Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

An Eight Cow Christian!

     ticket-scalping.jpgWhat is my value to God?  How does He view me with all my warts…failures…and…well…sins?  Jesus opens a window into the value he places upon me and every Spirit-born believer.  In Matthew 13 our Lord shares a number of parables all wrapped around the theme of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.  Interpreting parables can be a fussy kind of thing.  One must keep in mind that with the parables there is one interpretation. There may be multiple applications within the context of truth declared but the interpretation is single in its scope.  Ok, enough with theology!  Let’s get to the heart of the issue. 
     
     I don’t have time to argue this point, but believe me when I say that Jesus uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven” to define that period of time between his first coming and his second coming.  Also, please undestand that to the ancient Hebrew the pearl had no value whatsoever.  In fact, you will not find it used in the Old Testament at all, except for some mistranslations.  Furthermore, Jesus own interpretation of the parable of the weeds sets the prameters for the interpretation of the Eight parables, when it comes to identifying the characters in the parables.  For instance,  the ‘man’, the ‘sower’, the ‘merchant’ must always refer to God, because Jesus defined him as such in the parable of the weeds.  The ‘field’, Jesus said, is the ‘world’.  Get the picture?  In the parable of the Pearl of Great Price Jesus says, ‘…the kingdom of heaven is like a ‘Merchant’ who went in search of fine pearls…”  When Jesus said this, the disciples were in great confusion.  It would be like me saying, “the kingdom of heaven is like a ‘cow-pile’.  Yeah!  You heard rightly…cow-pile.  I guess that’s not quite right either, because you can use manure for fertilizer, but you get the picture, don’t you.  NO VALUE WHATSOEVER IN THE PEARL!
 
     Apparently, Jesus saw value where no one else did.  From before the foundation of the world our Lord made a decision that he was going to shed the garments of diety and go on a quest for something of such unique value that all except he would not even recognize its value.  You and I are that pearl.  He saw value where there was none.  He saw us not as we are but as what he would make us to be. pearl-of-great-price.jpg
      Perhaps I can tell this better by offering a cultural illustration.  In the South Pacific it used to be the custom of men to trade cows for a wife.  A father might receive two cows for an average daughter.  An above average girl would often bring her father three cows.  Only a rare beauty would bring the unheard of price of four cows.  Once there was a father with a daughter so homely that he was hoping he could get just one cow for her.  There was another man on the island, who was considered to be a very astute trader.  One day he came to the father with the homely daughter and offered eight cows for her.  Everyone thought the man to have lost his mind.  However, it was not long before this homely girl was transformed into the most beautiful and gracious woman in the land.  She had started to think of heself as ‘an eight cow woman’, and she became one.
 
     cow.jpg Did you notice in the parable of the pearl how much Jesus paid for us?  The Bible says, “…he went and sold all that he had…”  The blood of God’s Son was the price paid for us.  Hey!  Can you get what this means?  I am an Eight Cow Christian.  You are too!  There was no value in us as far as the world was concerned, but the King of the Universe  saw us wallowing in the mire and muck of this world.  We were dressed in the most homely, unattrative manner.  Our hair was unkempt, and a beauty king or queen we weren’t .  But O Look at us now! One final thought. What would it be like if we would start treating one another like Eight Cow Christians instead of a one or two-cow deal?
 

May 6th, 2009 Posted by | Christian Education, Christian Life, Discipleship | 2 comments

