Patient Urgency

slow work of god seed.jpg

 

Like Tertullian and Cyprian, Lactantius grounds his understanding of patience in the character and work of God. He does this especially when dealing with the coming of Christ. “People,” he notes, “prefer example before talk, because talk is easy and example is hard.” This is why God chose to send not disembodied words from heaven but an incarnate Son in a mortal body.

– Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: the improbable rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire

Advertisements

Spirituality for the Sent

 

Central to both discipleship and mission is prayer. Not the idea of prayer, but the act of self-renunciation in the arms of the One who owns us and desires that we find Him and our true selves in His presence. Craig Bartholomew in his chapter “Spirituality, Mission, and the Drama of Scripture” he writes:

Prayer plays a central role in Acts as the mission of the early church unfolds. Leaders are appointed after prayer, persecution and hardship are endured through prayer, prayer accompanies innovation in mission, and salvation is achieved through prayer. [Joel] Green rightly notes of the early Christians, “As people of prayer they serve an agenda that is not their own, but God’s, act as instruments of God who exercise God-given authority, and minister with the confidence of those who have learned from their leader the boundless graciousness and faithfulness of God.” In Acts, prayer is thus a means by which God’s purposes are revealed and grasped, and the means by which his people align themselves with the mission Dei.

Lord help us.

Ordinary Obedience

Attention

 “Too often we behave like children. We want to know what extraordinary deed we can perform for God sometime in the future — the ephemeral ‘will of God’ that we seek to discover. But it is not the big things we want to do with such bravura but the little things we do every day that constitute his true will. God wants us to practice daily obedience. Such obedience requires attentiveness to God in our present circumstances.”

Jerry Sittser, the Will of God as a Way of Life

Wholiness

Holiness has fallen on hard times. It’s used more often as derogatory slang than to denote something enthrallingly beautiful. It’s ugly and it’s dirty; but that may both closer and furthest from the truth than you may think.

 

In one sense holiness should get dirty; it may be a prerequisite.

 

We’ve come to define holiness by comparison: ‘holier-than-thou’ instead of it’s missional purpose ‘holier-for-thou’. Holiness is not that I am better than you, but I am on the road to health for you and the world. Holiness is adjusting your life and beliefs to better travel along the grain of the universe. Holiness, essentially, is about wholeness. It’s about becoming more human and humane. It’s not about becoming more spiritual and detached but more Spiritual and grounded.

 

But how do we get there?

 

Paul tells us in Colossians 3.5 that we are to ‘put to death that which is earthly in us’. What does this actually look like? How do we progress in the life of faith? How do we pursue holiness and wholeness?

 

Traditionally I’ve been taught that in order to ‘put my sin to death’, we had to begin by replacing bad thinking with right thinking and everything else would fall into place. If this is where we begin I would agree but I begin to disagree when this is where we end. Other streams of Christianity have taught that we need to grit our teeth, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and ‘Just.Say.No’. But both by themselves are misguided. We are whole beings, which means that we are all but linear. Our behaviours do not automatically change as soon as we update our belief structures. There exists in us a two-way street where we see that our beliefs affect our behaviour but that our behaviours also affect our beliefs.

 

We need both an overt and covert plan if we are to be successful in putting our sin to death; both a short-term and a long-term plan to kill the fruit (behaviours) as well as poison the root (idolatry).

 

Paul tells us in Colossians 3.5-6 that we are to ‘put to death therefore what is earthly in [us]: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry’. Did you notice the progression?

 

Sexual immorality is the fruit of which idolatry is the root. We need to deal with both.

 

Dealing with the fruit

 

We pursue wholeness as we reject the behaviours that cut us off from the life that God intended us to live and is creating in us as he renews the universe. At one point or another we must say ‘No!’ to the particular ways our idolatries come to the fore. There is a place for the Spirit-empowered use of the will to direct the members of our being to reject sinful behaviours. Many fear this is a slippery slope into legalism; which says that my killing of sin will earn me the approval of God. Our Spirit-empowered use of the will does not earn us favour with God but is fuelled by the favour granted us in the gospel. As Dallas Willard reminds us, ‘Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is an action; earning is an attitude’.

 

By The Spirit: Say No.

 

Dealing with the root
There is a very helpful tool that we use at Anchor Church, Sydney called Fruit to Root (originating with SOMA). Fruit to Root helps us discover the underlying false beliefs that are fueling our sinful behaviours.

