The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart — it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that befits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice — it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.
This is one of my favorite Rich Mullins songs. But – really I like all his songs. Take a listen.
“We want God to inspire confidence. God wants to inspire fear. We want God to give us all kinds of assurances. God wants to give us faith. We want to become healthy, prosperous and unaffected by the world. God wants us to encounter the world as He did…”
“You get all that confidence and assurance and all that jazz…it’s hard to give it up…”
Blessings to you.
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Romans (7:21-23).”
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV)”
This war that battles in/for our flesh, in our mind rages on. Society grows ever so wicked. Evil is called good and good is judged as intolerant. As Christians how are we to respond?
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12 (NKJV)
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ John 15: 18-25 (NKJV)
God uses our everyday experiences to teach us. A couple of days ago I was sharing with the women at our weekly Women’s Bible study class something the Lord had recently revealed to me. He brought to mind a past experience.
After my divorce, I spent a few years working in retail. When I first got into retail I was clueless as to how companies evaluate and assess employee performance to come up with a rating – a rating that determines one’s annual raise. I’m not sure if all companies have the same practice, but this company required managers to provide three positives and three negatives for every eval. No exceptions.
My boss was a very sweet woman. She was nonetheless – a boss. And although she could find no fault in my performance, she did find room for improvement. As I recalled the moment, my boss was praising my job performance…etc. Then came the but… “You are always on time, blah, blah, blah… however… you are not always at your duty station.” I was like – what?!. “It’s not detrimental, but when your shift starts you need to be on the sales floor, in your department. That’s where I need you.” She went on.
I knew I was always at work up to 15 minutes early. I clocked in and out, promptly. And the Lord said that’s like – church attendance – to me. I had thought about it before. But the Lord reminded me that I can go to church, Sunday, Wednesday, Bible study, etc… and still not be where He needs me.
For many reasons, Americans have hang-ups with church attendance, whether it be for or against. Many Christians have left the church for one reason or another. Unbelievers simply think of church goers as hypocrites. We say one thing – but practice another. I am one of those Christians that left the church. But the last couple of years I’ve been working my way back in, but I admit I am not impressed with the new church menu i.e. made to order – mega-tech – brick and mortar meetinghouse.
So where was I going with all this? Well, first – from the voice of my favorite singer-songwriter, long gone but not forgotten…
“We were given the Scriptures to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.” ―
When I considered God’s will for my life I remembered the words of Rich Mullins…
“God did not give Joseph any special information about how to get from being the son of a nomad in Palestine to being Pharaoh’s right hand man in Egypt. What He did give Joseph were eleven jealous brothers, the attention of a very loose and vengeful woman, the ability to do the service of interpreting dreams and managing other people’s affairs and the grace to do that faithfully wherever he was.”
“I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you’re doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging. You love people when you call your wife and say, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she’s really tired. Loving people – being respectful toward them – is much more important than writing or doing music.” ―
We may have different experiences, but we fall into the same darkness. We jump into the same abyss. We trip over the same potholes. We get sucked into by the same sinkholes.
Still, the God that leads me – leads everyone that He calls, everyone that calls on His name. God has a place for everyone He calls. He guides there. He meets us there.
“My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26
As believers, we must not forsake the assembling of the saints. But it’s not our presence in “church” that God desires. It’s our heart. When He has our heart – we will be in the assembly of saints and we will be where he needs us to be – when He needs us to be anywhere. But God doesn’t necessarily need me to be present anywhere. He does desire that I be willing to be present wherever He wants me to be.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)
Sometimes, we only need to be still and wait.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Blessing to you.
John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”