Thursday, September 28, 2006

 

The Way Up is Down

Heb 5:8-10 NASU

8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mk 10:41-45 NASU

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

There is a spiritual secret to God's kingdom in these passages. One that often eludes the Western mind because of our rugged individualism and self-reliance. Simply put, the way to "exercise authority" in God's sight is to humble yourself and serve others. The way up is down.

I don't care what your level of education is, it doesn't matter how high your status may be, if you want genuine authority with others and with God you must learn to serve.

Look at Jesus, our example and the author and finisher of our faith! Even thought he was a "natural born" son of God, he learned obedience by suffering.

Who are we to think we will not necessarily learn obedience in the same way? You can count it as certain that we thick-headed, selfish, stubborn folk will necessarily learn obedience through our trials. And yet there is hope here that we can learn obedience by willful submission of ourselves to Jesus in the service of others.

What a balanced life Jesus lived! He found time for God and time to serve others. He left the riches of heaven to become poor so that we may inherit his riches. He became sin so that we might become righteous. He acted the fool so that we could be wise. He became human so that we could become children of God!

He left his high estate to hang out with us! He set aside his status as Master to wash the feet of a few dumb fisherman, and today he continues to humble himself so that he can love on us.

Philippians 2 tells us that he "emptied himself" and became a servant, and in his humility he showed us that we ought also to humble ourselves.

Are we willing to serve those we least like or appreciate? Are we willing to do for others what we think "ought" to be done for us? Can we lay aside our pride to serve the "least of these" in the name of our Lord who did the same thing for us?

How can we not?

Today's goal--serve someone unexpectedly and without thought of reward. Humble yourself in God's sight. Do something that someone of your position usually would not do.

And when you do, don't expect anyone to run over and thank you for your humility.

Humility grows best when it is not noticed or recognized.

Does that sound too harsh? If Jesus experienced it, should we expect any less?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

An oldie from my journal . . .

Several years ago I was in Waco and struggling with my circumstances. Things were not going as I had planned, and I felt that God had all but abandoned me. In the midst of a particularly difficult emotional struggle, I had a dream one night. In this dream, a person that I thought was Jesus came to me and offered words of comfort. When I awoke, I wrote down the words as I remembered them. This is what I remember he said:

My child, if you will die, I will produce the harvest. Do not think that I have forsaken you, nor believe that I am incapable.

I am God.

How can you worship that which is limited and unnecessary? How can you submit yourself to that which is not divine? What need have you for a ministry? What need have you for fame or fortune? When will you learn to be content with me?

How long must I wait to see my dreams fulfilled in you?

I long to hold you in my arms of love, to heal the scars of bitterness, anger, and rejectionn that have trekked across your heart. I have cried tears for you, my child.

I died and live for you.

I love you.

My child, do not surrender the grace of God for the dream of so-called better things in the future. There is no better thing for you than to be in my presence, in my love, in my grace.

How do you think you arrived where you are today?

I brought you to this place. I provided what you need. I love you.

Stand and watch the things I will do for you.

You have often desired the future things now, as though you desired to run before you knew how to walk. Remember, the vision will come and I am not slow regarding my promises. Wait for the fulfillment of the promise, it will not delay.

Will my word return empty? Will it not accomplish what I sent it to do? Is my arm short that I cannot save?

You desire so many things, but only one thing counts, only one thing really matters--your relationship with me.

Your present problems will create growth, not destruction. Your present fire will prove your faith, not harm it. Your situation may seem futile and foolish now, but when the time will come, you will see what I have promised.

Stand firm in the promise I have given. Follow the course I lay out for you.

I have not and will not forsake you. Hold fast to my promise, to my word.

I love you. Grab onto that and let your faith grow.

These words were a blanket of encouragement to me in my pain. I don't think of them as "inspired" like the Bible, but they certainly provided me a sense of comfort. They may have originated in my overactive imagination, but I hope they will help someone else.

Maybe some of you are going through a crisis or a problem that seems to have no solution. Let me say that God is indeed faithful. He does fulfill what he says he will do. He is true to his word. He has proven it to me in more ways than I can say.

He is good. He loves you. He is with you in your fire.

Hang in there! You are going to make it!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 15, 2006

 

How about a song from Kansas?

For those of you too young to remember the great classic rock group Kansas, let me just say that their music defined my generation during our high school years as much as any 70s to 80s rock band. Their songs were majestic in scope and tenor, they were classic tales sung to the tune of an amazing mixture of heavy rock and roll, church organs, and violins. In some ways (to me at least), they were the U2 of my generation. Here is a song that I love from a 1979 album. Kerry Livgren wrote the song. It is entitled "A Glimpse of Home." Here are the lyrics:

When I was very young so many songs were sung
So much wasted time on an uphill climb
But you where always there, a feeling in the air
There was nothing to fear you were so near
Now you are here once again
As I stand in your presence
I can feel the quiet patience of your gaze
Like an old superstition
You are haunting all my dreams and waking days

(Chorus)
All my life I knew you were waiting, revelation anticipating
All is well, the search is over, let the truth be known
Let it be shown (give me a glimpse of home)

