Posts Tagged ‘Elijah’
[10SEPT2011] Peace in Complexity
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body… Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:13-14, 16 NLT).
There is a reason that life is not “simple.” The reason is because we are complex. We are made in the image of GOD and we are intricately complex as a result. It is no wonder then, when our “flow with the Divine” is broken or disrupted we struggle. We need help with life, and of course, GOD, our Father, knows this… He is always near to guide and support us, His children. We can take comfort in this when the weight of life’s frustrations bear down upon us.
O LORD, I can never escape your presence. I can never escape from your Spirit. No matter where I m, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me (Psalm 139:7-10 NLT).
Philippians 3:18-19; 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell GOD what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience GOD’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:6-7).
This verse encapsulates, for me, the reason it is so important for our existence and being to be rooted in Christ Jesus. There is no (zero) peace without complete trust in Him. Life is simply too complex… we are too complex to “make it on our own.” Life is too complex even if we have help from anywhere other than Jesus Christ. Our help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth! Only through trusting Him will we have the peace that guards our hearts and minds…and keeps us whole.
I was thinking what a great example of peace, sustaining power, divine wisdom and renewal, and godly strength is illustrated in the story of Elijah as he went up against the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth (1 Kings 18:41-19:8). Several things strike me as pertinent to trusting God as our source of strength, peace, and guarding our hearts, minds, and physical well-being as this story unfolds. First, as somewhat of an aside, I am encouraged by the persistent obedience revealed in the character of Elijah’s servant. Second, I witness God giving “special” strength to Elijah at the moments that he needed it. Third, Elijah left his servant and went out alone into the wilderness to be attended to by God and to be instructed personally by God. Fourth, God sustained Elijah supernaturally when it was necessary. Elijah did not have to worry or fret for his needs… each need was provided for him in the portion that he required.
All of these passages reveal a certain theme to me in the calling of God’s people to trust Him with the complexities of life. We are so easily distracted when life hurls a curveball our way… honestly; we have enough trouble just handling the everyday fastballs of life. God says to us that “He’s got this.” Our role is to listen intently to His Voice, trust Him implicitly, and allow His peace to guard our hearts and minds. We are complex creatures. We need Divine guidance to maintain harmony in our complex nature. The only place to find peace for our complexity is in the One who created it.
But I will call upon the LORD, and the LORD will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe. Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall (Psalm 55:16-18, 22 NLT). For your promises are by all the honor of your Name. As soon as I pray, you answer me: you encourage me by giving me strength. The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me (Psalm 138:2-3, 8 NLT).
“Come away with me to a quiet place…” (Mark 6:31)
I wonder why it can be so hard for us to be alone with God…I mean really…alone; the kind of alone where it is only you and God with no other distractions and where you can’t easily “run away.” This type of “alone” I am speaking of can be exhilarating and it can be equally terrifying.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be “alone” with God and the various accounts of men and women being alone with God that I remember off the top of my head from the Bible. I think that I am not alone when I think that the general disposition of humans is they find it difficult to be alone with God. This is pretty sad, but if I am to be honest, I still have times when I find it difficult to be alone with God.
Now, before I venture any further into this thought I need to clarify in case I’m not clear. “Alone time” by my definition is not “quiet time,” or “morning prayers,” and not daily “ambient” walking with God. Alone time, for me, is differentiated by solitude and silence…uncomfortable silence where there are no distractions, no ambient noises or places for our minds/thoughts to go other than to God and to listen only for His Voice and His Instruction. We keep our words to ourselves and we listen and we watch as our hearts are dredged down deep, then we get a comprehensive explanation and commentary from the Ancient of Days about what was dredged up from those hidden dark places in our heart and soul. This is the alone with God I’m speaking of. Does this kind of “alone with God” make you uncomfortable? At times, it does me.
