H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Friday, July 29, 2011
We come here to minister...
I have another ministry besides blogging, and that ministry is of a teacher and as a leader in my local congregation. I don't get paid for that ministry either, nor would I want to. I bring it up, not to sound self important, but to use my own experience as an introduction into a topic that is near to my heart. Christian Ministry.

I think it is fair to say that the kind of ministry I am engaged in is one of the most personally demanding ministries (on many levels) but also one of the most richly rewarding ones. If I did not minister thus, I don't know how I could contain myself. I ache to see Christ's little ones grow (and I am not talking about children, but rather immature faith, blossom into mature faith). In fact, my blogging is just an outflow of the same desire - a desire to see people come to be whom Christ has called them to be.

Children make childish mistakes. I state the obvious here to introduce you to the notion that Christians who are spiritually immature, make a lot of immature mistakes.

I will use myself as an example again. I recall one of my old pastors getting excited about the idea of having an all night prayer time - a time of fasting and calling on the Lord. I recall his joy-filled face as he spoke to me, full of the expectation that I would encourage the notion, but instead, with an all too effective dead-pan expression, and with the full weight of judgment, I replied that the thing was a sensational folly. If you really want to pray, why not meet with me every day at 5:30 a.m., and we will pray together for an hour every day, every week, and every month. If you're going to be serious, let's not play games - let's do it, and if not, well, go ahead and play around.

We did meet, and to his credit, the pastor held on longer than the other few who joined us, but within a couple of months it was just me, alone, every morning, and eventually I gave up on it too.

But I tell you, I resented the people in our church who cared more about their own belly than the bellies of others. That is, I resented every soul that came to that church to eat, rather than to serve up food. Okay, metaphors aside, I resented every member who shows up on Sunday expecting to be "served up" a pleasing sermon, and led in singing those songs they liked most. Oh how I grit my teeth against these fair-weather fakers. Were they even saved? I felt as self righteous as Elijah, crying out that they have slain all the other prophets, and I alone am left. But even as the Lord showed Elijah that He Himself had reserved 7000 who had not bent the knee to Baal, so also I came to realize that my resentment sprang from the core of my own corruption, and not from God's righteousness. I didn't really resent anyone - I didn't care about them so much as I cared that I wasn't being recognized as a very spiritual person.

Of course, however I saw myself, I am sure everyone else saw me as a pompous ass (er, ...as in a donkey, and not, as the French say, as in "un derrière"). I wasn't wrong in noting that there were people in the congregation who were just showing up, and who were otherwise nominal - I was wrong in thinking that I was any better than they were. Christ disrobed, donned a towel, and scrubbed the feet of His disciples to show them that no one is above anyone else when it comes to ministry. We serve one another, and the heart that thinks it is superior to another, is a wayward, corrupt heart. Perhaps the biggest offenders are people with a more public ministry.

Well, to make a long post less long, let me tell you that my heart for my own congregation is that they would grow in the knowledge of Christ. Not simply that they would know more facts about Jesus - that isn't what I mean by "grow in knowledge"; I mean what Christ meant in John 17:3 - knowing God and Christ is eternal life. It doesn't say, knowing about God and Christ, but knowing them. The ache in my soul is an ache for people to know Christ. But though the Lord may use each of us as tools in His work, the truth is that this is His work - even the ache in my own breast is the work of His hands in me, and not something to boast about, but something to rejoice over. God could easily have given the gift to another, and supplied me with some other.

How is your heart Christian? Do you resent those who are less mature than you imagine yourself to be? Do you hunger for recognition when you have ministered faithfully? Christ would (and did) say that you have only done your duty - no more than what was expected of you, and having done it, you have done nothing worthy of praise. Or are you one of those who is so focused on what you are "getting out of church" that you forget that you are supposed to be there "putting into church"?

Don't think that because you are immature, you don't have to serve in the body. That's bunk. Church isn't a place where mature people work, and immature people are "worked on" - so that some people feel they have fullfilled their religious obligation by merely attending church (what more do "you people" want!??) Listen, church is not something you attend, it is something you are a part of, or supposed to be a part of.

Do you want to know why so many people leave this church or that church? It is because they don't know what church is, or how to be a part of one, and this they don't know because no one is telling them what church is.