THERE WERE TWO TREES IN THE GARDEN

     Living the Christian Life is not hard…it’s impossible.   Now before the theology police try to have me burned at the stake,two-trees2.jpg let me explain why I would risk expressing such a thought.  This statement is a product of about 40 years of ministry and dealing with many people who have become frustrated with themselves and their inability to live up to the ideals of what some say constitutes the life of a good Christian.burned-at-stake.jpg  I mean really, if each of us believers in Jesus was to make a list of everything every preacher told us to do to be a good Christian, we would need an extra sheet of paper, maybe two (Timmmmmberrrrr!).  Here’s a partial list of some of those things I have heard and tried (unsuccessfully) to keep perfectly.  Read your Bible…Do it every day…and be sure and get up at 5:00 in the morning to begin.  You slouch!  You’re already behind John Wesley.  He got up at 4:00 a.m. and had preached Three times before noon.  Second, Pray!  Do it on your knees and at least 1-2 hours per day.  Third, Witness for Jesus...Remember, “…he that winneth souls is wise…”  Fourth, Obey the Holy Spirit.  Don’t dare miss a leading of the Lord or you can’t go to heaven.  Fifth, attend church faithfully…and don’t miss a service.  God doesn’t like it when people miss church.  Follow those few with Tithing, being filled with the Spirit, and finding your gift area and walking in it.  Whew!!!  I’m tired already.  Oh, wait a minute…I forgot Sanctification.  We’ve got to be sanctified.  “…Without holiness no one shall see the Lord.”  Let’s see how I’m doing so far.  Forget that!  How did I do today?  Let me get my list and check a few of these off.  Hope I didn’t miss one.
      Just writing that paragraph makes me nervous.  Actually most of the things I listed and so much more are helpful and some are even tree-of-knowledge.jpgnecessary for a successful walk with God but there is a problem.  The problem is the approach.  It is a “Do” oriented approach.  Now “Doing” is important in the Christian Life also, but it can never come before ‘being’.  The secret to living the Christian Life is hinted at in Genesis 2:9b.  “The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Look a little more closely at this verse.  Do you see it?  There it is?  Both good and evil are in the same tree.  What!  Yeah!  Good and evil are in the same tree.  There is the problem with trying to live the Christian Life.  Men have a tendancy to live in extremes.  Once we are saved we want to please the Lord with our actions, but we do it out of the abundance of our souls rather than our spirits, and we do as many good things as we can.  We make our lists of the good and right things we are supposed to do.  Our list is not too long when we first start, but as we listen to sermons and read our Bibles and go to seminars our lists get longer and longer until we become wrapped up in our list.  The end result of this is frustration.  Frustrated people either give up or, worse, just settle into a ‘religious’ life.
      A religious life usually consists of someone who has made a list just long enough that he can be relatively successful at keeping.  Her ability to keep the list makes her very proud and…if you please…a member of a very exclusive club…LEGALISTS.  There is also another side to religiosity, LICENTIOUSNESS.  These folks think that God’s grace has little to no responsibility attached to it.  As long as they feel comfortable for having prayed a prayer of repentance so they can go to heaven when they die, they are actually fairly satisfied with their life as is.  All of this comes out of the same tree.
      Therein lies the big problem.  As long as we keep trying to live the Christian Life out of our human souls we will fail.  The soul is where the Intellect, Emotions and Will reside.  God is Spirit…not soul.  Spirit is the highest life form.   The Christian Life is…God.  That is…whatever God does is the Christian Life.  Here are some questions we might ask ourselves. Does God read his Bible?  Does He tithe?  How about Church?  Does He go there on Sunday?  Surely He speaks in tongues, right?  Again, let me say these things are important (I hate burning at the stake).  But the key is to become a participant in Eternal Life.  Peter said in 2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life, and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…so that…you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
 
     I wonder if this conversation ever took place?  Did Jesus speak to the disciples just before the Ascension and say, “…Now boys, I lived the Christian life by partaking of my Father’s life.  I only did what I saw him doing and only spoke what I heard him saying.  We communed together every day.  We enjoyed one another’s Presence.  But you peons can’t do it that way.  You need to Read your Bibles and pray and tithe and…and…and do it all without complaining.  I connected with my Father, but you will have to live the Christian Life by a secondary method.”  That conversation never took place.
tree-of-life.jpgIf Adam had partaken of the Tree of Life, the very Life of God would have flowed through him.  His obedience would have been the result of his passionate relationship with his loving God.  God would have been “at work in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2.13). A Christian cannot obey his way into fellowship with God, but he can fellowship his way into obedience to God. Interestingly, when a person becomes a Christian he receives that Life, Eternal Life.  God begins to commune with him through his spirit.  He begins to produce in him the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23).  What is fruit anyway?  Fruit is the result of a tree that is drowning in life.  In Christ we have the privilege of choosing once again how we will live the sanctified Life.  We can choose one tree out of which still flows good and evil or we can choose the other one…The tree of Life.  There were two trees in the garden.  There still are.  One leads to fellowship, the other to religion.  Which will you choose?

