Monday, September 30, 2013

Calling - IV

The writer of this book uses the term "core identity" to describe the basic, foundational truth of who people in general were created to be. We have discussed it here also, using a slightly different metaphor. We talk about the primary fuel. A person comes to a turning point. He needs to make a decision. Many different things motivate that decision.
  • They recognize their moral failure.
  • They conclude there is an over-riding truth.
  • They need something that gives them value or significance.
  • They need a cause.
  • They need something to belong to.
In all these cases, the solution to the issue they are facing is to choose a change of allegiance. They choose to connect that allegiance to God. Now:
  • They have a relationship with God.
  • They are judged to be pardoned from their moral failures.
  • They can live by the Truth ... with a capital T.
  • They are valued, important and significant.
  • They have a place, a role, a purpose and a cause.
  • They belong to the family of God.
  • What is broke in their lives, their hearts and their relationships can now be fixed.
This is who we all are. This is what we were designed to be from the beginning. We are unique in that we have different pasts, different roles and different destinies. But our foundations are the same. What we stand on, what we build from, is the same for everyone ... whether we choose to follow God or not.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Calling - III

One of the problems with this area of calling is that there is no passage of Scripture that says "This is you special niche in my kingdom. If you make sure to complete this work, you will gloify my name, experience great joy and bear much fruit." There is not even a verse that says "Make sure you fulfill your calling."

There are indications that one of mankind "fuels" is purpose. There is Scripture where it seems like Paul helped Timothy find his niche. And there is Scripture that says when we choose to follow Jesus, we become part of his family. And one of the metaphors use to describe his family is the human body. The human body is a group of different pieces hooked together to cooperate with one another. Each part performs its function and contributes to the growth and well-being of the whole.

But suppose you are a hand in his body. You could hold a hammer, a pencil or a knife. And if you are holding a knife, what are you cutting with it? Vegetables in a kitchen? Or performing surgury in a hospital?

As members of Jesus' family, we all are given the job of glorifying God by proclaiming and demonstrating his love to everyone, all over the world. This should result in a proclamation and demonstration of truth, and other people choosing to follow Jesus. But how do we take the function God has given us, and complete the task God has given us?
  • Become a professional leader.
  • Bake apple pies for the neighborhood.
  • Coach soccer to eight year olds.
  • Stand on a busy stret and publicly proclaim the gospel.
  • Become a nurse and care for the sick.
The fact that there are a number of gifts and a multitude of areas to express these gifts only serves to confuse those looking for somewhere to plug in. (And there is a vast spectrum of life as God's family to consider ... and we only used one part as an example.)

As I have said before, I write what I am thinking about. And sometimes something I have seen or heard oar read somewhere else starts me thinking. And this area of calling started with a book.

The author assumes a calling, a special niche given to each one in God's family. The value of the book is that he provides several ways of trying to define a calling. Like looking from several mountain vistas at the valley below, we can get different perspectives and different, but complementary, understandings of this niche we are looking for, that will help us obey God's purposes in ways that glorify God and match who we are designed to be.

My intention is to describe each "vista" so maybe I can understand them better. Maybe I can find a better place to focus my energies. And maybe anyone who reads this can do the same.

NOTE: But there will be a brief hiatus. My brother and I are going camping for a few days. We will hike, eat and burn wood. Maybe attend the Annual Fall Festival and listen to blue grass.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Calling - II

First, to recap a couple of ideas discussed here before …

God created the world and designed it to function perfectly. Man sinned, introducing a polluting effect into the world, and “breaking” the world. Things do not function as they were designed to do. But, there are still many things that follow their created nature. Man is still designed for a relationship with God. To live completely and fully, man needs many fuels. The God-man relationship is the primary fuel. Purpose is also a necessary fuel.

God is everywhere and understand everything. He is also immanent; which means he is totally present with all who seek him. All this means God can give his total attention and his total focus on people with enough to eat, radiation pollution in Japan, church planting movements across the world and individuals praying … in the US, in China, in Finland, in Chile, or anywhere else Jesus’ family is found.

So, since God can be completely present with all his children, and he has designed them for abundant living, for giving abundant glory to God, and for his family to full many different roles in a cohesive unity, we can see it is completely possible for God to five each one of his children their own totally unique niche in his family and in his purposes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I am reading a book that begins with the basic assumption that God has created us, designed us, and given us a specific purpose in life. The writer uses an old fashioned word to describe this specific purpose. He uses the word "calling."

