Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Bullet of New Life in Christ: Our Great Testimony

We should welcome all of our little “death circumstances.” “We who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake” (II Cor. 4:11). The Father wants us aware enough of death (despairs) so we will wake up to our life (delights) in Jesus. See every job loss, broken relationship, family crisis, personal rejection, depressed moment, wasted opportunity, sick regret, financial fear, hopeless expectation, honest emptiness, political agony, health concern, enduring sadness, tough time and, yes, even your secret besetting sin(s), etc. as a revealed death for Jesus’ sake. Learning to “put” each of these existential events, wounds, frustrations, disappointments and thoughts “in Christ” turns them eventually into “doors of deliverance.” All other doors are dead ends.

It is in honestly seeing the utter tragic reality of DEATH, but then handling its cruel hopelessness the way Jesus handled it, that you “feed yourself” with the triumphant hope of the Savior’s kind of LIFE! Blessed are those who “work out” this kind of transition from all of their inevitable “death situations.” To do so is to learn the sweet meaning of our whole and complete salvation! (Phil. 2:12). None of us will ever grasp salvation’s fullness, but we are increasingly assured that there is a fullness there to be grasped.

Remember, it is the Lord Who “puts” us on the death path so that, for Jesus’ sake, we can discover the life path (II Cor. 2:11). Death to my lower, pygmy agenda enables me to live for the Savior’s higher, giant agenda for my life.

It is for our good and deliverance that we taste death just as Jesus did on the cross. Read Isaiah 53 with this thought in mind! Being human without the Presence of God is death. All who truly experience this death reality, so evident in this world, hunger to find or create a path to life. The Lord Christ has shown us that path. He walked through death to the cross on His way to life … resurrection. This is our path as well. If we pursue walking “in His steps” we will find it.

“ONLY GREAT TESTING ENABLES ONE TO GIVE A GREAT TESTIMONY.” And the Lord Jesus said, “I Am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I Am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of absolute control over death and the powers of Hell” (Rev. 1:18).

To learn the details of our dying for Jesus sake is to find our life in Christ for our own sake! This is “the hidden life” that in Him will keep on increasing and that will last forever!

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, makes Himself real at His coming, then the significance of all He has done for you will also be made real for all to see!” Colossians 3:3-4

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Bullet of New Life in Christ: LIFE in His Presence

“I am always being delivered from everything” are some of Paul’s greatest words! (II Cor. 2:14). They describe how the Christ Life is possessed, experienced and expressed by the Cross Disciple who keeps on seeking, asking, knocking, thinking, praying, studying and finding his or her death to “the self life.” It is a tragedy to live the kind of life that is void of the presence, power, promises and pleasures of the Godhead! Only when the old self life is continually put to death in our thinking does our new Christ Life self increasingly come alive in our awareness. My “self” does not cease to exist but becomes its “true self” as I “put” or place “myself” into the purposes and aspirations of the high ambitions the Father has for me in Christ Jesus! (II Cor. 2:14-17). Paul goes on to describe some of these specifics in II Corinthians four:

But we have this treasure (our possession of Christ Life potential) in jars of clay (our sinful earth bodies) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; knocked down, but never knocked out. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” II Corinthians 4:7-12

This fallen world, dominated by its illusions, delusions and confusions, is destined for diminishment, death and destruction. Cross Disciples must be vigilant to see the truth of this hopelessness in an authentic and vigorous way! This means we must learn to accept this crippled, blind and helpless culture just as the Father says it is! We must all taste in different degrees the desperate despair and the deadening habits of spiritual emptiness. This comes on us, of course, from pursuing life without the Presence of God. We must learn to “carry the weight” of this struggle with us throughout our daily pressures. Our hope for deliverance is to take up (add) more cross … not less! Only then are we increasingly freed from our bondage to dullness and insignificance by the “praise realities” of Jesus, Who we sense more fully is vitally alive within us. This is what it means to be “in Christ” … to experience that He really is the Truth about everything! Our hearts are then flooded with a growing joy by that discovery! (John 14:6 and 15:11).

