The Pace of Grace 

Episode 4 of GOING DEEP AND HIGH

The Pace of Grace 

I come across to people as pretty laid back, but I actually have a very intense side to me.  I like to get things done!   I like my job, I like to work, I like to set goals and then work efficiently towards those goals.  And sometimes I push too hard!  So, God and my friends have to tell me to slow down. 

In 2006 I was involved in helping lead a new church plant.  September 15, 2006 I was praying in the morning, asking the Lord for a word of encouragement. Immediately I felt God was saying “you’re trying too hard” and then I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of a foot letting up on the gas pedal of a car. God was saying, “slow down, don’t drive so fast!—let up on the gas!”  

This was two days before the first Sunday morning meeting of the new church plant I was helping to lead. God knows that in my eagerness I sometimes put too much pressure on myself and on others; I expect too much progress too quickly and I tend towards impatience.  My work ethic sometimes gets the best of me.  I just need to chill out, and trust God that I will get things done when they need to be done. 

Dallas Willard was an influential teacher in my life.  One time, John Ortberg asked Dallas for some advice.  John was about to begin a new job as president of a Bible school in addition to being a senior pastor of a large church.   Willard’s advice to John was, “as long as you don’t hurry you way through these jobs, you’ll be fine.”   (He meant hurrying in an agitated, anxious way).  How can you possibly NOT be in a hurry when you have two high-level jobs?  

To answer that question, let’s back up a minute and remind ourselves about the big picture.  What is our task on earth?  We are containers of God, living in union with Christ.  We are fully dependent on him.  That means we carefully consider which responsibilities we should commit to.  If God has given you TWO jobs, he will enable you do them without worrying.  Don’t worry; instead, pray.  Pray things like this:  “God, I believe you led me to take on both of these tasks.  And I know that I cannot do it on my own strength. I choose to cease striving.  I focus on your adequacy, not my own weakness.” 

We need to follow Paul’s example.  Boast in your weakness!   Celebrate it!  That is the turning point to looking to God for help.  If we follow that path, we can work from a place of rest.  When we forget that CHRIST is empowering us, we slide back into the illusion that we are separate from him.  Then we get freaked out when things go wrong, and we act independently of God instead of from that place of peace that is always located right inside us! 

Jesus said:  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11 NIV 

The analogy of a YOKE that Jesus uses is an image from plowing a field with two oxen side by side.  Jesus us saying, YOKE yourself to me – we will pull together. 

It seems like a contradiction in terms to say that we can REST while PULLING a plow.  How can a burden be light to carry?  Here is how the author Norman Grubb answers that question: 

“If we are pulling the plow of our life’s problems, relying on our own resources, that is strain, for we haven’t got what it takes to meet that need.” If, in our pressures, we turn inwardly as containers to Him who is “the all” within, and boldly reckon on Him to handle things, then it is rest in the midst of the activities—the habit of recognition.”  Norman Grubb 

The Message version of this passage says:  “I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  

This reminds me of the importance of musical band members all staying locked into the same rhythm and tempo.   Help me walk at the pace of grace. 

Sometimes I feel like God is asking me, “are you forcing the completion of this task too soon?”   you need to stay in in the groove of the rhythm! 

Richard Foster explains the dynamic of resting while working: “We learn over time and experience how to bring the reality of resting in God into the confusion and busyness of daily life. We learn to work resting. We learn to live on two levels at once. On the one level we carry on the ordinary task of our day. But on a deeper level we live out of inward promptings and whispered words of wisdom.” 

How about if you are the mother of small children, which means you have a 24/7 job description?    My wife, Linda, is the mother of our 8 children.   She home-schooled them for much of their school years.  My wife, Linda shared with me her understanding of the story of Mary and Martha – Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha getting anxious about al the work that had to be done.  Linda says, “Martha forgot that she was loved. It wasn’t an over-activity problem. I have to be a Martha – I have to get a lot of stuff done. But I can still find Jesus even when I’m busy.”  She got help from God to do her task of home schooling 8 kids. 

