Saturday, August 22, 2009

It doesn't depend...

I love how the Fruit of the Spirit doesn't depend, in any way, on circumstance. We always think of the conditions under which we would be happy, the things that would make us happier.

"If we only had this..."

"If I didn't have to do that!"

"If only this or that person weren't so difficult!"

In distinction to this the Fruit of the Spirit is offered to us in spite of all difficulty, all trouble and all annoyances. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and none of them are dependant upon how well our lives are going (by our perspective), or the things or people we would would change, they are completely independent of all of those circumstances.

What the fruit of the Spirit does depend on is what any fruit depends on: The branch on which fruit would grow MUST be attached to the vine. No fruit will grow on a branch that is disconnected. Yet, to the one who is connected to the vine there is no circumstance that can touch, change or agitate our enjoyment of the fruit, and that is the goal of our threefold enemy (the World; the Flesh and the Devil) in every situation, to get our eyes off of Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on Him for He is not only the author, but also the perfecter of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Grass Withers

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

It is important to make good investments. Every day we get to choose to invest in one thing or another. We invest our time, invest our money, invest our thoughts. We can build our own empires, or at least we can try. We can also invest our time somewhere else. It's odd to think that every material thing that we know on this planet will be wiped away. The decay and slide of our bodies into old age seems to happen just slow enough that we can remain blind to it. The ridiculousness of our work to our own glory only comes into view as we get a real perspective, an eternal perspective. I would like to do a better job of keeping my eyes on what stands forever.
It is funny to me the amount of time and energy I spend to become an expert at something that is only going to last for some of this lifetime. It seems that it is necessary to a certain degree. But how to do it in a way that really makes it an eternal investment? I believe that it is possible to do. Somehow while we make the earthly investments we are privileged to be able to make we can also be making an eternal investment to. I may have to go to work, but I get to choose whether I do so and realize that the Lord is shaping me and molding me; or I can choose to lose the ball in the weeds and dream about Friday afternoon.
But God gave me today! I'm looking for a deeper realization of the joy of every moment, the peace of resting in Christ every second, unbroken fellowship with Him. I feel like I see shadows of it, hints and whispers, but then I lose it to my own fleshliness. God is so good, He receives me back, dusts me off and lets me walk again. Everyday is another opportunity to have communion and fellowship with Him, every trial a chance to rely on Him, every moment could be filled with the true life that comes from knowing God through Christ, or it could be just another second.
When I was young I got really excited in getting ready to go anywhere. I think I would vomit before many family trips. I'm certain I didn't sleep a single Christmas eve until I was at least 18 years old. The next days events were just too exciting. How could you sleep with Christmas morning finally here? I want that back. Not about Christmas (though I expect I will because I seem to be regressing and experiencing everything again as my kids see them for the first time), but about the realization that the moment by moment walk with Jesus is more exciting than going to a theme park, more fulfilling than any number of gifts, and more real than any of my greatest expectations could be.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Phil. 4:4 (NASB)

It's funny, we get all bent out of shape about certain things and not others. Legalistic Christians will get their rope in a knot about dancing, rock music, drinking alcohol, tobacco, and a variety of other things. The funny thing about those things is that the Bible doesn't say anything forbidding a single one of them! (For sure, alcohol not in excess is in there, but there is no word against responsible drinking for those who are of age) It has always felt a bit strange to me, for sure. But I think it's funny that the actual commands of scripture are so often overlooked. When did one Christian ever say to another, "I'd like to talk to you about your sin issue. You simply are not rejoicing in the Lord at the moment, and Philippians says that we should be rejoicing ALWAYS!" I have never heard that comment uttered between two Christians, but I wish that I had.
It seems the usual conversation that comes from a rebuke about some non-biblical issue (such as dancing or listening to rock and roll) is followed by a long boring diatribe that is completely free from any grace or joy addressing why a certain behavior should be avoided. However, how would the rebuke over rejoicing have to go? I can imagine a number of different ways it could be done, but it would seem that the "rebuking" party would have to make a serious effort to explain to the party who is a down in the mouth why they should be rejoicing. Telling about how good the Lord is and how rich His blessings are. That's a conversation I would like to hear.
I love that the Lord's desire for us is that we should be rejoicing. All that He is makes us able to rejoice. There is no aspect of His character that we cannot be encouraged by. The Lord is so good to us, and we should be rejoicing each and every day. I think, though I am not sure, that if we are not rejoicing it is for one of two reasons (or both):

1) We don't understand/know.

2) We don't believe.

Either we don't understand the great love He has for us or we don't believe it. We don't understand what He has done for us and what He is doing in us, or the good news is simply too good to be true. In my life it can also come from forgetting or losing sight, but that (I think) is closely akin to our not understanding/knowing. So I would say I'm pretty well split between 1 and 2 most of the time. What brings you back to rejoicing?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pitch a Tent

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5:1

There is so much in the way of things to make this body better. Things to make it look better, things to make it feel better, things to make it work better. Some good, some bad. From the Lord's perspective our bodies are only tents. Temporary structures that are erected with the purpose of being mobile. There is so great a temptation to view the tent as a building, something that may just last forever. That's not something that these little tents are not capable of. I suppose we wouldn't get wrapped around the axle so often if we saw things for what they were. Our bodies aren't only referred to as tents in Scripture, but also earthen vessels. They can only be made valuable by the treasure that someone has placed inside them.
The physical world is beautiful, and it shows God's glory and artistry, but when the time comes to fold up this tent and move into my real Home, you won't hear me complaining. I love the feeling of a nights sleep in a nice comfortable bed after a few nights of sleeping on the ground. I love the feeling of soft sheets again, the feeling of not sliding down hill. I love camping, but it also makes me love home. How much greater the comparison when this "tent" goes down and we get to rest in the warm and comfortable Home that is prepared for us there? I am sure we will all look back and share stories about all we learned when we pitched tent in the Shadowlands, but I don't think one of us will want to give up the comfort of our home to do it again.