Friday, June 8, 2018

June 9, 2018

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”    Luke 9:62

One of the misconceptions that is doing great harm to the Faith and to the Church is the idea that there are levels of commitment. You might hear someone claim in self-defense that they are "more committed" than someone else. What they should say is that they are less uncommitted than that person. The point that Jesus is making here is either you are committed or you are not.

Claiming to be "sort of" committed is like saying you are "sort of" pregnant. You either are or you are not. You can't "sort of" sky dive. You can't "sort of" get married. Peter didn't "sort of" walk on water. Jesus didn't "sort of" die on the cross.

The challenge Jesus is issuing is this - "you can't 'sort of' follow Me!" Either you are a disciple or you are not! Either you do His will or you don't. Either you walk in holiness or you don't. Either you are saved or you aren't.

I know you live in a day and a culture that wants to nuance everything into shades and degrees. That would be fine if you were the rule-maker or the arbiter of the rules - BUT YOU ARE NOT - He is! He makes the rules and you don't. So, you either obey Him or you don't. You are either following Him or you are not. That is what commitment means!

Having grown up in corn and soybean country, I appreciate what Jesus is saying to His hearers, who were also rural folks. What He was saying was, "When you go out to plow you don't 'sort of plow', you plow or you don't!" No true farmer would begin plowing and quit. No true farmer would "sort of" plow. No real farmer would plow forward while looking backward.

In rural Indiana where I was raised and in rural Illinois where I served for 22 years, there are cornfields so huge you can hardly see across them. I have always been impressed how straight those long rows or corn or beans are. Never have I seen a field with crooked rows. That is proof that the farmers who planted those rows were committed to planting.

How so?

Farmers plant straight rows by lining up their plows and there planters with a reference point at the end of that row and they stay focused and aimed at that point. Straight rows are evidence of a committed and focused farmer. Those perfectly parallel rows are proof of a committed farmer who never looked back while he plowed!

When you think about commitment think about plowing. When you measure your commitment think about focusing on a fixed point and moving straight toward that point continually. And of course, that straight point is the way of God and the will of God as outlined in the Word of God.

There are no "sort of" committed plowers. Neither are there any "sort of " committed Christians. Either you are committed or you're not. Don't buy the lie.

June 8, 2019

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."   James 1:6-8 

I don't know if you have ever played golf but if you have you know it is a hard game. If you haven't you can take my word for it. But I have noticed it is easier when I can fully commit to a shot. My last round I had one of those days where it seemed like every shot was from an awkward lie or an uncomfortable distance so that I was never quite sure whether to go up a club or down a club. So I really struggled to hit those shots with confidence. When there is the slightest bit of doubt as I hit the shot, it seldom turns out well.

Anytime I stand over a shot with uncertainty in my mind the result is seldom good.

In other words, it is hard to play golf when I have conflicting thoughts about the club selection or the correct distance or what sort of shot I should hit from the lie I have. When I am double-minded my game is unstable and results in double bogeys.

However, when I am facing a shot that has a comfortable distance and a good lie and I know exactly what club to hit, then I can commit to the shot and hit it with confidence and the result is much better.

In the same way, life is more difficult when I am uncommitted. Any time there is doubt or confusion or indecision life gets more difficult. When I doubt God or am not fully convinced about His Word or indecisive in regard to His will, life gets harder.

James, in these verses admonishes believers to be fully convinced about God's goodness and His grace and the truth of His Word. When I am committed to God in these ways, my life gets immediately better.

I want to be a single-minded follower of Christ. I don't want to second-guess Him nor live in confusion or doubt. I want to walk with faith and confidence in my Christian life. That is what commitment is. Commitment is being single-minded and fully convinced God is Who He says He is.

When Jesus was facing the temptations from the Devil in the wilderness, what the devil was after was getting Jesus to doubt the goodness and the holiness of God. He wanted to shake the Lord's confidence in His Father and under mind His faith. In short, the Enemy wanted to offer the Lord a "Plan B" in place of the suffering on the cross.

But the Lord would have nothing of it! He countered each time with truth from the Bible. He affirmed truth in the face of deception. He was committed to "Plan A" completely and exclusively. That is what commitment is!

Is commitment hard for you? Are you struggling with double-mindedness? Do you struggle with doubting God and/or yourself?

"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways!" Stabilize you heart and you spirit and your mind by fully committing to Christ. Commitment is easier when there is just a Plan A!