Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Story (Part 14) - Return to the Love I Had At First

Read Part 13

There is so much more that could be said about how God has worked in my life over 24 years.  So many other keys moments and events.  But this series of posts has sought to give a testimony of the life-adjusting seasons that God has brought me through.  I am confident that He who began this work in me will continue it until the Day of Christ Jesus.  But, as I am "up-to-date" on the story, part 15 is going to have a wait.  But, as I reflect back on the last 24 years, there are definitely some things I have learned.

JEMED Bracelet
First of all, our Christian lives are about one thing - Jesus.  Everything else comes under Him.  Seems obvious, I know.  But my journey so far has seen me getting caught up in other things - putting ministry ahead of Him.  Putting evangelism ahead of Him.  Putting theology ahead of Him.  Instead of His Word drawing me to Him, I put learning Biblical facts ahead of Him.  Years ago, I wore a bracelet that said "JEMED."  A friend from church helped make it more solid.  It is interesting that I eventually put that one away for others - ones that reminded me to share the Gospel and other things.  What is "JEMED"?  It was my own little thing that I came up with to remind me of something, and replacing the bracelet ended up being symbolic that others things had replaced the meaning of the bracelet.  Quite simply, "JEMED" is Jesus, Every Moment of Every Day.  That's where I want my focus.  That's what I want the drumbeat of my life to be.

The second thing I take away from the last 24 years is the importance of God's people.  I need Christians in my life, especially those who will help sound the drumbeat of Jesus.  I found myself beginning to shut certain people out of my life over secondary things.  My heart has been crushed over the past two years by the blood bath happening online over issues like predestination, Bible translations, the End Times, and other issues.  Are these important issues?  Yes.  Are they worth breaking fellowship over?  No.  It amazes me how long I went in my Christian life without knowing the ins and outs of these issues and that people cared so deeply about them.  I have seen the charge of heresy thrown around more in the past two years than I ever have in my life.  State your case - fine.  But the spilling of "blood" between the brethren has to stop.  I know these fights are seen as a battle over truth.  But God's Word talks about speaking the truth in love and how God's servant should not be quarrelsome, but patiently teaching.  Too many of these debates are marked more by what Galatians lists as "works of the flesh" than they are by the fruit of the Spirit.  While we are busy fighting over a pile of theology books, the enemy continues to have his way in the world.

The third thing I have most learned over the past 24 years is the vital role of prayer.  The times where I have seen God's Spirit most moving among a group is when prayer is the backbone.  And I have seen it among Arminians as well as Calvinists.  Leonard Ravenhill said, "No preacher is worth his weight in salt who doesn't pray for at least two hours a day."  I could care less where someone falls on the predestination debate.  What I want to know is how is your prayer life?  Everything springs up from the well that is dug in prayer.  If the well is shallow, evidence of the flesh is sure to follow.  If the well is deep, everything that follows will be filled with the life of the Spirit.  This was the repeated message of Leonard Ravenhill.  It is something I drifted away from, but God is bringing me back.

The next lesson that has most stood out to me is the need to do something with urgency for God.  In many ways, the past 24 years have been a blur.  They have gone so fast and time only seems to be speeding up with every passing year.  I don't want years to go and look back wondering what I did for the Lord.  I want to serve Him every chance I get.  But here falls another trap.  I have seen my zeal to do something for God become my running ahead of God.  I feel I have done that a number of time, even in my evangelistic zeal.  Again, everything must flow from prayer.  And just doing more and more for God is only good so far as I am doing the things that God is asking of me, and not just what I think is good to do.

There is so much more that I could say, as God has been so good to me and has taught me so much.  But that is probably enough to get caught up to speed and now to move forward in the Intentional Spiritual Life.  Would you come with me as we seek Him together?

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