Most people understand this word and what a both constructive and destructive force it can be. Some folks have used the letters to represent the definition that EGO as Easing God Out. Others rely simply on their EGO as a way to keep their self esteem at a high level.
Me, I like to refer to it in my life as Easily Going Overboard. Maybe you can identify but when others are continually praising you about the type of job you are doing or other accomplishments, we can get a little too carried away with how good we're doing. Maybe because of the more difficult times in my life, my EGO enjoys an atta boy but like the recovering addict I am I can take it too far and you guessed it, Easily Go Overboard.
Lately I have been really blessed, my career is on the rise (not bad for an old guy) and I seem to be enjoying some great relationships with very little conflict. But, as the Lord and I spoke this morning, he reminded me of who is giving me the favor. And it also reminded me of who had made an utter mess of his life before He and I got together.
It's okay to feel good about our success, our talent and our faith, but God has a way of keeping us in check, especially when we reach an EGO point that it is all about us. It never really is, it never will be and any thought of that nature is a mirage. Just think of how much we beg God to fix our health, finances and situations only to turn right back around after He has come to our rescue to that stinking thinking.
That could be why Paul had such a thorn in his side, because he was such a well educated, prosperous Jew. He even said he had a right to be proud, but he was certainly put in his place. We hope it doesn't have to get to that point with us, but it sometimes does. Maybe you, like me, can Easily Go Overboard with your own success.
This morning while brushing my teeth, the Spirit of the Lord just overwhelmed me and I stopped with the water running and began to pray, began to thank Him for what he has done for me. I had an overwhelming moment of joy that our creator cared so much about a guy like me.
Funny thing, he feels that way about you too. Why would we ever try to ease him out?
Leap of Faith
It was a thing of beauty at absolutely just the right moment. The Golden State player was in front of everyone, ready to sink the layup that would put his team ahead at a most critical moment. He looked unstoppable. Suddenly out of nowhere came a high flying, leaping LeBron James who miraculously blocked the shot which led to his Cavaliers winning the NBA Basketball World Title.
These moments are historical, those moments when someone does something spectacular to save the day, win the game, turn a battle around, bring a victory from what looked like sure defeat. And to do so requires a great Leap Of Faith!
Ever been in a position like that? If you have you know the pure joy of how risking it all can bring enormous joy, or sometimes pain if you fail. But for sure, laying it all on the line at just the right moment takes someone who has supreme confidence that they can win. If we believe that then we must believe that God has instilled that in every one of us who believe the truth.
No matter what the odds look like, God can overcome, and he overcomes through us, his overcomers. Think about how such ordinary men turned the world upside down for Christ. Think about a stuttering Moses leading a nation to victory, or an excuse making Abraham becoming the father of all nations. How about a fisherman who had a hard time catching fish becoming a great fisher of men?
Although Lebron is a multi-talented athlete he spoke about the "man above" leading him after the game. Maybe it wasn't just his Leap Of Faith, maybe someone else was guiding him. And just possibly any leap of faith we make as humans is never due to our own abilities or power, but it is always about how far God can take us if we let him. There is no limit with him as to how far we can leap!
If we don't believe this, we can just stay in our convenient boxes of life, but if we do, we can live a very large life knowing that whenever God tells us to leap, we may always feel like we are flying on the wings of eagles he has sent our way.
It says so in Isaiah. He says so in so many other scriptures, now what do you say? Are you ready for a Leap Of Faith?
Or are you just willing to jump over that tiny little puddle in front of you?
Living Las Vegas
Complacency, boredom, too much time on our hands, or maybe too little time to even let yourself relax and have fun- whatever the feeling, these have the potential to lead to doing the wrong thing. People to this day still refer to going to Las Vegas, escaping into the world of fantasy, as a way to combat the aforementioned. Just what's in Las Vegas?
Well there is the risk of winning or losing, the shows that glitter, and countless other things that blow ones mind in extravagance. Many years ago in a different phase of life I was there for a few days and did not sleep. Just being in a casino watching the many different kinds of folks risking it all was exciting and I even ran into a few movie stars. Later, after reading Solomon, he too had his Las Vegas but in a different era.
It's all about escaping from reality into a world where we can be something or somebody else. We who have struggled with addiction can vouch for the fact that we never liked where we were at, we always wanted something more. There was never enough, that is why many folks want to just pack up and go to Vegas. Our eyes seem to never have enough of seeing, our appetites never enough of consuming, our hearts never filled up with enough love.
Maybe we should live Las Vegas every day, that way we wouldn't need to go there. Some of you folks may think I have flipped (a natural thought) and are ready to stop reading this blog right about now, but please, I beg you, read on it gets better.
