Friday, January 26, 2007

Freedom in Christ

Scripture says its available to us. I don't believe that perfect freedom is available to us while were here on this earth. Many people teach that it is. We just haven't worked hard enough or had enough faith to experience it. That's what some people say.

As I said I don't agree with those people. But I also don't find myself believing the group that says freedom is really for eternity. The flesh is just to powerful here for us to experience real, deep and abiding freedom. There are certainly times when I've been tempted to believe this crowd.

So why don't I believe what they have to say. There are a few reasons that I'm consciously aware of. First of all I wrestle with bondage. I have given my life over into rebellion enough in certain areas of my life that my response is automatic and even uncontrollable. I feel powerless to do anything differently then I do. But I also know that the testimonies of those who say they lived in bondage and now walk in freedom have gotten my ear. Their testimonies in combination with Scripture has caused me to explore whether or not their testimonies are true.

I picture bondage now as being 100 different jail cells. 100 may be extreme but my point is that my life is not experienced as only one unit. Some places were in bondage. Now there not. Why? Because I have believed something is true and lived in the truth. Where my soul is united with Christ on something I am free. This where freedom also comes and goes. If I have taken in information or experiences that cause me to doubt what is true I can end up locked up again. But it is also easier to remember where the key is.

So the places that are full of, I do what I don't want to do and I do them sometimes without even feeling like I have control over them and have regrets later are places where I do not choose faith in God over me, myself and I. Or I choose faith in others or things apart from God. The list of reasons why I choose myself over God are seemingly endless.

It shocking to me how blind I even am to the fact that is what is going on. I am completely dependent on God to open my eyes to my lack of faith and trust in Him.

Boy the worst parts are the ones that I value the way I think or believe and it feels like a part of me is literally dying to give up what I value and to choose God over my very comfortable, pleasure driven lies.

I've tasted enough of God changing me to believe that the pessimist on this topic should be listened to just enough for you to understand that complete freedom on every subject in every part of my being, my mind, my sould, my body, and my will wont be experienced this side of heaven. But if I allow that truth to give me permission to be complacent about being united and transformed by the grace, love and wisdom of the Trinity someone other then GOd will have won untold numbers of battles. I don't just want to be a part of winning the war. I want more than that! I want more because I have tasted of the Lord and He is GOOD.

To God alone be the glory for the great things He has done for His children.


Friday, January 19, 2007

A tree

I'm in this class right now that wants me to journal three to five times per week. I journal quite a bit. But I don't journal three to five times per week. There have been times in my life when I have forced myself to journal reguarily. But over many years now I have left journaling for times when I feel inspired about something that I just had to put down on paper. Or I am deeply troubled about something and it seems like I wont get past until I write something down. But when you choose to write on a regular basis and there is no specific inspirational moment or crisis looming I find it very difficult to focus my thoughts.

So I'm going to share random thoughts and see if they form some kind of connection.

God is amazing. God has brought me through some rough waters and my feet feel like they are on solid rock for the first time in a long time.

God is relentless in His pursuit.

God is so indescribable.

It is possible to connect with another person's experience without either one of you being able to adequately put it into words.

God's grace is sufficient.

I am hopeful in a way I haven't been for a very long time.

I regret my resistence to God and yet I'm grateful for how real the lessons learned are when resistence is a part of the relationship.

I feel like a tree who was barely healthy. I feel like a tree who didn't stand out from any other tree in the forest. And yet the caretaker noticed that this barely healthy tree needed some help. Much to the dismay of the little tree, the caretaker decided the best way to help this tree was to spread some stinky and unpleasent manure around the tree. Then in order to get the food absorbed some watering was going to be necessary. The tree didn't like being cold and wet. The tree knew it wasn't doing so well and had longed to be healthier and was afraid of what it might take to get healthy. So while the fertilzer was laid down and the water was poured on the little tree it seemed to forget that it cared about being stronger and more healthy. All it wanted was for the smell to stop and for the water to go away. When the caretaker saw that it had given the tree all that it needed to become healthy again he took a break. The tree began to notice something. There was energy inside its limbs that hadn't been there before. That spring for the first time in a couple of years its branches were full of blossoms. The things that the tree hated about the fertilizer and the water were even now providing protection of some sort. Then the tree began to bear fruit, healthier fruit then it had even given birth to before. When the wind blew the tree noticed that it was less afraid for there was strength there that hadn't been there before. The tree made a promise to itself that day that the next time the caretaker came around to provide what it needed in ways it didn't like that it would try to remember how good it felt to be a strong, vibrant, protected and fruit bearing tree.

