Tuesday, September 22

A prince in pauper clothing….

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."Hebrews 10:19-39 (NIV)

I have become timid in my pursuit of God, strangely so for there is nothing in the last five years since He's called me back into His arms that would create a tendency for timidity. As my pursuit has brought me into realms of faith that I never anticipated or conceived, the solidification of my belief has become more and more assured. No, I am not some super saint, unbroken and endowed with an alien strength to defy the intoxication of this world. Far from it, I have come to realize that the strongholds that I've erected to protect myself have been broken upon the walls of Christ's righteousness, scattering the brick and mortar underfoot, to allow me to come before my King in supplication and entreat not for His favor, for what more favor do I need than the assurance that I am redeemed and restored, but that He draw me, entice me and gather me closer to Him so that what I call 'my' will mirrors His so closely that there is no difference.

Many in today's world consider me 'offensive' because I dare to speak the absolute truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to achieve Heaven's gates….to find yourself walking the streets of gold and translucent splendor freed from the bondage of sin's commission. Some call me harsh, because I will not settle for the Church being a ghost of what it was meant to be, what it was commissioned to be and bending to the world's standards for the sake of perceived furtherance of the Gospel. Some just consider my wounds as improperly dressed and therefore rulers of my thoughts, my actions and my faith as I stumble along this path.

I am considered a pauper by the standards of the world, but underneath my pauper clothes lie the body and heart of royalty. Because of Christ, my Savior and my King.

We have the ability and the 'instructional manual' on how to 'maintain' our faith in times such as these…when we recall that we are given 'a new and living way' through not only the sacrifice but the whole breathe and width of Christ's earthly ministry…and the gifting of the Counselor who will lead us into paths unknown and unseen in this journey home. The funny thing is, this journey is not a 'wait-for-it' type where we must struggle through without to gain it all in the end….it is the releasing of the temporary things to experience as we walk through this land that is not our home for the sustaining things like peace, joy, happiness, love, compassion and service. We may grow weary in our earthly walk, but as we journey along with the Mighty Counselor we can recount and reread the past encounters with God, both from the elders of the Church and our own life, and use them as a motivation to resurrect the endurance we need to run this race.

We walk, desiring to be in step with God through the expressed sincerity of a faith that is developed through the experiences and trials to be so confident that when we face the fall of night, we can walk on assured that we follow the path set before us…..guided by the light of our Father's love. Because we know that God is gracious and merciful, but He is still God and His promises of the new covenant defy even our best reliability. We know that we walk with God with the protective blood of Jesus Christ and are drawn through this show of mercy to His purpose, His will and His way. In faith, we know that the temporal things of this world are nothing compared to the possessions we have in Heaven.

I have walked around lately with the attitude of the pauper, scraping together the meager hope that this is my lot, this is my fate and God has so purposed it to be for the sake of what He has called me to do. This has caused those in more comfortable surroundings to question my faith at times, my beliefs at times and my calling most of the time.

Yesterday I went home listening to the song by The David Crowder Band, "How He Loves Us", and the feeling of being so much more than the pauper clothes I wear hasn't left me….even in my devotional time this morning, with these verses in Hebrews, it has been reinforced…I may wear pauper clothes, but I am a prince…beloved son of the Father and warrior of the King.

I can walk with a pauper's posture or radiate my reborn's heritage as a prince. I can allow the trappings of this world to define me or I can secure in my heart the knowledge of my true value, my true purpose and the calling that God has given me. It is a choice, that God continues to allow us to make……

A brother sent me a link to a song that he listened to in the morning that made him think of me….it is as powerful as the Crowder song in a different way……and seems to tie in all the recent posts of how we should live…..David Phelps's Live Like A King.

My thirst for the things of this earth isn't quenched by diamonds or pearls. One Man lived the life that I want, He's the One they said ruled the world. Though He only wore a crown of thorns and He never owned a thing……

I want to live like a King. I want to live like a King. And my decree it will ring, "Love will rule everything" I want to live like a King

This King did the strangest of things, He befriended the sick and the poor. There was no one too wrong, too right, too black, too white for Him to love…He built no walls, left no unopened doors. Well, now I could croon a million other tunes…There is just one I want to sing

I want to live like a King. I want to live like a King. And my decree it will ring, "Love will rule everything" I want to live like a King

I want to be stronger, I want to be wiser…..I just want to make every move be the one He'd want to see from me. There's just such power, such healing power, in every word that He said, in every deed that He did…..

I want to live like a King. I want to live like a King. And my decree it will ring, "Love will rule everything" I want to live like a King

If I walk on this journey, not with the prideful arrogance of perceived importance, but with the humility of a reborn prince of the Most High God….I can do so much more than I could have ever done with the wealth of this world….I may wear pauper clothes, but I am a prince.

And much like Christ laid down His crown and authority to come to this world as a babe in swaddling clothes, in a manger and born to a family of the 'working poor'….I can lay my crown before the King's throne and live a life that is free from a materialistic agenda to care for my own self….if I am a prince, reborn in the family of the King, I know my wants and needs will be taken care of….not in comfortable things, for I no longer walk the castle hallways, but in the way my King cares for all of His subjects…with love, compassion, mercy and desire……I am assured that even I, a prince dressed as a pauper, will have the needs my King gives care over because of that.

I have the assurance of my faith because of His promise, I have the dignity of my heritage because of Christ's sacrifice and I have the desire to be my King's eyes and ears, hands and feet, in the kingdom He is coming to reclaim.

It is time I walk as a prince in pauper clothing rather than a pauper afraid of being a prince. God has called me to serve Him as a pastor….has equipped and challenged me in the things that I still grasped in this world, calling me to release them for His sake and trust for His provisioning. He didn't tell me to make a way into the pastoral ministry but to let Him develop me for it. And He will make the way for it to come to pass.

It has been a long and hard five years….and I am better equipped to be God's servant now than before, yet to be the totality of what He is making me, but ready when He makes His path known to head in the direction He would take me.

It is not the exegesis style, the topical style or the theological style that will mark my preaching…though I am sure I will come across in the use of all of them….nor will it be a charismatic personality, vibrant voice or strident cadence that will mark my call….but rather something that Ron Walters, Vice-president of Church Relations for the Salem Communications group, said in a blog he wrote…….

"[Jesus] was more concerned with the heart of preaching than with the art of preaching………….. Jesus wanted to connect. His words were never reduced to rhetorical fluff." Ron Walters, Vice President of Church Relations for the Salem Communications, writes. "They were theological yet practical, simple but rich.......He must have heard the same questions a million times. But even though He got tired in the work, He never got tired of the work. Someone has said, "Christ preached as a dying man to dying men.""

I want to preach as a pauper under the authority of the King…..more concerned with the heart of God being spoken through my words than being artful in its expression….connecting with those I have the honor to come with God's message before because He calls me to, not because I feel I have the right to……I would leave my crown behind and dress in the pauper's clothes so that they might experience the wonders of my Father's house as princes and princesses…..

Walters sums up his blog about preaching with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. Considered one of the greatest evangelicals of 'modern' times, he has summed up for me the ambition of answering God's call…….

"I have known what it is to use up all my ammunition. Then I have, as it were, rammed myself into the great Gospel gun and I have fired myself at my hearers - - all my consciousness of sin, and all my sense of the power of the gospel. There are some people upon whom that kind of preaching tells when nothing else does, for they see that then you are communicating to them not only the gospel, but yourself also."

Living with the authority of a prince of the heavenly realm with the life of a pauper so that others may come to know the wealth of my Father's house.

No comments: