Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Source of Life

 Tonight my pastor taught on John 15, and honestly it hit me like a wrecking ball. (Insert your own Miley Cyrus joke here.)

John 15:1-8 and 16-17   “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

If you have followed the Lord for any amount of time, you have probably heard a sermon or 8 on this section.  It probably went something like this.

1    If you are a Christian, you are expected to bear fruit. Meaning, there should be positive effects on your life and most possibly others’ lives that can be seen because of how you live.
2    If you are a Christian, you will be pruned.  God will strip you of things to make you more like Himself, and it will be painful.
These are both super important points.  I could talk about each for a long time, but hearing them again wasn’t what rocked me tonight.  What rocked me was the idea that there is a source of life.

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers…”  Michel Henry said, “God is life, he is the essence of life, or if we prefer, the essence of life is God.”

I’m not sure where along the way I forgot this, but I have.  Doing anything, including and especially ministry, for any period of time without seeking out the source of life… that’s a slow painful death.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

I felt a renewed desire to seek out life today.  To sit at Jesus’ feet and let Him breathe it into me.  I hope it's contagious.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Silence and Submission pt. 2

What’s this passage actually saying?
 1) Being women does not give us an excuse to not seek out the truth that is God.  Having a husband, father, or pastor who believes is not enough.  We are children of God and therefore are called to search out the Lord and all that He would teach us.

2) The issue of women teaching or leading men isn’t about capability. Paul says a woman shouldn’t teach or have authority over the man given two reasons: because man came first, and because woman sinned first.  So, lets back up. 
In Genesis 2, God sets Adam in the garden, tells him to take care of it, to not eat the fruit on one tree, and then states, “It is not good that man should be alone: I will make him a helper comparable to him.”  There was no one else like Adam, and God pitied his solitude.  He made him a “helper comparable to him”.  I read dozens of studies on this phrase as I’ve been trying to figure all this out.  But the common theme is this: Eve was made because a)It was never meant for man to be alone.  He needed to be loved and to love. And b) He literally needed a helper.
The issue here is that “helper” is seen as a position of inferiority in the world we live in now.  Eve’s position was one of honor.  In fact Jesus said, “But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant…just as (I) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give (my) life a ransom for many.”  Putting yourself in the position of service is not weakness to Christ.  But it is true leadership and love. Eve was a partner “comparable” to Adam, unlike the animals he was charged with caring for.  They couldn’t be companions for him.  He needed an equal, and that was Eve. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Silence and Submission- pt 1

            A friend came to me the other day with some questions about a passage in 1Timothy. (9-15)  As soon as she told me the passage, I knew exactly what questions were coming, because they are a lot of concerns that I have had to and continue to work through.

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1Tim 2:11-14 nkjv

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 1Tim 2:11-14 NIV

When I was younger, I honestly thought I would never fit into the church, because I had no desire to be a quiet submissive woman.  I thought that Christianity called for a woman that I couldn’t actually be: A woman who didn’t have her own opinions, who implicitly trusted, who never questioned, who was seen and not heard (unless she was with children, because it was definitely her job to lead and instruct them.)

            This is a super hard section of scripture for me to read, (especially out of context) and I wont even pretend to be an expert on these matters.  But I will share with you what God has been teaching me.
            Out of context, I’d take (and have once taken) that passage to mean- 1) Women should be seen not heard. 2) Women aren’t capable of teaching men. 3)Women aren’t good or strong enough to lead men. 4) All of the above are true, because women are weaker than men and more susceptible to being deceived.
            I will never be a woman who will accept those things as truth!  I am strong, intelligent, independent, and more than capable.  I had to grow up and start taking care of myself at a very young age. Because of that, I have never felt like the “weaker” sex. And if I believed God cared for me less because I was a woman, I wouldn’t call myself a Christian.

Friday, April 6, 2012

An Exercise In Knowing

A few years ago, I read a book called Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  I remember thinking it was a good book, but honestly, I don’t know if I really thought about it a lot after I read it.  I started reading it again this week.
Basically, it is an allegory representing not the conversion of a soul from unsaved to saved, but rather the journey from a (spiritually) young believer to that of someone embracing the life Christ promised- life to the full.
So, this is why I’m writing about this.  The Shepard (Jesus) asks Much Afraid (Yes, that is her name and character) if the flower of Love has been planted in her heart.  After much thought, she answers, “I think that what is growing there is a great longing to experience the joy of natural human love and to learn to love supremely one person who will love me in return.  But perhaps that desire natural and right as it seems, is not the Love of which You are speaking.”
It is definitely the time in my life when I needed to read this, because it blew me away.  It occurred to me that the love most abounding in my heart is not necessarily the Love Christ is trying to grow in me.  That He meant it when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  ALL.
I have been a Christian for a long time, but there are things that I want more than I want God.  Whoa, whoa, calm down.  I am a follower of Christ.  My life is His.  I try my best to please Him, to follow the path He has laid for me.  I will spend the rest of my life pursuing Him.  But I have learned in the last year that my heart is a land of division.  God has offered me the ocean, and I plead for the thimble of water. (Thank you John Piper.)  I want people to know Christ, but I want to be famous for making Him known.  I want to know Christ more and more, but it isn’t what I daydream about.  My heart is a land of division.
I’ve been thinking about what makes us love one another.  And I’ve decided to apply those realities to my relationship with God.  I believe that knowing Him more would ultimately result in my loving Him more.  So, I have set off on a journey to know Him more.  I hope you are encouraged by it.