what are your goals?

Category : bible, faith, taking action

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We live in a world obsessed with measurement.  There are countless books about goal setting, measuring performance, and identifying “metrics.” I’ve even worked as a consultant studying these things.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe metrics are a necessary part of life.  You wouldn’t want a carpenter to build you a table if he couldn’t accurately measure the dimensions.  You wouldn’t want a doctor to give you a drug if she couldn’t identify the dosage you needed.

Measuring stuff is good.

But like most things humans do, we can take them too far.  We can become obsessed with goals and measurements.  And instead of pursuing something meaningful, we fall into comparing ourselves to other people.  And the instant we do that there will always be someone ahead of us.

Think for a moment, what are your goals?  Are they for a nice job?  A family?  Respect?  Money?  Security?  Safety?  If you’re a church are your goals to get bigger?  To reach more people?  To build something amazing?  The irony is, none of those things are bad.  They are all worthwhile goals, all worthwhile measurements.  But in the end, do any of  these things bring your life true meaning?

As Solomon wrote, when we pursue these things, no matter how nice the seem, we eventually realize that they are all meaningless.  The one thing that matters, however, is our obedience to God.  That’s the one metric we should never walk away from.  That’s the one goal that should be our measuring stick.

If we’re being obedient to God then nothing else matters in terms of achieving goals.  We may want a house, but if you’re obedient to God and homeless you are better off than someone living in a mansion who has walked away from God.  Yes goals matter.  But they need to be focused on God.

Success in God’s eyes isn’t determined by your paycheck, career, or friends.  It’s determined by your obedience to him.  Why should our metrics be any different?

This week I’d challenge you to really examine your goals.  Do they match up with what God would have for your life?  Or are you becoming obsessed with the wrong measurements?  What are you going to do about it?

greed – a quick way to nothing

Category : God, faith, living a life of faith

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History is filled with people who believed the grass was greener on the other side.  Israel was no exception of course.  During the reigns of David and Solomon Israel was at the height of its political, military, religious, and economic power.  They controlled a large empire, were prosperous in every way that you can think of, and God was blessing what they did.  But all of this fell apart in a few brief years.

What could lead a nation to collapse so quickly?  In short – greed.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, abandoned his relationship with God in favor of using his friends and his own religion to control Israel.  Why? Because he wanted more power, more wealth and more fame.  In turn, he lost it all.  What followed was a divided kingdom (Israel split into two, Judah and the rest of Israel).  He also went from having the military power and peace that David and Solomon had enjoyed to being overrun by his neighbors.  In fact when Egypt attacked Rehoboam, Israel lost most of the treasure that David and Solomon had acquired.

Rehoboam didn’t always act out of greed.  For a while, he was faithful to God.  But eventually his heart began to change.  The Bible says, “after Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12: 1).  Rehoboam waited until he was in a position of power and comfort before he began to move away from God.  He waited until he had a lot of stuff, and was comfortable and secure.  That’s when greed set in.  That’s when he started hearing the whispers that he could have more.

Israel was stuck with a cheap imitation born out of greed.

But it was an illusion.  His greed led to the destruction of his wealth, power, and country.  Rehoboam couldn’t even afford to replace the stolen treasures.  It got so bad, that to replace the lost treasure Rehoboam used bronze instead of the gold.  In an ironic twist, only a few years before silver was seen as a worthless material because of Solomon’s wealth (2 Chronicles 9: 20).  Now, Israel was stuck with a cheap imitation born out of greed.

I have to wonder, how many times I am stuck with a cheap imitation born out of greed.  How often do I wait until God brings me into a position of wealth and security before I abandon him?  I know it seems like every time my life is going smoothly, that’s when I turn my back on God.  How many affairs have started, athletic careers ended, and businesses failed because someone listened to the whisper of greed?

“The grass is greener on the other side” it says.  “Follow me and you can have it all.”  But we can’t.  Often the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

I don’t want things in my life made out of bronze.  I don’t want a cheap imitation born out of greed.  I want the gold and silver that comes from being a revolutionary.  I want the gold and silver that comes from living out a life of faith.

