Ephesians 4: 1-13
Paul has laid out all that Christ has done. It is massive, huge, extravagant! What will be our response?
Will we realize that Jesus is truly our great treasure, sell all we have and follow him? Or, will we look at it like we look at the Tic Tacs in the checkout line at Walmart?
“Oh, I think I’ll try these. If I don’t like them, no big loss.”
How will we respond?
For Paul, the response is clear: we are to walk worthy. This calling is great. Grace is given. Walk worthy.

There is simply a holy desperation I need to pursue God. There needs to be a total frustration with how things are going, a stirring up the Holy Spirit wonderfully brings, that drives me nuts! If I don’t have it, I just keep in a routine that is deadening.

There is a choice: Keep going the way you are going, or ask for, expect, and then receive that holy hunger. The routine is comfortably numbing. Slowly, I can die this way. The hunger from God will disturb me, twist me, frustrate me, and could ultimately take me nowhere since I could allow the voices of others, especially family, dissuade me. Others who know they need a holy hunger, then “get jealous” if they see it in others, tend to undermine the hunger of those who have it. Maybe they don’t mean it, but it does work to dissuade. I hate that.

Which way to choose?

September will be a challenge. I will be going on a 21 day fast, the last two weeks of which I am challenged by the Lord to do “water only.” First time for that.

Pray for me.

Thoughts on the Discipline of Celebration.

Celebration DOES take discipline! We are too much into amusement (which is simply turning the brain off) and not enough into recreation.

Some ideas for celebration:

1. Begin NOW. Don’t wait until the grass is greener!

THIS is the day the Lord has made…rejoice in it!

2. Find a joy mentor.

We like to hang out with depressed people, or sympathetic people who will listen to our depressing stories. We need people who will lift us up. We don’t need false smiles. We need people who know joy! Find them. Hang out with them. They struggle through life just like you, but their outlook is probably completely different. They have understood that the joy of the Lord is their strength.

3. Take a day a week for celebration.

Find different ways to celebrate. On that day, eat your favorite food! Read a book you enjoy. Listen to music that stirs your soul. (In my next life I want to come back as a choir director for a black church. I LOVE black gospel!)

4. Unplug for a week.

Don’t watch a movie. Don’t play video games.
Enjoy a good conversation with someone.
Take a nap! PLEASE!
Read a book.
RE-create your mind and soul!

The fruits of holy obedience are many, but two that are linked closely are passion for personal holiness and the sense of utter humility (Thomas Kelly).

When we are out to fully obey God we gain a craving in our soul for absolute purity.
When we are out to fully obey God we find out that only God counts! Humility overtakes us.

Humility can be cultivated in what John Ortberg has called the discipline of “secrecy.” This is a discipline where we learn to serve others or do the right thing and then not tell anyone!

Serve in silence. This week, serve another and try not to let them know you did it for them. If they find out, let it be by accident, not design. Relish the secrecy of the act and thank God for the lesson.

“…holy and listening and alert obedience remains, as the core and kernel of a God-intoxicated life, as teh abiding pattern of sober, work-aday living.” (Thomas Kelly)

Begin where you are. Obey now.

We need a listening ear. One way to develop the listening ear is to simply obey as quickly as possible. Learn by doing. Maybe you make a mistake. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you learn! You grow! You develop a sense of the Holy.

“The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child.” (Thomas Kelly)

This is not an impossible dream. This is the life lived by apostles and prophets. They were not superheroes. They were ordinary people touched by the power of God, choosing to live this life of radical obedience.

My own ego and pride gets in the way here. I want my needs met. I like to whine (and seem to be doing more these days). This life will not allow for that. My flesh must go.

“Holy Obedience” is a chapter in Thomas Kelly’s excellent book, A Testament of Devotion.

Some thoughts:

“There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends, and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves.” (Kelly is quoting Meister Eckhart.)

We have a high calling: “…commit your lives in unreserved obedience to him.”

We must be willing to step up to this commitment! There are few that do. Can we be some of those in this generation?

“…when such a commitment comes in a human life, God breaks through, miracles are wrought, world-renewing diving forces are released, history changes.”

We need to change history! We are called to change history. Unreserved obedience to God is that road to change.

There are days…and there are days.

One particular battle we face in the city where I pastor is racism. It is so prevalent, and most of the citizens (who are white) do not even recognize it. It is breaking my heart.

Then, I get a letter from someone in my congregation (anonymously) that they are unhappy with me spending so much time in the community. I am part of a committee that is looking at bringing a community center into the city. There are other business people who can do that! Why am I spending so much time on this? Ego? (So goes the letter…)

There are days… and there are days…

What kind of life do you live? Is it a dangerous one?

I don’t mean a life of crime or internet scams, or something like that. I mean dangerous in terms of giving up yourself and throwing yourself into the vastness of the Kingdom of God?

As I am finishing up Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain, a quote again leaps out at me. This is when he realizes he has hidden himself in his short teaching career. He senses a call to the priesthood, and other confirm it in him, yet he balks.

He describes his life this way: “It was too tame, too safe, too sheltered. It demanded nothing of me. It had no particular cross. It left me to mysel, belonging to myself, in full possession of my own will, in full command of all that God had given me that I might give it back to Him. As long as I remained there, I still had given up nothing, or very little, no matter how poor I happened to be.”

Is your life too tame? Is it safe and sheltered? Too often we don’t mind missing out on a life of sacrifice, until we realize we are missing out on the great adventure that is the Kingdom of God.

Are you living dangerously in the hands of a powerful God? Or are you making your own way?

I have not done justice to this blog. I have not done justice to the name I put on this blog. It has been too random. It has been disconnected. It has been too much about my own random thoughts and too little about being apprenticed to Jesus.

I want to invite you to a journey. It is wonderful. It is crazy. Too few want to take this journey, espcially in the evangelical world. We do not understand spiritual formation. I certainly don’t, AND I HAVE TAUGHT IT!

Join me on a wonderful journey. It twists and winds for each of us, but Jesus is on the journey, and that is the most important thing.

One place I like to begin is Thomas Merton. Seven Storey Mountain is his classic autobiography. I have read it at least twice and find myself going through it yet again. His story is so powerful. There will be some who do not put much stock in Merton because his conversion led to the Catholic Church and that is problematic for some people Others might be put off because Merton at the end of his life was exploring some things in meditation that seemed to be drawing him to an open conversation with Buddhism.

The story in itself is powerful. This was a man hungry for God and who realized God was apprehending him throughout his early life. The writing is wonderful. If you get a copy of the book and read it, please work your way through it. This book and story is well worth it.

Merton’s conversion is powerful. Being apprenticed to Jesus means you have considered Christ. Merton considered Christ! He wanted to know the claims of Christ and was thoroughly convinced of the claims of Christ.

The conversion for Merton into the Catholic Church is a powerful ceremony. There is confession, there is baptism, there is renouncing Satan, and more. It is a powerful service. I don’t know if that is what the Catholic Church still does, but that ceremony Merton described is stunning. It hits the depths of the human soul.

Merton began to realize he was called to the priesthood and pursued it. He thought he had failed, so he was going to try to be a monk without “being” a monk. He just would not give up pursuing Christ.

I have gone on long enough for one blog. (What does it matter? I have no idea! This is more for me, anyway.)

One quote to finish:

“There could be no more question of living just like everybody else in the world. There could be no more compromise with the life that tried at every turn, to feed me poison. I had to turn my back on those things.”

Be apprenticed to Jesus is knowing Jesus is the Greatest Teacher. He is the Savior. He is the Master. He is worth following!

That means change. Apprentices cannot live like everybody else in the world.