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13 NRSV)
I don’t know that my discomfort is fear, although it might be fearful to be alone with God for some people. I think my discomfort is born from a different place. It seems for me that I have a felt need to make myself ready for God; as if God is not already with me and doesn’t see or recognize my spiritual disheveledness. Really, it almost sounds laughable except for it being true. It’s not that He isn’t already near, but I’m not ready for Him to “invade” my space. I want to make sure my “house” is clean before being alone with God. The image that comes to mind is similar to what we do when we have guests coming to visit our home. I look all around the room and notice each and every fleck of dust, I notice the junk mail laying all around… I see clutter in corners, dirty dishes, and wish I had vacuumed the carpet a day or two ago. My spiritual house isn’t much different from this scene. As I think about it, I think this type of attitude might be common among Christians, but I also think it probably isn’t a healthy attitude. I believe this sort of thinking reveals a misunderstanding of the character of God and the nature of a redeemed and forgiven relationship. So, why do I still do this? What do I think I am presenting to God, if I am “running around” trying to do a spit polish of my soul before meeting with Him? It is as absurd as I am making it sound. If I do this, I think all I am presenting to God is another false identity of who I wish for God to see…no different than the false front I might put on for someone I want to impress with my “best self.” What a mess we are; what a mess I am.
“Have I been with you all this time and yet you still don’t know who I am?” -Jesus (John 14:9)
I think I recognize the sacred and holy mystery that surrounds God and I realize that I am so lacking…and I want to make “my space” appropriately welcoming for my great and loving and forgiving God. The sad reality is that my thinking is a deception of huge proportion. I am the one most damaged by my thinking because I am left in a posture that is blocking the entry of God in my life (that is my inner-most places). I want these inner-most place to be sacred and worthy of the Presence of God, but the truth is He is the One who makes this inner-most place sacred and holy. I block or postpone meeting with the Healer of my inner-most place, deluded in my thinking that I can make it presentable and worthy of Him. If only I would welcome Him as I am, secure with my insecurities before Him, the room of my inner-most heart would become the sanctified home of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. So, why do I wait? I think I should take my cue from the words of King David to his son, Solomon.
My son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously… Be strong and do the work. (1 Chronicles 28:9-10 NLT).
This passage is instruction to Solomon about building the Temple of God. My interpretation for the context of my life considers New Covenant instruction that we, the people of God, redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, are the Temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21). I consider this passage very apropos. The LORD knows every heart, every plan, and every thought. I don’t need to “put off meeting with Him” for any reason…least of all for the reason to ensure my “house is clean.” My responsibility is to remain in an attitude of seeking Him in order that I might learn to know Him intimately. There is nothing more serious than this task and building this temple in partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
My desire is to overcome the “wrong thinking” that would push aside the work of God in my life and choose instead to embrace each and every quiet and alone encounter with the Risen Lord.
Therefore, whatever you do, do it for the love of Christ, and let the intention or end of all your actions look to Him. Do nothing for the sake of human praises but everything for the love of God and the desire for eternal life. -Caesarius of Arles
Praise to the LORD, the Almighty! You, and You alone, are LORD, our good above all others. Open our lives wide, to taste and see that You are good. Deliver me, O LORD, by your hand from those whose portion in life is this world (Psalm 17:14). Even so come, Lord Jesus! Grant me, O LORD, to trust in You with my whole heart. Preserve me with Your mighty power and teach me those things that help me to become more like You. I long to be like the olive tree, thriving in the house of the LORD Almighty. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will, praise You forever, O God, for what You have done. I will trust in Your good name in the presence of Your faithful people (Psalm 53:8-9). This I pray in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Jesus Way Conference – part 2
Recovering the lost content of discipleship… (Midday report)
This morning started with worship in prayer -morning prayers.
Focus: “Worship in the biblical sources and in liturgical history is not something a person experiences, it is something we do, regardless of how we feel about it, or whether we feel anything about it at all. The experience develops out of the worship, not the other way around. Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life” Eugene Peterson -The Jesus Way
“My life is listening, God’s is a speaking.” Thomas Merton -Thoughts in Solitude
We began our worship with breath prayer from Psalm 36:8 and then continued with a responsive prayer and singing of Psalm 95 along with “Come, Worship the Lord.”
This was the first time that I experienced the collective praying of the morning office with 2500 plus people. I have to say it was very powerful and moving. I have been using the Daily Office and the Book of Common Prayer as part of my individual-personal disciplines for a couple years now, but praying together like I participated in this morning with the larger community was really great. There is something supernaturally connecting with the body of Christ when we come together unified in our worship of God.
