Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Sermon in the Night: Love Revelations for a Linear Mind

Last Night I meant to go to bed early...but as so often happens in my life now, things just...came up! Last night I just really felt the urge to write about how God's love can reach through and break a linear mind. It is an experience I have felt and revelled in...and one in which God has taught me pretty much all I know. The funny thing is a lot of my good friends seem to be realizing the same things about love and fellowship so it is cool to get that sort of a confirmation from God, and fun and awesome to hear that there are actually books that came out just his year on this topic that God revealed to me through himself. It just lets me see how important this message is to God and for anyway here at Lipscomb I can feel the weight of the mind...most everyone is a christian through their heads and yet they are missing the subtle part of the heart that so many Christians miss...that something more. Here is the sermon I felt called to write to them. turned out to be abotu 4 or more pages, but I absolutely love what God called me to write...and hopefully I'll have the opportunity to tell others about it when the time comes. If anyone is curious here it is:

Love Revelations for the Linear Mind:

Mind and relationship. What makes and breaks the Christianity of our world? Mind is like the double-edged sword of scripture, we use it to hold fast and attack our foes in the faith and yet mind in itself is the very thing that keeps us from fully understanding our creator and his plan for Christianity. How many nights have you been walking or laying in your beds--just praying and begging for more of God. Doesn't he say he will give if we knock? Why is it that this approach seems to beat against an inexorable wall of failure? Why is it that when we pray for God, often nothing happens or situations seem to get worse? We feel and know that there is a great sea of love--just beyond our reach. A tantalizing ocean of power that we see the apostles in the first church weilding for God and yet we seem to have lost or can't reach. Our mind beats like the breakers of the ocean against a rocky shore...a froth of fury in its attempts to find the philosophical key or path that will lead us ever closer to God and yet is this all? Can God really say he will give and yet not give? Why is it that our efforts to advance ourselves fall short in God's sight? Can it be simply that we just don't have that faith? Can we even get it? Haven't we as devout Christians tried and tried? Yet God feels at a distance in a way. We know him and connect with him on occasions, but the world seems to rob us of our energy. What does it mean for us to live with "God's constant presence" in our lives if we have to do school and have a job in between...what is the answer? How can we possibly pray our whole lives...we'd never get anything done!

The answer to all these questions is simple...and yet so far from our nature as to be innaccessable. So far-reached and foreign to the mind that it is elusive and when our mind sees it in front of us--still! We do not comprehend. It is like the heart scriptures. You can read for months never coming across something new and then suddenly you really READ it and you get something new that was there under your nose all along! It takes an open mind, or--in this case--an open heart. The problem is not that we are not trying hard enough. Frankly, if we are true Christians we are already doing this but the problem is the mind itself. There is a level of Christianity that is beyond the mind. What we see in the new testament--those miracles, that witness, and the wonderful fellowship is all at this level--a level we as a nation have effectively shielded ourselves from with our dogma and mindset. We fail because we try--we fail because the problem is not outside our mind--it is in it. And this is no petty addiction, no habit that we can break--the only way to achieve the next level of the Lord and faith is to bridge your heart to God--because frankly it is beyond mind. If you TRY to get there you will always fail because you cannot get there by using your mind. There is no path that we can follow...we must get and use God's love and ready our hearts and frankly a faith that is predominantly mind will never do this. Anyone can be nice and good. Anyone can follow a rulebook but are we really playing a game if all we do is follow the rules? Can we realy approach a relationship or game cognitively? Because it will be cold and worthless without a very generous dose of the heart. This is a scary concept because America hardly understands what the heart is NOT emotion. When I talk about mindset, I'm only using it in figurative terms because you can't HAVE just the mindset and succeed you must have more, and you can't just have emotion and succeed--you must have more. What I was saying is that your relationship cannot be all emotion and it cannot be all mind...there is more there, on a level that the English language is incapable of communcating...and bear with me here because this a major point of friction in Christianity...yes! You need God to guide you, yes! If you use your mind to try and follow God then it won't work because your mind can't understand half of what it needs. and yes! It's a good and wonderful thing to have God's constant presence in your mind and it's needed for a truly successful Christian life. But that's not necessarily just emotion is what I was saying. Neither is it just mindset or just praying or "just" anything. There are four types of Christian "mindsets" but I use the word not to mean something of the mind...I use it just because English doesn't have a word for what I was trying to say. More like personal life approaches that come from a level of the heart on which we do more than we can ever do--at least one of these dubbed "mindsets" is but most are fallatical. God, however, only wants one--and he has been trying to lead us to that one our whole lives. One- You have the dogmatic...people who are all mind and actually ridicule and are scared of the emotion part of Christianity calling it demonic and saying that the gifts God has given cannot exist in a modern world. This is a point of dispute, but I do not believe that these "gifts" have passed away because frankly if all we had was the Bible than what did Jesus come to fulfill? Didn't he come to replace a book of law with a personal covenant? So if his personal spirit has passed away then Jesus did nothing to change the world and we are no better off on the personal scale besides having our sins forgiven. And if this is so then after we are saved we can do nothing else besides build theories and dogma and become a "nicer" person...and I simply cannot believe this. two- you have the mindset of those who don't care at all and just go to church because they think that is what they are supposed to do and want to be saved...not only do they lack the heart part of the relationship they also lack the mind part. three-you have people who are all emotion...this rarely happens in America and it isn't necessarily bad, it is just unguided. Like in Ethiopia where my Dad went for a missions trip. The Churches there were all about the holy spirit...even the Lutherans and Presbyterian churches had found it and miracles and great works of the spirit were commonplace, but it was all they had and that resulted in a lack of direction and guidance like emotion without bedrock--not bad like I said in fact very good, but as the Bible puts it emotion without bedrock it is like those "who are blown back and forth by every wind and wave of teaching" if you are about "feeling" then you will fall because the "feeling" isn't God either and other things than God can simulate a feeling...of course feeling is an intimate part with God but it is not all...that is why the new testament is full of verses about "testing the spirits". You can't just chase "emotion" and the "experience" because despite what everyone thinks...that too makes for a shallow relationship. Let me put it this way: America is all about the experience and spirit because it is what we have missed for so many years, but it is not ALL about that...would you never read the Bible or take advice from other people? No Christianity is about sharing and fellowship...and our bedrock is the Bible and example of Jesus. You wouldn't marry someone just based on passion. You can't always be doing something physical, therefore the test of your commitment and the real test of your love isn't when you are caught up in the passion and experience of romantic is in between...anyone can feel the love and passion when you feel God closely and intensely in the night...when he is right there it is easy to love...he is giving it to you but it takes true Christian strength to love in between...I've come to the realization that God isn't just going to take us over in life. But neither will he leave it just up to us. He wants us to make the decisions while in tandem with him...just like we need to give him all the attention and love in a relationship so he wants to give us that too and so he will not just "take us over" or "push us in the right direction" he may as in the example of Paul if we really need it, but that is not what it means to be in his presence all through life...and that was what I was saying. It is a misconception to think that "being in God's presence" all day means that he takes control all day or that you have to be praying all day, because frankly the experience, "high," will always fade unless you bring mind and heart into sync. Just like the mind will never get you far in a relationship with another person...and neither will just a passion. They are both shallow and limited and have a lack of depth. The only way your "high" is not going to fade is if you open your heart enough for God show you a new way of looking at things...and it doesn't mean that you are in an "experience" every second of the day...well it does but it is different...different than what we want to think it is. God's relationship follows the principles of a relationship with anyone. You can't just love him in the passionate moments...and you can't just read your Bible and pray to him with the mind and at a distance. You must love everything about him including everything and everyone you encounter in life. It will feel at times like God isn't he isn't speaking to us but that is not true...he's always speaking but his speaking is guiding and he will not just "guide us through everything" God wants us to work too...why do you think he gave us free will in the first place? But what we miss is letting God serve us. True we cannot just sit down and let God do it all--and he won't. But neither can we in our pride think that it is possible to do it on our own. Again a point that has been made many, many times in the Christian faith, but which few people truly understand. How do we let God help us? Sometimes we can just pray for help and it comes, but often it doesn't. But God has a way out every time right? Isn't that what the Bible says? And yes, again...this is true as well. But it is different. In order to let God serve us we must get intimate with him. We cannot just pray for help...he will work with us but we must be moving. When you feel a distance from God but need his help here is a challenge. Pray, yes! But do not sit waiting and do not just plunge in and expect him to somehow fix it. I've done this many times and every time it came back to me doing it and therefore, eventually, sometime down the road, failing because I ended up doing it all. I found that in order to fully understand this I had to give. And then I found that as I gave God became clearer. But it was so much more than giving when I finally got it!