There's no resisting you among the chosen few
It's hard to be sure, it's hard to endure
And when I hear your voice
I know I have the choice
To pursue an ideal, something so real
Now I've got nothing to lose
As I see your reflection
All the answers I desire become so clear
Like a page that is turning
I can look into the future without fear

(Chorus)

You're in my rock and roll, you're in my very soul
Though it's heavy to bear, it's a feeling so rare
And it's a mystery, the way it's meant to be
Can we ever know, we're moving so slow
There ain't enough time in the world
As I reach up the ladder
There is something ever higher to perceive
Like a fire that is burning
In my heart I know I surely must believe

(Chorus)

As a young Christian looking for a music to define his spiritual journey, this song became a kind of "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" milestone for me. I can't be sure, but when I heard the lyrics above, I had the distinct impression that Livgren was talking about God/Jesus.

You see, though raised in a good Baptist home and church, I had in my youth become something of a doubter and skeptic. I tried to find reasons to ignore or overlook the Divine in what was around me, and I often came up with my own explanations as to why things happened as they did.

Yet even in my most skeptical moments, Jesus was there, "like an old superstition," haunting my days and my dreams.

I couldn't shake it. I couldn't shake him.

His patience and merciful stare seemed to follow me on matter where I went. His benevolent hand of mercy shielded me, protected me, even promoted me without my request.

He was there, a "revelation anticipating" my gaze, my faith.

One day I surrendered. Realizing that I was surrounded and enveloped by God, I gave in. I said, "Enough! I can't shake you, so I'll join you."

He kindly let me in. He also let me think it was my idea (grin).

This song defined that moment for me--the moment when I came face-to-face with God. He didn't blink. He opened his arms. He hugged me.

His love has overwhelmed me ever since.

My search is over, I have found home. It is in the loving gaze of Jesus.

I love this song. Thank God for music!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

What am I listening to today? Thanks for asking!

Here's what is on the old office CD player today:

1. Elvis--30 #1 hits
2. Foreigner--Greatest Hits
3. Styx--Greatest Hits
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival
5. T Bone Burnett--Truth Decay

Yep, it's a seventies kind of day (well, except for T-Bone). Rainy days make me think of my youth for some reason. Go figure!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

What's on the CD Player today?

Today is an all Crowder today! That's right, I'm listening to the David Crowder Band in all their glory. On the CD Player at the moment are the following:

1. Can You Hear Us?
2. The Lime CD
3. Collision
4. Sunshine and Sushi
5. Illuminate

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

 

The Importance of the Truth

"
Jesus then said to those Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" John 8:31-32 (NASU)

"What Christianity taught the world of ancient thought, namely, that all truth is identical with the living mind of God, is forfeited in an age that assigns God and mystery to one realm, and man and rationality to another." God, Revelation, and Authority, Carl Henry

"The apostles knew that the truth of truth, the truth of God, and the truth of the gospel stand or fall together." A Plea for Evangelical Demonstration, Carl Henry

"Truth-famine is the ultimate and worst of all famines. Unless modern culture recovers the truth of truth and the truth of God, civilization is doomed to oblivion and the spirit of man to nihilism." A Plea for Evangelical Demonstration, Carl Henry

Those of us who lay claim to a Christian worldview must of necessity take seriously the idea of and proprogation of Truth.

Truth is the cornerstone of our existence.

In a post-modern world where truth becomes a matter of subjective opinion or spin doctors, we must be ever more diligent to pursue, to know, to embrace, and to live truth.

Jesus says that truth will free us. Of course, he is right. Truth will either provide the framework from which we can address the lies in our lives and (hopefully) find the means to overcome them, or else truth will shine its blinding light of clarity on the dark spot of delusion we try so desperately to hide and will (by doing so) make known our lies and expose our darkness.

Truth will make all things known.

You cannot hide from truth. It will someday expose you.

Truth is like a laser--with pinpoint accuracy it will expose our sloppy thinking and our hidden lies while at the same time searing them off of us (sometimes with bitter results).

The problem is pursuing truth. While most humans will admit that truth is "out there," we may well disagree with a definition of what it is. The Christian says, "God is truth," and I think that is a correct answer. But wait, there's more!

Truth is saying what is real, it is saying of "what-is" that it is. Truth is admitting that reality is real, that there is some kind of objective something or absolute something out there bigger than all of us. Truth is what is real.

We hide in our half-truths, we pretend to be something we aren't, we hide our inadequacies and our failings behind lies we have built up to make ourselves look better.

Then truth walks into the room--The brilliance of the light of truth makes it hard to see at first, but then as our eyes blink back their blindness of our own self-induced lies, we began to see more clearly than we have seen in a while. All of our hidden stuff is exposed, we are known. We are scared.

Of course, if we started off diligently chasing truth and applying its spotlight to our lives BEFORE we lied, then we would not only be used to the light, we would also not have any shadows to hide.

We must start with Truth.

A famine of Truth leads to a society of lies and spin.

Such a place is not a standard of Freedom, it is a dark place of slavery to the lies that bind us.

God, give us men and women of Truth.

Thanks for reading!

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