Enter The Door to: Walking in a Manner Worthy of Your Calling
Pastor Bruce Edwards
The stars appeared brighter in the North African sky. The small village high in the Atlas Mountains was quiet after a long busy day of cultivation and separation. During the daylight hours, everyone had a job to do. The women’s responsibility was to carry the freshly cut plants up the steep ravine to a hut. The elders of the village took command of the process. The younger men were cutting the plants and stacking them deep in the ravines of the rugged mountains. The Berber village was nothing more than huts and holes, not fit for living, according to the standards of the American. First, the fires were lit, and then the pots were brought out filled with a variety of home-grown vegetables and unknown meat, most likely goat. The meal was served and the thought kept going through the American’s mind, don’t use your left hand to eat with, as this is offensive. The left hand was reserved for cleaning up after the body functions. After the men were fed, the women were allowed to eat. After dinner, the women gathered the bundles of plants and stripped off the leaves and flower buds. Various densities of silk were stretched across bowls, and the flower buds were carefully ground through the silk. This created a very fine powder, which was then placed into the molds and fired over the open fires. All this was done with precision, as each person had their own experience and responsibility. It took long into the night to complete the process. A meeting place in the old part of Tangier was established for the exchange. Then the crossing of four borders.
The bazaar opened early, and the tables were set up with brightly colored fabrics. Women’s clothing, purchased throughout Morocco, were displayed at the tables with the intent of capturing the eye of a buyer. The brightly colored blouses and dresses stood out in the gray sky. The day would turn from gray to black, very quickly. It was 1972 in Munich, Germany. The tickets purchased for the Olympics would never be used. Terrorists took the Israeli’s hostage. Pack everything up. There was chaos and no reason to be a part of the unexpected. The Volkswagen van filled with the Moroccan treasures headed north to unload the cargo. The cargo and the van sold quickly and quietly. Back to the USA.
It was in the early morning hours, the California stars were in the October sky and trying to gather thoughts was difficult. Alcohol has a way of numbing one’s life. Portions of days were missing, and the uncertainty of events was not retrievable.
When you hire a talented person, you expect them to work hard and not talk about their religious experience incessantly. Born again, born again, that’s all Russ talked about. He was new to his religion so he wasn’t sure how to answer the questions that bombarded him everyday. He tried, but frustration was the end result. It was like winning a battle.
Growing up in a home that practiced Eastern style religion. Believing in reincarnation, communication with spirits and taking to heart what they said, were the norm. Edgar Casey’s books filled our bookshelves, along with Paramhansa Yogananda. Looking back it is difficult to blend the singing of Christmas carols and the belief in reincarnation. Our family did both. The occult and new age blended together were the topics of study throughout the early years. Associating with like-minded people assisted in the growth of a new age philosophy. The New Age offers a peaceful and comprehensive look at life. Plus it offers a second chance at life and a third or as many as you need to become completely enlightened. The year was 1978.
Thinking something spiritually spectacular would happen when a person tells God; “if you can do better with my life, you can have it.” Nothing happened, no flash of light, no voice, not even a tingly feeling, nothing. Oh well, so much for the repentance thing. Remembering that Russ said: “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart you shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9) The confession part was for the sins committed. Being new at this the biggies were spoken, lying, cheating, stealing, robbing, drugs, alcohol, several minutes were spent on the biggies. Still nothing. Christianity was tried, still no born again. Not even knowing what born again meant. Desperation settles into a life filled with hopelessness. The life was filled with the worlds hope. Wishful thinking. The hangover still ringing, the bed covers were pulled up and back to sleep. Wishing and hoping no hangover in the morning.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Paul has written to the church at Ephesus. In the first three chapters, Paul explains to the believers their position contains a variety of promises, honors, and privileges for being a child of God, along with the blessings that follow. In the next three chapters, Paul lays out the obligations with the consequences and the requirements for their position in Christ. In order for them to understand the intention of living out their day to day salvation. Along with fulfilling the will of God and giving Him the glory for all things. The truth is outlined, then the application and lifestyle presented.
Some people are in the process of doing something to be accepted and others will do just about anything to be accepted. Some people go to a church to be accepted. Some join civic organizations or service clubs. Are you a citizen of a country? The majority of people work for someone else. Have you ever joined an athletic team? Are you living with a parent?
People will go to great lengths to be accepted. College fraternal orders are a perfect example. Look at the treatment and rituals they go through just to be a part of that group and Paul has written to the church at Ephesus. In the first three chapters, Paul explains to the believers their position contains a variety of promises, honors, and privileges for being a child of God, along with the blessings that follow. In the next three chapters, Paul lays out the obligations along with the consequences and the requirements for the believers position in Christ. In order for them to understand the intention of living out their day to day salvation. Along with fulfilling the will of God and giving Him the glory for all things. Paul outlines the truth, then the application, and lifestyle are presented.
Some people are doing something to be accepted, and others will do almost anything to be accepted. Some people go to a church to be accepted. Some join civic organizations, or service clubs. Are you a citizen of a country? Most people work for someone else. Have you ever joined an athletic team? Are you living with a parent?
People will go to great lengths to be accepted. College fraternal orders are a perfect example. Look at the treatment and rituals they go through just to be a part of that group and once in, they will abide according to the rules of the organization. Why do people gravitate to gangs? Acceptance. Once inside the organization, club, order, team, etc. they must abide by the rules or standards set. An employee works by the rules of the company. An athlete plays by the rules of the sport.
Once in, they will abide according to the rules of the organization. Why do people gravitate to gangs? Acceptance. Once inside the organization, club, order, team, etc. they must abide by the rules or standards set. An employee works by the rules of the company. An athlete plays by the rules of the sport.
The type of devotion we see in society often does not translate to the church. Allow me to clarify something here and now. The church is not an organization, denomination, or building of some sort. The church is the people who are following Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is unimportant if you are a Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, or a Catholic. Devotion has to do with your loyalty to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, not an organization or denomination.
To many Christians today are content to have the spiritual security, the promises, and the blessings offered by the Gospel, but their sense of responsibility, the transformation in conforming to the Biblical standards, and their willingness to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ are limited and restricted.
Russ would go home at night and study so he could begin our conversation the following day with an answer to a question that had earlier stumped him. He was consistent and determined to present his view. Time took its toil on Russ. He came to a point in debating and seeing first hand a life style that was contrary to everything he said he believed. He gave up. He said: ” I have never seen anyone as lost as you.” Lost? That must be a Bible term. Because I knew exactly where I was in the world. To a devoted heathen, that is a compliment.
Watching the tour buses pass the corner of Haight and Ashbury was a daily routine. They came by the busload to see the freak show and a show they got. The house at 1090 Page Street was filled with Hippies. San Francisco and Oakland were the place to be. Hippies on one side of the Bay, Black Panthers on the other. Free love and protests went hand in hand. Demanding our rights by day and giving up our souls by night. Talking to a hippie, you would have thought they loved everyone, it was one of the most self centered times in the history of our nation. A new generation, demanding to be heard, seen and felt. We succeeded.
