Wednesday, June 24

Moving closer......

“When Jesus finished telling these parables, he left that place and went back to his hometown. He taught in the synagogue, and those who heard him were amazed. "Where did he get such wisdom?" they asked. "And what about his miracles? Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? Aren't all his sisters living here? Where did he get all this?" And so they rejected him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is respected everywhere except in his hometown and by his own family." Because they did not have faith, he did not perform many miracles there.” (Matthew 13:53-58 GNB)

A brother in arms…… one of the warriors out in the world who is fighting in the hand-to-hand dirtiness as we continue towards that moment in time when Christ lights up the sky and reclaims what is His by righteousness and original craftsmanship……replied to my blog about moving into that unrealistic, unforeseen realm of God’s possibilities and reminded me of a few things that I had forgotten and reassured me to follow God in where He calls, provides and entices.

“It seems to me that God is definitely leading you in a direction that the world may never understand……………no-one can know the will of God for his life like the man himself, who is truly seeking after God. You are doing that my friend, and I stand beside you in battle supporting you and praying for you. If you feel you are where God wants you to be, then press on my brother. God will show you the way - every step of the way! I am reminded of the journey Abraham took when God first called him……………….. Be faithful to your calling. Let me know if I can pray for you specifically in any way. And may God richly bless you (as it appears is already happening) as you continue to follow in Christ's footsteps.”

When I mentioned the struggle against the ‘fellowship’ of believers regarding the call to a few teammates of mine, they quipped “You should be on TV, there’s a lot like you out there on TV.” I think they meant well, but it was another example, to me, of the unbelieving responses I have been getting for the last four and a half years since that moment at Willow Creek. I’m not seminary trained, not endorsed by a church body and don’t have the financial ease in which to pursue such a wild vision. My life isn’t neatly wrapped up under the illusionary umbrella of ‘spiritual awakening and renewal’ and the story I have to tell makes others quake and quiver………

And, in the westernized culturized Christian movement, such things are the ‘approval’ markings that are too often looked for as a ‘god-approved’ adventure. No consideration is given to the story of the declarer, to vett out the human-response of ‘agenda’ and see the visionary and unrealistic (in the world’s eyes) goals of God’s in the calling. We, in this culture, like our pastoral leaders trained under the same apologetic, denominational or emergent veins…….having connectable points to the larger picture. When the rogue comes and disrupts that preference, we get upset. When God doesn’t send us someone who doesn’t fit into our preconception of what ‘annointed’ of God should look like, we move away from God’s story and become self-serving in our own stories.

As my friend reminded me, Abram must’ve been a bit fearful and nervous about the calling to depart from his family, his friends and his countrymen and go where…no specific location given….the Lord would lead him. Yet, he packed up and went. God isn’t in the business of comfort and easy living….to have such an existence in this world would mean that you are so aligned, so covered in the world that the illusionary things that you feel are comfortable, easy and unstressful appear real to you……until God provides the impus to show you that such things built upon the world’s standards are anything but long-lasting and eternal. They are as fragile as dreams and as deadly as temporary fixes. And, if I’ve learned nothing more about God than this; when He purposes you, He calls you into the biggest of your fears, discomforts and weakest ‘struggles.’

I think that’s not because God has a desire to break you down into your most simplistic of molecules but rather that it is because that is where the enemy has concentrated most of his energy because he knows how powerful and effective you would be with your life, calling and faith aligned with God’s larger story. How much more quickly his time would end because of the multitude of the faithful spread out all over the globe who were aligned with God and working with Him in the pursuit of the kingdom plans. With intimate knowledge of what your purpose is, why wouldn’t he build the protection against you ever fulfilling it? Fear, doubt and even intimidation are merely his tools.

Henry Blackaby and Claude King, in their study Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, say that when you receive an invitation to join God’s work in the world around you, there is a crisis of belief….that point where you focus on yourself…in the selfish human manner that we all recognize as the genesis of sin…instead of God. As they write, “God wants to intercept those lives. Suppose He wants to do it through you. He comes to you and talks to you. But you are so self-centered, you respond, ‘I don’t think I am trained. I don’t think I am able to do it. And I…..’…..the focus is on self. The moment you sense God is moving in your life, you give Him a whole list of reasons why He has got the wrong person or why the time is not right.” Like Moses, "I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Exodus 3:11 GNB) and "But suppose the Israelites do not believe me and will not listen to what I say. What shall I do if they say that you did not appear to me?" (Exodus 4:1 GNB).

Moses, in the story of God, was not the ‘right’ man for the job when he was the son of the daughter of Pharaoh….with all the degrees and pedigrees that would’ve made a easy road to change from within the empire…..and where the power and movement of God would have been harder to see and easier to disown. But, in the desert as a simple shepherd, Moses had no degrees to fall upon, no elegance of mouth, nor the ‘pedigree’ of the empire to rely upon to open the doors where he needed to go. And, once God made it clearly apparent to him that he was the one to go….he had no choice but to either answer in the affirmative or deny God.

