Archive for the ‘How then shall we live?’ Category

Is the Lord in every room?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

A very interesting (and decidedly encouraging) chat with a young Christian brother focused on a perspective many of us as believers needed to be reminded of. This fellow is serving with a missions organization in the Southern Hemisphere, and I thank the Lord for the Skype technology that makes our contact not only possible but amazingly easy and conversational.

In the course of our conversation he used an analogy that may be familiar to some (including as it turns out, my daughter), but which I hadn’t heard and which gave me something to think about.

The analogy characterized the self as a home (house, that is). In that home, we as Christians invite the Lord into our various rooms, communicating and interacting with Him there as appropriate whether it be the Kitchen or the Den. Each area of our home has a relatively level of intimacy attached to it in our demeanor, attitude and internal behaviour. That is, the intimacy of the entry way is quite different from that of the living room, and that affects the relationship offered and shared with those allowed access to either. In case of the Lord, the intimacy of our relationship with Him is reflected in what rooms are open to Him and what rooms, if any, are not. The question, then, is whether we have given Him full access including the bedroom as our most personal and intimate living space.

In fact we should phrase the question as to whether we have invited Him there. In the physical sense, tt is only there that we are open completely, without protection and facade. It is only there that we, by virtue of the reality of going to sleep, must completely let our guard down in order to rest. And it is only there that we awaken to a new day, in many ways setting the tone for our consciousness in the day to come. So it is in our relationship with the Lord. On in the most intimate portion of ourself is there established a genuine relationship with the Lord which sets the tone for our life.

If we have invited that Lord into every room of our being but not the bedroom, then we know Him, and he us, only at arms length. In that case the knowing is at least to some degree intellectual, not personal. With the classic North American (I am not familiar enough with other cultural groups to comment knowledgeably), who frequently has an intellectual approach in their stance in life, this is highly likely to be the case. Further, outward appearance conveys the mindset and not reality, so this situation is not likely to be apparent on the surface.

While our Lord desires that we know Him intellectually (since Scripture states that we are to understand and be able to explain the hope that is within us), He makes it clear that His knowledge of us is to be intimate at every level. We are too abide one within the other. That means that the bedroom of ourselves is a critical aspect of the relationship, in essence opening our Spirit to Him. We can not protect that aspect and truly know Him.

Now it is clear that as a sovereign God He knows us at every level He should wish. However scripture casts the relationship such that He is not pushy in the sense of coming uninvited or unwelcome to our inmost sanctuary. Though we are regenerate through the touch of the Holy Spirit and only thus capable of turning to Him, it is nonetheless only by our freely inviting Him that the relationship is constructed – willingly seeking Him in prayer, Scripture and thought (attitude). Since our mindset determines our stance, it is through leaning on Him for our self-image and value, in whatever might be our places of weakness, that he is invited where we allow or invite no-one else. And in that we have full relationship with Him.

It bears repeating that this is not to say that the intellectual aspect is not both important and encouraged as we seek understanding, but it alone can not lead to a complete knowledge in Him and life in Him. Put another way, one can understand a place but still not live in that place. On that other hand, with the Lord invited and part of the our inmost self, the other types of understanding fall into place as He (note, not we) sees the need and are icing on the cake.

Elisabeth Elliott, in her excellent book Discipline: The Glad Surrender (ISBN 1-85078-302-0), reminds us that the Lord did not promise us sufficient information for intellectual satisfaction on our path in Him. He only promised us enough information to be obedient. That obedience in relationship with Him can only occur and be satisfied when we have invite Him into, and surrendered, the bedroom of our self.

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Rejoicing in Christian fellowship

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

What a joy to have the privilege of being called together, even in this life, in the name of our Lord! We are His.

Just think of it – owned by the Creator the universe, part of His family, forever His possession, and predestined to be so even before we came into existence. No matter how many times I consider it, I am once again in awe. It calls to my mind another verse from the old Fanny Crosby Hymn “Redeemed, How I love to proclaim it..”:

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

How often to do we remember, in the hustle and bustle of daily living, driving to work, dealing with situations, and so on, that we are completely safe in His grasp – this moment and forever? I think that I often forget it, and each time I am distracted and that happens, I dwell momentarily in less joyful place. Of course that lack to safety is imaginary, but it is nonetheless a less joyous place to live.

