I saw Rich Mullins in concert a couple of times in the early 90’s. Those two concerts were probably my favorite ones ever and maybe I’ll write about that someday. Today is not that day.
One of the coolest things about Rich’s concerts were the things he said. One thing he said once, to paraphrase, was that “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, but sometimes I want to be about my Father’s business.” I totally get that. Fortunately vengeance isn’t all that God is up to.
I was reading Isaiah 45:7 the other day and saw a couple of things that the Lord is up to at any time.
He is the one forming light. Imagine that. He didn’t just say “Let there be light” and be done with it. He is continually forming light. It doesn’t end. This act is still going on.
He is creating darkness. We might tend to think that before creation there was nothing but darkness. That’s not what scripture says. it says that He is creating darkness. Each night, when the day is done, dark is created again. Tomorrow the same. Darkness is created over and over.
He causes well-being. It doesn’t just happen for us. We aren’t just lucky to have things go well for us. Circumstances aren’t just good for no good reason. God is behind those things that are good.
God creates calamity. Why? The same reason He makes things good. He is the Lord. He does all these things. He is God. He can do that if that’s what He wants to do.
Forming. Creating. Causing. Light. Darkness. Good. Bad.
God is doing these things. He is God. He is our Father.
He is being about His business.
Let’s get busy being about His business.
Forming. Creating. Causing. Whatever field you’re in. Whatever you are called to do. Be about His business.
What or Whose business are you being about?
Matthew 8 begins with Jesus coming down from the mountain. He had just spent a good deal of time teaching and preaching. I might compare it to an outdoor camp meeting/tent revival, but better. After all, it had the Lord himself there, not just those of us who fall a bit short.
It might have been tempting to stay up on the mountain. The folks really wanted to hear Him. They wanted to follow Him. They may have wanted to stay with Him.
But Jesus came down anyway.
We have this common with Jesus.
We can’t stay on the mountain. We want to. We have those mountain top experiences. Everything is wonderful. Everything is fantastic. The problem is that we can’t stay.
For Jesus, it wasn’t where all the work was. The people He needed to reach, the folks He needed to heal weren’t there. The business His Father had sent Him to do wasn’t all on the mountain. It was down in the towns among the sick and the needy.
It’s easy for us to get pumped up about a church service. It’s awesome to experience a fantastic Christian concert. It’s easy to get up on that mountain and want to stay there.
We simply can’t stay there. it isn’t real life. We still have to go to work. We still have to face a world full of people who don’t know the Lord.
What do we do?
Own it. Know that, though it’s wonderful, we can’t stay there.
Use it. Motivate yourself with those times that you spend on the mountain when the times get tough.
Share it. When you have the opportunity to go on the mountain again, try to take someone else with you.
Repeat it. Understand that this cycle will likely happen again and again.
What do you do when you come down off the mountain?
I’ve been a parent for just over nineteen years now. That’s crazy and wild for me to wrap my mind around. I am amazed that God has blessed me with this in my life.
There’s just one problem.
My daughter has a boyfriend. They’ve been dating well over three years now and I’m beginning to think it may soon become serious. I think they actually like each other. The boyfriend keeps coming around despite my best efforts to drive him away. Of course, as any good father does, I attempted this on their first date, but evidently I’m not good enough at driving boys away.
I suppose that they will get married eventually. I’ll walk her down some sort of aisle and give her to another guy. The first person whose umbilical cord I cut will be given in marriage to another man. I’m sure that I’ll cry and weep that day.
There is one benefit that I see coming out of this deal.
I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to being a grandparent. It’s a unique job.
You get to do a lot of parenting things without the pressure that comes with being a parent. Maybe that’s because you’ve already been through it before. You know what is a big deal and what isn’t. You can teach in ways that they don’t realize you’re teaching them. You can love them in ways that are different from parents do.
Most of all I’m looking forward to passing my faith down to my grand-kids. Not that they can inherit it from me. Just that I want to live in such a way that honors the Lord before them that they want it as well. I want them to know Him like I do.
Being a grandparent is an art, one that I’m looking forward to.
I recently read a study that stated that men and women use different parts of the brain to complete the same tasks. Men tend to lean toward the left side of the brain, while women tend to lean to the right.
Literally, when men and women approach the same subject, men are not in their right minds.
I make that statement simply to point out that men and women are different. Maybe you have picked up on that already in life. I certainly didn’t need to read a study to know this. I’ve known it all my life, but noticed it in greater detail watching my children grow up.