Paul said, “I worked harder than all the other apostles, but it was the grace of God in me doing it.”   1 co 15:10 

I take three things from that statement of Paul:  

We learn to work resting.  That is a skill we learn over years of practicing the presence of God. 
And, we learn to recognize when we’ve taken on too much responsibility.  We need to adjust our work load or our expectations of what we can get done in a day. 
There are two types of time discussed in the Bible.  Kairos time describes taking the opportunities afforded by each moment.  This involves asking God, “what are you doing now and what should I be doing now?”  The concept of Kairos time has its origins in the practice of Greek archery, representing the moment when the archer finds the perfect opening to shoot his arrow and hit his target. That’s a habit we develop through years of practice.  I regularly ask God – “what should I be doing now?”  

The other type of time is CHRONOS – this is a view of time as a tyrannical slave-driver.  We need to resist being slaves of time, but clue into God’s timing.  We need to get out from under the tyranny of time.  We need to stay in step with his “unforced rhythms of grace.”  

PRAYER: 

God we open ourselves to you now, we thank you for the reality of Kairos time 

God, we surrender the throne of our lives to you. 

We choose to live under Kairos time.  Lord, teach us to do this. 

Lord, you said we should make LOVE our highest goal.  We say yes to that. 

We want to be all about loving you and serving people. 

We wait for your directions and your peace. 

We say no to worry and frantically rushing through our hours and days. 

We repent from independently making decisions outside of our relationship with you. 

Thank you, Lord for the safety of staying connected to you. 

Help us become experts at recognizing your constant union with us and your ability to take care of every situation.

The Fountain Within You 

Episode 3 of GOING DEEP AND HIGH

I have just released a new song called “Bubble Up.”  What’s that about?  What is this bubble up, is this a new drink?   No!  It’s the Holy Spirit, of course.  Jesus said those who believe in him would be like a gushing fountain of life!   

That truth is what inspired my song, “Bubble Up.”  It’s a song with a happy, childlike kind of feel to it.  which is fitting because it takes the faith and humility of a child to lean into the amazing truth that we are containers of a never-ending flow of living water.   

Your perception of yourself is a game-changer.   How you see yourself determines what you do in this present moment, and how you relate to others and to God.  What we BELIEVE about who we are makes a huge difference in daily life.  What you take takes you.  According to your faith, so shall it be. (It’s not just your faith, it’s the faith of Christ working through you).  

The context of this great saying of Jesus was the last day of an annual worship festival in Jerusalem.  Jesus stood and said in a loud voice to a crowd of people, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”  

The result of drinking this living water is:  “…rivers of living water will flow from your innermost being.”  In other words, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will pour out of you – peace, joy, patience, gentleness, kindness, words of wisdom and knowledge.  

In a hot, arid climate like Israel, Jesus’ metaphor of the believer as an ever-flowing fountain was powerful.  Water was a scarce and precious resource.  Jesus’ audience must have been puzzled when Jesus’ said to THEM a gushing fountain flowing from YOU!   Reminds me of when Jesus said to a crowd of 10,000 or so, “YOU are the light of the world.”  Jesus saw the POTENTIAL in people.  He saw the GOD-GIVEN goodness that all of us carry.   

They were probably thinking, “man, I am so thirsty right now!”  How can I possibly be a conduit for gushing spiritual water?   This is one of those “for those who have ears to hear” moments in Jesus’ earthly ministry.   He was talking about an UNSEEN and ETERNAL REALITY.  Remember, the unseen world is more powerful than things you can see with your eyes.  

The imagery of good things from God bubbling up out of us is found in many scriptures:   

Wisdom is a deep well of understanding opened up within you as a fountain of life for others…”   Proverbs 16:22  

“Words of wisdom are like a fresh, flowing brook— like deep waters that spring forth from within, bubbling up inside the one with understanding.”   Proverbs 18:4 TPT  

“A man of deep understanding will give good advice, drawing it out from the well within.”  Proverbs 20:5 TPT  

As you give praise and thanks to God, the bubble up begins:  

“Our hearts bubble over as we celebrate the fame of your marvelous beauty, bringing bliss to our hearts. We shout with ecstatic joy over your breakthrough for us.”   Psalms 145:7 TPT  

Throughout the Bible, metaphors such as rivers, fountains, water wells, and oceans, are used to describe God’s love and power.  And here, Jesus makes it specific – YOU are the conduit of that beautiful refreshing stream.  

Paul reiterates Jesus’ teaching when he said:  “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”  That means both the individual and the gathered body.   

