Archive for June, 2009

22
Jun
09

living by faith

whistler_bungee_winter_AI have a confession to make. I’m a control freak. It’s not always evident and it doesn’t affect everything that I do. I have learned to temper it some for sanity’s sake. Experience has taught me that there are some things I just can’t do anything about, and there are some people that I’m just not going to change. So I have learned to back off or, maybe it’s just a passive/aggressive response, who knows?

Anyway, I have found that the problem with being a control freak is that it makes it very difficult to follow the biblical mandate of living “by faith.” (Romans 1:17) As Erwin McManus explains, “Somehow we’ve come to believe that faith removes ambiguity rather than calls us to live in it. The church tends to live by ‘the faith’ more than it lives by faith. Many times what we want from God is not a mandate that requires our faith, but a guarantee that in reality, faith was never needed.”

I’m sorry to say that this statement describes me pretty accurately. I have made a priority out of “living by the faith,” but, like many throughout the history of God’s people, I have struggled with walking by faith through the difficult times in my life. I, like most of us I presume, long to see miracles of biblical proportions, but the minute a situation arises that only God can handle I start trying to figure out how I’m going to “fix it” myself. My Type A personality kicks in and I start strategizing. I develop timetables. I marshall resources. I make lists of personal and professional contacts that I have who might be able to help.

Some might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that? You are just using your leadership and administrative gifts that God has given to you.” God does expect us to use our talents wisely, generously, and proficiently. But we are also reminded in Scripture that, “The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory– for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:16-18)

16
Jun
09

a holy experiment

1113118I was reading Oswald Chambers the other day and he made this statement, “If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed.”

That really intrigued me. What does it mean to be “a holy experiment?” If we look to Scripture it quickly becomes apparent that God is in the habit of taking ordinary human beings, like you and me, who have accepted His gift of grace, and arranging circumstances in our life to demonstrate His goodness and power so that others might observe what He is doing in us. Take Job as example. Or, look at the apostles, of whom Paul said, “Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.” (1 Corinthians 4:9) You might be thinking, “but those are biblical super Christians, God doesn’t do that kind of thing in ordinary everyday believers.” Notice what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14. “But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’re wondering how successful this experiment can really be. I know how often I’ve come up just a little bit short of the mark. But that’s the interesting thing. God even uses even our weakness to show His patience and mercy.

Chambers tells us the key to the success of this experiment when he goes on to say, “The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh.” It is the Holy Spirit living in you that, to put it in scientific terms, is the catalyst which produces God’s desired result. Is it any wonder that we are directed in Scripture to be continually “filled with the Spirit?” (Ephesians 5:18)

09
Jun
09

A Holy Life

praiseI was singing a worship song recently that contained a line that was a request for a “holy life.” The line grabbed my attention and I began to consider thoughtfully what I was asking God for. What does it really mean to be holy.

The first thought that comes to most of us when we think about being holy is something along the lines of moral uprightness. We might begin to make a list of of all the rules that we should be keeping. And then we experience a wave of guilt because we immediately recognize how often we fall short of the standard we have set for ourselves (or allowed others to set for us).

Is that what God wants for us, to live in a constant state of self-loathing? I don’t think so.

As I was contemplating this the thought occurred to me that one of the reasons the church has lost a significant part of it’s effectiveness is that we have lost focus. Let me explain. We spend all of our time trying to make ourselves right before God when; we can’t because we don’t have the ability or means to do so, and it has already been done for us by Jesus! (Galatians 2:21) So here’s the problem. We focus all of our attention on and expend all of our energy trying to do something we were never asked to do, and in fact can never accomplish and in doing so we neglect what we were told to do which is to proclaim the Good News and do good.

What an ingenious plan on the part of the enemy: getting us to spin our wheels trying to do what has already been done and that we can’t accomplish anyway while we neglect the responsibility that has been given to us!

But, you ask, “doesn’t being holy mean that follow some code or set of rules?” The word holy means-“to be separate,” or more specifically “to separate to something.” The concept conveys the idea of “dedicated things.” When the Bible speaks of holiness it is reminding us that we should be dedicated to the purposes of God. That means that we accept the free gift of salvation and then bring ourselves under the authority of God’s precepts fulfilling the responsibilities that have been given to us.

With that in mind, are you living a holy life?

03
Jun
09

Clouds & Trees

imagesI was sitting the other day watching the clouds blowing along. It was amazing how they appeared to so effortlessly, glide along propelled by the wind currents. I couldn’t see those currents, but I knew they were there. I saw the effect of them – I saw the clouds moving.

My prayer at that moment became, “Father, let me be like those clouds, moved along by the rhythm of your will expressed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Effortlessly doing what you desire because I am not preoccupied with pursuing my own agenda, promoting my own self-interests, or proving my own self-worth.”

I thought about what Jesus said in John 3:8. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

As I was pondering this I noticed a huge tree in my back yard that, although being acted upon by the same wind currents, remained stationary. It wasn’t moving an inch. Oh, the smaller, still tender limbs were bouncing around being impacted by the wind. But they never actually went anywhere. They swayed back and forth but when the wind finally died down they were pretty much in the same place they were before the wind started blowing. I thought to myself, “How often have I been like that tree? How many times have I felt the gentle influences of the Holy Spirit blowing in my life only to let the moment pass without any real change happening in my life? How many times have I responded to the wind of the Spirit blowing in my life with some religious response or some emotional demonstration instead of spiritual growth or transformational change that produced good works?”

I am finding that living the Spirit-filled life is the easiest hardest thing I’ve ever done! Easy because all we have to do is listen for the gentle promptings of God’s Spirit in our life. Hard because we have to condition ourselves to drown out everything else! What a job that is when everything else in our life, sometimes including godly people, is clamoring for our attention and drowning out the voice of God.

What would lives look like if we allowed ourselves to be blown along by the Spirit of God?