So the point of this post is to touch on the concept of what it means to be in a church. If I can, I will sum it up in a brief paragraph, and end on that note.

Being a member of a church means committing yourself to the local body even as a husband commits himself to his wife. You gather together to serve one another, and to strengthen one another in the fight against sin, and in the pursuit of holiness, without which no one will see God. Church is the congregation, that group of imperfect people who are so uninclined to submit their daily lives to God, that our Lord has put YOU in their life to aid them in whatever way you can; and has put everyone in that congregation in your life for the same purpose. Church isn't about Sunday morning sermons, prayer time, announcements, and a few hymns, choruses, and perhaps some hand-shaking afterwards, followed by a meal at the local restaurant, after which we get on with life again. Being a member of a church is being a critical link the chain that holds a family together.

Listen, you know that family who lost their boy fourteen years ago, and still sets a place for him at the table each night in rememberance? A member of a church who isn't there is like that empty seat - a position in that family that no one else can fill. God isn't wasteful, each member has a ministry, so a church member is a person who commits to serving the body in love. Anything less isn't church, it's just play time, and your soul knows this.
posted by Daniel @ 7:36 AM   1 comment(s)
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Grieving Over Someone Else's Sin can be instructive.
Imagine that you love the Lord with all your heart, and not in the selfish way that some might imagine - that is, not because you "have" to in order to make God look upon you favorably enough to bless you or something like that. I mean imagine that the love you have for God is the real kind, and not just self preservation dressed up as "love".

Now imagine that you have a son or a daughter who is just coming out of puberty, one who used to, as far as you could tell, love the Lord whom you love. You enjoyed those shared times where you could sing to, and converse about, God together. You enjoyed what you felt was a deepening fellowship with your child, a person whom you have invested yourself in every day of their life; and then imagine that you discover one day that their love of the Lord was not what you thought it was. Imagine that whatever facade had convinced you that they were on the same page as you, has begun to peel back, and you begin to glimpse the horrible truth --that your son or daughter loves their sin more than they love anything else, and that they have just been faking their own love for God because doing so in your house was the most profitable way to live.

Now, get past the sense of betrayal, and the hurt of realizing how much of what you thought was faith was in fact your own aspirations being projected on them, set aside your own hope-driven blindness, and sense of utter failure, and you are left with an ache that cannot be undone by demanding they conform themselves externally to the godly behavior you wish was flowing from within.

This ache is a wound in your own soul that bleeds at the thought that sin, like a devouring lion, is destroying not only who you thought they were, but also everything you had hoped they would be. This ache, if you can imagine it (or worse, if you have actually known it first hand) can be a powerfully instructive, but perhaps not in the way you think.

Can I be blunt with you, dear reader? You would probably love everyone this way if you had the same investment in everyone. That is, if you felt that their loss was in fact your loss, then at the very least you would, for purely selfish reasons, desire that each and every one of us be set free from the bondage to sin. The plain hard truth is that selfishness is still the greatest motivator for much of what we do - and the instruction typically given to people is to try and generate something positive through that same selfishness, rather than to abandon it altogether.

Let me explain that, because it is probably confusing for some.

I say that this sort of ache I described is instructive, not as an example of how we are to love others - good gravy no! I will not call you to generate (or try to spiritually discover) this sort of love/desperation and then apply it to others. That would be pointlessly futile, and even counter-productive to genuine faith.

You see, the reason a person aches for someone else in this way (and simultaneously fails to ache for everyone in this way) is because they expected their investment to produce something for them, and this sudden turn threatens the return on their investment. For all the poetry in the picture above, beneath it all a selfish motive persists.

The instruction I mean to give is not that you should try and mimic investing yourself in others the way you invest yourself in those close to you, in order that you may generate a similarly powerful (but flawed on account of being similarly selfish at its core) affection, whereby you will be motivated to "ache" for others with the same ferocity with which you ache for those close to you. Have I said good gravy already? Good gravy no! I shall not call you to some pragmatic "solution" dressed up as something spiritual.

Rather my instruction began with this (hopefully) powerful imagery, to underscore the fact that even the most visceral motivations we can imagine for such things as intercessory prayer, cannot and do not produce, or even give vent to) the love of God by which we are commanded to love others.