The more we recognize the disaster of sin around us and within us the more eagerly and “abandonly” do we seek the depths of Christ’s Voice. The weight of knowing He had to die drives us to His solutions for ourselves and for this fallen and conflicted world. Our hearts find a newer and higher burden for existence. It is then that the Father uses our personal cross death to what isn’t to show through us to others how we are alive to what is! We are Christ’s agents to floundering people! We are “standing by the door” to the Kingdom of Messiah Love. Our goal is to reveal the Savior’s invitation to life over death to all who will “risk” believing He loves them and wants them. Our goal is to let them smell the fragrance of Christ upon us and want it for themselves (II Cor. 2:14-17). We know experientially that they will not be disappointed. The story of our own floundering and how we are escaping from it is too exciting to be quiet about!

“… and who is equal to such a task? … we are certainly not competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as servants of His new promise (covenant).” II Corinthians 2:16b; 3:3-6

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Bullet of New Life in Christ: Eating the Meal that Lasts Forever

When we eat from the Lord’s Table we experience the joy of increasing strength even though the process of “digesting” spiritual energy is too complex to fully understand. Very few people come even close to comprehending all that constantly goes on in the human body. Even fewer rarely recognize the complexities of our spiritual assimilation as we merge our hearts with the Spirit of God. If we get our sleep and do it in a healthy way, our body wakes refreshed! Likewise, if we keep yielding our spirit to the prompting of His Spirit, all that needs to happen to us will happen, whether we comprehend it or not. As we experience the presence of the Savior’s spiritual provision and renewal, we hunger for more. Healthy Cross Disciples are always ready for more of the delicious, exotic and nourishing truth meals (as well as revelation snacks) that constantly satisfy their hunger for the God Picture of reality. Blessed is the Disciple who delights in eating both sustaining physical meals as well as transforming spiritual meals! That’s how the Father designed it! He intends for us to participate in both processes so we might be built up and complete human beings who reflect His wondrous intentions. As our Lord so clearly put it, “A body Thou hast prepared for Me … ” and “Lo, I have come to do Thy will, oh God” (Heb. 10:5-7). The Master had a body to care for physically and a heart to yield spiritually to the Father! So do we!

Learning how “to eat the bread and drink the blood of our Lord” is no light thing. Here are my exploratory thoughts in response to these words of the Master’s in John 6:52-59. To misunderstand this teaching is to miss the experience of the nourished spiritual life.

If we strive to live a continuously enlightened existence from faithful “cross taking,” we will come to recognize and more rightly respond to the sources of destruction and the sources of delight. These two options constantly press upon us. Only two “path choices” for our “being” are before us:

I. There is a Life Path that Leads to Death: Destruction
“There is no rest for the wicked” (Those who ignore God) (Is. 57:20)

A. My Path is Self Illusion = Deception by my Foolishness …
“The lust of the flesh controls me”

B. My Path is Culture Delusion = Diminishment with their Trivia …
“Lust of the eyes controls me"

C. My Path is Satanic Confusion = Destruction from his Hatred …
“My pride in life will control me”

Based on I John 2:15-17

II. There is a Death Path that Leads to Life: Delight
“I die daily,” Paul in I Corinthians 15:31

A. My Path Receives the Father’s Intrusion = A New Creation
( the Creator)He sent the Son of God

B. My Path Seeks the Son’s Infusion = A Full Redemption
(the Redeemer)He is the Son of God

C. My Path Accepts the Spirit’s Conclusions = An Ultimate Perfection
(the Perfecter)He reveals the Son of God

Based on II Corinthians 5:11-21

If you live to “eat” the destructions of self, culture and the demonic, you die! If you are dying to “eat” the truth of creation, redemption and perfection, you live! To drink the water the world has is to thirst again and eventually die. To drink Christ’s blood is to satisfy your thirst and never die!

So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves … the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me … and will live forever.’” John 6:53-58

Much could be said about the various interpretations of this difficult passage. My sum of it theologically would have the verse read thusly: “It is certain that unless you radically believe that My body was crucified for you and that My blood flowed for your sins, you will never discover the incredible and abundant life I desire to give you. It is by your own cross that you take the deeper meanings of My Body and Blood into your own existence. In following Me and increasingly dying for the Father’s mission, you live. If you do as I tell you, then you will discover what I mean. I promise! You will come alive with the wonder of what I have done and still intend to do for you and all others who live to trust Me!”

