In my entire neighborhood alone, there are a great number of children. They are all to be treasured as human beings, to be sure. But there are two little kids who are a peculiar treasure to me, more than any of those other beautiful children could hope to be.
True grace should affect our attitude toward others
We are truly in dark times right now. This I understand and am not naive to. But alas there are some ways I do not find myself reacting with the larger population when I see the realities of our world playing out. There are a couple things I keep hold of in my heart and mind. 1. I do not place my faith, trust, or confidence (or lack thereof) in what I see on the news or in the world. 2. I have to clamor for more of the important dependence of life instead of living in fear of what I see outside.
First, truth is not anchored in my feelings or my circumstances. I believe truth is anchored in God's Word, and I will align all my confidence there. The Christian life is one of faith lead by Scripture (Jn. 15:7). In all parts of life it is critical that I have the Word of God and always ask, "God, what are YOU saying?" My ears need to be far more in tune to His voice than to the world around us (Ps. 28:1-2, 7). I am not moved by what I see, I am moved by what God says (2 Cor. 5:7). So is it does not matter what I see on the news; I do not pray what I see on the news, I pray what God says.
Secondly, a German philosopher said, "the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man." In times that are truly dark, I am more frustrated by own and others' dependency on what they see outside themselves. My level of worry reveals the emptiness of my heart; it reveals how little I trust God. AW Tozer wrote, "Is it not a strange thing that in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood...?" We are in a dark time, yes, but I fear more for the faint of heart Christians with eyes dimmed.
We have come to be affected far more by what we see around us, and this is because we have not spent inordinately more time taking care of our inner lives. We ought to be clamoring to hear from God far more than we hear from FOXNews and facebook posts.
We cannot, and I do not propose here, we avoid reality by sticking our heads in the sand like an ostrich, but we also cannot run around like another bird with its head cut off. As my pastor, Banning said, "We are so impressed by darkness, we have all the statistics about it. My prayer life is not based on statistics."
So much of our spirituality and religion is greatly affected by who we know God to be. A.W. Tozer said, "Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God." We all have within us a gallery images of who God is, and those images dramatically affect our responses to Him. This gallery greatly affects the faith and religion we live out each day in relationship with God. The trouble is many, if not most of those images are distorted at best or entirely false at worst. This God many of us relate and respond to is not the God of scripture, and we begin to wonder why some of us live out such a grim, hard, and loveless faith each day.
It is because the God we have come to believe is distant and hard to please. God becomes a cold Father demanding your work without encouragement or love or pride in you. It is very difficult to serve that god with enthusiasm or joy. It is difficult not to chalk up other more enthusiastic brothers and sisters to fanaticism when the god you know is cold, removed, and grim. But this is not the God presented in scripture. This is the god of the Pharisees and he will always drive a Pharisaic religion and faith.
The moment I was first ambushed by the love of God is when I came to see the Father of Scripture who loves and delights in me, His son. He comes close to me in a true fellowship where I can find rest and healing. He is not hard to please.
Yes, he disciplines us, but I have come to know His delight and smile. He will correct and challenge me with the smile of a Father who is tender and proud. My Abba is proud of me and knows I am His "imperfect by promising" son. I see His delighted smile which knows I am coming to look more and more like my Abba every day.
"Being inside the church we are probably as well aware of her faults as any person on the outside could possibly be. And we believe in her nevertheless wherever she manifests herself in a world of darkness and unbelief." -A.W. Tozer I have been thinking on the reality I don't really need to have people on the outside tell me about the faults with the church. I go there, ya know? I am on the inside. I know her faults more than you could even imagine.
Here's the difference. I believe in her. I love her, and while I know and am frustrated with her faults, I also see her going into dark and broken places. While each congregation has their ongoing faults to deal with as a community, it is all worth enduring as long as the Body of Christ continues to advance in to dark places of the world.
We need to deal with the weaknesses and the faults along the way, but don't give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.
Jesus, I want to love you so much I desire you more than this earth. I want my heart to desire you and not simply the things you give me through the cross or the things you promise in my heavenly home. I want to know that my heart would want nothing of heaven's beauty if you were not there. I want to know that you would not need to wean me from this earth the hard way because I would happily leave any comfort this world offers me to be with you. I want my heart to be more concerned with what you are to me instead of what you did for me. I want your cross to daily be more than a utility and instead focus on the beauty of the One who died upon it. I want to stay awake and long for your coming instead of being comfortable and sleepy where I am.
I want all these things and regret that my heart does not
always often live and act the same way.
You are my greatest love, and I want to live in such a way that I do not lie.
O my God, help my heart forget myself so I can find rest from the weight of being my own little god. I am not as strong or important as I think or believe I am much of the time. I spend so much of my time, energy, and life trying to prove myself.
I have what A.W. Tozer calls 'the burden of pretense'. I want everyone to see my best while I hide my poverty at all costs. It is exhausting. I am a sinful man like every other, yes, but the exhausting part of it all is actually in the effort it takes to look other than and more than I actually am.
I do not have to expend much effort to be sinful or to admit with all of humanity that I am a sinful man. It is exhausting to uphold what I am not. It is exhausting to uphold my little god status. It is heart-breaking when people, as they inevitably must, attack the idol of self I have crafted. It is no wonder we find little peace when so much of our life and reality is spend in tireless and fruitless effort to be and appear more than we really are.
God, rescue me from this tireless effort. I am weary and heavy-laden with this burden. Lay upon me your yoke of meekness and peace. I am not as strong as I think I am or appear to be.