May 5th, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Discipleship, Fellowship | 7 comments

A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION

As I meditate upon the events which took place at this time of year two millennia ago, I am struck with the freshness of the message. I never cease to be amazed at the uniqueness of our Lord. Although he was the consummate and representative man for all men, and although he faced everything every man has had to face, there were areas of his life that cause me to scratch my head and ask questions. Fortunately, the asking of those questions often results in a perspective upon the uniqueness of Christ and the challenge that uniqueness presents to the corporate Body of Christ.

There were experiences in his life that are very ‘telling’ as to what separated him from the rest of us. I was reading through the gospels recently and came upon a specific character trait that I thought was interesting. Jesus had times when he was obsessed. In Luke 12:49-50 Jesus said, 49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened?(pained) till it be accomplished! He had a fire to send and a baptism to be baptized with and he could hardly wait until he could get it done. The fire he hoped to send was a cleansing and a purging of the earth by the spreading of God’s Word and the baptism of an old rugged cross was the means of the accomplishment.

When you pause to think about that statement, it is quite unusual that he had the thought, much less obsessed about it. Of course, this was the same person, who made it acceptable to lust. Yes, I said acceptable to lust. And he said unto them, ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer’:” (Luke 22:15, KJV). An alternate word for ‘desire’ is ‘lust’. With lust I have lusted to eat this Passover with you…” Of course this is not to say that Jesus approached the Passover with the same enthusiasm as a glutton might salivate over lamb chops and mint jelly.

Apparently, spiritual lust properly motivated can be not only acceptable but also preferable. To have one’s deepest desire to be for God’s glory and to desire for it so much that it lies at the root of all you do and all you are was the essence of who Jesus was and should be the goal of every believer. The obvious cry of ‘thirst’ from Jesus on the cross carries with it the interpretation of a physical body needing water. While this is certainly true, might it not be possible that in the midst of that physical cry was also the cry of One, who was thirsting for the streams of living water? Jesus desired from the depths of his being that he could return to the glory he shared with the Father before the foundation of the world (John 17.5), and that his select ones could share in that same glory (v. 24).

Interestingly, the process through which Jesus would see all this accomplished would be through his own suffering. How or why would such a process be necessary? James and John made the request to be one on his right and one on his left. Jesus asked them if they could be ‘baptized’ with his baptism. They responded in the affirmative. He granted the baptism and, however, left the promotions to the Father. There is never a cross without a crown. There is never a victory without a battle. Jesus desired from the depths of his being to spread a fire of God’s word across the earth. He wanted to kindle a fire that would never go out. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that in bringing many SONS to glory…the Captain of salvation would be made perfect through suffering. Thus, if the Captain achieves his Magnificent Obsession through suffering, then, we, like James and John, will have our own baptism. I, too, ‘lust’. But my lust is more often than not for those things which I believe will make my life a little easier. My ‘pained’ desire is that I might sit on the right or the left of my Lord. I think I may have spent much of my life trying to get Jesus to do something for me he never was willing to do, because he wanted my desires to be salted with fire. So, my prayer is that I will have such a longing in my heart for the will of God that I can hardly wait to get started in the process. I pray that my very being will drip with desire to both see and be with the risen and eternal Christ in all his glory. Frankly, in my weakened and very human state, I’m not up to much in the way of suffering but I believe God is able to help me and each of us to take one step at a time.



