Saturday, January 1, 2011

Okay, So Now What?



Okay so we are once again at a New Year, okay, so now what? You know, that really is a great question! As we begin the New Year, it is a really good re-focusing question for us to ask God, “Okay God now what? Now what would You have me do?” However, I have to admit, often when I look in the mirror I find myself asking, is there anything I can do at all? My past failures have left some deep scars that do not let me easily forget them, so doubt is always a battle. Yet I know, that there is a part that I am to play, a role that I have in His Kingdom. Okay God, so here we are at the start of a new year, this is a good time to re-focus, to re-direct energies, re-deploy, so now what, what adventure do you have for me?

New Year’s Eve night as I listened to Rodney Holmstrom share the lesson, I was drawn to some verses in 1 Peter 4:7-11 that seemed help me with this question, would you mind if I walked you through my thinking on them as I have taken time to look at them?

The end of all things is near.

Okay I got stop right there first. I can’t let that sentence slip by unnoticed. This little sentence is a big deal. This is like a headline. Peter is saying, “Hey, pay attention, the end almost here! It is almost over, what I am about to say next is very import!!! You need to get what I am about to say!” So he is talking about Jesus returning here!! Cool stuff!! Okay so now I am geared up for what it is he is about to write, I mean if the end is almost here, if he is talking about Jesus coming back, then these next instructions should be really, really important. Oh I hope I am up to whatever task he has in mind, I mean if the end of all things is near, then what comes next must be big, this must important!!

Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.

Okay so the end of all things is near so I need to be aware and sober (I wonder if Peter was in CR in his day) by-the-way another word for sober would be clear-minded. I have always been amazed how much sobriety has removed the “fuzzy-thinking” I had. I don’t care what issue a person has, if you have an issue, you have “fuzzy-thinking.” The Holy Spirit uses sobriety to clear up that “fuzzy-thinking.” Peter tells us here that the end of all things is near so then we need to be ALERT and SOBER so that we can PRAY. Okay Pete, tracking with you so far, if the end of all things is near, if Jesus is returning, then prayer is an important thing and to pray well I need to be alert and aware of the things around me and I need to be sober and clear thinking. Okay Pete, what is next?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Okay, so the end of all things is near so I need to love others deeply. Got to admit Pete, not the thing I was looking for. I was thinking flashing swords and lightening bolts or least a word about healing the sick. But instead you are saying I need to love others deeply and why? Because it covers a multitude of sins, okay now I am pretty sure Ole’ Peter was in CR, because he sure is talking like it to me!! So let me think about this for a second, I am to love others deeply because love covers a multitude of sins and I am to do this because the end of all things is near, hmmm, okay, I think I see it. Could it be by doing this very thing that I become a visible representation of Jesus before His return? That others may learn of His love, grace and forgiveness from my testimony and gain hope for themselves? Okay Pete, I am back with you now, what’s next?

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Um, Pete, Buddy, you know we are talking about the return of the King, Jesus? The second coming? Pete, excuse me but it sounded like you just said that I am supposed to have folks over to my house. Okay, so the end of all things is near and you want me to have a dinner party? Wait a minute the end of all things is near and you want me serve meals or be a greeter or be an usher at CR? Really? Peter, we are talking about THE END OF ALL THINGS!! And you want me have guys over to watch a football game together? Okay Peter, in light of the main point here, these items just don’t sound that spiritual to me I am sorry. I mean the prayer I get and the love thing took me a bit, but okay I see it too. But this one? I mean c’mon Pete, we are talking about a big thing here, shouldn’t your instructions be a little tougher than having people over? I mean that really isn’t that hard you know. Actually you are not asking me to do anything I don’t like to do anyway. Isn’t being a Christian supposed to be hard and not fun? Okay, what’s next?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Okay so basically Pete you are saying that end of all things is near and I should do whatever I do and just do it in such a way that God may be praised? Again, Pete, not a lot of flash there, but you have kind of turn the tables on me through this whole passage anyway, so I am not so surprised this time. So it really doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I do it in such a way that God is praised. I have to admit Pete, I was a little disappointed when I first read through all of this. What I mean is you started out talking about a big deal, the end of all things, so I was geared up for some big time instructions on what I should be doing, however, the instructions you left were not very, oh what’s the word…”dazzling,” instead your instructions were kind of basic, kind of regular. I mean really, they way you started I was looking for a Carmel Macchiato and I got regular black coffee. You know Pete, I kind of do these things already, so what is the big deal?

Okay Pete let me summarize what you are saying,
The end of all things is near so – be aware, sober and pray
The end of all things is near so – love each deeply
The end of all things is near so – have people over
The end of all things is near so – see God is praised in what I do

(Yawn) The end of all things is near so I should pray, love, have people over and praise God. Hey, wait a minute!! Could…did…what…is…hmmmmm…aaahhh!!!

Is there something else you are saying here Pete? Like I said I was all “geared up” earlier, the problem with getting all geared up is I always end up all bound up in something eventually. Why Pete you are a crafty one aren’t you? I see it now! You are not only giving me instructions, but you are showing me how Christ has set me free! Right here you are showing me what it is that He desires of me. He wants me to pray, love, have people over and praise God. I can do that!! I mean how many endeavors for God have I attempted and failed in the past? But these things I can do because these are the things I want and now can do because of the changes He has caused in me. Because of Christ I am free to pray, free to love others deeply, free to show hospitality and free to see God praised in what I do.

The truth is the end of all things is near and God is not asking me to be a Billy Graham or Rodney Holmstrom or Chip Jackson. The truth is the ends of all things is near and God is asking me only to be me, set free to pray, to love, to serve and to praise all in the strength Christ has provided. Oh my!!! The intense sense of freedom in Christ I am feeling right now is incredible. You know that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace is addressing the army and he cries out to them, “They can take our lives, but they can never take our FREEDOM!!!!” There is something a kin to that kind of fierceness arising in my heart about the freedom I am starting to understand that Christ has given me.

New Year’s Eve night Rodney talked about letting go of the shame of our past, the denial of our present and the fear of our future, later that night we took communion and the song sung by Dave and the band talked about shame and brokenness being removed as we carried to the Lords table. Powerful stuff!! I look back 2010 and for me the watch word going into the year was health, getting healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially and relationally. Still much work to be done on all those fronts.

For me in 2011, I see new watch word on the horizon, something until just this moment as I am writing this I had not expected and the Lord seems to be dropping into my heart. However, it is not a watch word like last year really as much as it is becoming a cry, a fierce warlike-cry of my heart with one encompassing thought – FREEDOM IN CHRIST!!

Oh dear Lord, somebody get me in a Step Study quick!!

Tim, Encourager Coach, CR NW Arkansas

For information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

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