Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

CR Principle 8

Principle 8 says I yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12)

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10

You know, I suppose the best evidence of that might be that I’m here sharing my story with you now. However, I think it goes much further than that. Most of us come into recovery for selfish reasons. We want to feel better. We want more victory in our lives.

Even if we come expecting to give back, it’s not usually a yielding that we have in mind. There’s evidence of that when people become offended and leave Celebrate Recovery, often with an indignant proclamation that “I don’t have to put up with this or that!”

As I studied the Bible verse that goes with Principle 8 though, it seemed rather odd to me. I understood persecution like being burned at the stake or have pygmies chase missionaries with their spears. I have read about how the Christians in China must hide to avoid persecution by their Communist government. Jesus said those who are persecuted would be happy. I wondered how I could be happy, if I can’t ever get chased by pygmies or tangle with the Chinese government.

I prayed about this and God led me to focus on the word persecuted. I researched it and found that in the original text, the word was more commonly translated as spent. When I inserted that word, Matthew 5:10 seemed to say, “Happy are those who allow themselves to be spent doing what God requires.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself spent on several occasions in my service through Celebrate Recovery and my church. The idea of God spending me was an intriguing notion.

I eventually left my secular job and went on staff at my church for a few years. My official title was Pasor of Spiritual Formation & Ministry Development. But Celebrate Recovery was by far the largest and most impactful ministry I had to develop. So I functioned most of the time as a Recovery Pastor. It was a place where God taught me much about Himself and about myself - to say nothing of what He taught me about others.

I began to see that the Christians could do a very good job of persecuting. I would serve without recognition or appreciation. I was spent doing what God requires. I would face conflict or church politics. I would make sacrifices for church service. Inevitably I would find myself being spent doing what God requires. I began to realize this is what Jesus meant.

I don't work (for pay) in a church now. Maybe I will again one day. But I hold a secular job. And I still find that God spends me as I go about the business of doing what He requires in my church, my job, my community and even my family. I think I will spend the rest of my life being spent doing what God requires. I think He always will - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

You see, when I accomplish Principle 3, turning my life and will over to Christ, I become His. The apostles in the New Testament introduced themselves as “slaves of Christ.” We are His property. And He can choose to spend us any way He wants --- if we have really accomplished that Principle 3. So the more fully I execute Principle 3, the more fully I belong to Him –-- and am His to spend. It turns out that it pleases my Lord to spend me as I do His will.

Now, when I tempted to quit because it’s hard, I’m not appreciated, I get blackballed on something, etc. ---- I just have to remember this is me being spent while I do what God requires. And He promises I’ll be happy if I allow Him to spend me.

How is God spending me as I do what He requires? Well, I have sponsored more men than I can count. I have led numerous step studies in several different churches. I do crisis counseling with pastors who are themselves in trouble. I have traveled to Africa to train pastors and help them deal with their issues. My wife and I have adopted eight (8) more children. I launched Celebrate Recovery in a Ugandan prison, training prisoners to be spiritual leaders in the prison, as they implement a Celebrate Recovery program in the prison – run by the prisoners. God is spending me in all sorts of way. And I am happy about it.

In closing, I want to encourage you. Celebrate Recovery is not an event or a program. It is a way of life. Jesus gave us these principles for effective living. I discovered a long time ago, in my own recovery journey, that Jesus didn’t hang on that cross so that I could live a defeated life. Rather He hung there to give me victory. So today, I expect victory. But I understand that victory is a process.

There are times when I slip up on Principle 1 or Principle 4. I’ll discover some denial creeping back into my life. Or I’ll find myself procrastinating on the self examination and confession part. Perhaps I’ll find myself struggling with voluntarily submitting to another change that God wants to make in me. The point is, that you never complete any of these principles. Instead, you get up every day and resolve to make them your game plan for that day. It is one day at a time.

Jesus told us that His yoke would be easy and the burden light. I think He meant that the Christian life is not supposed to be a struggle. We don’t have to fight to be virtuous or work hard to be righteous. We simply yield to Him, humbling ourselves to do life His way, and He creates that hunger and thirst for righteousness in us.

Let’s keep working these principles and start expecting to find victory in our lives. After all, that was Jesus’ purpose on the cross!

No comments:

Post a Comment