March 19th, 2008 Posted by | Discipleship, Uncategorized | comments

WHY DOES GOD HIDE?

crossing-red-sea.jpgThis Lord of ours can act very strangely at times. He is hard to discern. For instance, He leads His escaping fledgling family to the shores of the Red Sea with no apparent retreat He miraculously gives Abraham a son and a promise and then asks him to take that life. Upon hearing of the sickness of his dear friend, Lazarus, Jesus purposely lets him die and shows up late for the funeral. Furthermore, when confronted with an angry mob and a Roman cross, he spoke not a word but went as a sheep before its shearers to an ignominious death. Why? Will someone please tell me why? Serving God can be so confusing. You dedicate your life the best you know only to have God leave you at a crucial moment. Warning! Be careful of those who have ready answers and ‘quick’ fixes to your personal dilemas. They are legion. But pious platitudes , empty religious sayings, and quoted Bible verses are not enough to answer the question before us.
In Chapter thirteen of his gospel John records some of the last words of Jesus just prior to that cruel death. After having been with the disciples for over three years, Jesus suddenly announces to the little band that he is leaving and they can’t go where he is going! Impetuous Peter expresses what everyone else is thinking when he asks, “Where are you going? Why can’t I come?”
You know what? I’m with Peter. This Christian walk is hard enough as it is but without Jesus around it is downright impossible. Peter already indicated that he and the others had ‘left all’ to follow him and now Jesus is telling them he is bailing out. Why does God do that? Why does He hide from us in our time of greatest need? I confess I have questioned His choices many times in my life. It seems just about the time I need Him most He is gone. I have found myself joining Peter and the twelve saying, ‘Lord, Where are you going’? Remember Mary Magdalene the morning of the resurrection? The events of the cross had taken her Lord away. She threw herself around his feet and clung to Him so hard that He had to ask her to let go so He could ascend to the Father.
I once heard a man of God say, “In the life of faith there are no questions.” However, I have found that a life ofquestions.jpg faith is often filled with questions. When Jesus goes away, when God hides from us, it creates a bushel basket full of questions. The creation of these questions is by design. Let us not forget the greatest man born of woman was confused about Jesus and asked, “Are you the one or should we expect another?” Even our Lord , while dying on the cross, was perplexed, when His Father hid from him. He said, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” Here, too, in perhaps the greatest hour of need of any person who has ever lived, God appeared to be absent.
There is, perhaps, a little hint to the answer in the Song of Solomon. On at least two occasions Solomon mysteriously hides from his bride and leaves her to search through the streets for him. On one occasion her search ends when she spys him peering at her from behind a wall and through a lattice. It seems that her new husband never really left her at all but hid himself that he might surprise her with his presence at an appropriate time.
native-american-boy.jpg I am reminded of a story related by one of the Brothers in our Fellowship. He told of the ancient right of passage for young Native American boys. It seems that each boy had to pass rigid tests to become a man. The last and most significant test was that the young Brave was taken out into the deep woods, blindfolded. To pass the test he must remain at his post during the night and endure all the frightening sounds and threatening voices from without and within. Through the night the Coyotes and wolves cried, the Wildcats stalked and the Owls hooted. The boy’s imagination magnified each sound into something it was not. It’s interesting how much worse sounds and experiences are, when you can’t see and you are all alone. The next morning the sunlight revealed not only a new day but each young Brave’s Father had been only a stone’s throw away all during the night. He had been there to drive away any threat to life or limb.
Why does God hide? I’m not sure I know nor can I give much of an answer but there is one thing I know. Moses let God lead him into the trap by the Red Sea and then divided it. Abraham placed his son on the altar and discovered a ram caught in the thicket. Jesus let Lazarus die and then raised him from the dead. “When we reach the end of our horded resources, our Father’s full giving is only begun”. Apparently, God longs for us to reach the end of ourselves and we only do that, when we think He is gone. When I have done all I can do and there is nothing left, God is just getting started. Jesus told Peter, I am going away and you cannot come now…” This frightened the Big Fisherman. However, it was during those hours, when Jesus hid from Peter that he discovered the weaknesses of his flesh and shallowness of his braggadocious resolve. That time of lonliness and fear turned a “weak”, Simon into “the Rock”, Peter. It made a follower into a leader. So, when the things life throws at you become overwhelming and God seems to be nowhere in sight, and all appears to be lost, remember you may be finished but God isn’t. You may be living in Friday but Sunday’s comin’. He may go away, but oh dear friend…He’s coming back, and during his apparent absence we discover our passion for him is greater and our love for him is deeper.

