Communion Vs. the Age of Communication

Do you have too much going on in your world? Many of us revel in the diversity of activities that make up our schedules even while we complain that we are so busy.

But, could it be possible that in this generation innundated by opportunity and options that we need to limit ourselves so that we can enjoy the best things in life?

I mean think about, with so many new and exciting avenues of personal contact that make us available to the world, doesn’t this mean that we should be turning up our fighting tactics for the sake of safeguarding our time, energy, emotion and interest?

To a certain extent we need to cultivate a small-world-feel for ourselves that we might not get distracted and then sidetracked from living for what is essential to living for what is simply available.

We must remember that even though we have the freedom and access to enjoy so many forms of communication and community, we strive and thrive by one thing only communion with Christ.

The art of “being used”

How does one work for God? In my experience God works on us that He may then work through us. There has been a cycle of three convictions that He has regularly used to cause my heart to be possessed by my Lord and Savior to a new degree.

The first is always being satisfied with God. Now, by this I do not a boring acqiescence to having “just” God. Being limited to God is only a deprivation in the weakest sense. It is the chance to see what we could never see if our lives were crouded with unnecessary distraction. It is firming up our faith by practical means: If God really is as great as He says He is than I can afford to let this go to discover more of what all of this means for me. It is an experiment; a pure and privileged opportunity to realize who God is that I might know who I am in Him.

The next sequence is being willing to let God change up what I’m doing. I like predictability and timeliness, but efficiency on God’s scale of values often requires that my definition of these be changed. Each alteration in my activities and concerns addresses the sin-orientation of my heart in a new way. I couldn’t handle everything that He wants to do at once, so converts me by degrees, He corrects me in one area at a time. He knows what I can handle, what will most tenderly and forcefully affect me in the ways that I need to be to receive more of Him. He is always increasing my effectiveness for Him just as He and His mind is perfected in me more and more each day.

The last exercise He does is in enlarging my desire for Him to obtain glory from me and through me. The change that occurs here is in seeing that my whole life is summed up in Him and that He is my richest supply of joy. Because I would be lost without Him, I cling to Him and ask that only one thing would come from my life: He would be recognized as the giver of every blessing that I enjoyed, every trial that brought me closer to Him; that He would be attractive and a curious mystery to anyone that got to see anything that He did through me; that the testimony of how central and essential He is to the life and livelihood of every man and woman that He created would go out through the life-tale of one more humbled person.

Slite ideas remove God for the sake of meaningless mystery and unexplored life

I get a kick out of reading the little platitudes printed on the backs of tea bags. The latest one that gave me some enjoyment said, “You are infinite.”

I realize that the intent here is most likely a noble one of building up the reader and making him or her feel good about who they are. Perhaps there is even a desire here to help them to make sense of the world they live in.

Yet, for myself, this little injection of fluffy philosophy does nothing. What am I to think about a card that states, “You are infinite.” Am I supposed to believe this even if I am in the midst of a situation that is showing me just how small I am? Is this idea that I have no limits supposed to help me? It may make me feel good to believe that for a little while, but it really doesn’t expand my world. And isn’t that the point of philosophy?

My mom perfectly summed up my rebuttal of this philosophy with the question, “In what universe [is this true]?” If I am truly tuned into the truths my life experiences are testifying, I am certainly not hearing “you are infinite, Elaine; did you realize that.” Rather, what I am struggling to accept is the fact that everything I thought about how large I loom in my world is really not true.

I am important, yes, and I no doubt have considerable worth and impact. But, this is not what I used to think it was. My worth does not affirm my pride and self-interest, it humbles me and makes me more others-interested. When my value seems shaking I turn inward, but when I know that it cannot be tarnished by my ignorance and mistakes, I can afford to be others-centered.

This may seem like a strangely simple representation of a pretty complex world. But the truth does not need to be complex to stand. In a world of lies truth stands because it does not deny the inherent characteristics of anything.

In what I have said above I have used simple languages supplemented by simple examples, but I have left something for you to consider because I have alluded to something greater than the words I was using or the metaphors I was employing. I wanted you to get an idea.

I wanted you to see that ideas are important to us according to the measure that they accurately represent us and the world we live in. I do not believe that I or anyone I know is infinite because this philosophy doesn’t account for sin and the mess we make for ourselves or death and how hopeless it is without redemption. This idea is beautiful, but it lacks depth — and depth is what appeals to the heart.

I want my life to be governed by ideas that witness understanding and showcase beauty in some way. Yet more than that, I need to live according to proverbs and pictures that are alive. How can life be lived according to anything that is dead?

