Monday, January 15, 2007

Just Some Thoughts...

So here I am on a Monday morning, chilling on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in my apartment in downtown Seattle. It’s a clear, crisp morning and the snow-capped Olympic mountains over the Pudget Sound look beautiful. I enjoyed sleeping in today, and right now I am currently relaxing on my couch wearing some addias pants and a hoody reading the book “Leaders Who Last”. This is a new class that I am taking at Mars Hill. I had been praying for a mentor and for someone to connect with, so I could continue in my journey to become a better leader. You know, so I could be a little more disciplined and focused on God’s calling for this life that I call my own. I have recently received direction from God to continue on in the Navy, so now I suppose my next few steps will be instrumental in my approach towards applying leadership to my occupation at work. I am excited to see what lessons I learn from God through Dave Kraft the author of the book and pastor teaching at Mars Hill.

All this to preface what I really want to write about this morning…. Here are some concepts outlined in Ch.1 of Dave’s book. He discusses in great detail the significance of practicing “holy habits of the heart”…. I like his language; however, I initially balked a little at what he was suggesting these things were. These habits include a daily quiet time… daily prayer… daily journal writing, but also things I do really appreciate like enjoying the beauty of God’s creation… experiencing genuine fellowship… feeling God’s Spirit in the midst of belting out a song at the top your lungs… etc…

My intent here is to hash out my resistance to daily Bible study, prayer, and journaling, because of course I have been taught that these practices are essential to Christian growth… Not to mention, I have tried them off and on throughout the years with varying measures of success…. If I must be brutally honest about my current status, I have not been doing any of these things on a daily basis but more like a weekly basis. Or maybe even every two weeks… I get connected at church… I am usually reading a book about God during the week… I go to community group… and I do a few worship jam sessions a couple times a week… However, I find generally myself lacking in the journaling, daily reading of the Word, and daily quiet time realm… In my experience, these things easily transition to mere legalism where I just go thru the motions…. And really that just makes me sick to my stomach……..

I find Dave’s explanation for this phenomenon in my life to be a little exhilarating and a wonderful relief… Not only does he address the difficulties faced in the adhering to these disciplines as way of gaining favor in the sight of the Lord… ie earning my standing to sit at the right hand of Jesus so to speak or earning my salvation…. But he talks about the only genuine motivation to do these things MUST be out of a heart for experiencing an ever growing, exceptional intimacy with the Lord by simply delighting ourselves with the Word of God King David style… It’s about putting forth effort to get a feel for all that God has done for us verses us doing a lot of legalistic, religious crap to get something from God the Father… whether it be affirmation or earning salvation etc. We have already been approved by God… we don’t do good works to get to Heaven…. II Tim2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one APPROVED, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Notice the past tense there….

Here is the best part of what I feel like is a new revelation to me as a paradigm shift, if you will…. There is a comparison made by a John Ortberg quote regarding different methods of boating as a metaphor for our spiritual lives… There is the motorboat where we control everything from speed to direction. If we just put enough “gas” in the tank we can do whatever, go where ever and make our spiritual lives good by pure unadulterated force… ie legalism…. Then, there is the raft….. This picture is just someone who just unashamedly claims grace for EVERYTHING as a method of gaining spiritual insight… For example, we will just float around aimlessly and not really do anything but experience life as it comes without rhyme, reason, or purpose… Clearly, these are two extremes… The really cool metaphor is the sailboat………….. The power comes from the wind… but the sailor has to practice putting forth effort in order to be competent in discerning the direction of the wind and rigging the sails in a manner that will provide propulsion for the boat. The wind is the Holy Spirit and the sailor is the Christ follower who must daily practice rigging the sails to be proficient in following the leading of the wind…..

Dave Kraft often likens the development of the spiritual life to a surfer riding a huge wave or a horse back rider moving in sync with the horse… Both these pictures are people learning the “unforced rhythms of grace”……. (From The Message Matt 11:28-30) These are some very helpful metaphors that demonstrate the Holy Spirit as our power supply. Christ followers canNOT do anything on their own. We are in desperate need of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. John 15:5 style “I am the vine; you are the branches if any man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…..”

For my own practical understanding… I could say it like this… My spiritual life could be like me learning martial arts… learning racquetball… learning scuba diving… learning soccer… I have to exercise discipline and put forth effort in order to be proficient at any of these hobbies of mine, so surely it would make sense for me to practice being in the Word of God that I might be more experienced in discerning the Word of God. Some of these things, I’ve lost proficiency over time, because I do not do them regularly….

Now that I think about it… I think this is the same lesson that I learned some time ago in college which set my heart ablaze…. God’s word is the Sword of the Spirit… (check the tattoo picture)… I think I will end on this note:

In order for us to be seasoned veterans/warriors in the Kingdom of God we must continually wield the Sword of Truth daily in order to become effective and efficient at forcefully advancing the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men. We must first allow God’s Truth to daily cut the filth of sin from our hearts, so that we might be convicted and changed first… Once He reigns in the deepest recesses of our hearts and we are fully submitted to His Majesty, THEN we can be about the King of King’s business by speaking/wielding the GODSWORD in love to free the hearts and minds of others struggling under the oppression of sin by slicing the shameful chains of bondage and battling this darkness with the Light of Christ Jesus, our Lord…
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