Worship of Will

From Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline pages 5 – 6:

Our ordinary method of dealing with ingrained sin is to launch a frontal attack. We rely on our willpower and determination. Whatever may be the issue for us — anger, fear, bitterness, gluttony, pride, lust, substance abuse — we determine never to do it again; we pray against it, fight against it, set our will against it. But the struggle is all in vain, and we find ourselves once again morally bankrupt or, worse yet, so proud of our external righteousness that “whitened sepulchers” is a mild description of our condition.

In Colossians Paul lists some of the outward forms that people use to control sin: “touch not, taste not, handle not.” He then adds that these things “have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship” (Col 2:20-23 KJV). “Will worship” — what a telling phrase, and how descriptive of so much of our lives! The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over sin by the strength of our will alone is the moment we are worshiping the will. Isn’t it ironic that paul looks at our most strenuous efforts in the spiritual  walk and calls them idolatry, “will worship”.

The will has the same deficiency as the law — it can deal only with externals. It is incapable of bringing about the necessary transformation of the inner spirit.

When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.

Romans 5:17 “… those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness [shall] reign in life through  the one man Jesus Christ.”

Jesus You’re Beautiful

Jesus, You’re Beautiful

Jon Thurlow

 

I know that Your eyes are like flames of fire
I know that Your head is as white as wool
And I know that Your voice it sounds like waters,
Jesus Your Beautiful!

 

Spirit of wisdom, open my eyes again
Spirit of revelation, open my heart again

 

Cause I want to see
Lord I want to see, see You rightly Jesus

 

There is no one like You, Lord
Jesus You’re Beautiful!

 

There is no one like You in the heavens or the earth
There is no one like You in the heavens or the earth

 

 

Me, Elf, and the Almost Christian

Pastor Michelle’s started her sermon by saying that I had inspired it, and what good Christian wouldn’t want to inspire a sermon? Of course in almost Jon Acuff style the sermon turned out to be about almost Christians. I don’t know if Pastor Michelle had me in mind for the whole thing, but if she did I don’t think she would have been completely wrong.

She started off talking about Elf (a character I closely resemble and played in rather hilarious Christmas skit). For a brief primer on the story, the main character is a orphan who stows away in Santa’s bag. Once he’s discovered at the north pole and they realize that he’s an orphan one of the elves volunteers to become his father. This is all fine and dandy till he starts to grow and grow and grow, eventually he realizes that he’s not an elf, so he makes his way to where his biological father lives, NYC. And even though Elf is now where he naturally belongs, he still doesn’t fit in, because he’s spent to long at the North Pole.

Elf’s predicament, is the same predicament the Almost Christian finds himself. Not of this world and not of Christ’s. Caught in an uncomfortable place. The Almost Christian appears to be a Christian in every way, they go to Church, they sing loud and proud, they are generous and ethical. To the natural eye they are a Christian, but God’s eye sees their heart. And the Almost Christian’s heart is far from God. They are ethical and generous because it’s the right thing to do. They go to Church and worship God because it’s the right thing to do. All that’s fine and dandy and those things are right and good, but the Almost Christian treats them as an end in themselves, the tools of their own righteousness. In the face of pressure or when it’s no longer culturally acceptable the Almost Christian will abandon his ethics in his best effort to fit in, much like Elf.

What then is a Christian? Three things differentiate a Christian from an Almost Christian.

  1. They have an all consuming love of God – Who do I have in heaven and earth but You?! Anything that anchors your heart to this world, pulls you away from Christ.
  2. They are driven by Faith. Intellectual belief is not enough. Our minds can change, what we know as facts can change, but the truth remains.
  3. They have an intimate relationship. The revelation of the gospel is that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we may have an intimate relationship with God.
In short real Christianity is complete surrender to God’s will. What motivates you? What makes you happy? Is it really God? As I started out, whether I truly inspired all of Pastor Michelle’s sermon or not, I can definitely see parts (or more than parts) of my life that still fall into the Almost Christian category. The difference perhaps is that I know that, where I am now is not the end, but merely another step down the path that God has laid out for me, path that ends love, faith, and intimate relationship with Christ. The path isn’t always easy or comfortable, but as the Holy Spirit prods my stubborn heart via Pastor Michelle’s sermons 🙂 I know that one day I’ll get there. And what an awesome day that will be!

 

A Remnant is Rising in the Land

We read this in church last Sunday.

A Remnant is Rising in the Land.

Unseen, unrecognized, they know Whose they are and have died to this present world’s ambitions. They want nothing of a consumer Christianity, where God exists for their earthly pleasure. They have caught a whiff of Heaven’s fragrant food, and just the smell has satisfied them more than the sweetest delicacies of this passing age, and motivates them to remember that they are just passing through.

 

A Remnant is Rising in the Land.
They will not be bought or sold with position or money. They are remembering why they “got into this” in the first place – for the Lamb. For Jesus Christ’s honor, for the sake of His worthy name. Their backbones are being steeled in the furnace of affliction, and purified of contemporary dross. They are old-school, hard-core Jesus freaks, and they are not apologizing for it. The remnant is not ashamed!

 

A Remnant is Rising in the Land.
They are blood-bought,and fiercely committed to the Word – the Logos and the Rhema. Something within them stirs because they know they are here on a kairos assignment. They realize that they may have forgotten that for a moment, been diverted off the path for some years, but like soldiers who remember drills from long ago, they are coming to attention and position and awareness. They are here on purpose. They are necessary to Heaven’s narrative. They are not bystanders. They are the players on the stage of His-story.

 

A Remnant is Rising in the Land.
This army is realizing they never should have eaten Babylon’s food in the first place, even if it was served in halls decorated to look like a cheap imitation of Zion. They would rather be pilgrims than settle. They would rather be fools for Christ than wise in the world’s eyes. They would rather be known in Heaven and feared in Hell than recognized on earth. Whatever happens to them in the world really doesn’t matter. They have locked gazes with the Lamb’s eyes, and locked step with the cadence of Heaven’s march. His remnant understand that this is the Final Act and there is no turning back now.

 

A Remnant is Rising in the Land.
They are nowhere to be seen and everywhere to be found. There are very few of them chosen, and a great host of them who will emerge. It’s going to be very, very intense, for the sword they carry is stained with the blood of their lesser desires and their crucified carnality. They’ve had their battles, faced their own personal Valleys of Decision, and made their choice.

 

I have Decided. To Follow Jesus. No Turning Back. We have decided. Have you decided?
Ready or not, here they come.

From Elijah List by Rob Sterns