Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades: Why Wanting to Be Close to God is Good Enough

horseshoesThere’s an old saying that goes, “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”

Your boss may have said that to you when you missed a quota. Or maybe your spouse said it when you were a day late for a birthday or anniversary. Whatever the reason, when anyone says this, you’ve messed up. But is there ever a time when “close” is good enough? YES.

Close is good enough when you decide to get close to God.

I could never be good enough to get close to God,” you’re probably thinking. Well, that’s the BEST thing you could think right now, because being close to God has nothing to do with precision or with hitting a goal of any kind. That’s where the horse shoes and hand grenades come in. God Himself has freed us from all the pressure of needing to earn His love. He hit all the marks for us!

James says it this way, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you who are half-hearted towards God (Jas. 4:8).” The formula for being close to God is simple: want to. Simply wanting to be close to God is the quantum leap that makes it happen. You just glance at Him with a desiring heart and He’s all over it like cows on a salt lick.

You don’t have to wait until you feel righteous or holy. You probably never will. You don’t have to live a sinless life before being accepted by God. You can’t. You don’t have to achieve some superhuman spirituality, find Nirvana, or commit the ultimate selfless act of giving all you have to the poor before God will love you. All of those things are our own attempts to earn His love. It simply can’t be done. He already loves you.

So put the horse shoes and hand grenades away. Start wanting to be close to God and watch how fast He shows up and brings all sorts of good things into your life. He’s done all the work for you, so rest in it. Close is good enough for now.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Fearless Living, Fearless Leading

fear notWashing dishes at a friend’s house last night after a lovely dinner, I was struck with a thought, a question, really, that I then turned and posed to my wife and friends. I asked them, “If I could lead us all out of fear what couldn’t we do? How would each of us respond to each other and to the world around us if we were completely fearless?” Okay, it was a downer of a question and every sense of frivolity and lightness fled the room. None of us had a great answer. After an awkward moment of silence, my beautiful, amazing, and dry-witted wife quipped, “Well, who died and made YOU Jesus?”

Since that moment I’ve been thinking about what really could happen if we just lost our fears instead of our car keys or our reading glasses. Wouldn’t we respond very differently than we do now to threats of economic hardship, terrorism, and even to our spouses and loved ones? I think we would. I think if we could develop a stronger belief in Jesus’ work for us and dig a lot deeper into what that means for us on a practical level, we would lead very different lives altogether. Perhaps we would lead lives like God fully intends for us to lead. Fearless lives. Child-of-God kind of lives.

For one thing, all competition would cease. We would realize that God has already anticipated every need we could ever have and has already provided for them. We would stop hedging our bets on getting what we need from Him and from the world around us, abandoning every temptation to manipulate anyone in any way for any thing. We would pray with confidence. We would love unconditionally. We would move from the “competitive mind” to the “creative mind.” We would become extreme givers, never takers. We would overwhelm the people around us with the kind of Spirit power rarely seen since The Book of Acts.

Our leadership would change, too. Transparency would be the norm. A compassionate kind of listening would become the hallmark of our husbanding, our parenting, and our ministries. People would flock to follow us because they would feel validated for being who they are, not just feeling used by us for their talents or dollars. If we were truly fearless, we could look someone deeply in their eyes and say, “Darling, I’m here for you” and mean it from the essence of our being. We would, in short, make the fearless kingdom of God in all that it means come to bear in very tangible expressions all around us. Life would come alive again.

No one died and made me Jesus.

But Jesus has entrusted me with leadership abilities with which to lead others toward all that He died to give us. Freedom from fear – all of it – is ours in Jesus. Best I can tell, Jesus said,”Fear not” about 15 times as recorded in the Gospels. Seems to me once would have been sufficient if we could only do it.

What kind of leader can you become if you begin to take steps, even small ones, toward eradicating fear from your life and ministry? How would that affect your leadership, the planning, the praying, the interactions with the people you lead? Are you ready for what fearless living and fearless leading will do?

 

The Pursuit of Purity

“The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgement; but the sins of others appear later.” I Timothy 5:24 (NIV)

We can all list names of men (and women) whose sins were found out. Internationally-known Christian leaders who had invested their lives in building the kingdom and then who were discovered in moral failure have often left many people wounded, even devastated, and besmirched the faith to the watching world. Perhaps you have known pastors or leaders in your own community who were “outed” for one thing or another with much the same effect.

The truth is, we will all be outed one day. Paul tells us in this verse that all of our sins will be known one day, whether before or at the judgement. I’m pretty sure he meant the sins of all of us, every last one of us. The effect of this knowledge, at least for me, is the desire to be as pure as possible, but how?

Purity is a co-op between me and God. It is my job to pursue purity, but His to purify me. The connection between hope in God and purity is obvious in I John 3:2-3, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” God has provided the hope in Christ and this hope works in me the will and desire to be as He is, pure.

The good news is that “if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (I John 2:1). I have sinned, you have sinned, but we have an Advocate, One who stands in on our behalf before the judgement seat of God pleading our case and providing forgiveness, freedom, and purity in God’s eyes. It is this knowledge that inspires in me the desire to be whole, holy, and pure, whether you see it or not.

In the meantime, I pray often the ancient Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; have mercy on me, a sinner.”