Thoughts to build communion with God, community with the church and help collide with darkness

My desire is to post my thoughts with the hope that God's people can benefit from them and be prepared to work harder and and fight better. Our enjoyment of God is at stake. Father is anything but a boring, no fun, stick in the mud who wants everyone to wear a tie. He is the creator of the universe and he will blow your mind!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sobering Reflection

Perhaps nothing is as sobering as death. Yesterday I attended the funeral of my uncle on my Mom's side of the family. Jesse Lee Smith. Not even a year ago his wife, my aunt Carolyn, died. He did not even live a year after Carolyn's death.

As the family walked through the service and interment a particular Psalm assaulted my sense of youth and vigor: Psalm 39.

Psalm 39:4-6 "O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few hand breadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!"

For some reason I, and perhaps many my age (30 somethings), tend to approach life as if the next day is a fore gone conclusion. I assume tomorrow.

I am not a negative person and I don't want people to think I'm being negative. I'm not. I'm just trying to bend my life around truth.

The truth is that I am a blip on the radar screen of history, and I am a very minute blip at that. The truth is that I am going to die. The truth is that knowing that my end is sure and that my days are short in history has a sobering effect, but it also has a profound effect.

David prays to know his end for a reason: to protect him from wasting his life in turmoil that comes as a result of accumulating much wealth.

David wants to live wisely, not foolishly. I'm not sure he pulled that off, but kudos for caring and giving it a whirl.

I'm not sure most of us even care enough to even try that avenue. I know I don't.

Maybe I do now.

The truth is I can feel great today and discover I have massive cancer issues tomorrow and be dead in six weeks.

If this is the case, and I really assimilate this possibility, it could prevent me from wasting my life.

It is truly a waste to work in order to accumulate stuff and all of the resulting work to maintain stuff when my days are few and then my stuff gets passed on to someone else that did not work for it.

I believe the point of Psalm 39:4-6 is to keep us from wasting our lives.

The truth is that I could be buried in a few weeks. The truth is I have a limited time here before my appointed day comes. The truth is that I don't want to waste the time I have (this is due to God's grace to me not my being good; I'm a scoundrel).

All of life is not intended to be "happy place" time. Good and productive living has to contain sobering moments that push us to action.

Yesterday was such a day for me. My day is coming and when it approaches I'm quite sure I'll look back and wonder where it all went so fast.

I don't want to have to wish I had done something that lasted beyond my days. I want to look back and say, "Jolly, you failed a lot; you really screwed a few things up good; you were far from perfect, heck even good; however, you did all you could with what you were given as best you could and you did not waste life on getting and keeping more stuff."

Plainly I want to get to the end and return my one talent to Father with whatever is gained from using that talent in his service. I don't want to just return the talent that I hid because I was too busy doing stuff that did not put Father's resources to work. I fear that.

I want to hear, "Well done. Enter the joy of your Master."

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Let my words be few

You know, I'm a talker. Those who know me know this fact. I'm a teacher / speaker / talker. It's built in (by Father my creator so it's all good).

The understanding of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is that one is coming to the house of God because they know him. They have had the eyes of their hearts enlightened to see, understand and savor. So he says to let our words be few.

Words can be cheap. Words can be a replacement for action because words uphold our sense of self delusion while projecting a sense of significance to others. Delusion: trying to convince ourselves we are what we think we want to be. Significance: pridefully holding ourselves up to be more than we are so that others think we are really great.

Its like the disappointing fight in high school in the boys bathroom. The fight was billed as a great fight all day. They two talked trash all day. Fight time came and nearly all the 8th grade boys were in the bathroom hoping for a great show. The two combatants were ready. What did they do? They bumped chests and hurled insults at each others mother and extended family and even at each other. They even taunted each other to "come on", "jump". But that was it. The great fight was only words.

The Preacher says later on in Ecclesiastes 5 to pay one's vow because increased dreams and many words are vanity.

He seems to value action that backs up what the person believes rather than empty words.

Decisively put: faith produces actions. Faith is the result of seeing, understanding and savoring Jesus Christ. That faith results in action, not words.

Paul speaks of not seeing in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 as man's lost state, and that at the work of the Evil One. The Gospel removes the blinding veil of the Evil One so that we can then see the light of the Gospel who is Jesus who is God.

Seeing Jesus (thus believing in and on him) is salvation and that results in following in his steps. Jesus says, "come follow me". James says this faith results in works.

If we have believed, then we must reign in our words and rev up our actions.

That is not to say that words don't have a place. They do. They have a significant place: preaching / teaching / encouraging / prayer / and on we could go.

The point is that our words should not be our actions.

It often seems like the church in Rome is like the 8th grade boys. We talk a good game, but we miss the nations and the local need.

The church is absent from the nations. Few know what UPG stands for. I'll say more about this in the next blog.

The church is absent from the social structure of our town in being an agent of healing to our city's issues. The church offers no viable solution to healing the social ills. The church has building funds for the people who are magically going to show up at our events. We have tons of money, but it is spent internally on people who already have plenty.

We say we believe Jesus can change the world but we, his ambassadors, are amazingly absent from it sequestered in our little kingdoms.

Let our words be few. Let us enter the fight. Let us throw the first punch at the needs of our town with the end that the Gospel would be preached to those who need to hear it.

Let our actions begin to outweigh our words and perhaps more will hear what we have to say.

Even better and more important is that our greatest audience is the God of all creation. Our actions are our worship (Romans 12:2). We do what we do because Father is glorified as we do in his name for the expansion of his kingdom.

Jennifer Scott (Open Door Home), Ross Collins (Director DFCS), and I are working on a model for the community to surround and support foster families to provide services for them with the hopes of recruiting more of them to the task from the local church. And the church serving these families. Do I need to tell you what the result of this work could be? This is huge.

I have pastor friends such as David Harper who are in with me. Others are coming along.

Let our words be few. Let our actions heal, then we can proclaim to a captive audience the Gospel.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It is better to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools

Often when we come to worship either privately or publicly we rush to "do" our part.

Now understand, I believe that worship is first and foremost a life lived not a song sung (See Romans 12:1-2 where worship is defined as being a living sacrifice and the following parts of Romans defines what that living sacrifice looks like in the context of church life).

So, when I say worship, I mean the life lived and not the song sung.

Now Ecclesiastes 5:1 was written in the context of going up to the Temple to worship. We don't have to go up to any temple to worship anymore because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we can worship in Spirit and truth right where we are. We have constant and uninterrupted access to Father by the Son.

So the application is like this. Rather than seeing what kind of worthless babble we can manage to work up from our pathetic filthy rags, why not listen to and gaze upon the magnificence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, three distinct persons, who has brought us into that fellowship that we can know and love and be loved because of the work of Christ Jesus at the cross to justify sinners who come by faith because of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel preached among the nations.

Perhaps if we listen to and see glory and splendor beyond what we can even imagine because we are too busy babbling, our worship might pay off in the salvation of the nations and our joy in seeing that happen.

Listening and watching...