Instructions for the Bride

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Friday October 31, 2003

God uses the concept of which I have some understanding to bring to light something about Himself and His love for me. When I begin to get a better grasp of that, I begin to learn through better understanding His love, how better to love. In other words, my understanding of the human concept he used to reveal Himself is deepened through His revelation of Himself.
An example of this, I think, is Jesus as the Bridegroom and the church (of which I am a part), as the bride. Though I, as a man, may be reluctant to think of myself as a bride, I do have some knowledge of her role in a relationship with the groom. Perhaps even, as a man, I have strong, deeply felt ideas of what I expect my bride to be. I therefore have a better understanding of what Christ expects of me as His bride. A woman contemplating this spiritual relationship is helped by her desires of how deeply and purely her ideal groom would love her. She more deeply understands Christ’s love for her because he used her ideals to explain it to her.

Now that the human concept of marriage has deepened my understanding of Christ’s love for me, that understanding teaches me to apply His example to my own marriage. “Husband’s love your wives as Christ loves the Church.” A deeper understanding of His love for me, teaches me to love in general more deeply and unselfishly. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. So when asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus gave that reply. Does that not mean that the single most important thing for us to learn from scripture is how to love Him, and from learning that, how to love our neighbor? Isn’t it fascinating that God uses our love for our neighbor to teach us of His love for us and how to love Him; and He uses His love for us to teach us to love our neighbor. That is why these two commands are presented as the answer to the question as to the single most important command. Not only does one not truly exist without the other, each is required to grow in other. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness”.

©2002 by rod lewis

bassoons, cigarettes, firewood, and relationships

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Thursday October 30, 2003

We really don’t have all that much in common. True, I like some of the things you like, but for different reasons. We both like ice cream sundaes, but I suffer the nuts to enjoy the fudge while you pick the nuts to savor first. We both like taking long Sunday drives, but I enjoy the feeling of freedom and the scenery while you just enjoy being with me.
Yes we even dislike many of the same things, but for different reasons. Neither of us appreciate arrogance, greed, or selfishness. I’m offended by these because of the people who are stepped on by the arrogant, greedy and selfish. You, on the other hand also feel sorry and hurt for the arrogant, greedy and selfish.
We so often respond to the same things - I’m offended, you grieve; I’m angry, you hurt.
I really want to grow into a relationship in which we have common reasons for our things in common. I want to like the things you like for the same reasons you like them. I want to hate the things you hate for the same reasons you hate them. I want to share your emotions, not just be emotional at the same situations. I don’t know why you put up with me; maybe it’s the ubiquitous, “I can change him”. Well, if anyone can change me, you can. I’m just constantly trying to make you more like me, while you’re constantly trying to make me more like you. In my heart of hearts, I want to be more like you.

©2003 rod lewis

Skil and Opportunity

Bloged in apprenticeship, metaphor by rod Wednesday October 29, 2003

This summer I got a new tool out of necessity. I had to replace the door sill under the old house because the previous owner had satisfied the termite inspector by laminating the wet board and thus covering it up while it continued to rot during my tenure in the house. My termite inspector wasn’t nearly as accommodating. My work under the door, under the house led to a whole chain of events and spiritual lessons learned (these began upstairs, ironically, while working on another repair required by another inspector, Dave shared with my grumbling self, 1 Cor. 6:7). These lessons led to my own more detailed inspections to which I responded with a growing fix it list and completed improvement of which the new owners were, to my shame, exceedingly appreciative. But I digress…
The new tool was a sawzall. a 7.5 amp, reciprocating dream-come-true . The sawsall was the only choice short of dynamite to remove the old door sill, and it did its job on the nearly unreachable 2 x 8 in a matter of seconds, simultaneously endowing me with a feeling of power and accomplishment seldom rivaled by ordinary power tools.
Next day… my string of fixits led me up to the door frame on which I pried, banged, bent, etc. until I decided to once again employ the skilled Skil. Immediate success. A quick run from top to bottom between the frame and the wall and the door frame was no longer a problem.
Fast forward…
My past is full of frustration concerning the disassembling of that which needs replaced. I’ve spent hours, days even, taking apart something on my car or truck which took me only minutes to replace. I will never again spend time beneath the truck prying on the exhaust hangers. Friday morning I sawed them off in 5 seconds each. Duct tape and WD40 are for the older generation. I have a come-along and a sawzall. I don’t take nothing from nothing no more. You happily obey my request for removal or I’ll saw you off. I’ve got a brush blade, a hacksaw blade, a wood blade and a finger on the trigger. I’ve got 200 feet of extension cord and 7.5 amps of pure power. Man, I don’t avoid confrontation with unmovable objects anymore. I’m looking for stuff to cut. Don’t mess with me, I’ve got no time. I’ve got to get on with it.

