18 August, 2011

recent status updates

*Heard elsewhere: "God doesn't call the qualified; God qualifies the called."

*(convicting!) repost from Desiring God: “No worship...that leaves us harsh with our workers on Monday, or contentious with our spouses at home, or self-indulgent in other areas of our lives, is true, God-pleasing worship.” ~John Piper

*‎5 I's of Dishonor (from sermon by Keith Moore): Ignoring, Interrupting, Intruding, Interfering, Insulting.

*Receiving the discipline of God as a GOOD and beautiful thing is not easy, but produces SWEET fruit....Thank you, Lord! (cf Hebrews 12)

*Pride isn't sinful first because it EXALTS self; it only need be PREOCCUPIED with and interpret the world by self.

12 August, 2011

ANY Sip from the Cup of Bitterness

Every conversation replaying an offense, even if to be "prayerful" or "seeking counsel" from a godly listener, will unavoidably step into the territory of gossip and slander. Our simple "talking" stirs up the cup of bitterness so that every sip, however carefully obtained!, is nevertheless tainted.

Rather, empty the cup, be cleansed!, and fill the purified vessel with fresh water ~ so we can pour out refreshing to others.


(This is not to say we can never speak of offenses, but oh how quick I am to speak! ~ what first of getting the LOG out of my own eye! what first of rather being wronged? what first of ensuring that I have already "forgiven" from my heart as Christ has forgiven me, so that if and when I speak, it can be from a merciful disposition? If I must speak at all, why not first let that speaking be of my OWN offense, so that my prayers may not be hindered?)

Led by the Spirit ~ as a true son

The primary way we hear from God is by his WORD, his self-revelation. The Holy Spirit opens our understanding, but the Word gives us the VOICE of our Shepherd so we can know him, and follow where he leads, and enjoy his presence.

This is FIRST what is meant by "being led by the Spirit" or "walking in step with the Spirit" of God ~ Namely, that we come to see JESUS for who he is and worship him AS GOD, because the WORD that testifies to him is TRUE.


(cf Romans 8, John 10)

09 August, 2011

~ BORN AGAIN AGAIN: A Confession ~

Perhaps the most resonant theme of the past year in my life has been my prayer that the Lord would "increase my capacity" to receive more of him, to ENJOY more of him. The Lord has answered, but in such a way (as it seems to happen often) that it exposed my very small expectations, and my very over-blown sense of not only what I meant by such a request, but my own assessment of what my receiving his answer would look like. In short, what follows is my (weak) attempt at a fitting summary.


*Being Exposed ~ God uses both the sharp and powerful sword of his word and the pressure of our external circumstances to pierce even to our marrow, and his word causes us to be "laid bare before him with whom we have to do." (Hebrews 4:12-13) I heard, not long ago, that Christians are like a tube of toothpaste ~ when you squeeze them, you find out what's really inside. I've been squeezed in myriad ways, and I do not like the often rotten content that is being exposed. It is like (look back to first couple lessons from Seeking Him study) the analogy of "breaking up your fallow ground" ~ allowing the plow of God's word and Spirit to get down DEEP to the soft soil under all the hard, sunbaked exterior, and the churning and cutting and grinding and tearing that has to take place to expose the soft underside of the soil so that the word can be planted in it and GROW. If you'll forgive the mixed metaphors, nevertheless, my heart contains many uglinesses of which I have been (and still remain) largely ignorant. But thanks be to God that he is in the business of making his people holy!

*Being Emptied ~ It's not enough to realize the uglinesses in our hearts. God fully expects us to be RID of them. To put sin to death! To not yield ourselves any longer to the lusts of our flesh, but rather to be led by the Spirit. So once pierced, once churned, once exposed, we must now be emptied. But not only of sin, but also of SELF. Oh, self! You have deceived, you have usurped! But you were never meant to be God, you were meant to be in COMMUNION with and submission TO God! In him is your greatest, FULL satisfaction! Why do you buck so, o rebellious soul! But thanks be to God that he is not only able to empty us of self and sin, he does so for our good, so that we may have life to the FULL; and who else is life? "Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!" (Jn. 6:68-69)

*Being Expectant ~ So in keeping with Jesus' promise that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, ALL other needful things will be added (Matt. 6:31-33), in keeping with Jesus' promise that ANYone who comes to him, he will in NO way cast out (Jn. 6:37), I have a godly HOPE ~ that is, I KNOW ~ God will answer me. (Matt. 7:7-12) My "expectation" (even at that!) is far too small! But thanks be to God that he is able to do ABUNDANTLY above and beyond what I can even ask or think! (Eph. 3:14-21) He who has promised will do it!


