Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

Nineteen days,  who knew that nineteen days would ever come to be so meaningful to me. I am not going to digress to the back story that builds the significance of these days.  You can get a sense of the whole journey here.  It represents the realization of on incredible Miracle in our lives and the beginnings of another.  Day 1 will forever be a joyous day.  We will celebrate the birth of Nisa Faith year after year.  Day 1 is the culmination of nine months of a melange of concern, faith, fear, trust and surrender.  It was a day of arrival, of life, of completion.  It was a day of overt blessing.  December 16th of 2012 was a joyous day.  What Allana and I did not know, what we could not have known was that it was a day of provision, a day of strength given.  I would be lying if I said that I sat at this computer with a solid thesis or a planned allegory.  The reality is that this is my first opportunity to truly experience and embrace the nineteen days.  When they occurred they were simply another nineteen days in the Christmas season and in 2013 we were still too deeply embroiled the Allana’s battle against Leukemia and the recovery from the Bone Marrow Transplant for me to experience them the way that I am this year.

Day 1 was not without its difficulties, ask any mother and she will tell you that this particular joy comes with its own brand of pain.  Two dear friends who are expecting recently engaged in a tongue-in-cheek argument on Facebook concerning any man’s ability to truly conceive of the trials and eventual pains of pregnancy and birth.  I do not even pretend (or desire) to really understand, preferring to stand by Allana’s side than in her place for this particular event.  Chayla’s birth was a stroll in the park, Nisa’s was more like a kick in the gut and then a short sprint to the finish line (a race in which Nisa beat our doctor and surprised our nurse).  Still, there she was, perfect, beautiful, a miracle from the hand of God.  We basked in the joy of the now.  We knew it was day one, but not that there were only 18 days left to this paragraph of our lives.

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Learning To Fly

God has challenged me to go on a 90 Day Faith Walk.  It is to become healthier in every area of my life – Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually and Relationally. And I feel that I am suppose to share this journey of mine publicly.  It is extremely scary for me, to be so open and honest about the things I will go through, however, if it can help someone out, then Praise the Lord. As my pastor says – “My job is to be obedient. God’s job is the results.” === so here I go. **please keep in mind I am writing these to go in my group True Beauty**

If you haven’t read Day 1 – please go back to read it….

Day 2 – January 5th – Take off what hinders – Feeling Unloved

Soaking Worship for this week:
Open Up Our Eyes – Gateway Worship
Lead Me to…

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Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:7-12

 

Someone that I have come to know a little and respect a lot recently said this to me. “You don’t know how to be well loved.”  As I absorbed this statement its truth resounded, echoing in my heart and mind.  Some time has passed since this discussion and the Holy Spirit has brought this statement to me again and again.  That gently nagging voice in my heart that tells me it is time to “grow up  in every way into Him” (Ephesians 4:15) a little more.

Our Christian world is full of songs, sermons and teaching that God loves us and that we should love others.  However many of us miss the corollary that should be implicit and perhaps explicit in the consideration of God’s love.  Not only must we learn and be transformed into creatures that love well.  We must also learn and be transformed into creatures that are well-loved.  One might think that this is easy and requires no effort but the reality is that this may be even more difficult than loving others.  It requires a tremendous amount of vulnerability.  In fact it requires complete vulnerability to God.  Absolute surrender is integral to the competency of being well-loved.  It is amazing how tightly we will hold on to compartments of our life, locking them away from God’s loving and merciful view.  Given this propensity to wall God out it ceases to be amazing that we keep His people, those called to love us as He does, at arm’s length.  We deal in platitudes.  We segregate our lives.  Love me in the sanctuary, pray for me there, lay hands on me, pat my back and say “love ya brother”, but don’t reach into my life; into my real need.

Satan whispers in our ear that being well-loved is just being needy, being weak.  He whispers that we don’t deserve it anyways, that we must strive harder, do more, be better before we can open ourselves up to being well-loved.  Some of us just have absolutely no idea what  being well-loved means.  As I considered this topic I felt drawn to two biblical characters, Peter and John.  Peter loved well, he loved with passion, with energy, with action.  Peter believed in his love for Jesus more than he believed in Jesus’ (hence God’s) love for him.  Don’t get me wrong, Peter’s passionate love for Jesus is a great example to us all and even though it landed Peter in hot water more than once it also energized him to Spiritual insight and action when others were frozen in fear or indecision.

