The Urgency of This Moment

 
“Johnny Quick”

 “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.”

John 9:4, NLT

To be quick means that we move very fast; being slow often implies a reluctance or a mental delay.  To hesitate while doing God’s will for us suggests a degree of ignorance or stubbornness.  Our quickness is to be seen while doing “the tasks assigned to us.”

Urgency should be woven into our hearts.  We need to have wings on our feet, a fleetness and an alacrity.  A “double-eagerness” as we carry out His work.  It should be of no surprise that God sets before us an itinerary of work He wants us to do.

So many brothers and sisters sleepwalk through their salvation. They snooze when Jesus desires they “watch and pray” with Him.

Jesus was on a  timetable. He communicated a need of doing.  He is in tune with the work of God, and is involved in the urgency of his present moment.  Jesus knows this, and he clearly communicates the need to do.  We are not called to be manic for Jesus; we are expected to be alert and aware.

This is a cry for urgency to his disciples.

“The night is coming.”  It is getting late.  In response Jesus issues an order.  Work at what the Father has assigned you.  It is almost dark now.  There is a “principle of spiritual velocity” calling us to an alertness and an awareness of needful things to do before “the time is up.”

In Acts 9 the disciples show a holy zeal in their day’s work.  We can’t stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”  The Old Testament prophets carried this urgency–Jeremiah and Amos both declared to us this avidity placed on the believer.  Jesus desires that we factor in this concentrated awareness of the approaching night.

I recently read of an evangelist in the last century.  He had a watch made, and on the dial he had a picture of a setting sun.  And over it, the words, “the night comes.”  Everytime he would look at his watch he would be reminded of the shortness of life and the need of the performance of his duty.  That lesson should be transmitted to each zealous believer.

The key word I guess, in all of this, is zeal.  And often the older we get the more this word becomes diminished, and distant.  (I believe our Father understands this about us.) No matter what we do, He focuses His love on us.  There will never be a condemnation on us.  But we can still waste away our lives in a tragic way, which we will later regret. 

But we have to ask ourselves this, will I just be an admirer, or can I become a zealous disciple of Christ?

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God’s Authentic Artisans

photo: aalmarkllc.com

Sculpture is 3-D art. It can be made with marble, glass, metal, wood, plastics. It can be carved or cast, welded or painted. There can be sculpture using light, sound, water, kinetic (moving), land art, and environmental enhancements. It’s just one way to be creative, with many applications.

Sometimes we can define and confine sculpture far too simply or narrowly, but there are so many ways to communicate visual art. There are so many ‘cutting edge’ efforts, showing the creativity of people who are themselves created in the image of God. When we create, we emulate the Creator. It’s something worth pondering: God creates beautiful snowflakes, and we make ‘Styrofoam’ cups. (Hardly creative.)

There are over thirty uses of “skillful” people in the Old Testament alone. The Hebrew word used is carries with it the idea of “excelling at a task– an artisan.” When both the tabernacle and the temple were constructed, the Holy Spirit directly commanded the selection of artists and artisans to design beauty right into their work. There was nothing that was prefab or shoddy. The work done was meticulous and took patience.

13 And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work.

1 Kings 7:13-14, ESV

I’ve come to the place where I see talented people, with enhanced skills in many places: they are mothers, fathers, mechanics, plumbers. They are teachers and nurses, lawyers and accountants. They all excel at what they do, and it’s great when they are acknowledged and honored. They are creative in their work, “and full of understanding.”

When they go to work, they will carry out their duties with a flair. Some will have an awareness of God’s presence– some may not be aware. I was hospitalized a few years ago, I remember quite clearly a lady who came in and mopped my floor. She was skilled at her task, thorough and even artful. Tears came as I thought about her working. I felt humbled by her kindness. She was truly a minister of God’s grace on that day.

There is a line from Bernandos novel, “A Diary of a Country Priest.” It’s at the very end of the book, and the protagonist is dying. His attendant was disturbed by his inability to get a priest to come and minister the Sacrament of Last Rites. The dying man, looked at his friend, “What does it matter? Grace is everywhere.” Looking at the housekeeper, that same line came to my mind– grace is everywhere!


The man who carved the flourish above is a master carver. He is also a pastor and lives in Florida. His website is at http://www.aalmarkllc.com/ and he has posted a short video on YouTube,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTIuxKz5joc&w=640&h=360. He is a true example of a great woodworker.

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Getting Down and Dirty

by Julie Anne Fidler, BB Weekly Contributor

I have a confession to make: I used to avoid church. It wasn’t because the overhead lighting gave me migraines (even though it did.) It wasn’t because my lazy cat had more pep than the worship team, or because I always managed to find a pew filled with screaming children throwing Goldfish crackers. In reality, I have been a member of two churches over the past ten years and both of them were great, Bible-believing churches.

It’s just that everyone in church is so darn perfect, you know? Look around you. Everyone has it all together. Sure, those kids may be throwing crackers, but they’re destined to become evangelists. The women have great hair and impeccable fashion taste and are obviously dream wives. The men never struggle with lust and have never been guilty of spending too many hours at the office.

Right.

But this has been my impression of church for as long as I can remember. The older I get, the more I realize how crazy that is, but I do battle with the concept even now. Church is supposed to be the one place where we get really honest with God, others, and ourselves.  It’s the place where you are supposed to show up with your dirt and your bruises. We are supposed to reach out and say, “Life is hard; help me.” Too often, however, we wear our best, not just on the outside, but on the inside. We want to blend in, look content, and seem overjoyed with the life we are leading.

Even if I never had a mental illness, I would struggle. The fact that I do have one makes it that much harder because I know that a couple of pills mean the difference between being OK and all my engines completely shutting down.  I know that being obedient to Christ becomes a million times harder when I’m sick. I also know that if I shared this part of my life with everyone in that sanctuary, I’d be met with suspicion and disappointment – not by everyone, but by some.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Oh, but I definitely struggle with fear. I know I shouldn’t. I know there’s no good reason to, but I do. I fear the reaction of others. I fear I cannot measure up to the standards of others. I fear looking like a fool.

I deal with these fears by facing them. Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not trying to frame myself as a martyr.  Some people willingly jump out of airplanes. Some people get as high as the clouds, freak out, and have to be coaxed out the door. I have to be coaxed, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.  I want to be the real me when I walk through those church doors, when I go to a small group, when I sit down with a Christian friend for coffee. Jesus went to the dark places. He knelt down in the gutters. He got dirty. I don’t want to spend my life wearing a lily white uniform.

I want the Church to understand mental illness. As it stands, I think the Church is afraid of it. Of course you are going to be afraid of something you don’t understand. If I want the Church to understand mental illness and effectively reach out to “the least of these” who are suffering with it, I have to introduce them to it. I have to get dirty. I have to be honest about my own time in the gutter, my own days of wandering, if I want them to understand and respond in love.

I may run into resistance and fear, but even if I educate one person in the process, that’s one more voice speaking the truth and cracking the façade. I take a point away from the enemy, who is the creator of fear. Don’t be silent about who you are and what you battle. Trade in your spotless uniform for some dirty rags. Let’s get the Church a little dirty. Let’s love them into loving those who are lost and alone.

Julie Anne Fidler is a contributing writer for Brokenbelievers.com.  She comes with a humble and understanding heart for those with a mental illness.  Her writing gift is valued greatly.  Look for her post weekly, on this blog.   She keeps a personal ministry blog at www.mymentalhealthday.blogspot.com.  Read more there.