Occasionally I quote or refer to Chip Brogden. His teachings are ‘the rest of the story’ and provide comfort and guidance to those who have been disappointed by modern Church as an organization and left only to find themselves in a spiritual wilderness.
Of course, I subscribe to his website, I buy his books, and read his teachings, that he so freely gives. I’ve been reading him long enough to be able to say with confidence that he is the real deal in this age of religious illusion. I recently received an email from him that asked, “What can I do to help you most?” Though it sounded personal, I know he sent it out to his subscriber list. Chip doesn’t know me from Adam. (remember that old saying?)
But God knows me and He knows exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it so those, like Chip Brogden, who are devoted to serving Him, often say and do exactly what God wants even to total strangers. God's blessings are always multi-dimensional.
We serve an amazing God!
Before I opened the email, I had spent some time laboring over another email to a friend whom I met in a Christian forum. I, as usual, discovered that my perspective and forthrightness was a tad too real for that group, so I had to quietly stop posting. It is never my intention to offend or cause dissension. Where is the fruit in that? But my friend and I struck up what was once referred to as a pen pal relationship but instead of pen/paper/stamp, we enjoy the convenience of the digital age. Turns out she wasn’t offended by what I posted in the forum. And it also turns out she is a precious daughter of God and sister in Christ. I treasure her words and ideas.
But, back to the email from Chip. I sent my email to my friend and then opened Chip’s. It was what I call a confirmation moment. And this is what it confirmed:
The flesh is consummately self-centered. It’s a condition we are born with. It begins as a tool for survival but if we don’t evolve and grow out of the basic instinct, we become so self-involved that everything is measured against our own personal internal struggles. If we are insecure, if we don’t feel loved, if we are scared, if we are subject to temptation, if we feel worthless. We micro-focus on these issues and in so doing are compelled to take our spiritual temperature many times a day. Did I do that wrong? Should I have said that? Is God mad at me because I forgot to recite a verse this morning? Did I mishandle this? Why? Does it mean I am not a Christian? Am I good enough? If not, then am I really saved? How can God love me–I am so bad?
This was the topic I was expressing myself on to my email friend, and this, in part, is what I had just sent to her before I opened Chip’s email:
If you are constantly wondering if God loves you, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your life better now than it was before you were saved? If yes, then is that not an indicator of God loving you? What would your life be like otherwise? If your life isn’t better do you still feel God’s hand in your circumstances, an invisible strength, an inexplicable peace? A sense that He has a good plan for you no matter what?
2. What is your expectation that God should do for you that you think would make you feel loved? What else should God do so that you feel worthy to be loved? Are you projecting the lack of love you felt as a child or some pain you have suffered from someone else onto God as though His love is as limited as human love?
3. Would you still serve God for no other reason than because He is worthy and not just because you want to go to heaven? (Yet though He slay me will I trust Him ...)
If salvation is only about you, how you feel, what your circumstances are, having your expectations met, your self esteem shored up, you, you, you...have you missed the point that your salvation is about Him, for His sake, what He needs from you, not what you need from Him? (He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake). Our blessings and the assurances of His love come to us not because we are worthy but because He is. It's really all about Him, or should be. Right?
God’s love for us is indeed unfathomable and is never about us deserving it. It is Christ within us that deserves love. God loves that we accepted Christ to dwell in us, that we gave up what we needed to give up, that we agreed to trust HIm, though He slay us.
We speak about mercy and grace but we don’t really understand these concepts. We keep searching ourselves to try to understand God but our human understanding is pitifully myopic. When we are constantly looking inward instead of out and up, all we are likely to see is our unworthiness which overshadows our being able to see His ability to love the unlovable. Until we can stop focusing on ourselves, we are forever stalled out, stymied in what could be our opportunity to grow up spiritually and find the peace and joy that surpasses all understanding–enabling us to learn more of Him because we need less knowledge of ourselves.
Otherwise we stay on a treadmill of preoccupation of wondering if we are loved instead of jogging out in the world showing others what God’s love looks like. God’s love reflected in everything we are, everything we do, everything we say. How can we tell others with confidence that Jesus loves them if we don't believe He loves us?
Satan works overtime trying to keep us mired in the mud of SELF because it keeps us busy seeking fulfillment within ourselves instead of just serving Jesus because He deserves our devotion and thereby finding our fulfillment outside of ourselves.
So, to paraphrase Chip’s question, perhaps we should wake up every morning and ask Him, “What can I do for You today, Lord?”