September 26, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines X: Simplicity: The Man Defined By His Calling

Divesting One's Self of the Entitlement Mentality

I was exceptionally susceptible to an entitlement mentality until very recently. I was an Ameircan! I was a Christian! I was an employee of the 1st Tier auto manufacturer Mack Trucks! I made close to a six figure salary. I was educated! I deserved it right!?!?! *cough* nah.

The only thing I deserved was a swift kick (and still do!). If I had gotten what I deserved God would've burnt me to a cinder a la Wild E Coyote. Thank goodness God is a merciful God!

God has effectively beat the entitlement mentality out of me. The Bible is clear:

"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" ~ Romans 3:23

"...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23

I deserve death but instead I receive life. Not just this life but eternal life. I am blessed with a wife and children, all of which love me. I expect nothing from anyone now except spiritual attack and persecution. In (3) three years I have gone from a near $100k salary to what the U.S. Government considers poverty. I accept it without question. I question neither what God is doing to me or what He is doing to my family. I now understand the cost of did Moses...and David...and Abraham...etc, etc. I see too much of His work in other areas of my life to doubt or question Him. I will say that at times it is quite difficult financially but we get by because my family and I trust in Him.

I am owed nothing in this life but I owe my life to Jesus Christ. That my friend…is simplicity in its simplest form: Accept Christ and what He has done for each and every sinner and everything else sort of works itself out accordingly.

More Is Not Better...More Is Deadly

In the past, the more-is-better mentality nearly cost me everything including my wife and my life. I lived by the culture's modus operandi that is a lot is good than more is better. Wrong. The more-is-better is usually a selfish mentality. Selfishness is not conducive to marriage or a proper Biblical life either. I realize that I cannot store up treasures here but I need to store them up in heaven. More-is-better makes people what the next big thing. In a circular race of keeping up with the Jones you end up buying things you wouldn’t have normally purchased. You act ways you wouldn’t normally have acted. You whore yourself out to the culture. The attitude that the harder you work the more you gain is an illusion and an American fallacy too. I worked insanely hard for multiple employers only to be released to unemployment during economic downturns. We need to strive after the work that God calls us too and a huge part of that is taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. As for the rest…as Qoheleth said in Ecclesiastes: Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4

Do Not Covet Your Neighbors Possesions
Do Not Be Jealous of Your Brother

I do not currently battle with envy of others as I have in the past. God has been doing a rather harsh work of breaking me of this sin. I do know that to have many of the things I believe I want will actually do harm to me both spiritual and probably mentally. I imagine at some point in the near future there will be occasions of envy or jealousy of what someone else has and I do not. The one thing that is a major issue is the idea of comfort and knowing for sure where money is coming from to pay bills. Recently God has been providing for this fairly well but income is not always assured in my household and this causes stress.

As for opportunities I would have to say yes, there is an envy if not a jealousy. I want very much to be a fulltime preacher but the Lord has seen fit to limit my time in the pulpit. Often it is limit by folks that tell me I am not ready yet I deliver sermons to other congregations that seem happy with what I have given them in terms of preaching the word of God. Still I see many gaps in my schedule and know in the back of my mind that I have a family to provide for…and I cannot effectively do this, go to school and work a meaningful job to effectively support my family. I occasionally wrestle with self-worth issues. I realize God gives me my worth but I have not been able to “stretch my legs” and run a race at full effort yet.

What I Own No Longer Owns Me-God Does
What I Do No Longer Defines Me-God Does

Since leaving my previous career as an engineer and pursuing the ministry in whatever form it will end up as…I have not been afforded the luxury of owning much of anything or bragging about going anywhere. This issue has been taken off the table by the Lord. These things if they still define anything about me anymore…their effects are negligible.

My True Identity-Now & Forever

I am a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. That has, by calling, chose or has been chosen to preach the Gospel to a word sorely in need of it. I am a doulos/δοῦλος or slave of Christ that has chosen to take on His yoke instead of that of the world or that of world system which is broken, fallen and corrupt. A slave people! My Master defines who I am. I am a man that gets His value and import from that which God entrusts me with. By His grace I will be a full time teacher and preacher of the Word.

To Give Away The Things of The World

There is very little of this material world that still intrigues me enough to covet or have a desire to horde it. I used to feel the need to possess things and collect them. I guess the last vestige of materialism is my reference books, commentaries and Bibles. Although I would greatly miss them and fret that I did not have them for reference when producing sermons or papers…they are replaceable. Frankly, only a dork would get wound up over losing a book regardless of how valuable it was. When I began donating things to charity solely to unload the junk from my life...I encountered a joy I had never felt before.I was making someone elses life/family happy not just my own life or my own family. I one case I was actually given a thank you card from a woman through a friend that knew I donated the toys at Christmas...she closed the card...Thank You Andy Claus. I cried. I never realized how a simple toy can change a childs life. Just yesterday I also threw away old powerlifting trophies too. At one time I thought they were the greatest they are only eyesores.

A Downsized Life Is A Happy Life

The last three years have been a purge of, ahem, biblical proportions. Many of my material possessions have either been sold off, thrown out or give away to charity. A lot of the stuff that I divested myself of was of my old pre-conversion life. When I converted quite a few transformation things happened that made hobbies or preferences incompatible with the new creation. Musical tastes changes drastically-old albums went in the trash or to the thrift store. Movies of dubious morality either got tossed or sold also. Toy collections that where enormous were sold off and given to charity like Toys For Tots and other charities.

Once the material goods when then God saw fit to start stripping me down economically and internally. At times this divestiture has been vastly harder that parting with the material things. When you divest yourself of internal things it literally changes who you are. I am no longer the person I was even a year ago. It is the sanctification taking hold I suppose. God is removing baggage so that I can do the job He has called me to do. I guess the Lord wants me to travel light and unencumbered as this would make sense for a man that might be trying to outrun godless secular throngs that would rather see me crucified than telling the truth of the Gospel (sarcasm…but some truth too).

The Lord is making me a simple man so that He can do wonderous work through a humble lowly chump like me. I truly get the joke people...He is using me. *(sigh)*

A Common man...with an uncommon calling

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