Monday Meditation 011: Do you hide from God?

hiding mask

God is kind. He is always kind. There is never a point when He isn’t kind or less kind than other times. His kindness drives Him to move your heart with no strings attached. He does not do it to manipulate you to do things for Him or to toe the line. He does it because that is who He is. He is hopelessly driven to the most intimate part of you.

God is an expert marksman. There is no hit and miss with God. Because He loves your heart so much, he knows it even better than you do. He has memorized it and has written it upon His heart. Every time He deals with you, it will be a dealing that will hit directly in the center of your heart and cause an explosion of change in every part of your life. He has memorized the blueprints of you, and He knows the beginning from the end. Everything within Him desires to touch you deeply. He is not preoccupied with the temporary things that surround your heart. He only aims for the most intimate part of you and He never misses.

Darrin Hufford in The God’s Honest Truth
(The God’s Honest Truth is no longer in print.  A shorter version of this book titled The Misunderstood God is currently available.)

I’ve never met anyone that has no desire to be known by others.  It seems that everyone has this deep longing to be known by someone else in a significant, intimate way.  And I’m not talking about romantic relationships, though of course, that could be one expression of this.

We let so many things get in the way of this.

We hide behind masks.

We hide because of fear of exposure.

We hide because we are afraid of being judged.

We hide because we think we won’t be accepted.

We hide these things in our heart, where we think no one can see.

But we cannot hide from God.  He sees all.  He sees the unseen.

And in deep love and kindness, He fights against our fears.  He causes us to drop our masks.

16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:16-19)

Even though it is painful for us, He does not give up on His relationship with us.

God wants to remove our masks and reveal our true identities.

Are you trying to keep God out of your heart?

Why?

What do you need to let go of to give Him, to give Jesus, greater room to know you and to be known by Him?

Listen to Him, and…

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditations 010: Is God Homeless?

god's house living stonesI wonder how frequently Christians ask themselves what God wants in a church?  What sort of home does God want and why?

Is church about what activities are offered for me and my family?

Is it about how “good” the music is (which usually means “is it the music style I prefer”)?

Is it about how “good” the preaching is and how well “fed” I feel after the service?

While I do believe that God’s house is meant to be both for Him and for us, it is God Himself who determines how His house should be built.

Do Christians today really understand what God desires in a home?

Like any homeonwner, God builds His house in His own way.  If the home is His, He arranges the furniture the way he wishes, for He is the master of His own home.

In this connection, I want you to imagine countless living stones scattered all over the earth.  I want you to see innumerable living stones living their own individual Christian lives.  I want you to see scores of living stones who love God, but who are isolated and independent of other living stones.  They may attend religious services, but there’s little to no “building together” among the members.

That is precisely the situation we find ourselves in today.  And what is the net effect?

God is still homeless.

The burning intent of your God is that all of His living stones be built together with other livinig stones to form His house.  Not for themsleves, but for their Lord.  To be the house of God, by God, for God.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  (Psalm 127:1)

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  (Ephesians 4:16)

Jesus Christ did not die and rise again just to forgive you of your sins.  He died in order that His Father could obtain a home.  The Lord saved you and me for a high and holy purpose.

Recall again the Lord’s words when on earth: “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.”  Here is the God of creation saying, “I am here, but I am homeless.  Make me a home.”

~ Frank Viola in From Eternity to Here

Question for Discussion:

~ What are the features that God desires in His home?

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditations 009: Build Hope

hope

Making people feel hopeless is not the prophetic anointing in either Old or New Covenants. God’s rebuke always contains hope for a different future for those who respond to God’s outstretched call to return.

~ Stephen Crosby in Healing: Hope or Hype?

As many Christians are becoming more vocal about the shortcomings of the institutional church, it is important that those voices also carry a constructive element as well.  If we become too stuck on seeing shortcomings and faults (which everyone has, no matter how correct one’s theology is), it is easy to become entangled in bitterness and tearing others down.

This is a dangerous place to be and is not the heart of God.

Only correcting someone does not provide them with a reason to change.  It is the hope beyond, the hope of something better that causes people to change and embrace a different paradigm.

And what is this hope?

It is not a system, a set of beliefs, or allegiance to a denomination, movement, or celebrity personality.

Our hope is simply Christ in us.

