Saturday, April 20, 2013

Disciples & Servants.8

"If you know these things, happy are you when you do them. Continue in the light of my word. Only then are you truly my disciples."

"It is the one terrible heresy of the church, that it has always been presenting something else than obedience as faith in Christ."--George MacDonald

Buried Treasures, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, describes the beauty and power of the Hebrew language for shaping all of human life. In its enduring structure and ordered nuance lie secrets to the very heart of God.

As an example, unlike palindromes in most languages, i.e., words or sentences that mean the same thing forward or backwards, often Hebrew words spelled backwards have opposite, or curiously connected meanings, a connection that amplifies the lessons of the text.
A lesson that stood out to me was the word for dream: CHaLoM. Spelled backward, MeLaCH, it means "salt". Salt, as a mineral, is one of the four basic elements of life and when used to describe the character of a follower of Jesus means one who is grounded and effectual. By contrast, dreams, like words, can only impact life when they are brought out of the ethereal or theoretical, and acted upon.

In much the same way the Words of Jesus must be taken out of theoretical discussions in "bible studies" and acted upon with vigor and alacrity for them to have the effectual impact on our lives and the lives of those we are strategically appointed to impact.

a·lac·ri·ty  [uh-lak-ri-tee] (noun)

cheerful readiness, 
promptness, or willingness; 
liveliness; briskness

Lapin points out that an ancient tradition "reports a very curious fact related to dreams. It observes that if, upon rising in the morning, a person cannot remember his dreams, he should be considered wicked. Hitting the snooze button or lolling around in bed dulls the ability to latch onto those fading dreams given in sleep. One effect of not getting up with alacrity is that we cannot remember our dreams."

Jesus' commands-when not acted upon with 
promptness, willingness, liveliness and briskness-will quickly fade into futile uncertainty and unprofitable resistance to his leading. But when we "rise like a lion" with gusto and passion, dedicating our lives daily to his Will, we will feel His pleasure!

Here's to the end of snoozing; to the end of dull discipleship. Here's to alacrity and joyful obedience to the Lord of Life, Light and Love!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Disciples & Servants.7

"You have seen how the earthly rulers exercise their authority, inconsiderate of the poor. This is not how it is to those in the kingdom of God. Whoever would be great among you, must first become your servant. And whoever of you would be the greatest, must first be servant of all. Even so, I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many."


There was a time, alas, when the "earthly rulers" in America believed and practiced this.  Not merely the political rulers, but business, professional and religious rulers as well.  I met a man who lamented the "greed" that, he believed, is peculiar to the wealthy.  Funny how business people are singled out as greedy when its crippling effects are evident wherever "rulers" have lost sight of this fundamental principle of greatness: being the servant of all. Its as if a Jedi-like mind trick is being played on the public ("I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street..." Barack Obama) creating an illusory distraction while running off to lavish tax-payer financed vacations and golf outings.

The lust for power and status is not unique to America, nor in the history of the world.  The tower of Babel was a vain attempt to symbolize man's timeless quest for ascendancy.  Every organizational structure in every kind and type of "kingdom" of this world, from beauty contests to athletic competitions to corporate and/or military chains-of-command, send a clear message of the values that drive them.

Jesus himself was tempted by its allure when the Devil took him to the highest point in the city of Jerusalem.  Although He could not be tempted with evil, he could (and did) experience the struggle of deciding between inferior "Good"; ie, good-intentions, good-works, good-causes, good-ideas, feeling-good vs Obedience to the Perfect Good.

How tempting, and how often we fall prey to its allure, to use power and status to achieve our own "good" ends.  How tempting for the Lord of Life to use his other-worldly power to conquer corruption, genocide, infanticide, greed, war, disease, yes, death itself by appealing to the baseness in man: conquering evil in others before conquering our own.  Surely tens of thousands would have rallied to his cry to turn their plowshares into swords and ride forth in magnanimous glory to bring His Kingdom's rule over the nations. 

But only a handful stayed at his side as He chose His Father's will, His father's nature, His Father's fellowship over the powerful pull of political, worldly ambition. In doing so, they discovered what true greatness really means.  The desire for greatness demonstrates that it is as much a part of our nature as the desire for companionship or love.  How we satisfy those desires is the evidence of our faith.  

"Obedience, then, is as divine as Will, Service as divine as Rule. How? Because they are one in their nature; they are both a doing of the truth. The love in them is the same. The Fatherhood and the Sonship are one, save that the Fatherhood looks down lovingly, and the Sonship looks up lovingly. Love is all. And God is all in all." --MacDonald
Love is manifest supremely through service rather than ambition.

The earth will be free because Love is stronger than Death.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Disciples & Servants.6

"I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. 

Be as wise as serpents, but as innocent as doves."


Sheep.  Wolves.  Serpents.  Doves.

Nobody said it was easy...

A dear brother is among the wolves sitting in a prison cell halfway around the world.  His life, captured in this excerpt from a recent email, is a living demonstration of the words and the heart of Jesus:

     "Brothers and sisters, I am sitting here in my cell, behind bars, somewhere in the Himalayas near the Nepal border. I am totally at peace, thankful and joyful, knowing I am in the center of God’s will and God’s plan. They can’t imprison me one day longer than God allows. I am here because I was teaching believers how to share the gospel, disciple believers, and start churches. I was arrested because I came back into India twice after being deported and black listed. Both times I came in legally, through an officially prescribed border crossing, welcomed in by official border guards.
      Don’t worry. This won’t happen to you unless you get deported and black listed and then come back in anyway. So don’t be afraid. Just come. [emphasis added]
      I have no regrets. It was very much worth it, because in the last 6 months since I returned, our local full time team grew from 5 to 14 and the number being reached each week grew from about 100 to over 3000. My captivity is a very small price to pay. Our Lord Jesus suffered far more for these souls. Infinitely more!
     Will you pray earnestly for open doors, open roads, open borders, open hearts and open heavens?"

Wise and Innocent.  You don't will that kind of character into yourself by gritting your teeth and bracing yourself against the blank stares of co-workers you invite to church.  

You let the Lord of Life, Light & Love lead you where He Will as He fans the flames of desire to know Him and be like Him.  As his insatiable hunger for righteousness grows in us, He will satisfy it with wonder-filled demonstrations of His power!
He's not a tame lion!