Here is how that verse is translated in the Passion Translation:  “Don’t you realize that together you have become God’s inner sanctuary and that the Spirit of God makes his permanent home in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 TPT  

The old temple, the physical Old Testament building, is no longer the place where the Holy Spirit lives.  Now, the address of the Holy Spirit is YOU.  You are the architecture of God’s dwelling on the earth!  

When you need help, where do you find God?   Where is the Holy Spirit?   Is he “out there somewhere?”  He is everywhere.  Most importantly, he is inside of you as a constant resource.  

When you need God to help you do something, do you have to wait until you can feel the Holy Spirit before you do something challenging?  Or do you connect with him as God-in-you, God-joined-to-you, God-one-with-you?  You don’t have to wait! He is permanently in you and part of you, gloriously entangled with your human spirit.  

(Of course there are many times we wait on the Lord, and listen).  I’m talking here about a basic way of seeing yourself.  

Don’t default to seeing yourself like a paper cup with a few ounces of living water inside.  We’re selling ourselves short to think like that!  You are not a cup with a tiny bit of HS living water in you.  You are not connected to a stream that sometimes runs dry.  You are IN the river.  God is the river. And you are a tributary of that river!  

The Holy Spirit is never weak within us.  We of course often feel weak.  Do like Paul, rejoice in your weakness.  It’s just a pointer to his strength.  As we align our view of ourselves with God’s view, we cultivate spiritual fruitfulness.  As we drink voraciously from God’s well of goodness, the reality of his life becomes more and more visible to us and to others.  

The prayer “Holy Spirit Come” is an important prayer—an ancient prayer originating in the early centuries of the church.  This prayer rises from an understanding that God will at times send a special empowering of his Spirit.  I see this prayer as one side of a coin, the other side being the importance of being aware of the constantly abiding Holy Spirit.   

If we see ourselves as people who contain a reservoir of living water, we will live with faith and expectancy.  We will be less anxious.  We won’t feel a pressure to perform because we’re already joined to Christ.  We will have a natural boldness like Peter did when he encountered a lame man on his way to a prayer meeting at the temple (Acts 3).  Peter didn’t have to invite the Holy Spirit to come.  He was walking in the Spirit and knew when the time was right to speak a word of faith to the lame man to rise and walk.  

Let’s make this practical  

I encourage you to make a habit of remembering who you are.  You are a reservoir of Holy Spirit.  So, when your anxiety begins to rise, calm yourself and affirm the truth of God’s presence in you.  Say to yourself and God, “I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.”  “I have access to the mind of Christ.”  “I have the prince of peace living in me.”  

We need to be constantly “wading into the waters” of the Holy Spirit.  I love the Passion Translation version of this verse:  “Remain fully immersed in this God-shaped new person from above. You are created in the image and likeness of God.”   Eph 4:24   Mirror Study Bible  

How do you stay immersed?  One way is to pray in tongues, another is to consume a lot of living water through good teaching, another way is to worship.  Worshiping God opens up a door to heaven:  “When I’m near you, my heart and my soul will sing and worship with my joyful songs of you, my true source and spring of life!”   Ps 84:7  

Remember to keep thanking God for the fountain of life that is always flowing through you!

 

Christ in You 

This is episode 2 of GOING DEEP AND HIGH

Who do you think you are?   That’s a very important question.  The more you know God, the more you know yourself.  As we go deep with God, we understand our identity at a deep level. 

If someone asks you “Who do you think you are?”  The first thing that comes to mind is probably – your occupation, married or single, etc.  That’s all good.  Let’s talk about the multi-dimensional you for a minute.  You are a human-being and you are a spirit person.  You exist in the earthly realm and you exist in the spiritual realm.  Those two realms intersect. 

Here are some scriptures on your identity as a spirit-being:  Jesus said to Nicodemus in their discussion on being born again:  “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”   Jesus said to the Samaritan woman he met at the well, “God is Spirit.”  God, who is Spirit, gave birth to you, who are a spirit person.  The eternal part of you is your spirit. 

The writer to the Hebrews says “we have flesh-fathers, but that God is father of our spirits,” in other words our real, eternal selves (Hebrews 12:9).  Paul defines our “self” as spirit when he says, “who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?” 

