Friday, September 26, 2008
As I continue my journey through the aging process I have noticed my eyesight has deteriorated at a more rapid pace the past couple of years. I spend more time looking through the lower part of my eye glasses than I do the uppers. Vision trouble just seems to be part of the natural aging process. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s seemingly random insertion of “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” in Galatians. So we can assume that even the great visionary of the New Testament apparently had trouble with his eyesight.
So how is your vision? I’m not referring to the natural eyesight but the one the Father placed in your spirit so many years ago? Is the dream still alive? Has it been diminished by compromise? Have you “outgrown” your child-like faith that once allowed for the truth that “with God all things are possible”?
Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23
I know many a brother and sister that once had a vision and somewhere along the way it faded into “reality.” The idea that it must not have been God’s will crept in from the enemy and sucked the hope out along with the faith and energy to tend that garden. Just like Adam and Eve, many have eaten the fruit of “knowledge” instead of Life. Common sense told them they were being unrealistic.
Can I speak some “home on the range” truth here? The lie of being “realistic” is just bullshit. It’s the fertilizer that feeds the tree of “knowledge” and allows it to grow and crowd out the Tree of Life. Some of you have told yourself you are too old to start now. Some of you have told yourself that the obstacles are too great, be it geography, finances, or other resources. Some of you have forgotten our God reigns.
" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams”. Acts 2:17
This speaks of two types of men - young and old. Young men are idealistic full of energy and naïve enough to believe “it could happen.” I often wonder if the old men here are dreaming dreams about what might have been. I don’t think that is the totality of truth in that passage, but I think it could apply.
No longer having the energy for the pursuit of their passion they slumber and let those thoughts float “sleepishly” with regret. (Sleepish = Timism contraction of sheepish and sleepy) May I encourage each of you to never accept the premise of “unqualified” or “unworthy”? If the Father gave His most precious resource as an offering for our redemption, then there is no other resource that He would withhold from us to see His purposes fulfilled in our lives.
The impetus for this blog came from surfing Valencia Hills on YouTube. I was so encouraged by this Pastor’s obedience to shepherd the vision God gave him for their community. If Jehovah Jireh can take 4 lepers and feed a city, he can take us to places beyond what we can imagine.
Ephesians 3:14-20 14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I know the first part of this verse through repeated practice. Sometimes success is only found through repeated failure. This gives me hope for the second part of that verse as I am one well-oiled machine when it comes to eating shoe leather, or FIMS (Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome). "Hey bro! Um...is that toe-jam in your teeth?" A daily regimen of scriptural floss and spiritual mouthwash can help prevent, or at least help mitigate the effects of such soleful sucking.
Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:34).
So just like in "Resistance Training" we find that our spiritual muscles need to be developed through disciplined exercise. When lifting weights to tone we are taught to do several repititions of smaller weights to the point of failure. There are some great spiritual truths here (I actually heard a sermon on this once), so don't miss the opportunity to be challenged and encouraged in the missing of the mark.
I really felt the past couple of days the Lord wanted me to share this simple message:
Many of you have stumbled. Many of you fallen prey to that sin that so easily besets you. Many of you are discouraged because things don't look like what you had imagined they would at this point in your life. Be encouraged. You are never out of his sight or his reach.
His plans for us are not subject to our ability to screw up. He is perfectly content to operate in us and through us in spite of, and in conjunction with, our - dare I say it? - HUMANITY. Don't forget HE created us in His image and in OUR humanity. He loves you and is proud to call you His own.
Something has become increasingly clear to me about our journey(s): We have permission to be human but no right to try to be God.
The wonderful thing is He loves to make deposits of His Divine nature in us and calls us to be like Him. Cool. He also understands "we all stumble in many ways." Cool. He's not afraid of our weaknesses, but loves it when we bring them to Him and surrender them again on His altar of grace. I'm thinking a few "deep knee bends" might help. And if your neighbor is hurting a bit, maybe a couple of "chin-ups" are in order.
Your comments and feed back are always desired and welcome. TM
Friday, September 12, 2008
James 2:18-22 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
I had an e(mail) discussion the other day with a friend of mine; it was apparent he hasn’t been reading my Blog. In MYPOD’s Ears Are Itching I discussed the disconnect of the body from the Head – namely Christ, and how our comfort and self satisfaction has become our primary focus in this world. It is as if we have been lulled to sleep by the fatted golden calves of our time which feed our flesh, and feed on our spirits.
