Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lost

I've been sitting on my front porch tonight all of 5 minutes. I'm reading a book by Andrew Murray called, "Abiding in Christ." It's excellent and making my head hurt. I've just sat down with my iced tea, Bible, journal, G2 pens (as I've been taught by John and Josh are the best pens!) and I'm ready for a relaxing time of reading and learning.

However, like I said, I've been sitting here for about 5-10 minutes and already I've been interrupted 2 times by 2 different people walking down the street. Both of them were lost. Both of them needed directions to find a street that is just one block over from my house. Two different lives. Two different stories. These people were so close to their destination and both said they had been walking around for over an hour trying to find their street, all the while its been within their reach the whole time. As I talked to both of them separately, I don't know why (other than Holy Spirit prodding) but I felt sympathy and compassion for both of these women. I knew God was trying to talk to me.

Today I've been focusing on Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; and you will find rest for your soul." How many people on this planet are wandering around so close to stumbling upon God's love for them but keep moving around missing it the whole time? I think the word "evangelism" has been given a bad rap in Christian-ese language, as if its something that is only for a select gifted few or something that is too scary in our culture. In reality, isn't it simply bringing someone along to the right direction? Helping them stay on the right path leading directly to the love that God has for them?

I'm a coward. Out of fear of rejection, I have missed so many opportunities to plant people's feet in the right direction in Him. How fun would it be if my front porch becomes an altar place where people walking by receive healing, love, encouragement, strength and guidance? When I was little, there was a yellow house across the street from my house that all of the kids in the neighborhood dubbed the "witch's house". An older woman lived there who only glared at us from behind her curtain and who only came out once a week to walk to the grocery store. We were all convince that if we put a toe on her lawn we would become cursed. Sometimes we'd sit on my front porch and imagine what kind of curses she would put on us. Maybe my house could be the complete opposite...the neighborhood kids would know that if they put one toe on my lawn they would be welcomed and loved. It would involve sacrifice. I'd have to change the purpose of my porch from being my place of solitude to being my place of mission. Why should I be afraid of that?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

dunamai

Today in my quiet time I have been asking God about the state of my heart. It's been a "search me Oh God" kind of day. These days feel scary and good. I hate the feeling when my weaknesses are revealed, but this is the moment when the Father feels the most gentle with me. He loves me today and yet He loves me too much to leave me the way I am.

I am caught by 1 Corinthians 10:14, which says: "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." Flee...run...sever...these words are drastic. There is no room for lingering around idolatry, anything that has a greater throne than God in your life. I have big dreams in my heart. A few of them take up the majority of my thought life and imagination. I anticipate the fulfillment of these desires. I dream about them, think about them. Sometimes I can get so caught up in dreaming, that I waste the time I have in reality right now. It is often that my dreams consume more of my thoughts and dreams than my meditation on Jesus. It gets really muddled because I need God to fulfill my desires...they are too big for me, and so He is involved in them. I talk about them with Him. He is included. But there are more moments than I care to admit where my dreams take center stage in my life over Him. The Fulfiller takes back seat to the fulfillment.

The Holy Spirit brought this to my attention today. I do not like that I do this. I want to be able to say of myself that no matter what I have or don't have, God is all that is wanted. I'm content with Him and Him alone. I am not there, yet. As God searched my heart today, I realized that as much as I want Him to fulfill His promises in my life, I am very afraid of Him doing that at the same time. What if He gives me my dreams, and instead of remaining faithful to Him, I turn my attention and affections to what He's given me? Do I have what it takes within me to remain faithful to Him? Pastor John said this past Sunday that if we think we are strong enough to overcome temptation in our own strength we are deceived. I am not strong enough to remain faithful to Him and because of this I'm fearful of fulfillment, as much as I want Him to answer. And then the Holy Spirit plopped a verse in my mind...

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25

The word "able" is the Greek word "dunamai" which means "to be capable, strong and powerful." God is capable enough, strong enough and powerful enough to keep me faithful to Him. It isn't my job...it's His. AND, Jesus keeps me faithful with "great joy". I don't know if anyone else ever worries whether they can remain faithful to God...I'm assuming there are others or God wouldn't have had those words written for us. Today, be encouraged. It is God's power, strength & ability that keeps you faithful to Him, not your striving and effort. It is not your righteous deeds, but His.

