Monday, June 8, 2009
God has created me, He knows me inside and out, He knows me intimately. (Psalm 139) God is concerned for my welfare and desires that I know Him – eternally. So concerned is He that He would send His son (who His very Word calls “the Word” (John 1)) to die for me. (John 3:16) To know God’s Word is to know Him – Jesus, the Word; God – In the Flesh. To know the Word is to know God’s heart for the Kingdom and for those who would dwell in it – you and me. To know the Word is to know God’s heart for those who are lost (Ezekiel 18); His heart for righteousness, for mercy, for grace and hope and love. To know the Word is to know the wisdom and intention of God to redeem man and reconcile man to Himself, to embrace him, and betroth him, and walk with him forever. To know the Word is to know that the Father is pleased to give us what we need – to give us the very Kingdom itself – it is to trust God at His Word. (Luke 12) God has created me, He knows me, He loves me and He wants me. Who better than the Word, to give us “everything we need for life and godliness”. Who better than the one who knows me... better than I know my self? Who else should I trust with my eternal welfare or with (the) very knowledge of God (Himself), than the One who loves me so much that He would die for me to reveal to me that love?
Jesus himself spoke of the scriptures as one who esteemed, valued and believed its content. In the gospels alone, the “Scriptures” are referred to by or (speaks) directly about Jesus 22 times. In so, Jesus validates the authenticity and authority of God’s (written) Word and (at least) implies the source and power of the scriptures as God’s words and primary mode of life – revelation, regeneration and transformation; “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38 That, contained in the scriptures, is the path by which we discover the saving and redeeming knowledge of His very person – that by the scriptures – Jesus can be and is known “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” In one statement Jesus affirms the validity of the Word as God’s message to man and that same Word being the very path by which we can receive eternal life (through Him) and attain His likeness. In desiring that we would all be like His Son, God would give all that we need to see His Son so that we might be saved and with the same stroke be powerfully transformed into the likeness of His Son.
the power of transformation, the ultimate “I Love You”… obedience…
Jesus Himself declared that our love for Him is best expressed in obedience to Him, His Word (John 14:23-24, 15:20, 17:6)); declaring that those who were truly His relation were those who “hear God’s word and put it into practice” Luke 8:21. Elsewhere we are reminded that (His) blessing is derived from obedience:
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16
Isn’t it ironic…
I don’t think that it should be any surprise, even for pure irony’s sake, that the passage in scripture that most pointedly describes the Scripture as a whole for what it is has the same address as the passage in Scripture that most pointedly declares Gods intention (John 3:16) for the Word. (John 1) As I believe the two (Scriptures and concepts) are inseparable, they are intrinsically linked by each other’s simplicity, veracity and profundity – that God intends to redeem mankind to Himself and that He intends to use His Word to do so: the Word made flesh, as well as the Word in written form: That God would not leave us wanting, but has something precious for us by His Word.
No, you’re right, the scriptures were not originally written with numbers and addresses attached to them, but that’s one of the many incredible things about our God, I can’t imagine that God had any less influence over those who systematized the scriptures for ease of discovery than He did with the actual writers of it and that He wouldn’t make sure that His sense of irony was not seen and appreciated.
to preach the Word is to bring good news, to bring life…
“‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:8-15
It is the privilege of the children of God, not only to have His Word to lead, guide and transform, but also to carry. It is our privilege and responsibility to share the good news of Jesus to all who would hear – to live in such a way as to proclaim Jesus with our attitudes, lives and (finally, our) speech. To preach the Word.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
this series of posts reflects some things very dear to me and contain actual excerpts from a conversation with a friend... bear with it as you read as the primary body of the posts will be the transcripts from a facebook im session between the two of us as we considered life with God, meeting Him in the Scriptures - being molded and shaped by His Word, Spirit, attitude, His very person... and our struggle to be, well, consistent
spending time together, working through how we might be disciples OF Jesus, not merely converts TO Christianity... thanks.
