministry misery. It was a time that caused me to question my self worth and value to God or the kingdom.

What if while in college, I wondered, God entrusted me to a time of sickness and non-productivity? With test grades slipping, books not being read, papers not being written, I would have probably suffered more with matters of my soul than of my body.

Almost a decade later, everything I touched seemed to turn to mold; hardly gold. With little to feel good about, why should I feel good about me? Why should God?

When I grasped what my answers to my Dad revealed about me, it saddened me. Yet, it also became a point of freedom.

During those days of doubt, I happened – yeah right – to read Luke 10. A group of 72 Disciples were returning from a powerful ministry venture. They were jazzed and ready to report to Jesus. God had used them in obvious ways.

Hearing of their exciting exploits - healing the sick, raising the dead and kicking demonic derriere - Jesus affirmed their ministry. And then, in His classic “seem to change the subject style,” Jesus took advantage of the moment to teach them, to lead them deeper.

Read slowly a few times these words of Jesus that redirected my life: “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20 - NIV).

If I may paraphrase: Do not find your joy and source of identity in what you have done for Me. That fluctuates. Rejoice in what I have done for you – provided salvation. That is settled, secure and cannot change.

For me, this was a “lights going on, chains dropping off” moment of truth-grasping (John 8:30-32). This story in Luke intercepted my story and reset the shape of my life and ministry. It seemed after this epiphany, God seemed to line up particular guys He brought into my life - they all needed to hear this truth too (Eph. 2:8-10).

If our worth is based on what we do for Him, we better never have a performance lapse. Talk about pressure and an unreasonable – no, impossible – expectation. It is a demonic and damnable lie.

Our performance, successes and results will always be in flux and mixed. ‘Tis true: ya win some, ya lose some. Yet, for those of us who need to win all of them to be okay with us, this means trouble. For me, that means I am only as good as my next sermon, which puts me in deep trouble.

Yet, God’s love for you and me, His unconditional acceptance never wavers. It is not rooted in me, but Him (Titus 3:3-7).

Be honest: when do you feel good about you? More importantly, when do you sense the favor and smile of God on your life? Is it when there is good reason to sense His love?

Do good grades, a raise or promotion, perfect kids or health indicate – or dictate – how you think God is thinking and feeling about you? Or, is your worth based in HIM: His love, grace, acceptance, mercy and forgiveness? These are gifts, not earned or merited (digest Rom. 5:1-10; Ephesians 1-3).

His favor is based on His desire to express His glorious grace to even the likes of us. In fact, the “least worthy” of His love become His best exhibits of Love (see 1 Timothy 1:15-17).

The next time you have a success, enjoy it. Call a friend and have them party hearty with you (Romans 12:15; Psalm 20:5).

Better still, the next time you fail, stumble and mess things up royally, stop right in the middle of your mess to wallow and revel in His ongoing, never decreased love for you (Romans 8:26-39). If in those times you can know and experience the love of God, methinks you are on to something special.

25 comments:

AnonymousU said...

I wanted to leave you a note about your post here. You have never met me, though I know who you are. I have been to your church, yet never listened to one of your sermons. I consider myself a "lost soul" as of right now and don't know why, when, or where I veered off the path. I have struggled with myself in terms of motivation to seek/receive God's salvation. I feel like I'm in limbo and do not lean in any particular direction. My open mind and loose interpretations of the Bible coupled with my lack of motivation is what keeps me from following with passion. I struggle with the want to sin and don't think twice going about it. I have Christian friends who are my best friends and mean the world to me, yet I challenge their faith trying to point out contradictions.

I know better, yet I act as if I don't know what ultimately is best for me. I feel like I carry the "repent your sins and all is forgiven" card around and will use it when truly needed (i.e. on my deathbed). Thus giving me free reign to sin as much as I want now and still make up for it later. I am not sure how it all works, but for analogy sake it seems to me it would be like cutting in line in front of all those who've waited years to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Anyway, I want to thank you for your post and keep up the good work. More people are counting on you than you probably know.

Marcguyver said...

You know, your comments reminded me of some song lyrics:
"Not because of who I am, But because of what You've done. And not because of what I've done, but because of who You are!"

It is truly 'refreshing' to know that our worth is indeed ultimately wrapped up in who Christ is and not who we are. In times of struggle it's nice to know that God is going to accept me not because of what I've done or who I am, but because of what Christ did and who He is.