God decided to let his people know this rich and glorious secret which he has for all people. This secret is Christ himself, who is in you. He is our only hope for glory.  (Colossians 1:27)

May we also remember that the spirit of prophecy is to reveal Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10).

The Lord and His body reveal both deviations from Christ, but also the path toward Him.

Build hope, and…

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditations 008: True Freedom

freedomHappy Independence Day on this Monday, the 4th of July!  I’m very thankful to live in a free country where I am not persecuted for following Jesus.  (No, I don’t consider the current social disregard for Christ and Christians as persecution.)

I’d like to share something today that I wrote some time ago about our true freedom in Christ.  Just click below to read it.

What is Freedom in Christ?

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditations 007: First Things First

friendsNow let me add one last word here that willhelp you in loving Jesus – doing things for God is not the same thing as loving God.

Jesus loved the poor – so, movements have arisen that make service to the poor the main thing.  Even though Jesus never said that being poor was more noble or even spiritual.  The lastest craze is justice – so we rush off to the corners of the globe to fight for justice… and often leave Jesus behind.  We actually come to think that service for Jesus is friendship with him.  That’s like a friend who washes your car and cleans your house but never goes anywhere with you – never comes to dinner, never wants to take a walk.  But they’re a “faithful” friend.  Though you never talk.

How many children have said, “My dad worked hard to provide for us – but all I ever really wanted was his love?”

This is – yet again – one more cunning ploy of the religious to keep us from the kind of intimacy with Jesus that will heal our lives.  And change the world.  We are not meant to merely love his teaching, or his morals, or his kindness or his social reforms.  We are meant to love the man himself, know him intimately; keep this as the first and foremost practice of our lives.  It is a fact that people most devoted to the work of the Lord actually spend the least amount of time with him.  First things first.  Love Jesus.

~ John Eldredge in Beautiful Outlaw

It’s easy to get caught up in doing activities for the Lord and miss the Person.  Even good activities.  This can happen in any relationship that loses the personal, relational aspect.

I imagine that if Jesus sat me down at the end of the year to review my “performance” (like they do where I work), He is going to be more concerned with whether or not I opened myself up to knowing Him more as a Person rather than how many “things” I accomplished for Him.

Not that we don’t want to accomplish things for the Lord, but when we set knowing Him intimately as our first priority, it is Him who leads us into the “things” He would have us do.  True divine activity in the world today is that which is initiated out from a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

The Apostle Paul counted all things as garbage compared to knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Last month I and the folks at the 3rd Race blog all wrote about ways to create time with Jesus.

Some ideas for new ways to eat and drink the Lord:

  1. A Walk with God
  2. New Experiences With the Lord
  3. Date With the All in All
  4. Locked in a Box
  5. Creating with the Creator
  6. Tell Me About It
  7. Seeing Christ in the Courtyard
  8. Your Favorite Meals

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditations 006: Is God Really at the Center of Your Life?

rp_175463074_f7b38e72bf_o-300x240.jpgSo much of what has caused mankind to stumble through the ages is that we have inappropriately placed ourselves at the center of life where God Himself desires to reside and function.

The following quote gets to the heart of this problem:

In this fallen way of life, people and things have worth only to the extent that they fill us.  Instead of simply ascribing unsurpassable worth to others because the Creator does, we ascribe limited worth to people depending on our judgment of them.  Do these people love me?  Do they please me?  Do they benefit me?  Do they affirm me?  Do they agree with my opinions?  We are the ones who declare that someone or something is good or evil, for we have set ourselves up as the center around which everything revolves, and therefore, the standard against which everything is measured.  “For man in the state of disunion,” Bonhoeffer says, “good consists in passing judgment, and the ultimate criterion is man himself.  Knowing good an evil, man is essentially judge.”

Every judgment we think, speak, or act upon presupposes that we are in a position of superiority over the person we judge.   It presupposes that we are “god” relative to the person or thing we judge.  The judgment is illegitimate because in reality we are not god to anyone.  We are not the center of anyone’s life.  Furthermore, the judgement is inaacurrate because in reality we are not wise like God.  We cannot know what God knows.  And the judgement is invariably self-serving, for we are using it to fill the God-shaped vacuum in our lives.