You have made known to me the path of life … in Your Presence is fullness of joy … at Your Right Hand are pleasures evermore!” Psalm 16:11

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Bullet of New Life in Christ: Learn How to Eat – Digestion is Automatic

One of the necessities of our physical existence is eating. A person who does not eat will die … it may take some time but it is inevitable. Eating is essential for energy, joy and health! How wonderful that one of the things it pleased the Creator to do was to make eating pleasurable. Think of some of the great meals you have enjoyed and thank Him for that gift. Physical eating also provides us with new and deeper insights into the process necessary to properly nourish our spirits. The Creator made us with spiritual appetites as well as physical ones. It is His good pleasure that both are responded to and properly satisfied! “We are to desire the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word that we may grow …” (I Peter 2:2). “Take and eat, this is My Body (Mt. 26:26; Jn. 6:53), “… the right to eat from the tree of life …” (Rev. 2:7).

Who else but our Lord prepares our spiritual meals as well as plans our menus! Think of Israel in the wilderness and Jehovah choosing quail and manna to feed them. He also showed them how hitting “certain rocks” would give water to quench their thirst. For us to worry about where or what to eat spiritually is ridiculous. Trust Him to feed you on time, with a meal that is always enough (sometimes basic and sometimes gourmet). All we need to do is eat and then move on in “that” energy. Our part is to catch the quail, pick-up the manna and hit the rock. That sounds a little like “ask, seek and knock” doesn’t it? (Mt. 7:7-8). The Lord always does His part to provide the resource, but it’s ours to assimilate! As food is the power miracle that renews our body, so truth is the power miracle that renews our hearts!

Quit chasing and worrying about what verses to study, what books to read, what speakers to hear, what courses to take, what TV program to watch, what CD to buy, what events to attend! There are thousands of “truth menus” served daily by the Creator to millions of His people. You can’t eat all that’s being served nor do you need to! A little each day, so long as He is “the Chef,” is enough to sustain you to do His will. He will “put” you where you need to be. He will “put” before you what you need to eat! He has prepared and will always prepare your next spiritual meal. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes fresh, sometimes leftovers! All we have to do is to EAT DAILY from His world wide table of nourishment. There is always enough whether we think so or not! Some days might provide 2,500 truth calories, other days only 1,000. We should just eat what’s there without complaint or worry. This enables us to live satisfied and relaxed … not stuffed but not starving! We know the Savior will distribute His Truth throughout our “spiritual digestive system” according to His design and purpose. Obedience to His processes will work His purposeswhether we understand it or not!

Whatever “the food of experience brings to us in irrelevant. It can be better or worse, good or bad, delicious or so-so! As long as we eat it, the Lord will convert it into spiritual energy. Our job is to choose the best responses possible to our options for a “diet of Jesus reality.” The better we eat … both physically and spiritually … the better we live!

“… ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'" The LORD God speaking to Israel, Exodus 16:12

You are free to eat of any tree of the Garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:16-17

Whatever you eat … do it all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31

The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise Him … all the rich of the earth will feast and worship …” Psalm 22:26, 29

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Bullet of Peace: The Peace that Counts Most

Isaiah’s response to the loss of his leader, King Uzziah, should pave the path for our own losses of strong principled leaders! “In that year I saw the Lord!” testified Isaiah. He also confessed the reality that he was “… a man of unclean lips living in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). In other words, the world is a hopeless mess!

In memory of Anwar Sadat … the Egyptian, the humanitarian, the leader, the God fearer, the friend of Israel … let us remember two things. First, the world’s attention is increasingly focused on the Middle East. The stage is continuously being set according to Scripture, preparing that area to be the center of the climax of history. The Lord will use the most unlikely people to accomplish his purposes!

Second, even the most noble human leadership in the final analysis is inadequate to bring a final peace. Four thousand years of wars, promises, tyranny, genocide, brutality, governments and failures should prove that. We confidently await the coming from heaven of The Only Leader Who can establish, prosper and keep what all men seek!

But, while we wait for the outer Kingdom of God to be realized by all, we don’t have to wait for our own personal inner kingdom of the Messiah to begin! It is ours to see, taste and touch as we learn “our present cross.” We can still have inward peace when war, hate, foolishness and conflicts are raging outwardly. Let us make it our ambition in our deepest losses to always “see the Lord.” Jesus assures us that our quest shall be satisfied if we listen to Him, “These things I have told you so that in Me you might have peace” (John 16:33).

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9