The Centre of Everything

Sometimes our world rocks, or turns right upside down and we find ourselves mulling questions over and over like; “Why did God let this happen? Does God actually care? Why can’t I see God’s hand in this?” without seeming to receive any answers.

Lately I have met a number of people who walked away from God, and the church because of unanswered questions. My heart aches for their pain, and the missing element that allowed their hearts to turn away from the Source of Life.

I have wrestled those unanswered questions too.  Struggled with what seemed an impervious and aloof lack of response from a God who seems far away and silent in the asking.

But what if we are revolving our understanding of life around the wrong questions?  The moment I question the character of God, I have lost a bearing that is critical to the very existence of faith, and peace moves out of reach.  When things happen causing me to doubt God’s goodness and kind intentions toward me, rather than entertaining the why question, my first response must be to firmly establish what the Word says about the character of God.

Looking back, the enemy’s first strategy (and it worked, I might add), was to question the character of God.  The Creator, the friend who walked with them in the garden.  The One who provided for Adam’s greatest need with Eve.  The perfect gift giver.

“Did God really say…?  He knows when you eat of the fruit, you will be wise like Him.”

Seeds of doubt or accusation toward God are so easily planted in the fertile soil of unanswered questions.  This is the critical point of the road.

It is for these times I believe Jesus reserves His deepest peace and assurance.  The question of His character has been unequivocally answered both in His word and through history, proving His peace that passes understanding takes the believer much farther than a simply answers to the why.

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.  Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, so our land will be filled with His glory.  Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 87:8-11)

The choice to rest in the goodness of Jesus; relinquishing the need to understand in order to embrace the right Jesus has given to access peace, turns the tide and shows the world a different way.   It orders our inner world and rather than flinging irrelevant questions upward, the gifts of heaven are able to come down into our circumstances.  It is only then we have the still and quiet spirit to see the love and power of God at work on our behalf.

What verses or memories do you return to when God is not easily seen in your circumstances?  May you embrace a still and quiet spirit to receive what Jesus has for you today!

Please Check You Passport

When planning to spend time in another country, a few things are recommended for a successful sojourn. One is a passport. You cannot travel these days without one.  I would also highly encourage studying the culture so you can behave appropriately.

We Christians can become too comfortable living in a kingdom from which our citizenship has been revoked. Its called earth, and sometimes its easy to forget we no longer carry citizenship here.   If you are born again into the family of Christ, your passport reads Kingdom of Heaven.  Although we remain in the realm of the physical world, there is the constant tension of being called to live in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.  He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people who live in the light.  For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:12-14).

Perhaps the magnitude of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross is often lost because it is so beyond understanding, and yet it is also beautifully simple and it turns everything upside down.  Things that are natural in our old kingdom become completely inappropriate in the new.

We have been given an inheritance and citizenship to a Kingdom with unlimited resources. He has enabled.  Past tense.  Done deal.  We are enabled to live in the reality of the Kingdom, our job is to learn the customs and laws of that Kingdom to live appropriately.

I remember stepping out of the airport in New Delhi.  A completely different world assailed every sensory preceptor, at once overpowering and intriguing.  The colour, the noise, the language was all so foreign, and I learned quickly that you must think and behave differently in India.  While there, I soaked up as much as I could, but it would take years to master the subtle nuances and unspoken rules that guide away from offence and misunderstanding.

The Kingdom of Heaven is no different – we can maintain a Kingdom citizenship without ever learning her laws, ethics and ways of thinking and in the process, turn people away from what they perceive to be Jesus.

As I look at Jesus’ time on earth, I am struck by the way He lived; ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven wherever He went.  Approaching the cross, He knew that in the greatest clash of Kingdoms, He was securing citizenship for all who would join in His resurrection, enabling this new culture to be established on earth.

As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I want to keep firmly in mind the citizenship I hold, and its cost.  I want to soak up Kingdom culture and its ways of thinking so that I too can bring the Kingdom to earth.

This Easter may you be encouraged to spend time learning from the King of our Kingdom and experience the wholeness He brings for its citizens!

 

The Missing Gifts

Imagine you retrieve your car from the mechanic, and he tells you; “There were some parts; I didn’t understand how they went together, so I just threw them out.”  How would you feel about driving your car?

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part.

First are apostles,

Second prophets,

Third teachers,

Then those who do miracles,

Those who have the gift of healing,

Those who can help others,

Those who have the gift of leadership,

Those who speak in unknown languages…

Let Love be your highest goal, but also eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit; especially prophesy. (1 Cor 14:1)

I have been thinking about discipleship and spiritual gifts. What if fear and a lack of intentional, relational discipleship has contributed to the rarity of many gifts Paul seems to think should be commonplace.

If the timeless Word of God tells us to pursue all the gifts of the Spirit, why are we leery of some of them?  Every gift can be misused but it seems, to operate without certain gifts would be like driving your car around without the parts you don’t understand.

Ideally, a disciple learns from a master in a hands on environment. Following generations can take the craft farther as they build on knowledge they received from another’s effort and mistakes.

Where are the healers in the church?  People who lay hands on the sick and they are healed?  Where are the prophets who see things from heaven and relay them to earth or speak words of knowledge for the good of the Body?  Where are the miracle workers who perform signs and wonders that bring the outside world to Jesus? What about the gift of tongues, allowing people to communicate in other languages? Discernment of spirits?

Are we driving down the highway with missing engine parts, rendering our vehicle less effective? What if we discovered how the Maker designed them to work and began putting them back in the engine…?

Fear can keep a Body from moving into new territory, but perfect love casts out fear, making room for mistakes and the messiness of growth.  What would  happen in our community if, rather than being bound by tradition and denominational norms, we focused on knowing Jesus, and intentionally built a culture where the gospel is lived out in power, not missing any of the gifts given by God for the building of His church? (1 Thess 1:5)

They [the Gentiles] were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. (Romans 15:19)

We are not called to focus on the gifts, but on Jesus, pursuing radical love until our lives resemble His.  I am writing this to myself. There are too many times I have been unwilling to take risks of faith and obedience and by default, I have settled for a gospel that is incomplete.

What is your experience with spiritual gifts?  Do you know someone you can learn from? Someone you can disciple?