Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolute Change

I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions. Why be more focused on change this time of year than any other? But, more and more, I'm understanding that EVERY day should be one of resolute change. As a matter of fact, I am resolving to be a person of resolute change every day in 2010, and would challenge you to join me.

Simply put, "resolute" means, "firm in purpose or belief." And "change" means, "the action of making something different." What I'm resolving to do is firmly and purposefully act to make something different and more like Jesus. Yesterday I was reading a devotional thought by Oswald Chambers. He references John 6:66, which follows one of Jesus' hard sayings. In response to what Jesus told them, we read, "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." There are many times in our lives when we are faced with an idea or thought from Jesus that seems hard, or isn't what we want. In response, we just kinda ignore it, or decide we will deal with it some other way so that we can continue unchanged. In essence, our lack of change shows that we've decided not to follow Jesus on this point. Oswald Chambers speaks to this, saying, "if you do not walk in the light of that vision, you will sink into servitude to a point of view which Our Lord never had. Disobedience in mind to the heavenly vision will make you a slave to points of view that are alien to Jesus Christ." The bottom line is each time we disagree with Jesus about a point in our life, we are adopting someone else's view point and giving it priority over Jesus' viewpoint. Whether it's in the area of entertainment, business practice, or some other area of our lives, each departure further removes us from the mind of Christ until we ultimately reach the point of doing what we want and only asking God to bless it (or just hoping He doesn't find out!).

Will you join me in this one resolute change: when Jesus speaks to an area of my life, I resolve to quickly and forever align myself with His will? That, I think, is a resolution worth keeping EVERY DAY, and not just in January of 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Encouragement? Prophecy? or Both?

In my retreat time this morning, I was reading John 14 - 16. It's an amazing 3 chapters about the Holy Spirit, Jesus' relationship to Father and Spirit, and the connection of all 3 to us. Being 3 of my favorite chapters of Scripture, I read them often, but was deeply impacted by them this morning in a way not the norm for me.

I tend to read this passage and find encouragement for my life in the Holy Spirit's role/connection for me. I enjoy phrases like "Do not let your hearts be troubled," and "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." They remind me of the intimate connection we have to Father because of Son by indwelling of Spirit. And rightfully so. Jesus Himself says that He is telling us these things "so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Have you ever read these chapters as prophecy, though? Look at the progression of events in these chapters. Jesus will be gone for a short time and then return. He will send the Holy Spirit when He leaves for good. The disciples will have questions now, but then all things will be clear. Greater things will be done by them. They will be scattered for a time. They will be hated by the world, yet overcome it. Their grief will turn to joy. They will be put out of the Synagogue. In a passage where most find comfort, Jesus in a very detailed way outlines the rest of their lives for them!

And, just as He said, they are with Him, dessert Him, have their grief turned to joy, walk with Him a bit longer, receive the Holy Spirit, and never doubt again. They turn the world upside down, and in spite of being martyred, they have peace in this world. They heal the lame and blind, raise the dead, speak in languages they've never learned, and are noted as ordinary guys who are changing the world because they had been with Jesus. These three chapters of John so closely parallel the Book of Acts that I am amazed more people don't teach on this! We turn to these chapters for comfort. But do we turn to them for prophecy and to see if our lives are "lining out" like people who truly have received His Spirit?

As Jesus wraps up this prophetic/encouraging discussion with His friends, He says, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." What did the Disciples end up asking for? That their lives be used up for Him, His kingdom, and His glory. And that's what He did with them, and they received a joy that was complete. A joy so complete that Paul and Silas could sing as they are beat nearly to death (Acts 16).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finite Minds

I'm noticing an increase in the number of conversations I'm having with people about things our finite minds can't wrap around. Most recently around the idea that God sovereignly saves BUT man is still responsible to respond.
I don't know if this represents a significant shift in people's awareness of Biblical paradox, or if people feel like they have become smart enough to grasp infinite things with their finite minds.

As a follower of Jesus, we serve a God who is not confined nor constrained by "the possible." He works beyond our frame of reference, outside the time line. It should not surprise us that there are things that are a reality in spite of our inability to grasp them. For instance, no matter how simply you break it down, all of our best analogies to explain the Trinity fall short. I've heard most of the comparisons, like the apple, egg, or even our own existence. And while saying the Trinity is like an egg is a beginning place for the trinity, the shell is never the yolk is never the white. The apple, although being core, skin, meat, and seeds, has never been on earth while talking to itself in heaven and promising to send itself back once it goes away (John 14-16).

The reality is we will never grasp this side of eternity many of the intricacies that surround our HUGE God or the way He operates. But the truth is that brings me great comfort. Knowing that God can't be explained or fully understood is one MORE reason He can be trusted and looked to for the impossible! He inspires trust and hope because He is unlike anything we will ever experience! And while some wrestle to wrap their brains around Him, I strive to let Him wrap me in His paradoxical presence and just be amazed by Him.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Yo May Yo

Yo May Yo? That's Chinese for "have or don't have." That's the thought that came to mind this morning as I contemplated this statement from Francis Chan: "if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that it is not true the Holy Spirit lives inside us, most likely our lives wouldn't look much different."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

How Many People

Reading 3 books at the moment (why do I do this to myself?). On page 32 of Francis Chan's "Forgotten God," he presents this assertion in form of a question that I thought might be a good discussion point:
"This may be a silly illustration, but if I told you I had an encounter with God where He entered my body and gave me a supernatural ability to play basketball, wouldn't you expect to see an amazing improvement in my jump shot, my defense, and my speed on the court? After all, this is God we're talking about. And if you saw no change in my athleticism, wouldn't you question the validity of my 'encounter'?"

How many people across America say that the Holy Spirit has entered them, and yet there is no supernatural living present in their lives? What does it really mean to be born again? Surely this is the point that Paul is discussing with Timothy in 2 Tim. 3 when he tells Timothy, "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Or, perhaps this is the frustration James is dealing with in James 3, when he poses the question, "Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?" James sums it up when he says, "these things ought not be so."

But how do we get past this? The first thing I am doing is to open God's Word in search of any preconceived ideas I've had about Jesus and His work in my life; or what it means for me to be the place God's Spirit dwells now. IF God has invaded my being, what are the things in that should be improving? How about you?