Saturday, March 31, 2007

On Calvary

“On Calvary, Jesus seals his election as Messiah, holds firm to it despite the loneliness and desolation that are exerting tremendous pressure against his self-awareness as Son-Servant-Beloved.” Brennan Manning, The Importance of Being Foolish

The quote above reminded me of an experience I blogged about in May 2005, The Power of Love. Words escape me as I think of that experience and the additional words of Brennan Manning.

“The Cross confronts us with the cost of discipleship, reminds us that there is no cheap Pentecost, and carries within it the living power to enable us to endure the inevitable humiliations, rejections, sacrifices, and loneliness that the journey to higher Christian consciousness imposes.” Brennan Manning, The Importance of Being Foolish pg 170

Do you know the Power of Love? Can you hold firm to your commitment, your devotion, your passion for the purpose of Christ and the purpose of your life despite all circumstances?

My dear friend, wherever you are in your relationship with the all-knowing, all-loving God, know this: the power of love is greater than anything you can imagine. The power of love will hold you to a cross and raise you up out of the stench of death. The power of love will give you a sense of indescribable peace and passion for everyone around you – friend or foe. The power of love will give you a perspective like nothing you can reason on your own understanding.

This Easter, look at the cross and ask this question until you experience the answer from the all-powerful God. Why would a man - who, if he were God, could have called on 10,000 angels; if he were only human, could have denied the accusations to avoid suffering - allow mere mortals to pound stakes into his flesh?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Praying Against the Enemy

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. Psalm 108:12-13

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12

The Old Testament without the understanding of the New Testament (and vice versa) can make us think we are all there is to creation.

I’ve found there is nothing more powerful than praying in agreement with others. I’ve also found there is only one way to truly pray in agreement and that is by allowing the Holy Spirit to voice our prayers. In my experience, this happens most often when there is more silence than talking in the group praying.

When we voice our prayers from what is only on our minds, we tend to see the enemy as the people around us. When we allow the Holy Spirit to word our prayers, the power of God and the love of God reveal the true enemy. The love of God causes us to pray for that person who is persecuting us.

That enemy is not flesh and blood. That enemy cannot be seen or experienced through our physical senses. The enemy is often manifested through people which is why we end up praying for God to remove individuals from the influence of those we love. But the heart of God is to separate the enemy from those people who are being used as weapons by the enemy. The power of God’s love in our innocent children may be the very ones who trample down the enemy.

The Old Testament provides example after example of the insignificance of the strength of man. If our enemy is another person, then outnumbering that person would be all we need for victory. Gideon discovered this truth. Sometimes we can outnumber the people but if we really want lasting victory we need to listen to God. (Read Judges 7) Otherwise, we will constantly be in battle.

What battles are you fighting?

Is your prayer against a physical instrument or the spiritual enemy?

What battles do you see in our country, in the world, that are focused on people rather than the true enemy?

How can you pray and encourage others to recognize that even our political battles are not against flesh and blood?

Pray against the real enemy.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Purpose in Unity

“I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

I’ve been asking myself why I spend time trying to write – or anything that requires so much time, effort, and rejection. In God’s faithfulness he answered my questions with the verse above and the wise counsel of friends.

A friend challenged me with questions that helped me to understand my passion more clearly. In the past I have stated my passion as a desire to inspire others into intimacy with Christ. Her questions revealed my deeper desire. I don’t really want to influence people. My influence is limited and short lived. My desire is to find others who are in an intimate relationship with Christ.

Three verses that have stood out to me for some time are:

John 17:23 “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Ephesians 4:10-13 “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Yes, we are called to make disciples. But no one can be a disciple unless God the Father has enabled him. John 6 is full of clarity of the fact that we cannot draw people to Christ. Only God can draw people to himself. I am convinced that we make disciples – not only of others but of ourselves – by uniting with others who have been drawn by God.

Then, when those who have been drawn and are growing and united, those who God is drawing will see and know God’s love through Christ. They will then unite with those who are already united. It’s pretty simple really.

Jesus says his yoke is easy and burden is light. We complicate things by putting pressure on ourselves to draw people to Christ. The pressure is off of me. I don’t have to build my speaking, writing and consulting business to save the world. God has given me this opportunity to unite with others.

You see, I want to unite with those who have experienced the power and presence of an intimate relationship with Christ. Not for protection but for the purpose of letting the world see God’s love. I find them when I share my thoughts in writing and they respond. I find them when I ask questions that only a consultant is allowed to ask. I find them when I speak and someone looks into my eyes with the “that’s happened to me too” look.

When I unite, others will see and unite also. Now that is powerful purpose!

“I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” Psalm 89:2

Friday, March 09, 2007

Crisis - Why Do We Care?

“Local people that don’t even know us…have bought our kids shoes, clothes, food, drink. It’s amazing.” – Robert Moore, father of Bluffton University baseball player (March 05, 2007

"We stand together tonight not as Democrats or Republicans but as citizens of the world, as Americans, as brothers and sisters with pain and with hurt," said Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. "We are a circle of trust that cannot be broken. We are one people. We are one family. We are one nation." (September 11, 2001

Crisis always heightens our awareness of others… at least for some period of time.

Turn on the news or pick up a newspaper. You will see stories of people in crisis. Some major. Some seem minor to those not involved. Why do we care?

I am convinced that the Bible is not about do’s and don’ts but about relationship. The relationship between people and mankind’s relationship to God.

Some may ask – as I have – why would a loving God allow such horrible things to happen. I’m not going to attempt to say I understand the answer but I have discovered something about crisis in my personal life. Crisis brings people into relationship. Strangers give of their time, money and possessions. They risk their own safety for people they’ve never seen before. Friends take extra steps to share themselves and to cry with those they’ve only laughed with. We discover others are just like us.

Satan has successfully deceived this culture into believing individualism, self-sufficiency and independence are things to achieve. Those are the very things that pull us apart. We blame others for our struggles and we view God only as a rule maker.

Sad to say, but crisis seems to be the only thing that makes our nation Christ-like anymore.

I think there is something in all of us that wants to be in relationship with others. It’s called love. It comes from God alone. The greatest commandments, Jesus said, are to love God and love your neighbors. Maybe Jesus wasn’t saying “this is what you must do or else.” Maybe he was saying “the most fabulous component of your human programming is to love. The success of everything else in your life depends on this element functioning properly.”

So why do we care when there is a crisis? It is part of our natural design. We are created and programmed to care.

I keep saying I’m going to invite neighbors over for dinner. Have other families over just to visit, play cards, and laugh. Lord, may I do it before a crisis hits.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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