Living in the Haight was a day-today survival experience. You made money any way you were able without having a job. Jobs were not cool. Hitchhiking back and forth from Southern California to San Francisco was the cool thing to do in those days. People from all over the USA were headed to San Francisco. We decided to venture further north one day and headed to Canada. Getting stuck in Northern California we hopped a freight train headed north. We were told by some workers which car to take because they would unhitch some and leave them at another location. We arrived in Portland and the engineer came by and gave us food for the rest of our journey. We arrived in Northern Washington and got across the Canadian border. Vancouver was just getting started in the Hippie scene. Stayed there for several days then headed back to San Francisco. Life was nothing, but a party, or so I thought.
When we received Jesus Christ as our Savior we became citizens of His kingdom and members of His family. Since He has invited us into His kingdom, blessed us with all the privileges of being kingdom children, we are obligated to live our lives according to His standards. We have become new creatures in Jesus Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The expectation is His standards become our standards, His purposes our purposes, His desires our desires, His nature our nature. Walking worthy is simply becoming who you are in Christ Jesus. Allowing Him to conform your character into His.
Walking worthy has to do with the day-today living in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not only something in the future, as when you die and go to heaven. It is just as much here and now as it is in the future. Where ever the King resides is the exact location of the kingdom. If He resides within your heart, then you are in His kingdom.
Let’s look at what it means to walk worthy.
Paul states in Ephesians 4, that he is a prisoner of the Lord. At the time Ephesians was written Paul was a prisoner of the Roman Empire under house arrest. When Paul says, he is a prisoner he is not referring to his circumstantial incarceration. He was referring to his position in Christ. Paul belonged to Christ as every Christian belongs to Christ. We have been bought with the blood of Christ.
Christ paid the ultimate price for your soul. He gave His life. He died that you might have life. What price have you paid to call Jesus Lord? At the time, we chose to walk in obedience to Jesus there was a cost involved. To place your trust and confidence in the Lord will cost you something. When you give your life to someone or something, there is a cost.
The very moment you surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus you became a prisoner of the Lord. When we are walking worthy, we are delightfully shackled to the Lord. When we are refusing to walk worthy we are attempting to break out of that imprisonment and set ourselves free from the bondage of Christ only to place ourselves in the prison of someone or something else.
What does it mean to be imprisoned to the Lord? You see things in relationship to whom Christ is in your life. Everything reflects Christ. Your thought life, your motives, your desires, your plans. Everything is bathed in Christ. To walk worthy is to ask a barrage of questions. Questions such as; how does this please the Lord, how does this glorify the Lord. What does He want me to do with this opportunity, with this problem, and in this situation.
Paul says; I implore or entreat you. Parakaleo means: to call to ones side or to come along side someone. The Holy Spirit is called the parakalete, which means someone who comes along side to help or assist. The word entreat or implore carries with it the sense of intense feeling or strong desire. Paul is not merely suggesting you consider walking worthy, but he is begging you to walk worthy. The word walk in the scriptures refers to our daily conduct. The day-today living. Later on we will see how Paul uses the word walk in other passages.
The word worthy carries with it a slightly different meaning then we might be accustomed to. The context of this word has its root meaning in balancing the scales. What is on one side of the scale is of equal weight or value to what is on the other side of the scale. The word has to do with corresponding to something else. If you are worthy of your pay that means your performance at work matches your pay scale.
The person who walks in a manner worthy of their calling, is a person whose daily life corresponds to his or her position as a child of the King. The bottom line is, your practical living matches your spiritual position. That also means the inside matches with the outside, and the outside matches with the inside. Whom you are on the inside is who you are. Regardless of whom you are on the outside, according to Jesus. Jesus said: “for you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 25-28)
Woe: this is not a pleasant picture. I hope that you have not painted yourself into it. To walk worthy is to have a clean vessel on the outside as well as on the inside.
If you ever hitchhiked up the California coast you know one of the most popular places to gather was at the traffic light on 101 in Santa Barbara. If you could not get a ride it did not matter because the weather was perfect, the beach right across the street, along with open homes and open hearts everywhere. A young lady told me how wonderful Hawaii was. Beautiful beaches, tropical jungles, and waterfalls, invited me to come. It sounded like paradise. It only cost $75.02 one way. The flight was long but uneventful. Upon arriving in Waikiki, it was dark and the trip from the airport to the beach was disappointing. Hitched a ride but was stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway. This did not seem right. Upon arriving at the beach, the first priority was to find a place to sleep for the night. A tractor parked by a construction site offered its scoop for the night. Waking up to the sound of the waves pounding the Waikiki beach and seeing Diamond Head was a beautiful sight. It did not take long to fit in and find a place to live. After six months passed it was time to leave and return to the mainland. It was one of those times where you had to get away from the daily indulgences, for fear of hitting bottom. It was to late.
Back in the mainland, bottom greeted me with open arms. First, it was San Diego, then on to Hollywood, and the Strip. We thought we were doing the drugs for fun, not addiction. That’s what happens when you stick a needle in your arm everyday and put something in it. Living on the streets or anywhere you can, addicted to drugs is bottom. Welcome home.
What are the characteristics of walking worthy? Paul lists five essentials for walking worthy in Ephesians 4. First, the character of humility. This is the foundation for walking worthy. When we first hear the word humility, our minds race to outward actions. Humility begins before the actions begin. The core of humility has to do with your thought life, how you think. Thinking with humility is thinking how Christ thinks or having the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2: 11-16
“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thought with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Taking every thought captive is the key to walking in a manner worthy of your calling. 2 Corinthians 10:5b “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.“ Think of it as a screen or filter in your mind. That screen or filter is Christ. All the thoughts that enter your mind must go through the screen/filter. Most Christians do not think about what they think about. The thoughts come, and the thoughts go. They hash them around in their mind and allow them to have their way. Are you a bitter person or an angry person? Allow me to show you what bitterness looks like. Somebody does or says something that is hurtful or inappropriate. You think; “how dare they talk to me or treat me that way.” Then, you start to play it out in your mind. When I see them this is what I will say and then they say this, and then I come back with this and so on. You play out these scenarios in your mind. That is what bitterness looks like. You are developing the habit of bitterness and anger. Have you ever thought how these men of the faith fall? They find themselves doing unthinkable acts and blame “their dark side.” It starts one thought at a time. We allow thoughts to bypass the screen/filter of Christ
Humility is elusive, being difficult at times to understand, define, or identify. When you attempt o focus on humility, it tends to turn into pride. You should strive after humility but never lay claim to it, because once claimed it is no longer humility. Jesus was the only one that claimed to be humble. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said: “I am gentle and humble in heart”. The first sin was pride, and there is an aspect of pride in every sin. For anyone else to proclaim they are humble is pride.
Bernard of Clairvaux said: “Humility begins with a proper self-awareness…the virtue… by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness.” We are unworthy. But, Christ died for us and paid the price to redeem us to the Father. Our worth is found in our relationship with Christ Jesus. We are worthy because we are hidden in Christ.
The process brings us to the second characteristic of gentleness or meekness. Some dictionaries define gentleness or meekness as timid or deficiency in courage or spirit. The biblical meaning is power under control. One of the fruits of the Spirit is gentleness. One of Jesus’ characteristics is gentleness. For us to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and simultaneously to control that power is gentleness. We can only control that power when we are walking in the Spirit. Another fruit of the Spirit is self-control.
The next characteristic is patience. Patience is a byproduct of humility and gentleness. It can also be translated as long suffering. Long suffering is not used in our day-today vocabulary. Maybe we do not like to think about suffering and especially for a long length of time. Patience is the thought process that does not allow your mind to run wild resulting from your circumstances. Patience trusts in the Lord. Patience is not ruining your witness because of what is happening to you at that time. Patience also has to do with obedience. Have you ever wondered why God is asking you to do something or asked why something is happening to you. There is nothing wrong with asking. We don’t always understand why God is asking us to do something, but part of our trust is to wait on the Lord and do as He has instructed without knowing why or the results. Noah is a perfect example of patience. Build a boat out in the middle of nowhere. No Ocean, no rain, he didn’t know all the answers, but he was patient and obedient willing to wait and trust the Lord.
The fourth characteristic is forbearance in love. Again, this is not a word used in our day-today vocabulary. Forbearance is the by-product of patience and self-control. It carries with it the ability and right to respond to provocation, but instead of returning a hurt, or wrong you respond in love. Forbearance love shows patience and mercy for the immature comments, and actions of others. Forbearing love continues to love them despite how you have been treated. Forbearing love is that agape love because it is continuous and unconditional willing to give without thought of receiving anything in return.
Before moving to the fifth characteristic, there is a progression tied to each of the characteristics. Each characteristic can stand alone and produce results in the life of the believer. When the characteristics are linked and practiced as a whole they produce a powerful testimony for the Lord.
The ultimate result of humility is gentleness and the result of humility and gentleness is patience and the result of humility, gentleness, and patience are forbearance in love and the result of these four is unity. Preserving the unity of the Spirit has to do with our relationship with one another in the Body of Christ. Living together in peace. The unity derives from the shared bond we have in the Holy Spirit. We do not create the spiritual unity, it is the link we have in common, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within each believer, we are called to preserve the spiritual unity. The way we preserve the spiritual unity is by walking in a manner worthy of our calling.
Colossians 1: 9-14 “for this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”
Canada sounded better all the time. As my world was falling apart, as the depth of drug addiction blossomed. Starting new in Canada meant no drugs, go to college, rebuild a broken life. Sounded good at the time. The move was simple and light. When you have nothing, you take nothing with you. Waiting was an abusive father, thinking there would be a father/son relationship on the horizon. As a 5 year old, there came a day when a decision had to be made. Either you leave this house or the abusive father will leave. Walking through the woods with my little suitcase and my faithful dog Poncho, a decision was made. What do you expect from an alcoholic father? They came and got me and gave me another chance to hear the fighting and screaming. Then he left for good. During those early years this love/hate relationship grew, more of the hate than the love. He called with an offer to come to Canada and share a life with him. He wanted a son, I wanted to get away and start new. I got what I wanted.
Living in a six-bedroom penthouse apartment was a radical change from living on the streets. Enrolled in college and starting a new way of living. Clean living. That is until I met “the group”. They welcomed me with open arms, the kid from California, with all that street experience. After several months of working on this father/son relationship we both had had enough. I moved in with the group and he stayed in that apartment by himself. I kept the new MGB.
Canada had many of the same things California had to offer. College turned into a party and the party turned into another round with drug addiction. This time the drugs did not take me down to living on the streets. In fact we had a great house near the park. All manner of theft and burglary kept food on the table and drugs in the veins. After about four years life was again spinning out of control and it was time to flee again. Europe was the call this time. Gave everything I owned to a friend and off to London for the summer. Get away and get my head on straight. Upon arriving in London my return ticket was cashed in so I could not return within the next couple of weeks. Started hitchhiking first to Scotland, then around England and then to the Continent. Paris was spectacular. Off to Belgium, then on to Germany. This was the life, no drugs, only drinking at the pubs and clubs. Finally I was clean, or so I thought. The only bad thing about Germany was running out of money and having to live in a tent in the woods. I had to get a job, but there was one small problem, I did not speak a word of German.
Paul goes on to tell us the reason; “for He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. (Colossians 1:13-14)
Everyone has done or said something they regret. Just thinking about being forgiven by that person or persons might be attractive. It does not take one sin to make you a sinner. It is in our linage, we are born sinners because of our heritage. When you start out in life you are a sinner, like it or not. It is your nature. It is the thing you do naturally. Some have more control than others, but sin does not have to do the external actions only. Sin is anything that is contrary to the will of God in thought, word, or deed. What you think, what you say, and what you do. We are all guilty because of our linage in Adam. We are guilty without doing anything. The Scriptures say: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23) We are all sinners and we all live in darkness. The darkness is the un-redemptive state in which we exist. We are separated from God because of our condition. God is Spirit and in order for us to have a relationship with Him it must be on a spiritual basis. The problem is we are spiritually dead in our sins. Ephesians 2:1, “you used to be dead because of your offenses and sins”. Dead people do nothing; spiritually dead people do nothing spiritually. Then how can a person be redeemed? It takes an act of God, literally. Hence: born again, spiritually. You may be thinking how can I do this, what must I do to be born again. Do I have to start keeping the Ten Commandments? Do I have to give up all the bad things I am doing? How could God forgive the horrible things I have done? There are two things you must do, but first listen to what God says in Ephesians 2:1-10:
“You used to be dead because of your offenses and sins, in which you once lived according to the ways of this present world and according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now active in those who are disobedient. All of us once behaved like them in the lusts of our flesh fulfilling the desires of the flesh and senses. By nature we deserved wrath, just like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for us even when we were dead because of our offenses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus. He did this so that in the coming ages he might display the limitless riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. By that grace you have been saved through faith. This does not come from you. It is the gift of God and not the results of works, so that no one can boast. For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.”
