The knowing beyond the knowable

The task is odd, almost illogical. Well, it IS illogical.

This is part of Paul’s prayer:

18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18,19)

It’s like saying, “I want you to know something you can’t know… but you’ll know it when you realize it’s past knowing…”

Our call to partakers of the divine nature is immense. It is truly beyond the ability to put into a formula and “know.”

This is the boldness we need. We need the boldness to climb the mountain we can’t conquer. We can never fully know God, but why should that stop us from making the attempt?

We don’t grasp who we really are

Verses that literally blow my mind: 

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:11)

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22,23)

These are actually very familiar verses to me. I love both of these passages (Eph. 1 and Rom. 8). I pray through these passages regularly. I have camped in Ephesians for months at a time in my life.

And these verses still send shivers up and down my spine. I regularly have to overcome the guilt of not living in that power. I also have to reach down deep inside and declare something radical for me: IT IS A NEW DAY. 

must live in this power. I must live resurrection on a daily basis.

The knowledge of these verses need to become revelation power for us as believers. No matter the circumstances… we have resurrection power. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us.

How does that keep breezing on by my realm of thinking? A dead guy… a very dead guy… in a grave… and then, BOOM! Alive! And that Spirit that did that lives IN ME.

What in the world am I facing today that could possibly be called “impossible” when I have that resurrection Spirit residing in me?

Then I see those verses in Ephesians and realize, “The CHURCH is powerful! The CHURCH is the embodiment of all that Christ intended on this earth!”

As I look around at the state of the Church in America… and I am all too aware of the struggle I have in my own church… and I think, “This isn’t impressive. This isn’t the representation of ALL that Christ has… is it?”

Yet, that is precisely what Paul is saying the Church IS to be!

Let us pick up this great invitation. 

Let us BE the Body of Christ in this world! Let us lead the way in Resurrection power! Let the power of the Spirit flow through the Church once again and let the Church arise and BE the powerful representation of Christ once again in this world!

Let us move beyond the petty fights and dive into the deep issues of our world that the CHURCH is empowered to solve. Let us move beyond small issues that WE call “great” and let us see the driving agenda of the Kingdom… and do it. 

Let us be the place of healing. Let us be the place of deliverance. Let us be the place of peace. Let us be LIFE, not death. Let us be BLESSING, not cursing. Let us RISE ABOVE and not sling mud in the trenches. Let us LOVE one another and refuse hatred. Let us embody the power of our Savior and live in the power of Resurrection.

Get after resurrection power today. Let your mountains be moved. Let healing flow. Let us shout salvation full and free!

Live Resurrection. 

It is time for a renewed hunger

I am working my way through a book by Andy Lord called Transforming Renewal: Charismatic Renewal Meets Thomas Merton 

The book is a comparison of the teaching of David Watson and Thomas Merton. I know a David Watson, so I quickly discovered they’re not the same men… mainly because the David Watson in Lord’s book died several years ago. (I’m pretty quick in my deductive powers that way.)

There is a chapter on the process of renewal that has challenged me personally. Most of the following notes are thoughts from Lord on Watson’s writings. Not so much on Merton (for this post). Being a reader of Merton, this book has fascinated me. And this chapter is really challenging me.

There is an ongoing life in the Spirit. There is growing vitality, love, and power that we witness in the NT. We have to KEEP GROWING.

Watson calls believers to a consistency. This is enabled through the infilling of the Spirit.

HOW TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.  (David Watson)

  1. Preparation

Search the Scriptures. Explore. Ask questions.

Explore a biblical theology that will enable the mind to be renewed in with a true knowledge of God as revealed in Scriptures. It is also about a review of the commitment made to Christ. ARE WE SAVED? ARE WE FOLLOWING CHRIST? These are tough questions to ask!

  1. ASK

It is rooted in our awareness. We have to KNOW we have a need. We have to search… and thirst. We need to be continually exploring the Scriptures and allowing a holy thirst to be developed. We often don’t know our need. Our heart for the Scripture is dry. We don’t have desire to engage. Thirst can’t be cultivated. We don’t even KNOW our thirst! But when we realize we have a need… we begin to ASK. We begin to SEARCH.

We need a new searching. We need a hunger rising. But that hunger rises up out of a disciplined life found in Scripture. If I am reading Acts, there is a better chance for my soul to get hungry and say, “HEY! I’m not experiencing that! WHY NOT?” It’s a far greater chance I might get hungry doing that than NOT reading Acts.

CULTIVATE THIRST.

Begin to realize that the power of the Spirit is REAL and you will start to long for more.

Thirst can be cultivated. When we are around people who have found that deep well, we get thirsty. There have been times I’ve been around men like Henry Blackaby and Dallas Willard and just being with them created thirst. I heard from them and there was a deep calling to deep. I had to know more.

I think of a missionary, Calvin Olson, who walked with God. To be with him was to want God more!

We need to ASK for more. We need to LONG for more!

  1. Give Thanks

We need to give thanks to God for answering our prayer. Psalms are filled with forward affirmations: places where they gave thanks IN ADVANCE for God hearing their cry. It is a step of confident faith.

It is time to get HUNGRY for the Spirit!

Renew Our Minds

 Renewal is a process of thought, will, emotions, prayer, waiting, and faith.