It always puzzled me that John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.  It seems a little egotistical as a major theme in the Gospel.  What is the message?  Did Jesus play favorites?  Does God love some of us more than others?  I think that this lesson of learning to be well-loved is a framework that we can set over this idiosyncrasy of John’s Gospel and draw a real Spiritual lesson.  John understood what it meant to be well-loved first by God and by his brother’s and sisters in Christ.  “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us”.  “Beloved since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another”.  I find it no coincidence that the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, the disciple who understood and practiced being well-loved was at the foot of the Cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus, while the other disciples were cowering in fear.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”  1 John 4:18

Teleios, the Greek word translated “perfect” here actually has the connotation of complete, mature or full-grown.  The person who understands Teleios love understands how to be well-loved, first by God and then by brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is out of this understanding that loving well grows into it fullness and the circle of Teleios love is complete.  I am here to tell you that the Spiritual discipline (and I believe it is exactly that) of being well-loved is not easy.  The chasms of pride and entitlement drop off on each side of this narrow path.  It is only through the transforming, maturing power of the Holy Spirit (often working through the words and deeds of God’s people) that we can walk the trail of being well-loved.

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What an amazing day this was!

Learning To Fly

Welcome to our life party 🙂

Thank you to everyone who came out and celebrated with us – make sure to watch the videos, who knows.. you may see yourself

To others who want the full experience, hopefully this will help you get a feel for what our celebration was all about. I want to encourage you to watch every video in the order they are posted… they build on each other to show our life and our journey through the great, through the trails… Thank you for taking the time to share in our day even from your personal computer ❤

Those who don’t have the time to walk through this day with us, you can just view the pictures as you scroll down.

Life Party Getting Ready Set up, worship practice and getting ready for The Life Party to begin

Everyone Watching The Amazed Video (which is below) – Sam and I…

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Ananias-of-Damascus

And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Acts 9:9

This verse comes from a story that many of us may know well.  It is the conversion story of Saul, who would become Paul the Apostle.  Paul was a man who acutely understood the dangers of blind spots, Saul was not.  Saul along with many of the Jewish leaders of his day lived in a big blind spot.  They desperately believed in God and in the coming Messiah but they saw their heritage and tradition as an overwhelming strength and in that feeling of strength they were blind to the truth of the Gospel.  Saul in his strength attended and approved of the stoning of Stephen.  He even watched over the cloaks of them men involved (Acts 7:58-8:1).  Saul in his strength “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” sought the destruction of the early Church.  He is an ominous example of how when we attempt to serve God in the strength of tradition, skill, knowledge or any other personal trait that the greater our “service”, the greater our potential blind spots.

So then this is the question, “How do we avoid operating in Spiritual Blind Spots?”.  Prior to committing our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ we lived in darkness.  It is a way of life for those who are not in a personal relationship with Him.  Jesus came to take us from the darkness that is life without God and bring us in to the light.

John 12:46 
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

Old habits die hard and Peter speaking to believers sheds light on Spiritual Blind Spots

2 Peter 1:4-9

4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

We can compare this passage to Paul’s exposition on the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5.  These passages and many like them provide a Spiritual litmus test for smoking out blind spots in our walk with God.  However I want to go back to Paul’s story to see how God dealt with this problem in his life.

1.  God knocked Saul off of his high horse.

Acts 9:3

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground

2.  God brought Saul to a place of weakness

       a.  Paul was blinded.  The Spiritual state that he was operating in was manifested physically.

       b.  The man who was accustomed to leading needed to be led into the city

       c.  Paul was unable to eat or drink for three days.

3.  God spoke truth into Saul’s life

       a.  Initially God spoke directly to Saul revealing the blind spot that he was operating under.

       b.  God revealed Saul’s personal inadequacy in a vision of the man who would come to help him.

       c.  God brought a Christian brother to speak healing into Saul’s life, both of the physical and Spiritual blindness.

