What are you worth?

This is what the Lord says: What fault did your fathers find in Me that they went so far from Me, followed worthless idols, and became worthless themselves? Jeremiah 2:5 HCSB

A few semesters ago I was reading through the book of Jeremiah and was amazed at some of the principles there are. I shouldn’t have been amazed, it is God’s Word after all, but who knew you could find wisdom in the middle of God’s judgment of Judah? 🙂

Here’s an incredible principle I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about: Your worth will be determined by the worth of what you pursue. 

If your ultimate pursuit is…

  • Money, your worth will be equal to how much money you have.
  • Image, your worth will be equal to how good you look in a bathing suit.
  • Raising good kids, your worth will be equal to your kids’ behavior (now that’s scary).
  • Sex…
  • Social status…
  • Being a good cook…
  • Being a teacher…
  • Being good at preaching…

You get it. Isn’t that weird? I eventually become worth what I thought was worthy of my devotion. And we know it’s true. And we’ll think we’re worth a lot as long as we’re successful at whatever we’re doing. But the moment we’re no longer successful?

What’s so cool is God offers us the invitation to pursue Him. And when we do, we find that our worth is forever secure, because God alone is worthy.

Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11 HCSB

The question, then, is what are you worth? The answer… however much whatever you’re pursuing is worth.

Theology and church practice

My systematic theology professor last semester gave us an assignment that forced me to think critically about my theological convictions. The assignment was to take our view on a particular subject in systematic theology, and then analyze how our particular view should inform our ministry practice.

For example: If I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, how should that inform the way I teach the Bible?

I think this discipline is critical for church leaders. Why? Our ministries should be shaped by our theological convictions. 

Because of this, I think it’s interesting to consider why churches do church the way they do. What beliefs are informing their practice?

Here are some questions for consideration:

What theological conviction leads your church to do…

  • Small groups or Sunday school?
  • Seeker-sensitive or Insider-focused services?
  • Contemporary or Traditional music?
  • Verse-verse or Topical preaching?
  • Multi-site?
  • Missions the way you do it?
  • Church membership the way you do it?

I think we’re doing a lot of stuff in the church just because we think it “works”. But what theological conviction helps us define what it means to “work”? You owe it to yourself and your ministry to think about these things. Unless you’re clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re setting yourself up to waste a lot of time and energy, and even worse, to lead your people and your ministry away from the truth that should be shaping your people and your ministry.

God Most High

Recently I read through the book of Daniel. It’s a book I’ve always categorized in one of two extremes: good for kids because of some cool stories, good for scholars because of its complicated prophesies.

Reading it this time, though, really changed the way I look at it. The cool stories and complicated prophesies are all intended to lead to the same truth: God is Most High.

Nothing is higher than our God, because God is most high.

Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t gonna change that. A blazing furnace wasn’t gonna change that. A den of lions wasn’t gonna change that. A defeated Jerusalem wasn’t gonna change that. An exiled people wasn’t gonna change that. The Persians, Greeks, and Romans weren’t gonna change that. Four beasts aren’t gonna change that.

God is Most High. Others may be elevated, but He elevated them. And He will tear them down.

Think about the security that rests in our God. No matter what, He’s most high. Governments rise and fall because He makes them. Think of all the decisions that have been made throughout history in order to try to keep power, gain power, take power. All the while, God is most high.

All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing,
and He does what He wants with the army of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.
There is no one who can hold back His hand
or say to Him, “What have You done?”
Daniel 4:35 HCSB

God is Most High. He’s on the throne. Let’s get on our knees.

The tension in planning the future

I spend a lot of time thinking about the future. What I want to do, where I want to do it, who I want to do it with. The more I think about this stuff, though, the more I’m confronted with a tension I don’t know how to manage. I think there are 2 major camps for approaching this tension.

Comfort Zone Camp

  • The best way to serve God is by stepping out of your comfort zone.

Find Your Gifts Camp

  • The best way to serve God is by doing what God has wired you to do.

So here’s the tension: Is the fact that I love something a clue as to how God wants to use me… or is the fact that I don’t enjoy something a clue as to how God wants to show His power in my weakness?

Here’s how this plays out:

  • If I love living in City A but hate living in City B, which one do I live in?
  • If I love doing gift A but hate doing gift B, which one do I do?

Obviously it’s not a black and white tension, and there is wisdom in both camps. I don’t think God expects me to know exactly what He wants me to do, so I’m not asking how to ‘know His will’ as much as I’m asking for guidance in making decisions that put me in the best position to serve Him and honor Him.

What do you think? How do you manage the tension? What camp do you tend to lean towards? How would you advise discerning when to go with what camp?

Teaching an eternal perspective: song review

This summer one of the songs that I’ve heard continually on Christian radio stations is the song “He Said” by Group 1 Crew. It’s a catchy song, and I personally like poppy type stuff, so I enjoy the song for the most part.

While I think the song sounds OK, I can’t help but get frustrated every time I hear it.

Here are some of the lyrics, and then I’ll explain what frustrates me.

So your life feels like it don’t make sense
And you think to yourself, ‘I’m a good person’
So why do these things keep happening?
Why you gotta deal with them?

You may be knocked down now
but don’t forget what He said, He said

I won’t give you more, more then you can take
and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
and No-o-o-o-o, I’ll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o
Don’t you forget what He said

Now, here are my 2 basic problems with this song:

1. It assumes that if you’re a good person, you shouldn’t have to deal with any confusion or suffering in life. 

The first verse essentially affirms the idea that if I think “Hey, I’m a good person” then I have justification to never experience any pain, misunderstand my circumstances, or feel like God is silent. That’s simply not true, and frankly, whether or not I think I’m a good person is irrelevant. God is the judge of goodness.

2. God didn’t say most of the stuff they claim He said.

God never said, “I won’t give you more than you take.” Never. Here’s what He did say:

  • “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 HCSB
  • “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3 HCSB

The hope believers have in the midst of terrible circumstances is not that God will “let us bend but not let us break.” The hope we have is that God will ultimately get vengeance on evil and transform our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body.

Let’s do a better job of teaching an eternal perspective in our little Christian subculture. I don’t mean to be “that guy” who throws shots at people, but I feel like this is an important issue. I mean no disrespect to the artist. I do mean to critique their message.

How can you begin thinking eternally in your daily decisions? How can you lead your followers to do the same?