Our schedules are full and our wallets empty, so the resources of grace that God has blessed us with are depleted. We’ve checked out in deference to our right to spiritual slumber. It’s time for an awakening thunder.
Back to my friend…we were discussing and debating our rights versus our responsibilities as Christian brothers (one to another). His contention is that a direct request for help neither requires action or response on his part.
I pointed out the obvious error of that statement that to date the only response is from the crickets. He’s not alone. There have been a number of occasions in which I was coordinating different efforts to raise money, or help meet the various needs of brothers and sisters in Christ, some of which were close friends or relatives of those we were soliciting, only to be met with the Sin of Indifference.
My brothers and sisters this ought not be. If you are tempted to stake claim to your “right of refusal,” take that thought captive and submit it to the obedience of Christ - who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scorning it’s shame. Please don’t lecture me about being are “under grace not works”; copping that plea is simply copping out. Show me your faith by what you say, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (ibid)
And spare me the notion that we have no “requirement” to respond to a direct request for help. To simply ignore such a request is the stuff of darkness. Even the non-Christian people I know understand and practice the principle of common courtesy. In this case silence is not golden, unless we’re talking about that golden calf of self-interest. Even if the answer is “I can’t at this time” it is at least a response.
So, what could be the argument that would support the “right” to ignore? We have so many examples in scripture that directly refute this model. The Good Samaritan is a perfect one, yet somehow there are people that I personally know that take the way of the Priest or the Levite, suggesting that they are somehow “above it all.” “That’s not my ‘ministry’” or “I don’t have the ‘grace’ for that right now.” Excuse me?!!!
We are called to be salt and light.
Sometimes the salt is found in the sweat. If we never break one – how can we be tasted? It is also found in the tears of the cheek, but if we aren't available to "mourn with those that mourn" then our spiritual diet is bland or bitter.
“Light-bearers” are also burden-bearers, which often requires us to be our own pallbearers to get our flesh out of the way of the Spirit. If we fight against the weight of our sloth and nail to the cross, interestingly it becomes easier to take up and follow. Yokes become easier and burdens lighter in obedience.
We are good about giving lip-service to the concept of “community.” For many that simply means parties, going out to dinner, or maybe even a small home group provided the night and time-slot is convenient. The Truth is - it ain’t always about the goodies.
Sometimes it’s about the grunt work that brings the grace: the hospital visits, the late night phone chats, painting a few walls, working on vehicles, mowing a lawn, buying a lunch, and sometimes it is simply the cold hard cash.
Knowing what is right to do and not doing it is sin. (James 4:17) That James fella is a tough hombre!
We need to understand we are not our own, we are bought with a price, a very high precious price. That means our resources are no our own either, which will often include encroachments on our time and space. I once saw a quote that said, “Any problem that can be fixed by writing a check is not a problem, it’s an expense.” We’ve embraced the ledger mindset that sees writing a check as a valid alternative to investing ourselves.
I have served on a worship team at a local church for about the last three years. It is time consuming and at times financially burdomesome. I know others who serve their churches in similar fashion whether through music or teaching etc. The temptation is to have the "gave at the office" mentality and shrink back from service of other kinds. I know some who think that fills their "requirement." As long as we see good works as "works" we will miss the moment and the blessing.
One of our favorite charities is Habitat for Humanity (Jimmy Carter notwithstanding). It is one thing to send them money and quite another to put on the work gloves and boots and show up to help build a house. Another of our favorite charities is The Salvation Army. A few years back we loaded up the kids on Thanksgiving morning and went and helped serve lunch. Wow. No check or envelope of cash could ever replace what we received in serving that day. Our Father knows this.
Serving others doesn’t just meet their need in that moment; it brings life to the servant as well. It has nothing to do with spiritual pride, or some religious merit badge, it has to do with being intimate with others and in so doing being partakers of the Divine Nature of Christ. I am still incredulous at the apathy I have seen from some of my brothers and sisters who profess their faith yet cry foul when challenged by it, or ignore it altogether.
Well Wah! Just Wah!
Get off your couch-potato butts, on your knees, and over yourselves, and thank God somebody thought enough of you to help you in your times of need. Freedom in Christ is not about the credit account to self, but dying to it. Its’ about recognizing and responding to “the least of these my brethren.”
It’s funny how we are good at resisting this kind of challenge to serve, yet so poor at resisting sin which always, always, always points to self. It's time we disengage the cruise control devices and exercise some self-control for the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.