Fortunately God has provided us with Scripture and in it Paul’s example (as well as the examples of many other men and women of God throughout biblical history).  With the help of the Holy Spirit we can smoke out our blind spots without being knocked off a horse and blinded.

1.  Examine ourselves for areas of personal (denominational, doctrinal or any other genre of) pride that can make us susceptible to blind spots.  Then we need to follow the Micah’s advice in Chapter 6:  8 He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God ?

2.  Do not be afraid to operate from areas of weakness or of being in positions of weakness.

3.  Always be ready for, looking for and expecting the Truth of God to be revealed in your life.  The primary source is of course Scripture.  The more time that you spend in Scripture with your heart and mind open to God’s message the less likely you are to function in a blind spot.  Secondly always walk with solid brother’s and sisters in Christ who will be honest and open with you.  God may or may not reveal them in a vision to you but be ready to listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks through them.  Filter it all through the truth of Scripture.

Blind Spots are endemic to our human nature but God through the work of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit as recoreded in Scripture has provided us all with the tools to walk in the Light as the Children of God.

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I have been looking over my posts over the past couple of years and a couple of them stand out so I thought that I would throw them out there again. This post has become so much more meaningful over the past year as Allana and I have walked through the storm of Leukemia and a bone marrow transplant.  It also connects nicely with my series on perseverance because at its core persevering as a Christian IS walking in the miraculous.  When we truly “remain under” Christ Jesus as the covering for our lives the miraculous is bound to show its face.  “Open the eyes of my heart Lord” the popular song refrains.  Open my eyes to see Your miraculous hand in and around my life everyday!

 

Walking in the Miraculous

“So then does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:5

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of this new life that God has called me to at The Lewis House is one that I should have had in my Christian life regardless of my profession.  It is one that I am still learning to embrace because (unlike my beautiful wife) I am a bit too logical in my make up and a big part of me want to live on the basis of logical observation instead of spiritual expectation.  God is teaching me to walk in the miraculous.

When we truly hear the Gospel with faith there should be an expectation of the miraculous.  It is part of the package.  This is not a mystical toy store or the ability to bend God’s power to our will for our happiness.  It is simply expecting God to act in my life and then walking out my faith and getting to watch Him moving and working in an around me.  The cool thing is that the miraculous looks a little different every time.  I think that one of the mistake that we often make is when something miraculous happens in our lives we run around expecting that very same thing to happen over and over or even just one more time.  This may be in part to our desire to control the miraculous.  Humanity has always had an inherent fear of the things that we cannot control.  Better to have a god who responds to our requests exactly the same way all of the time, speaking into our lives in the ways that we want Him too (as opposed to in ways that sanctify us, ever conforming us closer and closer to the mind of Christ).

The author of Hebrews reveals the purpose of the miraculous.  “…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?  After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”  Hebrews 2:3-4  It confirms to us our salvation.  This approximates Paul’s statement in Galatians that we already looked.

The other amazing thing is that God will not be put in a box.  Sometimes we mistake the fact that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow for the fact that we will be able to manipulate and predict his actions in our lives.  This error is revealed in Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways, My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9  Does this mean that we just drift along being pushed here and there by a capricious God?  Not at all!  We cry out our needs, concerns, suffering and desires to God and the open our spiritual eyes wide and watch Him work.  It will be amazing, and often in ways that we least expect.

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Faith Gun

We recently played a family game called “Snake Oil”.  The premise is pretty simple.  You have a hand of 6 cards and you need to combine 2 of them to create a product which you the “sell” to the player who is “it” and has a particular profile based on the buyer’s card.  My now second youngest daughter (yes I typed youngest first) needed to sell a product to a soldier and this is what she came up with, The Faith Gun.  She pitched it as a weapon which always hit the target you were aiming at as long as you believed.  Well as comments from my children often do, it got me to thinking about this product and its application to our lives as Christians.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”  (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Paul consistently describes the Christian life in military terms.  We are in a battle and the enemy is powerful.  “Be if sober spirit, be on the alert.   Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8 ) However God does not leave us un-equipped and unprepared for this battle.  The key is that we need to avail ourselves of the training and weapons at our disposal.  So let me introduce you to the Faith Gun.

