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Awoken by a sharp shooting pain in my right foot early Sunday morning, I debated whether or not to attend Sunday morning service. I peered ...
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Thursday, December 31, 2009
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Friday, November 13, 2009
It was a mastepiece. Or so I thought. After much prayer and consideration, I put the finishing touches on my article and clicked “ send” on my computer. I was pretty happy with it. I thought it covered the topic well, was thought provoking, and as the Bible says provided the “spiritual meat” any reader would feed on. My mind drifted to visions of my inbox being overrun with e-mails of publishers who had seen my work and wanted to put it into print. Even Ralphie from A Christmas Story would be jealous.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited .
Then, it happened.
I asked the Lord why, if I felt like He was calling me to become a writer ,did no one respond to publishing my article. “ Give Yourself Away” was the response.
Then I realized.
My article lacked one thing.
I wrote all the right things. Everything was accurate, concise and thorough. But, it lacked the passion and authenticity of my conversion exeperience that began when I was 18 and, thankfully, continues today. An experience that can be classified as rocky at best. An experience that continued with me being thrown out at the age of 20 because of my faith. Sure, God provided for me with everything I could ever need in the midst of family turmoil and kept my well from ever going dry. An experience that included a calling into the ministry at the age of 22 in a small country church 2700 miles from my hometown. An experience that includes the death of my mother at the age of 25. An experience that includes the planting of our current church less than two years later. But, I hadn’t written any of that. I hadn’t given any of myself away. I missed the interaction with an Incarnational God.
I had missed the point.
So, did Peter.
In John 21, Jesus has an exchange with Peter that some publishers have subtitled “ Jesus reinstates Peter.” Sure, Peter was the one that got out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus. He also defends Jesus when the soldiers arrest him in John 18 .
But, when push came to shove, Peter took his eyes off the prize. He took his eyes off of Jesus and onto the temporal things of the world: what people thought of him, the storm, his circumstances. Peter did all the things a disciple is supposed to do. He talked a great game. But, those things were never a part of who he was.
Jesus refers to Himself as “ I am” because, put simply, He is. He doesn’t have to be anything else than who He is. That’s why Jesus asks him three separate times if Peter loves Him. The first two times the Greek word for love is agape. In other words, if Peter loves Him, then He will love Jesus above all else.
The third time the greek word for love is phileo, or brotherly. The same reason why Philadelphia is nicknamed “ The City of Brotherly Love.” So, if Peter really loved Jesus, he would love Jesus above all else, and love his brother as himself.
Peter showed Jesus he loved him by doing all the right things, but it was never a part of who he was. Peter ignored the Greatest Commandment.
And so did I.
If I want to spiritually form others into His likeness, I need to “ give myself away” a little everyday.
Not my neighbor, or my husband, or my pastor.
Myself, including all of my failures, my mistakes and my flaws. Including my misconceptions and marred perspectives and my bad theology. Me.
I can “ be” the church a little everyday and give myself away.
Have you given yourself away today?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Let’s look at another example of spiritual formation- the story of Mary and Martha. There are a couple of accounts regarding Mary and Martha , one having to do with Mary and Martha’s priorities, found in Luke 10:37-39, and Mary and Martha’s grief in the death of their brother, Lazarus, found in John 11.
I have heard a pastor speak on this passage in Luke 10 and he gave a fresh new look on it. He said that the reason why Martha was so upset about Mary being at Jesus’s feet was not because she should be helping her in the kitchen prepare for Jesus’ dinner. He says it is because Mary was acting like a disciple , which were typically men during this time. This display of affection was unheard of for women to do at this time. If this is the case, Martha was probably trying to protect her sister because if someone heard of this display of insubordination, she probably would have been stoned. Jesus responds by saying “ it will not be taken from her.” In other words, Jesus transcends culture and the people’s need to conform to it. So, Martha’s heart was to protect her sister, not to rebuke her.
