I Can't Get No Satisfaction


In the last post, I mentioned my obsession with God and how obsessions can be good if God is the object of our obsession, since that was how He created humans. Obsession also goes by another name: worship. It stems from “worth+ship,” the process of being shaped by the deservedness of the object of your obsession. Worship directly defines you in light of your obsession - who you become as its worshiper. This is a very scary thought when we consider all the things people worship. When I’ve talked about being obsessed with God, it’s so very easy to become obsessed with everything “godly” but never having a direct relationship with the Creator Himself. This can become “religion” instead of a relationship.


How can we please Him if we don’t know Him or what pleases Him?

“Examine me, Mighty One, and discover what my heart worships; test my divided mind. Determine if any of my ways is displeasing to You; guide me in the only way that leads to being with You forever.” - Psalm 139:23-24

THE SYSTEM IS RIGGED

“Religion” comes from the Latin word for contract, obligation, bond; a set of handcuffs chained to a set of rules. Religion continually demands submission to the rules and requirements of endless slavery, promising the dangling carrot of freedom if certain {unattainable} perfection is attained. “Religion” is devotion to a serial abuser: an object or idea that has no interest in what is truly best for us but keeps us under its control and dictatorship - and the reason we keep coming back is because we are proud of ourselves for not giving up. And yet we know it’s pointless but we just cannot quit - like gambling addicts, lab rats and insane asylum patients. “There MUST be a trick to it! I’m gonna figure it out eventually….”

Once, at a friend’s Catholic wedding, I heard the priest say that he hoped he wouldn’t mess up the ceremony. I asked what would happen if he made a mistake, and he replied that if he didn’t perform the ceremony correctly, God would not accept the marriage as legitimate. The helplessness of that concept broke my heart - he was saying what all religious people are dying to admit: “If I don’t do this exactly right, God will not be pleased with me and I will deserve eternal punishment.” It frustrates me that people have been led to believe that obsessing over impossible, endless, pointless manmade rules will somehow please God. The number one human distraction since the beginning of time has been for humans to choose to worship everything EXCEPT the only One who deserves it.


I have attended countless congregations throughout my life; I’ve heard numerous stories of pastors deliberately twisting scripture to suit their own purposes. One incidence occurred so that a pastor would “avoid sexual temptation” because he lusted after pants-wearing women who attended Sunday services. This “leader” began preaching a message of his own concoction to control himself, chastising any woman who wore pants - loose fitting dresses hanging below the knees became the only acceptable attire. Nothing in this man’s message was verified by the Bible, and half of the congregation walked away. The remaining half accepted it and stayed, out of loyalty to their tradition and their devotion to their pastor. Unfortunately, God wasn’t the one being worshiped.

When I still lived with my parents, my family attended many congregations where the leadership deliberately and continually overlooked my father’s anger and my mother’s manipulative behavior. The loss of my parents’ significant contributions to the congregations' finances dictated what was “right.” Neither of my parents were ever held accountable for their behavior; right and wrong were shaped by greed, not by honoring God and pleasing Him by speaking truth. Because the funding was worshiped, the wrongs were never addressed and my parents were never counseled to change their ways (or their minds).


The system is rigged, ladies and gentlemen. This means we’ve got to skedaddle - NOW. If the services you attend or the ministers that you follow are suggesting or insisting that rules or traditions will bring you closer to God, it’s a flat out lie. Walk away immediately from anyone that tries to add rules or rituals to the simplicity of God’s law:

“The most important command is this: be obsessed with your God, the only true God - your complete spirit, your complete body, your complete understanding, and your complete power (position and possessions) must be devoted to your God and His desires. The second most important command is this: honestly desire for each of your fellow humans to succeed and prosper equally as much as you desire your own personal success and prosperity. These two commands are the most important of all.” - Mark 12:29-31 (see also: Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18)

I don’t care who you are - that’s powerful… and yet it’s the last thing we are seeing in action in “Christians” today. If they claim to worship God, but His worth - His character - is not shaping them, what are they being shaped by? The true object of their worship is themselves. They pursue only what benefits them and their interests. Rarely do we see selflessness in the world today. This breaks my heart beyond belief.