October 12th, 2007 Posted by | Discipleship, Faith | one comment

NOT ALL WHO SAY, “LORD”!

What is it that defines a Christian? How does one know, if he has truly entered into the Holy of Holies of God’s Presence? The song in the video (click the arrow) is one which describes one of the most significant keys to the salvation of man and that is the surrender to God’s Lordship.
Interestingly, the Lordship of Christ is viewed by many within Christendom as something additional a young believer aspires to or achieves subsequent to his conversion. For Christ to become Lord of a Christian’s life is like a second conversion experience. Some believers even go to an altar of prayer or make a public confession of their desire to make Jesus Lord as well as Saviour. Of course, there are equally as many, who see the Lordship of Christ as a process one enters into at the time of conversion.
Let me be clear. It is not my purpose to debate the ‘how’s’ of Lordship. It is my sincere desire to help Christians recognize the fact of Christ’s Lordship over their lives. In two previous writings I attempted to address this same subject (Who’s the Boss and Alpha and Omega ). I am addressing it once again because I believe our willingness to surrender to Christ’s rule over us is a significant missing link in our Post-modern culture. Independence and individualism are the cultural elixars that are hawked from the midway of life’s carnival in the twenty-first century. We read the label, accept the promises, and drink it down no matter how badly it tastes or how failed the results.
Last Wednesday evening as our Church Body met together the Lord led us to the song you heard above, “You are still Holy”. There is a phrase in the song, which I felt was very telling on the subject of Lordship. She sings, “I come into your chamber and dance at your feet, Lord. You are my Saviour and I’m at your mercy. All that has been in my life up till now belongs to you…I belong to you.” At that point in the song I paused and asked the brothers a and sisters to describe for me what they felt was the Biblical background of the song. The flock Kathi and I are privileged to serve is spiritually keen, so it did not surprise me to hear more than one of them say, “It seems like a wedding.” I drew their attention to the Song of Solomon .
It is with fear and trembling we enter into this ‘most holy place’ of scripture. We are privileged to view the wedding night of King Solomon and his bride. How would you like future generations reading about your wedding night? We must remember as we read the pages of this book that we are but guests here. We have been invited in order for us to glean something of what our fellowship with our Lord is to be. Our Lord is seeking His bride and He longs for the intimacy of a ‘wedding night’ each time His people gather together. Does that describe the last Church service you were in? If it does, dear brother…dear sister, then you are among the few.
The celebration is over. The guests have all retired to their homes. The bed has been perfumed. The candles are lit. The harp and the lyre are being softly played in the courtyard below the window of the King’s inner chamber. Solomon waits upon his bed for the one, who is ‘the lilly of the valley’ and the‘rose of sharon’. Suddenly, she enters. Her gown is sheer and beautiful beyond words. Her hair is long and flowing. She wears a veil and will from this day forward to show her exclusivity to her husband. He and he alone will see her face. She enters his presence with a dance. She dances for him in a way that she would never dance for anyone else. She bows at his feet and shows gratitude for his mercy toward her…
truck.jpg Now, wait just a minute. Back the truck up, Charlie! That surely sounds chauvanistic. Seems like you are trying to resurrect a patriarchal society. Women can vote now, ya’ know? They are equal to men and, if anyone dances in the bed chamber, it will be him, not me! Hold on! Before you ‘draw and quarter’ me or have me beaten with the ‘cat of nine tails’. Therein lies my point. I certainly am not suggesting that women are men’s servants or second-class citizens to a male hierarchy. What I am suggesting is that this Biblical portrait is a peek into what it means to make Jesus Lord. It is an utter surrender of one’s self. You see, the self is the only thing I really own. It is the only thing I have to give.
You see, the unfortunate plight of women in the jewish patriarchal society was such that they were utterly dependant upon men for their survival. Often, young women had no choice in whom they married. Marriage for some women in those days was simply a ticket to survival, food, and clothing. Fortunately,however, many of them married well and their husbands were benevolent, loving men, who cherished their companions. If a woman were so blessed to be chosen by such a man, her wedding night was an dance of gratitude and undying love. Her dance was an expression of her surrender into his care. She recognized that in her husband her every need and desire would be met. She saw him as the source of her life and her hope of a bright future.
Our culture is different today. We value independence. Freedom of choice is a priceless commodity in our culture. Men and women are considered equals in every way, and so they are. We’ve come a long way, baby! But, our brand of society surely has its own set of problems when it comes to Lordship and surrender. We don’t know quite how to do it and still retain our individualtiy. We have little frame of reference for literally ‘laying it all down’. We usually end up holding just a little in reserve. We’re willing to board the ship and journey to the unfamiliar but we keep our little boat anchored in the harbour…just in case.
I have a drama playing out in my mind. I have been chosen by the King of all Kings. I am a part of His Bride. He has a purpose, a plan for my life. He is the Sovereign. He, and He alone knows how this drama is to be played out. His passion for me is far beyond anything I could imagine. His ability is above and beyond all I could ask or think. He promises to fulfill my purpose and provide for me along the way. So…I come into His chamber and call Him…Lord…Because He truly is MY Lord.