Do I sound over the top? Well, so be it. That we should be able to glorify His name, what a thought. I pray that we will recall in each moment that wonder, that we are His people apart, and rejoice together in that.

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It’s all about Jesus

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Sola Christos!!! It is always that, in every situation.

In words of our Lord “I am the way”. In Greek, what He says is often not apparent in the usual translations. The Greek uses a very strong imperative. Picture, for a moment, standing on the table yelling “I, and only I, am the way, the only way“. Not that our Lord would stand on the table and yell, but it is a useful way to convey the imperative so we get the flavour of the statement’s strength.

Harkening back to Job in Unexpected pathways, our place is a humble one, glorifying Jesus as we sit or walk in His shadow. His imperative statement makes it clear that in His shadow is the correct place for us.

Now, does being humble position, glorifying Him, mean that we are not active nor accomplishing things as we live in the world? Is it spending evey minute in quiet, still adoration? Not at all. It implies action, directed by and drawing our strength through our closeness to Him. Acting, but at the same time resting in looking to Him, as we walk in the world.

This is part of why the saints are ‘other worldly’. The combination of demeanors that we are describing is not of this world. It is in this world, but of the Lord, since we only move under His authority when we are in His shadow.

To pro-actively move in the shadow of the Creator of the universe. It is hard to imagine Grace beyond that. Praise be His name.

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Unexpected pathways

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

The Battle belongs to the Lord.

We sing that line, and we refer to it frequently one way or the other. The path of our lives, in the circumstance of every day, is the Lord’s in the same way. Our battle is His since we belong to Him. But our first thoughts are often not of Him.

This is understandable of course, since the pains of life, especially physcial ones, are pretty focusing. Yet biblically there are numerous examples for us that demonstrate that the Lord would have our thoughts on Him. Job, in my mind, is the most prominent of those whose focus did remain in the Lord throught physical trial and circumstance. The trial shifted from one tack to another as Satan changed his focus, tempting Job to loose his. But the structure of the attack did not matter, for Job remained focused upon God tenaciously.

Surely it was not Job’s own strength that allowed him to kling to God through it all. Various sermons and articles cite Job as the picture of Christian fortitude and staying power. In a human sense that is no doubt correct. But I don’t think that is the whole, or even the major, message we are given here.

Job, as a ‘natural’ man, could not have held out in the face of so many overwhelming problems without drawing on the strength of the Lord. Even in his struggles he humbled himself, always coming back to the watch care and provisioning of the Lord. Always bowing to the Will of God. Alway humble and dependent. THAT is where his real strength came from, and it has little to do with personality in the natural sense, nor with human fortitude, though he most certainly had both.

I am reminded of two other Biblical situations, linked to this one thematically in my thinking. I think of Samuel being taught the correct attitude to God in answering “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening” 1 Sam 3:9, and also of the humble obedience of Ananias in Act 9:10, as he obediently seeks out Saul in a situation which he would interpret as holding grave personal danger. In his steadfast faith in the Lord, looking foolish in the face of his friends and world, Job was continually expressing that same “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening”.

Let our prayer be that we all too can repeat that within ourselves as we move through that which the Lord provides. “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening”. To His greater glory.

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Wild eXtremes

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

To go ‘wild’ or not to go ‘wild’, that is the question – with apologies to William S.

In the discussion about ‘Wild at Heart’, a comment some time ago, unrelated to this book, from a Christian brother came to mind. This is a man who has a number of adult children, including several sons, and thereby lots of experience. One day in conversation I was joking about the propensity of his offspring (all solid believers) to indulge in extreme sports and other adrenilin pumping passtimes. His comments were interesting.

