Posted tagged ‘Spiritual Maturity’

Our Refuge, His Presence

May 6, 2011

If you are poor, tired, forlorn, and lost there is a place you can go to meet Jesus. It does not depend on your being accepted by a bunch of snooty church folks, you do not have to wear the right clothing, or smell nice. It is a certain and guaranteed thing, because it depends on Jesus alone. Therefore it is not subject to the whims and religious attitudes of men. It is also a place that many have been denied, because the most basic information about it has been obscured for hundreds of years, yielding generations of babies who know a little (or maybe just a lot of academic schlock) about Jesus, but who do not know Him personally (or by means of the Spirit).

 

The place I speak of is the place where Peter was when he was praying in Joppa, (Acts 10:10) and it is where John was when he mentions that he was “in the Spirit” at the beginning of “The Revelation Of John” (Revelation 1), It is where Paul was when he mentions casually that he was taken up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-6).

 

It is as if, when you hear the good news and accept it, you are set down in the outer courts of Solomon’s temple and you tramp around there enjoying all the praise bands and the religious goings on, but to get to the court of the Priests you have to seek the entrance, you have to find the door. Further on to gain access to the temple itself and the Holy of Holies which is your right as a child of the Living God, you have to find the entrance, The entrance in all cases is Jesus, getting to know Him in the most intimate way, is your doorway to these wonderful places. You might say, well this Scriptural evidence is sketchy, yet I am only scratching the surface, there are many examples of this in the New Testament, you just have to look for them, Jesus set the tone in this way of life by spending considerable time, alone with the Father, in prayer.

 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

“19 You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves,” New Century Version

 

Paul said very much the same thing in several places in his epistles, and I would like to suggest to you that for Paul the Temple he once served and the temple God was building in His people were not so different, just far more personal.

 

When you ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-13) God sets up a place in your heart for His presence, a Holy of Holies to which you can retreat to be with Him. I also think that in a slightly different way He is speaking of the same thing when He said “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” Revelation 3:20-22
He encourages us to seek Him, but I believe that He also actively calls us to seek Him.

 

The initiative was God’s from the very beginning, it is our responsibility to respond. To live the life that He has so graciously provided we must walk with Him and dwell in Him. But the flesh resists this simple and beautiful gift which God has placed on our doorsteps. The flesh wants an appearance of Godliness, but please none of that radical stuff!! But sometimes, in it’s contrary way, the flesh makes a religious duty out of being radical. So you can see it all around you in the religious observances that Christians occupy themselves with every day.

 

On the one hand, it is fairly easy to detect an immature approach to the Lord, when others try to convince you to follow their example (and they will!), because the followers of babydom do not have the Spirit to guide them, they only have the book (the Bible) and lacking clarification from the Spirit they cling to whatever interpretation of Scripture they have obsessively, because that is all they have.

 

On the other hand, life in the Spirit is multifaceted, you can walk and talk with Him, listen to Him, and obey Him, He guides you, there are secrets and gifts He will share with you so that you may help people, and He has secrets and gifts for you alone, it is never dull and Scripture will unfold for you in the brilliant light of His Spirit, the very one who wrote it.

 

When you give up your feeble, and failed attempts at controlling your life and place yourself solely in His hands you will find that He is adding to you and augmenting your life beyond anything you ever thought possible.

 

This is our legitimate claim on Jesus, and He is pleased to help us receive it.

But it all starts when we find our refuge in Him, our sanctuary in His Presence.

Advertisements

The One Who Dared

April 4, 2011

You chose Your shape in leaving the Father’s side

forsaking all to save us from our pride

conceiving Your earthly form in Mary’s womb

transforming it, when You walked out of the tomb.

 

Teething, cold, and hunger you preferred

to golden streets and thrones and You endured

Our humble fare, coarse bread and fish You ate

And even more You shared our deadly fate.

 

You came and walked the gritty, earthy dust

To show us all the Father we can trust

to know His love, and know the One who cares

And find our Father through the One who dared.

 

To take our form and share our low estate

and move about using our shambling gait

While speaking words with lips and Spirit’s flame

You set about to raise us from our shame.

 

The children knew, they saw it in Your eyes

The Father’s joy embracing, ’twas a surprise!

You sought us first to put us on the list

We’ll see God, as we find You in our midst.

 

In humbleness I seek You

and by your grace I meet You

There is no rite for meeting God to man

To join us in our hearts is what You planned.

 

The Dusty Road

March 12, 2011

You are trudging on the long weary road with a heavy heart, the dust rises and chokes you as the cars pass,

the clothes you are wearing are gritty and grimy,

and the sun seems to have picked you out for particular attention and torment.

