Monday, June 26, 2006

Scripture Releases Life

Among the blogs I have visited during the past few weeks, there has been much discussion and debate about the role of Scripture in the life of a believer, as well as the extent of inspiration and one and on. Some of those posts were helpful, many were a bit "nit-picky." Our attitudes toward others who differ is not always filled with thankfulness. That is sad. However, that is not really the topic I want to write about today.

Scripture is alive! It is not dead letters on paper. When it enters a life, it has full potential to deliver the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ into the one who has entered. It is awesome! In my study and in my relationship with the Lord, I have been shown a truth that I think might be helpful to many. So I will attempt to write it out in an understandable way.

We are dimensional creatures. We have relationships along dimensional lines. I have a closeness with my husband that I do not have with others. My relationship with my grown daughter is different in dimension than my relationship with my friends. So on and on it goes. This is easy to understand. Our Lord is dimensional as well, and our relationship with Him is dimensional. Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and all who would read that letter) "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Ephesians 1:17 HCSB This was to people who were already believers. Paul knew that the Lord wanted to unfold Himself further to them, and so he prayed that would occur. This was not something all had -- not an automatic result of salvation, but rather a dimension of revelation they could have if they so sought.

My present understanding has five (5) dimensions of relationship in the Lord Jesus possible in and through the Word. (There are proably many, many more, but this is all I understand right now). Notice I said "in and through the Word." This is all in relationship with the Word. If Scripture does not become experientially, then it becomes legalism and that will not work love in our hearts toward Him. If I have chosen Jesus Christ, then I have chosen the Word! It is not one or the other.

These dimensions are not like a ladder with steps, so when you climb, you are more mature than those who do not, instead it is a circle of activity in His heart with the Word. We always are faced with #1 even while we fly in #5.

First dimension: Believe the Word. This seems obvious, but it is never ending. We are always being faced with more to believe, more to receive in faith, more to grasp. It is never ending, and thus something to receive with relish. I wish I always just believed what I read in Scripture, but I confess, there are many things I need to constantly bow in faith to receive and believe. All of us work here.

Second dimension: Apply the Word to my life. Again, this seems a bit obvious. This is hard work. It is also never ending. We work very hard to learn how to do this. Most of our Bible studies are developed along these lines. However, this is just #2. It is only the way to something far more rewarding. If this is all we ever do with the word, then obedience becomes a constant chore and a constant failure. Unfortunately a vast number of believers never go further. However, there is more --- praise our Lord.

Third dimension: Apply my life to the Word. This may seem a bit confusing to some, and it seems as if I am just saying the same thing a different way. Not so! There is a huge difference between #2 and #3. In this dimension, we stop working and lay it all down in faith on the Word. Our Lord has never been unfaithful. Indeed, I am not important enough for Him to stop being Himself. Therefore, He will be faithful to me -- according to His Word. I lay me down on His Word, and begin to rest. I call this "slipping into Sabbath." He is the reality of the OT Sabbath, and I can slip into that dimension of His love as I rest my life on and in and through His Word. Obedience here becomes a joy in the heart of the Lord. Oh it doesn't I mean I won't struggle again, but I know there is a way to enter another dimension where I can rest it all. Then my troubles become opportunities to enter -- calls to enter and rest and watch what He will do. He is so much more---.

Fourth dimension: Life interchange and interaction-place of revelation in the Word. As the love between husband and wife produce life, so the life exchange in the "rest" produces a life within the relationship. In a marriage, there is not only the life of each of the partners, but there is the life of the relationship -- a life (the fusion of two lives) produced by the togetherness. There is a great power in this sharing and an unfolding of each partner in ways never known before. Now the Lord can begin to unfold Himself in ways of life not experienced before. The Word becomes alive with meaning, and leaps off the page in meaning never before seen in the mind or heart. This does not eliminate study, but study changes and moves into areas never known before in and through the Word. It is exciting, and life giving. Old things become new, and obedience becomes empowered on a new dimension. (I hesitate to use the term "level," for that might insinuate some are above and some below, but this has nothing to do with anyone except the two in the relationship. It does not enter the arena of human competition or superiority which is really arrogrance in disguise).

Fifth dimension: Live in the power of the unfolding (revelation) in the Word. I am beginning to lose vocabulary to share what happens here. We have Scriptures that talk about our Lord causing us to "ride on the high places," and "rising up on eagle wings," and so forth. This is here. We begin to see our Lord from a here-to-fore unknown perspective and begin to see as He does and what He does, and begin to understand Him, our life, and eternal matters differently. He said it would happen: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:3 -- when we see Him we become like Him -- we understand so much differently. Therefore, life is different for us.