Is your child wayward? That is going to hurt you in proportion to how dearly you love the Lord, and again, how much you have invested in your child. Yet the whole world is wayward, and yet you do not hurt for the world the way you would hurt for your little one. This ought to show you that whatever it is that you feel for your child is (at the very least) mixed with (at the core) something selfish. Your paternal concern is real, painful, and even right and proper, but ultimately, and genuinely, it is self serving at the core of its being.

To extend a metaphor, the love with which God loves your child is by no means superior to the love with which God loves your neighbor, or even your enemy. God's love does not wax or wane depending upon how much you have invested yourself in someone. This you know. So don't imagine that because you ache for someone that this is "God's love" being expressed in you. If you don't ache that way for everyone, it is just your own affections that are being roused because the world isn't doing what you want it to.

With this in mind, I say, perhaps too boldly, that anyone who holds some example of love, powerful or weak, and then teaches you that it is the job of the Christian to imitate that same kind of love --applying it to others, is teaching you to adhere to a form of religious behavior, nothing more.

At this point, I hope that some of you reading will begin to look at the way you love others, and find in your introspection a truth you don't often look at. Are you one who is beginning to see yourself as having failed to truly love others? Let me say something a little provocative: if you don't see yourself in this, you're quite blind.

Consider the thought: if the love that we express for those closest to us is riddled through with selfishness, how worthless will a self-generated imitation of that kind of love be? Knowing then that we are commanded to love others, we are left with one of the most real, and common, Christian dilemmas: we are commanded to do something we most certainly cannot do.

Don't get me wrong, we can certainly put on a show. We can certainly go through the motions externally, and this we can even do with profound emotion and satisfaction, but ultimately, our mimicry is nothing more than self serving pragmatism, and for all our effort, it is spiritually worthless misleading. That which is born of the flesh, is not spiritual.

The truth is that we cannot love others, not the way that God commands, and God isn't in the business of creating in us a well of new, but now "righteous", love out of which we may now, as Christians, love others. Until we receive our redeemed bodies, we remain, at our core, sinfully flawed. We are (and remain in this world) broken vessels that cannot hold water. In other words, the love with which we are called to love others is not our own, tragically flawed love, but rather with Christ's love.

Don't mistake me, I do not deny that we can and do feel affection for others, and we can do nice things for people. We can ache for others and all that - but the love that God calls us to love others with has no self serving component mixed into it. It is a perfect, selfless love - a self sacrificing love. A love that cannot originate in, and ultimately cater to, self. A love that you are so entirely incapable of generating, that the way out of this dilemma will sound impossible, and even incomprehensible to some, and yet is perhaps the most simple thing one might ever learn.

You see the bible tells us that we are to walk by faith. Walking, in this sense, is a metaphor for the way we conduct ourselves on the earth; it describes the things we do, and the way we do them. Walking then is a metaphor for the way we conduct ourselves, and if our conduct includes being commanded to "love others" (and it does), then even loving others is something that must be done by and through faith.

But there is the rub isn't it? How does one "love" another by faith? I mean, for some that question is going to be about as obtuse as asking how to "smell" the color blue. Loving by faith? How does one do that?

The problem with many, I suppose, is that even after you explain to them that their concept of loving others is actually self serving and flawed; and even after you convince them that they need to learn to love as Christ loves, when you actually explain the way that they are supposed to love, they typically, and unconsciously, take what you have said and attempt to apply it in the same framework as the thing you are telling them to step away from. When we ask, "How do I...?" we demonstrate that we are still self centered in our approach.

The question should be, "How does Christ...?"

"Ah", says, the reader, "I am beginning to see the tipping of your hand", but let's not skip ahead. Many will take this tidbit and imagine they know where this is going, and that they get it already, so they don't have to pay attention to what is coming next, but to these I say, "hold up a little, it may not be what you think". You see, many are going to hear me say "How does Christ...?" and will immediately reframe that into the exact same self-o-centric framework that we are trying to get away from. The only difference is they will modified the notion ever so slightly to, "how do I make Christ do it...?"

Obviously, we can't make Christ do anything. Our "faith" is not divine puppet fuel, whereby we exercise it, and God reacts by moving His mighty puppet-arms. Faith means that we trust what God has done, and is doing. It means that we trust that the love of Christ that is in us through the Holy Spirit is sufficient for what God commands. It means we abandon once and for all our failing attempts at producing or "receiving" a love of our own in order to use that love as a motivator from which (hopefully) new obedience can flow.