The cold wet streams, you can hear splashing, are out of reach, undrinkable because of pollution

You are about to give up and collapse

all around you there is a deafening stillness,

the stillness that screams,

“You took the wrong turn, you are lost, you will never make it now.”

 

When you find yourself in a situation like this, just remember that there was another dusty road once

and two down-hearted men were walking in the hot Judean sun

Just to get away, to get away from the madness that they had witnessed in Jerusalem.

They had seen a man who had never hurt anyone, who had helped and healed many

being brutally beaten, and driven through the streets and in the end nailed to a wooden beam and hung above the heads of a bloodthirsty crowd who spat on Him and reviled Him.

 

Those two men were shocked and weary and afraid. What they witnessed made them avoid the company of others, I am sure they felt they couldn’t trust anyone to be just and fair anymore. I am sure that is why they left town.

 

They didn’t notice that someone was walking with them until He spoke to them. They shared their concerns their fears and the extreme insanity of what they had witnessed

Jesus listened to them, but He didn’t stop there, He explained to them about the necessity of His death, He encouraged them. And then when the meal was served He opened their eyes to see who it was that had kept them company on the hot and dusty road of disillusionment. It is important to note that He did not jump out of the bushes and holler “Surprise!”, no, he walked with them and shared their troubles and their sorrows.

So when you feel like you are all alone and the road is the only place left to you, when the cruelty of the world shocks and repels you and makes you wonder, with good reason, if the world is insane. And they have thrown you out to eat and sleep with the dogs, there is One who will walk with you, He is gentle and kind and He knows all about rejection.

When you are all out of options and all out of friends, you still have one friend, the most important One.

Microcosm

February 13, 2011

I have been on Facebook for some time now and I have begun to notice what an odd microcosm it is, not that it is in any way a faithful representation of the way the wider world is, but there are microclimates that encourage certain mirror images of what is going on in the world. You may be fortunate to fall in with a group of people whom you wholeheartedly agree with or you may find yourself locked into one of those endless and fruitless debates which have been the hallmark of internet exchanges for more than a decade now.

We used to call them flame wars and they are usually precipitated by someone dangling flame bait. All that a person has to do to start something like this is to ridicule a subject which he or she knows someone else holds sacred or dear, and stand back. Often after the gasoline has been thrown on the fire the resulting inferno will burn for days, or at least until all the participants are exhausted. I have seen these things going on long before Facebook ever existed. So now when I see them merrily reproducing with predictable frequency on Facebook. It makes me wonder what is being achieved. All of this energy and righteous indignation, spraying out into the ether, for what?

It reminds me that there are people in this world who actually make a living by spreading disinformation. Have you ever wondered why TV news picks up certain stories to run with? Have you ever noticed when the subjects of a news report are characterized as being crude or backward in those reports? It may not be apparent in the copy of the story, often it is in the video content. Have you ever thought through the sage advice you got from that political analyst?

As a culture we are immersed in media throughout the day, every day. It is so pervasive that we often cannot tell that we are being swayed. We do not understand why we don’t care to be around certain types of people, but we are very certain that we don’t.

Our reasoning faculties are hobbled at an early age through ceaseless bombardment. Are we quite certain of our own tastes and ideas? Or have we surrendered to the barrage of endless input from the endless parade of “authorities” we see in newscasts, and advertisements, that we hear on talk radio, and we read in the press, or even from the sermons we hear?

This world is full of distortions of the truth, if we are to move forward Spiritually, if we are to mature, should we be relying on the things people tell us? Or should we be seeking the One who knows?

Why Do We?

January 15, 2011

Why do we use “crossing the Jordan” as a metaphor for physical death when we can live in the Promised land now (by means of the Spirit)?

Why do we not find fault with a minister whose idea of “being a servant” is to insist on being honored and having authority over us?

Why do we find fault with people who fall down when someone prays for them? Maybe they are more comfortable on the floor.

Why do we read about the Spirit in the Bible, but only think about the flesh?

Why do we tolerate preachers who push us down when they pray for us?

Why do we hold hands and proclaim our unity in the sanctuary, but get into a heated theological debate in the vestibule?

Why do some congregations throw people out when they dance in the aisles? After all, that could be the high point of the service!

Why do we say that we love God and live only for Him, when all of our desires and plans have to do with making our way in this world?

Why do we obsess about sin when Jesus already took care of that? If you are troubled, humble contrition is all that is needed, He is in His office 24/7.

