Walk Worthy Of Your Calling

What defines our life, purpose and calling? Is it our environment, circumstances, accomplishments, failures, successes, how long we’ve lived or been saved?

Ephesians 4:1-7 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

diagonal-crosswalks-01

Accepting Jesus as our savior, being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit and even our church faithfulness does not define our life in Christ. All the milestones in my life do not define me. We’re not defined by what happens to us or what we do, but instead by our Kingdom response to each and every event in our life. These are only stepping-stones and building blocks upon which we are able to launch out into God’s next Kingdom purposed event.

Do we honestly believe Christ, the One & only Son of God; 1/3rd of the Trinity; keynote member of creation, redemption and eternal salvation; King of Kings; Lord of Lords; heir of the Most High; who was, is and is to come, etc. etc. etc.; would freely walk away from His place in Heaven, become mortal, endure our depraved & pathetic existence, purposely put himself in harms way, die in the most graphic and horrific manner known to man at the time just so we can say a prayer, have our weekly dance cards punched, and secure our spot in a heavenly mansion? GOD FORBID!

How many of us would invest so much and expect so little in return? Yet, many of us have lived it and are just waiting for our final punch out of this old world. Christ may not expect much more out of us than that; however, how much more should we expect out of ourselves having been giving so much?

What good is an ambassador from the US, who does absolutely nothing to build relationships, establish a good name and further the interest of the US in the country he is assigned? If he is not accomplishing the kingdom purpose of the US, the President calls him home, and replaces him with another who will. Then this poor ambassador must give an account for his tenure in the place he was assigned. How much more is expected of a Christ ambassador? Are we building Kingdom relationships, establishing the good name of our Lord and advancing His Kingdom interest where we are, where we go and where we are sent?

1 Corinthians 13 is called the “Love” chapter in the bible, and most people focus on “love” as it relates to relationships, marriage and church. When I read this passage I focus on these things:

  • All that I hope and have fulfilled in my life is worthless without God’s love at its core.
  • All that I know will fade and pass away, but love, God’s and mine will remain long after I’m gone.
  • I don’t have the luxury of clinging to my pain, hurt and bitterness because love has washed it away.
  • I don’t have the right or privilege to claim ignorance or naivety, especially at my age physically and in Christ.
  • I am entitled to absolutely nothing in this life, and the love, grace and mercy given me in Christ is a gift independent of my actions or worth.
  • Time is too precious and fleeting to let even this very moment slip away without God’s love present, active & reflecting.

A pastor friend in San Marcos posted this the other day; “Our perspective of the lost reflects our position with God. If we don’t care about them, we don’t care about God.”

We have to get out of our “defend until we can escape” posture, and be on the offensive. Never in the history of warfare has a commander taken on the enemy and gained ground in a defensive posture. Advancement only comes when we take the battle to the enemy. Many of us are just biding our time to get to heaven. This is and never has been the will of Christ, as recorded in John 17:15, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Have we taken ourselves out of the game, the battle, and become content with being no more than a spectator, a fan? Are we so arrogant, puffed up, in what we’re doing in the name of Christ and advancing the Kingdom that we live more for the name on the back of our jersey, than the name of the team on our chest, the one written in our heart?

The worth of our calling will never be measured by what we do or don’t do. It can only be weighed by our obedience to respond to His voice, His will and in His power. We must ask ourselves, are we walking worthy of our calling and fulfilling our Kingdom purpose in Christ?

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

*Published in the January 16, 2014 issue of the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. via Walk Worthy Of Your Calling – Grace Church of Port Aransas.

Put your behind in your past

I was sitting at my desk the other morning looking over my Facebook timeline, when I noticed 2013 in big bold font at the top right hand of the page, with the following tag: See Your 2013 Year in Review. Look back at your 20 biggest moments from the past year”. So I did.

Several milestones jumped out at me, of which I won’t bore you with in this article, and brought a smile to my face, a tear of joy to my eye and a renewed excitement in my heart. However, as I began to reflect more on these “popular post” of the year, I was reminded of some events behind those moments not posted, not brought to light or made public for all to see. In an equal instant as the previous joy, my heart sank, tears began to stream down my face and grief filled my heart.

Behind every public post, there are private moments the world will never know. Such as bad decisions, missed opportunities, or uncontrollable circumstances. In my life and family, I have taken great strides to keep my business out of the public eye. My wife and I are very private people. This is how we minimize drama in our lives, and by all means don’t engage in the drama of others. Nevertheless, there are real things that take place to cause us to respond, overcome and eventually post a win.

One of my favorite (yes, I said my favorite) movies from when my children were younger was The Lion King. There is a quote from a very inspirational character in the movie that is appropriate for what I was experiencing. If you have seen it, you will recall Pumba, the warthog, and Timon, the meerkat, are talking to Simba, the young deposed heir to the throne of the Savanna Kingdom:

put your behind in your pastPumba: “It’s like my buddy Timon always says: you got to put your behind in your past.”

