KEEPIN' IT REAL
My family and I love to watch American Idol together. We get wrapped up in the contestants (we think Jason, the Aggie with the dread locks, is hilarious) and always like to hear what the judges have to say in response. Simon is blunt and rude, but also very funny and almost always "spot on." Paula is consistently nice and encouraging... but can also be inane at times. And then there is Randy "Dawg" Jackson. When he says something negative about a contestant's performance, he always ends his comments with "just keepin' it real, dawg. Just keepin' it real."
What is the translation of "keepin' it real?" What exactly does that mean? It means you are choosing to live in reality. It means you are dealing with things honestly and openly... and not pretending everything is alright.
THE GREAT PRETENDERS
Have you ever noticed how people (you and me included) have a great tendency to NOT keep it real? We like to pretend everything in our life is great... when deep down we know it is not. Many have as their theme song, "Sin in others I can see, but praise the Lord there's none in me!" That is a wonderful Hebrew word for that theme song: BALONEY!!!! If we truly keep it real, we have to admit to ourselves that there are LOTS of areas in our lives that need to be changed by God's amazing grace and power.
I am convinced that all of us have a closet in our heart in which we put all the junk that we do not want to deal with - disappointments, abuse, guilt, shame, shattered dreams, the sting of rejection and criticism, the agony of betrayal and broken promises, etc. It is a junk closet. We throw everything bad in there... close the door and pretend it is gone - out of sight, out of mind. Right? WRONG! It is still with you everywhere you go. The stuff in the junk closet will stunt your spiritual growth, steal your joy and peace, and wreck and ruin your life.
One day, Jesus asked a paralyzed man, "Do you want to get well?" That is a great question for so many of us today who are paralyzed emotionally and spiritually because of the junk in the closet. If we really want to get well, this is what we have to do:
OPEN THE CLOSET DOOR. Honestly assess your life. Do you have issues with anger, bitterness, gossip, envy, lust, insecurity, jealousy, greed, submitting to authority? Those things need to be dealt with.
START CLEANING THINGS OUT. This is a painful process but so very worth it. It is not enough to just acknowledge the junk, you and I must also deal with it God's way. Many of us need to confess the sin of bitterness towards God and others. We need to thank God for the things that have happened to us, knowing that He indeed "works all things together for good to those who love Him." We need to forgive those who hurt us so deeply (perhaps a parent... or our spouse... or a teacher/coach... or a sibling... or a best friend... or a pastor or someone at church). We need to seek forgiveness from those we have hurt. We need to accept forgiveness from God.
Forgiveness is so critical. One London psychiatrist told Billy Graham that 70% of the people in mental hospitals could be set free if they would simply be able to receive forgiveness and grant forgiveness. Both are available to you today by the grace of God.
START FOCUSING ON YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH AND GROWTH. So many Christians go to church Sunday after Sunday but do not really focus on their own spiritual growth. The lose sight of the goal. The purpose of prayer, Bible study, fellowship and corporate worship is not to check the box so you can show God you did it, the purpose is to grow... to become more like Jesus each and every day. You see, the Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation. Are you being transformed? John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30). Is Jesus really increasing in you? Are you becoming more like Him in the way you act and react?
If you and I are to keep it real, we need to let down our defenses, take off our masks and come to the Lord in humility and honesty. Personally, God has been showing me things in the closet that He wants to see change. And I am excited to know that God is "at work in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
Would you join me in yielding yourself anew and afresh to Him, in opening your closet to Him so that He can do all He wants to do in you? The process may be painful, but the results will be so worth it!
From His Heart Ministries can be seen on LightSource.com. This is another opportunity to reach people throughout the world with the love of Christ. Tell your friends and check us out.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.