Monday, August 31, 2009

Soul-Generosity, Part I

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.... II Corinthians 9:10-11

God provides in abundant ways. His provision may come in the form of a needed amount of money, it may be that He stretches the monetary and physical resources that He has already provided, or it could mean that He defies all logic by allowing that old vehicle to start up every morning. God loves providing for His children. He has promised to provide our material and physical needs. But the most priceless provision that God promises to His children is provision of the soul. I have come to see that provision of the soul is my greatest need. Because such provision flows directly from my connection to God, it will always be His primary focus in my life.

As II Corinthians 9:10 says, God desires to enlarge the harvest of my righteousness. In other words, He wants my life to be brimming with soul fruit. He does not only want fruit to flow from my life, He wants MUCH fruit to flow from my life. This soul fruit is what Paul describes in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I know this list of soul fruit -- I even desire to be a producer of soul fruit -- but there seems to be a big disconnect between my soul desire and my soul production....perhaps my soul was not equipped with the instructions for fruit-production.....

No, I know this is not the case. I understand that once a soul is in Christ, that soul immediately begins producing fruit, but the amount of soul-fruit production is determined by belief. Unbelief drastically affects soul-fruit production. Do I believe the Provider of this fruit over my own feelings and emotions? Do I want to live His truth more than I want my own way? How many times have I chosen my own way over His and yet still expected Him to empower me? How many times have I chosen selfishness when God wanted to fill me with love and kindness or chosen fearfulness when God wanted to fill me with faithfulness?

When I am choosing my own way, these fruits cannot be harvested in my life. Faith-full-ness cannot be enlarged in me if I am living in fear-full-ness. II Timothy 1:3 says that I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. This is a promise, but in order to receive the bounty of this promise, I must believe this promise. A sound mind filled with love and power is waiting to be realized, not only in my life, but in the life of every Christian.

By grace through faith, such fruits are part of every believer's inheritance in Christ -- will we bend our fear-filled hearts and allow the truth of God to reign supreme in our lives?

Part II will soon follow......

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Performer

When I was in high school, I enacted a monologue from a play that was written about Anne Boleyn. Anne had been unable to give Henry VIII a male heir, so he found a way to dispose of her. The scene I enacted finds Anne awaiting her execution...it depicts the thoughts of a woman sentenced to death, but not just a woman, a mother. Yes, she had produced a child. Her crime was that the child was female rather than male. She mourns leaving her child behind, mourns that her child must face the world without her.

The monologue was dramatic. I practiced my lines. I memorized them, but then I went past memorization....I began to think as Anne, what she felt, how she hurt and mourned. I empathized with her so deeply that in saying the lines, I became Anne.

At a national competition, I performed Anne's monologue. I poured my empathetic heart into the lines. I had no vision of winning the competition, after all, my piece was a monologue while other competitors entered pieces of complicated and intricate dialogue. Nevertheless, I had thrilled in being Anne. As I stood on that stage, I was Anne Boleyn.

The competition had taken place in the morning and awards would be presented in the evening, so my afternoon was free to take in other performances. As I was walking to a particular presentation, I passed by one of my judges. She looked at me, with a sparkle in her eye, and said, "Hello, Anne". My heart somersaulted within me. In that moment it made no difference to me if I won or lost the competition, my purpose had been realized: Anne's story was lived through me to such an extent that when my judge looked at me she did not see Crysta, she saw Anne Boleyn.

Today, as I was reading James 1, this memory came rushing back to me. James 1:22-23 says, ....receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. I looked up the word doers in the Greek and found that it is the word poietes which means poet or performer. I rolled this thought over and over in my mind. I know that a root of this same word is found in Ephesians 2:10 which says that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. The word workmanship is from the same root word as doers. Workmanship is from the Greek word poiema meaning a product or a thing that is made.

My life is a play, or poem, of God. God has written the lines of the play, and He desires for me to beautifully express the lines of truth that He has written for me. In order to express these lines of truth, I must know the lines of truth, I must memorize the lines of truth...but I need to go past memorization and begin to think these lines of truth. These lines are to be breathed and eaten, they are to become my foundation and my only reality. Each minute of each day, I must stand on truth. To stand on truth requires that I fill my mind with God's lines and allow His lines to replace my default lines. These are not lines of improvisation or lines of my own interpretation, these lines require complete adherence.