What I discovered was a revelation to me...but like what you read in the Bible you can read it a million times and not get it until you're ready. because a lot of it is heart-get so you can't tell other people...each of them has to bridge their own heart to God. There is no silver bullet to faith and higher intimacy...many books have tried and failed to put what is in heart onto paper and each and every one of you will need to have or have already had that love struggle and found God by reviving your heart to a level you never dreamed. But I will try to explain what God has put on my heart--not because I have some sort of superior knowledge but because God has placed this on my heart to share with I said he "guides." All we need to listen while acting and accepting...and the key to better listening is love...just like everything else. Here is what I can put to words:

What we have lost is the spirit of the first Church...and if you will remember from Acts the spirit of the first church was not just experience and emotion...they told people to follow love, God, and their hearts but they were careful to provide bedrock because the mind is a trap...without a base our "emotions" can take us anywhere. Don't get me wrong they had the powerful gifts of the spirit moving like never before but that was not what the substance of their life was...if it was then their lives would mirror what Paul calls "the super apostles" they go about doing great signs and wonders but they use it for their own glory and make a loud noise with it. He says "Look to me...I may look small but what you see in me is God's truth. An unconditional love for others...always serving always submitting...I came to you and didn't ask for money...instead I worked for what I had and what I did I did for love..." and he goes on. This is what we have lost. In between the "experiences" is when we are called to revive the "spirit of the first church" How can we be so selfish to think that "being in God's presence constantly" means that it is always us having the "experiences" that we the majority of the Christian faith is not is in our fellowship. Being a great Christian doesn't mean doing great things. It means acquiring God's love and giving it your whole life...and it gets better each day. There are always new ways to love because love is infinite. I fully believe I will never find the end of it all. "Eat, drink, and pray with each other...share everything and let God's love run between you like a river. If any of you have you should give to those who have less." America has made "fellowship" out to be scheduled times but any time Christians are together, be it work, play, me sitting here in class, or church, or any other time on campus we are commanded to be in "one accord and fellowship with eachother" And this is how God's constant presence is revealed...we do not seek after emotion...and although at times God needs to sweep aside the cobwebs of our mind that shroud our hearts and set us on the right track we do not just wait...we do not do it ourselves but we do not do it alone. God is his infinite goodness is kind enough to work in us sometimes even when we don't do any work but this does not mean that this is what we need to happen all the time because it won't. God does this for us when we really need it but then we don't just sit there waiting for him to do it again and! We take what God in his infinite goodness has given to us and we turn it around. The absolute hardest way and most unfruitful way to grow in the Lord is to be in your own private world trying to build faith and "believe" harder. I've done it and it can work, but it is much less efficient than other methods. I beg you! Don't sit there trying to build something personally because it will be excruciatingly slow for you. No if you want God you must find his love by bridging your heart in your own unique way. Then when you get a taste of his true love give it all away. It will be hard but give all of it you can. Then you will see that as you give you get. No. America wants to think that you must find God to give to the world and become a powerful Christian but it is the absolute opposite. You must give if you want to get. You must give to others first and then you will get personally. If God gives us his love...say at a church camp...we don't hold it in our minds and try and hold onto it forever because eventually life will make whatever is not used go away...the way to hold God's love and presence at all times is to perfect fellowship. "God is in us and us in him" therefore we do not just adress the God in heaven and the God in us...we adress the third God as well...the God in others...if you don't it is like loving only 2/3 of God and that doesn't work. as it says in John "As you love others your love in me is made complete" this is why it says "what you do for others you do for me." Not allegorically like somehow since we did it for someone God credits it to we ARE actually doing it for God...and that is the subtle for others and love for God and personal relationship are therefore the same love...because if you can't love others you can always love the God in them therefore you can love everyone at every time...the "trinity of love" God in us, God in others, God on high and that is why when God fills us with love it seems daily life eventually robs us of that "high" it is because we are not giving that love back to others...anything that is not used will fade. Love is an action