me and a friend of mine, matt, catch up occasionally via facebook im. we chat about life, family, work, one day the question came up "how's your walk, you know, with God?" and a discussion began - a discussion that included things like "not bad", "i wish it could be better" and "i can't seem to read the Bible consistently". well, as we continue this talk, we challenged each other to take a fresh look at the Bible, God, His love for us, His desire for us to know Him more, and in so, approach the His Word with a different attitude and perspective.
over the following days and weeks, if we would see the other on line, we would drop a quick note and just ask "how's the reading?" or "how's your meeting with God?" and the answer has been "getting better, but..."
so, with that in mind i am going to post some of the things that we've talked about and let you see what is transpiring (i purposely say "transpiring" and not transpired to continue to emphasize that this is an ongoing process that will last the rest of our lives - see "under construction" and that walking together, we are challenging each other to Jesus for who He is in and through His Word - meeting with Him)
so first - the original answer to the original delemna - How can i be consistent? the answer: change the way you see (meeting with) God, how you approach this time, and the Word itself:
look to see Jesus in the Word; meet with Him just as you would a friend - i like having breakfast with, or to sit quietly in my big cushy chair - reading slowly and delibrately - just spendin time. here are some tips that help me:
One way to approach the Bible: Fear and humility
Deut 11:18; Matt 7:26
Pray: ask, seek and be still
ask for a teachable heart (Psalm 119:1-18, 24)
ask for wisdom, strength and guidance (James 1:5; Psalm 119:28, Isaiah 40:28-31, 41:10; Psalm 23:3, 25:9 – the outcome Isaiah 16:-17)
ask for a desire for the word – (Psalm 119:33-40)
summon the courage to listen, see and obey (2Peter 1)
Read, re-read a section at a time
pick a book – this depends on where you are
read it through – take your time and read it through, look up parallel passages, it will give a broader sense of the completeness of the scriptures
Stop and meditate on words, phrases, concepts and principles – (Psalm 119:48)
What does this mean?
What does it imply?
What does this do to what I know and believe?
- How might this change the way live and love?
Look for the person of Jesus, His... exemplified by: matthew 5, 8, 9; mark 9:14-31, 10:13-31; luke 5, 6; john 4;
...use your imagination - here are some passages that paint splendid word pictures that will guide you: gen 1,2; psalm 1, 19, 23, 36, 113; job 38, 39; col 1; phil 2; heb 12 - among many others, here are some others: the“the Kingdom of Heaven is like...” pasages: Matt 13, 18, 20, 22; Mark 4; Luke 13
listen to the parable
put yourself in the story
His voice, listen to crowd, the wind through the trees
read it out loud with voice inflection
a command to obey
a sin to confess
an attitude to adopt or change
a promise to receive
to find joy
Pray some more
to be a doer and not a hearer only
that you would have faith and walk close to God as He leads
to know Jesus and be more like Him
be and do what you have seen and heard
go do it
go be it
tell someone about what you've read Deut 11:18; psalm 92
there is a time for study, but there is always a time for relationship, the art is not taking it for granted or taking advantage of the privilege of grace (by not meeting)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
under construction - the last bit
why does it have to be construction?
We are creatures of habit and are used to what is. I mean, we sense that what is isn't what it could be or should be, but we are comfortable – with where we are, what we are... we know it (that place), it is the easiest and least expensive place to be... I mean, “...it's paid for, I'm dry, well fed, it might not be the nicest house on the street, or room in the house, but it's ok... sufficient...”
where do we go from here? (2peter 2:4-10)
I want to be under perpetual construction – reminded daily – that I am not a finished product yet (assured that my Father loves me and that I am covered mercifully by His grace, and I am seated in the heaven's Ephesians 1 & 2, but) that I have not arrived, i am not finished.
It is God who works in you... (phil 2:12-17)
When no appreciable result can be easily measured, we must trust in the person, nature and character of God...