There is a joining of two spiritual beings: Christ and you.  Jesus explains it like this:  “I am the vine, you are the branches.”  The vine and the branch is one plant, one organism.  It shares the same properties.  The branch is not exactly the same as the vine, but it’s inseparably connected to the vine and is constantly benefiting from the life that comes through the vine (John 15).  The branch can only bear fruit by receiving constant nourishment from the Vine. 

Another picture of this intertwining of our spirit and the Holy Spirit is in Jesus’ last talk to his disciples before going to the cross:  “On that day [when Jesus is no longer with them] you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”      John 14 

This is a mystical and “fourth-dimension truth!” Don’t try to figure that out with mere human brain power.   That’s another way of describing what Paul says:  “Set your mind on things unseen.”   

So tell me, how far are you from God?  He is there in the center of your chest—in your spirit.  Did you know that “Christian” means Christ-one.  A spiritual son or daughter inherits the characteristics of the Father. 

Not only is he CLOSE to you, He is ONE with you. The eternal God of glory has chosen to join himself with you.  How could you possibly be any more in the inner circle of love than that? 

Just let that reality sink in, slowly for the rest of your life.  You can experience the glory of that reality.  Paul calls it, “Christ in you the hope of glory.”    And it’s not a ‘maybe’ kind of hope, it’s a deep assurance. 

Another way Paul says it is this:  “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal, 2:20.  That’s a mystical statement, and it is clearly something Paul has personally EXPERIENCED.  Paul has GONE DEEP AND HIGH with God.  And we see a very LONG and WIDE impact from his life. 

Here’s a practical application of that truth.  How far do you have to reach for him to find him?  You don’t really have to REACH.  Just sit there.  For some people, the language of “turning inward” is helpful.  Do you think it’s too good to be true that God would join himself to you?  If your mind needs more convincing, just read the New Testament. 

Here is another very practical application.  How many times have you heard yourself or someone else say, “I’m just trying to get closer to God.”  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But it implies that God is sometimes far from us. Not true! 

I suggest using language that lines up with reality as we read about it in the Bible.  As you become more and more convinced of this reality (and you will if you are persistent over time), it will change your behavior.  It will make you a more peaceful person.  Because if you are joined to Christ, who can hurt you? 

If you lean into and live into your unity with Christ, you WILL find the strength to listen attentively to that irritating person at your place of work.  You WILL find the patience to pick up your toddlers toys for the fourth time in one day. 

Finally, Christ in you IS your wisdom, your righteousness and your holiness.  So, feel good about yourself.  Accept his acceptance of you. 

The awareness of your oneness with Christ makes you confident.  You’ll be confident in who you are in God, and who you are in all of life.  The awareness of your oneness with Christ makes you courageous.  You will have the courage to attempt things that you know you can’t do in your own strength. 

Going Deep and High Introduction 

This is the first of a series called GOING DEEP AND HIGH.  My goal in this series is to impart to others what God has given me in forty-seven years of knowing him.  I thought the first four decades of experiencing God were wonderful, and they were.  The past four years have been remarkable.  

I’ve experienced open access to God and to heavenly realities in a way I’ve never known before.  And I am more settled and secure and content in living the day-to-day Christian life than ever before.  And I continue to mature in my ability to love people.  Paul says, “make love your highest goal.”  The older you get, the more wisdom and experience you have to pass along.  I am very energized about sharing what I’ve learned with anyone who is interested.  

Here are some of the topics I’ll be looking at.   There are two large categories.  The first is Understanding and Experiencing Spiritual Realities and the second is Applying these concepts to the challenges of daily life. 

Spiritual realities such as who God is, who you are, and what heaven is all about are more permanent and enduring realities than your current occupation, your income, or the problems you are facing right now.  When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said to pray this:  “Let your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

What’s happening in heaven?  Who is there, and what are they experiencing?  Of course, the Father, son and Holy Spirit are there, and they are everywhere.  But YOU are also there.  You are seated in the heavenly places if you are in Christ.  “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”  (Ephensians 2:6).  That’s one of those sentences you read in Paul’s writing that you skim over and say, “Mmmm.  Sounds good.”  To really live into that truth is absolutely life-changing.  You are a co-inheritor of all that Christ has inherited.  We are co-heirs with Christ.  This is what Paul teaches.  

