Monday, September 21, 2009

Instant response

The internet creates a nearly instant response from around the world. This can be good or bad. This morning it was very good.

To get the picture, here is the morning devotion that went to our Abide International list.

Believe or Belief?

"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:37-38

I spent several years of my life in a Bible College environment learning to be a pastor. They were important years in my leadership formation. I thank God for those who blessed me in this process. During those years a great deal of emphasis was put on the correct beliefs about Jesus. I was even tested on my beliefs quite regularly at Bible college. I got nearly all "As" in belief. I got a diploma based on my beliefs. I was ordained according to my beliefs. I easily concluded that better beliefs make better pastors. I don't recall ever getting a grade on believing at Bible college.

So much emphasis was put on the list of beliefs that I was tempted to see my job as a pastor as defending these beliefs. I became pretty good at inspecting other people's beliefs along the way. I was like a teacher giving others grades on their beliefs just like I had been given grades on my beliefs in Bible College.

I have not abandoned any of the essential beliefs that I learned so many years ago. I think I could basically pass the exams again today with little or no problem. The list of beliefs I was tested on has stood the test of time. They do point pretty well to Jesus.

What I have abandoned is the idea that the key to true Christian living is my excellent list of beliefs. I know now that the key to my life blessing any other life is believing in Jesus. Lists of beliefs are only as good as their accuracy in describing Jesus and His perfect intentions. He measures the lists. The lists do not measure Him. Believing better in Jesus should be the goal of the list. When believing in Jesus is constant then the list did its only job which is to point to Him. Lists of beliefs should be for better believing in Jesus rather than trying to test how Christians think about Jesus.

Some lists of beliefs are certainly better than others, but no list is Jesus. No one should think the river of living water will flow from their list of beliefs about Jesus. The river flows from the real Jesus, not someone's really well organized list of beliefs about Jesus.

There was a certain spiritual dryness I experienced in my Bible College years. I think it came from the lists and the tests. That dryness always accompanies focusing on a list of beliefs instead of focusing on where the list should be pointing.

A river is not birthed from a list. A river is birth from a spring. Jesus is that spring and no list can ever do Him justice. Only drinking from the spring tells us what the spring is really like. Believing in Jesus is what does Him the justice He deserves and wants from us. The real test is believing and the passing grade is the real river of life flowing from Him through us.

This e-devotional went out at about 5 A.M. in the USA. People in Europe got it at about 12 noon due to the time difference.
I am in Portugal as I am writing this blog so I got this response instantly after I read the e-devotional myself here in Lisbon.
Confused? Welcome to the small planet!

Read the response and you will see that one of our new abiding friends in Germany really got the message I hoped to deliver and responded instantly with the same joy Pam and I have in learning to simply "Believe Jesus."

Hi Carlos (Bud)

Wow ! Reading your devotional just really got me !!! :=)

Not just because of the content, which I love, but because it reminds me of a big crisis I had the other day, when all Truth from the Bible, cherished Christian books, web site Christian messages, sermons at Church, etc etc kind of made my head spin. I felt like throwing away all theology books .... but I didn't, because I understood that my crisis wasn't there. It was simply my approach to reading, learning: Today, when reading theology books, surfing the Christian net etc, even my reading, studying the Bible, is first of all to knowing HIM better, WHOM I believe.

I think I have been led by God's Grace to re-phrase my "belief". If someone would ask me today what I believe in, I would simply say "I believe Jesus". Full stop. I tend to even leave the "in" out. This is my Faith, summoning up EVERYTHING.
This is it !

I am dancing with joy :=) :=) :=) and send my greetings to you & Pam with joy

Every Blessing

This new friend's words gave Pam and me instant joy. "Christ is all and is in all" Colossians 3:11

I believe Jesus!

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