I want to remember that this building project is never ending – that the God that I serve, the God who loves me with such intensity – has depth that is unsearchable. That for all eternity, in His presence, I will never, can never exhaust His mysteries, His love, His attributes, His grace – that everyday, even then, His mercies will be new. (lamentations 3:23)
waiting and watching
He will be building me eternally, a wondrous adventure of discovery of all things God – glorious, magnificent, powerful, beautiful, mysterious, creative, joyous... wonder-full.
If that is what (I think) our eternity is like, how can I expect this life to be any different – at least in terms of having “made it”.
but, it's not about being sufficient... is it?
Isn't it about something much more glorious than that...
drab, dark, dirty, dingy, … dang it!
I guess, for my money, sufficient isn't enough. It's just not. I want something greater, more significant, more costly... I want something more, more importantly, God wants something more for Him and for us. (Malachi 1)
Something only construction can bring – newness – everyday newness.
keep your eyes up
So, as we go about our journey together, as we join the Master Craftsman in the work that He has already begun (and has promised to finish), let us remember what it was that we were called from, what it is that we looked like when He/we began and rejoice daily in the mercies we've already experienced and the alterations already made and live up to what has been done ("Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Phil 3:15), striving for what is next and patiently loving those around us who are in various conditions and stages of un-done-ness and remember (Lamentations 23:19-26)
so forgive our mess, we're under construction...
and don't expect it to end any time soon, thank God ~ assembling fragile and broken pieces into to something significantly beautiful ~ mosaic
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Under Construction Part 2b
...learning to live in and with the mess...
"But one thing i do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14
So, what now? Well, we can complain about the mess and the perpetual feeling of incompleteness and be frustrated by the fact that life is always getting in the way. Or, we can change our tune, our attitude, our line of sight. Certainly the blueprint has been written, there is a vision to be grasped, and even something (more) glorious waiting in the end. The master builder is hard at work.
But thank God that He (thee Master Builder) doesn't use professional contractors to do the job, but He uses one Master Craftsman and a bunch of out of work, want-a-be apprentices, who have to pull as many nails as they put in – a Builder who patiently and kindly is willing to adjust the (our) plans even a little, to get us to the end. God loves our plans, our vision and our goals, and is eager to know them, but I think He takes even more pleasure in helping us adjust those plans to bring us to a place that is beyond our vision and scope. A place He has already prepared. We can rejoice that He would use us in the process, that He takes joy in the partnership and that He sees the final outcome even (or especially) as life gets in the way...
so God says...
"Commit to (Me) the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3 and...
"In His heart a man plans his course, bu (I) the LORD determines his steps." Prov. 16:9 and...
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is (My) the LORD's purpose that prevails."
...enjoying the ride...
"All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if at some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already obtained." Phil. 3:15
If we can understand, accept and learn to love the process – that we are not done, and we won't be anytime soon, maybe our frustration would subside – maybe we could be a little more patient. Maybe what we expect from others (usually a standard that we ourselves could never measure up to) will soften enough for us to love them where they are, instead of impatiently waiting for them to be where we think they should be.
To know, to be sure, that there is something amazing waiting at the end...
So, let's do this together. Let's be less concerned about what we're not, and more concerned about living (or loving) out what we've already become. Still, striving to be more, but not taking for granted – or underestimating what are.
The great thing is that we know, eventually the job will be done.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil 3:20-21
So lift your eyes... maybe the best part will be standing back with the Master Builder, looking at the finished project, and then, having seen it, Him, we can sigh that sigh, knowing that we did this together, God in me, God in us, God through us... as life happened.
But, until then, forgive our mess while we are under construction – but don't expect it to be done any time soon. I refuse to lose sight of the joy of the mess, the process of life as it happens.
So to each of us I want to say, it's ok, be patient and enjoy the ride.