GETTING SATISFACTION

Following God has never been a prerequisite to prosperity - in fact, Jesus continually reiterated that His followers were guaranteed pain and torture and hard times. He never once stated (or insinuated) that His obedient followers could hope to expect money and comfort - it was always the exact opposite. He did, however, promise that whatever they needed would be provided, and only enough for that moment in time. He never spoke of gobs of money or loads of power, or palaces of comfort - He made it a point to nip that idea in the bud.

The only promise of provision was that when God provided, it would always be just enough and just in time. Not too much or too little, too early or too late, but just enough and just in time. God knows what we need and when we need it. If we don’t have it yet, we don’t need it yet. When anxiety and worry over what we don’t yet have becomes our focus, we are choosing not to be satisfied with all we already do have. We aren’t willing to wait for His timing. We don’t trust Him - instead, we jump the gun and accept the quick, cheap, dirty version of the real, valuable, legitimate kept promise that our God has for us. If His promise of provision and protection doesn’t satisfy us, nothing will:

“My God is my Shepherd - and as His sheep, He provides absolutely all that I need. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it. As my Shepherd, He leads me to grazing fields full of food, and He provides water that is calm and quiet and clean. My relationship with Him restores my spirit because being close to Him completes me. He leads me on roads that take me to safety and pleasing places - this proves to me that His love is worth trusting and following. And then, in the times when He leads me through places that are dark and I can’t see Him leading me, I trust Him because I know He’s still there and He won’t leave me alone - I can hear Him ahead of me, tapping His shepherd’s staff along the path. He has proven that He has great things planned for me, but only if I stick with Him and ignore those who say otherwise. My God claims me as His own and provides absolutely everything I could ever need when I need it. For the rest of my life, I will never get enough of His goodness and faithful love, and I cannot bear to be apart from Him for one moment as long as I live.” (Psalm 23, paraphrased)


Our God should be the epitome of our satisfaction. We should be able to say, “I’m satisfied. He is all I need.”

UNSATISFIED SHEPHERDS

Most American pastors today are considered “cool” - and many are even celebrities! There was a day when pastors - people who obeyed God wholeheartedly and who spoke truth unashamedly - were the laughingstock of society, seen as fools, and treated horribly. Today, American pastors are worshiped, especially in “megachurches” where the numbers are growing and the attendees pour money into the offering plates, hoping to get a return on their "investment.” Everyone wants to be close to the pastor, as if this can somehow bring them more points with God. This comment is damning to all who are involved - you know who you are!

Most pastors today are living well above the lifestyles of their congregants, owning spacious and expensive homes, driving high-end cars, wearing popular stylish clothing; broadcasting their lifestyle to their congregations as proof of “God’s approval through His blessing.” This sends the wrong message, especially to those they are shepherding: “If you become a pastor or cozy up to one, the blessings will rub off on you and you too will be blessed with a lifestyle like this.” This is extremely dangerous! If you’ve ever heard the old idiom, “Can you trust a skinny chef?” let me offer you a new one: “Can you trust a wealthy pastor?”

Any minister whose messages (and lifestyles) focus on health, wealth, and prosperity are a symptom of the underlying disease: selfishness… and greed. They are the furthest thing from being satisfied with “just enough,” and they are leading people down a path to destruction. Beware of the pastor who spreads the good news of God’s approval through His monetary blessing. It’s a sham, an excuse for a “man of God” to live like a man of the people and focus on anything but desiring God above all else.

People become pastors or start organizations that minister to others, but many of them pursue ministry for all the wrong reasons, desiring their own success, whether that includes money or possessions or popularity - all diversions from the God whom all ministries should honor and represent. The focus of many ministers is themselves - aka selfishness - instead of pursuing their Creator and His desire to mature them and grow a relationship with them.

All churchgoers who consider their possessions, good health, respectable family, or financial security as God’s approval of their lifestyles and heart conditions should consider their position should all these “blessings” disappear…. Would their responses to these losses include “God doesn’t love me anymore,” or “What did I do wrong?” or even “I can’t follow a God like this”? Our response to this hypothetical situation says a lot about our view of God vs His blessings. Were we honoring God because of His blessings or were we worshipping the blessings themselves?