Now, the circle continues, for we are always challenged to believe and enter. Remember the Scriptures that seem impossible to obey -- you know the ones about rejoicing in trouble and tribulations -- now we can begin to see there is a place (dimension of relationship) in Him through the Word that empowers just such a way of being.

He is so much more than we have ever dreamed!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scripture -- Ultimate Importance

The Christian Scriptures are the primary text for Christian spirituality.
Christian spirituality is, in its entirety, rooted in and shaped by the
scriptural text. We don't form our personal spiritual lives out of a random
assemblage of favorite texts in combination with individual circumstances;
we are formed by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the text of Holy
Scripture. God does not put us in charge of forming our personal
spirituality. We grow in accordance with the revealed Word implanted in us
by the Spirit. Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book,
p. 15

I am presently reading this book and finding it wonderful. I have read several of Dr. Peterson's books in the past, and am finding this one superb. It hits a real chord in my spirit. Our present lack in the church of effective reading of Scripture, the placing the Scriptures on the "answers for my need" shelf, and such attitudes alarm me.

It is a matter of urgency that interest in our souls be matched by an interest
in our Scriptures -- and for the same reason: they, Scripture and souls, are the
primary fields of operation of the Holy Spirit. p.17

How deeply we need to realize that our lives must be immersed into the Word, and not just use the Word as a little whipped cream on the top of our lives. The Word must define our lives, not our lives define the Word.

"Do you know the Lord?" That is a question that will be answered with a "yes" in many of our churches. Yet, if we begin to work with the Word, many have trouble knowing where to even find the book we are reading from. The current trend to get people and keep people by answering their needs has a limited ability to grow them in Him. We must use any honorable means to bring people to Him, and we must, by all means, use the Word to find answers in His love. However, at some point we must also be drawn to Him in Word -- not just in feeling and in concept. I believe the Lord weeps over His people, when they think they know Him, but never read or study the Word by themselves. We say we love Him, yet have never bothered to discover the dimensions of His love for us through His revealed Word. It is like receiving a love letter from my husband, but never bothering to read it. It just made me feel good to receive it. We would all say "How sad."

Beloved people of the Lord, let us truly love Him in deed -- being purposefully discipled by His Word.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ode to Joe

It is Father's Day in the USA and I am very aware of my Godly heritage through my Mom and Dad. Both have been with the Lord now for many years, and both loved Him and served Him throughout their lives. Dad preached the Word, and Mom read it through every year as she lived it out.

However, this morning, I am supremely thankful for Joe. Joe is my husband of almost 45 years. We have four grown children. His patience, love, provision, support, and on and on, have been one of the greatest pleasures of my heart as I watched him work with our children. He loved completely, counseled, supported, corrected with gentleness, and provided for in a consistent Godly way through-out their years at home. Even beyond that, he remains their most supportive fan.

When we were just friends in college, I saw His gentleness, and thought he would make a wonderful Dad. Indeed, I was right.

I never worried when the children were with him. I remember his gentle patience with both adopted sons, not to just discipline them, but he would spend hours at a time counseling them to help them change the way they were thinking. Later, when as teens they rejected his counsel, he was still there for them. Both natural born children received the same, and have followed in his footsteps in music unto our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Joe, know that your wife is so very thankful you were the father of her children.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

That There Be No Quarrels...

"Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe's household, that there are quarrels among you. What I am saying is this: each of you says, 'I 'm with Paul,' or 'I'm with Apollos,' or 'I'm with Cephas,' or 'I'm with Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul's name? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say you had been baptized in my name. ...For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect." (1 Corinthians 1:10-15, 17 HCSB)

These words written thousand of years ago, certainly could be said our our Lord's Body today. It seems to me we are much more interested in being known for our doctrine than for the love of the Lord who has bled for us. We will argue over every little item, yet, seem powerless to put these matters aside and include one another in His love.

The bottom line of Scripture: "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God--God remains in him and he in God." (1 John 4:15 HCSB)

That is really broad and hard on us. Yet, the way we deal with those who differ in doctrine is a huge indicator of how much we really believe He is Lord over His Body. I sometimes hear and feel the attitude, "Well they may be saved, but they are in error." How sad that we would say such a thing. That is such a "I'm superior" way of thinking, and will have its consequences in my walk with my beloved Lord who has received them in grace, just has he has received me in that same grace.

I am learning here, but it seems that we really do need to get the heart of the gospel in our hearts -- not just the "right" part of doctrine our lives would prefer to feel.

May we all come to a deeper understanding of His marvelous grace and allow our hearts to include.