New Background

Can You Hear Me Now?

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!


Sally said...

what a wonderful and thought provoking post kim- you have challenged me to the core... thank you

kpjara said...

Thanks Sally for the encouragement. Once again, the posts that 'get to me' the most seem to be the least impactful in this blogdom. Perhaps it's God's way of getting MY absolute attention!

I hope you're enjoying your holiday and all the sailing!

sarah said...

I'm such a comment slacker lately....I've been meaning to comment on this post ever since I first saw it, but I haven't gotten around to it. I guess I was trying to put my finger on what I wanted to say. But every time I visit your blog I think - Doh! That one post...I was going to comment...So, here's my rambling thoughts (rough draft version).

When you were discussing bearing fruit, you said "He wants me to get off my butt, recognize His purpose, and GO FULFILL IT!" I don't want to totally dissect that comment, so please forgive me if I am off-base with my understanding of your thinking. That statement sounded to me like primarily an exhortation to do the work of the kingdom in external ministry, and that understanding of the text is what I wanted to address. It's not wrong to look at this passage as a call to participate in practical ministry (that's probably the most common way that I hear the text preached). But, I don't believe that it really does justice to the context and full heart of the passage.

Now don't get me wrong – God is thrilled to have you on His team, and I think He does want your life to bring forth fruit of leading the lost to the Lord, ministering to the needy, etc. That being said, I think we do ourselves a disservice if a call to external service is all we take away from this exhortation.

I know (as I believe you also know) that the Lord has something more intimate in store for you than simply putting you to work in His kingdom. He desires to capture the affections of your heart and draw you into an intimate relationship with Him. One where your entire being is given over to Him in such a way that your life begins to look like His - not because you have beaten yourself into submission, but because you have found a lover who is better than any other, and His ways have captured your heart. In other words, that you would be filled with the Spirit of God, living a life displays the fruits of the Spirit in abundance.

It is the internal fruit of your heart that I believe is the heart of this passage. You were made to love God, and be loved by Him. This is both His primary purpose for your life, and His primary method of transforming you into His image.