WWJD or WWYHMDL?

A while back the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets were all the rage.  They still pop up now an then.  Like tying a piece of string to your finger, I believe the the WWJD bracelets were supposed to be reminders to live your life in a more Christ-centric way, to evaluate your actions in the context of what you think Jesus would do in a similar situation.  It is certainly an appealing and catchy sentiment that appeals to our desires to “do the right thing.”  There’s just one problem.

It’s asking the wrong question.

Asking WWJD means that you are guessing.  You’re taking your best estimate as to what YOU think is the right answer in this situation.  You are trying to live your life like Jesus lived his.  So, does that mean that are you wondering if you should go overturn the tables in the temple courtyard?  Should you go live in the wilderness for 40 days, or get in the Pharisees’ face about their legalism?  Should you go hang out in the lunch room at IRS headquarters so you can fulfill your mandate to consort with tax collectors?

Uh….probably not.  See, the thing is, you CAN’T LIVE YOUR LIFE LIKE JESUS, because he was the Son of God.  He set an unachievable goal.  He didn’t set us an example to follow…He gave us a path to follow!  He didn’t come to give us a list of do’s and don’ts…He came to show us the way to the Father.  Jesus only gave us two commandments…”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  (Luke 10:27)

I propose that you can’t really do the second one until you start doing the first one!

So, instead of wondering WWJD, what we should be asking is, “What Would You Have Me Do, Lord?”

See, the thing is, we don’t have to wonder.  We don’t have to guess.   As believers in Christ we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we have a hot line straight to God, such that when difficult situations arise, we don’t need to look to our bracelet…we can go right to The Source.

While, granted, WWJD fits better on a bracelet or a T-Shirt or a bumpersticker than “WWYHMDL,” we need to understand that relying on our best guess estimates makes us the arbiters of truth.  It becomes too easy to live life according to a series of handy, and often changeable “Jesusisms” that reduce His Word to little more than philosophical precepts.  We might as well ask what would Gahndi do, or Buddha, or Oprah.  Jesus was not just another philosopher exhorting us to live better lives.

He called us to live our lives in service to Him, and the only way we are ever really going to know what that is supposed to look like is to ask…HIM.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Prov. 14:12

The key word in this passage is the word “seems.”  There is an answer which “seems” right to us, a way that “ought” to be correct, or a solution that “feels” good.  Except that, if it is OUR way, then it is wrong. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord , and turn away from evil.  Prov 3:5-7

Lean not on your own understanding.  Rather than do what “feels right,” study the scriptures, pray, come before the Lord and ask Him to tell you what to do.

We are too easily swayed by the ways of the world to trust our own judgement when it comes to spiritual matters.  So, instead of settling for What Would Jesus Do, let’s keep asking, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

You may not always like the right answer, but it’s always better than feeling good about the wrong one.

Thought for the Day

If you’ve decided that the Bible isn’t enough for you, that perhaps it is merely one piece of a bigger spiritual puzzle, then you are stating that you no longer believe that God and God alone is the source of your salvation.

Just be aware of the decision you are making when you set aside God’s word in favor of the teachings of another prophet, philosopher or sophist.

You deny the finished work of Christ, you deny the sufficiency and authority of God, and you make yourself the arbiter of “truth.” And, while that’s certainly a great job for anyone to have, I’m sorry to say that the position has already been filled.

It’s a simple reality, really:  You create the Universe, you get to make the rules.  So, until you can manage the former, don’t presume to attempt the latter.

Day 6

I begin to realize that the Enemy’s greatest weapon against us comes in the form of the “Tiny Distraction.”  Kind of like the “Noisy Cricket” from Men In Black, it seems so small, so inconsequential, only to have it surprise you with its power.

Charles Hummel called it the “tyranny of the urgent.”  It’s the little, ceaseless distractions, the “oh, just real quicks” that constantly distract and divert our focus from God.  There always seems to be time to check one more blog, to finish one more level on that addicting online Flash game, play one more hand of online poker, or hit that snooze alarm one more time because you were up too late last night reading the latest Dean Koontz novel.

And we wonder how come our Walk is so fractured, so shallow, and ultimately so ineffective? 

I was lamenting today about how I’m always feeling so tired, so run down.  I feel like someone who is pulling themselves up, hand over hand, along the railing of the Titanic as it goes down, trying to get to the lifeboats, but my arms are just sooo tired, so tired, and my feet seem to keep slipping out from under me.

And then, in that clear, quiet voice He so often uses, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the admonitions of scripture to be FILLED by the Spirit, to not lean on our own strength, but God’s.  To have Him carry us through when our own strength fails.

