Trade-Offs Determine Results

Life is full of trade-offs. A trade-off is something we exchange for something else. Obviously, we trade money for the various products we buy, but there are many more trade-offs we make also. We trade time, energy, finances, health, comfort, opportunities, peace of mind, sleep, relationships, dreams, goals, a clear conscious, etc… for what we want in that particular moment.

Yes, it is obvious that our live are full of trade-offs. Trade-offs are determined by our value system, in other words, what we place the highest value on at that time. Our value system tends to change based on our circumstances. For example, I would never pay $20 for a hamburger; that is just not going to happen.

But if I get hungry enough, I would trade a twenty-dollar bill for a hamburger. Those “I’d never…” statements we make seem to be “adjusted” to fit our situation if the circumstances get dire enough, or tempting enough, or luring enough.

There is a great story in Matt 4:17-22 about Jesus calling his first disciples; “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.  Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him”

Think of all Peter, Andrew, James, and John exchanged or traded-off to follow Christ. They left everything, and they did it “at once”. Now, think about what those four men would have missed if they had not been willing to make that trade.

Our trade-offs determine the results of our lives. As we make the various trade-offs of our everyday life, our decisions are leading us down a path that is paved with the results of the various trade-offs we have made. If the path we are traveling is not taking us to the designation or end result we are hoping for, it is the direct result of the trade-offs we have made.

Trade-offs affect every single area of out lives; our finances, our health, our relationships, our spiritual development, and on and on the list goes. Let’s use a simple example; if we stay up late to watch TV or play on the computer, or talk with a friend, then the next day are falling asleep at work. So we trade sleep for whatever we were doing, then we pay the price for that trade-off the next day. If we continue that making that trade-off, the lack of sleep will continue to affect us.

So let’s say, that we lose our job because the boss caught us dosing off. Staying up late, and losing a little sleep seemed harmless, until it was allowed to continue to the point we lose a job over it. I could pick any area of trade-off to make the same point; trade-offs by themselves are not that harmful by themselves, but when allowed to continue repetitiously, they accumulative result can be devastating.

This week consider trade-offs you are currently making that are either currently having a negative affect on your life or will have a negative affect if you do not deal with it. Next week, I will write about some trade-offs worth making.

 

God’s One Glaring Problem

God has one glaring problem; He thinks He is God! And of course, He is God, which even makes it worst because as usual He is right… again. In Exodus 20:3 God makes His intention crystal clear, ”You shall have no other gods before me.”

Christ-following, at is most basic level, is simply coming to grips with God truly being “God”, with Jesus truly being “Lord”, and with the Holy Spirit truly being the controlling influence of your life.

Even Jesus had to make a choice to surrender to God’s will and purpose for His life. In Philippians 2:5-6 the Bible says that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped……” What a phrase!!! Even though Jesus was in His very nature “God”, “He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped”.

Yet as people, who in our very nature are a long, long way from being God, we somehow believe that it is our right and duty to “consider equality with God as something to be grasped”. How? What would you call knowingly, willful disobedience for example? Each time God asks something of us and we choose to not surrender to His will and purpose are we not in fact making our opinion, and our will equal to His?

As people, we have learned to blame such disobedient behavior on things such as fear, our comfort zone, procrastination, just being human, we will never be perfect after all, etc. But the reality is that we really do not want anyone telling us what to do, including God.

Folks, this deal is pretty simple. God is “God”, and we are not. His ways are not our ways, His deeds are not our deeds, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is God!!! He is so far beyond our imagination that we will never truly grasp His majesty and glory. And after all, would you even want a God that you could dissect and fully grasp? In some ways God has made Himself fully known and understandable, yet in other ways God is an amazing mystery.

The Bible says in Ephesians 1:3-11 & 2:8-10 that God knew you and chose you before the world was created, that He created you then prepared in advance a list of good works for you to accomplish in your lifetime, and that as time reaches fulfillment He will make the mystery of His will known to you.

Our job? Love God with ALL of our heart and with ALL of our soul, and with ALL of our mind. Seek first God and will take care of the details and make the mystery of His will known to you at the proper time. Embrace Him as God. Surrender to Him and His purposes for you. Surrender your right to debate with Him or to see equality with His as something to be grasped. Surrender your plans and your dreams for the future to Him. Choose, as an act of your will, to have no other gods before Him. And don’t forget to thank Him for the next breath you take because He is the one who gives it to you.

Perseverance is the Key to Faith

I have been writing about the inseparable link between Christ-following and faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, 6; without faith, defined as being sure of what we hoped for, and certain of what we cannot see, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, understanding biblical faith is a pretty important topic for a follow of Christ.

