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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Poop!

I dislike being wrong.  I dislike making mistakes.  I do not look forward to the feeling of regret, the need to repent, and work of restoration and correction.  When it happens, I say and feel like poop.  It happens.  I am wrong.  I make mistakes.  I feel regret, need to repent, need correction and restoration.  I make things poopy which is probably why I feel like poop.

 

I don't know if this an encouragement or discouragement for you.  It is reality for me.

 

I don't control life or God's call on me or those to whom He calls me.  I do have some control and responsibility for the 6 inches between my ears.  If I could just stay focused on making sure that "domain" is all that it should be, I might feel less and make less poop in my life.

 

Once I get over feeling as I do, I realize and am thankful for God's love.  He is treating me as a son (Hebrews 12:5-13).  I see the process less as punishment and more as the molding/conforming process (1 John 4:18; Romans 9:20-23, 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:13; 2 Peter 1:8-11).  God does get angry (Exodus 4:10-14; Numbers 11:10, 12:1-9; Mark 10:13-16) and I believe I have provoked (and do provoke) him to anger.  Yet he is patient and persistent and doesn't give up on me.

 

I gave up this last week.  I gave up being diligent in my discipleship.  I gave up caring for those whom God entrusted into my care.  I heard the "still small voice" challenging me and where I was headed but I did what I wanted.  I was wrong.  Poop!

 

I don't control life or God's call on me or those to whom He calls me.  I do have some control and responsibility for the 6 inches between my ears.  If I could just stay focused on making sure that "domain" is all that it should be, I might feel less and make less poop in my life.  Did I mention that already?  I need to repeat it for myself if I did.

 

God called me for HIS purposes to serve HIM as HE sees fit.  God did not call me to change people.  That is HIS domain.  He called me to serve HIM and HIM alone.  Not Him and Me.  Just HIM.

 

Father, forgive me.  Forgive me for ignoring you and disobeying you.  I know life demands diligence, you have told me that in your Word.  I know life demands patience, you have told me that in your Word.  I know that you are God and I am not, you have told me that in your Word.  Forgive me for behaving like poop, as if all I had to do was lay there and be smelly.  You made me more. You called me to more.  You sent your Son to die for me because you see me as more.  Forgive me.  I repent and seek to serve YOU, as YOU call me, faithfully in this day as long as it is today.

4:28 am est 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No Respecter

I do not know your hardship, your persecution, your injustice.  Nor do you know mine.

I do know the disciple of Jesus Christ is promised hardship, persecution, and injustice.

I do know there are real consequences to our actions.

I do know Jesus loves everyone.  He is no respecter of people, of what differentiates us. He just loves us, including our differences.

I do know that the disciple of Jesus Christ is given instruction and a model as to how to deal with enemies, hardship, persecution, and injustice.  It applies to all of us without respect for who we are.

I do know that as a disciple of Jesus Christ I am instructed to come along side my brothers and sisters, share their burdens, and help restore them when I see them over taken in a fault (Galatians 6:1-2).  I do know I need this from my fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, without respect for who they are or who I am.

I do know that as a disciple of Jesus Christ I am instructed to think, speak, act in ways that build up the community of faith, the Assembly of Believers, the Body of Christ, the Church.

I do know that God is God and I am not, nor are you.

I do know there is a way that seems right to men but they are not God's ways.

 

I perceive hardship, persecution, and injustice exists in the lives of others.  I know I experience it.

I am observing real consequence as a result of actions taken.

I perceive some brothers and sisters are being overtaken in fault and I seek to help restore them, gently with meekness.  I know I need it from them.

I will not expect this world, in either its patterns nor in its outcomes, to align with those we should aspire to and expect as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

I do expect the disciples of Jesus Christ, the Assembly of Believers, the Body of Christ to align in both patterns and outcomes with the truth of God's Word regardless of history, regardless of tradition, regardless of circumstance.

 

I believe many have been disappointed.  I too have been and will continue to be disappointed.  I know that we as disciples are given a standard by which we will be measured, that of nothing less than the full stature of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4).  It is this that I seek to aspire to, that I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to aspire to, without respect for persons, just as our Savior does.

8:06 am est 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are pursuing being like Jesus.  It includes learning about Jesus, God, yourself, and others by studying the Bible. It includes being in community.  It includes praying for one another. All things that occur in a typical small group.  It also includes sharing... your thoughts, your worship, your talents, your gifts, and your resources with those in the group and beyond.  This sharing of yourself is not a group task.  It is the task, responsibility, of the disciple of Jesus Christ as an individual.