So...what is our job, then? Abide in His love. All other things are up to Him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Have Questions...

"Ding Dong! The witch is dead!" This is basically what I woke up to this morning in light of the death of Osama Bin Laden. The world is dancing, rejoicing and bragging over the absence of one less terrorist in this world. I don't blame the celebration...but it leaves me with questions.

Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Bin Laden was a man created by God for the purpose of loving Him. But rather, his life was spent as a demonized leader bringing much evil to this world and training others to do the same. I say demonized because how else can one person wreak that much hell on this planet if not by evil influence? I do not think it is far fetched at all to say that within his spirit ruled cosmic powers over this present darkness. So, if we as followers of Jesus wrestle not against flesh, but against spiritual forces of evil...what has happened to those physical forces of evil now that the Bin Laden flesh container is destroyed? Where have they gone? Or, were they destroyed when Bin Laden died?

I would equate Bin Laden to be similar to a Pharaoh figure in the time of Moses. They were both evil oppressors of God's people. They both refused to yield their lives to the one true God. They were power hungry at the murderous expense of innocent people. God supernaturally destroyed Pharaoh when the Red Sea closed over him and his army. What happened to the spiritual forces of evil that resided upon him? When God, in the Old Testament, destroyed human enemies that opposed his people, did He destroy the principalities that empowered them at the same time? In Mark 5:1-20 is the story of Jesus bringing freedom to the demonized man who had within him a "legion" of demons. I've read that the word "legion" was a military term that equated to around 10,000 in number! How a physical, earthly body can contain such madness is astounding to think about! The story ends with the demons crying out for mercy and they ask Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs, rather than expel them from the area. Jesus permits this and the pigs go crazy and throw themselves off a cliff. Were the demons destroyed when the pigs died? Or were they allowed to remain bringing torment to their next victim?

I have read and heard much celebration from many people over the past 12 hours...from both Christians and non-Christians. The interesting thing to me is that the response is the same from both parties. Christians...one of my questions is how can we feel relief of the destruction of one man's flesh if what spiritually resided within him still remains as a stronghold of evil on the region this man's flesh lived?  It seems that our focus would then be on the temporal, the flesh and blood, rather than the spiritual. As intently evil as Bin Laden was, God made him for relationship with Himself. I can't help but wonder if while we celebrate, God grieves the loss of another child. I, myself, am not sure what is the right response. Part of me feels thankful that the enemy took a hit yesterday...but, I'm wondering, too, does the enemy view it that way? Satan exists right now to destroy as many humans as he can before his own final destruction comes. Is the enemy rejoicing right alongside us at the death of one of God's creations?

I'm sure this will not be a popular thought...but my heart feels sad that Bin Laden chose a life outside of the goodness of God and the salvation through Jesus Christ.  Eternity will not be spent with him. God, I think, would have loved for Bin Laden's heart to be turned towards Him and to have all of eternity in relationship to one more son. My heart feels this way towards anyone that dies before understanding God's love for them. How can anyone live a day without hearing the voice of God? without knowing His touch on their lives? without seeing His goodness and favor displayed over them? without the knowledge that He wants you? without the plans that He has laid out for your life, plans with a purpose and hope? without experiencing freedom from sin and darkness? It's no wonder that ALL of heaven rejoices at the salvation of one more human. But as much as they rejoice at the addition of a son or a daughter, how much does heaven grieve at the loss of another?

I want to know what's happened to those powers and principalities that drove Bin Laden...I want to know so that if they were not destroyed when he died, then I can pray and intercede against them. Because, 1 John 4:4 says, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." Greater is the Spiritual Force that lives within me than the one that lived in him. It's my rightful privilege as an heir of Christ to make my Spiritual Force known to wreak HIS havoc on His enemies. God desires that all men be saved...even the ones that we in our small human understanding would deem impossible for salvation.