Often I have people ask me “are you watching this Netflix series? Or that Netflix series?” My answer is usually “no I don’t have time for a series but I do like a good war or action movie once in a while.” To be clear I did enjoy the HBO series Band of Brothers. So I guess if something strikes my interests enough I would make time to waste on a good series every once in a while. This reoccurring question has caused me to think deeply about these two questions. “Am I entertained or engaged? And are we as a culture entertained or engaged?” The answer is simple. A tree is known by it’s fruit. Entertainment produces entitlement. In that culture everything is driven by numbers, ratings, reviews and ultimately pleasing people. While engagement produces growth, progress, diligence, and faithfulness and then ultimately purpose. We can be people who are engaged in things that matter and hence we use entertainment for what it is supposed to be used for. Think of entertainment like dessert. Dessert is great once in a while. However we should not live on dessert. More often than not diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and an early death will be the results. So it is with people who live off and for entertainment. We were created to be engaged in things that really matter, because we really matter. Which means we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by entertainment. We must not allow entertainment to keep us from meaningful engagement. The proper engagements lead to long-term commitments that lead to lasting change. We must find out what really matters and give everything to and for that. We should find out what is worth dying for and live only for that. For me it’s Jesus. What is it for you?
Reality for some is more like a nightmare. For the rest of us it is uncomfortable and at times painful. Reality is like getting on the scale and weighing yourself after a cruise. It’s like looking in the mirror after you have spent the day in bed with the flu. It’s like checking your credit card balance when you have debt and your no interest for 12 months credit card just went up to 24.99%. Reality is something we all have to deal with no matter how much we may try to run from it. We are not our facebook account, we are certainly not the picture we just posted of ourself on Instagram with multiple filters on it, trying to do whatever we can to hide who and what we really are. We are all those pictures in our phone that never made Instagram. Honestly the filters on Instagram are good, the ones on snap seed are even better but we must remember that we are the person before the filter. If we are going to have meaningful relationships we must remember that those relationships start with us first being real with ourselves. We can only be as real with others as we are with our self. Invest some time today being honest with yourself because you are valuable. Stop, think, reflect and make the necessary changes that will help you become who you are supposed to be. So you can do what you are supposed to do. So you can help those you are supposed to help. #YouMatter
Choices are more powerful than feelings.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-33 NKJV)
My emphasis will be on the words that are bold. Here Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship. If you read the gospels carefully you will find that Jesus never looked for half hearted followers. He was always looking for the totally committed, those who would be fully given. Often people make decisions based out of emotions. Which means they make commitments they don’t intend to keep. We have all done this at one time or another. It is crucial to know that we can overcome our feelings with faith that is rooted in the truth.
Jesus uses two illustrations that make his point clear.
- You don’t build a tower that you don’t have enough money to finish. That is not faith its presumption. Presumption is usually rooted in selfish ambition. We should not make decisions based out of ambition because the decisions will always be unrealistic. The emotion of ambition will not lead you into a decision, it will lead you into a disaster. The fruit of that disaster will be shame. Don’t let ambition decide your trajectory, let faith decide your capacity and let integrity chart your course.
- You don’t start a fight you can’t win. Anger causes people to start fights they can’t win. We need to check ourselves before we make a decision from a place of anger. Anger will cause you to get into things you may not walk away from.
To make it clear we need to count the cost of our commitments before we make them. It is critical that we don’t make decisions or commitments based out of emotions when we haven’t counted the cost. Ambition and Anger can cause us to commit to building something we can’t finish or fight a battle we can’t win. Counting the cost is actually what helps us prepare to pay the price. Similar to stretching before you exercise. When we prepare ourselves we are actually positioning ourselves to succeed.
You are not what you have. You are not what you don’t have. You are not where you live. You are not what you drive. You are not what you feel. You are not what happened to you. You are not what didn’t happen for you. You are not what others have said about you. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Out of the world’s 7.4 billion people no two people have the same fingerprints. You are unique. You are valuable. You were created for a purpose that God himself planned for you to do before the world began. The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it. You are priceless. God gave his very best (Jesus) for you. You matter. You can define yourself by your assets or your debts. You can define yourself by your circumstances or choices. Or you can value yourself and interpret your circumstances in light of who you are to Jesus.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” (Ephesians 3:1 NKJV) Paul the Apostle wrote this while he was in prison in Rome. Paul did not call himself a prisoner of Rome although he was in a Roman prison. Paul identified himself as a prisoner of Christ. He defined himself in light of his most valuable relationship. He identified himself in light of who he was to Jesus and who Jesus was to him. He refused to be a victim. Because he had the right perspective of his circumstances he was able to receive revelation in his circumstances. His place of limitation became his place of revelation. Later, in his letter to the Ephesians as Paul looked at a Roman soldier, what he saw was actually the Armor of the Lord. He was free enough to receive revelation from those who were holding him captive. Paul refused to have a chip on his shoulder in the midst of the injustice that he was experiencing. In Rome people didn’t serve long prison sentences. They were beaten, killed or let go. He was actually in prison waiting to be sentenced. He was guilty until proven innocent. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he chose to show concern for others and so he wrote Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. What if your place of limitation was actually your place of revelation? What if the pain that you have been through could help someone enter into the purpose of God for his or her life? Remember this: When you have been victimized and refuse to be a victim you enter into a place of victory. The victory that you have experienced you can help others experience.