Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No such thing as 'over-confident' in God

On Sunday I shared the second in a series of messages based on a book written by Mark Batterson.  The book called, Soul Print, is about claiming who God created you to be so that you can live into the life and destiny God has planned for you.  Below is the first message in the series.  I will be following with the second tomorrow.  I hope you are called into at least thinking about who God made you to be, and why God might have made you the way you are.  
Mark Batterson is a pastor in Washington, D.C. and is one of my favorite authors and communicators, here is a link to buy the book, if you are so inclined: here

1 Samuel 17:32-40 (NIV)

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”  38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Over the next several weeks we will be looking at the unique design that God has for each of our lives.  We will be doing this in part, through a book, called ‘Soul Print’ by Mark Batterson
As we think about, talk about and seek out what God might have planned for each of our lives we will consistently look the life of David for examples of important turning points or defining moments in his life.
As we look at those defining moments in David’s life, we will (hopefully at least) gain insight into the potential defining moments in our own lives.
But before we skip ahead to David’s story, or even our own, I want to share with you why I chose to share this book – and the ideas that came to me from it –
Mark Batterson is one of my favorite Christian authors.  I have heard him speak several times and something about the way that he is able to communicate the Word of God really speaks to me.
So, when I heard he had a new book coming out, I was pretty excited.  Then I saw the title, read the description and (to be honest) got a little less excited. 
The book sounded like a typical ‘self-help’ book with some Christian language thrown in for good measure.
That type of book simply doesn’t appeal to me. 
Don’t get me wrong.  I know that we all need help.  But I really believe that as long as we are talking about how we can ‘help ourselves’ we are looking to the wrong place for help. 
I think all of our big, important problems are, simply, beyond us.
But, as I really like Batterson’s work, I got the book anyway.  And I read the first page:
‘There has never been and never will be anyone else like you.  But that isn’t a testament to you.  It’s a testament to the God who created you.  You are unlike anyone who has ever lived.  But that uniqueness isn’t a virtue.  It’s a responsibility.  Uniqueness is God’s gift to you, and uniqueness is your gift to God.  You owe it to yourself to be yourself.  But more important, you owe it to the One who designed you and destined you.’
After making clear that this isn’t a ‘self-help’ book he continues: ‘So let me be blunt: you aren’t good enough or gifted enough to get where God wants you to go.  Not without His help.  But here is the good news: there is nothing God cannot do in you and through you I f you simply yield your life to Him.  All of it.  All of you.
This book is all about you, but it’s not about you at all.  The fact that there never has been and never will be anyone like you simply means that no one can worship God like you or for you.  You were created to worship God in a way that no one else can.  How?  By living a life no one else can – your life
And with that, the book had me.  It had be because I think it clearly communicates two seemingly opposing, but actually linked and complementary truths that we often miss today: We aren’t nearly as great – or capable – as we often think we are.  And there is nothing – really nothing, not anything – that is impossible for us when we have fully submitted our lives to God.
We have a unique and irreplaceable role to play in the story God is telling in the world and playing the role designed for us begins with understanding – or maybe better – discovering who we really are in God’s eyes and who God created us to be.
I mentioned the title of the book, Soul Print, that is a term I had never heard before and it is a term worth defining as we begin to seek out who we really are
A soulprint, like a fingerprint is a unique way of identifying who you are.  A fingerprint, however, is only skin deep.  A soulprint is a unique identifier that runs not skin deep, but soul deep.
Our soulprint is a hardwired identifier of our true identity and our true destiny or calling.
Our ultimate purpose or calling is central to understanding who we really are, because even though we move ‘forward’ in a progression through life – God works the other way around.  Our God always begins (in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives) with the end in mind.
God hasn’t called us to be anyone other than who we are – than who God created us to be. 
We are not ‘just’ anything – we are, each and every one of us, masterpieces of God’s hand.  To think of ourselves as anything other than that is to distort and devalue our true identity
Before David was King, and before he became mighty warrior, he was just the youngest brother in a big family.  A shepherd boy and nothing more. 
But that wasn’t who he was – that wasn’t David’s true identity or his true purpose.  David was a giant killer, a mighty warrior and a great king. 
Over the course of the next several weeks as we seek our own soulprint, we will look at 5 defining moments in David’s life that helped him discover his. 
The first of these, which came as he was preparing to face the giant Goliath, was in some ways the most important, as it paved the way for all that would come after it. 
David had a chance, as he went out to fight the mighty giant, to wear the kings own armor, and carry the king’s own sword.  The finest protection and the best weaponry available to anyone in the world at that time.  But they weren’t right for David, because simply, they weren’t his.  The sword and the armor were Saul’s and David wasn’t Saul.
Instead David took what he was used to, part of what defined who he was – the slingshot that he used daily to protect his father’s flock and grabbed 5 smooth stones and was ready to make history.
All because he was willing to take off Saul’s armor and be himself – exactly who God had called him to be. 
Today’s sermon is subtitled Holy Confidence.  Holy Confidence is not about being confident in what we can do our how well we can do it.  Holy Confidence, is about who we are confident in.  Our confidence becomes Holy only when it is placed on God.  Another word for this ‘Holy Confidence’ is trust.   Trusting in God, having the Holy Confidence that God is in control and we are not. 
Putting our trust or confidence in God is never more important than when we are waiting for something to happen or waiting for our life to start. 
No one ever tells us when ‘our moment’ is going to come.  David didn’t wake up the morning he defeated Goliath and know that that day was going to be the day that defined who he was and that set his life on a different course. 
And if David was anything like me – or like most of us.  I can imagine that he spent many of his days out in the fields tending his father’s sheep, waiting for his life to ‘really begin’.
But here is the great lesson for us.  It was the skills he learned as a shepherd (a slingshot is a shepherd’s tool, not a soldiers weapon) that prepared him for his big moment.  There is no skill, experience or event that is unredeemable or unusable in God’s eyes and in God’s plan.
Finding our true identity and true, God ordained destiny begins with the courage to take off Saul’s armor – or anything else that doesn’t belong on us or to us. 
The next step is letting go of the attempt to control our lives – even the timing of ‘when they will begin’ and having a Holy Confidence that God is intending what is best for us and loves us.

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