Our judgement cuts us off from our true source of life, and the person we judge becomes a source of life for us.  Our condemnation of that person, whether it be about a major lifestyle issue or a minor matter of appearance, gives us a momentary feeling of worth, of superiority, of fullness – of deity.  Though we are in fact empty, we can, at least in our own minds, stand over someone for a moment.  Though we ourselves are sinners, we can, at least for a moment, drink from the well of believing that at least we are not “like that person.”  However bad we may fell about ourselves, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has something to feed us, at least for the moment.

If we are to live the life God intends for us, if we are to participate in the ecstatic love of the triune God, God must be restored as the center of our lives.  We must die to ourselves as center, die to our addiction to idols, and die to the perpetual judgments we entertain in our minds.  God can only be our source of life when he is the center of our lives.  So long as we thrust ourselves into the center, we will be forced to seek life from idols, juding good and evil, and thus be cut off from our source center.  We will live a life that is actually death.  The only way to discover true life is to die to the “life” of living as the center and be restored ot our true source center (Matt. 10:39; 16:25; cf. Gal. 2:19-20).

~ Greg Boyd in Repenting of Religion

Well, that’s something to think about this week…

Questions for discussion:

~ What part of this quote stands out the most to you?

~ What does this mean to you in practical daily life?

Follow the Life!

Monday Meditations 005: This Is Who You Are

chosen living stonesA merry Monday to you!

Here’s a quote that gets down to the foundation of who we are in reality.

Let this quote sink into your spirit today and hopefully stick with you throughout the week and beyond.

Ephesians 1:4 teslls us that we were chosen (marked-off) in Christ before the foundation of the world.  Before the foundation of this world was even laid, there was another foundation.  This was the foundation of the relationship of the Truine God.  There was Christ, living and enjoying His Father through the Holy Spirit.  But what happened during the fellowship of this divine Community?  One of the things that happened was the choosing of the pieces of the rock: the living stones.

Paul tells us in Ephesians that God (the Father) chose (or “marked-0ff” in the Greek) something inside of Christ.  Please keep in mind that this “marking off” happened before creation, before there was anthing except God.  The Father selected something inside of His Son.  He chose YOU in Christ before creation.  He marked off a portion of Christ and placed YOUR name upon it.  These are His chosen ones.  These are the pieces of the Rock.  These are the living stones that Peter talks about because he had received the revelation from the Father.  You came from out of Him.  You came from the Rock.  He uses these “pieces” to build His house.

Another picture of this building is found in Genesis with the creation of Adam and the buidling of Eve.  Notice with me that God created Adam, but He built Eve.  Eve came into being by God pulling something out of Adam.  He “marked-off” a piece of Adam (the rib), and used that portion of Adam to build Eve.  This is the Father choosing portions of His Son with which to build His House, the church.  This church is a person (Eve), but this church is also a house (living stones).

Do you see where you came from?  Can you see who you are?

You are a special portion of His Son specifically selected to have a unique destiny.  You have been marked-off by the Father to express Him in a special way.  You are a living stone, a piece of the rock, and were chosen to be built up into a spiritual temple to express the glory of the living God.

This is who you are.

~ Milt Rodriguez in The Community Life of God

I hope that through this you can see or are reminded of how loved, cherished, and important you are to God.

He loves you so deeply that He gave you a portion of His own Son!

He chose you.

Follow the LIFE!

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Monday Meditations 004: Obtaining Victory

victory no condemnationThis Monday, I’m sharing an encouraging statement with you:

Because of that work of His [Jesus] on the cross, ther eis no need for me to go around accused by Satan and feeling depressed.  There is no need to listen for a moment to his whisper that there is no hope, that I might just as well indulge further in this or that sin, that I shall never get free, that he is stronger than I and so on.  It is all a lie; I can be as free of guilt as Jesus is.  The forces that He overcame were my foes.

~ Roy Hession in Not I, But Christ

For our part we need not struggle to occupy ground that is already ours.  In Christ we are conquerors – nay, “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).  In him, therefore we stand.  Thus today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory.  We do not fight in order to win but because in Christ we have already won.  Overcomers are those who rest in the victory already given to them by their God.

~ Watchman Nee in Sit, Walk, Stand

It is finished.

~Jesus

Remember that Christ has already won the battle over death, and we rest in His victory as we partake of His life.  You no longer stand condemned; you are in the Beloved of God.

Question for discussion:

~ What does it look like to rest in victory?

Follow the Life!