Let’s follow up with John 11: 17-28. So, given this new information about Martha, we see Martha as a woman of action. She goes out to meet Jesus, while Mary who has a heart to be His disciple, stays home. But, look at the difference in heart attitude. “ But, I know that EVEN NOW, God will give you whatever you ask.” Even though she didn’t understand what Christ was doing, she believed anyway, and went out to meet him to find Him. He asks her ‘“Do you believe this?” She replies “ Yes, Lord…”. She knows full well who He is. She knows in her heart as well as her head.
Do you know what is interesting about this passage? According to this account, Jesus chooses Martha’s reply to set the plans in motion for His crucifixion. According to John, Martha is the first person to publicly declare Him the Christ. Up to this point, people have put their faith in Him, or called Him a prophet, or not known who He was. But, it is through Martha that He uses to spread the Word that He is the Christ. Two people with the same worries and cares of this life, yet two different attitudes. Peter gets choked by the world’s standards, and Martha has the faith to set in motion a plan for reconciliation for all the world.
Which are you ? Do you merely confess Christ, or do you live it out? Are you acting like someone who believes in God or getting choked by the world? Are you being spitirually formed by loving and feeding those around you?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of being a pastor’s wife and joining people on their journey to a deeper walk with God. But, I have always wrestled with the question of how to help women be sptirtually formed, and eventually transformed into the likeness of Christ. Recently, I joined a bible study that has helped me look at the gospel of John in a fresh, new way. I never realized that this gospel account has a lot to say about sptiritual formation.
Perhaps the best excample is in John 21:15-17. Now, in my Bible, the publishers chose to subtitle this section “ Jesus reinstates Peter.” I think that is so interesting that this is the last interaction we have with Jesus before the book ends.And what is the last event John wants us to remember about Jesus- – a reconciliation between Peter and Jesus. What is the last thing that happened between Peter and Jesus before He is arrested? Peter’s denial of Jesus. How fitting of John to leave us with a message of hope and reconciliation as He ends the book.
I’ve never quite understood why Jesus asks him three times “ Do you love me?”. The answer is this: Peter had lost sight of what is important. Think about some of the encounters of Peter that we know of. Peter walks on water, for example. The first person to jump out of the boat, yet as soon as he thinks about what he is doing in the context of life’s surroundings, he doubts and falls. He takes His eyes off of the prize. Jesus is arrested. Soldier comes at Jesus. What does peter do? Cuts his ear off. Jesus has to heal his ear in response. Because the point was not to protect Jesus. The soldiers were doing what had to be done for Scripture to be revealed. Peter’s proclamation that Jesus is the christ. Jesus says he’ll deny him , Peter responds with “ even if everyone else does, I won’t”. Jesus says “you will”, and peter still denies. Before the end of the night, Peter denies. What does peter care about-what people think of him. He lost sight of what was important. So, why is this exchange so important? It is Jesus’ reminder of what is truly important. Peter was so good at proclaiming it. He knew Jesus in his head, but his heart was elsewhere. He cared more about the temporal things of life than about his relationship with Christ. Jesus says, if you want to be my follower, and if you really believe me above all else, feed my sheep. This is spitirual formation at its finest.
So, think about this in terms of the farm illustration. What does feed mean? It means to shepherd, guide, direct. Show them the way to go. Literally, lead them to pasture. Notice it doesn’t say eat for them. We can only lead, and set the example for other. We cannot make people eat and grow . Shepherds also not only have the knowlwdge of how to manage their farms, but they also act on it. They usher others to do the same.
Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart talks about 3 keys to spiritual foramtion, He calls it the VIM diagram: Vision, intention and action. We have a vision for a goal to be transformed, we make an intention, or as Willard says we decide to do it, and then we do it. We can have all of the visions for our life. We can even make a decision to do it. But, if there is no action to it, it never produces the fruit that lasts. Willard says that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now. We have an invitation to particiapte in it or not. But, we have to act with intention. Actually,Willard says if there is no fruit behind the decision or belief, you cannot be a part of the Kingdom.
Some harsh words from Willard, but thought provoking as well. What will you say to the Lord when He asks you to " feed my sheep?"