© 2003 rod lewis

Help is on the Way

Bloged in community by rod Tuesday October 28, 2003

Don’t we all struggle? Any healthy believer does. The old preacher adage was, everyone is either in the midst of a trial, coming out of a trial or going into a trial. I don’t think this is the same kind of struggle that I’m talking about. Jesus, apparently, was never coming out of a struggle. He was always in the midst of struggle – His own, and that of others. He was always heading closer to the ultimate struggle with which He grappled to the point of great drops of blood in the garden. It would seem that the God of the universe, when in human form, struggled to stay on task. Twice this is evident in the scripture. In the garden, Jesus asked that there be another way for the task to be accomplished, that the very reason He came be changed. In the wilderness after His baptism, He struggled with giving it all up for immediate power and glory.

So were these instances struggles or trials? I guess it doesn’t matter what you call them except to differentiate between different seasons of life. We are called into struggle. Jesus asked us to take up our cross daily and follow Him . To follow implies to do what He did. Struggle. Our mission, given by Jesus, is a struggle. We will continually struggle with the necessity of it, with its value. We will constantly meet with resistance – Jesus Himself did all these things.

But the trials are extra. Often huge road blocks thrown in to avert our eyes, divert our attention, to draw us inside ourselves – physical and emotional obstacles to get in the way of our mission. The darkness of these trials can be overwhelming as they weaken us for our normal struggles. Some of you struggle in the midst of the trial with whether you brought this upon yourselves – are you suffering the consequence of your sin? For others, your uprightness brought these trials upon you. Others, because your purity is a danger to the enemy, have been led to be more greatly tempted toward sin. Often these trials are brought upon you by someone else’s sin. God did not intend men and women to be islands. Now fallen, we live in a fragile ecosystem of sin. A drunk driver kills a family on the interstate. An innocent spouse and entire family are destroyed by the other spouse’s sin or mere neglect.

At this moment some of you have walked directly into an unexpected place and have no idea what is to come before you recognize the path again. Some of you have turned the corner in the darkness and can see a dim flicker to mark your direction. Some of you have come upon dense fog in the dark and any light that you still shine seems to be bounced back in your face. I don’t have any answers for you. I am terrified to risk sending you happy sentences and bible bullets that make you feel worse when they don’t work. I do promise that I am praying for you and that I am praying to One who has felt betrayal and abandonment far greater than any you or I can fathom. Please hang on while I go get help.

Deliriou5?

Bloged in apprenticeship, music by rod Monday October 27, 2003

Walked in an hour ago from a 7 hour drive back from West Virginia. Rained the whole way. The kids and I listened to music all the way home. I have been so challenged and moved by songs all day, as I drove I thought about how to bring it all together for myself into a blog for tonight. Well it all would have been a part of a big blog about the weekend, but when I came upstairs to begin, I read Greg’s blog . The weekend blog will have to wait, because I’m about to blog Greg style.

Those of you who know me well know where my burdens lie - where my gaze is set - where frustration has beset. To you, these snippets that spoke to me may make sense, have meaning. Perhaps you can share in the culmination of my weekend, the 7 hour mobile church service in the rain, with the choir in the backseat and the king of fools driving the truck.

