Friday, February 26, 2021

Genuine Results?

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Above – The Cross Tree on the Homer Rouse trail, 2015


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“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.”   [Mat 3:8 NLT]

            Years ago, as I began my career, I graduated from a required vocational academy. After months of classroom instruction and physical training, I was shoveled out of the far end of the educational process and turned over to my first training officer. I had a head full of information and dreams, but the very first thing my training officer said to me was something along the lines of, “Now you will begin to learn how it’s really done.” He began the process by re-training me in almost everything I thought I knew. He was not interested in what I had in my head; he was interested in taking what I had learned in school and turning it into a viable lifestyle. Our progress in the Christian life is similar in many ways.

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            When Jesus called His first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me”. What He did not say was, “Learn about Me.” He realized that if they ‘followed’ Him, they would naturally learn about Him, but more importantly, by “following” Him, they would begin to adopt His very lifestyle, and end up being like Him. Would that our many churches would figure that out, for much of our efforts are directed at making students who are ever learning but not following. Naturally, we have it backwards.

            Along those lines, I’ve been learning (more than I ever wanted to learn!) about submission lately, and the transition from head knowledge to lifestyle is arduous and unpleasant. Seldom a week goes by but what I learn, and re-learn, tough lessons about submission. Granted, I learned much of the classroom material years ago, but it did not result in any significant lifestyle changes, and that is what the Teacher is after. Nothing less will do, and He is very particular.

So far, I’ve failed more tests than I’ve passed, but I’ve learned that My teacher only weighs my passing or failing by how much I’ve used those tests to gain a lifestyle. Of course, I’m wired to focus on the passing or failing – that’s called “performance” Christianity, and my Teacher is training me out of that too.

Back to the class on submission, recently I’ve experienced my toughest lessons, and I’ve bombed every test (at first), but I’m learning to learn from my mistakes, and that’s a very positive outcome. In fact, my Teacher is more pleased with my newfound ability to learn in the midst of defeat than whether I “pass” or “fail” the test itself. Did I say this is terribly uncomfortable? Be advised!

While shaving this morning I received a little tutoring. Mulling over my latest failure, I heard the Teacher say, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!” It seems the ‘narrow road’ is also the bumpiest one. The good news is that I did it to myself by asking Him to lead me into His lifestyle – and apparently, to my great discomfort, He’s answering that prayer, and He hasn’t given up on me.

Many years ago I was ardently complaining to God in prayer. I was venting all my feelings to Him like water rushing through a broken damn. While this was happening He put a video in my mind in which I saw a small, yappy dog running around and around a man’s ankles. The man was standing still and was just simply watching as the little yapper went around and around. Finally I heard in my head, calmly stated, “You are the dog. When you are finished yapping, let’s get back to work.” He’s a good Father, and He’s good at being a father. What’s not to love?

The lessons we should be learning in our Christian lives will lead to genuine results, not merely more information. Quite frankly, we probably need about half as much information as we already have, and twice as much genuine change. Since the fall of man, we’ve been consistently backwards from God in all our thoughts and deeds. While ‘making all things new’ is His job and His goal, allowing it to happen belongs to us.

My new man needs to increase; my old man needs to die – and stay dead. It’s all about taking what we know about Him and transitioning into knowing Him. When we become like our Teacher, only then will we graduate from being “believers” to being “disciples”.

He said to “Follow”….even the demons “believe”.



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