I know I do.
Had some great insight in Bible Study this morning...as I re-read these notes however they seem a bit disjointed in a formal sense...but I like'e and I am not going to edit anymore... So there!
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Ever wonder where your conscience comes from? The Bible teaches that God has placed the basic principles of his Law in ever persons heart. (Romans 2:14,15) We all feel this whether we have read the bible or not. The problem is that by not knowing the Truth available to us in scripture, we are left in a state of wandering. Of forever being caught in these gray areas of life where we 'feel' like something is bad...but our lack of knowledge (Truth) removes are ability to be confident about the decision we make. The freedom of being what I would call 'in alignment' is a freedom that is difficult to express. It is truly the ability to set yourself apart from the pressure and whims of 'the world' and remain confident in who you are, what you are doing, (and where you are going). (Read 1 John 3:21-22)
These thoughts started with my Men's Bible Study this morning I always attend at 6:30 AM whenever I am in town. The 'preacher' was actually one of our Deacon's, Michael, who I really don't know (I attend a very large Church) but I am very aware of. We had been praying for his family for the past year when his son Grayson (10 years old?) had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Two surgeries and many prayers later, Grayson is considered 'healed.' Praise God...I choke up in an instant just thinking about ANY harm coming to my little ones...(as a parent you know you would trade places with your child in an instant). The back story on our deacon is an interesting one I think...I will admit that I don't have all the facts directly but as I understand it, he used to be a Pretty Big Deal. He is really good looking and sometime ago he was making good money as a single guy with a successful workout tape, washboard abs and a steady stream of income. He apparently flew off the tracks during this time period and hit the gutter pretty hard before finding Jesus. He is now the very picture of a changed life and subsequently is able to share his testimony in a very compelling way.
I say all this to support the impact of his message this morning. He took us through a very gruesome section of the Bible starting in Mark 6:14 where the story of John the Baptist being beheaded by King Herod is told. The point we were focused on here is our very human desire to 'be significant.' Herod had thrown a birthday party for himself and invited all the 'right people' about town...largely to support his inflated view of himself. The daughter of his brothers wife had danced for him..to the point he and his guests were very pleased...and in a burst of manly stupidity, made an idiotic bold promise: "You can have anything you want...up to half my Kingdom." I picture him saying this loudly...a big bold statement in front of his gathering. I can just picture something stupid like that coming out of my mouth. In the end, the daughters request (at the behest of her mother) is that King Herod would behead John the Baptist. Now pause.
To me, this is one of those 2nd chances we sometimes get in life...and we need to recognize them. Herod had a chance to eat crow and admit that he had over-promised. This is not easy, or many times possible, for those of us who may be so pumped up on our own self-significance that we either don't recognize our 'out' being offered or we simply gloss over the fleeting thought. The pain of backing down on a promise made in front of our friends is more powerful than the pain we are trying to avoid when we need to humble ourselves and admit our mistakes.
I have not been in such major situations...but I have had them...many times. I think we all struggle with a need to be 'significant.' It is so hard NOT to constantly compare ourselves to others. It starts in childhood with very well meaning parents, myself included, who inadvertently compare their child's growth to others. How about those % growth charts from the doctor? What about that child in the crowd that is acting better or worse than yours...we compare and perhaps tell our children what we are thinking. The pattern is easily set for the rest of our lives.
It makes sense really...how do you know if you are 'on track' with life unless you compare yourself to others? How do you know if you are winning? The problem is that ALL of us are attempting to use different world markers and if we are judging ourselves by ANYTHING in the world than we are going to forever be wasting our time. I remember back when I worked for MCI..we had been acquired by WorldCom and I was on stage being awarded my 'medal' for making Presidents Club. How cool am I to be getting recognized by this incredible business man that grown his empire to what it was...maybe he would want to do some things with a winner like me (or the other 300 people he did not even know) crossing the stage that night. I still have that picture of me getting the award...and then not too long later, that same 'man' Bernie Ebbers being lead away in handcuffs as his entire empire was a fabrication. Wow. And to think I was holding up my life accomplishments against his...at one level saying "I wish I could be him" and on another saying 'look at me...I am making it."
I have never been comfortable 'preaching' to others. I am deeply challenged by my ability to deliver on the great commission. I think that this is mainly because I am deeply aware that just like you, I am a sinner. What right do I have to tell you ANYTHING? I can probably pick out all kinds of things about my life that would prove to me that I am a better person than you. How sick is that thought? Thats my inability to completely tune out the world I live in. Frankly, I am most at peace when I am in prayer with my Father. When I am in sync with scripture and my relationship so that true North is established. This freedom, which takes diligence, allows me to become burden free - not weighed down about what people think, whether I am keeping up with the Joneses or any other of a 1,000 impulses I feel each day.
The Bible defined for us how we can know if are getting ahead in Luke 9: "...he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."
How often are we judging others and deciding how much honor to bestow upon them? We make quick assessments of 'the vessel' ...someone's job, their house, their clothes, the way they speak...and we use that to dictate how much attention or respect we give them. We so easily forget that the Spirit of God is in EVERY human.
Humility comes before honor. I had never realized this until this morning - but humility is NOT making less of me. It is me making more of YOU. I really need to practice on that one. It reminds me of one of my favorite memory verses from 1 Corinthians 9:24 which concludes "We must (all) go into strict training." We must be focused so that 'after we have preached to others, we will not be disqualified for the prize.'
I can't deny that I DO want to be considered 'significant.' After all, how could I say that I want to be insignificant? Who would say that? What we are all missing however is what we use as the reference point. If you focus on your significance with the Father and the gift of eternal life he has offered all of us...then you can't go wrong. But we gotta work at it. I sure do.