We need to get away from a one time experience mentality. Conversion is not a punctiliar action. Neither is renewal. We need permission to EXPLORE. We need to give people not yet in faith permission to explore. We need to have a hunger stirred. Create thirst.

Don’t be afraid of the journey.

It’s the same way in renewal. We have to STAY ON A JOURNEY.

We stagnate too easily and too often. We don’t keep renewal a priority. We don’t keep an expectation for thirst a priority.

Renewed churches flow out of a people whose hearts are being continually renewed by the Spirit. It’s a messy process. People move at different speeds. Not everyone progresses the same. Yet, it is VITAL we all move! We have to do it in community. It is impactful to the world!

Renewal happens even in tough times. Dare we say it? ESPECIALLY in tough times. We have to know our need of God!

Renewal is not a gentle pursuit for quiet times but a risky journey in times of pain, sin, and challenge as the Spirit breaks in afresh in visible ways. 

 For David Watson, he wanted believers to have a LIFELONG learning process. Let us be nourished throughout life. Let my own ministry be that model! Let me continually call out to my church to have them keep on growing. Don’t settle in.

How I would love to find a way for ministers in my own “tribe” (the Assemblies of God) to keep on learning. To find ways to grow. They need to keep on being challenged. We don’t just need pragmatic principles but a call to deep spiritual formation and a way to keep on expanding their theological training. We don’t have to have expensive education to grant ongoing degrees, but we should have a higher level of expectation so that we work to TRAIN our ministers.

If we can have conferences to talk about the nuts and bolts of church planting, why not have conferences to center in on how to develop a spiritual life? Bible study? Theological reading? How to read theologically? When we will ENDORSE those moves and PLAN those kinds of conferences (or at least tracks within those conferences), the rank and file will raise their levels of expectation as well.

CREATE THIRST.

Create LIFELONG thirst!

The importance of renewal with Watson and Merton is found in cultivating continual learning. Don’t stop. What’s more… as leaders of leaders we should RAISE that level of expectation. We should EXALT a hunger.

I don’t want to just relate what is the latest I’m learning from John Maxwell or Andy Stanley. How about what I’m learning from NT Wright or Amos Yong or Dallas Willard? Why NOT raise that standard? It just might create that necessary thirst.

Call us out, O Lord! Call us out to THIRST!

It has to be cultivated. It has to be modeled. It has to be PLANNED OUT. We can PLAN thirst. We can PLAN the cultivation of hunger. We can take people on a Curriculum of Christlikeness that is a lifelong journey.

 

Hard questions that create thirst

I am working my way through Thomas Kelly’s little book, A Testament  of Devotion and every few pages I must pause and reflect on a sentence, a phrase, or even a question.

This morning, here are the challenges from Thomas Kelly:

Do you love His presence?

The first of the love of God, of our love toward God, and of His love toward us, are very hot.

Our real problem, in failing to center down, is not a lack of time; it is, I fear, in too many of us, lack of joyful, enthusiastic delight in Him, lack of deep, deep-drawing love directed toward Him at every hour of the day and night.

There is a place the Spirit calls and I am all too unwilling to walk. Laziness. Distraction. Call it whatever… but when I read these challenges I am stirred once again.

Apprehended by Christ

You squeeze me in from behind and in front;
you place your hand on me. (Ps. 139:5)

I read those words yesterday in the NET Bible. The NIV says this:

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

Those words have captured me. He has laid siege to my heart. There is simply no place I can go where he is not. He pursues me… hard.

My life is to be surrendered to him.

Then these words from Romans 6 this morning in my reading:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (v. 5)

All is ours. When we are apprehended by God, the Spirit is so powerful. He has given all of heaven’s power to us. We can live in resurrection power.

There are days when I can write something like that, or read something like that, and all I have done is write it or read it. But over this past week… I have felt it. There simply is no description. All week long has been a stirring in my heart for the presence of Jesus. It would be in prayer. It would be a morning where I was up early but knew it was God and all I could do was weep in his presence.

Yesterday it was a stirring all day long, which disturbed me because I didn’t know if that stirring was an angst from a misunderstanding I had, or the stupid elections in our nation, or what. But this morning, these words have swept over me again and that stirring is still there… I am apprehended by God. He has laid siege to my heart. I am HIS. I want to be his. FULLY.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

The way is made clear. Truly, nothing stops us from living a resurrected life other than ourselves.

I can read these words on this screen… and honestly feel nothing. You can read these words and honestly feel nothing. It’s not these words. It is a stirring. It is a deep calling to deep. It is a life planted in the Word of God where the Spirit of God can then stir the waters and a cry from the deepest part of the soul has the opportunity to rise up.

My life needs a saturated presence in the written word so the Spirit can lead me to the Living Word. I need my heart stirred. I need my heart squeezed in.

I want to live a life apprehended by God.

 

 

 

Lord, deliver me from halfway measures

Lord, I follow you too often with a hesitancy. I follow you in half measures. Too often I follow you with some things but hold other things back.

You call me to unreserved obedience. 

Let not my life reflect a life embodying a “dull religion.” Let my life reflect a hunger for Christ that will not die. Let my life reflect a full measure of devotion.

It is the full measure of devotion where the life of the miraculous dwells. It is the full measure of devotion where YOU break through. The possibilities are enormous. And history can be changed. That is the full measure of devotion.

Lord, this is where I desire to be found.