Monday, December 6, 2010

Control Freak (2)

Are you a control freak?
Turning family and finances over to God

Control Freak (part 2)
By Kevin Probst

Those who struggle with the idol of control in their lives often want to control their FAMILIES. I’ve seen fathers who are so insistent on controlling the lives of their children they become physically and verbally abusive. Husbands sometimes threaten their wives because they feel insecure if they aren’t in ‘control’.
Wives will sometimes use the ‘silent treatment’ on their husbands or nag them in an attempt to control their behavior. I’ve seen parents use religion like a club to force their children into submission and maintain control over their lives. Using something sacred as a tool to achieve our own selfish ends must certainly border on blasphemy.

It’s all about gaining control and achieving power. It’s about stepping out of the Kingdom of God and setting up your own kingdom. At some point God will step in and remind us of who is really in charge. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:11 “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” What was he saying? Life isn’t fair. Stuff happens! It happens to remind us who we are and where we stand in relation to God.

I was recently reading from one of my favorite theologians to my five year old son. Dr. Seuss has written a story called Yertel the Turtle. It’s about a turtle that wants to be the king of the pond. Yertle gets all of his subjects and begins to stack them up on each other. He then begins to climb the backs of the other turtles in order to elevate himself. He climbs higher and higher, he is seeing more and more of his own kingdom. But there is a little turtle near the bottom of the pile that is feeling his lunch. He needs to burp and when he does the whole stack of turtles tumbles down and Yertle falls back to earth. When we build our kingdoms we are only a burp away from total collapse.

When it comes to families, it’s not pleasant to feel that we have no control. The mysterious reality is that we become less and less helpless when we give up control of our families to God.

Those who lust for power and control often do so in the area of FINANCES. I was playing golf with one of my older sons a while back. My sons were born and reared southern but they couldn’t escape some of my Yankee traits. Yankees tend to just put it out there. Justin and I were talking about how tight and ‘stingy’ I am when it comes to money. I was a little stunned when my son just ‘put it out there’ in a very respectful tone. “Dad, don’t you think maybe you’re so tight because you don’t trust God enough?” Ouch! I pondered that for the rest of the day.

I have seen young people come to Christ during my ministry. Their new life in Christ is characterized by a desire to obey. They seek to be baptized, they want to attend church so as ‘not to forsake the assembling of themselves together.” They want to develop a prayer life and read their Bibles so as to develop a deeper relationship with their newfound Savior. But, there is one area where younger Christians often struggle; finances. There seems to be a common resistance to participating in the act of obedience that calls for tithing.

The common argument I hear regarding tithing is that it is an Old Testament concept and therefore it must be non-applicable. I would reply, “The Ten Commandments are Old Testament concepts yet they are certainly applicable.” It is also argued that tithing isn’t taught in the New Testament. Not true, the early apostles had much to say about tithing and giving. When we tithe we demonstrate our willingness to obey God in an area of life where many struggle with their own greed. Be assured, God will return to you a full measure of grace, favor and blessing that cannot be imagined. This is the only place in scripture where God extends a bold challenge for us to test him. Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

When we come to that fork in the road that requires we take one path, let us choose to take the path of obedience. Be sure, either choice has its consequences. I’m reminded of God’s calling to Jonah. “Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh to preach.” Jonah was appalled. No way was he going to the hated city of Nineveh, in fact, Jonah turned about and went the exact opposite way. Then God sent a fish, and a worm and finally a hot east wind. Jonah found himself sitting under a withered tree in the baking sun and said to himself, “You know, I’m not in control here after all.”

Sometimes God sends ‘stuff’ into our lives to remind us who is really in control!

“…my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

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