Sanctify, I want to be set apart, right to the very heart
Prophesy to the four winds and breathe life to this very place.
How long will it take?
How long will I have to wait?

Can I be used to bring about growth? to set about directed passion, relevant ministry? I feel intense vision and direction, only to be caused to question it. My answers invariably lead me back, but the struggle!

I want to go deeper, but is it just a stupid whim?
I want to grow weaker to be a help to the strong

Each year, for several, I’ve been growing increasingly optimistic about the students who’ve come across my path. Here are people whose faith is their own, whose faith has been strengthened through struggle, whose resolve is solid from responding to a non-resolute culture. But the established norm has responded negatively to them.

You may not hear it on the radio, but you can feel it in the air.

How can a sinful man, a non-leader, teach purity and help lead a generation into leadership and kingdom focus?

With You I’m washed as white as the snow, and all crimson stain becomes just a shadow
You know I would be blind without You so light up my way?

Finally, I stop asking questions for a while and just worship.

Keep me, keep me, keep me, keep me-

How I love You, all I am is You
King of love, I bow.

Jesus, friend forever.

Kingdom Business

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Sunday October 26, 2003

Being about Christ’s business means getting outside our Church doors as well as being fed inside. Often there is kingdom work needing done outside at the same time that something is scheduled inside. But be careful, no one inside will see you reaching people outside. They will be concerned that you are not being spiritually fed. Boldly do what Christ has asked, don’t cast aside corporate study and worship, and fellowship with other believers, but don’t allow it to move your focus off kingdom business. Assure the skeptics that you have food about which they know nothing.
We have become so deceived, misdirected, insular, and selfish that we think that Christ’s church exists to preserve our idea of style and entertain us with what makes us comfortable.
But that’s just my rant, I’m sure you have yours. I will keep doing my little thing, looking for who I can reach, doing what I can to reach them, ride on the prayers of those who share my burden and pray for those who don’t.

©2003 by rod lewis

H. S. Link o’ Chain

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Saturday October 25, 2003

I wonder if the Holy Spirit forms prayer chains. Suppose there is someone you don’t even know that is in great need of prayer. They have a friend that you know. You feel an overwhelming compulsion to pray for your friend though you don’t know why. As it turns out, the overwhelming burden that you sense in your friend is in fact, a burden for his other friend of whom you are unaware. The awesome thing here is that you pray for the burden that your friend is carrying, so that ultimately you are praying for his friend. But, if you knew about his friend, and were praying for him, you wouldn’t be praying for your friend who is sharing in his burden. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit, Who instigated the whole chain, is acting in both lives in response to the prayers that He prompted you to pray.
Afraid of bringing someone else’s burden into your hectic, stressful life? I’ll bet that the Holy Spirit would be willing to prompt someone to pray for you as you share the burden of your friend, who is sharing the burden of his friend.
Pray for me. I need it and my friends need it. I’ll pray for you.