September 28th, 2007 Posted by | Discipleship, Lordship | comments

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND…

As a young person living in the hills of West Virginia one of my favorite things to do on Sunday mornings was to read the comic section in the paper. Sunday’s comics were better than the daily strips. There were more of them and they were in color. Some of my favorites then are still my favorites.

One such comic was Pogo. pogo3.jpgPogo was a character created by Walt Kelly and, as many cartoons, became a satire on the social, political and moral blunders of the day. Perhaps the most famous quotation which comes from the strip deals with the pollution of the planet. Pogo Possum and Porky Pine are gingerly walking through the forrest one day. The forrest is littered with cans, broken glass, garbage and trash of all sorts. Porky Pine trys to put the best spin on things saying, “Ah, Pogo, the beauty of the forrest primeval gets me in the heart.” Pogo Possum responds…“It gets me in the feet Porky Pine.” Suddenly, the truth of Pogo’s words come crashing in upon Porky Pine and he says, “This stuff is hard to walk on.” It is at this point that Pogo’s innocense and honesty catapault him into the role of a philosopher and he quotes the immortal words of Commandore Oliver Hazzard Perry to General William Henry Harrison…except with just a little twist. “We have met the enemy and he is…us.” With that statement we leave our little friends in the Okefenokee Swamp to contemplate the new revelation that sometimes the greatest problem I have is…me.

Pogo’s contemplation gives opportunity for me to look at myself and my world and try to discern the problem. Most of my life has revolved around the Church. My earliest memories have something to do with Church or the relationships found therein. For about 40 of those years I have been preaching the gospel. During that time some of the most glorious times I have had in my life have been with brothers and sisters in the Church. However, during that same time frame, some of the most devastating times in my life have been with brothers and sisters in the Church. Interestingly, it has been during adversity that I have seen the most growth in my life. Let me correct that. It is usually after the adversity has passed that I see the growth, if there is any. When I’m going through it, I usually don’t see anything but the difficulty.

WHO IS THE ENEMY?

snidely-whiplash.jpg

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to discern in damaged relationships is who is at fault. After all, if there is a problem in my relationship with you, it must be you. Why? That’s obvious! It can’t be me… so it must be you. Who is the enemy anyway? Is it Snidely Whiplash? Is it the pastor, nursery director, or deacon? No? Then, perhaps it might be the parking lot attendant or someone on the custodial staff. Still haven’t found the culpret? How about your companion or the kids…Those kids! They are a sight, aren’t they? Not them either, huh? Come now. Surely you can locate this dispicable character. I mean, after all, it is that person who is causing you such pain. Try really hard, now. Oh yeah, it’s the devil, isn’t it? Well. Yes. He certainly is the one who is ultimately behind all the evil and lies in the world. But in my limited experience it seems as long as we can blame our misbehavior on, ‘the devil made me do it’, we will never get to the real problem in our life and that is…me. When Adam chose to eat of the forbidden tree he blamed Eve. When Eve was confronted with her fault, she pointed her finger at the serpent. In the Church we are experts at blaming others for things that may be mostly our fault. In the political arena the Republicans and Democrats blame one another. The liberal media blames the Religious Right. The Conservatives think they have all the answers. Truth be known, I need to sit with Pogo and Porky and view the ‘trash’ in my swamp. Before I can point my finger at anyone, I must first look at Me. Could I really be the greatest enemy in my own life. I am a broken man in the midst of broken people in a broken world. Yes, there are others who contribute to the mess I see. But, if I look long enough into the cesspool of iniquity I call my life, it won’t be long before I get the same revelation Pogo got…I have met the enemy and he is ME. Scoot over Pogo…I need to think about this for a while. Selah!