To summarize, he felt that the lure of risk was programmed into the youth by our Lord for His own purposes. Youth were drawn to risk so that they could risk for the Lord. They could step out in risky ways that old believers were unlikely or unable to. With no Christ-centered outlet for this risk taking (eg. evangelism) in many modern senarios, the urge was miss-channeled by society into other areas. This remade the youth into consumers of one sort or another in seeking an outlet in other types of risk.

So the proposition is that the risk taking is by design, and that it is designed to allow them to step out for the Lord, possibly dramatically.

An interesting idea indeed!

While I have taken my share of risks when a youth (many inappropriate by this analysis), I am well past that now. Nonetheless, the idea, when applied the current popularity of eXtreme sports, would tend to see them as an abberation. That is intriguing.

It is also very different indeed from the Eldridge-ification discussed earlier…

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Eldridge-ification

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

In the comments on hunting, a similarity between the New Age Movement and the current Wild at Heart movement was drawn. For those involved in or familiar with the present group, this may well raise some eyebrowes. Yet for those who have seen both up close, it is absolutely clear that they are parallel in both ideas, and sadly IMO, in fundamental error.

Both posit, at the core, that to realize or actualize their masculinity, men must return to the wild. Also, implied directly or indirectly is that they are most comfortable there once they realize it and that they must do so in the sole company of other men. These manly things, and the realities held therein, are solely for men and available only to those who ‘realize’ the reality of it. Strong words, but when you cut to the core in the both groups, that is where you end up. The classic humorous anecdote of course is about men in loin clothes running through the forest to find themselves. We may chuckle at that extreme, but the reality is actually just a more ‘civilized’ version with the same belief set.

The current Christian reworking of this belief set is VERY close the previous interation, a fact not realized by most involved, and which would no doubt upset them.

The entire mindset is a boys’ getto, both then and now. Though it seeks to find an ephemeral freedom in human roots (which could yield another interesting around Christian subscription to an evolution base paradigm), it in fact creates a very narrow world view. To suppose that our Lord created man with such a narrow vision for his potential just seems silly, to be honest.

Admitedly this view has some seductive qualities, mostly based in freedom from fear in a limited world. But those in the end this limit the potential of a man, not expands it.

Now, does this mean that I am disregarding the fundamental differences in the roles and functional capabilities of men and women as created by our Lord? Does it mean that I do not feel that that there are fundamental difference between them? Not for a minute. I am, in fact, arguing that within what the Lord created and modelled, men (and women) are not required to return to the wild to find actualization of their potential in the world or in relationships with the opposite sex.

In the secular New Age groups (as I have seen them), these limiting views do not build enhanced relationships between men and women. They segreagate them. In the Christian life, the acting out of the biblical model layed down for men and women neither requires nor is enhanced by segregation of experience as a preequisite to becoming whole. The bible would seem to indicate precisely the opposite in the case of couple who are “one flesh”.

Let me state clearly, however, that I am not discrediting wildness experience as a wonderful one, nor the company and fellowship of the same sex as less than encouraging to growth. But these experience are most certainly NOT the magic bullet to self and relationship to God that they are oft subtly presented as.

I would challenge men (and women) to examine what these world views are really appealing to and form opinions based on that.

So what, you might ask, of the seeminlgly built-in propensity we see in many (particularly the youth) for risk taking and extreme experiences? That we will explore shortly…

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past…

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home

As I was writing the previous post in this thread, on the “Alone’s”, the words of the wonderful old hymn above were running through my mind. Only through His grace and calling do we have this privilege to express ourselves to the Glory of God. Our help, our hope, our shelter, our home – it is all of Him and Him alone.

It is our hope to glorify Him in our lives, not because we can, but for the larger reason that He made us and called us specifically and solely for that purpose.

As we glorify only Him, He is truly our hope and home, stretching from the past into times to come.

Let us share that with others, thereby again glorifying Him alone.

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All Glory to God…now

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Soli Deo Gracia, all for the Glory of God in simply terms. How easily it rolls off our tongues in word and song, especially on a Sunday morning. But do we live that way?

As we sing His praise, surrounded by the fellowship of other believers, the glory of the Lord seems close by. But even there, in the emerging church life, there is all too often an element of our glory, along with His. But the glory is ALL His, and none of us.