My daughter was always, for lack of a better term, feminine. She gravitated toward playing with her Barbies and watching princess movies. She would play some ball with me and she, her brother and I played a unique game of kick ball. Left to her own devices, though, she would play with her dollhouse.
Her brother? He wouldn’t sit down to watch a ballgame with me until he was about nine years old. Instead, he would play with, are you ready, cars and trucks. He would go into his room and shoot basketball into an indoor goal.
Needless to say, they were different. Yet they shared so many similarities as well. They have many common interests. It causes me to think of how this works out in the Church.
There are those out there who push feminine theology. Others push masculine theology. I don’t espouse either one. I don’t really even give any thought to them unless I run across an article here and there.
I simply believe in biblical theology which I believe that says that men and women are different. God made the first woman to be different from the first man. Yet, in Christ, there is neither male nor female. We are equal. Different, but the same.
I wish that all of the angst that some see to have regarding masculinity and feminism within the Church would go away. Let’s celebrate each other and our differences within Christ.
Instead of being in different parts of our minds, let’s become of one mind, one mind in Christ.
How do you feel about the differences in gender roles within the Church?
The thing about dreams is that we don’t want to encounter any resistance. We want everything to be smooth-sailing. Too often, we give up when we encounter the first difficult situation.
This is even more often the case when we have God-given dreams. We somehow expect everything to come easy just because God has given us the dream that is driving our lives.
This isn’t the case. Just by looking at the life of one dreamer of God-given dreams we can determine that.
Not Everyone Will Support Your Dream
We all remember the story of Joseph and his dreams. He dreamed that he and his brothers were binding sheaves. His sheaves stood up, while his brothers’ sheaves bowed to his. For some reason, Joseph decided to share this dream with his brothers. Unsurprisingly, they were not thrilled with this dream. They already resented him because Joseph was their father’s favorite. He had even been given a special coat by this father. Joseph was already on their bad side. Telling them they would bow to him one day did not place them in his camp, even if it was the truth.
Later he had another dream where the sun, moon and stars bowed to him. Even Jacob rebuked him for this one. Imagine telling your people they would bow to you. How would you expect them to react? Joseph seems to have been a bit of a spoiled brat. He was Jacob’s pick. He was given things his brothers weren’t. He was a tattle-tale. He probably wore his special coat with pride. He hadn’t done much to win friends and influence others in his own family. It’s no wonder he didn’t get the support he needed for these dreams.
You Will Encounter Hard Times For Your Dream
We remember the next step in the story. He goes to where his brothers are working and they decide to throw him in a pit. Some contemplate murder. Finally he is sold into slavery and winds up in Egypt.
In Egypt, he does such a good job that he manages his master’s house. He does this until Potiphar’s wife decides to seduce him. Then he is framed for doing unseemly things with her. What happens next? He ‘s thrown in jail.
He stays in jail for some time, but again rises within the ranks. He is put in charge of the other prisoners. He interprets other prisoner’s dreams. One prisoner is freed and he asks that prisoner to tell Pharaoh about him. That prisoner forgets and leaves Joseph to remain in jail.
Life on the road to your dream being realized isn’t easy.
God Is Sovereign Over Your Dreams
Joseph was given his dreams for a reason. God had a plan for Joseph’s life.
He put him in a family where he began learning the skills he would need for the eventual realization of the dreams He gave Joseph.
He put Joseph in situations that would humble him on the path to these dreams.
He gave Joseph opportunities to further develop and expand his skills on the way to living out his dreams.
Finally, He put Joseph in a position where his dreams were realized and benefited not only his family, but an entire nation.
God-given dreams are funny things. They will take us down roads that we could never anticipate. They rarely land us where we expect they would. The paths they take us on won’t be easy. However, they will lead us exactly where God wants us to be.
Dale walked behind the pulpit. He couldn’t help but pause and smile. His journey to this point was not the one he thought he would take. He had simply thought he would be an interim pastor for this church for a few months until they called their new pastor. He had no idea when he took this task on that he would end up being that pastor. Now he was about to be a part of one of the most unique services of which he had ever taken part.
“It’s a privilege to be your pastor. I am still amazed at the fact that the Lord worked this out and put it together. Today is my first service as your pastor and I will not keep you long today. There will be plenty of chances to do that in the future. Today will be a unique day. It’s my first day in the pulpit in this role. I’ve been here before, but now we begin a new journey together. It’s a new beginning.”
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. We see that, but we need to pause and let it soak in. There was a beginning. This world, this creating began with God. He created. He kick started what we have here today.”
