1/24/2018 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
The New England Patriots played football on Sunday and my Facebook page is filled with Patriot haters!! Here are a few of the nicer comments… “I would love nothing but to see the Pats lose today.” “I hope the Pats lose, I would love to see 2 new teams in SB, and if Jacksonville wins we will. Today I root for JAGS.” “Preach it, I can’t stand New England.” “Just when you thought the patsies might lose, the zebras step up their game.” “Not watching but the way you describe it sounds just like I imagined it would be when I saw the matchup. I’m sure the NFL will do all it can to keep a city with low TV ratings out of the big game. “Go Eagles”
Whether or not you like or hate the Patriots, you must admit that from a NFL perspective, they have been very successful. From Bill Belichick’s record for most playoff wins, to Tom Brady’s record for most playoff passing yards with 9,431, to more Superbowl appearances than any other team, to the possibility of most Superbowl wins by any team. And if I wrote down all their records, it would fill this blog.
So, I know that I might be a tad biased, but I believe that it is very unlikely that anyone could make a case against the Patriots being a successful NFL franchise. But what about us? What will determine if we are a successful “franchise” at the end of our life?
It is very possible for us to be successful and yet be void of God’s power and presence. If success becomes our motivation, it is very easy for us to reach our goals and do it without God. As a pastor who enjoys speaking and teaching, it is very easy to work less on my relationship with God, and work more on my presentation and content. As a person that tends to be motivated by being busy, it is a battle for me not to sacrifice my time with God and my prayer life to work on that list of things that needs to get done.
Often, our tendency can be to look at success from the way our society determines success. I can have good health, the latest gadgets, a nice home or multiple homes, successful business, be a stand-up guy or gal in the community, have a great 401K, a wonderful family… and still miss God’s definition of success.
As a pastor, I can be experiencing church growth, I can be listening to people say how wonderful my messages are or how much of an encouragement I am. I can have a wonderful relationship with my wife, my family can be walking with God… and still miss God’s standard for success.
We can have all these things, we can even believe we are doing well spiritually, but inadvertently chose the world’s definition of success over God’s definition of success. So how do we know we are being successful? How can I know that what I am doing and what I am achieving is fulling God intention for my success? I know that I will be successful from God’s perspective when I am doing what God tells me to do… “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Moses knew about success. He knew success in ways that many of us could only dream about. But he also knew why he was successful; it was because he walked with God… Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:15
Moses understood that no matter how successful he was, no matter how great or how small the task, there is no eternal success at the expense of walking with God. His security came not from what people would say about his great accomplishments, but his security came in his relationship with God. Moses knew that he could do a lot of work for God, but he understood that he could never do God’s work without God. That is why Moses did not want to go anywhere “if Your Presence does not go with us.”
Success from the world’s eyes is not always a sign of God’s blessing. A mega church, a thriving business, a busy person, might only mean that we have chosen a substitute for an imitate walk with God. But it does not only affect “successful” people. I tend to be a busy person, but I do not have a mega church. As a matter of fact many people might look at my 18 years of service at my church and think that I have not been successful at all. Yet I too struggle balancing my life and my walk with God, all the time.
I must remember that being successful or being busy from God’s point of view, is not what I do, as much as what I am. My problem is that too often I enjoy what I do, far more than becoming what I need to be. God says before you get all worked up about your list of things to do on any given day, you need to spend time with Me… “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
And the neatest thing of all: when you and I work on our walk with God, when we live out Joshua 1:8, in verse 9, God promises to be with us… “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
So, in 2 weeks I will be sitting in front of my television with friends, eating some of Judy’s world-famous pizza, watching the Patriots add to their success and their legacy. But when the game is over, after Brady lifts his 6th Lombardi trophy, I need to come back to real life and make sure that when I stand before my God, He will consider me to be a successful “franchise” for Him. And I will be, if I do what He says, because when I do, the Lord will be with me, wherever I go. When God goes with me, no one can stop me, not even the 2018 World Champion, New England Patriots!!