Hard to Live by Grace

Posted on 28. Mar, 2012 by in Grace

Why is it uncomfortable to walk fully in grace? Because we are accustomed to looking to outside standards and judging ourselves by those standards. If we meet the standard we are ok. If not, we are not ok. The Spirit of God calls us to live differently. We are to walk in utter freedom, with our lifestyle and actions ruled by the Holy Spirit, internally not externally. This manner of living tends to be uncomfortable at first, until we become accustomed to getting our bearings from the Spirit and not external things. Against this there is no law…

Thursday Thoughts

Posted on 05. Aug, 2010 by in Thursday Thoughts, Walking in the Spirit

I’ll start with my best of selections:

Meditating on the Law | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine.

Unity in My Terms | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine

subversive1: A PROFOUND MYSTERY.  I could really include 3-4 posts from Keith Giles in this list, but I’ll keep it to this one, and you can follow the link and read the rest for yourselves.

“the voice of one crying out in suburbia…”: An honest discussion on social justice

Alan Knox is back at it, but I haven’t had a chance to catch up on his blog.  I’m sure there’s some good stuff in his Ethiopia reports.

I don’t have a new song selection this week.  I’m still stuck on last week’s.

At our Wednesday bible meeting we talked more about the law, and how the death and resurrection of Christ released us from the requirements of the law.  We read from Galatians 2:15-21, which discusses justification by faith in Christ.  The key line for me is verse 18:  “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”  To me this speaks to re-establishing the rule of the law in our lives, the result of which is transgression.  Galatians 5:2-3 goes on to say that if we try to keep one part of the law, we are responsible for keeping the whole thing.  Of course in that case, we are doomed to fail.  The other verse that fascinates me now, that I never previously understood, is Galatians 3:19-20, with the focus being verse 20.  This passage discusses the use of a mediator, which of course would imply two parties.  It goes on to say, however, that God is one.  I never understood this until my wife read from the study notes in her bible.  What I now see is that the mediator was mediating between God and Man.  However, since Christ is both God and man, the success of the mediation is guaranteed because He is both sides of the mediation!  The overall point of Galatians 3 is to explain why the law was given, namely to clearly show us our need for Christ.

Knowing, then, the importance of walking in grace through faith, not only for justification but also for sanctification, we can further understand Romans 8, where it talks about walking in the spirit vs. walking in the flesh.

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:5-11

In this passage, walking in the flesh could mean living carnally, but could also entail trying to live a righteous life by our own power, or taking the law back on ourselves.  In my own walk there are several issues the Lord has been dealing with me on.  One issue is getting up earlier in the morning.  Now, I love to sleep in.  I absolute love to sleep period.  I love just to lay in my bed.  It holds me captive in the mornings!  Trying to get myself up early to read the bible, pray or do charts at the clinic is like pulling teeth.  Once up I am fine, but getting up is a bear!  Since being convicted of this I have largely tried to attack this on my own strength.  Even after reading the above passage, and being instructed to “by the spirit put to death the deeds of the body” I still found myself trying in my own power.  I now see that, to overcome this issue I have to approach it spiritually, for real.  This involves prayer, speaking forth what He has already made me to be, so that what is already true in eternity becomes truth in this temporal realm, and may also include fasting or other measures.  The key is to not conquer this issue by the force of my will-power, as success gained by my strength is really failure.

I would love to hear others comments on what it means to you to “by the spirit put to death the deeds of the body”.  What I mean is, if you were me, and the Lord identified an issue that needed changed in your life, how would you approach this, in the Spirit?

Thursday Thoughts – Volume 1

Posted on 29. Jul, 2010 by in Thursday Thoughts

I am starting a new post-series today.  The fellowship that my wife and I gather with meets on Wednesday nights, and there were some great topics of conversation, which I wanted to share here.  We usually have good discussion, so I imagine there will be things to share each week.  I also want to take the opportunity to give my “best of” recommendations.

First to the “best of”.  I read the following posts in the past week, and thought they were excellent.

Douglas at The Lord’s Plowman had two posts that I thought were excellent.

Spiritually Homeless

Paneled Houses

Keith Giles at Subversive1 had a post “10 Things I’ll Do Different…”

Arthur Sido at The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia… had a post “The church on the margins”

Anthony Verderame at The Normal Christian wrote a post “We are alive!!! And Free???”

Dan Allen at The Ekklesia in Southern Maine wrote “Step by Step”

Here’s my song recommendation for the week, again from Hillsong United, this time from their newest album “The I Heart Revolution”.  The song is entitled “Take All of Me”

OK, so last night we started out reading Romans 8:1-4, and then went to Exodus 20, to actually read the 10 commandments.  The question posed was “why did God give the law?

Here are the answers I gave:

1.  Primarily to show man his true depravity, and his need for God’s grace.  Romans 7:13 supports this view.

2.  Secondarily to provide some sort of external framework to help show mankind in general what is right and wrong, so as to provide some aspect of behavior control for those that have yet to find God’s grace.

This discussion lead to a conversation on whether God INTENDED man to fail to meet his requirements (or knew beforehand that he would fail).  The belief expressed was that God foreknew, from the foundation of the world, that things would transpire just as they did, i.e., that God would create man, man would fall, God would give the law, man would fail to keep the law, and Christ would come as the Messiah to provide redemption for mankind.

3.  We discussed the Sabbath, and what it means for us today.  We all agreed that the concept of physical rest is important, that we need not work ourselves interminably, and not allow time for adequate rest.  I feel that the Sabbath goes deeper than this, however, to more of a spiritual rest.  My wife Tayleene shared how the Lord has helped her find rest in running her business.  In the past she would always be coming up with different things to do to increase business, drive in new customers, provide greater customer satisfaction, etc.  She would work herself to the bone, always with something new she could do to make things better.  The Lord taught her how to find her rest and trust in Him, with the knowledge that, even if she doesn’t do all those things, He will still prosper her business.

Hebrews 3 and 4 is pertinent here.

Hebrews 3:7-11 discusses the failure of the children of Israel to trust in God, to provide them victory over their enemies in Canaan, and thus their failure to find His rest.  Joshua, 40 years later, finally did lead the Israelites into Canaan, and thus into a type of “rest”.  Hebrews 4:1-11 then discusses this rest further, stating that a rest remains for the people of God, and that disobedience, same as before, will keep us out of that rest.  Lack of faith in God is the root of disobedience.  We disobey because we fail to trust.  That, to me, is what the Sabbath encompasses, us finding our rest, “ceasing from our labors”, in Christ.

Well, I better stop now.  I don’t want to get too verbose.

Myth of a Christian Nation

Posted on 24. Jul, 2010 by in Myth of a Christian Nation

I just started reading “Myth of a  Christian Nation” by Gregory Boyd.  I have heard good things about it, and wanted to quickly share a quote that goes along with what has been said elsewhere in my part of the blogosphere (i.e., blogs in my blogroll).  In chapter 1, he discusses the “power over” kingdom, by saying:

“Wherever a person or group exercises power over others – or tries to – there is a version of the kingdom of the world.  While it comes in many forms, the kingdom of the world is in essence a “power over” kingdom.”  He later says “Laws, enforced by the sword, control behavior but cannot change hearts”.

How true is this?  There has been a lot of talk about leadership, and how the church should be, compared to how we see it today.  I think this book will give a very clear picture that the traditional church model, with its pastors and elder groups, is a “power over” kingdom, and thus not of the kingdom of God.  As discussed elsewhere, the function of an elder in the body is a life of service, or “power under”, a term he may use later, but I can’t swear to it.  I haven’t gotten that far into it.  I think it will be an interesting read.