And yet how easily we do! Any philosophy that doesn’t not centrifugally include Christ is dead. It may seem like we infuse life into it by the power of our belief, but unless we have been made alive, this truly can’t happen.

And anyway, where does life come from? How can we describe life if we have never realized our death? How can we say that we have explored life when we have only ever known one reality? Musings and imaginings don’t really count.

So, it would seem it is imperative that we find rest our confidence on something that includes knowledge of life from its beginning to its end and beyond. Might I suggest we turn to the Bible for this? Searching out life here will not only satisfy your cravings for it, but unravel the anti-theological views that deprive you of it.

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into

I thought this is so beautiful in its presentation of Christ that I wanted to share it with you:

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:24

There’s no deficit in the prayer department

Is prayer something that you enjoy or dread? I pray that you know it was never meant to be the latter, but is one of the fullest forms of enjoyment we can have this side of heaven since it unites our hearts with God — that we may love and long to see Him.

Prayer is like boot camp — it puts our whole beings into the paces of preparation for fighting victoriously here and being presented a good and faithful servant there.

Prayer is essentially a matter of making God our great Satisfaction. When we approach Him with our whole heart, the way He tells us to, we will meet Him and receive what we need and most want from Him.

This is not just a matter of moral or religious obligation — this is a matter of voluntarily attending to the only Source of blessing and help that will furnish our souls with life and liberty.

Prayer is after all, where our relationship with God starts. We communicate to Him our appreciation for His willingness to die in our place that we might be delivered from death-row. We extend our hearts to Him in repentance for our sins and acceptance of His forgiveness and life.

Prayer is simple yet also supremely sanctifying. By it God pours out His Holy Spirit in us and we receive the power to live lives that display His goodness and glory. Prayer is a gift of grace — it welcomes us into the inner courts of the Maker of our Universe and bids us to freely fellowship with Him. Every time we engage in this practical and spiritual act we are reminded that we are considered by God as His friends.

As often as we recall how venomous our animosity has been against Him; as often as our sin should remind us of how far we are from knowing and impressing God we should be in awe of God’s tender mercy towards us. Tender because we should not have known anything but the abject terror of God’s wrath, and mercy because nothing should have stood in the way of our full judgment.

When our vision is infiltrated by the character and consequences of Christ, we will eagerly reach out to know Him and what He has for us. And only then will faith be lived out out in us through prayer and every other means of action we do.

Faith is the only thing that will break up the doubts and fears in our hearts that keep us from being effective in prayer. When you believe that God desires to limit what you enjoy, you will pray small prayers. But, when your ideas of God become accurate in belief, you will pray prayers that are powerful in their ability to glorify His grace filled purposes.

An Unmaintainable Death

Death awaits all of us and we know it. We run around trying with all our might to get everything we can out of life. But, a lesser known fact is that we start out this race with all odds against us. We are already dead.

No, I am not denying the reality of a final death awaiting us who breathe and have beating hearts in this moment, but I am trying to represent the reality of why death exists and give us an understanding of just how close it is to us.

If we think that it reserves a certain distance from us, a distance which we can comfortably measure in quantities known as days, weeks, months and years, then we are pitiable men. Death does not wait for us, it guards us. It has no need to exert itself over us because it already laid claim to us long ago.

Death really does no work at all. It is a state which we accept or reject. For most of us this does not seem a conscious reality, but if we could say goodbye to it, we know a difference. Death is haunting to its victims, yet poses no threat to those who have life. Death can not take life, it merely commands people who don’t have it. It is like a default mode for us post-Fall humans.

We cannot sustain ourselves apart from salvation. There is no such thing as maintaining wellness for us. If you have heard anything about the second law of thermodynamics, know that it applies to all of us — even our souls.

We are either dead because life is no where in our futures, or we are alive because death is no where in our futures. There is no such thing as being in the process of dying, as though this reality could be circumvented.

There is no coping with this death. We are either alive with Christ or dead without Christ. Only life makes coping necessary. Death just is. But this coping with life requires the cross; just as being raised to life requires the cross.

So we look to God not to maintain us as we are, but to release us from the captivity of depravity that we’re in. There is no other way out. We have Christ or we have nothing. We cannot look to any other thing in the hopes that it will make a significant impact on our lives or destinies. So long as our hearts are Christ-less our lives may be augmented by good things, but we ourselves will be wholly devoid of the One Good that holds us together.

Where does Christ fit in Christianity?

If you have heard anything about Christianity, you may be wondering, where does Christ fit in there? Is He just a person to give this vein of religion a name, or is He somehow more central to a believer than can be perceived at first glance?