That’s easy to say now when I am not tempted.  It’s a lot harder to say “I want God over greed” when greed is whispering in your ear.  Lord – please help me to resist temptation.  Help me to fight the urges to be greedy and to think the grass is greener on the other side.

failing God

Category : David, God, failure, faith, fear, sin

 

If you ask an athlete about a game, they will almost always tell you about the shot they missed, the tackle they could have had, the putt they should have sunk.  Of course you don’t need to be an athlete to think this way.  When you go into work what do you think of?  The things you should have finished?  The account you should have landed?  I bet very few of us focus on the positives.  Even fewer live wide awake.

We live in a culture that emphasizes failure.  I don’t know if this has always been the case or if this is some recent development.  But whatever the case, we live in a world obsessed with failure.  

It’s true in our professional lives.  It’s true in our personal lives.  And this attitude is true in our relationship with God.  We focus on our short comings:  How we could have been more generous.  How we shouldn’t have yelled at our kids.  How we knew what we were doing was wrong, yet we didn’t stop.  We focus on all of the mistakes we make.   

But is this how we are supposed to live?   

Most of us have fallen for the performance plan view of God.  We think God is carefully taking note of our failures.  That he’s just waiting around the corner to whack us with them.  “If Santa makes a list, what does God do?” we wonder.  Instead of experiencing God’s grace, we find ourselves overwhelmed with guilt.

Yet that’s not the God of the Bible.  While God is never thrilled we’re sinning, it’s not our sin that destroys our relationship with him.  It’s something else… 

There once was a father and son who believed in God.  The father was a murderer, adulterer, he was even negligent of his family.  The son on the other hand never killed anyone, never had an affair, and always seemed to have his family in mind.

Yet God turned away from the son and not the father.  Why?

Because no matter how many horrible things David did, he always maintained his relationship with God.  He never rejected that relationship.  Solomon on the other hand, despite all his wisdom, began to worship other Gods. 

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.  He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech [a] the detestable god of the Ammonites.  So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.”               (1 Kings 11: 4-6)

David’s failure didn’t drive God away.  No matter how many mistakes he made, God always remained with David.  Solomon, on the other hand, despite all his wisdom found God as an enemy.  It wasn’t his failures that caused it – it was his choice to believe in other gods that ended things. 

So why do we still believe our behavior is what matters to God?   Why do we focus all our energy on our failures, and spend so little time focusing on re-building our relationship with God?

David did many horrible things.  Yet he was described as, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13: 22).  Despite his actions, despite his failure, he built a lasting relationship with God.  Isn’t that the model that we should work towards?  Shouldn’t we stop focusing on failures and spend all that energy of doubt, fear, anger, worry towards re-energizing our relationship with God?

We need to live out a life of faith, not live a life in fear of failure. 

chasing the wind

Category : God, old testament

 

The temple in Jerusalem played a huge role in the lives of Jews.  Not only was it part of their cultural heritage, it was where God resided.  But despite this significance, the Jews weren’t always good at taking care of it, and several times it had to be repaired.

The original temple was a masterpiece, and was constructed during the reign of Solomon.  Now Solomon was a guy with some serious cash.  He was the Bill Gates of the day.  Despite his wealth, Solomon listened to God and built his temple accordingly.  And so it honored God.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the time of Jesus.  And we find a man named Herod as the ruler over Jerusalem.  And once more it was time to “improve” the temple.  Now Herod had two problems.

1.  He didn’t really follow God

2.  He wanted to impress pagans

So he decided to build an elaborate temple that rivaled the much larger pagan temples which had been dedicated to Greek and Roman gods.  But he found himself stuck – the dimensions of the original temple were limited by what God had commanded.  So Herod struck out on a new idea – he would build several outer courts of the temple.  That way he could make it match the size of the pagan shrines, but still not break the legalistic requirements of the temple size.

He was consumed with the idea that showing off his money and wealth would bring him glory.

After spending something like 40 years constructing the temple it was finally completed.  Seven years later the temple was destroyed by the Romans.

Solomon once said,  “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income…As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?”

Solomon realized something that escaped Herod: building things and having great wealth doesn’t bring you success and glory.  Every physical thing, at some point, will fade away.  And that basic reality was why Herod had started his building campaign.

How often do I try to make things fit with my will instead of God’s?  How often am I chasing after wind?