Jesus as Lord

In 1983 I left a very good-paying engineering job with Rockwell International to enter the ministry of helps full-time. I took a several thousand dollar a year pay cut. I made a sacrifice that made it look like I was totally sold out to Jesus without any desires of my own.

In 1986 I went to the Philippines with another minister. I thought God was sending me over there to preach. I didn't realize God was really sending me to change my life forever! The second night of the meetings, the other minister preached a message on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He began to show how Jesus must be received as Lord not just as savior! He shared how the word "Lord" appears over seventy-eight hundred times in the Bible and "Savior" only thirty-seven! I sat in service under deep conviction. Here I was a minister and had never heard anything like this in all my life! I took a look at my life. Was Jesus Christ really supreme in authority? Or was I giving only lip service to Him by calling Him Lord? Was He really on the throne of my life, or did I worship the Lord, and serve my own gods (idols), after the manner of our nation ... ?"

I returned home, and within a few days I placed a chair in the center of a large room, saying, "God, this chair represents the throne of my heart. I am not leaving this room until Jesus Christ is there to stay." I was tired of saying He was Lord without Lordship over every area of my life. Often we only let Jesus rule in the areas in which we want His rule. Jesus Christ needs to be Lord of all of your life! For two hours I circled that chair. Many things came to me as I prayed, I had far too much control over my own life, even in the full-time ministry. There was a tremendous struggle because my soul did not want to give up its lordship! I began to weep, yet my heart was set. No matter what He desired of me, I would follow!

Now began the exposure of these idols! First came professional sports, a big part of enjoyment in my life. I was an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Every Sunday after service I'd sit and watch them play. If my wife needed help, forget it, "Honey, the Cowboys are playing." We'd eat at half-time or after the game. I was a good Christian man who did not smoke, drink, lie, or commit adultery. But God was about to expose an idol!

One Sunday as I was watching a very exciting ball game, the Spirit of God came on me to pray! There was a tremendous burden, and I knew it meant now. But I said, "Lord, there are only eight minutes left in the game. Please wait. I'll pray for five hours when this game is over." Waiting eight more minutes wouldn't hurt. I thought, "I'll give him five hours or more if He needs me after the game." I thought I was being very generous! The only problem was the burden didn't lift, even after my generous offer. So, know what I did? I watched the rest of the game, then went to my prayer closet to pray, and the enabling had lifted. The burden was gone! God did not want a sacrifice of five hours from me, He wanted obedience! Obedience is better than sacrifice. God wanted to know if He or the Cowboys were first.

I knew then I had put the Cowboys before Him. I never would have said it, but my actions proved it. I had made the Dallas Cowboys an idol. I was in the full-time ministry and couldn't leave a ball game to obey God! Remember God says, "You shall not make idols for yourselves . . ." (Leviticus 26:1). Now, what may be an idol to one person is not necessarily an idol to another. You are the one who makes it an idol. I humbled myself and asked God for His grace to remove it from my heart. I began to tear down that idol by no longer giving it place. I stopped watching games, and the desire eventually was gone. Today I can watch the Cowboys play, and there is no attraction. As a matter of fact, it is now boring to me to watch professional football!

Golf was another idol in my life. I loved playing golf. I thought about it constantly. I would get up at 4:30 A.M. and go to the course to make a tee time for two days later. Yet to get up at 4:30 to pray was a different matter. It was a struggle to pray but a joy to play golf. One day I was out praying, and in the middle of prayer I was seeing the ninth hole of my favorite course in Dallas, wishing I could be out playing. The Lord spoke to me: "John, give your golf clubs to your friend Matt." I knew God had spoken, and I was trying to ignore it. I had just bought a brand new set of clubs and bag worth over $500. My previous set was stolen out of our garage, and insurance had covered the new set. I had only used the clubs once and loved them. I thought, "If I give these away, I won't be able to buy another set." It took four days for me to do, but on the fourth day my wife and I drove over to this friend's house and gave him the set of clubs. On the way over my wife said, "Honey, are you sure God told you?" But as soon as I gave them away I had joy and knew this sport no longer was an idol. I drew closer in fellowship to the Lord as a result of it.

A year later an amazing thing happened. A man came up to my wife and said, "Open up your trunk; I have something for your husband." He proceeded to throw in a set of clubs and a bag. We then moved to Florida, and within weeks another man said, "Open your trunk; I have something for you." He had been on the professional golf circuit and gave me the finest set of golf clubs, worth approximately $2,000. He looked at me and said, "God told me to give them to you. Golf is out of place in my life." At first I thought, "Is this is a trap of the enemy to bring me back into bondage?" However, God said, "Accept them, they are from Me."

Those clubs sat in my garage for a year and a half, and I only used them once. God had put it in place in my life. Today I play occasionally as a means of rest and fellowship. It is important for us to have "recreation," times of rest and refreshing. They keep us sharp and focused. The game no longer is an idol to me. If God told me to give up the sport again, I would do it without hesitation because it no longer has a hold on me.

The third idol was food! You may ask, "How can food be an idol? It is a necessity of life." If it is a fulfillment in your life before God, it is an idol. I weighed only 150 pounds, but I loved eating. I would rather eat than do most anything. I'd eat even if I wasn't hungry. Then if I was too stuffed, I would look forward to just a slight return of hunger so I could indulge in more food. Many people are like this. They don't allow themselves to drink or smoke but give their flesh its craving through food. They are under a legalistic way of life. They abstain from drinking and smoking not out of love for God but because of "law." It is not against their religious law to indulge in food, so they are bound to socially acceptable excesses. The process God used to expose this idol was similar to the way He exposed the Cowboys. One morning I was about to pour a bowl of my favorite cereal when the Spirit of God spoke: "John, I want you to fast breakfast this morning." I knew it was Him. My first thought was, "Boy am I hungry; I'm looking forward to this breakfast (it was my favorite meal at the time)." Next I began to reason, "Why is the Lord telling me to fast with only ten minutes to pray before I go to work? What can be accomplished in such a short amount of time? I know, I will fast next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday." I thought God would be pleased with my sacrifice, over obedience! So I poured my cereal and ate. God used this to show me food was an idol! He showed me I preferred it over obeying Him! This truth set me free from that bondage. Today eating has its proper place in my life. I still enjoy it, but when I am satisfied, I stop.

Bevere, John. The Voice of one Crying. Apopka: Messenger Press, 1993, p. 111-115.

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