So you, as a spirit-being, are in heaven, yet you are here on earth.  So, you are in two places at once.  You might say, you are a multi-dimensional person.  That’s what the Bible teaches.  One of the key spiritual realities we need to understand is that we are first and foremost spirit people.  We are humans, but the eternal part of us, the part of us that has first contact with God is our spirit.  

Here is a quote from Dallas Willard:  “You are a never-ceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe.  You are spiritual in substance.  You are never going to stop existing -- there's nothing you can do about that so get used to it.”  

So, since you are seated next to Jesus in the heavenly places, how far away is God from you?  In fact, your human spirit is intertwined with the Holy Spirit.  You are one with him!   “Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”  (1 Cor 6:17)  It’s the same thing Jesus said using different language.  Jesus said “I am the Vine, you are the branches.”  “I make my home in you, and you make your home in me.”  Jn 14 

I believe that by-in-large, the church hasn’t really understood or applied these kinds of truths.  For example, I think most Christians think of God as “out there somewhere” rather than permanently dwelling in themselves.  Since God is inside of you, how hard is it to hear his voice?  He is actually a part of your being.  You are not God, but you do “partake in the divine nature,” as Peter wrote in his letter.  Understanding and living in these deep truths is a lifetime pursuit.  This is the mystery of Christ in us.  

If your spirit is ONE with Christ, how does that make you feel about yourself?  How do you think God sees you?  A major teaching of Jesus and Paul that has enormous implications for moment by moment living is that Christ is our life.  Paul makes the amazing statement  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20). The old us is dead.  “We” no longer live.  The new “us” is Christ in us.  Christ + us.  Not two, but not one, either.  The new you is you and the Cosmic Christ.  Cosmic simply means universal.  He has existed for eternity-past and he fills the universe.  

Let’s make this practical right away.  If you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and you feel your anger start to rise (like I have hundreds of times), what do you do?  I find that it DOES NOT work to say to myself, “Don’t get angry!”  What works for me is (1) surrender, and set your intention on your spirit rather than trying to analyze everything around you and argue with what is happening (2) Recognize who you are.  Who are you?  You are joined to Christ.  Christ is your super-power.  You hitch a ride on his righteous ways.  You are sitting in the back seat.  You remind myself what is true.  You don’t grit my teeth and try to “become good.”  You recognize that you contain the Good One.  The way you see yourself changes the outcome of your behavior.  This is faith in action. 

In summary, because spiritual reality is more powerful and eternal than physical reality, we can access who we are and who God is in the Spirit, and reign over our physical circumstances.  Reigning with God is something that begins now.  Co-reigning with Christ is one of the things we inherit.  We begin by reigning over our emotions and the way we behave towards the people around us, like our own family members.  

It's all very supernatural and very natural at the same time! 

That’s a taste of things to come in my series GOING DEEP AND HIGH.  Going deep and high with God leads to going long and wide—you will have a long, fruitful life as you allow Christ to live his life through you.

Jesus, Our Oasis 

I love this translation of the famous words of Jesus in the book of Matthew:  “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me.  I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” (TPT, Matt 11:28). In most versions of the Bible, we read, “…and you will find rest for your souls.”   The word oasis is defined as “Something serving as a refuge, relief, or pleasant change from what is usual, annoying, difficult, etc.” 

I remember an image from some movie I saw in childhood in which a heat-scorched man, dying of thirst, sees an oasis in the distance.  He starts walking towards it, only to see it disappear as he draws near.  His hope for rescue was shattered. 

In Jesus, we have a continual, abiding-on-the-inside Oasis.  When we reach to him, he will not disappear like a desert mirage.  We can draw from his refreshing at any moment.   We can dip into this inner well to help us let go of our anxiety, stress and anger. 

The next thing Jesus says after the “oasis” line is, “Simply join your life with mine.  Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.”   I am in a season of learning a deeper meaning of the word “rest.”  Only from a place of rest can we walk in unhindered dialogue with the Lord. 

The waters of our soul and spirit mix with his living water.  When we are weary, we are rejuvenated by his fountain of life within us.   He said that “rivers of living water would flow from our belly.” (John 7).  Let the river of life fill every part of your emotions, soul, mind and body!  Drink deeply.

LET THERE BE LIGHT IN 2022 

At the end of 2021 I was asking God what he wanted to say to me about 2022.  He highlighted some themes from the book of Revelation, chapter 22.   Jesus is presented in that chapter as the light of heaven:  “Night will be no more. They will never need the light of the sun or a lamp, because the Lord God will shine on them.”  We read in 1 John: “God is light.” 