Timon: No, no no. Amateur. Sit down before you hurt yourself. It’s “You got to put your past behind you.”

Who would have thought this humorous slip of the tongue could reveal a profound truth to resonate in my spirit. Then I was reminded of a scripture in Isaiah 43:18-19“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Simba thought he had committed a great crime against his father, Mufasa the King. Others around him, his uncle, convinced him that he was to blame for his father’s death. His guilt and shame distracted him from who he really is and the destiny that was before him. Although Pumba misspoke, he provides great insight to our past.

In Genesis 19, Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and his family are allowed to escape the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. In verse 17, the angel warns them to “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” As they were fleeing the imminent destruction of their home city, Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt, according to verse 26.

Like Lot’s wife, looking back paralyzes us, and those around us. Life is not what is behind us; it is in front of us. Not many days from now, 2013 will be long gone. We can never get it back. All the failures and missed opportunities can never be fixed or seized. Luke 9:62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

We still have a fresh brand new year ahead of us. 2014 presents us with many opportunities. Be encouraged by Philippians 3:13-14Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We can allow people, or even our self, to beat us up over past failures, missed opportunities or circumstances beyond our control. We can be like Lot’s wife and allow the past, good or bad, to paralyze us and destroy our future. Or…we can take the advice of an animated warthog and “Put your behind in your past.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

*Published in the December 19, 2013 issue of the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. via Put your behind in your past – Grace Community Church of Port Aransas.

The Christmas Glass

For many people Christmas is a special, wonderful and even magical time of year. For others it is haunting, empty and depressing. How can so many diverging emotions come crashing down at the same time and impact each one of us differently? Isn’t this supposed to be a time of promise, hope and expectation?

As for me, I find myself falling somewhere in the middle of all the emotions. My holiday memories aren’t good, great or wonderful, nor are they lacking, disappointing or empty. They are just another day in the year. In all of my 46 Christmases, none stand out. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had good presents, not so good presents and “what in the world is this” presents. I guess it’s really never been about gift, whether receiving or giving.

Before we get too deep in this, I am also not a “Keep Christ in Christmas”, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, “Wise Men Still Seek Him”, or any of the other cute clichés we Christians have come up with over the years to battle modernity, consumerism and idolatry. Seriously? You can’t take Christ out of Christmas, because without Him, there is no Christmas holiday. Besides, if I went down that path like I originally thought I might, I would be stoned in the street, burned at the stake and taken out to sea to walk the plank. Just to tease you, my original article was going to be “X Marks the Spot”, but I will save that for another “X-Mas” to come. (Ok, ok no gnashing of teeth please)

Since a very young age I learned to keep my expectations low so they will always be exceeded, and I would keep disappointment to a minimum. Some would say this is a sad way to view things. Maybe so; however, my wife would confirm that I don’t have a lot of disappointment or regret in my life. For instance, I don’t consider myself a pessimist or optimist; I’m an opportunist. The glass is neither half empty nor half full; instead I look at what is in the glass, regardless of measure, and determine how I can put it to good use.

Christmas time is often like the glass, and the gift is what’s in the glass. Ironically, we view our relationship with Christ in the same manner. Christ is the glass, and our relationship with Him is determined by the measure of what He gives us. This is why Christmas and Christ seem to be so volatile to our emotions this time of year. We focus more on what’s in the glass and less on the glass.

Christ is centric to Christmas, He is centric to our lives each and every day, but we have reduced Him and this holiday to a self-serving, self-centered, “what’s in it for me”, “One Stop Santa Shop”. Then we wonder why we are empty in our relationship with Him and the holiday becomes such a let down. Hope is not found in the measure and contents of the glass, but in the fact the glass has been perfectly designed, crafted and imaged after the Glass Maker.

Pouring from glassSince that day 2000+ years ago when Christ came to earth to save humanity from the wrath of God, He lived, died and was resurrected to restore ALL that was broken in humanity. You see…Christ’s substitutionary work at the cross, transferred the role of the glass from Himself to us. Now we are the glass in our generation with great opportunity to pour out of us the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ. Not just on a single day each year, but every day of our life.

It’s hard to be selfish, when giving. It’s hard to be disappointed, when exceeding the expectations of others. It’s hard to fail, when fighting for the success of our neighbors. It’s hard to judge, when being merciful. It’s hard to condemn, when showing grace. It’s hard to hate, when loving.

Yes, Christ is the greatest gift, the reason for the season and will always be in Christmas. Not because of nifty rhetoric, creating marketing or the battle for public displays of manger scenes, but because He lives each day in us, to be poured out through us to a world who only knows of Him one day a year.

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

*Published in the Christmas 2013 issue of the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. via The Christmas Glass – Grace Community Church of Port Aransas.