Every night after supper there is a “church service” in the chapel and the guest speaker this year was Pastor Pat Odle. He preached a message Monday night about “drifting away from God.” He gave the example of the Mexican fishermen that drifted for nine months on the open ocean, subsisting on raw fish and rainwater. All that is required to drift away from God is to stay stationary. We need to be continually getting closer to God. The conclusion to determine if you are drifting was as follows:
1. The world has become more alluring to you than ever before.
2. The Christian disciplines have become acts of obligation rather than acts of adoration
3. You are looking for happiness in the temporal rather than the eternal. What gets you excited when you wake up?
4. You know you aren’t as close to the Lord as you once were.
But the one message in particular that hit me was on Thursday night when he preached on “The Shortage of Surrendered Servants.” Romans 12:1 says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.” Here are a few things he said:
- The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar.
- The problem with many people is that they quit committing their lives to Christ because they are afraid that He will make their lives miserable.
- The reasonableness of surrender: In light of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the surrendered Christian life only makes sense
What hit me was when he said, “What are you living for?” I started thinking about my life and what I have done in the past ten years. I graduated from Bible College and Seminary with the intent of serving God in full time Christian ministry. I became a pastor for two and a half years, but the entire time I was in college up to the present time, I have been accumulating debt: student loans, car debt, credit card debt, etc. When I went back to school to be a nurse, it was with the intent that I would get a good paying nursing job, work hard, and pay off our debt. We could then re-enter the ministry unencumbered. We moved to Indianapolis and I got a job making three times as much money as I ever did before. We then made some more bad debt decisions (a “consolidation” that didn’t work out), and our spending increased to exceed our income.
What I realized that night, is that we have been simply treading water (or drifting) for the past several years, and we have made no headway on this debt. It is true what the Bible says about “no man can serve two masters.’ The desire of my heart is to preach and teach the Word full time, but I cannot do that right now, since I am busy serving my other master: debt.
That night I told God that I was giving it all back to Him. I crawled back up on the altar, and I am waiting to see what He does. I will continue to work hard, we are cutting expenses, and we are not wasting money anymore. One thing I had to give up was my Colts tickets. I was spending $640 a year on my seat for ten games. Each game, I would spend $10 for parking, $15 for food, and who knows how much in gas (90 minute round trip). I realized that over the past few years, the Colts were becoming more important to me than God. I would struggle with going to church when the afternoon game wasn’t over. This spring I had actually decided to skip church this fall if there was a Colts home game during church. As we know, anything more important than God is an idol.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not a Colts fan now, it just means that I have reaffirmed that God is more important to me than football. I was looking forward to tonight, which was the first home game (albeit preseason) for the Colts in the new Lucas Oil Stadium. I had planned to attend. I actually stayed home for reasons I will get into in the next post. Suffice it to finish this post by saying that at Camp, I decided to start living for God instead of for myself.