Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What does it mean to resist?

Last night and this morning have been times of great revelation for me. Once again, I was plagued in the night with an inability to sleep. I woke up at about 3:00AM full of worries about work and finances. After a long while of struggling against it with prayer and attempts to go back to sleep, I remembered the story from the book of Revelation about the Angel Michael rebuking the devil by saying, “The Lord rebuke you.”

I was at a point of desperation, so I lay there in bed and called every demon who was pestering me by name; “The demon of worry”, “The demon of lack of sleep”, “The demon of faithlessness”, and so on. Once I had named them I said, “The Lord rebuke you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and King whose name is above all names I rebuke you and demand that you leave me alone.” At that very moment my entire body began to tingle in the way that your foot feels when it has “fallen asleep.” Suddenly, the pressure was gone, I was no longer being beaten down and I went back to sleep.

It was later in the morning during my prayer walk that the spirit revealed a lesson from this experience. James 4:6-7 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." I used to resist by gritting my teeth and muscling my way through. But, this is not resistance; it is the prideful taking of a beating while gritting one's teeth and saying, “I can take it!” God opposes this, which is why it never works.

True resistance is accomplished by humbly accepting the fact that I am too weak to fight the devil or even survive his mildest attack. It is accomplished by running to Christ and bringing him into the battle, just as the Archangel Michael did (Jude 9). It was instructive for me to remember that Michael had faced the devil before and defeated him (Rev 12:7-9). Yet, even knowing that he had defeated the devil before, Michael was humble when he faced him again over the body of Moses and called upon the name of the Lord. Michael set a great example for me. My only chance of resistance is to run to Jesus and call upon His name. He is the only one who can win, and He will!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Living the double life

Recently I have been doing some deep thinking about Superman. It may sound nuts, but I have always liked Superman. He was my favorite superhero when I was a boy and I still like Superman today. But, there is one thing that troubles me about the guy and it relates to my life as a Christian. Superman lives a double life.

I really had to think about it in order to realize that it was Superman I liked as a boy, not Clark Kent. Oh sure, Clarks is Superman and there’s really no reason not to like him. Just the same, the guy has always bugged me and I recently understood why. Clark is only being true to himself when he’s wearing the red cape and the big “S” on his chest. When he is pretending to be less than he is as the mild mannered reporter, he is being false and living a lie.

As a Christian, I take my Christianity everywhere; to my home, my job, and so on. I wear it like a robe. When I am at home or at work, I am a Christian. But my home and work are not part of my Christianity. They are simply places where I dawn my robe. I take my Christianity to these parts of my life, but I don’t take these parts of my life to my Christianity. It’s as if, like Superman, I live a double life. I am SuperChristian at church and the mild mannered guy in a robe everywhere else. And, just like Clark Kent, my secret is safe as long as I remain in my false, public disguise.

Having come to this realization, I am determined to take my life; all aspects of my life, to the Lord. I have started with my work. I am a real estate broker and I have written my business purpose statement and posted it on my website. I pray through it before I go to work each day and it has changed my focus and brought my working life to Christ. I have printed it here for you:

My business purpose:

The purpose of my business is to honor and glorify God. Otherwise, I’m just working to make money and die (which seems like a petty and small use of my life).

  • Colossians 3:17 “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I get to do my work and serve my clients in the name of the Lord and give thanks for the opportunity regardless of the outcome.
  • Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Serving my clients well is easier when I am mindful that I am service the Lord. Even when clients are being difficult I get to serve the Lord by serving them well. My reward is with God in heaven, not here. The money I make here is meant to sustain this life and be used to glorify God. It is not meant to build a heaven on earth.

I get to honor God in my work by taking the following steps:

  • Devote myself to pray and pray for God to give me the strength, wisdom, courage and words to share my faith at every opportunity. Col 4:2-4 says. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
  • Pray for every opportunity to serve my clients as Jesus would, and through that service plant the seeds that may one day bring them to Christ. Col 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
  • Pray to be humble and gentle with everyone. Corinthians 4:21 “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” 2 Corinthians 10:1 “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!” Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
  • Pray to the Lord giving him the glory and praise. Rev 3:7-8 says, “What He (the Lord) opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” As long as the Lord gives me an open door to work with people in my life I am determined to give him everything I’ve got in an effort to accomplish His will in their lives, even though my strength is little. As for my life, whether He opens doors or shuts them, I will keep His word and I will not deny His name. If I succeed, I will praise him. If I fail, I will praise him.
  • Pray for His will to be done in my client’s lives: Acts 17:26 says, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Therefore, I pray for every listing I have asking God to send the person whom He has chosen to live in that house. My prayer is that His will may be done in that person’s life and that living in that house may help accomplish that goal. With every buyer, I pray for the Lord to lead me to the house that He has chosen for them, so that His will may be done.
  • Psalm 9:9 says, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” My clients are often in financial or marital trouble. I pray that I may be an ambassador for Christ, showing them the love of God in troubled times.
  • Pray for God to send the right agents to me. James 4:13-15 says, Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." What happens in my business is not for me to say. Therefore, I am not actively recruiting other than praying for God to bring those to me who wish to honor him in the same way that I have chosen to in my business. If God sends someone to me, I know I have the right person. If I find them by hunting them down, I have left God out of the picture. This is something I am not willing to do. Therefore, in each case I will explain the purpose of my business as I have here and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in selecting the right people. I intend to follow the Lord’s guidance every time. If nobody every comes along, then as far as I am concerned God has decided that I should work by myself until such time as he decides differently.

The one thing I know for sure is that selling real estate for the sole purpose of making money is a waste of the life God has given me. I have only a short time and I have wasted enough of it already.