as we have heard so why do we think that love between us and God is only for us? It is all the same love..."we cannot possible love God and not love man" as it says in 1 John. So it is obvious that the only way to catalyst your relationship with God is to love others first. It says it in the Bible! And I don't mean just being a good nice person...I know you already do that...or should be doing that. I mean actively searching for a chance to use God's love...not when it is expected or as a good thing now and then but always...everything you do use that love that God gave you, when you for God...and put that extra little touch and attitude to make others around you filled with joy...don't do the job do it better than normal..."Everything you do do it as if for God" same in interaction with others, actively look for a way to serve them...most people even Christians will approach sociality from the standpoint of "what can I get from this." they may not think it but it is what it you go to church thinking to praise God personally or hoping to "get" something out of it? If you do then you have missed the truth of God's love...go to church ready to look for others who need encouragement and help...and you will feel the joy and completeness of God. Did you think it was only the pastor's job? You should be with others just for the standpoint of making them happy...does someone want help when you are busy? Ever felt that twinge? "ughh I have to stop this and do that thing for them that I don't even enjoy" even if you do help the person, after feeling this you have failed from God's is not aboout loving outwardly...God knows the difference. no! No! NO! true fellowship is based in a real love and if you have it you will be overjoyed to help another person. Don't even think that...think "just look how happy this person will be if I cheerfully drop what I'm doing. I can do it but will it really make them happy if I'm not in it?" When you help others look at what you are doing through their eyes. When you are high on God's joy all these "thoughts" that were limiting the love in our hearts go you give if it is from God's standpoint and heart then he gives you more and more of his instead of just feeling his love and trying to hold it after those "special nights" you take the love he gave you and spin around and start using it to channel his love through you to other people and if you truly do it from your heart more of God's love comes to replace what you gave until it is like a river that lasts all day...all week...all your life and this is truly God's constant presence...his voice in giving. That is why God can't just take you over because then how could you start this wonderful process? and as you practice giving...your mind changes so that your outlook becomes that of God's and you hear his voice more and more clearly as that great river of roaring love carves away the sheilds in your mind. Just using God's love erases the things in your mind that should not be. Then as you do this his voice begins to break through...and he tells you greater and greater ways to give his love. At first you may start small but God will start telling you all the time to pray for this person...or that...this you an impression to give to another person...and more. Much more! That is what God has shown me of his constant presence and of his true fellowship...that was the spirit of the first church (drawing God's love through us not for us but to others) and as we give to others then...finally then we get personally what we wanted from God...him constantly there and his spirit...and his experiences and instead of it being experiences every now and then it is God all the time and experiences all the time that he gives us as treats as a byproduct of living in his love...In a relationship everyone gets what they want more often as we serve. And with God...even serving becomes many times happier for you than doing your own thing used to be. How could we have missed says it through the entire Bible "God is love...God is love...God is should be love can only get to God through love...God is made perfect in you through your one another...look through eachothers eyes...serve one as if to everything in love...isn't it obvious? It says it all over but we still miss it! We can be pretty dumb sometimes...and since God started revealing things to me I see it through the entire new testament. In every book! Exactly what God said! but yeah THAT is what God has shown me...everything draws back to unlocks all and is realizing just 1 or 2 new things about God's love he changed my mind forever and now truly I can't even imagine how blind I was before...How is it hard to have faith when there is a river of him inside you at all times? The hard part is loving at all times and I'll be working on new ways to love others probably my whole life. Now of course you will get distracted by the day but just pick it up again...don't beat yourself up and don't start begging God to bring it back...well actually do beg...just don't sit there waiting...just look for a way to reorient by finding someone else to serve! And as you serve that person feel that love surge up in you...this truly is perpetual spark of love can start this cycle that turns even the coldest deadest heart into a living breathing unit in the awesome body of God. Like I said you must learn how to bridge your heart to God personally but these are what I can put to words...and what I feel he wants me to share!