Thousands of years before Jesus walked the earth, Job was a man who respected God. God Himself boasted about Job to His enemies, and Job suffered for many months because God used Him as an example of respect and obedience. God eventually restored all that Job had lost, and provided much more. Even during the removal of prosperity and good health, Job maintained his respect for God and stood firm: “I claim no rights to anything in my possession - I came into this world with nothing, and I will leave this world with nothing. God has the authority to provide, and He also has the authority to remove. Either way, I will respect and honor Him.” - Job 1:21 (paraphrased)

Pastors are meant to be individuals responsible for shepherding and guiding the people to look to God as the sole object of their obsession. When a pastor displays a lifestyle of comfort and plenty, he advertises that the reward for pleasing God is proven by comfort, good health and abundant wealth, while firmly planted in a place with no storms. NO! That’s a deliberately misleading lie designed by the opposition to distract and detract from the truth: God’s blessings cannot be measured by this world’s standards. God was extremely pleased by Job, and He removed every blessing to prove that the blessings were not Job’s focus.


TRUE BLESSINGS

Our Creator’s destiny for His creation is for His creation to be obsessed with Him. No God-obsessed human ever sets a focus on wealth, or good health, or a life of comfort. They only pursue closeness to their God through a direct relationship with Him. Satisfaction can be found in the smallest and unlikeliest of blessings - if not, one’s focus is something other than God.

How can we expect God to continue pouring blessings if we are not appreciating and using them appropriately? Blessings come in all forms - sometimes tragedy, sometimes provision, sometimes resources meant to share or give away. Sometimes God provides more free time and less funding; so how is that precious time spent - for one’s own pleasures or according to God’s direction? Blessings can satisfy our own needs or can be utilized to help others - or both simultaneously.

Your Creator wants to bless you, just as a human father would want to bless his child with gifts and goodness. Even our human fathers will limit provision in order to teach responsibility. Look at those who have everything provided for them except the opportunity to learn responsibility - we all know them as “brats.” Today we see generations of “church brats” who demand “I want it, and I want it now!” in their entitled whines alongside Veruca Salt, who refuse to acknowledge the blessings already provided… including the blessing of lack. Yes, even NOT having something is a blessing. Trust me - I know!

I have personally been in ministry for over two decades, and I have experienced many moments of “Worship me, I’m cool!” God pruned that pride out of my life quickly, and I eventually laid it all bare for Him to remove that - and more! I have learned that unless I appoint God alone to keep my selfish pride in check, I will always return to my accomplishments to define my identity and personal value - and ultimately I’d be worshiping myself. My deepest desire is to find my value and identity in Him, and to always point back to God and God alone. Our human nature is weak, and our only true strength comes from the power that our Creator provides when we allow Him to fill us with Himself.

THE TAKEAWAY

Don’t ever let anyone come between you and God. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is a liar. You have the immediate opportunity to form and grow a direct relationship with Your Creator - just you and Him. This is the sole reason for Jesus to set foot in human history - He obliterated the need for any more go-betweens until forever.

“Our Creator gave every creature life and breath… He made Adam, the first human, and in every generation since Adam, He has planned out their skin colors and languages and lifetimes and locations. He did this so that they would seek their Creator - and find that He is within our reach - as close as a whisper. He provides our breath and life, and all cultures, in some form, acknowledge that we are His children. If we are reproductions of Him as children are of their parents, and we are not made of stone or gold or silver; we are not images fashioned by human art and imagination - this should reveal to us that He is not a lifeless object to be worshiped. He is a living Being who desperately loves His creation.” - Acts 17:25b-29 (paraphrased)


If you’re still reading, I’m impressed. I’d love for you to ponder the following:


1. So… if obsession shows worth+ship, who/what is shaping you?

2. Has any “religion” (contract/obligation/rules) ever truly inspired (not FORCED) humans to love God more, or to love each other?


3. If you were told that you had 30 days left to live, how would you spend your last 720 hours?

a blog about standing for truth and following the Living God

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