This passage might sound like you can’t do anything. In that you cannot earn your salvation, there is nothing you can do on an ongoing basis to be born again or go to heaven when you die. It is not so much about going to heaven when you die as it is about living in the Kingdom while you are alive. But according to other passages such as Romans 10: 9-13:
“So if you declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For a person believes with his heart and is justified, and a person declares with his mouth and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.” For there is no difference between God’s original people and God’s new people, because they all have the same Lord, who gives riches to all who call on him. So then, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The calling on the Lord is simply responding to the calling of God on your life. All are invited to come. All are invited to respond. All that call on the name of the Lord will be redeemed and forgiven. The calling is acknowledging your sinfulness and confessing you have sinned against a Holy God and need His forgiveness. Repentance is turning from your sin. Come to God just the way you are and allow Him to change your desires and habits. You can’t get clean enough before you call on the Lord. It’s not a date, it’s a life. You cannot walk in a manner worthy of your calling until you have responded to the call. You cannot be born again until you come to the Rebirther on His terms. It is not about going to a church, saying a canned prayer, raising your hand, walking an isle; it’s about giving your life to Jesus Christ. It is about surrender, throwing your hands up and saying here am I Lord take me and do with me as you please. When you have been born again the lineage changes. You are now a child of God, and no longer a child of Adam. You have been adopted into Jesus Christ. You’re a new creation; 2 Corinthians 5: 17: “If anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation. What was old has disappeared, and now everything has become new.” If you have never called upon the Lord wholeheartedly, given Him everything, and entered into an intimate relationship with Him, what is preventing you from doing so now? You cannot walk worthy until you surrender and give your life to the Worthy One – Jesus Christ. It is in Him we walk and find our worth.
The only person to speak English was the person doing the hiring. The company had never hired a foreigner, especially one that didn’t speak the language. I explained my situation and said I was only passing through and needed to work for a short time. He told me if I could obtain a work permit he would give me a job. The town; Bad Kissingen, Germany. The company; Tabbert. They manufactured travel trailers. I started within the next few days and was able to get a room above a disco and bar. The room was in an attic and I had a constant bump on my head from hitting the roof. It was better than the tent. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. They treated me like a king, and the people of the town and the job opened their hearts and homes to me. I got an apartment in the basement of a home close to work. I loved Germany and no drugs. First thing in the morning at work they brought around the beer wagon and you bought the beer you wanted to drink for the day. Everyone drinks beer in Germany. Growing up with an alcoholic abusive father, there was one thing I never wanted to be: like my father. I had such a deep-seated hatred for him; I focused on not being like him. Life was good in Germany but Canada was calling me back and to Canada I returned. Stopping off in Toronto to see old friends, then moving on to the West coast. The west coast of Canada was no stranger. Growing up I spent a year at a boarding school on Vancouver Island, called Shawigan Lake. That didn’t work out very well and I was asked not to return the following year. Whistler Mountain was my next home. I helped build a three-story log home and partied at night. I moved down to Vancouver and shared a house with some friends. Vancouver offered some great pubs and great social life. It was after drinking at a pub in downtown Vancouver, and finding myself standing in the kitchen of the house, cooking breakfast, and wondering how I got there, unable to find my car for several days, (I had parked about four blocks away from the house) that I decided something had to change. There were other times I would wake up wondering what fun I had had the night before. I wanted to go back to Germany. Saved enough money to get a flight over and returned to Bad Kissingen. Got my old job back and everyone was excited to see me. Once again they treated me like a king, and the beer wagon came around at 7 each morning.
There are four elements to walking in a manner worthy of your calling. They are found in Ephesians 4: 17-32:
“So I tell you and insist on in the Lord not to live any longer like the Gentiles (those that do not know the Lord) live. Thinking worthless thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint. That is not the way you came to know Christ! Surely you have listened to him and have been taught by him, since truth is in Jesus. Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old man, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness.
Therefore, stripping off falsehood, “Let each of us speak the truth to his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, and don’t give the Devil any opportunity to work. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must work hard and do good with his own hands so that he will have something to give to the needy.
Let no filthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up as the need may be. This way you will give grace to those who hear you. Don’t cause God’s Holy Spirit to be sad. He marked you with a seal for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
Our first responsibility is to lay aside the old self. The old self is the person you were before giving your life to Jesus Christ. Walk no longer where you used to walk, live no longer like you used to live, talk no longer like you used to talk, and act no longer like you used to act. Just be different. Before giving your life to the Lord you were darkened in your understanding of spiritual matters or spiritual ways. You formerly lived in the hardness of your heart. The greatest hindrance to you living a holy life or walking in a manner that is pleasing to the lord is yourself.
When you do not get rid of the old ways, or the old habits than you will continue to do the same things repeatedly. I love this saying; “if you continue to do what you have always done you will get the results you have always gotten.” The habits that have caused you problems in the past may be the same habits that are causing you problems today. Over 90% of what you do everyday is out of habit. How you get out of bed in the morning, maybe grumpy, maybe happy. How you get ready for the day. How you treat your wife, husband, or children. How you treat those you work with. How you think. And how you play out the day-to-day situations are all out of habit. Do you have a problem with anger? It is a learned habit. When someone cuts in front you on the road, the way you respond is out of habit. “If you continue to do what you have always done you will get the results you have always gotten, good and bad. Why, because you have never taken the time to change your habits. You come to know Christ and continue to act just like you did before you came to know Christ. When you do not walk in the new self you are walking in the old self. There are only two choices. You do not have five or six choices. It is the old or the new.
Some of you are allowing the past to dictate who you are today. Some of you are clinging to a situation in the past because it has become part of your identity. You might say something to the effect: such and such happened to me in the past and that is why I am the way I am today. Yes, the past does effect who we are, but if it is a characteristic that is unbecoming to the Lord, it has no business being in your life. Especially, not dictating who you are today in Christ. The Bible says that your old ways do not determine who you are now, Christ does. Verse 22 says: “Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old man, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness.”
If you continue to think the way you have always thought you will get the results you have always gotten. Romans 12: 1-2 says: “Therefore, brothers, because of God’s mercies I urge you to offer our bodies as a living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is a reasonable way for you to worship. Stop being conformed to this world, but continue to be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what is God’s will – what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.” Change the way you think and you will change the things you do. Most Christians do not think about what they are thinking about. Start taking your thought life captive in Christ Jesus.
Paul said the old self is being corrupted by the deceptive desires or as other translations say: “the lusts of deceit.” What are these lusts of deceit or deceptive desires? 2 Corinthians 11:3 says: “However, I’m afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its tricks, so your minds may somehow be lured away from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Your minds should not be led astray or lured away. Sincere and pure devotion starts in our minds, just as the corruption and luring away starts in our minds. James 1:13-15 says it this way: “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust, then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Lust is the strong desire you have to obtain something. It may be a physical thing, it may be a sensual thing, and it may have to do with your feelings. When it is outside the parameters of God’s will, it is lust and it brings forth death.