“Let us fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured to cross, scorning its shame...” Hebrews 12:2
Both us individually and us the church... taking all we have to offer and transforming it, us, into to something amazing ~ mosaic
Friday, December 26, 2008
Under Construction Part 2A
...so relax, just a smidge and enjoy the process. Be patient with those around you who are less than polished... love the one who thinks they've made it...they'll figure it out someday. As for the rest of us, where do we go from here? Life and...
...living in the mess...
Most of us know that the most difficult time to build is when you live in what you are building. Life happens – we've dreamed our dreams, made our plans, assembled our lists, and checked them twice. We've made a (sort-of) budget and we think, and we're pretty sure, that we've counted the cost (Jesus and the tower, Nehemiah and the wall), and now, having done everything we need to do to start (and finish) our project, we are convinced we are ready (and even a bit eager) to begin to build. We make our first (of many) trip to Lowes, we believe – no we're sure! - that we've got everything we need... this time. We get home, we move some furniture, lay down a couple of drop clothes and we dive in – thud! phone rings... we roll up our sleeves again – umph! A knock at the door... waaahhh!...one of the kids needs help... our spouse wasn't ready for us to start... “did we decide to do it that way...?” they say. The game's on... friends call, “we're on our way over...” Grrrr! In a rush, we pick up the drop clothes, put the pile of tools and supplies in the corner, put the furniture back... and wait for the next opportunity... and, life happens.
Here's a truth that we don't very often consider, not only are we all under perpetual construction, but we live in the very thing that is being built. And frankly, life happens.
...shouldn't I be a finished by now?
I think a big part of our frustration, especially as Christ followers, is that we expect to be done, a finished product, with nice measurable results. We believe the construction should be, will be, done one day, in our lifetime. We dream our dreams, make our lists, we do everything we think we should and have been taught to do to build this life... and, what? Life happens. Remember what my old acquaintance Mike said earlier? “...a faith which is unfinished, incomplete, and inexperienced. Messy Spirituality is a celebration of a discipleship which is under construction.” Yaconelli page 26-27
We just have this expectation that we should be complete. We sit and wait for that moment to come when we can breathe that (perpetual) sigh of relief, sit back and say “whew! I'm glad that's done!” but that day never seems to come. Even when we thought it was here, you know, we've conquered this task, finished that job, survived another moment of trial – relieved, we stop, take a moment to catch our breath, sigh that sigh, lean back and... as my friend Dolly Parton would so whimsically sing “here you come again” (can you hear the tune? I know, it's old – go get a 45... or, I mean, go to youtube!) life happens! Again!
It's a daunting task – life is. Everyday we get up, and it starts right back in, little to no relief from the construction; the noise, the mess – the dusty, messiness of life's big and small construction project. Is it ever going to end?
Well, let's see. No! Nope. Sorry. Not in this life. Paul said it this way:
"...Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” Philippians 3:12-13
see you very soon for under construction part 2b
Friday, December 12, 2008
I am, we are under construction. Part 1
Building – a constant blur of motion and change – progressing toward an end that can just barely be made out on the horizon of our vision. Sometimes right according to plan, other times, maybe most times... well, let me see those drawings!
We are not a finished project...
For those who like to start a project and see it to its end, to be able to sit back and relish the final outcome, this will come as a bit of a shock, but you need to know, that in this life, we will never be finished, never quite complete. There it's been said! Now, on the other hand, for those of us who (already) appear to never be finished, or have a tendency that – while in the midst of one project see the absolute necessity of beginning the next one – this is the rarest of good news. Why? Because...
… and will never be...