Do you get it? I mean, I think of the Catholic who imagines that God's grace serves to impart actual, personal, righteousness in the believer. Such that the believer eventually becomes so personally righteous (by grace!) that God becomes obligated to honor their righteousness by granting them salvation. We know how utterly confused and wrong that notion is, but are we not doing the same thing when we think that God imparts new love to us, by which we are supposed to love others? Are we not imagining (or hoping) that Christ eventually will impart enough "love" in us that we may draw from this personal supply of love in order to obey our Lord? When this is our understanding, and we fail to love others, we are left to conclude that Christ isn't doing much in the way of supplying our love --which itself causes many to conclude that they must not be saved (enough), and so they redouble their efforts to try and get Christ to do what they imagine He is "failing" to do - or worse, they conclude that no matter how they work, they will never be able to be perfect enough to warrant the bestowment of this personal love from which all things Christian become easy-peasy. Or alternately they just give up on Christianity because it doesn't "work".

Well, having said this much, one might imagine that I am overlooking the fact that genuine affection can and does show up in our lives, and that we can ache for others even as strongly as we might ache for a wayward spouse or child. I do not mean to diminish our grief - that raw emotion we may feel when someone we care about begins to fall away from the faith, or is struggling against sin. The pain in such instances is real, and there is nothing godly about ignoring it, or making light of, or diminishing it. What I write here, concerning the nature of these emotions, is not meant to suggest that such emotions are out of place or something to avoid. Rather I say only that we must avoid the temptation to create a motivation for obedience by trying to replicate these emotions in other situations as the "magic key" to Christian success in loving others.

The bottom line is this: We are more likely to experience real grief over another person's sin when the person is someone we are intimately acquainted with (such as a spouse, a parent, a close friend, or a son or daughter). That strong desire that forms in us, that they would repent and be restored is not something we feel for others who are sinning, because (frankly) we are not as invested in others. The instruction is not that we try and invest in others in order to generate stronger feelings, and thereby generate an emotional motivation that is a little wider in scope than just family and friends. Rather the instruction is to recognize that the reason we grieve stronger for those close to us, and fail to grieve as strongly for those who are not close to us, is because we have invested in those close to us, and stand to lose more on that account. Our grief is tainted, if you will, with self interest. Because this is so, we are taught not rely upon our emotions - even our most intense emotions, to motivate our obedience (concerning the command to love others). The command to love is a command to depend on Christ's love, and not our own love.

That's probably still a little fuzzy for some, but I am going to put it out there anyway. Perhaps it will help someone anyway.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:58 AM   7 comment(s)
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Learning To Love Others
You have heard, no doubt, someone say that love is an action word. The grammarian in me chafes a little at that, preferring to express this particular thought with less poetry and more precision, thus: love is a verb.

A verb, if you will recall, is an action word. So it may sound unnecessarily pedantic, or perhaps only superficially didactic to say that I prefer to use the word "verb" instead of "action word" when in fact a verb is an action word.

Yet I think the distinction will be seen as a good one to make if I explain what it is that so concerns me, that I would bother to make the distinction. When most of us think of love, we think of an emotion - and not just any emotion, but the most intimate sort of emotion we can conceive of, and in particular, an emotion that cannot be summoned by choice - it is either there, or it is not there. I can't force myself to "feel" love for someone, even if I am commanded to do so.

When I say that love is an action word, the impression many of you will get is that if you or I truly feel the emotion of love, it will cause us to do things in response to that feeling; that is, when I say that love is an action word, you may think I am saying that love provokes me to action; or said in terms of logical order: love is the cause of or motivation for the action.

The biggest problem with thinking of love in terms of experiencing an affection that provokes us to act , is that when we are commanded to love, we are unable to do so because the emotion hasn't shown up. If we expect love to fall on us and thereby empower our obedience, we are going to be pretty confused when it doesn't. We will likely conclude that we are either doing something wrong, or more likely, that God is so displeased with us (on account of the fact that we are not perfect), that He is withholding the love until we can make ourselves acceptable to Him through a greater effort on our part to love Him and obey Him.