Monday Meditations 003: Not I, but Christ

It’s Monday!  Here’s a short quote that I have found to be immensely helpful in my walk with Christ.

God is not seeking a display of our Christ-likeness, but a manifestation of His Christ.
~ Watchman Nee

The idea of the quote is that we are not called become like Christ through any power of our own.

We must rely on Jesus alone in every moment, setting ourselves (our flesh) aside so that Christ Himself can be manifested and expressed through us.  We even rely on Christ to set our own flesh aside.

Everything always comes back to Christ alone.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Question for discussion:

~ What does this quote mean to you?

Follow the Life!

Monday Meditations 002: How to Avoid Killing the Spirit

spirit life lawAs followers of Jesus, we are called to live by the Spirit of Christ who lives in us.  We draw our life from His indwelling Spirit, through which Christ leads and guides us as individuals and as ekklesias (local groups of believers).

Humanity, however, often turns the Spirit’s guiding into “rules” or “laws”, and so many live by rules and not by Life.  (This is actually the meaning of “Follow the Life!”, which is how I sign off my blog posts.)

I’ve done this in my own life many times, setting up a rule to pray, read the Bible, or some other spiritual practice, and to do it whether there is any fruit that comes from it or not!

Perhaps the Lord leads me to read a particular section of Scripture.  This is most likely not a leading to read that section at a certain time every day forever.  The Lord wants to move on to other things, as I probably would as well.  So we see that we must constantly go back to the source for our leading.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every decision you make.  I’m not suggesting that we need the Lord’s leading to brush our teeth daily or to eat food and drink water, though there might be times we sense a leading to abstain from food or water temporarily.

The following quote, posted in a Facebook group by Jon Zens highlights how this can happen:

In 1980, Carlos Ortiz did an interview with the Wittenburg Door. Here is a little snippet of it that gets to the heart of what matters.

[One] evidence of immaturity in the church is the need for rules and laws. Children live by rules. They take a bath or brush their teeth because they are told to do it . . . . Suppose the Lord tells me to eat an orange. So I eat the orange and sincerely believe that God has led me. Tomorrow, the Lord tells me to eat an orange again. So what happens? The next day I write down a rule to eat an orange every day. And do you see what that does? Now I don’t need the Spirit anymore. I have a law instead. Laws kill life. Laws stop growth. You end up staying with a concept, a principle, or a doctrine rather than life. What we did yesterday in the Spirit, we do today in the flesh.
~ Posted on Facebook by Jon Zens, 3-22-2016

Always be ready for the Spirit to move spontaneously, and remember that what the Spirit calls us to do today might be reversed or completely different tomorrow.

Questions for discussion:

~ What are your thoughts about this quote?

~ How have you found yourself following rules instead of life?

Follow the Life!

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Monday Meditation 001: Michaelangelo and Our New Nature in Christ

Reflecting On Our New Nature

I’m planning to start sharing a quote, picture, video, or other media on Mondays for reflection.  These will simply be something that I’ve come across that stood out to me as being worth sharing.  I will also suggest some questions for you to consider and answer in the comment section (see questions below).

So here’s the first set of quotes:

new nature michaelangeloIn one of his sermons, Phillips Brooks pictures the great Michelangelo standing outside a home while peering through a window where he sees all the tools an artist uses: brushes and paint, canvas and easel, the glow of light and the privacy of space. Upon seeing the opportunity existing there, the great artist then says, “If only I were inside, what a beautiful picture I could paint.” Today, Jesus, the Master Artist is looking into human hearts filled and felled with mistakes and neglect, and he says, “If only I were inside, what a beautiful life I could create – a life greater than all the best qualities of all the best people who ever lived.

Just as the life of the Father perfectly intersected and saturated the life of Jesus-wherein both were mysteriously the same and yet somehow distinct – so this same phenomenon is now at work in believers.

Through the new birth we become bona fide members of the original cosmic family (Ephesians 3:15), actual generated sons of God, (I John 3:2), “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4), begotten by him, impregnated with his “genes,” called the seed or “sperma” of God (I John 5:1, 18 and I Peter 1:3, 23), and bearing his heredity.

~ J.W. Phillips in Pursuing the Divine Life: A Study of the New Nature

Questions for Discussion:

What do these quotes mean to you?

What do you think is meant by the phrase “what a beautiful life I could create”?

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Follow the Life!

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