Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Answering Questions with a Question

Wisdom does not always provide easy answers. Neither does it answer the deep questions about life from the same shallow resource pool of information used by the asker to frame their inquiry. Wisdom responds from a deeper source of revelation not considered when there is a demand for a quick and simple answer. God is not nervous or hurried in how He responds to the questions asked by people, neither should we.
Jesus had a unique way of answering questions posed by people trapped by an Earth-bound perspective regarding life and spirituality. He answered some of their questions with a question to help the inquirer step out of the shallows of their current mindset to entertain the depths of a greater reality. The Lord’s encounter with the rich young ruler is one such example.  “Good Teacher,” the young man inquires, “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good?” 
Most evangelical Christians would pounce on the opportunity offered by the young man’s question inviting the man to bow his head in the supermarket checkout line to make sure he got saved. I don’t fault those who take this approach. I just think more is at play.
Jesus was after something deep inside the man’s heart - something still uncovered that could hinder Lordship if not addressed. It would require wisely crafted questions to uncover this hidden treasure of possibility.

After telling Jesus he had kept all the Law, the young man asked another question, “What am I still lacking?” Jesus, going deep into the place of the man’s misplaced identity, told him to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. The Lord's answer went to the real heart issue, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” The Scripture tells us the rich young ruler went away sad from this encounter. 

Many of our first answers to the questions asked by individuals and the broader culture are not the answers God would provide. Wisdom will ask us to pause before we respond to a surface inquiry. In the pause, revelation has an opportunity to come and help us ask the kind of questions that can actually get to the heart of the issue being addressed. That is the kind of wisdom that has the ability to answer the deepest questions about life if we will give it a place in our dialogue.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dissolving Assumptions

This morning, I was corresponding with a friend who is an American citizen living outside the United States. We were talking about life and faith. As I wrote to him, I remarked, "I realize now that I know less than my assumptions have led me to believe." 

Our assumptions can become a barrier to a life of faith. We all have assumptions about how to live this life and how to interpret difficult sections of Scripture. We have assumptions about God and His Kingdom and about who God should love and what that love should look like.

I have come to realize we actually know less than what our assumptions so confidently declare. This is why our life of faith must boil down to Jesus alone. He is the purest essence of our faith. There is a danger in this boiling down process. We can stop the process at the shallow depth of our intellect or at our narrow interpretation of Scripture or a hardened political stance. Our faith must boil down to the depths of Jesus Christ and Him alone, or you and I will continue to follow our assumptions giving them a place of authority in our life they should never occupy. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Your Unknown Audience

Every life has an unknown audience. These are people who are being affected by your life. They are people you will most likely never meet. They will only be discovered in eternity.

On this blog, I have an analytic device that tells me how many people read my blog each month and where my readers live. My blog program offers another analytic I only recently noticed. It describes an audience with the title, Unknown Region. This unknown group makes up about a third of my readers. The unknown designation can be for a variety of reasons. They can be spammers, restricted nations or merely a group of people whom the blog analytic cannot define due to the device they use. I don’t care. As long as people are reading about God and His love, I am good with that.

As I pondered my readers in this Unknown Region, I thought of some of you reading this article. You think the impact of your life is limited to just the circles of relationship currently known to you. I want to suggest that an unknown audience is also being touched by your life. Hell wants to lie to you and say you don’t have a significant platform and your voice only echoes within your known sphere of influence and relationships. You actually have significance beyond what is seen or heard in your normal daily routine. 

Today, pray for the watchers and listeners of your life in your Unknown Region. These people are being transformed through the testimony of your life and the on-going work of the Spirit. This realization isn’t about becoming proud. It is about discovering a God who can transmit the witness of your life into people and regions you never knew even existed. Raise your eyes and look beyond what you can see with your natural sight and God will begin to show you the reach of your life of faith. This discovery will amaze you, and it will humble you. 

“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Quiet Things

The quiet things speak the most profound messages.

a cloud moving across a blue sky 
a mother looking at the face of her sleeping child
a leaf falling in an autumn breeze
a romantic glance between lovers 
a touch of the Spirit 

Press through the noise and clatter of life and find these moments. In them, a message from God resides, as does the peace your soul hungers to experience.

Uncluttering Our Faith - Preparing for the Next Move of God

I awoke this morning having experienced a dream that was a bit unusual. Without going into all the details, I was in a very dated place. The buildings looked like something out of a 1930’s movie. People were attired in fashions from eighty years ago. The style, methods of communication and personal interaction did not fit into our contemporary life. What I saw in the dream was the norm back in the day, but it was frustrating for me as a dream-visitor. 

In the dream, I was a composite image of a person, both within the Church and culture, who wanted to move forward with God into the next epoch of revival and reformation. The frustration I felt was because in the dream I realized this dated way of thinking and interacting with culture would be unable to keep up with the current realities of life or engage people in a way that could most effectively communicate the Gospel.

After rising this morning, I forgot the dream and headed to my computer to begin my morning writing ritual. A few minutes into my first cup of coffee, I began to sense a stirring about a coming move of God – a significant and life-altering change in our current reality. 

To engage in what is coming, we must be willing to change and become a people who can bring solutions and options not currently on the table. This will require that each of us be willing to unclutter our faith. If not, those with whom we interact will begin to feel like I felt in this dream when encountering an expression of faith that is encumbered and no longer able to carry the substance of Spirit-empowered change.

Clutter can begin to accumulate when we feel overwhelmed by life and stop pressing in for something more because we can barely handle the stress of the moment. It comes when we think our opinions are the only valid opinions in the larger conversations taking place in culture. When religious clutter is stored and stacked in the halls of our mind, we can appear to the world like an isolated hoarder fearful that the “good ole days” will be lost if we don’t hang on to everything from our past that no longer works.

It is time to unclutter our faith. Once we start removing the clutter, we can begin mopping the halls of our thinking. Uncluttering our faith is part of an on-going and never-ending spiritual process. It is the evidence of a mind being renewed for the glory of God. 






Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Poetic Life

I like the sound of creaky wood-framed screen doors. Streets without curbs and gutters. Old dogs. Rifles with wood stocks and the feel of a well worn genuine leather Bible. What I like about each of these things is the longevity they represent. There is nothing wrong with modernity. It serves a purpose, but it lacks a poetic feel. Today, look for the poetry in life. It will bring a sense of belonging and place that the quick and efficient can never deliver.

The Power of the Pause

I use a writing program called Grammarly.  Grammarly was suggested to me by a friend who is an accomplished, best-selling author. The program has been very helpful. It has revealed the places in my grammar that need improvement.

Each month, I get a copy of my grammatical errors. My most repeated error is in the use of commas. Commas, when properly used, separate parts of a sentence to make it more readable. Commas are like taking a literary breath. Without them, a sentence can appear crowded and run together. Maybe each of us can learn something from the proper use of commas.

In our world, there appears to be a great deal of breathless conversation taking place. People are passionate about their positions, both social and theological. In these intense conversations, we need to discover the power of a pause. In a moment where we provide a conversational pause (a verbal comma) is where the Spirit is given time to drop a fresh word of revelation into our mind.  The content of these words can move the conversation past just another hurried attempt to prove our point or bolster our current position. 

God has a lot to say at this moment in history. Those who make room for a Spirit-directed pause will be the ones who receive the kind of revelation that is able to communicate most clearly the heart of God and the way forward. The words released after these conversational commas are inserted into the dialogue will be the conversations that carry the greatest potential for change.