Thursday, March 28, 2013

Almost "Home"

In two short weeks, I will be a married man - husband to the woman dreams can never capture. And as I prepare a place for her, I am filled with rapturous rhapsody, yet overcome with exotic emotion. For I cannot, for the life in me, locate any expressive means to convey the firework of fervor within. And as I live out the final 378 hours as a supremely conquered bachelor, I am discovering indefinable peace amidst such a vulnerable uprising.

Still, the whispers of “Mrs. Fry” crescendo in my ears. From sidewalk to greenway, I tread the earth in a cloud of butterflies. To say I’m nervous would be a huge understatement. But how can I not be in the wake of fulfilled companionship? Of two individuals becoming one flesh? A divine romance starting out on a journey for the ages? It’s all part of what cannot be entirely fathomed this side of heaven. Yes, perfect love drives out fear, but it sure cannot drive out the flame of desire, cure impatience and stabilize an eager heart.

My prayers now eye a supernatural calm to contest the readiness. I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. Excitement itself could compose a prelude to the paradise forthcoming.

No wonder Paul led off with "love is patient"...

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There comes a point in almost every engagement, when the physical, emotional and spiritual synergy between two love-struck individuals reaches a pivotal point. Many couples can relate to being "marriage ready" months before the big day. Lyssah and I certainly know the feeling. However, it's important for fiancés to engage an important truth during the anticipation stage. No matter the feeling, the waiting is never in vain. When every emotion, desire and hope is bowed before the Lord, greater reliance and dependence on the Spirit fills us and ultimately leads us to a fresh appreciation of the very things necessary to live a good and godly life. And as dependence is sown, endurance and perfected patience are two of the many fruits reaped in return. Strength rides on waiting and resting, yielding and obeying. Such is the recipe for supernatural calm - something I needed desperately last week...

How great is our God to reveal the vastness of his grace through his provisions for us. For every season, He knows exactly how to equip us for His glory. For every season, He must always be enough...

 
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Monday, March 25, 2013

The Power of Praise

- In recent days, I've been contemplating what real praise and rejoicing looks like, based on biblical analysis and sermonistic inspirations. After refining my interpretations, here are five take-aways for thought:


1) The power of praise and the power of rejoicing are profound components to worship. While praise is accomplished in the present by aligning it to both past and future, rejoicing invests entirely into the future through the sacrifice of the present (circumstantial expectations and entitlements).

"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure." ~ Isaiah 25:1 (ESV)

2) If illumination is to be sustained, we must see the reason to worship as essential to human existence. For praise, in purest form, surpasses all modifiers and qualifiers in a given verbal arsenal. So until we drill down on its comprehensive significance, worship will abate into a “legalistic loyalty”*, without seeking and applying supernatural discernment.

3) There are two primary solutions to break this religious liability: a) to praise in spirit and truth (John 4:24)and b) rejoice into circumstances, not “because of” them. While worshipping and proclaiming truth challenges us, worshipping in Spirit transcends all understanding and prevents praise from becoming systematic.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." ~ Psalm 43:5 (ESV)?2

"Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation." ~ Psalm 85:5-7 (ESV)

"With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways." ~ Psalm 119:13-15 (ESV)

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." ~ Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)

4) Praise is illogical to a pride-centered world, but if we’re to assume the converse – that praise is logical to its selfless counterpart, then we risk pride and false security. Pursuers of surrender can still fall into comatose service time to time.  

"Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." ~ Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)

5) Ultimately, for praise to be real, a vibrant connect must exist between the heart of man and the heart of God. Worship is more than a vertically streamlined, melodious current; it is relational intimacy in highest form, progressively refreshening an awareness of what God desires for and of us.

* Inspired by Jack Hayford’s book, ‘Prayer: Invading the Impossible”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Relentless Pursuing

February 23, 2013: The past 27 hours, I’ve been aspersed amidst a sea of youth, meditating on the meaning of “Relentless Pursuit”. And though my contemplations are still settling, what I can say with utmost confidence is the pulse of this year’s Acquire the Fire is beating with these youth in a profound way. As luminous spheres of light encounter raised hands, God is breathing life like fire upon the altar of expectancy – as an infectious flame uniting desperation among an emerging Jesus culture. Truly God is molding slogan not only into an immediate battlecry, but also as a tangible, long-term reality. How magnificent it is to be surrounded by inspirational prayer, desperate to see spiritual highs offset by real transformation.

When I consider the intersection between the emerging generation and the church, I wonder why theology and discipleship are inadvertently misplaced on the backburner of ministerial priorities, and if somehow, this has any connection to young minds believing God is conditional in nature. While most churches defend missional values, the fact is young people sitting on the outskirts of relational intimacy with Christ are not understanding how God never stops pursuing us. Blame religion. Blame fatherlessness. Blame hypocrisy. The effects of the matter seem unchanged.

However, this trend is starting to break, and as Acquire the Fire sweeps the country, the time is now for leaders to embrace a higher desire to see this side of God penetrate unenlightenment on route to permanent establishment inside the hearts of today’s youth. We may not understand perfect patience; we may not understand the idea of being divinely wooed; we may not fathom the absolute nature of God. But this does not compromise a Savior who is uncompromising, who stands unyielding on our behalf.

To intensify faith, God is calling us to indulge in the work He is doing. If we truly believe God relentlessly pursues each heart and can use a generation to accomplish mighty things, why are we so content on only singing about it? Why are we, as the body of Christ, indifferent to holiness and often shy away from complete surrender by denying God into every intimate corner of our lives? Do we stop to think perhaps that’s what young people really need these days? To have this modeled for them? To have mentors, teachers, family and friends eradicate intimidation of a sovereign God’s love, through the demonstration of wholehearted devotion?

I believe many youth are sincerely hungry for the transforming fire of God – to have a supernatural experience launched into celebratory matrimony. However, it’s easy to this analytical mind to speculate if these kids comprehend what transforming fire really is and what it looks like. I mean, who am I to say I fully grasp such power to effectively communicate and radiate it. All I know is this: to find the answers, we can't simply accept truth; we must run after it. And by running after truth, we recipricate the way God blesses us each and every day.

So as I process my doubts and hopes, I can’t help but want to bridge this divide somehow. I can’t help but want to show young people the joy of everything from Spirit baptism to everyday perseverance, while continuing to grow in the likeness of Christ. But for now, I feel like all I can do is return to basics, and re-emphasize what Acquire the Fire achieved is achieving so well tonight - how God never lets us go and never forsakes us during life’s marking moments.


Colossians 3:1-4 (MSG)


"So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ."


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