*Being Encountered ~ I have spent the last several years of my life (most of which unknowingly) in a Romans 7 kind of existence. So much "striving" and "working" to be obedient, righteous, etc. And failing. And let's be honest, MOST of my "striving" and "working" was wimpy at best, and yet I would always manage to convince myself (at times) that I was really making a difference, or really succeeding, only to be confronted with new ways in which I had failed (most of which had to do with failing to convince OTHERS that I was doing right or doing good, so how much was genuinely out of my conscience, and how much was just a failing to win the approval of men?!)...But how kind of God? that he would overlook my offenses and my selfish strivings again and again, that he would even lovingly confront my pride, where in my zeal I felt "At last! I've grasped success in my walk with Christ!" only to fail so miserably, and the Lord would meet me in those moments and whisper forgiveness, lovingly redirect me, sometimes force me to repent, often TO those very "men" from whom I was seeking praise!. How kind of God that he answers our longings to know him by showing up and ministering to us with the presence of his own Spirit? Abiding with us, even comforting us as he makes us over. He may administer a sharp, piercing scalpel as he cuts out our flesh, but he does not do so without anesthetic, he does not do so without himself being the one to nurse the woundings, guard from infection, and set us right again, in SPIRIT, so that even if there must be a scar, we can point to it and confess HIS goodness in having HEALED us so completely!

*Being Enraptured ~ When he meets me in the intimacy of his Word, in the making me aware of his presence by his Spirit, and often in the context of corporate worship with other believers in Christ, I am discovering a whole new kind of euphoric sensation, replacing my former "religious" engagements which would often bear the fruit of self-loathing and condemnation, I have been given new SIGHT! and I find, as I fix my eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2), look full in his wonderful face, truly the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace! He is glorious, he is beautiful, he is extravagant in his love, he is perfect, unyielding, and yet gentle as fierce power which is capable of crushing me is nevertheless reined in so that I can touch his heart in worship. I am ashamed to confess these moments have been few and far between! Much as my spirit LONGS for these moments, I find I have only begun to realize the intimacy possible with God!...But how kind of God? that he would pursue us, that he would promise to see us in secret, to meet us in the privacy of moments of prayer, and to DELIGHT our souls with his presence? HE is the one for whom we have been made! How could we wonder that we would be enraptured by anything less? We were MADE to be WORSHIPPERS! God's glory is our great JOY!

*Being Equipped ~ So now, God willing, I am moving from Romans 7 to Romans 8 and will pursue all the FULLNESS that means for me. I am no longer a slave, but a son! (Gal. 4:1-7) Is it possible? For one born again to be born again again? If so, that is the point to which I have come. I am again an infant ~ what of knowledge? I have been a student of the word, I have loved to dig deep, but that knowledge (though it OUGHT to have produced joy!) only puffed me up! (1 Cor. 8:1-3) I heard this past week, from another preacher of God's word, that we are not called primarily to be students of God's word - though we are to be that - but we are to be WITNESSES, to testify to that which we have seen, namely JESUS! seated on the throne, high and lifted up! I have spent most of my adult life unknowingly aspiring to merely acquiring more knowledge about God. And to be sure, we ARE to love the Lord our God with all our MIND. (Matt. 22:36-40) But that is not all, and it is not even first...But how kind of God? that he does not leave us in our ignorance! My "knowledge" has increasingly obscured my own ignorance, and I am being made a child again, learning to love BEING-WITH Jesus by the power of his Spirit. This life I now live must be ever adding to our faith. Where I have possessed knowledge, I have lacked character. So now, I am requiring a new equipping. (Gal. 5:19-26, 2 Pet. 1:3-11) In some ways, learning to "do over" things I have taken for granted that I already knew. Lord, make me LISTEN! He speaks through the word of God, and I know his voice! (Jn. 10) I LOVE his voice! Not nearly so much as I ought! But thanks be to God! not nearly so much as I WILL!

God HAS answered me ~ He IS "increasing my capacity" for which I am thankful. Even though I see only the acorn, I am confident of the oak tree hiding under its tiny cap! He breaks my heart, but what he gives me in return is so absolutely incomparable. I would desire more of this "breaking" ~ it is the KINDNESS of God that leads us to repentance! ~ if it will yield more of this ENJOYING of God. Something I thought I knew, but had only barely tasted. If God can do this while we are yet in this earthly tent, HOW MUCH MORE will he give us when we come face to face with him in GLORY?


~ P.S. We did complete the below "Seeking Him" series in class, but I wasn't able to keep up with the notes online. So for those who were eagerly waiting for lessons 9-12, my apologies, and perhaps I will yet be able to capture some of what was reviewed ~ it was indeed a GREAT study!