What random thoughts are you having today?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Deeper Journey

I was assigned a book for a class I am taking this quarter called The Deeper Journey by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. The timing of books in my life never ceases to amaze me. I've been wondering lately why people are saying that there is so much junk out there in the publishing world and yet I keep finding books that are very profound to me. I was starting to wonder about how gullible I might still be. I found some comfort in the realization that most of what I'm reading has been assigned to me by learned men and women who have sifted through a great many books and asked me to read the ones they have found most helpful.

After spending a month working through a few details in my life it was very beneficial to be thinking through a book that looks at the big picture. How do I summerize this book? Basically it attempts to describe the mystery of what it means to be united with and hidden in Christ. It invites us to participate in disciplines that help us deny self and invite God to live His life through us. It does an excellent job of explaining some of the reasons why that is so difficult and some of the choices we can make to experience it increasingly.

If your at a place where you know God loves you and your growing desire is to live a life that responds to Jesus with love and sacrificial devotion and you need someone to help you with how that might be possible I would highly reccommend this book.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for bringing into my life a book that invites me to explore the scriptures that call us to the impossible apart from you. Thank you Jesus for living your life in sacrificial love and devotion to us. Thank you for working so diligently to open our eyes to these truths in a world that is so opposite from who you are. Thank you for gifting some to put finger to keyboard so that we may learn from their journey. Thank you for enough experiences in my life, prior to reading this book, that have revealed that giving myself over to you for your purposes is the meaning to life that I was able to hear at least some of what this book had to say. Thank you for providing hope that staying on this path with you will mean that change however slow will occur for your glory and my good. Thank you for your protection along the way.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Change is coming....

My life right now ebbs and flows dramatically. I finished my fall quarter on December 9th. Prior to December 9th I was knee deep in responsibilities to family, to my church to school. Then church and school took a break for a few weeks. After working through the restlessness that such a dramatice change of pace creates in me comes an appreciation for time.

It is very likely my family will be returning to a community we left four years ago this coming summer. I have spent a month working through the emotions of all that. There are many more postives than negatives but the thing about me and negatives is that they have to be worked out. There is something about me that doesn't want to move on with life if I'm aware that there is an issue that is begging me to come and sort it out. I need to be at a place of acceptance or understanding about whatever the question or concern may be. The great thing about having time on your hands is that it more easily affords you the opportunity to think and listen.

So while God keeps shaking me up and unsettling my world. He also keeps begging me to trust him. During the service today our Pastor referred to the famous passage in Proverbs that calls us to, "Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on out own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." And then I noticed the next sentence, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." While it may seem strange, it is this last sentence which confirmed the thoughts that I've been entering into the last month or so.

I believe God is asking me to submit myself to Him above all "my ideas". I think He is asking me to wait on Him for guidance. I think because of how well I know myself this kind of obedience will be radical. It will require courage because people in my life will want me to have a plan. Because that's what "we" do, "we" have plans. For instance, often an effective Christian life is described as being a moving ship. The example goes that God can steer a moving ship more easily then a docked ship. See the problem with that ananolgy for me is that I am inclined to not just be the ship but the captain of the ship. I'm weary of charting the path and asking God to oversee the weather in hopes that he'll prove his love for me by providing only smooth waters. I'm not only tired of it, but it has become a completly senseless desire.

I've spent the last month or so wondering if God would rather I see myself as a docked ship. A ship with a captain who has no idea, nor respects her own ideas about where she should be going or what she should be doing. Instead trusts in the Owner of the ship to send tugboats and a map when He is ready to reveal her next destination or journey.

I have discovered that God has created me to be a leader, a servant. But He is having to break me of my inclination to lead/serve with out following Him. Unfortuately for me, is seems to be taking alot of effort on God's part to prove to me I should not see myself as "wise in my own eyes".

On a lighter note with these observations in place and my view of a very lovely harbor with a docked sailing ship in place, I feel strangely equipped, with a huge dose of God's grace, to experience the next six months of my life.

Happy New Year and new begginnings to you!