God has shown me that He can answer the three biggest fears I have that would be unavoidable if I became a missionary….to Australia or anywhere else….

Relationships, Confrontations and Provisions.

If I became a foreign missionary, I would need to be in relationship with the church leadership in the area I serve as well as the community…no missionary can be sustained without it. Confrontation? To go to a country where the topic of religion just isn’t that important would be a breeding ground for ‘confrontation.’ And provisions? I wouldn’t, as a foreign national, be able to do a ‘tent-making’ ministry like Paul but would have to rely on home support, and the support of the community which I serve.

Which makes this both repelling and enticing.

The new song out on the Christian airwaves just has captured my attention in this place of where I am;

Closer to Love by Mat Kearney

She got the call today, One out of the gray. And when the smoke cleared, It took her breath away. She said she didn't believe, It could happen to me
I guess we're all one phone call from our knees

We're gonna get there soon

If every building falls, And all the stars fade. We'll still be singing this song, The one they can't take away. I'm gonna get there soon, She's gonna be there too

Cryin' in her room, Prayin' oh, Lord come through

We're gonna get there soon

Oh, it's your light, Oh, it's your way. Pull me out of the dark, Just to shoulder the weight. Cryin' out now, From so far away. You pull me closer to love....Closer to love

Meet me once again, Down off Lake Michigan. Where we could feel the storm blowin', Down with the wind. And don't apologize, For all the tears you've cried. You've been way too strong now for all your life

I'm gonna get there soon, You're gonna be there too. Cryin' in your room, Prayin' Lord come through. We're gonna get there soon.

Oh, it's your light, Oh, it's your way. Pull me out of the dark, Just to shoulder the weight. Cryin' out now, From so far away. You pull me closer to love....Closer to love

Cause you are all that I've waited for all of my life. (We're gonna get there) You are all that I've waited all of my life

You pull me closer to love.......Closer to love. Pull me closer to love (You are all that I've waited for)
You pull me closer to love.......Closer to love. Closer to love (Cause you are all that I've waited for)
Closer to love…….Pull me closer to love

Pull me out of the dark, Mat sings, just to shoulder the weight……..we’re gonna get there soon….. these are the things that hit me out of the silence….God’s work pulls me closer to His love and brings me out of the comfort of my misery to the uncomfortableness that exists in walking with Him in relationship…burdened by the weight of the mission and kingdom building to be wounded and persecuted…to be peaceful in unpeaceful places and comfortable in uncomfortableness……for the sake of the Lord and the fulfillment of His plan as experienced in His story.

Then Carolyn Baker, of, sends this as her devotional for today:

“He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be His God and he will be My son.” Revelation 21:7

“Lord, I soar on eagles wings this morning recognizing the great privilege You have given me of being called by You - for Your purposes. I soar above all the fears and doubts, and claim for myself and all who pray this prayer, a new freedom that comes from recognizing a new day is dawning.” Carolyn writes in her prayer, “ I am so grateful Lord that You allowed me to take a good, hard look at my own fears so I would recognize the counterfeit strategies Satan was using to cause me harm. The greatest message ever preached is going to be heard around the world. No matter what happens in the physical realm of our lives, all Christians were created to move in this great purpose. We all serve differently but not one of us is immune from the cry of the Savior’s heart.”

Carolyn concludes in her reflection part of the devotional some powerful, and all-too-familiar (to me in this enticement), statements from our Father:

“We all have a high and holy calling on our lives. Complacency, comfort, fear of man – all of these counterfeits need to be surrendered at the foot of the Cross. Your life is of so much value that Christ gave His own life for you. Do not waste the opportunities you are given. Every day in your path there is something to be done for His kingdom needs. If you are not recognizing this truth in your life, you are not seeing with the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him now to free you so you can see with His eyes, hear with His ears and think His thoughts with your mind. That is true freedom. When you walk in this truth God will use you – in spite of yourself to accomplish His purposes in and through you. You need the Holy Spirit to accomplish this goal. Pray to Him – submit to His ways – then be prepared for a manifestation of Christ’s glory to shine through you.”

God has shown me a glimpse of what He wants to do, and has shown me the provisional strength He has to make it happen. Now is the time I face, as all those who are called in specific and unique ways, to make my declaration:

To Join Him in the work He is doing completely or to decline and thereby show the depth of my faith and belief……..

My faith is too strong, even if it is the size of a mustard seed, to deny and my belief has been fortified by faith and experiencing God in the other immediate areas of my life…..

I must accept the challenge to join Him where He is at and draw closer to love………

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