 

For instance, I found that I was easily offended and resentful toward my wife when she didn’t go over the top by applauding my domestic efforts. I would often do the dishes very loudly and announce my victory over the mess that was, expecting my Katherine to pay for a billboard on the highway in order to show the world just how incredibly valuable I was to her. When this did not happen, I would become angry and frustrated. We began to reap some of the havoc that my sinful attitudes were sowing and I needed to change. I needed to pursue wholeness.

 

Fruit to Root seeks to dig beneath the surface of our sinful attitudes and actions and point to the fuel tanker so we can explode it with gospel-truths. For my journey it looked like this:

 

Fruit: Bitterness, anger, and frustration at not being applauded, approved of and validated.

 

Identity: What did this indicate about who I thought I was? Clearly this indicated that I believed I was not good enough and needed to earn my way and prove to others (my Katherine in particular) that I could earn their approval.

 

Cross: What did this indicate about what I really believed about God’s work in Christ on the cross? Clearly this indicated that I did not believe, at a functional level, that the cross was enough to justify me and I continued to look to other things to find my identity and hope apart from the God’s redemptive work on the cross.

 

God: What did this say about God’s identity? Clearly this indicated that my view of God was anemic. He was not Glorious, he was not Good, he was not Great and he was not Gracious.

 

I found the lie(s) underneath the lie. I found the idolatry underneath the fruit. And I began to replace the lie that my identity was found in what I do, what I have, and what other’s say about me with the reality that my identity and worth is found in none other than the voice that boomed out of the heavens to let Jesus know that ‘You are beloved son in whom I am well pleased’. (Matthew 4.17) That approval is now my approval.

 

Mine. Grace. Wholeness. Holiness. 

 Anchor Colossians 3-1-11.jpg

Catch Me if You Can

‘Catch me if you can!’ says God.

Or does he? Sometimes he feels like the ever-elusive God doesn’t he?… is it him or is it me?

Notice one thing: he, he, he, him… those are all relational terms. God, and therefore his communication – the Scripture, is intensely personal and complex. Fully transcendent and immanent. He stands altogether separate and yet with us. He is a relational being.

Still … ‘Catch me if you can!’, this intensely personal being shouts.

Or does he? 

The Lord’s brother James says this:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8a)

Still … Does he want to be caught?

I went to the beach today. Katherine was feeding Jonathan, our 6 week old on the boardwalk while Anthony, our 4 year old, and I buried and excavated his new dinosaurs. After playing ‘Paleontologists’, the real fun began. Imagine this:

Continue reading “Catch Me if You Can”

On the Gym & Discipleship

I finally did it.

I joined ‘The Gym’.

I never thought I would. Most people get in their cars, go through all the trouble to find parking, then hop on a human mouse wheel and look outside the window as people walk outside for free. And we pay money for this.

Nevertheless, I joined the gym… and I don’t regret it for a moment! … although …

Well, the first week was good. I was excited. It was all I could talk about with my wife and friends. I just wanted to tell the world about my new experience! That was last week.

This week I was on the bike and I get a text from Katherine and I reply with … “The gym is like Christianity … it’s exciting in the beginning but it gets old.”

Now I wasn’t saying this because I am in a place where I do feel my faith is Christ feels like yesterday’s news but I know some of you may be there … I sure have been. But hear Jesus’ loving, compelling, attractive warning:

You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

– Revelation 2:4b-5a

Are you thinking about the Gospel as much as you used to?

Are you praying as much as you used to?

Are you fasting as often?

Are you reading, memorising, meditating and obeying the Scriptures like you used to?

Are you reminding yourself daily that no matter how well or how badly you ‘score’ on any of these questions, that your right standing with God is not based on those things but on how Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness on our behalf when he lived a perfectly obedient life, died an excruciating death and victoriously rose from the dead?

Remember, Christianity is opposed to earning, not effort.

So continue to remind yourself and your community about these things and do the things you used to.

Don’t get tired of your discipleship like I got tired of the gym. (But I’m still going!)

A hard-hitting honest look at our hearts and what our lack of commitment says about them.

i am katsan

I want to be the first to admit there are some days when I wake up and I feel that any commitments I have for the day I’d simply like to pick up and throw off our level 9 balcony. Just spend the day in bed, or going for a walk, or sewing the million things i’ve pinned on pinterest without any disruptions.

I have a toddler, he’s 3…I love him to bits but when it comes to going to church, visiting a friend, family member or just going to the grocery store I have a few obstacles I face before our journey begins.

1. He does not nap

2. He is a very fussy eater and

3. He can get very cranky when he’s hungry and/or tired (cue aggressiveness, potential tantrum, refusal to anything etc.)

To take him out takes preparation usually from the day before; cooking food, packing…

View original post 703 more words

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