Las Vegas is a state of mind that every day can be a day of excitement, love, adventure and most importantly impromptu behavior. You know one of my greatest moments in life was asking someone I loved to dance with me in a vacant parking lot, no music, no flashing lights, just spontaneous and pure behavior. Just think of laying your love, your faith, your honesty and willingness to engage with others in the human race on the line every day. I would bet you and I would feel so incredibly alive that Vegas would never cross our minds.
In a weird way, this is how God asks us to be. Completely so sold out to Him that we roll the dice of chance on following his will every day of our lives, not trying to control our moments, never being afraid to be us and to extend the full extent of love. Think how exciting it would be if we just woke up and said to ourselves, let me see how many folks I can love on today?
So Living Las Vegas may not be such a bad thing after all because it would certainly take us out of the mundane tasks that keep us buried in all work and no play. It could definitely take us on a long journey of joy as we impact so many other lives that we can't count how many people we have impacted.
You know there are even a few verses that talk about that state of mind.........whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think of such things. And it goes on to say, put it into practice. There is much risk in this because it is contradictory to human nature.
But my point (take a deep breath please) is that going to Las Vegas is not the answer, but living in the style of not being afraid to take risks, always ready to extend joy and hospitality to strangers, and allowing the full array of God's glitter to be on display to those we love, this is living my friend, this is Living Las Vegas!
As the Doctor was about to remove the catheter that had been my closest friend for a week, he said "take a deep breath now", and I flashed back to two weeks ago in the emergency room when he had inflicted great pain on me trying to find the problem. We both laughed in a few seconds as he apologized and I joked that his bedside manner may need a slight improvement.
But upon removal (you who have experienced this can totally understand) the words that came to my mind were Hallelujah and Boom Shaka-laka, not sure why the two coincided but I know I lost a few brain cells back in the day, so either way you can understand my pure joy. And of course, my somewhat strange mind reflected back to my Baptism in 1984. What an incredible day it was.
And the words "he washed my sins away" also crossed my mind and I thanked God for my spiritual salvation and for the physical healing that would be before me now. Do events in your life trigger thoughts like this? When they do, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world just to experience that pure joy. Physical relief is great, but the knowledge that at one moment God says "take a deep breath now" and when you come out of that water your sins, the most ugly moments of your life, are forgiven and there is a relief of all the weight that was on your shoulders.
That weight is the guilt that we should be punished, feel bad or lose confidence in ourselves, but yet the Lord chooses moments like that to lift us up out of the pit we have fallen into, place our feet on His rock within His living water stream and it's over, we are free from the punishing catheter of sin.
Boom Shaka-laka.......or something like that we shout and we understand that even if in our lives we develop further thorns in our sides, a thorn of reminder, a thorn of sin, or a thorn of disappointment, the true pure meaning of these words can be understood.
My grace is sufficient for you. And this sustains us in knowing just how far we have come from the emergency room to the recovery room. Anything else set before us is now more palatable because we have come from not deserving anything to gaining everything. We must grasp this point that being a Christian doesn't guarantee a stress free life, it helps us instead to free the stress to the great physician.
Yes, God may have let us experience great pain to find the problem, but once it was found there was great rejoicing in heaven. You cannot find these words in those passages where the angels were celebrating, but I would bet they were secretly shouting.......
I Will Fight for You
"I will fight for you, you need only be still" so begins page 33 of the book Jesus Today quoting Exodus 14:14. I was reading it the other day and it elevated my thoughts of how I always try to fix things for myself, and sometimes others. I can become weary from so many responsibilities, and as the book later quotes, "In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking."
In those moments after reading it, I thought yes I am much better but I am still striving in many cases on my own initiative. It is very difficult for me to present everything to God, just being honest here, maybe because I have too much going on and possibly because I am just plain stubborn. Maybe that speaks to you as well, but hopefully we can all take heart in these words.
Think of how we feel about our own children, how protective and loving we are and how quick we are to protect them from harm. Multiply that times infinity and that is God, ever present in harm's way. True, things happen, but it is what happens afterward that forges faith. Sometimes tragedy or failure makes us hold tighter to control our own destiny only to come up with disappointing results.
Maybe we just need to let go of the wheel because he says I will fight for you!
Easier said than done, especially for me but I truly want more of Him and less of me. The weariness of trying to do it all can cause fatigue, bad health and bad decisions. I must ask myself this question always, if he knows the way, why am I struggling to find it on my own?
The passage in Jesus Today offers a simple solution, Ask Him to control your mind more and more - soothing you from the inside out. Or in my own words, just scoot over from the drivers seat to the passenger's and let Him take the wheel.
He doesn't need a car with navigation!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.