It should be obvious, but it isn't always, so I will say it plainly: this is an immature and wrong-headed way of thinking of love.

Yet I suspect that many preachers think (and preach) that the problem isn't a wrong understanding of love, but rather a wrong understanding of the process by which God imparts the love (i.e. emotion) that He (according to this avenue of thought) commands. These will use a passage like the healing of the ten lepers (recall that they were "healed as they went") to suggest that God expects us to act like we love someone (fake it), that is, if we "prime the pump", God will reward our fakery by granting us the genuine article.

This approach, no doubt, will produce (on some level) a positive effect. The question is whether the effect is a spiritual one. Can I give you an example? I used to hate cats. My wife one day "rescued" a cat from the local animal shelter, and I was forced to live with the thing. Guess what? In a few months I started to like the little fur ball. Is this because God enlarged my heart? No. I started to like the cat because it seemed to prefer me to my wife. You know what? I still don't like cats, but I did like that one. We got rid of it however because I found out that I am allergic to cats. In the same way, if you invest yourself in another person - even someone you presently have no affection for, there is a good chance that you will eventually find in that person something that you like. There is nothing spiritual in that, any heathen, secular humanist, atheist, or person in any other world religion can generate this kind of affection - you don't need Jesus for that; and that is why I think it is a carnal, rather than a spiritual, approach to the problem of lovelessness - and worse, it is attempting to create a missing emotion - which was never the problem in the first place.

The scriptures tell me that I love myself, and that you love yourself too. Some of us are so in love with ourselves that we feel the world doesn't love us as much as we deserve - and so we are displeased with our lot, and wish we had more. This sort of narcissism may well produce a very real discontent within, but this is driven by self love, and not indicative of a lack thereof.

If we all know how to love ourselves, and we do, then we can deal biblically with the problem of failing to love others. The Apostle Paul describes our self love in Ephesians 5:29 thus, "for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church" - how is this love expressed? It is expressed in terms of nourishing and cherishing. We feed ourselves, we clothe ourselves, we make arrangements for our needs, and even for our own entertainment. This is described by Paul as on par with how Christ loves the church.

The command to love others as yourself is a command that every last one of us can understand perfectly. There is no reason for this command to remain vague or esoteric. No reason for any believer to wonder how to keep this command, or what is required to be able to keep it. Every last one of us knows how to care for his own flesh - and that same care that instructs everything we do, ought to extend beyond ourselves and into others. If I have food, and you do not, and I eat my food while you go hungry - I am not loving you. It isn't an emotion, it is a verb.

The love that I have for myself is not an emotion, it is selfishness, plain and simple. We love others when we set this self love aside, and instead direct the same care and attention to others. It isn't an emotion, it is an act of worship.

This is the main problem for most of us: everyone wants to go to avoid hell, but practically speaking, who wants to actually worship God? Can't we just go to church, and read our bibles, and attend functions and stuff? I mean, isn't singing a "church" song an act of worship? Yada, yada. How many of us really regard our obedience as worship? Let me tell you that the reason most believers obey, when they are not inclined to obey, is not out of love, but out of fear. That is, it isn't an act of worship, it is an act of self preservation.

I hope the Holy Spirit will connect the dots for you: self love = artificial, fear driven obedience; denying self = worship motivated obedience.

When we say that love casts out fear, we are saying that if you obey as a genuine act of worship, it isn't fear that God is going to damn you (or worse) for failing to do so that is driving you, rather it is the love that God calls you to perform that is driving you. Not an emotion that overwhelms you, but a realization (that the Holy Spirit grants you) that you cannot love your self and love God at the same time - you have to let go of the one in order to grasp the other. It is a lesson that every last one of us is capable of understanding, because we all love our selves. If I know how to love me (and I do), I know what God requires of me when it comes to others. I cannot love God, or anyone else, if my first and primary concern is fulfilling my own desires (loving myself).

I suppose it is sort of like rocket science, in that if you don't know the math, you will never get it no matter how simple someone tries to make it. So also, if you don't understand that "dying to self" is the same as "living for others" or that "loving God" is the same as "denying self", you simply won't get it, because you haven't understood the spiritual math. The equation is pretty simple though, so I will give it to you:

You must, as an act of worship, redirect the love with which you love yourself, at God.