 

Here's where there are questions...

a)  How do you share all that you are and have with others (currently and how should you in the future)?

b)  From a Biblical perspective, should the disciple be expected to learn to be "self-motivating" (doing what God calls them to do because God calls them without needing someone to organize, remind, plan, instigate)?  If that is true, how does the teacher/shepherd help the disciple do that without doing it for them?

 

I see in the model that Jesus is that he shared all that he was and all that he had including his very life (1 John 4:10-11).  I see in Jesus that he didn't do what he wanted but what his father asked him to do (John 17:4-8). I see in Jesus an understanding of timing and that there was a time to wait and a time to act (John 2:4, 7:6,8; 11:1-6; 13:1).  I understand from Jesus that the disciple does as he is instructed (John 14:15). 

 

Those of us who are Shepherds (pastors) and teacher too often do for the disciples what the disciples should be (and need to learn to do) for themselves.  We believe that in "showing" them we are instructing.  While there is some truth in that, it all too often becomes a co-dependency and at its worst is the Shepherd/Teacher's justification for compensation and continued employment (on both the part of the group and on the part of the Shepherd/Teacher).  Matthew 10 is an example of the balance of instruction, expectation, and enabling the disciple.  Enable the Disciple of Jesus to be the Disciple of Jesus.  Paul's parting with the Elders of Ephesus shows the "letting go" and the result of the Shepherd's guidance for the disciple (Acts 20:17-38).  Teach and guide without "doing for".

 

As disciples we have been instructed (2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 17:8) thru God's Word - Jesus in two dimensions (i.e. print; John 1:1).  It is to us to do, not without prompting, but because of the prompting of God the Father and His Son and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, what has already been revealed to us through God's Word.  It is to us to act out what we already know and find in Jesus Christ - giving ourselves sacrificially - physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and materially.  This is being a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

6:07 am est 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Did He Say?

A friend was relating a story to my wife.  It appears she had an episode that rendered her unable to move.   Her husband, unable to help her move, called his sons telling them she wasn't moving.  By the time the sons got there and discussed, they had her dead and were planning the arrangements.  As they walked up the stairs to her room, she yelled... "I'm not dead!".

 

Communication is an art.  Saying what you mean so that others hear it and being able hear what someone is saying in the words they use takes practice.  Our attitudes, our vocabulary, our relationship, our history, the media through which the message is shared all have an impact on how we communicate.  My friend's story reminded me of the "grapevine" experiment we did as kids, where you tell one person something who tells another who tells another, etc... until the message is nothing like what you communicated in the beginning.

 

This helps reinforce the importance of sticking to God's written Word - The Bible.

 

Think of just a few, very common stories, where history, tradition, and the art of communication have changed what the Bible really says.  For example:

-        Eve didn't eat an apple.  She ate the fruit from the tree which God has Forbidden (Genesis 3:3) which is the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).

-        Jonah wasn't swallowed by a whale.  He was swallowed by a great fish ordained by God (Jonah 1:17).

 

This week I was reminded (Thanks Ted) about the story of Mary and Martha in the Book of Luke (10:38-42).  What caught me was that tradition teaches that Martha was wrong and Mary was right, only it doesn't say that.  It says that Mary chose what is best.  It doesn't say Martha chose wrong.  It does say Martha was fretting about many things.  It does say that Jesus says that "only one thing is necessary".  All of the sudden, the "church" uses this to become the "behavior police" on busy-ness unless of course that "busy-ness" is serving its needs.  (There is a great hypocrisy here.)

 

Most, if not all, of the Reformations in the history of the Church have at their core a return to the truth of God's Word.  Not what we think it says but what it says.  Not what is implies, but what is in it explicitly. Which underlines a problem, actually three problems facing us as believers and disciples of Jesus Christ.  First, an amazingly few number of believers are actually reading the Bible for themselves in any form of discipline.  They allow themselves to "hear" God only through the words of others and not from God himself.  Second, it would seem a majority of what is being taught is what we think or interpret versus what the Bible actually says.  Paul cautioned a group who were teaching as "doctrines of God", the "commandments of men".  Third, if we don't understand what the Bible really means, keep praying, studying, discussing but don't pass along conclusions as if you, I, we actually know what God means.  "I don't really know" is a perfectly good, acceptable, and perfect answer.  We can't completely know an infinite God and what we can know, both through His Word (the Bible) and through nature (science) is more than enough to get us through this life until we can know more because He has revealed more of himself.