“Almost every day he created something and called it good. He could have created it all at once, but He chose not to. It’s as though He made what He wanted that day and thought, “That’s good enough for today.” So, He moved on to the next day. Guess what? It was good, too. It was good enough.”
“There was only one problem during creating. Well, we might call it a problem. There was no problem for God. There was one thing that was not good. God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Man needed a helper. There was just one problem. None of the other living creatures that He had created would suffice. Man needed a helper who was his equal. One with whom he could share the good life God had created.”
“God took the man’s rib and created woman. He gave her to him and the man became excited. He realized that she was part of him. She was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. She would be the reason that other men would leave their parents, so that they would become one flesh.”
“This is what happened in the beginning. Today, in our beginning, we are becoming one. I am becoming part of this body, but more than that, you are becoming part of me. We are joining together in a different way than we have before. There is a new commitment we have to each other. I am not your CEO. I am not the president of this church. I am a part of the body. We are simply one flesh now.”
“But that isn’t the only new beginning happening today. We have something unique happening today. We have two others who want to join together in a new way. They have known each other for many years, but it wasn’t until the search team formed that they really began to know each other. Due to what and Who brought them together, they want to stand before you and exchange their vows. They want you to be part of their beginning.”
Tom Davis stood up, walking to the front of the auditorium. Dale made his way down to stand in front of him. They grinned at each other as they really weren’t 100% sure what would take place next.
There was an uncomfortable pause as several people seemed confused. A few murmurs could be heard. Someone, perhaps they were older and a little harder of hearing, asked why a wedding was taking place. Many people turned around to see what was going on and if the bride was about to make her way.
The doors to the back opened and the traditional wedding march began to play. Coming through the door was Teresa Smith. She was being escorted down to her groom by Fred McGinley. No one was surprised, the least of which were the members of the search team. They had watched Tom’s and Teresa’s romance begin with a small spark, burning until it reached into a raging fire.
Teresa was handed over to Tom and they stood before Dale each one beaming. The music ended with Tom taking Teresa by the hand. Dale asked if they were ready and they both replied with a resounding “YES!!!”
Dale began with a few words and then began his wedding sermon.
“Tom and Teresa, the Bible says that in the beginning, the more days that went by, God said that it was all good. He created woman because man needed a helper. Once woman was there, it was good.”
“They became bone of bone and flesh of flesh. They became one. That is what the two of you are becoming today. We are privileged to witness and share this with you. Are you ready to exchange your vows?” Both nodded the affirmative.
“Tom, do you take Teresa to be your wife, to have and to hold, in sickness in health, for richer or for poorer, ‘til death do you part?”
“Yes!!!” Tom said grinning at Teresa.
“Teresa, do you take Tom to be your husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, ‘til death do you part?”
“Yes!!!” Teresa almost shouted, tears streaming down her face.
Dale looked at both of them smiling, almost laughing, saying, “By the power vested in me I now pronounce you husband and wife. Tom, you may kiss your bride.”
With that the entire congregation stood and applauded. Tom and Teresa turned to them, waving and smiling.
Dale spoke up one last time. “I know that many of you had no idea what kind of service you would be a part of today. Some did know and have prepared a reception for Tom and Teresa. They would love to invite you to attend and fellowship together in celebration of what we have just been part of.”
The accompanists began playing and everyone began to make their way to the gym where the reception was being held. Dale paused, pondering the unusual start to his ministry here. “A marriage!!! How fitting.”
You have heard it. You may have said it. It is probably used everyday. Someone comes into a relationship with Christ or their life is rededicated. It’s common within the world of the Church.
I’m going to start living for Jesus now.
The sentiment is right, but I’m going to ask you to stop. Stop it today. Stop it right now.
Stop living for Jesus
Instead, let him live through you.
Here is the problem. When we say that we are going to live for Jesus, it sounds as though it is up to us. It comes across as though we have the power to live and do for Him what He want us to do.
I don’t find that in the Bible. Instead, I find the opposite.
Paul says in Galatians 2:20 that he had been crucified with Christ and that it was no longer he that lived, but Christ lived in Paul. Paul saw his life as something he died to in order that Christ would live through him. He didn’t live for Jesus, so that Jesus would live through him.
Paul said in Philippians 1:21 that for him to live was Christ. He didn’t simply try to live for Christ. For Paul, life was Christ. It wasn’t just something for him to attain or strive. Christ was what he ate, drank and everything else in life.
Let’s stop living for Christ. Instead, let’s let Him live through us to the point where He is life.
Are you living for Jesus? Or is Christ life?