Previously I wrote; “Biblical faith is messy because it stretches us out of our comfort zone, which is why we resist it so often. The average church-attender has grieved (Eph 4:30) and quenched (1 Thess 5:19) the Holy Spirit so often that they cannot remember the last time they experienced the flow of the Holy Spirit in and through them.”

“Our lack of faith frustrates Jesus (Matt 17:17-20) Great faith isn’t so much about being great in quantity, as it is about quality. Biblical faith begins and ends with God. Biblical faith is always in agreement with God. No word from God is without power. The average Christian has traded a messy, uncomfortable, stretching faith, for a tame, comfortable, set of facts.”

Perseverance is a key component to the spiritual development process; “Perseverance must finish its work so we become mature, complete, and lack nothing” (James 1:2-4). A call to perseverance is really a call to faith. The process of perseverance requires that we “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful ((Heb 10:19-25).

There are three basic stages of faith; first, is the “See It” stage. At the “See It” stage, we see the opportunity of faith. Then there is the “Say It” stage.   At the “Say It” stage, we begin to verbalize our faith that the opportunity we are seeing might become reality. The finally, there is the “Seize It” stage. In the “Seize It” stage, we choose the actions, attitude, and mindset required to make the opportunity truly become reality.

Before we can seize the result of faith we must be able to walk the journey of faith by recognizing and speaking about the opportunity before us. Most people, probably everyone even, can see the opportunity before them if they would just choose to walk in faith. Many of us will even so as far as allowing ourselves to talk about what we believe God is going to do. But the journey of faith tends to breakdown in the “seize it” stage due our lack of follow-through.

God is prepared to do much more than you currently experience if you will just choose to consistently walk out your journey of faith with Him. There is no way around it; all three stages (see it, say it, seize it) are requirements to experience the flow of the Holy Spirit’s power in and through you. If you will choose to follow-through, even when it is tough, God will do more than you can ever imagine!

Since we “cannot please God without faith (Heb 11:1), it becomes a very critical step in our spiritual development process. Faith is the fuel that powers the immeasurably more of God (Eph 3:20). As you can hopefully see, it is imperative that we get the faith issue right. Others are watching, but more importantly, God is watching.

Christ-Following as a Sport

Football season, at all levels, is in full swing. From the flag football leagues to the JFL leagues, from the local high school teams to the favorite college teams, to the NFL, crowds of varying sizes gather for football games all across America on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Some sports draw larger crowds than others. It is just the nature of the sports, but is also the nature of Christ-following. Sometimes the “crowd” of our family, friends, an strangers watch as we walk out our relationship with Christ, but most of the time we walk it out in front of just a few of our closest friends and family. Whether it is the football player making a great play to the cheers of hundreds of fans on a Friday night, or the runner gutting out the steep hill in the backside of the cross-country course, athletes make plays. Some are seen and others are unseen.

As you make “plays” as a Christ-follower, some of those actions, behaviors, and attitudes are seen and others hidden in the privacy of your life. But Scripture says that God, who sees everything, even that which is hidden, will reward those who diligently and wholeheartedly seek Him. Play hard, because even if no one else sees, God does not miss a thing His child does, thinks, or feels.

There is a right and wrong way to play the game. Any game. Whether it is monopoly, basketball, football, volleyball, or tic-tac-toe, there is a right and wrong way to play the game. Play hard. Play fair. Demonstrate class and integrity. Persevere though setbacks. Demonstrate sportsmanship. Always play full speed. Give your best. Play with pain. And so on…. Scripture would say, “In every thing we do we should do it as unto the Lord”. Hit them hard, help them up, and then remind them that you will be back next play.

Christ-following is the same way. There is a right way and a wrong way to play the game of Christ-following. Many people who consider themselves to be Christians just simply do not know how to play the game of Christ-following. As with a sport where there should be no space for cheating, or cheap shots, or dirty play, and so on. Nor should there be space for gossip, negative attitudes, doubt, fear, disobedience, spiritual stagnation, selfishness, arrogance, divisive attitudes and actions, apathy, and so on.

When you go to a sporting event, there are certain players that catch your eye; they are just fun to watch, because of how they play their sport. Their heart, enthusiasm, attitude, intensity, and work ethic are contagious and fun to watch. Likewise, there are those who are fun to watch as they follow Christ. Seeing their selflessness, surrender, humility, faith, right attitudes, obedience, courage, perseverance, teamwork, on-going spiritual development, character development, work ethic, and so on, is inspiring.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow Christ”. People are watching. Let’s strive to “play the game” of Christ-following in such as way that those around us are inspired.