This week at Dugout was great as usual, and in many ways one of the best messages I have heard at Dugout. Stan Reiff, COO of Crown Financial Ministries and one of our members, spoke about our relationship with God, family, and other believers. Stan was very intimately open with us and shared from deep within his heart which was personally very humbling for me. To be vulnerable to other believers in such a way is truly an act of service to those that open their hearts to the message. Thank you for loving us enough to be vulnerable Stan.
Stan talked about the importance of not tarnishing your character, betraying your heritage, and about the types of relationships we should have with other believers.
One of the ways we can tarnish our character is by trying to do too much for too many, and then not being able to deliver on our promises. When this happens, everyone gets less than promised from us and no one is happy. You can easily look wishy washy or become a cloud without rain in these situations which can tarnish your character and hurt your effectiveness in being a Godly example to others. This speaks to the topic of a conversation I had with someone not too long ago about doing God’s will and not our will-for-God-for-us. There are a million to the thousandth people that need some sort of help and it is impossible for us to help them all. We have to seek God’s purpose for our lives and serve in situations where God wants us serving. We are not to step over someone hungry on our way to complete a task for God but we are also not to stop and build a homeless shelter on the way to complete a task for God either (unless of course God changes our mission). Being a “Yes Man” is not pleasing to God and completing 20% of one task for five people is not nearly as useful as completing 100% of one task for one person. We need to be purposeful in what we do. Being constantly scatter brained does no one any good. If your heart is in the right place but your hands and feet aren’t working together you just look like a spiritual circus act. God has a plan for us … lets diligently seek His plan and purpose for us and not get so easily distracted. Lets remember 1Corrinthians 14:33 “For God is not of confusion….”, so then we should not function as a member of the body in a purposeless way.
Stan spoke of the dangers of getting off course in our lives and how doing so affects our relationships; especially with our wives and children. He said he has a heritage of Godly parents and grandparents who served the Lord through full time missions and set an example for how he should live his life through how they lived theirs. He strayed from what he knew to be profitable and allowed himself to be consumed by work and by service to others which has caused damage in his family life. This takes us back to what he said about tarnishing your character. Serving others is great, but not when it is at the expense of your family, your health, or your relationship with God (sometimes we can continuously neglect our study and prayer time with God in order to serve others).
There is no biblical checklist for life (even though some people think they have one) and juggling all the things in our lives can be challenging. The truth is that our only priority is to put God first in all things. Matthew 22:36-39 says “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In John 14:15 Jesus says “If you love Me, keep My commandments”. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. I don’t like scripture being used out of context so I will clarify that he is speaking of physical needs, but I think this applies to how we should follow the Lord in all ways. This verse, in my mind, could be interpreted as “Seek God and seek to be Holy and everything else will take care of itself”. All this together tells me that our priority is to seek to be Christlike in all things, and the more we succeed the more we will do the right things at the right times. Obviously we will never BE Christlike and we will fail from time to time but it is important to learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves up, and press on.
Stan said that we can bring a curse on our children with our sin and our mistakes and I believe that to be very true, but maybe not in the way most people think of a curse. Our actions teach our children how to act and they “learn” what is acceptable through the example we set. If by example we teach our children sinful ways or do not purposefully raise them up to fear the Lord we have cursed them with a disadvantage they will have to overcome later in life. Think about children of broken homes who were raised without a father and therefore did not learn or experience the loving father/son relationship; they are cursed in life. I should know, I was raised without a father and after 31 years of life still have no idea how that relationship would have contributed to my emotional and spiritual growth, let alone how it would have been a practical example of how to be a father. But that is why I love Psalm 68:5 ” In His holy dwelling God is a father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows.”. God is enough, God is sufficient. Praise the Lord!
The third thing Stan talked about was the types of believers we should seek to have in our lives. He said we should have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. During the time of their ministry Paul was spiritually “ahead” of the others. People looked to him for wisdom and a no nonsense answer. We should have a Paul, or several Paul’s, in our life to always challenge us to become more Holy and to offer loving correction when we may begin to misstep. Stan described Barnabas as “an equal” or a believer at the same spiritual level. These types of believers are our peers and are important for obvious reasons. We all need someone to walk with on our journey through life. We build each other up and look for answers together and the process of doing so strengthens our bonds with one another. Timothy was young and had to be brought along and encouraged in his ministry. We all have a Timothy in our lives and we need to be their Paul.
After Stan spoke, a lot of great thought provoking conversation followed in our unit group (a lot of which I have expressed in this blog article). This week was a blessing and I have personally grown since out meet. As always, I look forward to next time!