Let me explain. You want something so bad you are willing to steal for it or cheat for it. It may be money or an object or an emotion or feeling. When you obtain it through ways that are outside of God’s will your integrity dies. When you lust after another person or you look at something you should not be looking at to fulfill a sensual desire and you give yourself to it, your intimacy in your marriage or relationship starts to die. Anytime sin occurs death occurs. It can be a physical death, an emotional death, and character death. Trust in a relationship dies because of sin. When sin occurs death occurs. It can be sins of the mind as well as sins of the body. Words that come out of our mouths can cause death in a relationship, remember sin is anything that is contrary to the will of God in thought, word, or deed.
July 7th at 7:07 PM the party started and it lasted for seven days. The party was called “The Running of the Bulls.” Pamplona, Spain was an old world city with one of the most bizarre events taking place every year at the same time. The streets filled with large headed puppet looking people and other costumes to celebrate the week. The wine flowed from person to person and everyday it was nothing more than a drunken fest. Every morning at the same time the bulls would run through the fenced streets and the hopefuls would try their luck at escaping injury or death.
Living on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Spain was like living in paradise. The beaches offered a variety of seafood and basking in the sun. Everyday a trip to Solobriana would take me through the cane fields and up the steep slopes to the white washed village. After several months boredom set in and the wheels started turning toward Africa. Entering into Morocco was like stepping back in time. The market place was filled with people selling anything your heart desired. The first trip was overwhelming and inspiring. Seeing how cheap everything was, the plan started to take shape. Buy the clothes and leather good here and take them to Europe and sell them for an enormous profit. Inquiries were made as to where you could buy these items in bulk and at a lower cost then the tourists were paying. My inquiries took me to the city Fez, where I was escorted by armed guard into the old part of the city. After about two minutes of walking into this section of the city I realized I would not be able to leave on my own. The area was a maze of nooks and holes, twisted dead end streets, and people wanting to kill you for what you had. The house I was taken to was quite comfortable and not like most of the bare houses I passed along the way. I was made comfortable and the man with the gun left. Several minutes later a man entered into the large room and inquired what I wanted to buy. Women brought out clothing for me to examine. I soon realized you bartered for the price of one blouse at a time and then bought as many as you wanted for that price. The bartering lasted a couple of days and the gentleman would get upset about the prices I was offering and would leave the room. The first time I was a little concerned that I had offended my host and there was no way I could find my way out of the city. During his absence he would send in entertainment, food, and drink. Later he would return and we would begin our bartering again. After all the goods were bought they were loaded on several donkeys and the armed guard returned and I was taken back to the van. Stopping off in the French Riviera and testing my marketing skills, it paid off. Heading back to Germany to unload the clothes and enjoy the company of friends.
This brings us to the second element of how to walk worthy, renew your mind. From verse 17 on Paul is talking about the things of the mind. Futility is defined as a lack of usefulness or effectiveness and action that has no use, purpose, or effect. Paul is saying not to waste your thought life on the things that have no meaning or the things that only cause destruction within the heart and to relationships in your life, especially, your relationship with the Lord.
Verses 17 thru 20 paint us a picture of the mental state of a lost person that has given themselves over to lewdness and greediness. Both of these are sins of the mind. The mind is where it all starts. You are a greedy person because you think greedy thoughts. You are a bitter person because you think bitter thoughts. You are an angry person because you have allowed anger to be a part of your thought life. You are unforgiving because you have not forgiven that person in your mind. Someone once asked me how can these people who appear to be spiritual giants in the faith fall? One thought at a time. Just the same way you and I fall, one thought at a time.
People think their thought life belongs to them. Not so if you’re a Christian. If you confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then we must remember what it cost Him. He paid the price for you and now you belong to Him, every part of you, including your thought life.
Romans 12:1-3: “Therefore, brothers, because of God’s mercies I urge you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God, for this is a reasonable way for you to worship. Stop being conformed to this world, but continue to be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what is God’s will – what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.
Because of the grace given to me, I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, but to have a sober view of yourself, based on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you.”
Present your bodies or everything you are, including but not limited to your intellect, emotions, and your will. Present means to willingly offer. This is where the freedom to choice comes into play. Paul goes on to say that in doing so, do not allow the world to trap you or conform you to what it is or what it is selling. Rather by changing the way you think you will be transformed or changed. Change the way you think and you will change who you are or have become. Continue to think like you have always thought you will get the results you have always gotten.
Titus 1:15 –16: “Everything is clean to those who are clean. Nothing is clean to those who are corrupt and unbelieving. Indeed, their very way of thinking and their consciences have been corrupted. They claim to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified to do anything good.”
Paul says in this passage: you say you know God: intellectually? In your mind but your actions and habits reveal you do not know Him. In fact, your actions deny Him. If you want to be pure and holy, you must think in terms of holiness and purity. The way you think determines if your mind and conscience are pure or tainted by the world.
Growing up as a child I learned to hate at an early age. My father was an architectural illustrator and did water color renderings. He designed many of the large Hilton hotels throughout the world. I can remember at the age of about 5, I would take his very expensive paintbrushes and fill them with paint and grind them into his renderings. Knowing full well, I would get beat for doing it. The problem was my sisters started doing it and I was the one that would get beat. He finally left us when I was about 6. Our lives quieted down and became somewhat normal. At least the abuse stopped. Growing up I never wanted to be like my father. He was a mean alcoholic. He came in and out of our lives throwing money around and buying us kids stuff. Never helping my mom. Just trying to be the good guy. He tried to have a relationship with me. but I wanted nothing to do with him.
Following the successful venture from Africa, I tried my hand at working again, this time in Southern Germany, the Alps. The lure of big money called and I headed back to Africa for another load and living on the beach. The sunny beaches were far more inviting then the ski slopes of Garmish. This time I spent about three months buying and relaxing. This time the Berber tribes in the Atlas Mountains had products to offer that were very lucrative.
Making it back to Germany selling everything, it was time to leave Europe for good. Vancouver, Canada offered an opportunity and I started a furniture manufacturing business. Eventually, moving back to California to work for a furniture company and then started a cabinet company. Russ applied for the position offered in the paper. Then began the religious debate.
Ephesians 4: 22 – 30: “Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old man, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness.
Therefore, stripping off falsehood, “Let each of us speak the truth to his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity to work; the thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must work hard and do what is good with his own hands so that he will have something to give to the needy.
Let no filthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up as the need may be. This way you will give grace to those who hear you. Don’t cause God’s Holy Spirit to be sad. You were marked with a seal by him for the day of redemption.”
To clothe you with the new man means to dress yourself and to look and act differently. These changes are part your responsibility. The Holy Spirit will empower and strengthen you but there must be action on your part. Speak only truth; truth starts from your mind. You don’t have to rehearse the truth over and over again in your mind. Don’t allow your emotions to take control. Don’t think about stealing and you will not steal. Be careful what comes out of your mouth. Just because you think it, does not mean that you have to say it. Two sins do not make one sin.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
After getting on my knees and repenting of those biggies, the warmth of those covers felt good. I was disappointed that nothing happened. I guess I expected some sort of miracle would take place. I know Jackie and I had an argument that night but I could not remember what it was about. Events were at times a little foggy and difficult to remember. It was the alcoholism and the drug use. I knew Jackie wanted to leave me because the anger and verbal abuse was getting out of hand. My life was out of control. I was about to loose everything, my business, house, and my wife. The only thing that seemed to faithfully hang around were my friends, or so I thought.