I would certainly be a proponent of the second concept. Christ is everything to Christianity; without Him, there would be no reason to be a Christian. But, I would not stop here, I would go so far as to say that without Him, there is no reason for engaging in moral or religious exercises at all. How can I say this? Because I believe that life is not really about being good or getting ourselves right with God, but in recognizing that Christ is good and that He alone is the Way that we can become right with God.

Jesus Christ is not merely a complementary addition to our salvation agenda. If we should presume to have a salvation agenda for ourselves, we would certainly not find it necessary to consult Him as our edge. But even so, Christ does not provide us with any kind of edge.

In truth His only benefit to us is in welcoming us into God’s salvation agenda. And because ours is not even worthy of speaking of, we either choose to become a participant in God’s plan of salvation or Satan’s plan of refuting it.

In reading this you may surmise that we are just complementary elements to God’s salvation agenda. This is actually critical to the reality of salvation working for us. We do not work for salvation, but salvation works for us.

Salvation was conceived in the heart of God to bring glory to Himself through a display of His mercy and judgment on sinful people. If we were the main attraction in salvation, He could not be properly glorified: His judgment would look cruel and His mercy a sham.

Seeing things this way only serves to distract us from our real problem, which is that we need to be saved because of what we have done — there is something wrong with us — and not because of what He has done — there is nothing wrong with Him.

The purpose of salvation is to show us what we have denying all along: That God is absolutely right and we are in opposition to Him, which would automatically makes us wrong. This is our trouble. This is where Christ comes in.

Christ is the Truth that illuminates all the specks of deceit in our hearts. In fact, His light is so strong that our entire make-up appears corrupt. Under these floodlights we see God for who He truly is: The God we have no acceptable excuse for not serving. When we see Him this way, we must either stand down and allow the truth to humble us or stand up and pretend that everything is as it seemed before we saw the Light.

Welcome my fellow know-it-alls to the reality of how little we know. None of us will know anything of true condition, or the new condition offered us in Christ, unless He shows us! We may boast that we feel grief over our sin, but repentance can have no effect unless pride’s concentration on self has been broken by a humble understanding of what our sin has cost God. Regret for sin gets us no where unless it is in agreement with God’s justice and dependent only on His undeserved mercy. The conviction of sin that is brought upon us by the Word of God — the revelation of His gospel (the message of Christ’s death and resurrection over our death penalty) — has no other objective than reacquainting us with the character and construction of God.

Weak in dreams, strong in reality

Isn’t it crazy how what we dream of always falls so short of what God has for us?

I had my life all figured out for myself, I would achieve unprecedented success by attaining my life-long dream of personal perfection. Everything I did would be to impress and lift myself up in the eyes of the world. Then, then, I would love who I was and be confident that my life was not worthless and my being useless. I would live and make the most of everything I had.

Yet, of course, God had other plans — so much wider plans. His plans began with me and who I would be rather than what I would do. If I was not first someone of importance and influence, how could any of the things that I did be considered significant or purposeful?

He had to show me that my value was not a figure subject to detraction based on the outward judgments of a limited world. I am the possessor of life and breath that have come from the Creator Himself. He made me like Him and thus He loves me. Because I am His handiwork and I show off His marvelous fingerprints to the world, I am marked by divine intention and intelligence. I am here for a reason.

Therefore, when the world and its residents reject me as an unfitting or illegitimate member of humanity, they are questioning more than the dignity that God has given me, but the dignity of God Himself, who alone can distribute and support this in each of us.

If God is so closely related to everything that we are because we are like Him, certainly we must recognize that something is evidently wrong with anything of us that exalts God’s opposite in evil and wickedness. Why are these things apart of us, and is it possible for them to be made over into things that reflect the beauty of Christ our King?

The glory of our stories is that God is in them no matter how vile we become; from a great distance He sees everything wrong with us — every evidence that we have chosen our way of sin over His way of love — and yet He runs toward us when we return to Him because His dreams for us never died with the Fall.

Since our original fore-bearers disobeyed God — believing Satan’s lie that they should know good and evil and be like God if they did — we have lived with the horrible reality that our greatest mistake has ripped us apart from the good we once knew and knit us together with the evil that we were never meant to have unity with.

Though sin is certainly a blot on our existence, what we do not realize is that it has totally reoriented us away from the God we were first created to love and serve. Because this is so, we do not recognize what is truly good for us, but reject Jesus Christ because He will not support any of the things we live for now.

All the judgments of God that we make in this position are proportional to us and our ability and not Him and His — thus they are inaccurate, meant to satisfy our system of measurement, but not our need for knowledge and reconciliation to the Most High.

