decrease and dependence

increase-decrease

Note: This post inspired by chapter 5, “Home Plate: How to Win with God” in the book Home Run: Learn God’s Game Plan for Life and Leadership by Kevin Myers and John G. Maxwell – details about all the associated resources at the close of the post.

When I first came to faith (without commitment I might add) nearly 40 years ago, Jesus and Christianity was viewed as an add-on to my life … another slice of the pie so to speak. Something to be squeezed in with all the other aspects of my life. I truly was a ‘God is my co-pilot’ kind of a guy. I was firmly in control of the steering wheel … but God was plan B … in case of emergency break the glass. Yes, He was Priority #1 … just don’t interfere with MY priorities.

Jesus was a means to an end … my ends (no pun intended … no heavenly connotation suggested).

Needless to say … that didn’t work out too well.

As shared in the book, the mathematician and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote …

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator made known through Jesus.”

Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t try filling it with created things … a process of never-ending frustration … and that’s a personal confession.

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 (ESV)

Initially, despite what is written, I read this as, ‘If I’ll just decrease, then Jesus will increase.’ But that’s not what it really says … we fool ourselves when we think God’s success is dependent on our actions.

Almighty God, no doubt, has the omnipotence to increase His presence in my life and force the decrease of my selfishness and my personal agendas … in but a moment. But that would obliterate free will and love … both of which are by God’s design and involve choice.

So it’s really a process … Jesus increases … in my surrender and submission to Him and His increase, I decrease … which allows for even more of an increase. For some folks the entire transformation happens in but a moment while others of us are slow learners (It took me 20 years to get it) and it becomes more of an iterative process … an ongoing iterative process (I’m now at 20 years and counting).

It’s really counter intuitive to what the world teaches us … as Kevin Myers reveals in the Home Run book. The world we live in sees as the goal of maturity man’s independence. In the kingdom of God, the goal of maturity is found in man’s dependence on God …

So it would seem the increase of Jesus IN me moves me toward maturity while the decrease of self makes me more dependent on Jesus … an ever progressive cycle of growth for the maturing Christian.

Note what Jesus taught the disciples …

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

The authors shared this quote by D.L. Moody in the Home Run book …

“Moses spent his first forty thinking he was somebody. He spent his second forty years learning he was a nobody. He spent his third forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.”

Jesus showed us what it means to be a nobody … a man of no reputation … fulfilling Mark 8:34-35 …

So if there is any encouragement IN Christ, any comfort from love, any participation IN the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours IN Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 3:1-8 (ESV)

Paul understood this and embraced it …

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

When we say ‘Yes’ to following Jesus, we are saying we love Him and we will keep – know, treasure and obey – His word. And the Father and the Son make Their abode IN us.

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” John 14:23 (NASB)

But we are not Their vacation home … God will be doing abode … or home … improvements.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works IN you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

My challenge … God’s conviction … my dependence on God must increase … I must decrease … day-by-day I must deny self!

Help me Lord to become a man of no reputation … a nobody.

Help me Lord … help me Lord!

Bernie

Note: Kevin Myers is the Senior Pastor of the church I attend … 12Stone. His book referenced above was released just a few short weeks ago and we are currently going through a corresponding sermon series titled the Home Run Life … click here if you would like to watch the series on video … or here for the podcasts.  All the small groups for the church are also going through an 8 week curriculum on the Home Run Life.  There is also a website for the book. You can also check it out on twitter with @homerunbook or the hashtag #homerunlife. This book and study does an excellent job of explaining God’s pattern for life using the analogy of the game of baseball. I encourage you to check it out if so led … BW

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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4 Responses to decrease and dependence

  1. jimdavenport says:

    Bernie, this post has piqued my interest. I will be looking into the podcasts and the book. Seems like a well-worth-it endeavor! Jim

    • bwebbjr says:

      Jim, the book continues to be a convicting read with many highlights and red marks made on important insights and scriptures, the sermon series continues to draw us in … and Noah is listening to the CDs over and over again as he plays with his LEGOs and as he goes to sleep at night, and the small group curriculum and conversation is drawing the men in our group into community and into Christ. Today we discussed home plate or the purpose and power base – connecting with God. Bernie

  2. Excellent thoughts. Thank you.

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