...if you are like me, a multi-tasking-project-starter, and you find yourself (from time to time) up to your armpits in started projects at varying degrees of completion (or incompletion) – there is good news: maybe for the first time in our collective lives, there is something about us (and our apparently annoying penchant for adventure and the need for something else to do...) that represents our heavenly Father and His amazing and ONGOING work: that we, as individuals, and the church collectively, are not a finished project – and won't be until we see His face... we're not done yet! That's right! Not a single one of us! Not 'til He comes back! (I know, you finishers, you're thinking “Jesus said while He was on the cross 'it is finished' see, we told you, God is a finisher” and I will certainly concede that point. But!) Paul tried to break it to us gently “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”1Cor 13:12
We are all work zones; dusty, dirty, half finished noisy works in progress – all of us are under construction.
An old acquaintance said it this way: “Messy Spirituality is a description of the Christianity most of us live and that few of us admit. It is an attempt to break through the religious wall of secrecy and legitimize a faith which is unfinished, incomplete, and inexperienced. Messy Spirituality is a celebration of a discipleship which is under construction
Messy Spirituality is the scandalous assertion that following Christ is anything but tidy and neat, balanced and orderly. Far from it. Spirituality is complex, complicated, and perplexing – the disorderly, sloppy, chaotic look of authentic faith in the real world.” (emphasis mine) M.Yoconelli, Messy Spirituality
… in this life
we are all in a state of perpetual construction – enjoy it while it lasts! As God assembles us in this ragtag team of broken pieces, waiting and wondering as to what may come – let's remember that it is God putting us together one piece at a time, slowly and surely into something beautiful – a mosaic – under construction.
look out for part 2... coming soon to a theater near you
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Hi, my name is Tony, well, Anthony, but you can call me Tony... or, Anthony. I am married and have 4 kids. I like sunrises and sunsets; trees and water; mountains and valleys; guitars, guitar playing and guitar music. I like football – especially the hitting part. Movies make me cry... so do my kids... and wife. I really enjoy creating, talking and teaching. I don't like to see people hurt or embarrassed; alone or left out. I don't get mad very easily, but I have a quick temper (you know, the agitated, frustrated, lets get moving kind of temper). Sometimes I think that I am a great guy – really funny – and other times... not so much. Sometimes I think “people must love me, maaan I'm great! …aren't you lucky you know me...” then I wonder if anyone even knows who I am, and think “what a butt-head I am...”
I want to be important and then be left alone.
I wonder sometimes how people live with themselves, then remember how hard it is to live with myself, most of the time...
… you know, that may be one of the most profound lines I've ever heard in a movie, as my good friend Captain Teague so eloquently stated “It's not just about living forever Jackie, it's about living with yourself forever.”
I like Mexican, Mexico and Mexicans... but, especially Mexican. I wish I could learn Spanish, but apparently not enough to really try.
To me, to us (the pingitores), we relish laughter... and we fight sometimes. We really protect each other(s dignity) and sometimes attack it. We really enjoy each other's company and then long to be alone. We like to eat, a lot, and then complain that we are fat and that our grocery bill is high.
I hate gossip... but indulge too often. I love to pray, but do too seldom. God's word is wonderful, and then... a chore.
I love people and hate to be with them, I hate people and love to be with them. I love to invest and complain about the time, I complain about investing and love to take the time...
I love church, but wish I didn't have to go; I love to go to church, but wish... and hope... and dream... about what it could be, should be...
I know Jesus loves me, but sometimes, I can only wonder how... or why... and I know I love Jesus and appreciate Him and all He's done, but sometimes, I forget or neglect.
Why share with you these things? Because I want to break the ice. I want you to see, at least a little, into my life and contradictions... I want to invite you to poke your head out of your shell, a little at a time, and as my daughter would say “meet me in the middle” ...to be free, even a little.
To learn to laugh, some, even at our (own) tragedy – the contradictions that we each are – if we are just willing to admit and be honest...
Jesus said, “I have come to set the captives free...”. “Free from what?” We might ask. Maybe the first thing is our shell, our fear, the start... of something new.
Until we learn to admit that we are broken, we will remain that way.
...broken pieces, brought together by God's gracious and skillful hands, to make something beautiful ~ mosaic