Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Son of a Preacher Man

"The only boy who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man." These words were first sung by Dusty Springfield and recorded in 1968 on her album "Dusty in Memphis." The song invokes a romantic relationship,but the words are representative of many people's understanding of religious hierarchy. That is to say that many people look exclusively to preachers, priests, and clergy for their spiritual growth. But is this really what God intends?

The history of spiritual leadership throughout the bible evidences the great blessings that can come through spiritual leadership. However spiritual leadership can and should come in different forms and capacities. This is perhaps exampled by the advice given to Moses by his father-in-law Jethro. After witnessing how Moses micromanaged all of Israel's problems Jethro counseled Moses to create a hierarchy among the people to distribute the leadership. The hierarchy reflected their circle of influence.

Moses along with the newly appointed leaders did not limit their work to "secular" administration. They invoked the Spirit of God as they worked with the people. Each one us is a spiritual leader in our circle. Title and position are not prescribed by our place in the church hierarchy. As sons and daughters of God each one us can testify to God's goodness and witness to our fellow man. Ministry can flow through our fingers as we reach out and touch others.

God is not a respecter of preacher men. He desires that each one of us works to build up the body of Christ, for we were all saved by the life-giving blood of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Repairer of the Breach

Just today I was explaining to some students the apparent contradictions that exist on the earth. At times we see the beauty of the earth and the blessings of healthy relationships. However we also see natural disasters that wreak havoc and relationships that do more damage than the most deadly storms. There is certainly a mixed revelation.

How are we to understand these events? Unaided observation leads us to confusing answers. However with the aid of divine revelation we can see what is happening and that restoration is possible. Peering into scripture and the annals of history we can see God's intervention: Jesus Christ.

Yes there continues to be a struggle with all of the fall out conflict brings. But Jesus began the process of piecing back together the parts that can still be saved. Like a giant needle and thread He pierces both God and man to sew us back into conformity with His will.

He is the Repairer of the Breach. This is such an illustrative title. Like a diligent worker repairing a broken dike with His mighty hands He works tirelessly to stem the tide of human loss. Not willing that any should perish He stands waste deep in the river of humanity grasping at the stones of truth and placing them lovingly in the gaping whole made by sin.

If He can restore the world I know He can sew up my small broken heart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nuts and Bolts

Have you ever tried to figure out how something works? Perhaps as a child you pulled apart a watch to see what made it tick. Maybe you dismantled a radio to see how sound could travel out of such a small space. Discovering the mechanism behind an invention provides fascination for many people.

Many people throughout the years have also tried to find out how living things work. Unfortunately living things cannot be put back together after they've been taken apart. There's really no way around this. In fact if we truly take apart something that is living the organism will have to sacrifice its life in order to satisfy our curiosity.

Strangely enough God has taken apart something that is very real and living in order for us to be able to understand how it works. He has dismantled His everlasting covenant so that we might understand the parts of a loving relationship. Carefully exposing each part He has pulled back the covering to label each piece for our benefit.

God's disclosure has the same drawbacks of any other project that requires disassembling the components. There is always the danger that not all the pieces will be put back together. There is also the danger that if each piece is put back it won't be put back in the right place or in the right way.

What makes dismantling of God's covenant all the more risky is that it is not just a mechanical device designed to teach us about God. It is a living thing that imparts life to anyone who chooses to live by its principles. Every other living thing that is taken apart dies as a result. Yet God still chooses to reveal the gears of His covenant.

In order to teach us about love God tried to make it simple. In doing so He exposed the way that a covenant relationship works. Unfortunately many people do not understand how the pieces fit together and they often don't even try to put them back in the first place.

A living covenant needs all of its parts to breathe life into us. We need to understand the nuts and the bolts, not so that we can simply be experts at labeling the parts, but so that we can be complete, lacking in nothing.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Complacency

I want to be ambitious. Ambition is a gift from God. It drives people to varying degrees of success. It enabled weary, tired and barefoot soldiers to overcome dismal odds to establish a nation with unparalleled freedoms and opportunity. Ambition has been the engine of prosperity in this country for hundreds of years.

Ambition is a very important component of success, but many people limit it's use in their life. They use it to further their careers. Some people use it to corral more possessions: i.e., houses, cars, and even relationships. Often people utilize ambition to simply further their influence or agenda.

None of the aforementioned uses of ambition are inherently wrong. We should be ambitious and earnest in our careers. How else will we succeed unless we try to be our best? In addition enlarging our world can be beneficial if we are good stewards of our resources. Furthermore advancing a worthy idea or cause is always precipitated and carried out with ambition.

However ambition should also be used in the spiritual realm. This does not mean so much that we are to place our spiritual understanding and practices above others. It simply means that we need to be ambitious to know Christ. We should desire to learn more about the way that He thinks and acts. We should be ambitious to have a more complete walk with the Lord everyday.

Unfortunately too many people are complacent about their spiritual lives. Often they don't even realize this, but when it comes down to it they are satisfied with their understanding of Christ. They believe their perspective on biblical truth is satisfactory and suits their situation. They view the success of their spiritual lives as directly proportional to their spiritual superiority to those that surround them.

God does not want us to ever stop desiring a closer walk with Him. If there is any one place in our lives where we should not be complacent, it is our relationship with the Lord. We should be always be ambitious to know God more. We should never believe that any level of spiritual achievement is the pinnacle.

Part of the problem with our lack of ambition concerning spiritual matters comes from the fact that we view spirituality as an intellectual exercise. This is fallacious. We are walking with a risen savior who requires that we grow closer each and every day. Jesus wants us to know him and strive to understand ever more of an infinite God. This is life eternal that they know thee the only true God.

Nature, the word of God and the spirit of prophecy all manifest God's character. Each one of these is a book that cannot be exhausted. Yet how often do we put one of these books back on the shelf and boast that we possess them in our library while the dust on their pages testifies to their lack of use.

The day that we stop drinking from the fountain of life is the day that we stop knowing God.