Over the past few years I have thought about the parallels between the light of the sun and God’s light.  From my house I can see a majestic mountain range.  I’m amazed at the vastly different perspectives I see depending on how the light is shining on that mountain range.  The many ways light plays off the white majestic clouds is a glorious thing.  It’s a picture of heaven.  The colors of God in the sky come alive in the light. The combination of many shades of white and grey, piercing blue and the striking pinks, oranges and reds at sunrise and sunset tell the story of a creative God.  He planted in each one of us an appreciation for beauty that is like his own. 

Around once every five years, we get a big dump of snow here in Vancouver that sticks around for awhile.  This is one of those winters.  The brightness of the sun’s light reflecting off the snow is astounding.  On December 30th, as I was pondering this theme of light, I saw an amazing sight.  Long after dark, I could clearly see a purplish-blue sky instead of normal blackness!   The reflective nature of snow opened up my perspective to see color in the heavens.  That’s what God’s light does.   Even when we’re surrounded by darkness, God can open our eyes to see his glory in creation, and to appreciate the good people and things that surround us. 

God’s light to reveal wisdom and knowledge is always available.  But, because of this word I received, I’m expecting an increase of my “seeing ability” this year.  I’m pressing in to see more, learn more and reach for the new things God is opening up. 

Another fascinating application of light in the Bible is that God is not the only light-bearer.  Paul says to his church members, “you are light in the Lord,” and “you are children of the light and children of the day.”  Our nature is now “joined to Christ.”  So it shouldn't surprise us that we…are…light.  (see 1 Cor. 6:17). 

Jesus said, “I am light to the world, and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.”  And he also said to the crowd gathered on a hill, most of whom were hungry and struggling, “You are the light of the world!”  I can picture someone from the crowd hearing what Jesus said, turning to their friend and asking, “Is he talking about us? We are the light of the world?” 

Jesus sees our true nature as being full of spiritual light.  We must train ourselves to see our identity in the same way.  My emotional state goes up and down, especially in the winter when it’s mostly cloudy and wet. So, I declare over myself the truth, “I am a son of light.  I share the nature of Him who is pure light.”  Jesus is THE light, and we are sons and daughters of light.  We are offspring of God and we bear his image.  (1 Thess. 5:5) 

I hope you see new truths and gain much more access to God’s light 2022!

The Beauty of Unity - WE LIVE IN YOU 

One of the most beautiful God-mysteries is the interwoven life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—The Holy Trinity.  This is the only perfectly functional family!   They live in a continual outpouring of mutual love, trust, honor and friendship.  They support one another and defer to one another. 

Another amazing mystery that mirrors the Trinity is the connectedness of the entire Body of Christ, the church.  We belong to one another.  We participate in the one life of Christ together.  We are not complete without one another.  We grow and mature as we connect to the mystically joined network of believers around us.  God made us to be social-spiritual beings. 

And we are so enriched by connecting to our worldwide family!  Around 3 years ago I wrote the song, We Live in You, which is about our unity with God and one another.  The song had an African feel to it.  As I imagined arranging this song, I heard African drums in my head.  I don’t know many folks in Vancouver that play African drums, so I never played the song! 

Years later, I heard an interview with Edgar King, a Vineyard pastor from Kenya.  Edgar has been a worship leader for many years, beginning as a youth in the Vineyard church pastored by his father.  I asked Edgar to sing on We Live in You and invite some of his team members. Edgar invited Joan Nzuki and George Ochieng’ Oula to sing on the track.  They sound great! 

Edgar is fluent in both English and Swahili, so we recorded the song using both languages.  This bi-lingual song reflects the worship style in Edgar’s multi-ethnic church.  Their congregation is quite diverse, so they sing songs in various languages to make everyone feel welcome and connected. 

This reminds me of my many visits to Latin America, where I have enjoyed singing in Spanish.  I have learned so much from my Latino brothers and sisters.  I have shared my experiences of worship in those countries, but it’s always a mutual give-and-take situation.  My life of worship has been deeply enriched by hanging out with my Latino spiritual family. 

When we venture out beyond our own native culture and share life with people of different nations, we see life, God and ourselves with new eyes. 

