Monday, June 27, 2011

God Loves the Smell of Burning Flesh!

I have to say, as a suburban dweller, I love the gas grill. (Yes, that is swordfish on my grill!) But it is nothing like this!

Exodus 29:25 You shall take them from their hands, and offer them up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering for a soothing aroma before the LORD; it is an offering by fire to the LORD.

This week a diverse group of bloggers, both wise guys and brilliant woman, will endeavor to write about sacrifice. As a self-proclaimed wimp, I don't really feel qualified to start off the week, but that's my job - so here we go.

I find myself sort of an interesting character because I know what goes on inside my head and I easily amused. Occasionally I know about what is happening in my heart too. I am just trying to achieve happiness, have an easy life, and a find a way to make the most amount of money for the least amount of work! You won't find a lot of sacrifice in my day-to-day. Especially if you compared my lifestyle to that of some of the third-world slums I have been to in Brazil and various parts of the Caribbean.

I have met Christians that have given up a lot to serve that Kingdom of God. In fact I met a pastor just this week that gave up a job as principal to be a missionary in the middle east. He seems very happy serving God. Me, I gave up a few vacations to do mission trips, but nothing like him.

Sometimes sacrifice is not giving something up, but saying yes to the Lord. Obedience is better than sacrifice. I think that is more where I come from. I never sit down and say: "Lord, what would you like me to give up?" I will say: "Lord, what do you want me to do?" It's a more dangerous prayer, yet a better expression of my passion for the things of the Kingdom.

Let me explain with an example from my own life. In 1998 I was cruising along as a the CEO of a very profitable internet company. I was making a ton of cash, paid off my debts, drove a BMW, and was able to give generously to the church and its various ministries. Let's just say there was no sacrifice there. Then I went to a meeting with a prophet. I was a bit skeptical because I hadn't really had a lot of experience with all this stuff. He spoke some serious stuff over my life such as missions, international travel and writing. Wow, that was NOT me. I didn't want to go to a foreign country, especially one where they didn't speak English. And I laughed about the writing because I failed English, Grammar and Reading 9 out of 12 years in school.

All I can say is the prophet's words rolled around in my spirit for days, then weeks, and suddenly one morning the Spirit of God came on me as I sat in front of my keyboard and I began to write. For nearly two solid years I wrote just about every day, sending out a daily email. In the midst of that I met a guy from Brazil and our friendship turned into three mission trips to his homeland. All that I did was say yes to the prompting of God. It was in the obedience that I sacrificed some things in life. I didn't feel starved for them, I just focused on what God was having me do.

I guess my sacrifice happens more easily when I am blinded by love, love for my Savior. In the end I gave up useless idols and some conveniences, but the blessing of hanging out with Jesus is amazing!

As a footnote, sometimes we see sacrifice as painful, but many times it is freeing.

I would also add that there is a cost to following Jesus; a price to pay. On the return from my first mission trip to Brazil I came home to some serious situations which transpired while I was away. Within a year I had lost everything but a car full of personal belongings.

Would I do it again? YES!


Andrea York said...

I loved writing about this theme this week (my day is Wednesday, come back and check it out). I love what you shared and I have similar sentiments.

When you first mentioned sacrifice as the theme I first thought, is it really sacrifice when you receive something better in return?

There is NEVER an incident in Scripture that God has required sacrifice that hasn't been a trade-up. Just look at Isaiah 61: instead of ashes, beauty; instead of mourning, joy; instead of despair, praise so that we are called oaks of righteousness.

Solomon could have had anything he wanted, long life, riches fame but instead he asked for wisdom. God gave him what he asked AND what he didn't.

Job received 10 times what was taken away, and the list goes on.

Tracy said...

When I first went away to college I attended a very conservative, Christian college where the president was/is a well known pastor/teacher/author. Many of the folks there were into sacrifice, but the atmosphere felt legalistic and not loving. I so appreciate your orientation of love to sacrifice, as well as the fact that it simply starts with obedience. Good Word!

StEwPiD_MoNkEy said...

I find it funny the things that Christians say that totally refute their own beliefs. You met a prophet? Yet according to Christ, there were to be no more prophets after him. So how did this happen?

Anonymous said...

Do you have children? If you had 10 of them and god, allowed Satan, to crush them with a building just for a bet, between imortals. Would you honestly be happy with 10 replaced children.