Believe it or not, it is often the surrender of our dreams that makes it possible for us to see reality in a new light, the Light that leads us to the Reality-Shaper. We would normally paint this as unreasonable suffering, yet if we take another look, we may have a chance to see more than we perceived in our first glance.

Suffering, when it is used by God is a positive instrument. This does not mean that is somehow fun, or less painful, but that it is conceived in purpose. We should think of it as a pregnant woman about to give birth. The pressures she feels are necessary — something is growing within her — without the life within her forcing her body to accommodate it by stretching and supporting it, that life would die.

Suffering is like that — it is a difficult blessing, but it trains our eyes on the end that we want. Trying to retain self-supported dreams would be like a new mother trying to retain her pre-baby figure. There is nothing wrong with either of these things — in the right context. If there is nothing else in play here, then we can hold on to what we have had and enjoyed, but if a new life needs to be given space and nourishment to develop within us, then certain changes will need to be applied. If God has plans for you that He has set within you, we must either attend to them to the neglect of anything that should endanger it — as a loving and protective mother would — or we ignore its presence and let it die because we have trained all the life within us towards things outside of us.

The most grievous thing about this — something that few of us realize — is that when life within us dies, we die. Our bodies, minds and hearts are not life in and of themselves, they are merely instruments that support life. These things are to be used by us to hold onto life, not constrict it that they may each have full “freedom.”

When we follow the desires of our bodies, our minds or our hearts, we will become callused and brutal. Aggression will mark all we do. Yet, when we seek Life — what we can only have in Christ — with all the power of our bodies, minds, and hearts brought together, we will obtain the fullness that puts us at rest. Even if we suffer or sacrifice to obtain this fullness of Christ, we will not emerge deficient, but more able to chase after the life we need. We will be matured in such a way that we will know and understand what we need; no longer wasting our time and efforts on what is not really satisfactory to us.

We do not become brutes when we receive our fill from God. Yet, at the same time we do not become weaklings who cannot survive in our world. Weakness is the work of ungodliness within us — a failure to recognize that we are nothing without Christ in a world that is made by Him, for Him and through Him.

Any attempt to pump ourselves up is exposed as measly attempts at disingenuous strength when we stand before Christ. Each inclination we have to this buried deep within our hearts must be dragged out of us until we are supple and able to be filled with the Father’s strength. And it is here that we realize the privilege of possessing and displaying a power only known by the begotten of God.

Power and prestige come from God. When it is at work within us, it stuns the watching world because they have nothing like this. To willingly have ourselves — our sinful selves that do us no good — broken down and left for dead takes a unshakable might that must flow through us from another Source — it could not spring up out of the same broken vessel.

No matter what God does in our lives, we can rejoice because we know what He is doing. We are without holiness, and He is intent on restoring us from our rebellion against Him so that we might become holy. Therefore, it is essential that we don’t mistake bitterness for God-honoring strength. Bitterness, at its root, is always a problem with God and what He is doing. But, when we enjoy God for who He is, our faith grows even in trying times, and we glorify God with a joy that appears stellar in its unlikely surroundings.

When we take these things into consideration, we should come to the point where we would ask ourselves why we should ever expect God to tip-toe around our problem-sensitivities to avoid our flare-ups. We will be glad that He does not, allowing complications in our far-fetched ideas for how our life should proceed, to reveal that He knows our hearts inside and out.

Pride looks almost beautiful (and certainly acceptable) when we label it as sensitivity and self-protection. We do not bother to look further than this into the essence of ourselves. We are at once sensitive to our own comfort and insensitive of the Truth. We cannot accept the reality that we are ugly and poor and beyond the reach of pity unless He who is beautiful and rich and merciful did something to bring the two of us together in an enviable arrangement.

Through every trial and painful reformation of ourselves He is teaching us to wed ourselves to this reality:

This is what I consider beautiful: Every time you set your heart on Me when you could be focused on everything else that is swirling around and inside you, you touch My heart.

This is the crux of really living.

You look at your friends to find out what living looks like, but only I can show you. If anything short of a life fully-focused on Me (and surrendering all of yourself to Me) is what you call “having it all together,” then you really don’t know anything about life.

I am not here to show you the world — anyone around you can, and does, try to do that — I am here to show you everything the world cannot.

“Yet, God,” I ask, “what do I do when giving You this beautiful lee-way in my life turns the life I thought was beautiful upside-down — You call me into a Christ-centered agenda that deletes my precious plans?”

You mourn them —

the imaged

reputation

position and

prospects

that you thought you would most certainly have. Only when you do this will you be able to cleave unto Me and love Me above all things; capable then of enjoying and experiencing the full entourage of My blessings for you.