1.  The Faith Gun becomes instantly available to every born again Christian when they place their belief, trust and obedience in Jesus.

Our spiritual arsenal becomes instantly available when we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a result of our decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who isgiven as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.   (Ephesians 1:13-14)

2.  Proper use of the Faith Gun requires submission and training.

There is only one training manual for the Faith Gun, The Bible.  However there are many resources that God places in our lives as we develop maturity and skill as Soldiers of Christ.

” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (1 Timothy 1:14)

It is up to us to take advantage of all of the training resources that God provides, measuring each one by the Manual.  This of course requires that we know the Manual, read, study it, make it a part of our lives. As we do this in submission to the Holy Spirit and living in the presence of God the Faith Gun becomes an extension of our lives.  Snipers will tell you that becoming “One with the Gun” is a vital part of hitting difficult targets.  It is even more true in our Relationship with God.

Faith Gun2

3.  To be effective the Faith Gun not only hits the target, it chooses the target.

Unlike weapons of human manufacture, the Faith Gun not only allows the Soldier of Christ to hit the target, it chooses the target to hit.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for us to swallow.  It violates our need for control.  It violates our need for direction.  Yes the world teaches that we need to be “one with the gun” so that we can accurately control and direct it.  God teaches that we need to be “one with the gun” so that it can control and direct us.  It is when we do this that God reveals the wisdom of the world to be foolishness. “For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Corinthians 1:19)  As we become more mature in our handling of the Faith Gun this is of even greater importance.  One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to provide a target rich environment.  One might think that the more targets their are the easier they are to hit but for the undisciplined this far from true.  I am reminded of a hunting expedition that I was on in the hills of Pennsylvania.  I came upon a single doe standing broadside to me at about 30 yards.  I carefully aimed and brought her down with one shot.  At that moment I realized that I had walked into a whole group lying in the brush as they stood and froze for a moment.  After easily taking the first doe I tried to take another unloading the rifle in a target rich environment of 12-15 deer, and didn’t hit anything.  In our target rich environment allowing the Holy Spirit complete control is crucial in order to accurately strike the targets that God has directed us to.

4.  The Faith Gun selects its own ammunition, perfect in every way to impact the target.

The Faith Gun only come in one caliber, LOVE.  It is within in that caliber that God provides many types of ammunition.  Choosing the correct type of ammunition for the intended target is far beyond our ability.  How sad it is when we actually allow the Faith Gun to choose the target but then go off half cocked loading our own choice of ammunition.  We have many “reasons” for doing this, “I am good at this”, “I know what is needed”, “All the books say…”.  Volumes have been written, preached, rewritten and re-preached on this subject so I am not going to try to tackle all the different types of ammunition available.  I will give some general guidelines.

*Under no circumstances will God call you to use ammunition that is incompatible with the caliber of our Faith Gun.  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)  I could appropriately quote this chapter in its entirety as a guide to the ammunition appropriate for our Faith Gun, but you know what go ahead and read it for yourself.  The results of using incompatible ammo can be devastating.  When we try to slip ammunition containing hate, greed, jealousy, disdain, selfishness or fear into our Faith Gun the resulting explosion can scar us and those around us in horrible ways.

*It would be wonderful if God would always give us clear miraculous guidance in the appropriate ammunition for every situation.  I know that pastors in particular wish that this was true.  It is in these cases that unity with Scripture becomes all important.  In order to achieve this you have to KNOW the Word of God.  This involves reading it. (Hmmm…is sarcasm an appropriate ammunition…Paul used it so….).  In these cases I would suggest that utilizing the ammunition that best expresses the intent of the caliber is the best choice.  The Bible is a remarkable document.  When you measure situations against the whole of Scripture the Holy Spirit will often make clear what the best ammunition is to achieve God’s intent.

5.  Ultimately the Faith Gun operates to and for the Glory of God.

This point dove tails with the idea that the Faith Gun chooses its target.  We often desire and I have even heard it preached that the Faith Gun is here for our protection and comfort.  Scripture is clear that as Soldiers of Christ we operate for the will and Glory of the Father.  We operate in suffering, in poverty, in wealth, in comfort, in every possible human condition for the Glory of God

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