The story of my life, my faith, and my relationship with my creator has taken many turns and there is really only one word that can outline it and that is "searching". I have been searching my whole life. searching for my savior, searching for those greater truths, searching for the answers to love and how I could really love others, searching for a transformation that would free me from my cycles. I didn't know what it was I fought against and as a result it took me years. But slowly, as the autumn leaf drifts and spring creeps with green tendrils. My bare patch of dirt found God. "seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened." They are both so wonderfully true, but it was a whole lot more than just seeking and knocking. In order to accept God and his love I had to fight the foundation of my faith. My mind...the very thing that was the source of my strength as a christian. And when I made myself willing to overturn my very mind, then he met me...when I was truly willing to do anything and wanting more than anything to find his face, then, only THEN did God reach in and give me what I was so much more than the label. Since 13 I had pledged to do anything for God...and believed it! I still believe it but even that was not heart had to catch up to it all...My firmness of mind had to be turned to a joy in my heart until truly I could feel joy doing anything for God and unspeakable love and joy as well as just doing it all. Little did I know how out of sync my heart was with my mind--how out of sync so many Christians in America are--and therefore perfectionism and strength of mind ruled me. And my precious saviour was locked out of it because my mind was putting up barriers not only to the world but to him. The very act of my strong mind was the very thing that was keeping me from plunging into the pool of his presence that I longed for. So I broke it...or I should say I finally brought myself to let God start to break it, and everything I have learned of love and spirit truly--my Lord has shown me. I'm not preaching from what I've heard or read...Nothing I've said or the points I've made have come from some sermon or book although I'm sure we've all heard parallel teachings. This is God, and as I sought God he revealed to me the things I impart in this letter...and this is the best way imaginable. As God teaches then through that acceptance of his love all things are laid at rest. Learning how to accept and use God's love healed my mind and has taught me truths and given me gifts and joys that were more than I ever imagined I wanted...but thank the Lord they were just what I needed! Learning how to love has opened my mind to the whispers of my creator that he is constantly trying to reach us with...and I feel closer to him. Loving has healed me of many other habits and addictions as life has never had any serious evil. Since I was little I have been a strong devout Christian, but everyone struggles with something and loving with God I found that truly all addictions and habits are destroyed...when in love I've hardly felt tempted with those things that once plagued me. Of course anyone can relapse...all I am saying is that as we stay in God's love we don't even think about it. As Paul can we hold onto sin if we have God? The truth of it is that if we get and stay at this level of fellowship and love, sin begins to be erased from our lives...and we can't stay there if we begin to sin. what he was saying was from a high level of the love fellowship. There is a point in relationship with God where sin and temptation seems foolish. Truly if we are in God's fellowship as we should be we cannot be captive to sin and that is what he was saying. As well we cannot hold onto pride. If we truly love others how is it beneficial to brag or make ourselves look good? I believe that each and every one of us is capable of a revelation from God and any one of the body could teach me something new. And just because I hear a message that God has already revealed to me does not mean I cannot thank the person and praise God for the reminder...or just the fact that God is working in them as well! The fact that I, some of my friends, or Paul is teaching another does not mean that pride exists but that we love you all dearly. It is only our own warped minds that want to percieve it as such...and therefore love is the key to faith and the paradox of "humbleness" as is the key to everything...everything! It truly is!

here is a challenge for you...the next time God gives you a grand experience instead of revelling in it personally, keep using it and it will never go away...that is how you keep the "high" to put it in cruder terms. The distractions will come and go but you will always find God and his love again by loving others...and it gets easier to get back on track each time! And each time the distractions are dealt a blow and our mind becomes more ready to recognize and resist them. In love the only weapon Satan has is distractions because with God's love in our minds he can't speak to our minds anymore and if he tries it is easy to rebuff him. And when just a few people start loving in this way...loving not from themselves but straight from God then the world is changed and God's fellowship will be upon us has happened small but it can happen big and I have seen it...let us each be a spark of love that will ignite God's plan for Christianity yet is truly everything...but it is so much more than I can put into words or once thought I understood. But one thing you must remember and know is that if you follow this path the world will attack you. Jesus said that if we truly find his spirit and follow in his footsteps like this we will undergo hardship every step of the way. Every gift we give to God to serve others he prunes and it is often painful...but afterward that gift is so much stronger and better then what we could once use that we wonder how we could think the uncomfortability painful at all? This is why everyone is equal in God's sight because as we grow in him it doesn't matter what we are good at...everything we give to him no matter how humble he will strengthen...and so anyone can do anything. Just use what you have and it will become better! There will never be rest and if there is then we are in Christian fellowship or something is wrong. It will constantly be harder...I've never been able to get anywhere new and found that it was easy...I've THOUGHT it was but God always started pruning or training me again...showing me some new way to get closer or love better and he always will bless him! So the choice is here. Do you want God in this way personally or not? If you do prepare for the ride of your life! If you don't then all I can say is you are missing out...I will love you anyway but this is what Christianity was meant for! How can anyone sit still is my question...let's start a revival...let's spread God's love to the ends of the earth...together and in fellowship...we can DO anything...and God's love goes infinity!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, for this. It is just what I needed.

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."