September 15th, 2007 Posted by | Discipleship, Relationships | 2 comments

A Convenient God…A struggling Faith

Please view the video clip before reading my comments…

Whoa! That was powerful, huh? As I watched it I had a whole bushel basket full of emotions and thoughts that flooded my mind. I was thrilled as the young lady danced with the Lord and allowed him to provide for her needs. He seemed to give her what she needed almost before she knew she needed it. I became nervous as she allowed the demons and Luicifer himself to take her attention away from God with alluring temptations and then smash her hopes on the rocks of frustration and despair. I found myself wanting to warn her not to allow this enemy to sow into her sacred soil. I was thrilled as she tried to make her way back to God and I cheered as our mighty Lord rescued and restored her to his perfect will once again.

This, of course, could have been a microsom of each of us. How many times have we found ourselves in the glorious Presence of God with our vision in tact and our faith so strong we could move a mountain (or at least leap a tall building with a single bound). Then, almost without warning, the scene changes and we find ourselves in a dark spiritual cavern with hords of demons all around us, pulling us further and further away from the Lord we love. How did we get here anyway?

Life just isn’t fair is it? For what did you sign up, when you became a Christian? Did you think it was going to involve all this struggle? What kind of a God is it who allows us to go through such trials, disappointments and hurts? As I look at the state of the Church today and compare what we have with what the New Testament teaches, I find a large gap. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic book, “The Call to discipleship”, “When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” How does that mesh with the convenient Christianity in our western culture? I ask, “In an effort to become culturally relevant with the gospel message are we in danger of losing the Christ of the gospel ?” I mused with the flock under my charge recently, “When was the last time you saw someone weeping over their sins, because they knew they had offended a holy God?” I dare say it is a very rare event. Rather, it is more common for people to simply want to add a little ‘Jesus’ to their life, so to speak. After all they don’t really think their life is all that bad, but could use a little boost in the right direction.

A Christianity which fails to prepare a young believer for battles in life is a Christianity not worth having. To get someone to ‘grunt’ at a few theological statements, pronounce them saved and leave them to face the hords of evil by themselves is to place them in a worse state than they were previously. A six week course in ‘discpleship’ was not sufficient for the first disciples of Jesus and certainly will not suffice for us today.

The young lady in the video depicts most all of us, when we first become Christians. The birds sing more sweetly. The trees seem to blow more fervently in the breeze. We pray and our prayers are answered. It is so very easy to believe…But, there comes a time, when this loving God of ours allows us to be tested and tried. We pray and are met with silence. Instead of a gentle breeze at our back, we find gail force winds in our face. No robins or sparrows flitting around us now, but rather vultures swarm us, threatening to pick the last ounce of hope from our faith. In the beginning we had perfect fellowship with the Lord. He was with us all the time, but now, we can hardly sense him at all. WHY? Why does a supposedly loving God treat us this way? Why doesn’t he just ‘swoop’ down and defeat that which opposes our newfound faith? Why does He wait so long before rescuing us? I confess, I don’t know all the answers to those questions. I do know there is something important about the struggle of faith. It is important for us to come to the determination that we want God, his kingdom, his will, his way, no matter what. It is important for us to struggle long enough to know that we are absolutely unable to help ourselves. It is when we reach the end of our horded resources that our Father’s full giving has only begun.

So, is your god convenient? Does he do what you want him to do, when you want him to do it? Will you serve him, even when he disappoints you? Does he immediately rescue you out of all your trials? If not, hold on. You just might have the right God after all. Though He linger long He never cometh late.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Discipleship, True Church LIfe | 3 comments