Steve Macchia Blog

The Sovereign Self

On Friday, November 11, 2011, LTi is hosting an event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Your Inner Fire for God” with special guest speaker Chris Webb (and yours truly). In anticipation of that event I am focusing my weekly blogs on the topic, “What are the winds that blow toward your soul and seek to extinguish your inner flame for God?”
Part two: Our pride, the root of our self-absorption. As believers in Jesus, we are called to the opposite: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2: 3,4).
In what some would label as “the age of the sovereign self” we are continually looking out for #1: me, myself, and I. Life is all about my needs being met in ways that satisfy my wants and wishes. When self is priority, we will do everything possible to protect, provide and please our prideful ways. We will control, manipulate, and strive toward being the center of attention, the focal point of interest, and the intriguing envy of others.
One of the great inhibitors to the kindling of our inner fire for God is our ever-present, pervasive, persistent focus on self. How can I get my hands on “more and more” status, possessions, physique, and pizzazz than any other around me? How can I acquire the next rung on the ladder of success, no matter the casualties I cause every step of the way? How can I out-smart, out-wit, out-run, and beat-out my competition no matter the cost? These are the internal motivations of the prideful person. Are you thinking all of this doesn’t exist in your heart too?
How easy it is to point fingers at the speck of prideful proof in the eyes of others…and yet how counter-cultural and so much more like Jesus when we honestly see the pride-filled log in our own eyes. As followers of Jesus, we are called to consider the needs of others more important than our own. Humility instead of pride. Grace instead of judgment. Mercy instead of punishment. Love instead of fear.
Take some time this week to reflect on how many of your words, actions, and attitudes are focused almost exclusively on yourself. Then, consider how often you spoke, thought, acted and felt humbly and open-handedly toward another. Kindling your inner fire for God begins by recognizing your propensity toward yourself and then purposefully flipping that upside down and inside out toward the Lord Jesus, and then offering a loving cup of encouragement, joy and blessing to all who cross your path. Forsake the sovereign self and choose today the humble way of the Sovereign Lord.



Our Enemy

On Friday, November 11, 2011 (11.11.11), LTi is hosting an event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Your Inner Fire for God” with special guest speaker Chris Webb (and yours truly). In anticipation of that event I will be taking the next 8 weeks of blogs to cover the topic, “What are the winds that blow toward your soul and seek to extinguish your inner flame for God?”

Part one: Our enemy, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) and “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

Yes, the devil hates God and all who are God lovers. He is the author of lies, the purveyor of hatred, and the greatest contributor to strife in our world today. He is keenly aware of our areas of weakness and vulnerability, and is seeking daily to trip us up wherever, whenever possible. He lurks like a snake, sneaks around in the dark like a vicious bat, and sticks his proverbial leg out often in his vile attempts to bring us down with tremendous doubt, self-hatred and shame.

I’m generally not one to look for the devil under every rock, but over the years have come to discern with growing clarity his trickery, sorcery, slippery ways, and cunning lies. The last thing on earth the enemy of your soul wants is for you to grow close to God. Anything that looks like righteousness is his first line of attack. Believers in Jesus Christ are some of his favorite targets.

To combat spiritual warfare, we need to lean fully on the spiritual weapons provided to us for battling against the principalities of darkness. Those weapons are the full armor of God Almighty…the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6: 10-20).

Don’t underestimate the power of the devil and don’t assume you can fight this battle alone. Trust in God and co-labor with him in the Spirit and with spiritual friends and mentors in community who want to join you in living fully for Jesus.

The enemy wants to extinguish your inner flame of intimate love for God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, in prayerful perseverance and joyful thanksgiving, press on, lean in, stay alert, hold fast, and trust deep. And, never forget, “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).



9/11

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I was having breakfast in New Hampshire with a pastor friend when the news first arrived via cell phone. We ended our breakfast early to attend to family members who were calling to see if we were ok. I headed to my office where I found our ministry team all together, huddled around a small television in our board room. They were in stunned silence as the news was breaking and the twin towers were burning and collapsing. We sat together in utter amazement. Our work never really commenced that infamous morning, for our tears, shock, fear, and prayers were all we were capable of managing. When the reality began to sink in, we did what was necessary and then headed home early to be with loved ones.

One dear friend of ours had survived. He was in his office in the World Trade Center that morning, but escaped before his office tower fell to the ground. Miraculously he made it home safe and sound. There were other reports of friends who didn’t make it, some still lost in the rubble. As the news reports began to focus on terrorism, the fear was viscerally felt throughout the nation. I will never forget that day; it’s permanently etched in my heart and mind. Perhaps you feel the same.

This weekend we remembered. We recalled with vivid acuity that memorable day 10 years ago. Our leaders spoke with warmth and depth and certitude. The memories of those who died and those who survived were honored appropriately. There was unity, oneness, commonality in our national strength.

What will tomorrow bring? Will we return once more to schism, fear, and distrust? Or, will we remain focused on the task of eradicating hatred in our world? A lofty goal, but certainly an understandable response.

9/11 is a fitting day of remembrance. As Christians, it’s appropriate that we join our fellow citizens to remember and give thanks. May God Almighty reign supremely in our hearts and minds as we process the fear of terror, the fruit of forgiveness, and the need to put our deepest and fullest trust in God and God alone – no matter what may come our way today or in the future.

With vivid memories we recall 9.11.01. With grace, mercy, love and peace we embrace a future filled with hope.



Labor and Rest

We take Labor Day off for a good reason…to rest from our work and to be thankful for the gift of our labor, as it contributes meaningfully to the lives of others. No matter our vocation, as believers in Jesus Christ, our work is to be defined and expressed out of our relationship with God, the Scriptures, and prayer.

When we labor, we do so “as unto the Lord” and the integrity of our lives is evidence of our earnest desire to honor and please him in all ways. Our moral compass is defined by God’s Word, not by the ever lapsing moral collapse of the world around us. Therefore, we work hard, we pursue excellence, we exceed expectations of our employers, all as a witness to the joy and gratitude that exists in our hearts. We treat others in the workplace as Jesus would treat them: with grace, mercy, patience, honesty, appreciation and love. This very simply is the Christian way.

When we cease from laboring, we are to rest and reflect on the tremendous gifts that our work provides for us. Beyond a fair wage, we discover that we’re grateful for the opportunity to exercise our personal capabilities in meaningful, life changing ways. We’re renewed in our resting to return once again to our labor with vigor and passion and intentionality. Our work comes alive once more out of our restfulness and rejuvenation.

Combining labor and rest is consistent to the example of the Lord. After his labor of creation, we’re told in the Scriptures that he rested. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done,” Genesis 2:2,3.

On this Labor Day we rest from our daily work. It’s similar to what Sabbath rest is designed to create within us on a weekly, ongoing basis. However, there’s generally more tension than balance in that invitation, for it’s hard for most of us to find genuine rest whatsoever (we’re constantly being pulled in too many conflicting directions). But for this day, the invitation is to cease from what resembles the daily rhythms of work, and instead find rest for body, mind, heart and soul.

A God-blessed Labor Day to you and yours!