Anonymousu,
(Please don't take the following as some sort of condemnation; that is not my intention)
Are you saying that you are not 'Born Again'? If you are a Chrsitian, I wonder if you have actually had an encounter with the risen Lord?
I can’t imagine truly comprehending all that God has done for me only to turn away and simply continue to live my life as if nothing had ever changed.
We will all have quite the ‘rude awakeneing’ when we meet God face to face and find that we are held
accountable for every word, action, and deed either done or undone. Surely the bible requires more from us as Christians (i.e. followers of Christ) then simply accepting him as Savior, I do believe we need to make him Lord as well. I would recommend that you read through the book of Romans and the later part of Hebrews to get a better persepctive of what Christianity is really all about.

John Frye said...

Kerry, I've read through this 3 times now and each time my heart is strengthened. Thanks for the thought and passion and reflection you put into this post. We need more pastors like you who are honest about the journey.

Anonymous, there was no sacrifice in the OT for premeditated sin. To use your "repent and be forgiven card" on your deathbed is like a "slam bam, thank you, m'am" use of Jesus' blood. I don't think he'd like that. Praying for you in your struggle.

Kerry Doyal said...

Marc - thanks for your comments

AnonymousU - thanks ever so much for your words! I so respect honesty such as yours. It is too easy to say the right things or nothing at all.

I am human enough to be crazy with curiosity (who is that masked man?), but am thankful HE knows & cares. Here is a cheap bride: may I buy you lunch some day?

Funny thing- there is a parable about your line-jumper & it is in YOUR favor (see Matt. 20:1-16 - bonus parable Luke 17:7-10)! Lots of us good folk hate this parabale 'cause we don't grasp grace.

Blessings, my friend. Blog at me as you can.

dorianrae said...

Anonymous: He forgot to have his editor check his copy...it was a cheap BRIBE he was offering, not a cheap bride!

Much love to the pastor who helps others to sew the holes in their lives! I got to see the beloved Penningtons last weekend, and we enjoyed remembering that little bit of John E on that tearful Sunday of goodbyes.

Looking forward to a hug in April 2006!

(so this is where you have been hiding!)

Kerry Doyal said...

Dodi - thanks AGAIN! What would do I... I mean, I do with out your skilled help? Cheap bride! ;-) Thanks Sis - KSD

Tell you boys hello

AnonymousU said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AnonymousU said...

To Marcguyer: Even if I was "born again" like you suggest I am not, does that mean stumbling off the path is not fathomable? The disciples walked with Jesus, himself, and still denied him as being Christ.

To John Frye: Thank you for your comments and prayers, though I don't think you should speak on behalf of what Jesus "might" think of me. And please don't pass judgment on me using Christ's name either. I would rather you take me at face value and give me encouragement. Does OT stand for OverTime? I need things spelled out. Remember, an acronym might make sense to you because you use it and know what it is...but to someone like me that doesn't know what you are talking about when saying OT, just doesn't make much sense to me. Let me know.


To Kerry: A cheap bride? Is she from Russia? I do like foreign girls. (Hint: Sarcasm is abundant with me) I am willing to take you up on the lunch offer, but I will be paying for myself. How does 12:30 wednesday at La Carreta sound? (I need time to wake up / shower) If you get there before me, sit in the smoking section...better seats. Let me know if Tuesday or Thursday is a better time. Thanks again.

To ALL: Please read Luke 17:3-4 and Mark 6:1-15

Kerry Doyal said...

AnonU - Great to hear from you. Russian? Will a S. American work ;-)

I am gone most of this week. Friday can work this week or . . . let's make it work as we can. Which La Car?

if you want to, e-mail me:
gracefree4u@juno.com

KSD

Marcguyver said...

Anonymousu,
I think perhaps you missed this part: "(Please don't take the following as some sort of condemnation; that is not my intention)"

You state that you are not a Christian; in your case I would suggest first that you focus on your need for a Savior. You do not have to 'clean yourself up' before coming to Christ; "...while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Our job is simply to see our need for Him; He'll take care of the rest.

As a Christian however, the bible is clear that it requires more from us after we have come to Christ; it is true that we are to extend forgiveness (as you cited in Luke 17) but that very same passage states what is said in other passages as well; we are to 'rebuke' our brother when he sins. The passage in Hebrews I suggested is chapter 10:19-39, and it clearly shows that we cannot 'play games' with God. Man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart. We are truly only fooling ourselves if we think we can 'pull a fast one' on God and receive forgiveness of our sins without truly repenting of them in the first place because we have every intention of just returning right back to them. The bible calls this, "...like a dog returning to his vomit," see 2nd Peter 2:19-22.