© 2003 rod lewis

For they shall see God

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Friday October 24, 2003

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
I like the explanation that pure of heart means single minded in PURSUIT of Christ likeness. That’s why I feel that one is where he is supposed to be when he is moving toward that goal; not only when he has attained it. That can’t happen in this life. To be within God’s will, to me, at this point, means single minded, pure of heart, focused on Christ. Also, I’ve recently entertained the notion that Christ didn’t just die for me, but also for Himself, because that is the only way that I could be brought back into the relationship for which I was created. Our having been created for a relationship with Him predates our need for salvation, therefore His role as friend predates His role as savior. Doesn’t that mean that His plan for our salvation is just a means to an end that is to bring us back to friendship with Him, and that His friendship with us is the ultimate goal. Past tense salvation (being saved from hell) is just the first step. Our growing relationship with Him (present tense salvation) is the goal. So many are just locked into past tense salvation and never get to know God. That’s why so many are concerned with not doing the wrong thing, instead of “doing the right thing”. It’s not just semantics. It’s a matter of heart and motives. One who is stuck at past tense salvation remains selfish; his desire for Salvation is only fear of hell. And while it is of Ultimate importance, living with the purpose of staying out of hell keeps our focus on ourselves and avoiding eternal damnation. Living victorious in Christ means that our desire for Salvation starts us on a growing friendship with God (his plan all along). This takes us beyond that first step and into a freedom that causes us to forget about us and strive only for Him. Then we do the right things for the right reasons. Like David, we may still do the wrong things, often even, but they are less detrimental and debilitating to our walk because our sense of morality was not focused in avoiding them. If I walk with the sole purpose of not falling down, when I fall down I will have failed. But if I walk with the purpose of getting somewhere, when I fall down, I just get up and keep going. I’ve not failed if I get to where I’m going. Trying not to do the wrong thing is a distraction to God’s will for us. If our focus is on doing right, then wrong is merely a mess-up, not a failure; and like David, we can trust God, accept His forgiveness, get past it and go on toward Him.
Being victorious in Christ does not mean that we are enjoying having been victorious. (Paul says, “not that I’ve attained, but I press on toward the mark of the high calling of Christ”), but are in the process of being victorious each day of our lives.

©2003 by rod lewis

Fear and Trembling

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Thursday October 23, 2003

For some time I’ve been dealing with the passage from Philippians 2:12, 13. “Work out your Salvation with fear and trembling” It seems to me that this passage could cause one to rely on his goodness for retention of his salvation, and thus lead to legalistic ideas and behavior. C. S. Lewis refers to the passage when he says that it is only by trying harder and harder (and failing) that we can come to the place where we truly realize that we cannot possibly keep God’s law. It is at this point that we look to Him and say, ” You have to do this, I can’t” . Ah, yes, that is what the rest of that passage says, isn’t it? “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”.
I love this commentary on those verses. It speaks to salvation in the past tense for one who is reaching a point of complete surrender and dependence on Christ for his salvation; but it also speaks to salvation in the present tense, for one who is growing in Christ and being changed into His likeness.
This idea of “being” must be understood. I am reminded of another passage from Paul that uses this terminology. In 2 Corinthians, 2:15, 16, Paul writes, “for we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”. Here, being could be read as if there are many people in succession are coming to know Christ. “There were many people being saved.” It could also be read as if each person was being saved. ” He was being saved”. The latter implies that salvation is a process that takes place over time. This means that salvation is not completed at the point where Jesus blood is applied to one’s condition and his name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and that his being made into the image of Christ does not necessarily immediately happen at that point. Salvation is bigger than that.

©2003 rod lewis

God Bless America

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, culture by rod Wednesday October 22, 2003

While it is very important that we, as Christian Americans, be devoted to and love our country, it is not our home. We are on a journey, and by God’s grace and mercy, we’ve been born or brought here temporarily. We who know Christ and are bought by His blood are on our way to heaven.
All too often it seems that we develop an attitude that we are blessed by God because we are Americans; or that we deserve God’s blessing because we are Americans. We forget that God has given us what we have and He has created who we are. God doesn’t give to us because of what we already have or we are. In the Old Testament, God created a nation out of His people, He didn’t choose a nation and call them His people. We sometimes seem to be saying, “God, look at us, we are America, bless us.” We find pride in that Godly people founded our nation on Biblical principles and expect that we are assured God’s continued blessing on our nation. I don’t believe God wants us to turn to Him for the sake of our nation. I believe that our nation can be blessed for our sakes. Our nation will be strengthened when we are a God-seeking, praying nation of believers. It is for the sake of God that we should seek Him, not for what He can do for our country. When we as a nation seek God, He will bless us. When we desire God rather than blessings, we will be blessed. When we seek God, we will find grace and mercy.
It seems that if we are moving toward God and our heavenly home, and realize that all we have here, including our country, is temporary, then we will find more pleasure in the temporal. God will reward us along the road that leads to Him; but He must be the goal. All the blessings along the way are by-products of hearts that are pure and single-minded in pursuit of God.

©2003 by rod lewis

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