Sunday, December 30, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Satan attacked the first people with lies. What God commanded them was not true. God's word was not trustworthy. God is not trustworthy.
Of course, the first people acted on these lies, and the world's DNA was infected by what the Bible calls "sin." There is now in man a tendency to move away from God. The God-man relationship is broken. The man-man relationship is broken. Man's relationship with himself is broken. His tendency is to choose directions, actions and attitudes that damages himself.
The cure is to choose to go away from, counter to this tendecy. THe first step is to declare the truth, because the devil's first step was to lie.
Satan will lie to us, just as he lied to the first people. It is the lie in our thoughts that will move us to make wrong decisions. Remembering and declaring truth will cancel the wrong thoughts.
Satan's lies will not always be obvious. It can be difficult to recognize the lie amid all the claims of "pleasure", "peace" and "profit." It can be difficult to recognize the lie among all the attempts to obscure it -- "old fashioned", "narrow-minded" and "judgmental." (Especially when the family of God underlines and highlights the lies with their own practices.) These are only a few of his lies to persudae us to follow his other lies. And if he succeeds in getting us to believe one of his lies, we will hear it again and again.
We need to live by the truth. To live by the truth, we need to know the truth. So, it is important to be engaged with God in the scriptures. It is important to obey God in making disciples. It is important to persist. Even if we succeed obeying God only once in a million times, God will take any step of obedience, of faith, and treat it like "bread and fish." (A reference to the story about Jesus feeding at least 5000 people with one person's lunch.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
SInce, we are all parts of the whole, we will all advance together, and we will all retreat together. When a church planting movement sweeps across a tribal groupin India, churches popping up in unprecedented rates, salvations so fast it takes your breath away, we are all part of that. We can all rejoice. We can all pray for a continuing, a growing and a spreading.
But we do not seem to take this connectedness seriously, especially in the west, especially in America. In those places, the church has uncovered the opposite, but in some ways, an equally wonderful truth. Which is -- there is an unlimited potential in the individual. Especially if he walks in love and the Holy Spirit.
Metaphors break down eventually. It can be seen most clearly in the stories of individuals for whom the truth og God has become most real: Jesus, Paul, Hudson Taylor, Charles finney, Charles Wesley, to name a few. These men took two extra steps to obey God, and God's Spirit moved in a tidal wave across the landscape.
But such individuals are rare. So God put us into teams, with steps of obedience creating a synergy. Teams are almost more powerful than the afore mentioned spiritual giants. Egos need humility, which can result from mutual submission. Unity must be maintained. The simple mixing of people into a powerful team is a miracle in the current age of "me first", "you're worth it" and "do your own thing."
But to go one step further, the growth of the Body requires the health of the whole Body. People charge on to achieve personal growth. But we are losing something if we do not go together. To grow more completely in the things of God, we need to go together, in order to grow together. We probably cannot go with 50 people. But we do need a team that provides all the necessary things for life and growth.
We are designed by God for health, growth and reproduction. We have discussed the necessary ingredients for these things. Here is another -- one another.
Paul encourages us to use all the tools at our disposal, because Satan has developed strategies against us. The purpose of Satan's strategies is to take glory from God and to make our lives miserable. People were designed to live in joy and peace; if Satan can get us to live without joy and without peace, he has succeeded. MIsery per se is not really necessary. He has moved us away from our design; he has stolen glory from God.
MAny people reguard Sata's plots as actual attempts by Satan to harm us, our family, our friends, or our property. I certainly do not mean to say that if Satan can do any of these things, he will not. What I am saying is that for far too many of us, he does not need to. All he needs to do is whisper about some problem, some worry, some concern, and our minds filter it through a non-God grid. And we roll it around in our brains. It is not prayed over. It is not considered in the light of what scripture says. It is certainly not regarded in a way the brings purification of our hearts and minds -- as scripture promises that any trial will.nor is it regarded in the light of God's mission.
Rarely are any of these things done. And when we fail to shine God's light on circumstances, Satan wins.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Saturday, December 08, 2012
However, I found myself asking the question, "Why is joy important?" We saw when we began this exercise, that joy is part of the picture of man living in holiness. Joy is a natural result of man living in relationship with God and a natural result of a life of obedience. Joy was a daily component of Jesus' life, because he lived closest to God and was the most obedient person whoever lived.
We tentatively defined joy as an attitude of positive enthusiasm or passion toward life.
I recently finished a book called "Born to Run." The basic premise of the book is that human beings were designed for long distance running. (We are also designed to seek out greater efficiency. That's why people seek ways to avoid running.) The author presented information from science and anthropology to illustrate the theme. Interwoven with the rational "proofs" were stories from primitive tribes famous for running, and stories from the world of ultra-marathons, that is, races of 50 to 100 miles.
At one point, one of the characters realizes the spiritual aspect of running. Successful, excellent running is based on joyfully embracing it. Joy motivates its pursuit. Joy motivates continuing with or without outside reward.
Motivation is pivotal in any endeavor. Without improvement or any other reward, it is only an internal heart motivation that urges a person to continue a difficult course of action.
And pursuing holiness in a corrupt world can never achieve any real success. There can be improvement, even significant improvement, but never real mastery. Joy becomes an important motivation towards pursuing holiness, as well as an indicator of success - as it is a "natural" result of living in agreement with God. Joy can be part of creating an upward spiral by motivating greater obedience.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
There does seem to be two primary bases for joy. One is our relationship with God. Two is acting in agreement with our God-designed natures.
Relationship, as we tend to use the word and concept today, is defined rather simply. It involves talking and hanging out. Relationships go far beyond that. It involves actions for and against, offense and forgiveness, judgment, restoration, comfort, presence,and yes communication of all sorts: teaching, explaining, joking, consoling, reproving, warning, etc.
One of the reasons God gives commands is so we know how to live. Obedience to these commands does not follow some arbitrary group of rules. The command follow a design. They either make life more efficient, effective and full, or they enhance our relationships with God and people. That's why the Bible speaks so much about obedience.
And mission is another part of design. It is also part of relationship. Working as a team to achieve an over-arching goal builds relationships. It builds a common mind-set. And in the case of people teaming up with God, it develops God's mind-set in people.