Thursday, January 14, 2010

are you willing?

The word “willing” has come into my path a lot lately and I know God has a very specific reason and special meaning for this word. He has continued to teach me the true meaning of willing through the word used in the bible and the word used throughout my life everyday, but one thing seems constant throughout, anytime we attempt to define a word God holds sacred we find ourselves not being able to fully express the meaning. Many times, this creates a negative view from others who see other sides to the than the meanings or implications I have described. SO, that noted, I know that I in my human body can not/could not possibly describe to full capacity the definition of a word that is so divine. (so just bare with me)

Many times people pray as follows: Lord, please “HELP ME” to be a light towards others. Now, yes of course we need our Father’s help but isn’t it true that we HAVE his help because the Holy Spirit is already living inside of us? Don’t get me wrong, it has taken me many years to figure out that God is already helping us even before we ask for the help. SO would it not be better to say Lord, please “teach me” to be a light towards others? Yes, I believe this is correct in asking God to continue to teach us what we do not know, but then once we ask this of Him, He will not help us be patient, kind, righteous, or truthful, He will continue to give us the opportunity to be all of these things. Just as a teacher gives us tests to see if we know everything she has taught us, God (the ultimate teacher) will give us tests to see if we know everything He has taught us. The Holy Spirit has “willingly” given us the knowledge of these characteristics: patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and of course we have been given them in the bible also. Which means we “know” how to do all of these things, but when it comes time for the test, we fail time and time again and God continues to give us more and more opportunities to be each one of these things. The bigger problem I run into is my frustration that comes when God is testing me and I know what I should do but I still do not do the right thing. This is where the word willing comes into play. Are we willing to learn or will we get frustrated and move on? Are we “willing” to take the tests God gives us or will we stop asking because we don’t think God is “helping” us? As we grow in and with the Spirit we allow Hiim to teach us more and more things, but in our flesh the more we notice that we are not doing something right the more we dwindle the Spirit’s work inside and “outside” of us. Now, another meaning of willing is noted in this story: Betty is walking down the concourse and she sees somebody who looks like she is having a bad day. Betty just recently prayed to God asking Him if He would help her to be a light on her campus. Now, Betty has two choices at this point, she can ignore the girl and pass by her like the other 20,000 students did or she can stop and see if the girl is okay or give her a smile/hug. Betty’s Spirit is “willing” to stop and ask her if she is okay, but her “human” side of her has already decided it would be weird/awkward/embarrassing. Every single time Betty passes by someone who needs help and knowingly ignores the person, she is dwindling the true act and love of the Spirit. She is dwindling the desire and cry of the Holy Spirit inside of her. So there is a bigger question in all of this: Why do we constantly dwindle the Holy Spirit inside of us? “OUR SPIRIT IS WILLING BUT OUR FLESH IS SO WEAK.” We cannot and will not ever become completely faithful and listen to the Spirit inside of us, because we are stuck in this wretchedness called flesh. Gnosticism is a heresy in the Vrkirche (early church) that said Jesus didn’t have a human body because how could God take on the human body? After seeing the way our human body’s diminish the Holy Spirit and do not allow Him to work fully, I can understand where these people are coming from, BUT while we are stuck in this human flesh, we are found to have hope because of Jesus Christ’s successful walk on this earth. He in flesh and body came down to this earth in full power of our Father, and with the Holy Spirit living inside of Him. On His walk on earth He was and is perfect. HE WAS WILLING IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT TO WORK AND DO THINGS ONLY FULLY WILLING PEOPLE CAN DO. And for moments in our lives we have spurts of willingness in both parts of ourselves (body and spirit). These are the times when we cannot get any closer to God and say, feel, and do things that people could never dream of.

Matthew 8:1-4 says, “When He came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, “Lord, if you are WILLING, you can make me clean.” (Now personally, I would have said, who do you think I am, you really don’t think I, JESUS CHRIST can do this, come on watch this….but, Jesus in His pureness…) “reached out His hand and touched the man. “I AM WILLING,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “see that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

The Lord, our brother, the Son of God, WAS WILLING to heal this man. Obviously the word willing is taken seriously in this passage especially because it allowed Jesus to show us what “willing” means. Do you think if we were willing (body and Spirit), we could perform miracles?

