jasonbrinkley

In the Driver’s Seat but Out of Control!

In Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized on March 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

God brought that verse to my memory this weekend, and with it an experience from my past. When I was 14, I signed up for Drivers Education Training (drivers-ed) at my school. Now back then (I’m a little older than you think!) Drivers ed was taught in two parts, the first of which was “The Range”.

The Range was a massive fenced in lot, which was laid out with roads, intersections, railroad crossings, merge lanes, parking lots, stop lights, cross walks, and a host of other various situations a driver might encounter in their day-to-day travels. The coolest part about drivers ed was the cars that were used there. The driver’s side was equipped as usual with a steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal. However, the passenger side was equipped with a steering wheel and a brake pedal as well! That meant that anytime the passenger felt like the driver was about to loose control or steer them into disaster, he could yank the car in a different direction or bring it to a screeching halt!  Now you understand why The Range was fenced in!

I quickly began to realize why God had brought this to my remembrance. For most of my Christian life, I’ve tried to live with the resolve that I would go wherever God would ask me to go and do whatever he would ask me to do, and for the most part I have. However, there have been situations, moments when I was sure God was leading me in the wrong direction, or worse about to crash me into the ditch! In those moments, I yanked the wheel. I hit the brakes. I attempted to steer my life in another direction. Oh I still let him sit in the “drivers seat,” but I had taken over the controls!

Maybe you can relate! Maybe you thought the solution to your relationship crisis was to respond one way, but God seemed to be steering you in another. Maybe you thought God was giving you an opportunity to accomplish a particular goal in your life, only to discover he had a totally different destination in mind. Maybe you felt the speed at which God was answering your prayer was a little slow, so you jumped in and “stepped on the gas” to speed things up.

If we’re honest, we’ve all had moments where we’ve failed to trust God and instead “leaned on our own understanding” and taken over control of the vehicle of our lives. In the verses above, the word “acknowledge” literally means, “to know by observing and reflecting, and to know by experiencing.” With that in mind, here’s the Jason paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5&6! “With all that is in you, trust in the Lord instead of yourself. In all your ways, observe his direction and guidance, reflect on his character and ability, and in so doing experience him steer you in the right direction time and time again!”

Question: Is God just “sitting” in the driver’s seat of your life…or does he actually have control of it?

Overheads and High-Waters

In Motivation, Purpose, Spiritual Growth on March 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm

When Amy and I met, it was anything but “love at first sight”…at least for Amy! I had only been attending her church for a short time when I was offered my first ministry opportunity. I was asked to run the overhead projector during worship! You younger readers will have to Google “overhead projector” to figure out what I’m talking about! This wasn’t exactly the “coolest” job to have in the church! Our overhead projector sat at the front of the auditorium, placing me front and center every week I served. Amy’s mom noticed “the new guy” one morning during worship and asked Amy if she had noticed me too. I believe Amy’s actual response was, “You mean that guy with the ugly lime green shirt and high-waters…yeah I noticed him!” I think it’s safe to say I made anything but a favorable first impression! Amy was not impressed by what she saw!

Well, that was almost 18 years ago, and we have been happily married for almost 14 of them. Now, I know you’re asking yourself, “How did the fashionable challenged overhead operator win the hand of such a beautiful and special woman like Amy?” One word…heart!

Over time, Amy got to know me for who I was and discovered our hearts were set on the same things. And, at the end of the day, my heart mattered more to her than my cool factor!  She desired a husband who would love her with everything in him. Amy definitely knew guys who were better looking. Thankfully, she chose to go with heart!

A King by the name of Saul once ruled over God’s people. However, Saul disobeyed God, and God chose to replace him with a shepherd by the name of David. David was the youngest of his father’s eight sons, each of whom appeared to be better “king material” from all outward appearances. These other brothers definitely weren’t flipping overheads in the temple! Now, I know you’re asking yourself this question again, “How did this little red-faced sheep herder get chosen to be King over all of Israel?” One word…heart!

God made it very clear he wasn’t picking David to be King because he looked the part. God wasn’t concerned with his height or stature. He was not choosing David because he “looked like a King.”  God chose David because his heart was fixed on the same things his heart was fixed on. And, at the end of the day, God is more concerned about the character of our heart than he is the condition of our “appearance.”

Stop listening to the enemy telling you what you can and can’t do. Don’t let the world tell you what you are qualified and not qualified to do. Don’t be deceived into believing that accomplishing great things for Christ is only reserved for those who “look the part!” Set your heart on the things of God, and watch him fulfill his purpose and plan in and through your life! 1 Samuel 16:7b says, ”The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

You may look a high-water wearing, overhead turning, red-faced sheep herder on the outside, but inside you have the heart of a king!

Everybody Else is Doing It!

In Spiritual Growth on May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm

This morning I was reading in I Samuel chapter 8 where Israel was demanding Samuel appoint a king over them. This is a major turning point in Israel’s (God’s chosen people) history. Up until now the Israelites had been lead and protected by Judge’s who were appointed by God as needed. Now they want a change. They are unhappy with their current situation and they want what they think will be better. They ask for a King so they can be “like all the nations.” Basically they are saying, “Hey Samuel everyone else is doing it! We want to be like them.”

God warns the Israelites that if they choose to have a King rule over them they will ultimately become the King’s slaves. The people respond, “we don’t care…we want a King like the rest of the nations”. When I read that I couldn’t believe it. They were willing to trade their unique position as being the people God had chosen (and delivered from slavery once already) and was now protecting and leading for a return to slavery…just to be like everyone else! Idiots right!

Then another thought, equally as shocking, crossed my mind…so am I! The truth is we all are. Each of us, at some point, has traded in God’s best for us to grab hold of something we thought was better. How many of us, because we were unhappy with being single, have settled for a relationship with someone we knew wasn’t God’s best for us, just to be “like everyone else?” How many of us have worked extra jobs or gone in debt for something we just had to have, to be “like everyone else?”  How many of us have embraced a sinful attitude or behavior because we were convinced it would make us happier than God’s plan for our lives, “like everyone else” who’s engaged in that behavior. How many of us, because we were unhappy with our current situation or circumstances, in an attempt to be “like everyone else” have deployed our own solutions instead of trusting in God to see us through? The answer…all of us!

I once heard it said, “The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. It’s always the greenest where you water it!”  This is so true. Paul encourages us in Romans to “not be conformed to the patterns of this world.” In other words don’t become “like everyone else.” Instead he says to be transformed through the renewing of our mind.

Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, whatever circumstances are surrounding your life right now, trust in the Lord to come through for you.  Get into his Word, lean in to him and trust him to lead you and protect you. Stop trying to be “like everyone else” and allow God to use your current situation to transform you into the person he has called you to be.