Take, O take me as I am;
Summon out what I shall be;
Set your seal upon my heart,
And live in me. [Amen]
The first general session and message today was, “Worship: Elijah and The Jesus Way.” Our speaker was Emilie Griffin. One word; “Wow.” No, make that two words; “Simply Awesome.” What an incredible privilege to hear this woman speak. Here are some of the shared thoughts on worship from Emilie Griffin:
Quoting Jesus, she shares; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Great place to start when considering worship…don’t you think? She went on to quote Eugene Peterson from The Jesus Way; “Authentic worship means being present to the living God who penetrates the whole of human life.” Then she unleashed this barrage which is still rocking my heart…
- We should travel the path of Elijah with singleness of focus; embracing what God has given us.
- The hallmark trait of Elijah was his undivided heart; this is a heart of worship…undivided.
- We should be completely surrendered to HIM (Jesus-God).
- We cannot control the experience of God. We should not cling to the experience of God , but we should cling to God Himself. (She brought to our memory the Transfiguration and the disciples’ desire to build shelters to mark the experience. She also highlighted remembrance and reclaiming are very different in their definition)
- We cannot package God, but we can depend on Him for everything.
- Elijah constantly accepted what was given him by God…(solitude, silence, submission, surrender, guidance, and transforming grace)
- If we do not have desert spaces in our lives, we would do good to make desert spaces for ourselves. We need the desolate spaces of solitude to hear the still, small voice.
- We should be able to embrace the hardships that come to us…as God gives them to us or allows them to come to us. Deliverance is always imminent.
This is just a thumbnail of what was our morning. Wow! Thank you Lord for inviting me here.
I am just returning from my first individual workshop of the day (my second will be in about a half hour from now. I don’t have a lot of time to share about this, but it was “Creating a Personal Rule of Life: Lessons from St. Benedict.” I am VERY glad I chose this session and attended it. I will be spending much time with my notes, following up with the presenter (Stephen Macchia), and working to craft a personal Rule of Life for myself as well as the community that I serve.
I will share more this evening…until then, LIVE THE KINGDOM!
In preparation for the Renovare’ conference in San Antonio next Sunday, I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Jesus Way: A Conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way. As with everything I’ve read from Eugene Peterson, I love this book. This is the third book of the Spiritual Theology Series which includes other titles; Eat this Book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, and the latest…Tell it Slant.
The Jesus Way has beaten me up a bit with some of the thoughts that have been stirred in me. I’m still pondering them and letting the Spirit speak to me about some of the areas where I am guilty of trying to “shape” the Jesus Way into the jeff way. I hate it when I do that. I hate it even more when the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention…sigh.
I read a section that really stirred my soul today and I felt affirmed in my own calling. This following excerpt is from Chapter Five of the Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson. Here he is speaking about the role of a Prophet and using the life of Elijah as a comparison example (pps 119-120):
The task of a prophet is to say the name God correctly, accurately and locally -Yahweh, God alive, God personal, God present. Here. Now. Elijah did that-magnificently. But there is more to the way of a prophet than God. There is also the neighbor.
One of the bad habits that we pick up early in our lives is separating things and people into secular and sacred. We assume that the secular is what we are more or less in charge of: our jobs, our time, our money, our opinions, our entertainment, our government, our house and land, our social relations. The sacred is what God has charge of: worship and the Bible, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honor God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say in everything else that goes on outside that space.
Prophets will have none of this. They hold that everything, absolutely everything, takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives, the way we feel and act in the so-called privacy of our hearts and homes, the way we make our money and the way we spend it, the politics we embrace, the wars we fight, the catastrophes we endure, the people we hurt and the people we help. Nothing is hid from the scrutiny of God; nothing is exempt from the rule of God; nothing esc apes the purposes of Gd. The ground is holy; people are holy; words are holy: Holy, holy, holy.
Prophets make it difficult for us to evade God or make detours around God after we leave church or temple or synagogue. Prophets insist on receiving God and dealing with God in every nook and cranny of life. As it turns out, in most of those nooks and crannies there are neighbors. For the prophet, God is as real as the next-door neighbor; the neighbor is as real as God. The neighbor, in fact, gets equal – well, maybe not quite equal, but equally serious – billing with God. Elijah brings the same unrelenting intensity to the cause of Naboth as to Yahweh.
Praise God for His gift of the prophet to His people.