The Progress Paradox

You can seek salvation and enlightenment from within yourself, or from the Father who sent his Son to die on your cross to purchase your salvation. You can look within for help with your greatest problem today, or turn to him. You can try to heal your broken relationships by focusing on the Now or by turning to the Lord. You can make your decisions based on your wisdom or the omniscient God.

The progress paradox is simple: the more of self you give, the more of God you have.


Now the choice is yours. What is your greatest decision, problem, struggle, challenge today? Self-dependence is spiritual suicide. Eckhart Tolle and all who tell you to look within are lying to you.

Don’t look in–look up. Make God the King of this problem, this issue, this challenge. Put it into his hands and do whatever he says. Search his word; seek him in prayer; listen for his voice. Do whatever would most glorify him. Make yourself the servant of the King. And the more of self you give, the more of God you’ll have.

Many years ago I learned this lesson in a way which has changed forever my ministry. I had been pastor of First Baptist Church in Midland, Texas for a year or so. The church scheduled Dr. Sam Cannata to speak at a Sunday night missions emphasis.

Dr. Cannata was a doctor who gave up a lucrative medical practice to become a medical missionary in Africa. Shortly after arriving, he was treating a sick child who coughed in his face and cost him his eye. One was perfect; the other was cloudy and useless. But that setback did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the Lord and his call to service.

Dr. Cannata and I were praying in my study before the service when he said something I’ll never forget. With his Bible and sermon notes in his hand, he prayed, “Lord, take away any word I’ve prepared in this sermon if it is not your word, and add any word you wish. I will say whatever you want me to say. This sermon is yours.”

I know that sounds like a simple thing, but for a preacher who has labored all week over a message to let God change it any way he wants, it was a profound lesson. I have prayed it every week since, just as I am stepping up to speak. On the weeks I mean it, God shows up. On the weeks I don’t, not so much.

Why do you need Dr. Cannata’s prayer for your soul today?