I'm NOT a control freak, just ask anyone they'll tell you; anyone that
is except my 16 year old daughter who is learning to drive. Nothing
flushes your controlling tendencies out like not being in control.
She wanted to drive home from a football game yesterday. It
sounded like a good idea, I mean, you know, I'm a good dad,
a little bit of nostalgic, "Dad and daughter time", that is until I
have my finger imbedded into the dashboard and every word
from my mouth is unsolicited advice on how to drive correctly.
"Slow down, put on your blinker, turn wider around that corner, SLOW DOWN!"
No, I'm not a control freak, I'm a father, just ask my daughter....
Jesus' words in Mark 8:35, If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will
lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the Gospel,
you will find true life." Easy words to read, near impossible words to
live. What! Jesus is asking me to give up my life, to relinquish control. But
what will He do once He has control? Where will He take me, how can I be sure
I will like what He has in mind? How do I know I will be happy or fulfilled
or successful if I let Jesus do the driving? What if He crashes my life
into the guardrail or if I get into a head-on collision on the road of non-control?
What kind of insurance coverage and benefits package does this discipleship
gig come with? How can I be expected to relinquish control when I don't even
know where He is taking me? Okay, I admit it, I'm a slight control freak.
All the questions we find ourselves asking: Where are you taking me? When
will we get there? Are there any rest stops along the way? Are you watching
out for the...? These are all the wrong questions. The one question I need to
ask is: "Do I trust the driver?" If I trust the driver and His ability to control the vehicle
of my life and I trust that He knows the way better than I do, I can trust that He will get
me to the right place at the right time in good condition. Relax, let go of the dashboard,
loosen up those clenched leg muscles that are trying to push your feet through the
floorboards, quit giving directions, sit back, trust Jesus and enjoy the trip.
Neil Sedaka didn't quite get it right with his song, it should have been,
"Giving up is hard to do." That is where the words of the Apostle James
comfort us where he says, "But He gives more grace." (James 4:6) It is hard to
"let go and let God", but thankfully we don't have to muster the courage to
do it, He provides the grace to accomplish what wecan't do on our own. Jesus
loves control freaks like me and transforms us into people who trust and
people who accomplish greater things by letting go that we ever could
by running the show. Thanks God, I need you.
Saturday we had some friends over for dinner and we decided on a whim to make an apple crisp for dessert. We dove in wholeheartedly peeling and slicing apples, melting butter and mixing it all up. All was going well until we discovered we were missing baking powder. Who knew you needed baking powder in an apple crisp? I knew we had some in an unpacked box SOMEWHERE!
As I looked at the mountain of boxes in the garage, I decided I didn't have the courage to face
that task so Shanda decided to call the neighbors and borrow some. She called and they had just left for the evening but told us to go on in and get what we needed. They said that if the door was locked just go around back and go in one of the two there, surely one was bound to be open. Shanda sent me off and reminded me to hurry it up! Well, you guessed it, every door, window and crack was locked tight. (Paranoid I guess!) I peeked in the kitchen window and there were all the supplies I needed but to my dismay I could not gain access to them.
This makes me think of how different it is when we are sent on a mission by Jesus. Here's what Jesus said:
"Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you." Then He
breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:21-22 NLT)
When the Father sent Jesus, He had everything necessary to accomplish His mission.
1. He knew exactly what He was supposed to do and why. (Luke 19:10, 1Jn. 3:8)
2. He had access (authority) from the Father to do what needed to be done. (Matt. 28:18)
3. He was thoroughly equipped to accomplish His mission. (Matt. 3:15-17)
4. He was passionate about His mission. (John 2:16-17,Luke 19:41)
5. He accomplished His mission. (John 19:30)
When Shanda sent me to get baking powder, my mission was clear, I knew exactly what I needed; I had lots of passion because I love apple crisp; the problem was I was not equipped properly with the authority to access the place where the provision was. I had permission but no authority (the keys) to do what needed to be done.
When the Father sent Jesus here to do the work of Redemption, he not only provided everything Jesus needed, He was given authority and access to the provision in order to get the job done (Matt. 16:19). Jesus does the same for us. He has given us His Holy Spirit, we have the same power and authority He had. We now have access to all that we need to accomplish His mission.
"For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians
So, let's be determined about out our mission since Jesus died to fulﬁll it. Let's be thankful because God has provided all we need to accomplish our mission. Let's be bold because Jesus gave us His authority when He ﬁlled us with His Holy Spirit.
This is kingdom living.
As for the apple crisp, we skipped the baking powder. It turned out just ﬁne, tasted great but just a little watery. (I ate most of it myself!)
Spiritual Gift Mandates
1 Peter 4:10-11
"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to
serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God
himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all
the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to
God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen."
There are six declarations that Peter gives us here in this passage. When it comes to
spiritual gifts, we look at them like we would a birthday present or any other gift given to
us. We are honored and grateful to receive them but we feel that they are given to us for
our enjoyment and betterment we believe that we can use them at our leisure; when we
choose, how we choose and IF we choose. Unfortunately, God doesn't see it that way.
He sees them more as an investment and a responsibility. More like a stewardship. God
is a wise investor and He expects a good return on His investment read Matthew
chapter 25 for more about that. When He deposits spiritual gifts in us, He expects us to
use them and grow them.
Peter's declarations on spiritual gifts in this passage are:
1. Be accepting! God HAS given you gifts whether you realize it or not.
2. Be responsible! He expects us to use them and manage them well.
3. Be intentional! When we use our gifts appropriately, God is pouring His love, favor
and generosity out upon all whom we minister to while using those gifts. It is Him
working His will and power through us. His strength and power become ours.
4. Be bold! When we speak about Jesus, realize that God Himself is speaking through
5. Be assured! When we bless, help and encourage others; the Holy Spirit supplies the
grace, energy, strength and provision needed to do the job. You won't burn out or go
bust because He supplies everything needed
6. Be joyful! When we bless and serve others for Jesus' sake, He is gloriﬁed and made
great in the eyes of the world and those who don't yet know Him are drawn to Him.
Pastors Phil Harris of Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.