Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thrown open Doors Wide Open Spaces Clear Air What's next?!

"But I need something more!  I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope!  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn't that the real question? 

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus can and does.  With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma (Ro. 7) is resolved.  Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low lying black cloud.  A new power is in operation!  The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.  We throw open our doors to God and discover that at the same moment that He has already thrown open his door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise!

Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them--living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, spacious, free life.  Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what He is doing.  And God isn't pleased at being ignored. 

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than him. . . .it stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?  When God lives and breathes in you, you are delivered from that dead life.  So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent.  There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all.  The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life!

God's Spirit beckons.  There are things to do and places to go!  This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.  It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "what's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.  We know who He is, and we know who we are:  Father and children."
                                                                                              selections all from the Message
                                                                                              Romans 5:2-4, 7:17, 24-25, 8:1, 6-16

  You cannot be truly humble until you have a deep sense of being loved---Frances Roberts

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What do Olaf the snowman and believers have in common?

You know the song--"the cold and the hot are both so intense, put 'em together and it just makes sense!" Crooning like Sinatra, Olaf sings "winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle but put me in summer and I'll be a " . . . . happy snowman!"  to which Cristoff replies, "someone's got to tell him!" and Anna quickly retorts, "don't you dare!"  We laugh because we know the truth, and his innocence is endearing. 

I wonder how many of us have looked in the Christian evangelical puddle so often that we've stopped asking why we believe what we believe.  We push past Olaf's uncomfortable pause as he hangs over  the puddle knowing that for a second he's facing reality.  Rather than stay with the uncomfortable or the unknown, we're quick to find a happy place.  The security of what we've always believed.  Like we've heard forever that our sin separates us from God, that He turned his head when Jesus hung on the cross, that He chooses some to be saved and others are doomed to hell.  That our lives are all about Him and to want anything for ourselves is selfish.  That holiness is what's most true about Him and my sin is what's most true about me.  That my desire to feel unique and loved by God is simply western individualism stamped with spiritual vocabulary.  That the goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to His character.  That I am still a sinner and unworthy of love and forgiveness.  That I don't deserve salvation and so I should be thrilled He loves me when He really shouldn't.  The fact that He loves unworthy me makes Him all the more glorious and me all the more grateful.   And that all those cool supernatural things that happen in the Bible are really for another time and place--either the streets of Jerusalem or maybe present day Africa.

I guess I feel like I live in Olaf's pause.  I've tried to wear these theological declarations and imagine what life could be like in the summer sun, but I'm left feeling confused, betrayed and aching for something more.  My appendages are in pieces on a wet tile floor. You may not feel this way a bit.  You might say I'm deluded.  That I read into scripture what I want to hear.  To make myself feel good.  We all tend to pick and choose "truths" to which we adhere.  I have no idea if I'm right.  I'm learning how to grow past the "good/bad tree" and give others freedom to believe differently.   However, I wanted to share some of the questions that gave me pause.  Questions I took to the One who gives me breath.

If You can't look on sin . . . then why did You come looking in the garden? (Gen. 3:8-9)
If my sin separates me from You . . . then how could Jesus become sin for me? (2 Cor. 5:21)
           and what changed between You and all of mankind because he did?
           and why would you come running towards me? (Luke 15:20)
           and how can your light be shining in the darkness? (Jn. 1:5)
If my sin is what's most true about me . . .
         then what changes because Your Spirit is in me? (1 Cor. 6:19)
         and how can I be as righteous as Jesus? (2 Cor. 5:21b)
If I am unworthy . . .then why don't You count my sins against me? (2 Cor.. 5:19)
                                  and why would you become one spirit with me? (1 Cor. 6:17)
If you demand glory . . .then why does Jesus say He came to share His? (Jn. 17: 22)
If you call me to die . . .then why did You say your offer was life? (Jn. 10:10)
If my heart is still desperately wicked . . . then how can I be a new creation? (2 Cor. 5:17)
If I could be one of the damned . . . then how can You truly love the world? (Jn. 3:16)
                              and how can Jesus say 'love your enemies' when the damned never have a chance?
If You are still angry . . . then did Jesus die to save us from your anger and not our sins?
                     and does my salvation encounter with You change you from rejecting me to loving me?
                                         then why did Jesus say if you've seen Me you've seen the Father?
If You looked away when Jesus hung on the cross . . . then why in a Messianic Psalm did you tell           David you didn't hide your face from him but heard his cry for help? (Ps. 22:24)  If You do that
    for David, a man, then certainly you'd do it for Your very own?
If You truly forsook Jesus on the cross . . .then how could you be In Him reconciling the world to     
             yourself? (2 Cor. 5:19)
             how could You be in Him and He in You? (Jn. 10:38) How can you leave yourself?
If I'm only on this planet to glorify you and take nothing for myself in worship . .
             is my need for glory part of Your very image in me or simply a nasty result of the Fall?
             are you threatened by my human need for significance? my need for glory? (Ps. 139)
             then why did Jesus tell me to freely receive?  what am I receiving? (Mt. 10:8)
             why did you tell me that a good Father gives the Spirit to one who asks? (Luke 11:13)
If I'm only here to be conformed to your character . . . then I could lose me and miss you completely.
     What fun would there be in that?