Why do we gather with that same old group of crabby, and/or unnaturally cheerful people each week and call it church?

Why do we feel that the people in a church building are God’s people when the plastic smiles and handshakes are less genuine than Madoff’s hedge fund?

Why do we pass up an opportunity to help someone, so that we might get to church on time?

Why are we so sad at funerals (not counting relatives and close friends who are sad because they will truly miss the deceased) when we say that “he/she is with Jesus now”?

Why oh why do we believe the promises of men which are nearly always empty lies, while we ignore the true promises of God.

Why are we content to live shallow lives when we could be living in the fullness of His Spirit?

If you have done one or two, or more, of these things and understand how inconsistent they are, congratulations you are human.

For that matter if you drew breath and opened your eyes this morning you are human.

We all have needs, to love and to be loved, to be sheltered and fed, but most of all we need God.

Our need for God is apparent when we hunger and thirst for justice, or love, or friendship, or even for a break from the chaos which is this world.

God can bring us peace, love, provision, and companionship, if we will have it.

We can live in Him, in union with Him.

Jesus is the cure for our feckless humanity.

The Religious Boor

January 3, 2011

I bring the message, missive from on high

to enlighten all, so with my ideas I

on cantilever’d wings attempt to soar

And in this way reveal myself, a boor.

 

I burst forth in haste and ranting I do come

To prattle at you ’til your ears are numb

to hold forth on the subject of “the God”

Of which, I know as little as a cod.

 

For scholar’s books have been my native land

and soaring I cannot beyond the hand

of the ancient sage who records his best regrets

which I turn ’round and spew out in sudden fits

that do not help, but hinder even the wise

as if I had entrapped them in a vise.

 

Of union with the Spirit I speak not

and of trusting God I will not write a jot

But in my imagined genius do I play

and those who oppose me, well, they’ll rue the day!

 

The gentle grace of God did shine His light

illuminated my shortcomings, and my plight

of my arrows flying wild, which missed the mark

And in my shame I hid me in the dark

 

‘Tis His sweet self who rescued me, you see

and pulled me in His boat out of the sea

for half of it I swallowed as I drowned

He’ll heal me ’cause for this He is renowned.

 

My wish for fame like a rocket did ascend

but exploded in vain infamy in the end

but tho’ I did attempt to steal His crown

His hand reached out to me to sit me down

beside Him on His throne, Oh happy day!

I wandered lost, but He has shown the way.

For Those Who Believe In Jesus

December 3, 2010

For those who believe in Jesus.

There are a few things which we must come to grips with in this world.

Jesus is real, Jesus is alive.

There are a lot of people in this world

and yes, even “ministers of the gospel” who do not truly believe it.

But they will not tell you that

because people lie.

You can know that He lives

You can know that this is true.

You can meet Him and you can hear Him,

if you seek Him.

How do we know this? He said, “Seek and Ye shall find”.

The problem with the world is, they are not seeking.

 

There are a few things which we must realize about this world.

There are people who want to own everything in the world.

There are people who want to have all of the power in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly do own everything in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly have all the power of this world.

If there were no God, we the ones without worldly power would be up the creek without a paddle.

Fortunately this is not the case, for our elder Brother and God, Jesus, has all of the real power.

This world is like a dust mote in His hands

and it’s power is like a tiny watch battery compared to the mighty power of the universe of God.

He who made all of the worlds and suns of the universe.

Can unmake this one and not even break a sweat.

He could poof us back into the dust cloud our world was made from,

But He does not do so for our sakes.

There are people among us who know Jesus

There are still people, even among the very wicked who can come to know Him.

There are people whom we are going to meet and lead into a relationship with Him.

Some of them will not seem to be very nice people.

And some of those same people will become closer than family to us.

I am not talking about taking someone to “church”,

I am not talking about taking them to a Christian concert,

I am talking about a face to face encounter with Him.

And their journey will start with your face and end up with His.

 

The time for wicked, worldly ones is limited.

This world will soon pass away.

Our lives in this world will end

but Jesus will not leave us.

So why is it we don’t trust Him, fully,

with everything?

 

So this is the deal, we all need to grow and mature in Jesus,

Don’t ask your pastor about this, don’t call up your favorite TV preacher either,

Go to Jesus. Yes, straight to Him.

It doesn’t take a degree in Theology, to talk to Him.

It doesn’t take a high falutin’ title either.

Just seek Him in your own humble way.

And listen.

He spoke to Abraham, and Moses, and David, and the Prophets,

And He will talk to you too.

He is the only one who really knows what is going on anyway!