Whether we are walking in the world, or singing in the church, let us remember who holds it all, moment to moment. Our true level of dependence is truly as staggering and complete as is the degreee to which we often forget it.

Through the Lord and His ways we are called to Him, expressed by ‘Grace alone, Faith alone, Christ alone, and Scripture alone’ – the guiding responsible principles by which we are guided and live. As we finish this set of principles with ‘For the Glory of God Alone’, let us try to remember that with every step and breath that we take.

We have been called and lead to a place of worship and relationship with the Lord solely for the purpose of His glory. There is nothing in it of us.

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Monergism musings

Monday, January 1st, 2007

In looking over some articles at the site of one of our new theology links, monergism.com, I was struck (as a firm believer in the Doctrines of Grace) by the inevitability of mongerism for those who embrace Sola Garcia.

As I let my mind rest on the complete Sovereignity of the Lord and on His total holiness, I simply can not comprehend any reality outside sovereign grace wherein to dwell.

If this is foolishness, then let me continue to be foolish, as the Lord predicted that both He and we would be regarded (1 Cor 2:14Open Link in New Window).

Further, the work of the Holy Spirit, as the active agent in the equation here on earth, is then equally unavoidable in the quickening of the Elect.

Now, before someone points it out, this is a simple equation. There certainly great theological discussion on the details and concepts. Having acknowledged that, however, the basic truth is, as it is express above or similarly, in the end quite simple.

Does this mean that those who believe (and confess Him as Lord) are then permanently freed from worldly turmoil, temptations, doubts and other difficulties? Not a chance. Perfection in experiential knowledge of the truth, as far as I can see, will only be in the presence of the Lord when He returns. Living here on earth in the interim, we witness and are faced with the battle for truth, and Spiritual Warfare is the daily reality.

Nonetheless, we have His assurance that we rest in Him, and despite the circumstances of a world moving towards spiritual calamity before His return, His Spirit works within us and we will indeed see Him face to face for all eternity.

All glory be to our Lord!

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Even the sheperds knew better

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

As we race towards Christmas, I was thinking about the sheperds, minding their flocks and their own business in the field, confronted by the Angelic Host of the Lord. They were afraid but they caught on. We too would be afraid, but how quickly would we catch on?

Sure, with our current Bible knowledge, if the Heavenly Host directly confronted us, we would hopefully figure it out pretty quickly. But what about the more subtle circumstances of everyday life. As we bustle about, faced by the Lord in our hearts at every turn, how often do we ‘get it’? How often do we live in simple faith, accepting that what we may have constructed or planned simply isn’t what the Lord had in mind, and that it is okay? More than okay, it is perfect and good.

Those plain, common, at the time crude, sheperds had something to say to us about falling on our faces before the path of the Lord and what he brings into our lives. Sometimes, many times, it seems so hard to keep that simple fact in mind.

How then shall we live?

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Looking for water in the desert…

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Pillar of fireI was thinking about the Israelites wandering in the desert, as I drove along mulling life and frustrations today. So often we (I, more appropriately) are like those hard headed Israelite soles, as they plodded through the wilderness with the Pillar of Smoke and Fire going before them. Always wondering where they were going, and ignoring the real way to get there all that time, as they looked for an external solution.

They needed to rest in Him and follow in faith. Seemingly easy, but what did they do? Everything else but what was needed, looking for the answer and their salvation in every other direction – mostly directions that annoyed the Lord.

How much like them we are as we rush along trying to define this and that, making things better and putting programs in place – all unrelated, and in fact often tangential, to plain Faith and a walk of trust in the Lord.

We are called as a people apart, and yet we strive so much to actual be part of the world. .

In the words of Francis Schaefer, “How then shall we live?”…

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The Psalms on the Coast of California

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

coastI love the Psalms. David speaks of nature singing the praises of our Lord. When heard read from a church pulpit or pew some people say this can sound figurative.

Not so on the coast of California watching the waves roll in on a sunny or a misty day. The scene shouts out the glory of the Lord and His creative hand! It is truly wonderful.

Praise our Lord!

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