Friday, December 21, 2007

What Is Our Call

Holy flashback Bibleman!!!! It came out of nowhere and with no warning. There we were talking about a simple meeting of men over their bibles and suddenly I was thrust back in time to all of the bible studies I can remember from my days in a church that shall remain nameless. My buddy at work said that at this meeting the question was put forth "What is our primary call as Christians?". Even as he said it I felt a cold cringe in my belly. The response?? Evangelism, of course (wave your flag and say hurray at this point). I couldn't stifle the laugh the burst out. Though not a full blown belly laugh it was enough to arouse my work mate's curiosity.
The response was such a throwback to a gift based (try giftocentric if you like) theology that I could hardly believe it. How can we continue to base things on what we perceive to be the best gift? How can we continue to marginalise people based on what God has given them to do? How long will we base our worth on what we do?? AAAaarrrrrrgghhhh (sorry, couldn't help it) I thought that by this stage in the game we realised that our primary call as a Christian, or even just a human being for that matter, was to intimacy with God. I don't remember God saying to Adam when he was hiding," Hey, Adam, I noticed the garden is looking a little messy, what's with that??" God sought out Adam from a heart for fellowship not an employer/employee relationship. Stating that our number one call is to evangelism sets us back into a religious mindset that produces competition, pride and more disciples with no clue about their relationship to the Father through Christ.
All that we do will flow out of our relationship, not the other way around. Evangelism will spring from a heart that is intimate with the Father and a desire to introduce people to Him. This will also be true of teaching, prophecy, helps, giving, wisdom etc.
Besides, if we are going to be like Jesus then we are going to want to do what we see the Father doing just like He did. How are we to do this if we are not intimate with Him?????
I'll leave it there. There is just too much I could say on this one.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ask Not What You Can Do For God

Well it was a good week at work and I am still glad that it is Friday so I guess I get joy on two levels. Part of the reason that I had a good week was that I had the opportunity to work with one of the other lead hands whom I rarely get to connect with one on one. We usually like to spend our time talking about spiritual things, marriage, kids etc., so the time is well spent.
Today we talked all over the map, but one thing stood out for me and that was a continuation of a thought from the previous day. It started with a rant about conference brochures, book jackets and all the fluff they are covered with. It was a good rant too. I personally hate all those blurbs on the speaker or the author and all the things they have done and why I should put importance on every word they care to drip from their lip. Blech! I feel that if the Spirit is speaking through them then that should be evidence enough. I guess they think that just in case God does not validate their message they should have a few good friends to back them up or maybe a splashy ad telling about all the other great things they have done. It's no wonder that the books I have read currently are all ones that God has told me to pick up (except for my photography magazines...oops). The continuation of this thought was that it really seems odd that we spend a lot of breath telling about the exploits of men for God. It is encouraging to hear tales of spiritual daring do, but so much of the emphasis seems to be of the fortitude of the people and implying that if we were similarly gifted or driven then we too could do such wonderful things. The fact of the matter is that it is amazing to me that God can do the things He does with the materials He has to work with. As a carpenter I would probably go through the pile of wood and chuck out most of the stuff as scraps and yet God builds wonders and beauty with those same studs (no pun intended). Perhaps the difference is His willingness to invest no end of time on each piece, but in the end the kudos should not go to the stud but to the craftsmen who so lavishly applied His skill to the stud.
So the end of this is that I would really appreciate it if the next conference you speak at or book you write could leave off from all the furious back patting and just get the job done. Better yet, maybe just a nod to God would be a good place to start.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What A Difference A Word Can Make

It is so interesting to me how long a lie can interrupt the flow of grace from God's word. Simple things clog the lines of communication from the Spirit. Little things like emphasising the wrong word or even a simple shift of inflection will throw our theology off on a tangent and it will spread out to the interpretation of other passages until its subtle infection has left us with rags instead of robes.
One of these points for me has been John 8:32 where Jesus says that the truth shall set us free. It seems that for so long I have believed that what He really meant was that the truth can set you free. The fact is that He said it would set me free. The problem is that when I do not see freedom then I change the word to make it fit my reality instead of the other way around. In this case it is when I do not see freedom in my life then I doubt that His word is for real or even for me. The reality is that this is a litmus test for the presence of lies in my life. Where there is no freedom then there is a lie blocking the flow. When this lie is dealt with the power of the word enters in and does precisely what it says it will which is usher in freedom.
The only unfortunate things is when we get caught for so long in a lie that we fail to see it anymore. It is at these times that God uses other people so effectively. He sends people who will grind into us in the location of weakness so that we can more easily identify the issue and allow Him to change it. Then, when I follow what the verse above says, Jesus sets me free. How simple is that! The other thing is that Jesus is the truth, so I don't need to get to know some obscure, dusty facts in a library like a wizard's apprentice looking for the right spell. It is all about intimacy with a person who will speak to us, guide us, encourage us and more, all from a heart of never ending love!
For this reason I am becoming more and more thankful for God's holiness each day because it also assures me that He will never turn aside from His intentions for me and all I have to do is to stay close to Him and He will do His thing. Paul knew that even if God has to use the devil to destroy our flesh He will still preserve our spirit for Himself and His glory. He will never give up.