Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Fountain as Framework

Many people enjoy some form of photography - capturing moments, enhancing images, documenting prints, etc. And though most snaps lead to decent photos, occasionally a digital click will brush with brilliance. When this happens, the photo product is prepared for greater visibility and security, so that the integrity of the image remains protected; however, for the bravura picture, the key is not in the image itself, but in the framework.

To God, we are all magnificence photos in desperate need of a holy framework. The application challenge tends to split between two camps. In general:

Camp ‘A’ people doubt they are wonderfully made and allow unbelief to rot their sense of worth.
Camp ‘B’ people possess ignorance or misunderstanding concerning the nature of framework.

The purpose of this blog series is to help those searching for spiritual breakthrough, who relate to one or both of these camps.

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As down as the world can be, it’s a beautifully insane love that exposes this stage of existence as a framed masterpiece. Whether we believe it or not, our unique tones, tints and tinges were designed intentionally. Unfortunately, many rather manufacture energy into self-repair, analyze dead circumstances and milk misery than pause to picture God’s perspective. Essentially, sensible love is perverted by insensible patterns, polluting what we were created to desire.

How, then, should we contend?

Well, if we want our ‘yes’ to be ‘yes’, our ‘no’ be ‘no’, and with boldness, declare, ‘Yes, Lord’ on the heels of His call, then some adjustments need to be made. A healthy origin permits us to perceive our identities in Christ as stunning works of art. Once locked into this mode, surrounding it with a biblically sound framework, encompassing everything from Christ-based identity to worldview and the faith in between, becomes imperative. The “five-grand” question is what will your framework look like?

Like identity, a framework is unique and should contain collective elements that unify the body of Christ. Let’s consider the fountain. What is the fountain? The answer can be found in Psalm 46. The fountain is a river source, producing streams that make glad the city of God. The fountain serves as a basis for joy, purity and thanksgiving, initiating hope through the refreshing presence of, “a fountain full of grace, [flowing] from Emmanuel’s veins.” In reality, the cross and fountain work in harmonious tandem, separating “pity” from “party”. I don’t know about you, but I believe integrating the fountain into a framework is entirely non-optional.

True, the fountain paradigm is one example among many that belong in a framework. But let’s zoom out for a quick second. When we adjust our lens to see big picture, we discover that when our perspective connects to the Word of God, we see, with greater clarity, the vibrant flushes that fill the painting of our lives. As this process unfolds, absolutes begin to preserve and anchor our faith, exposing this life as a snapshot of anticipated glory. So while we are here on earth, God blesses us with the opportunity to marvel at the giant canvas He is constantly working on – one that carries a multitude of marvelous certainties. And it is by that “fountain full of grace” that each person can play a part in its splendor.

To be continued...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Hope of Transformation

To be featured on March/April's ASK Network International newsletter and on http://www.asknetwork.net/

The spiritual landscape among 21st century youth is undergoing a radical transformation, which is something I realized first-hand a few weeks ago at the 2012 Acquire the Fire Conference in Nashville. During the closing session, the atmosphere of the auditorium became thick with the splendor of God’s love. As the worship progressed, God directed my attention to the ceiling, where I could see salvation streaming down upon thousands of exuberant youth. With His presence raining down like confetti, a widespread sense began to resonate: God was not only being celebrated, but was celebrating with us.

Soaking in the richness of God’s presence, I could feel a breakthrough. For decades, younger generations have been yearning for a true move of God – for revival stories of old to be realized today. In a building supercharged with holy energy, God was turning desperation and dissatisfaction among youth and leaders into a hunger to stay hungry. As glory abounded, the coldness of complacency melted away by the fire of God's Spirit.

Like the Samaritan woman in John 4, today’s youth are incredibly thirsty; however, they are not seeking superficial means to satisfy voids within. Instead, young people are craving the real thing. Despite all the distractions in our culture, youth are maturing in their ability to discern what is authentically God and what is not. As a result, God is contending with an increasingly gray world by sharpening young hearts to know Him thoroughly, from big picture to fine detail.