I was reading this book called Love Has a Face by Michele Perry, who is a missionary in Sudan, who was for one second “willing” to go to the ends of the earth for Jesus Christ. Throughout her book there are many moments she goes through when her heart is wearied, burdened and she doubts whether she should have originally been willing, but in MANY OTHER MOMENTS she is caught in a point of humility, caught in a moment of willing ambition and dreams in faith, and these are the moments when food comes from 8 hours away when they are in need but don’t have any way of getting it, when people can walk again after being healed of back problems, and when children teach adults because have been given the power through Christ. I believe that Michele Perry has been willing in body and Spirit to do God’s will.

I also believe that this willingness of body and Spirit is what makes the difference between a sermon that is rehearsed, outdated, or “nonmoving” and a sermon which the Holy Spirit has given because a human was willing. I wonder how much our lives would changed if we challenged ourselves to be more willing or willing period? I wonder if it would affect our homes, our friends, our peers, our campus, our state, our nation, or our world? I am forced to believe after coming to know more of the definition of the word willing, that this single word, if used to it’s full potential could change the way we think act, and do, and could CHANGE OUR WORLD.

Maybe that is exaggerated, maybe it’s not? Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

“Christ died for the ungodly. Now most people would not be WILLING to die for an upright person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” Romans 5:7

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me WILLING to obey you.” Psalm 51:12

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me

There is so much I want to say but, obviously it is not about what I want to say but about what God HAS to say. As I debrief, come back to reality, and slowly come to know and feel I am still living in my earthly/fleshly body, I realize what God did at Passion. He was apparently willing to teach me a lot about myself and being a Christian, but He was sure to make sure I left that place knowing one thing:

Passion is a conference with 20,00+ students, Louie Giglio, David Crowder Band, Hillsong, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Charlie Hall, and John Piper, but more importantly than all of those, God. As Stew (my college minister) asked the question: “how can we bring this back to Auburn,” my mind and heart and body was raging against me, the Holy Spirit did not allow me to prepare a response to this question but He purely had to respond right then and there, no questions asked. He said: the definition of Passion is: a trait of intense emotion. Well yes, Passion the conference was definitely surrounded by an infiltrated with intense emotion, but it is not because of 20,00+ students, Louie Giglio, David Crowder Band, Hillsong, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Charlie Hall, and John Piper. The “passion” we as Christians should experience every day whether we are in Atlanta, Georgia or Auburn, Alabama, is a passion, an intense emotion we can not help but encounter and feel as we daily respond to God’s life within us. How could we not wake up every day and be in complete and utter humiliation and joy, and peace at the thought that the Creator is LIVING INSIDE OF US. The simple yet most complex thought continuously overwhelms my every humanly expression by bringing me to tears, shock, and speechlessness. Is that the idea of “Passion” the conference, is that what brought us to tears, shock, and speechlessness that God is residing and stirring our hearts or is it that we were overwhelmed by the fact that there were 20,000 students and so many wonderful speakers? If we go back to our corresponding campuses and get caught up in wanting to be back in Atlanta with 20,000 other Christians then the entire passion conference was a waste in our life (bold statement I know). But if the people around us our friends, family, peers, and fellow Christians see a difference in us and we can not help but say that God showed up in our Christmas break, then we have got it. We had the overwhelming undeserving opportunity to attend a conference hundreds of thousands of people would have died to come to, and NOW “it is our duty and responsibility to share our blessings” (stew). Throughout the bible there are verses upon verses speaking of “blessings,” but one thing that continues and is apparent in each one of them is that blessings are not meant to be held, confined, and selfishly used, they are meant to be shared. Romans 15:27 says, “For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.” We owe it to other believers to share in not only the blessing of going to passion, but all of our other blessings. What more could we want for the Kingdom of God, then to bless His people abundantly? This is an act of worship, to surrender and sacrifice the blessings God has so given to us, the undeserving people. We cannot and must not surrender these blessings when we feel we have to, but only when the Holy Spirit is so tremendously giving us the joy that comes from selflessly sacrificing. I do believe and know that this semester is going to be different, but I also know that God is personally holding each and everyone of us to a very high standard, a standard which requires us to sacrifice things we enjoy doing and buying. We are called to be Jesus to others yet we do not recognize this calling every single day of our lives. We are indeed warriors for the cause of Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means we are A NEW NEW NEW CREATION, not the old person who was stuck in selfishness not willing to give up time and money for the cause of Christ! If we are a new creation we are supposed to live as Jesus called us to live. Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me. (Luke 9:23)