Is God Your Co-pilot?

God is my copilot

Remember these bumper stickers? I haven’t seen one in a while, and that’s a good thing. Perhaps we’ve come to realize that we need to let God be in charge, instead of relegating Him to co-pilot status. We know that God needs to be in the pilot’s seat. Yet, how often we forget!

It isn’t just us. The problem started way back in the Garden of Eden. Look at Genesis 3:1-7. Everything up to this point was good. Adam and Eve had meaningful, productive work, a lovely place to live, and all their needs were being met by God. Of course, it didn’t stay that way.

Satan slithered into view, and challenged Eve with, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Notice that he’s suggesting something that God did not say. In fact, it’s far from the truth. God had provided the fruit for food.

Eve is quick to correct him: “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” However, she doesn’t get her facts quite right either. I’ve always wondered—God gave that commandment to Adam before Eve was around (Genesis 2:16-17), so she got her information secondhand. Who added that bit about touching?

In any case, Satan first calls God a liar, then appeals to Eve’s desire for autonomy: “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

How enticing! Once we are like God, we can go our own way, make our own decisions, plot our own course. We won’t need Him anymore. Satan plants the seeds of distrust—God is lying. He is withholding something desirable, something good. He doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

We all know what happened next—instead of trusting God’s love and wisdom, Eve depends on her own analysis. The fruit is safe to eat. It looks good. It’s tasty. As a result, Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had commanded them not to eat, and we’ve been trying to rely on ourselves, usurping God’s authority, ever since.

Over the years I’ve asked a number of non-Christians why they don’t accept God’s offer of relationship. The answers have varied, but there’s a theme, one that a friend from my high school years expressed best—“I believe in God, but I don’t want Him telling me what to do. I can make my own decisions.” Nothing has changed since the garden.

Even those of us who claim to be believers struggle with this desire to be in charge. We want God to be in our life. We may agree with this alternate bumper sticker…

god is my copilot switch seats

… but when it gets down to the wire, we want God to bless our plans, while we stay in control.

This was brought home to us recently. Pete was asked to look over some plans for the expansion of a well-known ministry. There were plenty of spreadsheets, lots of technical details, and alternate plans for every contingency. It all looked pretty impressive, and their goals were laudable.

But as Pete read, he was surprised and disappointed by what was missing—any mention of dependence on the Holy Spirit. This was a ministry, but their documented processes were no different from those of any secular corporation. Where was their reliance on God?

When asked about the lack of spiritual input, they explained that leaving it all in God’s hands just seemed too fuzzy. Instead of relying on God’s direction, their board wanted everything nailed down, with predetermined procedures and measurable outcomes. In their desire for control, the Holy Spirit was excluded.

Praying for God to reveal His will, then waiting on His answer, feels so… unpredictable. We want to know where we’re going, how we’ll get there, when we’ll arrive, and how we’ll pay for it all. Jesus simply says, “Follow Me.” We want all the facts before we make a decision. God says, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1; italics mine.)

God is asking us to go far beyond trusting what we can see, to trusting Him. He’s inviting us to come onboard without asking about  possible turbulence, the duration of the flight, or planned stopovers (although we do know our final destination). Just hand him our baggage, fasten our seatbelts, and see where He will take us. He guarantees it will be the journey of a lifetime.

 

China’s Social Credit System

Do you want to rent an apartment? Buy an airline ticket? Get a date? If you do—and you’re a citizen of China—you’d better have a good social credit score.

Four years ago, the Chinese government announced a new system with the goal of “raising the awareness for integrities and the level of credibility within society.” In other words, the government wants more control of the economy and the population. What a surprise.

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Sitting in God’s Waiting Room

Advent is a time of waiting. Children (and plenty of adults) are eagerly waiting to open their gifts, while others can’t wait to see their look of surprise and delight. We may be anticipating the arrival of family members who live far away, or we may be the ones traveling to see them. If we’re frazzled by all the holiday bustle, we may simply be waiting for January!

In the church, advent is a time of waiting for Jesus. Yes, He is already here. But each year we anticipate His birth anew, and the difference His presence makes in the world.

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I’m Out of Control

I love to plan stuff. In fact, sometimes I enjoy the planning more than the actual event. The anticipation is exciting—like the thrill I felt as a kid, waiting for Christmas.

I’ll admit, I also enjoy planning and organizing things because it gives me the sense that I’m in control. Of course, I know better, but organizing lets me pretend for a while. And the more life throws me a curve ball, the more planning and organizing I do.

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Go Listen to Skye Jethani

One of the blogs I follow is SkyeBox, written by Skye Jethani. All his posts are insightful and worth reading (or listening to). This one is even better than that!

He recently posted:

Last month I spoke at the Lumen conference at Mariners Church in California. They asked me to talk for 18 minutes about why there is an exodus of young people from our churches. Rather than focusing on the sociological data, I used my time to talk about how the way we understand the gospel may actually be inoculating young people to genuine faith.

When the church presents a less than biblical understanding of how to relate to God, it leaves young people with a powerless form of Christianity predicated on fear and control. When this way of life proves ineffective, they may abandon both their faith in Christ and the church. So, our first job is to get the gospel right. Check out my talk and the brief Q&A afterward. Much of the content you see is based on my book, WITH.

His talk was so good, so right on, so insightful, that I am hoping everyone will listen.

I’ll be back next Tuesday with some thoughts about good deeds and orphans.

Snow Day

As I write this, tiny snowflakes are falling from pearl-white clouds, adding to the 15 inches we’re already received. I hear the hum of the computer and the whoosh of air coming from the heating vent by my feet, but otherwise it’s totally silent. Even the hungry finches gobbling down sunflower seeds on my bird feeder are strangely quiet.

By the time you read this, the snow will be mostly gone. Living in the rain shadow of the Rockies, we don’t keep clouds around for long. Even now, we aren’t really snowed in. The roads are mostly plowed, and Pete shoveled a couple of wheel tracks down the long driveway so we can get our cars out. But I can pretend.

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Self Control

In my on-again, off-again series on God’s “Steps to Success” (found in 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8), I’ve been meaning to write about self control for some time, but I never knew quite how to approach the topic. Yes, in Peter’s list, “self-control” comes after knowledge—first we need to know the right thing to do, and then we need to follow through and actually do it! But how does this affect my day-to-day life?

Then last month something happened that turned this from an intellectual exercise into a personal issue.

Though Pete was out of town, I still planned to attend a special Christian concert about twenty minutes away. To get there, I had to pass through a rural area with no street lights. Since my night vision is less than optimal, I arranged a ride with another couple.

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