THE KISS OF GOD 

Here is the first verse of my song The Power is in the Kiss: 

The power is not in a top down ultimatum 

It’s not in the angry raising of your fist 

The power is not in your well defended position 

Real power, purest power is in the kiss 

In many arenas of society in the past year we have seen a lot of what I describe as the “wrong kind of power” in this first verse:   “top down ultimatums, angry raising of your fist, well defended position… calling down heaven’s fire on the ones we think are lower than ourselves.”  These actions and attitudes flow from a belief that “I am right, I have the power, and I am going to exert my power to get my way, even if it means I will dominate you and show violence in doing so.”  

In his book, “A More Christlike God,” Bradley Jersak describes the way Christ rules:  “…Christ rules through love rather than coercion—through persuasion rather than force—through revelation rather than domination.” 

Jersak goes on to explain that consent rather than coercion is how the Father and the Son relate to one another.  “Consent is the divine act of love between Father and Son.  Some have said that as the Father kisses the Son, the Holy Spirit is the kiss.  The Son shows his love for God the Father by continually consenting—obeying, surrendering, yielding—to his Father’s will (and God’s will is love!).” 

Jesus showed us a very different kind of power than we see in some of our modern-day politics.  He showed us and upside down kind of cruciform power – going to the cross.  He showed is kenotic power – emptying himself of his rights to exercise authority as God (Philippians 2).  Kenosis means to “empty yourself of self will.” 

The kenotic and cruciform power of Jesus is described in the bridge of “The Power is in the Kiss:” 

It’s the power of love reaching across the great divide 

Embracing the lonely ones on the other side 

It’s the power of the peaceful dove   

The power of an open door 

The power of an outstretched hand    

Giving help to the weak and poor 

The power of real surrender, it’s the power of letting go 

It’s the weakness of an earthen vessel, 

Filled with power, purest power from above 

In marriage and in all relationships, surrendering our power, or letting other people have their way is often the right choice.  Another way of saying that is from 1 Cor 13:  “Love is not insisting on your own way.”  This is how I approach my relationship with Linda, my wife.   It’s also the way I try to behave in my interactions with friends, co-workers and strangers in the marketplace. 

Though we don’t automatically allow ourselves to be run over or abused, at the very least we are called to show love and respect at all times to all people.  Paul writes to Titus, “…be peaceable and considerate, and always…gentle toward everyone.”  (Titus 3:2)

Meditations Series – Celebrating 45 Years Walking with Jesus 

I’ve travelled a rich journey of knowing God through the last several decades.  To be exact, it’s 45 years since I started walking with the Lord in my first year of university studies.  I had never imagined that God could be so real, so involved in my life, and so willing to reveal himself to me. 

To celebrate these first 45 years of my walk with Jesus, I am writing a series of 45 Meditations on all sorts of subjects that have been key lessons for me along this road.  Some topics offer advice on how to deal with specific challenging situations of life, and some are big-picture topics that form the spiritual foundations we walk on. 

You can see several episodes of this series on the 45 Meditations page on this website.  All of the Meditations are posted on my Youtube page @ Andy Park.

My Great Reward 

Abraham is one of my favorite Bible characters.  He walked a very long journey of faith.   God made very great promises to him:  2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing… all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 

As great as those promises were, they were NOT Abraham’s “great reward.”  His great reward was the person of God – walking with and being a friend of God.  Abraham enjoyed many earthly blessings.  He had a beautiful wife (Gen 12:11), many servants and was wealthy: “Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold” (Gen. 13:2).  “Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (Gen. 12:16). 

Abraham’s life is a very important example for all of us.  God promised him, “descendants … as numerous as the stars in the sky.”  Though God may generously bless us in many ways on the earth, none of those promises are our ultimate treasure.  HE is our ultimate treasure.  

If I get too focussed on the promises of things God is planning for me, I become very disappointed.  Accomplishing goals or attaining possession or even having special relationships will ultimately disappoint us if they are our ultimate treasure.   If we make idols of earthly blessings, in the long run they will fail to satisfy us. 

I encourage you to enjoy friendship with God today and every day.  Don’t forget that God is at your side, in your heart, above you and below you and behind you and before you.  In a way, it’s not so much what you do in life as Who you do it with that counts.

Andy Park

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