God is shaping and molding one of the most passionate youth cultures in history; young men and women to love as He loves, see as He sees and live as He lives. Many have seen the best the world has to offer, from entertainment and technology to pop trends and materialism. But none of this is fulfilling to the deep places of the soul. Yes, youth are being challenged. They are confronted with many diversions that often cause them to compartmentalize their relationship with Christ. But God is placing detour signs, rerouting their attention back to His very nature.

God is not concealing this move from the church. Rather, He is calling us, as the body of Christ, to partner with Him, and this emerging generation. The $64,000 question is, will we step up and seize the future by believing God today?

~ Cameron Fry

Photo courtesy of Lyssah Ferguson

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Ron Luce at the 2012 Nashville ATF: “Many believers give their hearts over to God, but not their entire lives.”

A HUGE, motivating factor behind Christian conversion is salvation. When a person becomes a believer, the Lord is asked to come into the heart for the sake of everlasting life in heaven. In Sunday school, we are taught that once this happens, Jesus starts to build a home inside us. While this may freak some out upon initial hearing, it’s nevertheless true. Once we become saved, Christ inhabits our hearts (Ephesians 3:17). And as He moves in, He overwhelms us with a love that never lets go (Hebrews 13:5). But that’s not all! We are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help stay connected to Christ through thick and thin (Romans 5:5, John 16:13-14).

Yet, sometimes an important truth falls through the cracks. To be truly saved, Christ must be both Lord and Savior of our entire lives. If God is not King of everything, then darkness begins eroding the places God should be. We know every good and perfect thing comes from God (James 1:17), but it is our sin that vetoes His will and grounds us in our own decadence. Whenever we are stuck in the mud spiritually, chances are we haven’t done well in listening to God’s voice and abiding by the Spirit.

Now, the heart is the most important organ in the body. Without it, we die; with it, our life beats on. Perhaps this is why the Bible emphasizes our hearts as God’s dwelling place and refers to it as a wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23*). It’s a clear starting point for God’s nature to spread throughout our entire being. In other words, what starts in the heart, doesn’t end in the heart! The danger with sin is that it stops this holy flow from impacting the other parts of the body. In this sense, sin is like spiritual cholesterol.

Point is: surrendering our hearts in the moment is much easier than surrendering our entire lives during an entire lifetime. This is why we have to be careful not be caught up in spiritual highs. For highs can’t sustain fire like God can. Think about it: did God intend the Christian life to be like an escalator or roller-coaster? At all times, Jesus must have it all**.

So while our hearts may be surrendered***…
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our minds, we will struggle to employ wisdom and discernment in our decision-making and be bound by vanity and ignorance.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our feet and legs, we will be a slave to fear and anxiety.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our arms and hands, we will not be able to give effectively and shine God’s compassion on those less fortunate than us.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our habits, we will become chained to a diseases, disorders and/or distractions.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our eyes/strength, we will give in to lusts and impurities and other corrupt desires of the flesh.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our ears/mouth, we will fall into gossip, slander and deception.
  • If we don’t allow God to have control of our will, we will disobey more often and develop a self-centeredness lifestyle.
  • If we don’t allow God total control over our heart (partly surrendered), we will wrestle with deficits of joy, love and passion.
  • If we don’t allow God, then we can’t cultivate have real faith. And without real faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
God didn’t design our new life in Him – what we inherit after we become saved – to be crippled and handicapped. In the physical, some may be born without limbs, but in the spiritual, we are made whole and complete in God’s love (1 John 4:12). It’s like having our own Avatar experience! It makes no sense to have feet, but live as if you didn’t have them. It’s insane to have eyes and act as if you can’t see.

Footnotes

* Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”
** What part of Matthew 22:37 & John 14:21 do we NOT understand?
*** We want the benefits of God living inside of us, but don’t want to ‘go all the way’ with Jesus.

WHY?
  • Fear of intimacy with God
  • Fear of failing God
  • Fear of what we would have to sacrifice to give it our all
  • Fear of what others say/think
  • Fear of not getting anything in return

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