Each person in Christ is given a specific call in life. If we receive it, we can complete God's vision for our life, achieve greater fulfillment in life, and give God greater glory through our lives. 

There was a time that a call on a person's life was discussed a lot in Christian circles. It fell out of favor, simply because many people would feel a call to this or that, and it never happened. Did people stop thinking about it because it wasn't true? Or because no one really understood the theology of the call? Or because we did not understand or were unwilling to walk through the process of receiving our call?

God needs to position us so that we are able to receive and act on our call. This could involve refining character, learning skills, or undergoing inner healing. It could also involve an unfolding of the call.

A call exists on several levels. There is a purpose, or reason, for what we are doing. There is a vision, or a direction and result. And there is a strategy, or steps of action.

And there is a core identity. It is God who defines who we are. But we have allowed all sorts of things to define us. And so we believe a lie. It is this core identity, God's definition, that is the foundation of any call.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Last week, I read a passage of Scripture that has got me wondering. When we look at Scripture, we see a number of places where God speaks to subsets of people: slaves, masters, parents, the rich and rulers. There are places where Scripture address just men and just women.

Some people read the passages and believe that God designed a hierarchy among men and women. If there is a hierarchy among the sexes, it was created when sin entered the world; it is part of the world being broke.

God created culture. Different peoples gather, view life through different lenses nad develop different expressions and solutions to life. God is glorified as these different people seek to follow Jesus from their contexts.

Men and women also have different lenses. And God is glorified as they seek to follow Jesus from their contexts. The all-prevailing attitude and action that must be present in all interactions -- whether they are between cultures or genders -- is love.

But, getting back to my Scripture ...

In the midst of a passage where the writer is encouraging specific practices to men and women, he encourages all men to pray. Since, in the context, he immediately goes on to encourage a different, separate practice to women, this exhortation to prayer is specifically to men.


There were some possibilities that I considered.

(1) Something special happens when men pray. (If this sounds sexist, please, make sure to read items 2 and 3.) Anyone praying is important, and God pays attention to it. But men praying has more potency somehow, so he encourages it more.

(2) This is not about praying or not praying. This is about how prayer should be given. More specifically, this is how men are praying wrong ... and what they need to do to pray correctly.

(3) Women are such natural and effective pray-ers that they don't need instruction in it, or encouragement to do it. Men, on the other hand, ...

Most likely, it is some variant of #2. Perhaps ... given a man's apparent, inherent tendency when faced with a problem to take action to fix  the problem, God is encouraging a posture of prayer for certain issues (social, political or spiritual) undertaken with certain attitudes.

Attitudes like:
  • a heart given to God.
  • A heart focused on completing God's purposes.
  • A heart intent on God's solutions and God's way ... and not his own.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Churches (7)

In the letter to the seventh (and last) church, Jesus claims authority as the final confirming word. He is the most faithful witness, most honest and reliable. He is the first person restored by God to his original design. The first and only one living as he was truly meant to live.
Jesus is aware of the actions and lifestyle of this church. They do things that mark them as Jesus-followers, but only the least disruptive of their lives. They will go to Sunday meetings. But they will not reach out in love or service to those outside the church. They will not proclaim their allegiance to Jesus to others. They are not really against Jesus. They are not really for Jesus.

They have decided they are rich. Jesus says not only are they not rich, but they are poor, blind and naked. Moreover, Jesus is not even present among them. He tells them he is trying to get in. If they let him in, he will accept them and bless them as he does all his children. And they will have what they need. They will understand living with Jesus as they should. And they will have a right relationship with him.

Those who turn around and establish a clear relationship with him and a clear allegiance to him, will be with him always. He will treat them as his Father has treated him ... with love, honor and respect.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Seven Churches (6)

In the letter to the sixth church, Jesus declares that he is holy (set apart, different and special) and true (genuine and faithful). He declares that he has the key of David. David was a king. He had a heart for God unlink any of Israel's other kings. And, as he was king, he had the authority to make sure something happened ... by opening up a way with his "key." Or he he had the authority to make sure something did not happened ... by closing a way with his "key."