Isa 58:11 says:

 “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Wow.  What a potent image.  Right now I feel like an office plant that someone forgot to water when they went on vacation, all dry and withered and brittle.  I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be a watered garden, lush, green, vibrant, rivers of living water pouring through me.  Where can I get me some of THAT?!

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “  Jhn 7:38

I believe in God, but I have not been watering myself.  I have not been drinking from this fountain, and, as the Bible promises, I have become a barren wasteland, dry, desicated, producing no fruit.

That’s what get me about these passages, where God’s word promises such terrible things to those who forsake Him.  So many detractors and scoffers want to make these out to be the threatened wrath of an angry God ready to bring down ruin on those who don’t obey!

The fact is, we bring this ruin on ourselves.  These are not promises of wrath, but warnings of inevitable consequences.  God KNOWS how the system works.  He CREATED US.  We were created to love Him, to have fellowship with Him.  There is some essential nature in us that needs His presence in our lives.  Without it, we cannot truly prosper.  Our lives can never blossom into the fullness he would have for us.  God is trying to warn us of what happens to us individually, and as cultures and nations when we forsake his protection, his provision, and his life-giving Word.

God is telling me that the problems I am facing are a direct result of my allowing all these other tyrannical disctractions to come between me and Him.  On the other hand, He’s also trying really hard to get my attention!

I am thirsty, I am hungry, and oh LORD am I ever tired.  I am reminded of the words to one of those worship songs I’ve sung so many times throughout the years:

Holy Spirit,
Flowing through me.
Holy Spirit,
Come and fiillllll me up,

Come and filllll me uuuup!

I no longer have the strength to do this all on my own.  It is time that I returned to the Source, and start letting HIM fill those places I have allowed to run dry.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;  then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.  My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.  (Prov. 3:5-12 NIV)

40 Days & 40 Nights

As part of my spiritual journey, one which has ebbed and flowed at various times during my life, sometimes burning with intensity, other times smouldering with barely a flicker of flame or a wisp of smoke, I have decided to commit to a 40 day fast. 

I have come to realize that I have been putting other things in my life before God.  Now I intent to LAY them before God.  After a bit of introspection, I have identified the following three things that have become stumbling blocks or dependencies in my life:

1) Caffeine.  I put waaay too much time and effort into maintaining a level of caffeination that my body can simply no longer tolerate.   I lurch from cup of coffee to soda to coffee to “get me through the day.”  It has become my stumbling block, and I’m depending on IT when I should be depending on God.  So, for the next 40 days, no caffeine.

2)  Sugar.  Processed, nasty sugar.  I have identified some ongoing health issues, probably Candida or some variant of Celiac’s Disease, and sugar is a fermenting, yeast producing nasty that my body can do without.  And since I’ve discovered that I am a “comfort eater,” I tend to put back a lot of sugary sweets during times of stress.  Which these days is most of the time.  Again, it is my crutch, my dependency, my replacement for the work of God in my life, so for the next 40 days, it goes.

3)  Blogging.  What used to be fun has devolved into pounding out negative, critical screeds replete with the very kind of huffy-puffy indignation and self-indulgent posturing one would expect from a DailyKos’r or HuffPo columnist. And that’s not me.  At least, I certainly don’t WANT it to be me.  It has begun to take away time from work, my family, and any hope I might have of quality devotional time.  So not only will I not be blogging myself, I will not be reading or commenting on other blogs.  I need to go cold turkey.  I doubt I’ll ever quit entirely, but I need to get myself back on track, and find my muse, so to speak.  So for the next 40 days, no blogging.

prayerI once had a strong and growing web ministry via my writings.  I was touching peoples’ lives and bringing them the message of Hope to be found in Jesus Christ.  I was repeatedly blessed by emails from people who read something that God had given me, and it had spoken to some struggle or challenge that they had been facing in their own life.   How exciting, and how humbling!

Problem is, I haven’t been doing that for quite some time now.

It is what I have always felt I’ve been called to do.  I may never plant a church, become a missionary, or preach from a pulpit, but I believe God has gifted me to use my writing to touch hearts and souls, to shine the light of Christ in those dark corners we fear, or hope, no one else knows about.  But God knows, and he uses every tool at his disposal to reach into those places and do the work that needs to be done.  I like to think that at times I’ve been an instrument in his hands, helping to heal what was hurt, repair what was broken, perhaps bringing reconciliation where before there was only estrangement.

I want to begin to do that again.

So, since sundown last night, to use the Judaic model, I began my fast.  40 days, committed to the Lord, to reclaim that which has been lost, or at least buried.  To re-energize my Walk, and to rekindle the flames of ministry which I have let die.

My hope, and my prayer, is that as God teaches me, leads me, and guides me through this time, that I can share those lessons and struggles here in such a way that others can be blessed by them as well. 

So, off we go!

In Christ,
~~Steve Berven~~