Hearing the Music

in Rest

Nameless

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One of the effects of our internet age is the chance to be noticed. We can post pictures and articles, thoughts and reflections that interact with hundreds of “friends” and are literally accessible to the world! On the one hand it is an incredible opportunity for the message of the Gospel to go forth and reach to places that might otherwise be neglected or unreachable. On the other hand we struggle with the notion of obscurity. I love the following question from my friend Matt Redman (not the singer) in his book, God of the Mundane:

So many pastors today, famous ones and otherwise, are asking young people and everyone else if they are willing to give it all and go overseas as a missionary. It’s not a bad question to ask. There is no question in my mind that this question needs to be out there. But they -- or someone -- also needs to ask, “Are you willing to be numbered among the nameless believers in history who lived in obscurity? Do you have the courage to be forgotten by everyone but God and the Heavenly Host? Are you willing to be found only by God as faithful right where you are? Are you willing to have no one write a book about you and what you did in the name of Christ? Are you willing to live and believe that -- in stark contrast to the world around you -- there is a God of the mundane?”

This is a call to the ordinary, everyday faithfulness of living present. This is a call to bringing cookies next door, working together to shovel snow, being faithful in our cubicle, in all things operating with honesty and integrity, weeping with those we love, and offering a word of grace when needed. It is almost always unnoticed (except by the recipient). It comes with little fanfare. And did you notice how Matt put it? — it takes courage.

So here’s to the mundane. Here is to being the hands and feet of Christ in the places he has put us. Where will we find the courage to live anonymously? Immanuel. God with us. Just as the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night accompanied the Israelites -- the manifestation of God’s presence during their wilderness days -- so we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who gives us the courage to be unnoticed by all, because we know He always sees us. 

 

Photo by zhgn_ on Unsplash

God told me to tell you

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From time to time folks will approach me with questions on how to take advice from others who begin with, “God laid this on my heart to share with you.”  Of course, this can create a conundrum for the receiver of the advice if the receiver doesn’t agree with the advice given.  This can be especially true if it is from a friend or respected figure in their life. What if the issue in question is a matter of opinion? If I go against this advice, am I going against God? Or, what if you are the one making the suggestions? Is prefacing our comments like this a good route to take? Perhaps the following can help us navigate these situations:

1) If you are the receiver, as un-defensively as you can, try to listen and hear what your friend is saying and then weigh it with what you know to be true in God’s Word. We need to humbly hold out the notion that we have something to be gained. If you gain insight, thank them for sharing with you.

2) That being said, we need to be circumspect in the way we approach these conversations. Unless an issue is plainly laid out in scripture we must be careful of making our words the words of God and thus unduly containing the conscience of a brother or sister. While God does nudge our hearts and consciences immediately, he speaks most clearly to us through his Word. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this kind of advice, you may have to respectfully encourage your friend to make their case through Scripture. If you are the one offering the suggestion, please do your best to make clear that what you are offering is not "Gospel truth", and affirm that you respect them whether they follow your suggestion or not.

3) There are always folks who will disagree with our choices (parenting, how we use our resources, etc…).   As long as these are not moral issues you can politely agree to disagree. And then preach the gospel to yourselves. You are deeply loved by your heavenly Father and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Satan (who is, after all, the accuser of the brothers - see Rev. 12:10) uses these disagreements as leverage points to discourage us and to put our eyes on ourselves rather than on Christ, who is our righteousness. Remember, you are IN CHRIST, which means that your heavenly Father sees no distinction between you and Jesus!

Living in community can be messy, but it is a mess worth making. Let us strive hard to be good receivers and good givers of counsel.

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Are You Free?

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Pete Scazzero in his helpful book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality muses that “The critical issue on the journey with God is not “am I happy?”, but “am I free?” Here we are post Independence Day and once again freedom is squarely in our sights. Pharaoh finally capitulates and lets the Israelites go, but now that freedom is gained, what does it actually entail? This will be our focus as we dive into Exodus 12:33-51

My prayer is that our own musings will lead us to fresh appreciation of both what freedom is and what freedom is not. For instance, we must grapple with the notion that, as created beings, freedom does not equal a complete autonomy to do what we please. Just like my F150 is not made to run in Lake Michigan but is awesome to use hauling a load of brush to the landfill, so too we are made for a purpose that our emancipation from slavery unlocks. May the Spirit give us eyes to see what it is we have been saved to!

 

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

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