This is a small church without much influence. and they are in a place where they are being opposed by Satan.

Even though they are small and without much influence,  they are obedient. And God recognizes their work. So, he uses his "key" to open a door for them. They have a special opportunity available to the, and no one will be able to stop them. Those who oppose this fmall part of God's family will be forced to admit that God loves them and works on their behalf. And, as they have prepared their hearts to patiently endure oppression against them, God will protect them against the coming persecution.

And if these children continue to live with this mind-set of obedience and faithfulness, God will bless them with a special relationship. They will always be in his presence. They will be marked in a special way as citizens of his kingdom, and members of his family. And they will have a new identity.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Seven Churches (5)

In the letter to the fifth church, Jesus reminds them he has authority over all of these specific churches. He has the Spirit of God, and the angels over these churches. The angels could be actual angels sent to watch over the churches. Or they could be messengers sent to the churches. In either case, he has the authority and he gives the message to them.

This was a very active church. They were involved in a great many things. And they had a reputation for being alive. People looked at all the activity, and thought they were really something. In reality, it was all smoke and mirrors. There was no life in the church. Just empty motion.

Jesus urges them to wake up, and work hard at the true, God-fearing, obedient things they do remember. Jesus urged them to repent. All this activity that they were involved in amounted to idolatry and godlessness. They need to get back to what's real.

There were some who did not get involved in what was evil. (Does this mean that Jesus was calling what the rest of the church was involved in -- evil?) They are worthy to be in God's presence. They will wear white and have their names in God's Book of Life. (Does this mean that Jesus is calling what the rest of the church was involved in evidence that they really did not know God?) Jesus will make these his; and proclaim to all that they are his.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Seven Churches (4)

In the letter to the fourth church, Jesus reminds them that he is the final arbiter of all things. He can see deep into the hearts of people. He can test motives, ignorance and intentions. He can them proclaim judgment with total fairness and justice.
Jesus commends them for the practice, faithfulness and growth in many different and important areas:love, faith, service and perseverance.

But like the third church, they are allowing people who are not following Jesus to have influence among them. In particular, he identifies a woman, who he calls "Jezebel." Jezebel was a queen in Israel, who introduced practices to the people of Israel that honored other gods, and pulled them away from the one and true God. And this "Jezebel" was doing the same thing.

She proclaimed to everyone that she is a prophet, taking a position of authority, of one who speaks for God. And using this postion, she has encouraged practices that dishonor God.
God will challenge her to repent. But if she does not, she and any who follow her will be judged.

For those who are not following her, they should persevere and be faithful in what they know is right and how to do. To those who persevere, he will give them a position and authority like that which the Father gave to Jesus. They will see hearts, motives and intentions. They will judge with complete fairness and justice.

It also says he will give them the "morning star." There is a lot of confusion of what this could be a symbol of. Some say it is Jesus himself. He is identified as the "morning star" in other parts of Scripture. So, this could refer to a new, vital relationship with Jesus. Some say it refers to the actual morning star, and acts as an indicator that a new day is coming. So, it could refer to the person witnessing the restoration of God's kingdom. Or both.

If I had to make a decision right now, I would have to say it is the first, because Scripture calls Jesus the "Morning Star," so the promise is for a new relationship with Jesus.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Seven Churches (2)

In the letter to the second church, Jesus reminds them that this letter is from the eternal God. He was there in the beginning, so he know what the world was supposed to be like. He will be there at the end, so he already knows how the story will end. And he has already experienced death; and he has already experienced a resurrection from the dead. This is something we are all going to experience. He has gone ahead of us, this time to assure us it's going to be OK.

And that's important to this church especially. They are not in a good place. First, they are poor. We all realize life is hard when people have insufficient resources to cope. And there is a lot of research about how poverty affect people: physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. People get beaten in all these areas. But also, the society at large was against them, because they choose to follow Jesus. Society was following the ways of the enemy, excluding God's family from community resources, sending them to prison -- increasing the difficulty of life on the family -- and even killing some.

Jesus does not warn this church about any wrong doing. And he praises them for being true and faithful in the midst of their oppressive circumstances. He reminds them of all the good things they will have, because they have a relationship with him. He encourages them to persevere, because they will share in the reward of real life -- life as they are designed to live. And they will share in the reward of an eternal relationship with him.