As far as, "...stumbling off the path," as you said, yes we all continue to sin; however to repent means that we change our hearts and lives and seek to become slaves to righteousness and no longer slaves to our sinful selves, Romans 6-8.

Look, come to Christ. We all need it; confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Christ was raised from the dead and you shall be saved. Let Him do the work of 'justification' and removing your sins.
After that, just let Him be Lord and He'll start to work on the other things. The Spirit of God will give you the strength you need to become more 'Christ-like' as you walk it out just like the rest of us are trying to do.

"Blessed are those who hunger and seek after righteousness for they shall be satisfied."

AnonymousU said...

To Marc Doney: Are you in charge of the recruiting officers for your office? If you are it shows with your "Look, come to Christ. We all need it" comment. And who said I was trying to "pull a fast one" or "play games" with God? Not me.

I do want to state that it is my belief that everyone's path to God is not the same. I am a person that likes to sit back wait on things to come to me. It's just my nature. I believe God will present Himself to me (and in a big way) when He knows I am ready to accept Him. I don't want to feel forced into a decision that I am not ready to make, thus second guessing myself and not being fully committed to Him.

To Kerry: If she is S. American, I prefer Brazilians. If you can bring her to our "meeting," that'd be greeat, mmmmK.

I knew I left something out. The La Carreta on Fort Henry Drive - Col. Heights beside Hardees. Friday will suffice. Remember 12:30 - smoking section. I'll be the one with the paper. Thanks.

Romans 15:10-20 (I think - just working off memory)

Rich said...

AU,

Just so you know man, I pray for you daily. I'm glad you are asking all these questions. So many sound familiar to me.

If you need anything, you gimme a yell.

Rich

Kerry Doyal said...

See ya Friday! Kerry

Milton Stanley said...

Excellent word. I didn't find a trackback link on your post, but I wanted you to know I quoted liberally from your post on my blog this morning. Peace.

John Frye said...

Dear Anonymous, it's hard to "hear" inflection and see facial expressions via blogging. I'm sorry for my comments that sounded judgmental and rejecting of you. Forgive me. My words were meant to stimulate thought, not condemn. You are on an honest and good journey. Questions are part of the journey. Keep asking, keep moving and keep open to the God Who is pursuing you. I imagine all who have addressed you though this blog are passionately in love with Jesus Christ and genuinely care for you. Because God is FOR you and not against you, so are we all FOR you and not against you.

John Frye said...

Kerry, when you have a chance, read again my first post about "Jesus the First Emerging Pastor." I edited it substantially in light of your good feedback. John

Kerry Doyal said...

That's the old John we know and love.

Marcguyver said...

Anonymousu,

Whoa, chill man! You're taking this all wrong. I'm not a recruiter for my office. I'm simply trying to get you to make the most important decision of your life.
Look, I'm not better than you..
I'm not saying I'm wiser, smarter, more knowledgable, or whatever.
I'm just trying to point out some scripture that I think would be beneficial to you in your quest for truth. Often times, in our own selfishness we just refuse to read the bible as it is written and won't except the principles by which it says we should live....but it is still the truth; and that's what we all need.

My plea for you to just 'give up' and accept Christ was simply this:
I know that if you do He'll get a hold of you and you'll never be the same....it's a good thing!

Kerry Doyal said...

Marc, love you passion, on board with you in your message, wondering if the method is a bit strong? (BTW - thanks for serving in the crucial, underthanked, underpaid role that you do.)


Anon - enjoyed lunch - hope we can get together again soon.

Marcguyver said...

Kerry, how'd lunch go? Hopefully you were used mightily by God to impact another life!

And thanks for the advice, I'll try to remember to tone down my vehemence and temper it with a bit of grace; Blessings!

Kerry Doyal said...

Lunch was a good time - hoping to do again (good excuse to eat Mexican food)

Marc - You Da MAN - stay safe & God's shield around you (Ps. 20)

AnonymousU said...

Lunch was ok...but the food was good! ;)

Kerry Doyal said...

I read that, Mr Anon . . . & Go Bears! Maybe we can do a threesome with Clint. He & I were thinking Fri b-fast.

AnonymousU said...

I work on Friday morning.

Kerry Doyal said...

Mr. A.A. ;-)

Are you not a b-fast eater?... before work?