Yet God is the Master Playwrite, for He does not require that I find it within myself to perform these lines. No, for anything that He has written, He has arranged a way of execution. Anything that He requires, He supplies. He makes no requirement without also making provision for the requirement. He knows that I am not capable of performing these lines. But the lines were not written for me to perform them, they were written that I would surrender to them. The lines of truth, the lines of God's Word, demand surrender. They are to be accepted as the only truth, the only reality.

Such surrender will mean that I no longer live to quote my own lines. Those error-filled lines have been transformed. Christ, the very Word of the play, has taken command of the sentence structure and has brought the story to life. This was the vision of the Master Playwrite, this story was written with one Performer in mind, no other could enact these truth-filled lines.

And thus the purpose of my play is realized: for as my Judge, peer jury, and a varying gallery of onlookers watch this play, they will not see Crysta, they will see only Christ.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Ultimate Upgrade, Part II

II Corinthians 4:16-18 tells us not to lose heart, Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The trials of this world cannot tarnish our inheritance in Christ. Every moment of every day Christ desires to make good on the internal-transformation-assurance policy that has been issued in your name. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. To activate this policy on earthly soil, we must enter the activation code F-A-I-T-H. The Spirit will then remind us of the policy terms by speaking into our heart the words of Romans 12:1, ...offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Hebrews 11:6 promises that this activation code will be accepted and favored by the Father.

Simply put, we must trust Christ's love and surrender to His desires. But I thought you said this policy had no additional cost? If you go to the Frequently Answered Questions document, also known as God's Word, you will find the answer listed in II Peter 2:3-4: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The moment you surrendered to Christ's way of salvation and believed that He was the only Way to forgiveness and redemption, He became your Savior. Likewise, Christ is activated to live through you in each and every moment that you surrender to His free reign in your life and believe His truth over your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Thus, you become a partaker of His divine nature. There truly was no cost to you, it was an even exchange: your decaying and error-filled flesh for His divine power and nature. It actually doesn't sound very even to me. He seems to be getting the raw end of the deal, but He sees it as beautifully and pleasingly even!

As you and I surrender to Christ's loving hands and believe His truth, we will find that our internal-transformation-assurance policy is upgraded with new and fresh benefits. The greatest being: enhanced intimacy with the One who is always new.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Ultimate Upgrade, Part I

Commercials bombard us with visions of the better and the faster - the newest model of the I-Phone, the latest, most-effective wrinkle cream, the better-equipped vehicle...Such visions lure us into upgrade mania - we want the newest and the best. We rush to buy the latest version, even when our current version is more than adequate. Lately, I have been wondering why we feel such a need for the new and fresh....Why do we want to look and feel younger? Are these feelings and desires only attributed to affective advertising and/or the appeal of worldly fame and success?

I feel certain that there is something greater at the heart of our desire for the new and fresh; in fact, I believe each of us was created with a deep desire for newness, with a strong urge to seek renewal, but we misinterpret these impulses.

These strong desires for the new and the better fill many people with an insatiable lust for more - more of anything that causes them to feel freshly alive or that gives them a sense of greater significance. They long for the unrivaled thrill, the bigger excitement, the best that money can buy, yet none of these pursuits retain their freshness. After just a day, the novelty of that new I-Phone begins to fade; the sensation of the latest thrill has become a pleasant memory. The newness is gone, but the longing for newness remains. This quest for renewal has led to empty sources of instant gratification, and the initial sense of satisfaction faded as quickly as the gratification was acquired.

Longings for newness will never be satisfied through upgraded machines, "fool-proof" creams or roller-coaster screams. These options will always leave behind an after-taste of unfulfillment. Does this mean that we are created with a yearning that cannot be fulfilled? No, it means that we are seeking renewal in the wrong places. The desire for renewal is placed within each of us to lead us to Christ, whose mercies are new every morning. Christ, who is constant and yet has such dimension that the universe itself could not contain the treasures that are waiting to be unearthed about Him. Christ alone is our Source of renewal. He is always fresh. He does not need to be upgraded or restored, but His newness will never fade. He truly is fool-proof. Even greater, He provides an eternal warranty. This eternal warranty requires no supplementary insurance, rather it has a special clause which entitles you to internal transformation assurance at no additional cost.

Part II will soon follow......