Waking up the next morning I realized something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it but life seemed to have taken a change. One of the first things I notice was I lost the desire to drink alcohol, and then I found myself throwing out the drugs I had in my house. My language was different, even the way I thought was different. I gathered the pornography up I had in my house and threw it away. My life had changed over night. God took me up on my offer. He took my life and exchanged it for a new one. I was born again! I had a whole new start in life, old things were passing away and things were becoming new. Little did I know the difficult part lay ahead.
I didn’t say anything to Jackie at first because I wasn’t sure if it would last, nothing else I tried in the past lasted. She started to realize something was different and she nearly fell off her chair when she saw I was reading a Bible. Then she knew something had happened. Again, I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell anyone because if it didn’t last I would be a fool. But, I did tell Russ. I started to tell Jackie about Jesus and about being born again to the extent of my knowledge. Jackie grew up in the Episcopal Church so she thought she was a Christian by association. After several weeks of her watching me and listening she asked Jesus into her life. We were baptized together.
Then we started telling everyone that we were born again and I was sure they would be excited for us. Our so-called “friends,” listened to our story but I am certain they laughed and mocked us behind our backs. They stopped coming around and since we were no longer the party animals, we had nothing to offer but Jesus and they didn’t want Him. I can remember going to my parents and telling them of my new relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. I can remember my stepfather listening for several minutes and then telling me he had heard enough and not to bring that “name” up again in this house or around him. Sorry, I have to tell people about Jesus.
Ephesians 4:30 says, not to grieve the Holy Spirit, or another translation says do not bring sadness to the Holy Spirit. This brings us to the third element of how to walk worthy: walk in the Spirit. When you do not walk worthy you are grieving the Holy Spirit because you are walking in the old self or you are walking in the flesh. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus and since you are born again the old nature is dead. Dead natures can’t do anything. Do not confuse the flesh with a nature. Your original nature was in Adam. Your linage was in Adam and it was a sin nature. You were born in sin and you did not have to commit a sin to be a sinner, it was your linage. When you were born again and made spiritually alive your linage changed. The new nature is in Christ Jesus. Now you are a child of God and your new nature is in the linage of God, no longer Adam. You were born again. At times you may act like your old nature and may do things you did before but God is in the process of changing you. Teaching you to walk in your new nature, teaching you to be who you are now. When you walk in the Spirit you are walking in the new creation.
Gal. 5:16 – 21says; “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will never fulfill the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you don’t do what you want to do.” Paul said it another way in Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. Although I desire to do what is right, I can’t do it. For I don’t do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don’t want to do. If I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but the sin that lives in me is doing it.”
Walk by the spirit is living your day-to-day life by the power of the Spirit. Why not say, do not walk by the flesh and you will carry out the desires of the Spirit? I believe that Paul is saying that the focus should be on walking in the Spirit. The focus should not be trying not to walk in the flesh. What ever you focus on you are drawn towards. If you focus on your past you will be drawn to your past circumstances and then you will react or live according to the flesh. Focus on whom you should be like: Jesus. You don’t try to stop doing something by saying: I am not going to do that, because eventually you will do it.
There is a battle going on within you. There is a battle for your mind, your thoughts, your desires, and your emotions. That battle as a Christian will never let up. In fact, there has to be a battle, because it says that the Spirit is in opposition to the flesh and the flesh is in opposition to the Spirit. If there is not a battle, you have given into the flesh and hardened your heart to the Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit has to do with how you perceive your life. Is it new or is it old? Are you free from the bondage of the past or does it still dictate who you are? Do you really want to become like Jesus or is that something unattainable to you? Jesus has given you everything you need to live a life that is pleasing to Him. You already have it. Many people do not believe they are new so they continue to live in the old self. They would rather cling to the old ways that they are familiar with than live a new life in Christ Jesus.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
I must have assumed, now that I was a born again Christian, everything would fall into place and my life would be an easy ride from now on. It became one of the most difficult times of my life. Mainly, I had to come face to face with my past and present. No more running away with drugs and alcohol. I had to admit I was wrong, not only in my religious belief but I was wrong in my life style. I returned to those I was able to and ask their forgiveness for the harm, hurt and destruction I caused in their lives. Some would not forgive and I do not blame them but nevertheless I had to do what God called me to do. There were times of great joy and healing and there were times of sorrow. I remember reading later in 1 Peter 4:3: “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desires of the Gentiles (lost), having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you.” Where have all my friends gone? I realized very quickly they were not friends, just acquaintances and were there for the partying. When the partying stopped, so did they, along with family.
Becoming a new person was a joy, an inward joy. I promised the Lord any time He brought someone across my path that I needed to ask his or her forgiveness I would do so. That continued on for many years. I did not struggle with wanting to drink or do the drugs. God completely removed the desire from me. I can remember early in my Christian walk talking to the Lord and saying I was glad that I did not sin any more. Having stopped the big outward sins I thought that was it. Then God impressed upon me that now we would start on the inside. In His grace and gentle Spirit He began to reveal to me the things of my heart that were not pleasing to Him. The ongoing process began. What freedom we find in the healing power of the Spirit, and to be free from the bondage of sin. Then I began to understand the only reason I sinned was because I chose to do so. The economy took a turn for the worst in 1980 and my business had none. We packed up everything and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. We had enough money to get my equipment there, rent a shop, rent a townhouse for a month and get some groceries. That was it. God started to provide and soon I was building custom furniture for designers. Being new Christians we were not sure what to do. I can remember thinking one day that there must be more to this being a Christian than what we are doing or not doing. We decided to try a church in our neighborhood. A couple that were guest speakers and missionaries, came over to visit with us after the service and recommended we try Scottsdale Bible Church. The next Sunday we attended and fell in love with the music, Word, and the people. They took us under their wing and started to disciple us. We started to grow by leaps and bounds. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. We joined a home fellowship group that met on Fridays. The next thing we knew we had a new family that loved us and cared for us. Times were still very difficult financially. We would open our front door in the morning and there would be a bag of groceries on the doorstep. Other times there would be a check for the rent. We began to see how the Lord worked through His people. Blessing after blessing poured out on us. By this time I had met a wonderful man named Ken. Ken had a cabinet shop just down the street from my shop and we formed a partnership and manufactured furniture. We took every class the church offered so we could grow spiritually and in our knowledge of God. I knew from the very beginning of becoming a Christian that one day I would be working for the Lord in full time ministry.
At this time my heart was in missions and it was the missions pastor that took me under his wing and taught me. We decided to go to a mission organization with the possibility of going oversees. We spent a week at Oversees Crusades in San Jose, CA. Following the week I realized I needed to return to school and study the Scriptures. Returning to Scottsdale I checked into the program at Arizona College of the Bible. Day classes only were offered. How was I going to do this? I went to my partner and told him I believed God wanted me to go into the ministry full-time but I needed to go to school, during the day. Ken said go. He would watch the shop and I could come into work after my classes and do what I was able. Maybe going into the ministry was a reality.
This brings us to the fourth element of walking worthy and that is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:30 – 31 says: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
The fastest way to crash spiritually is to allow a root of bitterness to enter your mind. Bitterness is a smoldering resentment. A mind filled with rehearsals of how it is going to be. Going over the incident again and again. Taking the other person hostage, until they pay for the hurt or wrong no matter how long it takes. Getting even and making them pay.
Paul talks about the things of the mind and outward reactions to what has built up inside the mind rehearsing and then acting it out. Just like a play, whatever you focus on and practice in the mind you will carry it out in your life. Sometimes it is just a matter of time before Satan puts all the pieces together and you step from your mind into the situation. The transition is easy because you have already practiced it over in your mind.
How do you get over the hurt and anger? Forgive. You do not need the other person to come to you in order for you to forgive them. Forgive them right now. Enter into the process. I say it is a process because sometimes it takes a while to forgive someone. You have to start sometime, in the same manner you started to be angry or bitter, you must begin to forgive. Forgiveness can be instant or it can take months to forgive someone. You forgive by taking your thought life captive in Christ Jesus. When those thoughts of anger or bitterness come into your mind you get rid of them and if they come back a minute later then you get rid of them again, you create a new thought pattern of forgiveness. Thank God for His forgiveness. Jesus said to practice forgiveness in the same way God forgave you. Matthew 6: 14-15: “For if you forgive people their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive people their offenses, your Father will not forgive your offenses.” Positional forgiveness verses ongoing forgiveness. If you are born again your position is one of complete forgiveness of your sins, past, present, and future. In order for us to have fellowship with the Spirit and not grieve the Spirit, there must be a cleansing of sins. You must acknowledge your sin and confess your sin to God. Confession is saying the same thing about sin that God says. This is the ongoing cleansing and filling of the Spirit. You can only walk worthy when you are cleansed from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1: 5 – 10 says: “This is the message that we have heard from him and are reporting to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him but live in the darkness, we are lying and the truth is not in us. But if we live in the light just as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin. If we say that we don’t have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous and will forgive us those sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have never sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.”
God’s forgiveness is free, a gift to you. But it cost Jesus his life. He died, that you could be forgiven, and so you can and will forgive others.
How do you walk worthy?
Lay aside your old self.
Renew your mind.
Live in the Spirit.
Seek forgiveness from God and forgive others.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
Sunday school class had started and Pastor Walt came in to get us so we could have our passport photos taken. The church was preparing us to go to Belgium. My dream was coming true and I would be doing ministry full time. Or so I thought. The night before that Sunday we got a call that Jackie’s daughter Tiffany was pregnant. A decision had to be made and it was not a difficult decision in some respects and yet it was a decision that stopped the dream. Looking back I can see I was pushing the mission lifestyle and not listening to my wife. She was willing to go but I believe she was more in tune to reality than I was. Her gift is discernment. We informed the church of our situation and that we were unable to proceed forward, there was something more important we needed to focus our attention on. We brought Tiffany and her new baby, Blair, to our home in Arizona. We wanted to see Tiffany finish high school and go on to college. We decide to move back to Beaumont, California and move back into our old house. We had the privilege of helping raise Blair while Tiffany went back to high school to get her degree. She went on to college and met her husband to be, Mitch.
I knew going into ministry full time was just a dream and would not be realized. I went to work for several manufacturing and marketing companies. We eventually opened our own showroom in Ontario, California, and designed and marketed beauty salons. We built a national company in a short time only to hit a wall in the 90’s. The economy took a turn for the worse and our company was directly affected. We decided not to put any more money into the business and if it held it’s own we would continue to keep our doors open. The economy continued to downturn and we fulfilled our contracts and closed our doors.
We had been attending a church not far from our home and we were involved in many facets of ministry. We had been attending Fellowship In The Pass for about seven years at the time of our business closure.
One of our pastors started a Saturday night ministry to those in our community that were having addiction problems, street living, welfare recipients, and anyone down and out. They would feed them a meal and have a worship service and classes for the children. About 250 attended on Saturday evenings. The Elders came to me and asked me if I would be willing to take this ministry over on a part-time basis. They would bring me on staff and I could work 20 hours a week and continue to take care of closing my business. The pastor over the Saturday night ministry left the church shortly thereafter. Our senior pastor was in the process of taking a sabbatical and three months after I started part time they asked me if I would come on full time and take over some of his responsibilities. God does give us the desires of our hearts.
What does walking worthy look like? How do you know if you are walking worthy? Your life will reflect it and you will be willing to do the things that are difficult. Let me explain as we look at Ephesians 5: 8: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” In the scriptures the figurative use of light has two aspects, the intellectual and the moral aspect. Intellectually it represents truth, whereas morally it represents holiness.
Darkness in the scriptures has the same two aspects. Intellectually it represents ignorance and falsehood, whereas morally it connotes evil. Both aspects of the intellectual have to do with what you know and believe to be true and the moral aspect pertains to what and how you think along with how you act.
If you believe something to be true or beneficial there is a greater probability you will act on it. If you don’t believe something to be true or beneficial there is an almost certainty you will not act upon it and continue to act upon what you believe to be true and beneficial. You may try it out for a while and see what the results produce. Some people will say or think; I’ve tried Christianity. You do not try out Christianity. You are Christianity. When you are walking in a manner worthy of your calling your life will reflect God’s light.
Have you ever asked a person if they were to die today and God were to ask them why he should let them into heaven? Many people would say something to this effect; well I have been a good person or I have tried to do what is right in my life. I have not hurt others and lived a good life. I have strived to do what is right.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
I started back to school. Desiring to learn more I attended Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, in Brea, California. I finished my three-year degree in six years attending as often as possible. Some semesters I was only able to take one class. I graduated with a Masters Degree in Theology and Church work. During this time the congregation at Fellowship blessed our hearts. I was able to gain a variety of knowledge doing a variety of ministries within the church. Our Saturday night ministry eventually stopped, as it was not healthy for the church. It became a James 2: 1-4 issue. We brought those that wanted to come to the Sunday service. Ministry was an exciting time. Seeing many grow in the grace of our Lord and watching how God gave them the desires of their hearts.
