Thursday, 12 March 2009

has "greatest in the Kingdom" been a basic problem in our church?... but we have a new morning, a new opportunity...

November 23, 2007

I have been working bit by bit on prepping the Kingdom of Heaven/ God study. So much to learn and think about!

Think I’ll go for now… maybe do a bit of Kingdom study. Thank You for this time with You, Lord. Thank You that You are interested even in the small details of my life! Wow! “Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God, shouldst die for me!?!?”

November 26, 2007

Dear Heavenly Father!
Here am I! Happy to be here! So incredibly thankful to You for speaking to my heart yesterday by Your Spirit – to my spirit, the new one, the one You placed in me when I came to You (said “yes,” finally, to Your call… as You made me able to respond, answer, by softening my hard heart… as You have been continuing to do, day by day, moment by moment, for all these many years ever since…)

Why does it take so long, I wonder? Am I an especially stubborn case (person!)??? If I am, then I have even more reason to praise You! for Your patience and faithfulness! Wow! Amazing God! Father beloved! Father who loves me, no matter what! Oh wow!

Yesterday at the end of reading Your Word, I came across this verse: Luke 9:46 “And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, 46 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me: for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

That verse just hung in my mind and heart all day yesterday but I could not, for the life of me, figure out why… what was the significance… what were You wanting to show, tell, change in me?

Anyway when I just now opened Your Word this morning and felt led to read those verses again, and write them down, it “came to me in a flash” that maybe the reason for all that “pain” in our church’s past… and the way people have left and don’t even talk to each other any more and stuff… the way we’ve cut off our friendships and stuff… maybe has a lot to do with this whole “greatest in the kingdom” thing that has been a problem in the church, and among Jesus’ disciples… and even in the wilderness before the tabernacle, when Korah and that bunch rebelled against Moses, and so on…

We all so desperately want to be “the greatest” … that original sin… that sin which led Satan himself and a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven!

And the odd thing is that so often the “church” (oh dear, following the ways of the world, not following the ways of Jesus) teaches it, encourages it, pushes it… with all the talk of “ordination, wonderful ministries, leadership, pastoral teams, governing boards, great famous speakers, the “best” worship teams, awesome “programs,” the “best church in town.” Oh dear God… that, I’m afraid, is the perfect picture of so many of our churches… and it has been a message just jammed down our throats… not to mention that it is the same message we hear in all the world around us from the day we are born… so it is no wonder we accept it… and, more than accept it, strive for it, all in the name of “serving You!” Oh Lord, until we can understand that it is not Your way… what will become of us??

Yes, Lord, I too, have wanted to “do mighty works for You” – and yes, I have wanted to please You and even wanted (sometimes – a few times? – at least) to show You my love for You and Your body… but more often than not I have been striving to be recognized, to be praised for doing those “great” things… maybe even wanting to be the “next great ___” (the next great whoever – speaker, writer, musician, leader – even preacher or whatever!). And gradually, You’ve been helping me let go, little by little, my “iron grip” on those “dreams” and “visions”… those “vision statements” we were so often urged to write down and submit (and, oh Lord, the hurt and rejection I felt when I “faithfully” did as we were told, only to be ignored it seemed… though looking back, all I can say is “thank You, Lord!” because I see it was a blessing from You to NOT be accepted into that stratospheric group-of-the-great! What joy to be a woman! and thereby not acceptable as one of the upper-great (though I sure didn’t feel that way at the time!)…

Well, Lord, the past is PAST, and You have once again, still, given us a fresh new morning, a fresh new day and opportunity to truly serve You… And yes, there is forgiveness and reconciliation work to be done, and rebuilding of love and unity among the members of Your body… whether that be in the “local church” or the “church in the community”… or even in the “church universal”… (that’s up to You… Your option and purpose and decision… Your mighty eternal foreknowing and purpose and intent!).

But meanwhile, oh dear God, help us to see, to understand, to accept, that the way of the world, of “greatness” in anything, is not Your way… help us to somehow see (and it’s not easy, living in [but not of… that’s so hard to understand and especially to live, too] a world where “greatness” is so “rewarded” and “lauded” and held up as the ultimate goal – oh, we are so “goal-oriented” not understanding that our “goal” is a true knowing of one person – You – rather than the glittering things and the personal recognition the enemy holds dangling in front of us… the little, shrouded, dirt-covered carrots that we, in true donkey fashion, go yearning, stretching, stumbling after!

Oh dear God, please forgive us – please forgive me! Please open our eyes! Please teach us [oh dear, another hard-taught and learned lesson, I fear…] what it really means, as You say just a few verses later in Luke 9, to follow You… to give up all the “important” things of the world – even our family and friends, and no longer to look back, but to go forth and proclaim the kingdom of God, and yes, as You say a few verses earlier in Luke 9, to take up our cross daily and follow You, and to lose our lives for Your sake in order to find them… to be least, for only in being least is true greatness – Your greatness (which is not the world’s greatness at all) to be found!

Oh Lord, what an amazing chapter! I’ve read it probably a hundred times – maybe hundreds of times – but somehow I’ve never quite “got it” … indeed, I feel even now that I am only beginning to get a “glimmer” … the first dim lighting, pale glowing of the early dawn sky, the first rays of morning slipping gently over the mountain tops and lighting the dark skies and valley below… of what You really mean… what You really want in me… and in Your church… and in Your great eternal kingdom!

Oh, Lord, if we could only get even a little hold, a little glimmering grasp of Your way and then hang on to that (instead of what we have been grasping) with an iron grip… hang on to You, our eyes fixed on You, our only goal, our only need for “approval” – which, after all, You have already given, in the death and resurrection of Your Son, and all the blessing and opportunity and LIFE ETERNAL that comes directly out of that – YOU!! Oh, Almighty God! “Angels bow before You, heaven and earth adore You (oh let it be true of me, of us, too!) – What a mighty God we serve!”

“Serve”… what a different concept than the world presents us (and sadly, that the church has also picked up and trumpeted, too often…). Oh dear God, please open our hearts, please move in our spirits by Your Spirit, please teach us to truly serve, to truly be humble, to truly turn our backs on the world and it’s “goals” and “rewards,” to truly become “least,” to truly take up our cross and follow You no matter where it leads, no matter the seeming “consequences” (negative, as the “world” sees them), our feet in Your path and our eyes fixed on You, the author and perfector of our faith!

Lord, it’s 6:15 am… a whole hour has passed, and I haven’t even thought about “today’s” reading… but it’s not really about the “reading” per se, is it? It’s really about meeting with, waiting upon, listening, and hearing (really hearing) from You… and then (oh dear God, let it so be in my life – I mean, Your life in me!)… stepping forth, truly united with You, into Your kingdom, into Your work, to preach the good news and point all men (and women and kids) to You! Amen! Thank You, Lord!

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