Doing this is called:
- denying yourself, or
- taking up your cross, or
- living the crucified, or
- being spiritually filled, or
- not loving the world, or
- loving God with your whole heart, or
- putting to death the old man/self

To be sure, I could make that list pretty long, but you probably get the point even with such a truncated and beggarly list as this. The point is that if you want to stop floating around in your Christian life wondering what is missing, you should sit down and look at how much you love yourself, and then set your mind and heart on redirecting all that effort away from self and into serving God.

Christ showed you what love looked like when He served you. Now go and do the same in the service of God.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:40 AM   8 comment(s)
Monday, July 11, 2011
Whole Hearted.
My pastor preached an edifying sermon this past Sunday, and whatever else he may have said in the sermon, or whatever the point of it may have been, it was his mention of serving the Lord with one's whole heart that provoked a sudden stirring of Christ's Spirit within me.

In particular, I was considering my own inconsistent obedience. I have known profound victory over sin in several areas of my life - and not the false victory that some claim when they have finally, through their own effort, finally formed a lasting habit whereby they are able to (most of the time) automatically suppress some particular temptation, rather than entertain it. No, the victory I am talking about is the removal of the thing as a genuine temptation, where once I desired a thing, and where now that desire is a memory that has never stirred again.

When I think of inconsistent obedience, I am really thinking of those things in my life where I do not want to apply Christ's rule. We might call such things strongholds, because we are unwilling to surrender them to Christ. This is the very picture of double-mindedness. On the one hand we surrender to Christ on several levels and in many ways, and on the other we retain for ourselves the "right" to draw a line - this far into my heart you are, and remain my Lord, but beyond this line, I will not have you rule over me.

No one wants to paint their own inconsistencies in hues of rebellion, and in the language that scripture reserves for rebellion. Instead we dress it up with language like "struggles" and "inconsistencies" and whatnot. But if we are willing to drag it under, and expose it to the light, we will see it for what it is: something less than the whole hearted devotion we are called to.

Even though I know that no victory has ever come to me except through travailing prayer where I, with the Lord, plumb the depth of my depravity, and cry out from the well of my being to be set free from -who--I--am-, and always will be.

Said another way, I know that until my heart is actually -set- on Christ, I am only half-heartedly pursuing the Lord; and I know, as well as you do, that one does not "find" the Lord until one seeks for Him with one's "whole" heart.

So it is an exercise in utter madness when a believer refuses to sit down, and talk straight with God concerning some besetting sin that destroys his or her peace. When that believer chooses instead to offer up to God sacrifices of ministry, and praise, and every other religious thing - while witholding from God his or her whole heart.

Why do we do that?

May I suggest that we do that because we are inclined, in and of ourselves, to flee from, rather than cling to, the Lord. Except that Lord draws me to Himself, every effort to approach him is superficial, self serving, and ultimately illegitimate. Yet when I recognize this within myself, when the Spirit of Christ within me begins to provoke my soul so that I find no rest in the status quo, it is only then that I begin to feel the weight of my sin, and only then that I begin in earnest to seek that deliverance from sin's power that is already mine in Christ.

I have yet to be able to set my heart on Christ in some whimsical, off the cuff way. It has always required a deep travailing in prayer, not unlike labor pains that must be endured until finally I come to the end of myself seeing myself for what I am, and throwing my hope and my life entirely and without reservation, upon the Lord. It is then, when I have seen my sin for what it is, and my Lord for who He is, that I am able to, by faith, turn away from some sin in earnest.

I don't know how it is for others, but I know how it has been for me. My relationship with Christ has been fraught with all manner of false religion that would take my eyes of the simplicity of Christ - but always, like a loving Shepherd, the Lord draws me back to Himself by grace through faith, so that I can take no credit for the love, faith, and devotion He Himself imparts - whatever crown I may possess on that day of Judgment that is coming; it will be one that I cannot claim to have earned, but must be laid down at the feet of Him who placed it on my head by His own merciful hand.

Jesus is not a far away God, but a very near one. Not looking down from on high, but working intimately from within. His love is more profound than can be known, His mercies more tender than can be measured, His grace more sufficient, His wisdom more sound, His rule more fitting than any heart can fathom.

Do not be afraid little Christian, for the Lord loves His own, and is not willing that any of His should perish.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:45 AM   0 comment(s)
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