Stirring our passions

Our Wednesday night Bible study has been going through a series on Philippians, listening to a teaching from Matt Chandler. It is an incredible series. Last night was on Philippians 3 and the issue of what stirs our affections. Our hearts were so stirred as we thought of the things that God uses in our lives to stir our deep passions for him.

There are small things in each of us that stir up great affection for Jesus. There are also small things that distract us from our affections. They are rarely “big” things.

The affections that are stirred in each of us are often triggered by a few different things. To then “codify” what stirs our passions or robs our affections is just legalism.

The kind of music that stirs me to sense those deep affections for Christ may be different than the kind of music that stirs those deep affections in someone else.

In the same way, the things that distract me from deep affections (like too much social media) may not have that same effect on someone else.

Legalism would dictate: This is “godly” music. This is the “devil’s” kind of social media.

Each of us have those small things that can stir up the deep passions for Christ. Let those deep passions be stirred once again. Pull out that favorite song. Watch that favorite movie that stirs the emotion.

Do something that stirs that deep affection for Christ once again!

The cry of Paul in Philippians 3 comes from deep passion. Let us be stirred. Let us be moved. 

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Muslim apocalyptic literature

THIS ARTICLE is by a Muslim and speaks to the extremism he observes in ISIS.

It is interesting to see more and more public views of how Muslims view Jesus and the end of time. I am also noticing what I call “evangelical” Islam. It’s an approach that speaks more “evangelical” language. The author mentions his own approach to Jesus toward the end of the article.

Bottom line, I have served God and loved Jesus my entire life, and I followed Jesus into Islam when I realized I became a worse man by worshipping Him and a better man by following him.

You are thirsty. Come here.

There is a spiritual thirst. There is a spiritual hunger. I long for my life, and the life of my church, to reflect the position of spiritual travelers who have simply found fresh water and good bread. We journey together. Let this be place of refreshing. A place to settle in and ask questions. A place to explore. A chance for a weary soul to realize what real water can taste like. Lord, let us be this place!

Let the thirsty come. For the thirsty, please don’t delay. Hear the great invitation.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near. (Isa. 55:1-6)

Simple. Gospel.

Today, live in the power of the simple proclamation of the good news. Let your life be saturated with the prayer, “Lord, is my life speaking out to others the good news of the reign of King Jesus?”

It’s not about how our “eloquence” is taken… it’s about the cross. Live the simple gospel.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Cor. 1:17)

The urge to give up

The urge to give up a fast or some other deeper commitment comes early. It’s because we are soft. The enemy punches quickly to see if we can be pushed back into mediocrity. The earliest part of the spiritual commitment is the easiest place.

For me, when it comes to a fast, or a modified fast, the enemy punches early because I am indeed soft. If he can slap me back into my mediocre spiritual life quickly, it’s little effort on his part. It’s an easy win.

But if I will persist… and therein lies the rub.

Last week we had a Sacred Assembly and it was a powerful service. The Lord had given me some specific words to pray over the congregation. It caused a spiritual release… and a severe spiritual battle… all at the same time.

So as the week has progressed, it has done so horribly… at least from a human perspective. As the week has gone along and the battles intensify, the Spirit simply asks, “What did you expect?”

The urge to give up here is incredible. It is attractive. It is desirable. 

This is a key point in a battle. If the punch from the enemy stings enough, we may just slip back into our comfort zones.

In this stage, I’m not throwing many punches. I’m taking a few. But as I persist the reality comes: Those “punches” were more like slaps. While I think the enemy is really punching me at this point, I will look back on this and realize he was only flicking me in the ear. Tougher battles lie ahead if I persist.

Oh, joy.

That is the nature of walking with God. The closer you walk with him, the more severe the attacks of the enemy until the walk becomes so precious, the enemy is silenced. It’s not that he quits attacking, but the perspective changes drastically. I realize war is just part of the deal but my Deliverer has me.

I anchor my soul to this verse today:

You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Ps. 32:7)

Football stadiums of the future

I can’t resist a little humor in this Lenten season.

I was reading about the Chargers and Raiders going in on a deal to build a stadium near LA they would both use. One mock up design reminded me of a really old TV kids show on Saturday mornings about “Ark II” or something like that. I think the designer for the stadium must have been a fan.

This is what a Chargers and Raiders stadium might look like. (Manica Architecture via LA Times)

Coincidence? I think not.

Praying for an outpouring of the Spirit

We truly need a fresh touch of the Spirit in our land. We pray for our city today. We pray for the Spirit to work in power. May those who are spiritually thirsty find fresh water for their souls in our churches! Let our churches be a place of refreshing in the Spirit!

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
    others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
    and will take the name Israel. (Isa. 44:3-5)