During those years Tiffany married and had two more children, Bailey and Chad. They were such a blessing to us. It was also during that time that our granddaughter Blair got cancer. It was behind her ear and they had to remove all the nerves in the left side of her face and sever the facial nerve in the brain. Our hearts were just broken.
I just knew that if I prayed and fasted and claimed all those verses she would be healed. Especially, they would not have to sever the facial nerve in the brain. I fasted for weeks and prayed, as did our congregation. I can remember crying out in the waiting room, as they told us they had to cut the nerve. I cried out where on earth are you God? During this time of her illness I could not see God working. After staying with her in the hospital I flew back to California and found myself angry with God. He let me down. I served Him faithfully all those years and now when I needed Him the most where was He? Blair had reconstructive surgery a week later and I flew back to Chicago to be with her.
Walking worthy is not about doing what is right. Anyone can do what is right. A non-Christian as well as a Christian does what is right. It is about reflecting God’s light, not doing what is right. In fact if we are going to walk worthy we cannot do what is right. Let me say that again, we must do what is Christ; anyone can strive to do what is right. But only the person filled with the Spirit of God and walking worthy in the Spirit can do what is Christ.
We must see what Jesus himself had to say about this concept. Matthew 5:14 – 17 says: “You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. People don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they’ll see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus is saying let your good works shine before men in such a way as to glorify the Father. Jesus is about to tell you what are good works that glorify the Father. What glorifies the Father is not doing what is good; it is doing what is Christ. Here is the difference. Remember earlier I told you the foundation for walking worthy was humility? And humility has to do with how you think and also how you perceive things. Look at Matthew 5: 20, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness greatly exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you’ll never get into the kingdom of heaven!” Jesus says that your good works or righteousness must surpass that of the religious leaders. They find their righteousness in their good works, or by doing what is right. A Christian finds their righteousness in Jesus Christ. Look at verse 21-24 of Matthew; “You’ve heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, “You must not murder,” and “whoever murders will be subject to punishment.” But I say to you, anyone who is angry with his brother without cause will be subject to punishment. And whoever says to his brother “Raka!” will be subject to the Council. And whoever says “You fool!” will be subject to hell fire.
So if you’re presenting you gift at the altar and remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and first go and be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus says the right thing to do is not commit murder. But, the Christ thing is not to even hate someone in your mind and heart: your intellect and emotions. Remember I said that one of the characteristics to walking worthy was forgiveness. The right thing to do is not to murder someone. The Christ thing is do not hate, be resentful or bitter at someone. In fact, Jesus says that if you do have those feelings towards someone, prior to coming to worship and praising God; forgive that person.
Matthew 5: 27 says: “You’ve heard that it was said, “You must not commit adultery.” But I say to you, anyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The right thing to do is not to have sexual relationships outside of marriage. The Christ thing to do is do not even lust after another person in your mind and heart: your intellect and emotions.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
Your perspective changes during a crisis. It seems you have blinders on and all you can see is the depth of the pain, hurt, and turmoil that lies before you. It is difficult to define unless you have gone through it. You discover the insensitivity of others and often times it is within the pastoral ministry. Some pastors are not in touch with reality. This adds to the grief. I can remember saying to myself; “ I hope no one says to me “all things work for good” because I was afraid I would hit them or at least lay into them with a tirade of unwholesome words. Grief is a good thing, but it is difficult to see the goodness during the grieving. Most people were very supportive and brought so much comfort to us, it was a blessing beyond measure. Still, I continued to wonder where God was hiding. I can remember during a church service, going through the motions of worship. In my heart I could not praise God, I was angry with God. God began to reveal some things to me during that time. He began to show me the things He did to orchestrate the situation and the results. He showed me all the people that surrounded us and provided for us. I saw one of the reasons Tiffany and Mitch moved to the Chicago area. Blair’s doctor was the best in this field in the world. As were the follow-up doctors and the reconstructive doctors. I began to see how God had worked in so many of the small details and His provision through His people. It seemed that the blinders were lifting and I began to experience the love of Christ. I saw my anger and repented and experienced the healing power of the Holy Spirit. God allowed me to grow in an enormous way during this time. Blair went on to heal and no cancer was found. Seven years later Blair had a lump around her eye. The cancer returned. Then they found it in her lungs and on her liver.
Matthew 5: 41says: “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go two with him.” A Roman soldier had the right to make you carry his belongings for one mile. That would be the right thing to do, the required thing to do, but the Christ thing to do is carry it two miles. The Christ thing is always above and beyond what seems to be the right thing to do.
Again, in verses 43 and 44 we are told the right thing to do and then Jesus says: “But I say to you,” He explicitly says, He has something greater for us to accomplish. There is a better way to handle a right situation and that is to go above and beyond and do what is Christ.
Matthew 5: 45 says: “so that you’ll become children of your Father in heaven.” The Fathers children strive to be different, they strive to be a light in a dark world. Walking worthy means, we will reflect the light of Jesus and when people see us they see Jesus. When you do what is right; no glory goes to the Father. When you do what is Christ; all the glory goes to the Father. Matthew 5:16 says: “In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they’ll see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Remember in the beginning I said that the foundation to walking worthy was humility? 2 Chronicles 7:14 – 15 says: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” The foundation is Jesus Christ and there must come a time when you throw up your arms in surrender and say; here am I Lord, take me, make me, mold me, and use me, for your Honor and Glory. Then you begin the journey of walking worthy.
THE WORLD/THE KINGDOM
Journeys seem to change directions when we least expect them to. After attending Fellowship for 20 years and being on staff for 13 years it was time to leave. I could no longer support the leadership of the senior pastor and the direction he was taking the congregation. I had to take a stand. We loved the congregation and they loved us, and it was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. But I had to be honest with God and myself. I could not stand in the way of the leadership, as they believed the direction they were headed was the right course. We believed we would stay in Beaumont until we died. But God had other plans. We moved to Branson, Missouri in May of 2005. This brought us closer to our grandchildren and Tiffany and Mitch. We had no idea what the Lord had in store for us. Our next phase in life was Hope Fellowship Church.
This is my story. A story of change, hope, struggles and blessings. But it is my desire to do what is Christ. I beg you, to consider what I have said and no matter how long you have claimed to be a Christian, if you are not walking in a manner worthy of your calling, start today. The only thing that is stopping you… YOU.
If you have read this and you are not a born again person, then I beg you to hear the calling of God in your life and get on your face before a Holy God and seek His forgiveness. Call out to Him until He responds to you and then you respond to Him. Give Him your life. Romans 2:4
4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Is God’s kindness leading you to repent. Repentance is saying the same thing about sin that God says, and turning from your sin and turning to God. Ask God to take control of your life and surrender everything. Start reading 1 John in a Bible. There is not formula for you becoming a Christian. It is something that God does in His time and in His way. If He is calling you … respond to Him in surrender. May the Lord fill your heart and soul with His Truth and may you too learn what it means to Walk Worthy.