Thursday, July 27, 2006
No Ugly Fruit Here!
Buck-Naked Faith by: Eric Sandras, Ph.D.
Chapter V: “Feel the Reign”
This was a tough chapter for me. I’m realizing with all certainty that I have EXTREME issues with regards to lordship and leadership. I really WANT to experience the freedom that comes with true Lordship from Jesus, I just don’t have good earthly patterns to follow. I’ve either been led by the ‘iron fist’ of parents, weak teachers, or domineering and sometimes labile bosses most of my life and adapted through withdrawal, rebellion or shut-down. I can’t say that I’ve seen it successfully patterned by church leadership either, until very recently.
Obviously I realize Lordship from Jesus is something entirely different than leadership imposed by parents, teachers, bosses, preachers, or even our government. However I did not realize how great a block it would create for me in my own journey. I learned to manipulate and overpower weaker people with finesse and that’s not something easily removed.
This chapter deals directly with lacking the real experience of the Holy Spirit in our midst. In my own journey the greatest obstacle to feeling/hearing/seeing the Holy Spirit move is my own inability to release my own ‘reign’ on my life. Sandras uses this expression:
“Experiencing God is an attitude, not just an event or theological construct.”
That’s powerful! He explains that as I allow brokenness, from repenting often, and exaltation to the very God that created me, I will begin to actually experience God’s presence in my actions. It becomes a part of who I am.
Sandras also turned on a light with regards to the Word of God.
“People whose lives are oriented around Christ don’t just study the Bible to be smart. They see that every single page of the New Testament is stained with the crimson blood of Jesus himself. Suddenly, the Bible isn’t just a text to be studied but a source of life for a withering branch. Unless the Holy Spirit brings the Word to life, study will only make you smart, not healthier.”
This is a reminder I need daily. It helps me realize that when I read the Word without praying and asking God for His wisdom and His guidance and His Spirit, I’m reading only to read and grow smarter. If I want to abide in Him and Him in me, I’ve got to experience the Word as if it were breath of life. Powerful stuff, eh?
Here are the first growth points:
1. Outside of religious context, think of someone you regularly abide (live) with or someplace where you regularly abide. What makes abiding with that person or at that place attractive to you? What do you get out of it? What does it cost you? What similarities does the Holy Spirit show you through John 15:4-7?
2. Take some time and ask Jesus if there are some horizons in your life that he wants you to go beyond and if there are some anchors that are keeping you from the journey.
The thing I continue to hear from God on this is also found in John 15, verse 16. “You did not choose me, I chose you…to go and bear fruit.” This verse helped me during a deep depression I had several years ago. It’s become a bit of a life verse for me. It would have been enough just to receive the pat on the back by Him choosing me (sort of like being picked 1st for a sports team)…but then He goes on to tell me WHY He chose me (or why He created me)…to GO AND BEAR FRUIT!
Frankly, “GO” would have been enough and God tells us to GO several times in the Word. Then He has to add “BEAR FRUIT”! I don’t think He’s talking about apples and oranges either. As I understand it, it’s not enough to rest comfortable in His arms forever…nope, He wants me to get off my butt, recognize His purpose, and GO FULFILL IT!
“Okay, I’m going; I’m going….just let me finish my coffee first!” I implore.
“Go and bear fruit.” He says again.
“I’m not feeling particularly ‘fruity’ this morning God.” I reply.
“Are we going to review this again…the whole cutting off the branches that are NOT bearing fruit and burning them up?” He asks.
“Nope, I got it God! Though it might be 'ugly fruit' this morning!" I affirm.
Thus begins another day in the life of a girl trying to abide and bear good fruit.
The second part of this chapter really slapped me upside the head with the section titled: Making the Mundane Sacred. It has a passage about Brother Lawrence (1611-1691) who worked in the kitchen of his order. He saw everything as from God and nothing was without purpose. He lived in the ‘habitual presence of God.’
Finally here is what clenched it for me:
“Perhaps Jesus is giving you the chance to experience his kingdom. Are you so consumed with trying to do something FOR God that you aren’t allowing room just to BE God’s? You can take the most mundane and even despised task and turn it into a glorifying kingdom experience. This perspective opens the heavens so that God’s life-giving reign can satiate your emotional dryness. It’s a perspective of humility and surrender.”
The final growth points include:
Ponder the times when you have sensed the tangible presence of God. Where were you? What was going on in your heart? Are there any aspects of such encounters that you could carry over to the times when you feel nowhere near God’s presence?
For me, I think of a few experiences with God when I felt His tangible presence and I DO recall these times when I’m in valley-seasons of my journey. I also think of the people God used throughout His Word that were so broken and that was the only point in which He could use them. That gives me such hope, to realize that the times I spend in the valley are the times God wants to mold me and break me and use me, not in spite of my brokenness, but because of it!
Happy Thursday…Remember tomorrow is the “Tour of Homes” sponsored by our dear blogging friend Boomama. I’ll be preparing my pics later tonight in preparation!
Now go…bear fruit!