Tonight’s meeting in Searcy, AR will be held at an alternate location. Join us at 7 pm at 1903 E Beebe Capps Expressway, Searcy, AR 72143.
I grew up in rural south Mississippi in the 70’s and 80’s. Recognition and self worth came from prowess in football, baseball, basketball…any sport. Sixty percent of the males in my class tried out for football. Five percent or less signed up for advanced math or qualified for the honor society or sang in the choir or auditioned for school plays. I ached to achieve in sports. Unfortunately, my physical gifts remained limited to above the neck. My football coach accurately captured my potential this way:
“Son, you are blessed to be a dual threat athlete…short AND slow.”
Obviously, seeking my identity from sports accolades wasn’t an option. Academics and intelligence became my currency for self worth.
I sought attention by identifying as an intellectual. Not a popular option in my small town. Self worth tied to what I knew and how I achieved. I felt superior from being smarter, making better grades, reading voraciously. My pride in my intelligence manifested as self made not God made. I took on the characteristics of a Pharisee, identifying obscure and unimportant positions I could lord over others.
Like the Pharisees, I intellectually understood who God was and what “belonging to God” meant. I professed to follow Him. Openly claimed I had ceded my life and will to Him. I knew Him. Like I knew the authors of the books I read…William Faulkner, Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy. I knew them. Only…like God…they didn’t know me.
Step 7 says “We humbly ask Him to remove all our shortcomings.”
To be ready for this step, I first had to learn what that word meant…humbly. Humility is defined as being unpretentious in comparison to someone else. Not a word that had been used to define me throughout most of my life. After my own rock bottom, pride was one of the character defects that God immediately removed from my life. I believed that my own importance was below everyone else. Exactly the opposite of where I had been before. I went from thinking my own importance was above everyone to believing I was the lowest on earth.
James 4:10 reminds me to “humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.” God made me who I am. When I am living out His purpose in my life, I am making the most of the gifts and talents He gave me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. I am not the lowest on earth. But I have to humble myself before Him…truly submit to Him. In doing so, I am giving Him dominion over my life, asking Him to remove my flaws, and to allow me to use the assets He created in me.
God made you. Have you submitted to Him, asking Him to remove your junk? To highlight your gifts and talents He gave you? Are you stepping into His purpose for your life?
Humility isn’t the absence of strength or pride. Its submitting to the one who gives you strength, who created you in His own image, and who has a true purpose for you.
|Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7|
After I hit my own rock bottom, God gave me a choice: obey Him or don’t. No inbetween. I spent so much of my life skirting the edge, giving an overt nod to God in appearance but not in reality. When God brought me to the end of myself, He didn’t give me any wiggle room. My only options were to obey or not.
So I did. I disclosed all my junk. I started attending recovery meetings. I found a sponsor, began working the twelve steps. Actually went to counseling with a counselor who would hold me to my word, even when my word sucked. I recognized my powerlessness. Agreed that only God could restore me to sanity and then promised to turn over my life and will to Him. To obey.
Step four required that I take a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. By doing so, I faced all my flaws, my defects of character, and my ingrained fears. I obeyed God by opening myself up to Him. So what now?
My counselor, Ken, drew a chart for me. A cross, actually. He put me right at the center, with my wife on the right and my kids on the left. He explained that God’s love for my wife and family flowed through me to them. When my vertical relationship with Him was broken, it negatively impacted my wife and kids. Damn, that didn’t feel good to hear. Ken reminded me to obey God and repair that vertical relationship. Only then would I see God’s impact on my wife and kids through me.
The inbetween time stunk. I had to build trust in Him, even when I couldn’t see the results or know the timing. After three years, I’m a work in progress. He didn’t take my character defects, fears, flaws all away. A lot of them remain, but some of them don’t. Some of them disappeared over time…my pride, selfishness, identity in my job. Others require me to trust Him and depend on His strength. Things like my economic insecurity, concern for my boys and their relationship with God, my deep seeded resentments.
Life for me continues inbetween…inbetween my obedience and His deliverance. In that time, in the now, my trust grows. Notice I said grows…not finished. Grows…still in progress.
How do you handle the inbetween? Do you trust Him without seeing the results? Have you decided to obey and develop trust later?
