Dying to Self

There’s a common denominator for authenticity.

In this particular post we’re looking at an element of Christian discipleship that ties us all together. It’s our common denominator as His disciples. We must learn to die to self to be faithful. There can be no obedience unless we choose to carry our cross to a place of death.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

Galatians 5:24

But what does that look like? How can I know that I’m really doing this? Maybe this will guide you.

 

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By no means is this list exhaustive. But you know that maybe good. The principle then has the room to fit all areas of your life–the core idea of self-renunciation becomes the way your spirit operates. We deny ourselves so real life can begin.

There can be no resurrection power unless there is crucifixion weakness. 

We must go to the cross daily in order to find our life. That is the way. “This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him we will also live with him.”

2 Timothy 2:11

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Raising the White Flag

“So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Matthew 17:16

Failure is hardly an option in our minds, for we know that Jesus Christ has shared his power with us.  But if we are honest we must admit to moments when we can’t do what Jesus can do.  We step out and meet the sick, and the possessed, with failure and defeat.

This is not an indictment of this “White Flag Christianity”.  It concerns us however, to the proximity and presence of Jesus.  And I really believe that that is what is at stake here.  We tell someone that He can heal, we lay our hands on her…and nothing.  Often there can be a feeling that we’ve failed the Lord.  Soon we start avoiding the topic of healing altogether, we can even go as far as denying it because we don’t see it.

When Jesus moves in to your location, he convincingly comes as the One of power and authority.  The nearness of His presence always brings good (and never evil).  In our failure, our white flag of giving up, should provoke us not to try harder.  Our effort for authentic discipleship is not contingent on our effort and works, but how close is Jesus.  I cannot become confused. He is the Healer.  I’m just the dude that is carrying the stretcher.

Your brother,

Bryan

commentsbb@yahoo.com

 

More Like a Romantic Kiss

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“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine.
3 Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you.
4 Draw me away! “

Song of Solomon 1:2-4

“Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I am not praying.” 

Elliot, “Children’s Letters to God”

It may seem heretical, but it seems that spiritual growth is being reduced to ‘bullet points’ of a presentation. And that really does scare me.  We are looking to fall into a trap ‘head over heels’ right into a place that has promised so much, and yet delivers so little. We have been reduced to a mindset of which the ‘disciplines’ of the Christian life have become formulaic, and  robotical.  Somehow, we are missing the purpose as our discipleship begins to grow hard and slowly turns to stone.

But a kiss, on the other hand, is undefinable; it can’t be quantified and defies rules.

I fear the formula, and repudiate the rules.  I am disturbed that our discipleship can become self-moving, self-regulating, self-starting.

When will realize that Jesus is looking for lovers?  Somehow we think we can extract romance, diminish intimacy and choose to walk mechanically through life.  We are losing our created and given purpose to be in close fellowship with Him.

There is a monstrous industry in all of this, a callous system. With the absence of an intimacy with Jesus, the following will actually become dangerous.

  • formulas, counselors, life-coaches
  • training programs,
  • media: books, podcasts, TV
  • conferences, prophetic worship
  • magazines, “special” books
  • inspirational speakers, favorite Bible teachers
  • and even websites, (like this one!)

We often turn to them to get what we think we need. The delusion is that we can become moral and true, without an intimacy with Jesus. I guarantee this, without a deep intimacy with Him, these “things” will invariably disappoint us. But truly, we seldom do intimacy well.

Authentic growth will not happen overnight.  Many get so disappointed, and disillusioned that they just quit walking and become hardened aand very unhappy. They may or may not become apostate. The Lord sees them, and loves them at a distance.

We can’t use the above list, but the Holy Spirit can.  He uses these things, but there can never be confusion on who is working. I must relate to Him and strengthened in His strength.  I must be as intimate as I can in His presence.

There can never be an authentic spirituality, without a real romance with Jesus We must be taken up with Him and enthralled.  We must recover the “courtship of the Lord.” Prayer starts to become a passionate tryst, and worship an affair of the heart.  This where we meet begin to meet him directly, and authentically.

For good people, God is a religion. For the saints he is a kiss and an embrace.

Passion, and not principles (even if they are noble ones) will carry the day. It’s about desperation, not obligation.  I will be the first to admit that these maybe these differences seem subtle and trivial, but they’re not.  Romance brings roses to a rendezvous, with a passionate and openly declared ‘first love.’ Yet so often we shuffle in and grovel to bring our list of things we need or want. Few be the lovers, that find true contentment and freedom and real peace when they are alone with their Beloved.

 

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Is Jesus Your Center?

Jesus, the Center of Life and Time

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him about all the things they had done and taught.”

Mark 6:30, New Century Version

We need to become accountable to Him for the things we say, and the things we do.  A liberated discipleship is one that can’t be trusted–there is no supervision, and no direction.  And we need to be accountable.  It is not a question of freedom– but of slavery, and duty (kind of a “neutral” word.)  Within our culture, we are dancing on a knife’s edge, and we become intensely counter-cultural when we live authentically as His disciples.

The text has noted, “They gathered unto Him.”  That dear one, is the real essence of your walk.  He is the absolute center, that fact will never change.  Without Him we will drift in and out, unfocused and confused.  But these wonderful disciples know absolutely that Jesus Christ is their common focus, no matter what their own personal proclivities.

A simple word about all the plurality and variety among Christians.  We are intensely different.  Some of us are Pentecostals, and some are Roman Catholics.  Some Orthodox, Lutherans and Quakers. We are Mennonites, Baptists and Methodists. There is so much variety in the Church.  But I think that all of us are coming to Jesus–He is our center!

I no longer doubt or fear the amazing variety that is in the Church.  We are dealing with a God who can’t even make snowflakes alike!  We make Styrofoam cups that are exactly alike, and He does snowflakes.  He insists on creativity and being unique. Shouldn’t our churches reflect this?

The verse tells us that the disciples had the freedom to come to Jesus and report.  There wasn’t a need to embellish or exaggerate their work. They are not in competition with each other.  They have a broad confidence, an easiness and sureness about Him.  Jesus is the easiest master to work for.  Bob Dylan told us, “You gotta serve somebody.”

And serving Him is kind of demanding, but it is also a great and wonderful joy.  Only those caught in the middle are miserable.  They can’t make the choice.  They’re in a tough place. We must pray for them.

“Done and taught.”  The disciples have been active on their journey.  They have travelled different directions. They work, and then they teach.  And really that is all that disciple comes down to.  Working, and talking.  Talking, and working.  I believe that it was significant that this would become the focal point, and bulk of their time with Jesus was essential.  That tells me something.  In some real sense, this is how we are to monitor and evaluate ourselves.

1)  Do I gather onto Jesus with others?

2)  Do I share with Him things that matter?

3)  Do I evaluate my service with His light?

4)  Do I tell Him everything– “honest and truthful?”

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ybic, Bryan

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