 

Part of the problem in the "Grapevine" experiment is that the people who don't originate the message don't have a context or shared pool of knowledge from which to share the message they received.  A disciple of Jesus Christ is a student of God's Word because it is a 2 dimensional form of Jesus (John 1:1-18) and Jesus is truth (John 14:6).  If we, as believers are not reading and studying God's Word, we do not have a shared context from which to discuss God's Word.  Miscommunication occurs.

 

Read the Bible.  Read what it says. Not what you were taught, not what you thought, and not what it ought to say - what it says.  Then we have a shared context to discuss and allow God's Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. 

 

If you are a teacher of God's Word, be careful.  It is so easy to think you know.  It is so expedient to skip over building a scriptural case for what you think the Bible says.  It is tempting to stand on the "shoulders" of someone else's study by teaching something they wrote.  All are a mistake.  Mistakes I have made and mistakes far too many teachers and preachers are making.  Encourage others to listen hard, carefully, and intelligently to what you say.  Give them permission to discuss where what they heard, what you said, and what the Bible says may not seem the same.  This will do two good things for you: 1) it will keep you locked into what the Book actually says; 2) it will simplify what you teach (perhaps enabling more to be applied).

 

Please continue to pray for me.  I continue to pray for you.

7:51 am est 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The End of the Age of Reason

There is no more thought occurring.

 

If one person uses a word that is not "politically correct" and that person is not in a "protected" class that is implied by that word, shoot them.  If a person in that "protected class" uses the same word, we slap a warning label on it and no harm is accounted.  It is a rule and a formula.  No thought need be applied.

 

If a philosophy is espoused that is not in vogue, those espousing that philosophy are censored in the work place, in social media, in public media, and in essence in the public forum.  If any "in vogue" philosophy is espoused, we go to great effort to accommodate the philosophy and the life style it represents.  It is a rule and a formula.  No thought need be applied.

 

If my action or inaction creates an adverse consequence, someone other than me must be blamed, prosecuted, and legislated out of existence without any thought on my part or any requirement on my part to be thoughtful about my action or inaction.  It is a rule and a formula.  No thought need be applied.

 

We look to others to see how they did things and try to do what they did.  It is a rule and a formula. No thought need be applied. We don't make decisions, we apply rules and formulas.  No thought need be applied.  We look to rules and formulas to prove or disprove God in essence making them the god we serve.  No thought need be applied.

 

The Apostle Paul was prompted to write, in Romans 12:2, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you WILL BE ABLE TO PROVE what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God".  There is no formula, no set rules to be followed apart from loving God, yourself, and each other.  You and I are unique, therefore our relationship with God is unique, personal, intimate, thoughtful, and thought provoking.  God's Word asks us to "be still and KNOW that I am God", to get understanding, search and dig as if looking for hidden treasure.  Let's be clear, this isn't "religion".  This is about a relationship with God.  It isn't Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Agnostic, or Atheistic.  Those are rules and formulas.   No thought is required. 

 

Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and ALL YOUR MIND.  To those reading this looking for counsel; unless you seek to know for yourself, how will you know the value of the counsel of others.  There is much about God that can be known, apply yourself to knowing.  In Him is the context for all knowledge.  Remember that God is infinite and there is much about Him we don't know.  For the disciple, this is exciting and makes eternity a place of infinite discovery.  For those whose intellect is their god, a God beyond knowing is inadmissible because it dethrones their reason alone.  Am I defining a paradox?  Perhaps.  I rather think it is recognizing the conundrum of life.  God wants to be found and known but must be found and known.  Thought is required but isn't the absolute.  God is the absolute.  The book of Proverbs (1:1-7) opens with these words with which I leave you:

 

"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, King of Israel, by which mankind will come to wisdom (sound judgment) and instruction, will understand words that bring understanding, and will attain to a well -instructed intelligence (being circumspect, watchful on all sides), righteousness (integrity and purity), justice (reconciliation), and probity (uprightness and honesty).  The simple will be endowed with shrewdness (discretion) and the young with knowledge and discretion (a plan, intent, and quick discernment).  By listening to them the wise will increase their learning, those with understanding will acquire skill to understand proverbs and parables (authoritative rule of action), the sayings and riddles (puzzles and conundrums) of the wise.  The fear of the LORD is the foundation of knowledge; it is fools who scorn wisdom and instruction."

7:16 am edt 


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