This week, Sean leads us in a message of the inbetween. Join us on Saturday in expectation of His deliverance on Sunday.
What to expect: We are a service of recovery and a community of hope. Expect impactful worship songs, a time of celebration and sharing of our milestones, and a testimony of spiritual awakening.
When: Every Saturday at 5:30 pm
Location: The Fellowship (in the Loft), 22765 Westheimer Pkwy, Katy, TX 77450
Childcare is available. Pre-notification is not necessary but is requested. For more information about childcare, email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give: We need your support! Give to the Prodigal. Use your smart phone and text your donation. Send a text to 28950, and type the keyword PROD, a space and the amount you wish to give. You will receive a text response for your name, address and account information for one-time registration. An email confirmation will be sent to confirm your donation. Next time, you simply send a text with the amount – and it’s complete.
Come home, prodigals! – Keith B.
OK, I have a confession to make. I like supernatural stories. Vampires, magic, science fiction, paranormal. Something about these fantasies intrigue me. I like the traditional ones like Dracula, Frankenstein, as well as the more contemporary like the Anne Rice ones and the newer ones like the Harry Potter books and the Dresden Files. I love a good fantastical story.
The mythology around all these stories varies. The written and unwritten rules of engagement with supernatural beings provides structure but also a lot of tension. Like how vampires can change shapes, have to avoid sunlight, and are repelled by crosses and holy water. What I find weird in these stories is that most of these beings can’t just enter a home, they have to be invited in. These all powerful and destructive beings can only enter your house if they have an invitation!
Growing up in a Southern Baptist home, accepting the free gift of Christ and salvation were impressed upon me at a young age. I remember clearly as a nine year old praying a prayer to ask for forgiveness of my sins and for Christ to have control of my life. And I thought that was it.
Throughout my adult life, I knew that I believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That I accepted the free gift of salvation. But somehow, my life never changed. I couldn’t understand why. As I began a life in recovery, working through the twelve steps, I came to step three, not really sure what else I had to do. I had given God control. Or so I thought.
My counselor explained it to me this way.
“What one thing happens when you pray to ask for His grace and forgiveness,” he asked?
“I am forgiven.”
“That’s right. You are forgiven. But you still have all of those character defects, fears, flaws. They don’t immediately just go away. You actually have work to do to identify them with God’s help. To turn over each and every one to Him.”
And that’s what helped me to prepare for step four. I had to turn my life AND will over to God to begin the searching and fearless moral inventory that step four requires. In order to address all those defects that define my brokenness, I had to give God permission to make me aware of each and every one of them. I can only address them in His timing and by giving Him permission.
Have you given God permission to enter? To identify those flaws, fears, and defects that define your own brokenness? Start with turning your life and will over to Him. Continue by daily allowing Him to identify each area and ask for His guidance in addressing them. In His timing, not yours.
Step four. Time to let Him in and clean house. One at a time. Get started!
Keith B. – NotUnknown.com
Life isn’t fair. Shocker, right? Maybe we should approach life with this philosophy. We can only trust God. Only, God doesn’t operate under my definition of fair either. Trustworthy, yes. Fair, not so much. Well, not my definition of fair.
Webster defines fair as “marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” That explanation of fairness doesn’t align with my view of the world. I have come to expect to NOT be treated honestly and with impartiality. Whether at work, personal relationships, and in any interactions with other people.
Joseph knew all about being treated unfairly. His own brothers sold him into slavery, lied to his father about him being killed by a wild animal, and held on to that story for years. His employer’s wife accused him of sexual misconduct, protecting herself and her own depravity. His fellow prisoner whom he helped forgot him for two years, despite the promises he made to Joseph to remember him when released.
This week, my oldest son learned about unfairness. He came face to face with the harsh reality that all who tell you they have your best interests as their top priority can’t be trusted, even university professors and leaders. Even leaders in those positions will take credit for your work and seek to profit from it.
How do we respond when we know life is unfair? We turn to the only one we can trust. Genesis 39:21 states, “But the Lord was with Joseph and Joseph lived like he knew the Lord was with him.” Joseph knew all about unfairness. His circumstances testified to skepticism and lack of trust for others, including family. So Joseph trusted God.
Step 3 reminds me that God is the only one to whom I can trust with my life and my will. Romans 8:28 reminds us why: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Who can you trust today?