Church bashing

We may not think much of the Church in our American angst. We complain. We argue. We are always quick to point out what is “wrong” with the Church. Every particular season I will come across dozens of articles about what NOT to preach on a particular Sunday. (“Make sure you avoid these THREE mistakes on Mother’s Day”, etc.) Continue reading “Church bashing”

Swept up by his love

There are mornings when the Scripture reading captures me in a different, deeper way. An emotional way.

I have been abiding in Matthew 8-9 and Ephesians this week in my reading. These are meaningful passages in my personal journey so the Spirit had me camped in rich texts already. Matthew 8-9 has grown richer in my life as I reflect on how Jesus is walking out what he taught in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a living illustration.

This morning was a reflection on Matthew hearing the call of Jesus and immediately leaving all he had to follow Jesus. He had weighed out the cost and was READY.

There is a cost to following Jesus. There is a cost to NOT following Jesus. Consider both!

The richness of that story and the passage through Ephesians 5 has caught me in deep reflection and emotion on the deep love of Christ.

I think of the words of the hymn, “Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” and this verse sweeps me away again:

Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
’tis a haven sweet of rest!
Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus –
’tis heaven of heavens to me;
and it lifts me up to glory,
for it lifts me up to thee!

The beauty of persistently dwelling in Scripture over the years is that it bears fruit in the soul. There is a richness that rises up when familiar verses pass through our spirits and our souls rise up to worship a magnificent Savior.

Such praise rises up in me today. I am so thankful.

The hardest place of trust

There are places of testing the Lord will take us… and then places the enemy will try and press us from time to time. In both areas of testing, the question for me is one of TRUST. Am I able to lean on him?

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

 

Key questions in following Christ

This part of the week my Scripture reading has me working through Ephesians 1-3 again. This part of Ephesians literally saved my life over 20 years ago and continues to feed me. I spent an entire year just in Ephesians about 20 years ago and have since then spent many more months (cumulative) in these rich chapters, especially 1-3.

It is so difficult for me to convey the depth of love I have for Jesus and it is drawn mainly from these beautiful chapters. Every time I move through them (and Chapter 2 especially because it always reminds me of the depths of trouble I was in… and we ALL find ourselves… without Christ) I have a deep longing for others to know THIS Jesus. How can I communicate it?

What I’ve come to learn is this: I really can’t communicate it. It is when we choose to dwell in his utter goodness we find our lives captivated by his immense love and good pleasure. Our trouble is we don’t dwell. We give it 30 seconds and then scoot away.

As I re-visit this beautiful place in Scripture, I am drawn to key questions on discipleship and following Christ I think are the keys for me.

The first I asked in the last post: “Am I known by God?”

The second key question I ran across this morning. It’s a quick line I scribbled in the front of a book and I almost missed it because the page is deep purple and the ink is black. But there was that question, so I ask it out loud because I so deeply want to be known as a follower of Christ. And I want so deeply for others to see this beautiful Savior and follow him!

The question is this: Would you consider me a Christ follower?

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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.