Monday, June 14, 2010

Abide Retreat II--June 12-13

Sometimes people ask what keeps a person abiding moment by moment in such an agitated world. I believe the power to abide comes from is works of "first love" Jesus mentions in Revelation chapter 2. These works include listening, worship, thanks, confession, affirming, intercession, petition and action. Learning to practice these works as we live our daily lives is what some have called "practicing the presence of God". This is learning to live from the inside out.

Our abide II retreat walks people thru these habits of spiritual attention so they can begin to enjoy Jesus' perfect presence in their daily walk. It is wonderful to see people spend a weekend fully focused on simply loving God and loving others.

The weekend of June 12-13 was a wonderful time of enjoying Jesus together.

E-devo Inner LIfe

Inner Life

The visible world is a reflection of what is going on in men's souls. This is why Jesus said "by their fruit you shall know them." Matthew 7:20 The fruit men produce day to day is inside before it is outside. What we see men doing or not doing is coming from their inner life. The inner life is the real battleground of the human drama.

Our inner life is where our true reality is taking place.

Our inner world is our real home.

Our inner life determines the true quality of our life in the world.

Our inner life is where the victory for joy, peace and love is won or lost.

To miss this truth of the centrality of the inner life is to find Jesus' words and actions as recorded in the Gospels almost incomprehensible. Jesus lived from the inside and His first concern for us is our inner world. This is why he offers as His highest gifts things like "peace" and "cheer" as He let's the world's tribulations continue on. Miss the inner life and you will conclude God has failed to do what He could have done for the world in Christ.

John 6: 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Miss Jesus' focus on the inner life and you will never understand His experience in the world and you will never understand your own experience in the world.

Think of Jesus' experience in the world. What part of that external experience would you like to live? Now think of Jesus' inner world. What part of that inner life would you like to live? If you follow Him and abide in Him moment by moment you will find you will have both His inner world and His outer world. This is how we take up our cross and follow Him. This is true discipleship. This is exactly what every disciple should expect to experience Jesus' inner world and Jesus' outer world.

"As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." John 17:18

This is also why Jesus says in John 15: 9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." He is directing us to His inner life where He lived from the love of His Father. Jesus never directed us to an outer experience as the key to experiencing the love and joy of God. He would never direct us to the failures of the world. He directs us to the unfailing love of God in our inner life. "Love never fails." I Cor. 13:8

The development of our inner life is what Paul calls "Christ formed in us" or "Christ in you the hope of glory." This was Paul's passion for each believer because this was Jesus' passion for each believer. The inner life should be our passion, too. We must live from our inner life if we are to be of any help to ourselves, help to others or of any use to God.

Is your inner life your passion? I pray it is. Your inner life is where Jesus lives right now. It would be a real loss for you and for all those who need your love for your inner life to be ignored as you focus on your outer life as your real life.

To abide is to live the inner life. All the fruit that really matters and helps others comes from this inner life with God in Christ. Abide.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oswald Chambers

I have been reading Oswald Chambers daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest for over 35 years. Reading today's reading (June 11) reminds me why this man has blessed me so deeply. With Him it is always "Come to Jesus".


Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words— “Come to Me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but— “Come to me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. I will actually cease from sin, and will find the song of the Lord beginning in my life.
Have you ever come to Jesus? Look at the stubbornness of your heart. You would rather do anything than this one simple childlike thing— “Come to Me.” If you really want to experience ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.
Jesus Christ makes Himself the test to determine your genuineness. Look how He used the word come. At the most unexpected moments in your life there is this whisper of the Lord— “Come to Me,” and you are immediately drawn to Him. Personal contact with Jesus changes everything. Be “foolish” enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him.
“. . . and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.” He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.” Yet we become so weak and pitiful and talk about “suffering” the will of the Lord! Where is the majestic vitality and the power of the Son of God in that?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Perfect Overcomes the Imperfect

The only hope for our restoration to true humanity is to be constantly exposed and connected to true and living humanity. Perfection must overwhelm imperfection. Nothing less than perfection can or will. That is why "Christ in you" is the only hope of glory.

Glory is man becoming what he was meant to be by the Creator. Glory among humans is God's perfect character continuously expressed with skin on. Glory is grace and truth made visible and available from Him through me. Glory is God's perfection overwhelming imperfection like light overwhelms darkness. Glory is good and the world needs it now.

All of our attempts to deal with the deadening effects of our human imperfection and sin are doomed to failure apart from a guaranteed accessibility to an overwhelming human perfection moment by moment. The presence of Jesus by His Spirit in us as believers is the only perfect cure for our diminished, damaged and imperfect humanity. Since Jesus died for us and abides in us we lack nothing to be human. Rivers of living water can flow from believer's lives. Generous fruit can appear. Love birthed and sustained in Jesus can be continuous again since the source of this perfect love now abides in us.

The amazing thing about most Christian attempts to free men and women to be real men and women is our insistence in using our imperfect methods or programs as if they are superior to practicing continuous connection to His perfect presence. I, for one, still must take my wandering focus by the neck each day and, by God's grace, turn away from the illusion of my own human self potential and point my eyes squarely at the one who said "without Me you can do nothing."

Only with a stubborn return to my true poverty without Him do I once again discover the overwhelming perfection that is Christ in me. Some days I am like Israel in the desert hanging between the two worlds of the illusion of my self potential and glorious perfection His presence. On other, better days His Perfect presence overcomes my imperfect illusions and efforts and I get a glance of me being gloriously human because of the Perfect human who abides in me as my life.

On the days when the perfect presence of Jesus overwhelms the imperfect, I can be as truly human as He allows me to be. On those days everyone around me would agree that I am much more enjoyable to be around. When His perfection has its way with me love is always the fruit.

May the good days when His perfection overwhelms my imperfection increase! This is called abiding and it is the perfect Christian life having His way in me and through me moment by moment. It truly is glorious and it is a glimpse of our glorious future in Jesus. Abide.

"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."

Monday, June 07, 2010

e-devo: Jesus See HIm. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him

Jesus...See Him. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him.

Have you looked closely at Jesus lately? Have you listened to His words as if you were hearing them for the first time? Have you experienced His presence and love as it was when you first met Him? Are you living His life as your life today?

See Him. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him. This is believing. This is our work. Are you working at this work?

John 6:28-29 Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

The powerful effect of Jesus on the human mind, soul and heart is confirmed by nearly 2000 years of church history and by millions of transformed lives. Even so, some who call themselves disciples seem to experience Jesus like a tiring habit. Fortunately many also experience Jesus like an acute fever, like first love. The difference in the experience of Jesus is in the seeing, hearing, loving and living. The difference is in the believing. Some work at believing and some do not.

Jesus described what really coming to Him with faith looks like when He said in Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn of will find rest for your souls." Taking a yoke is a total surrender to His life. It is what some have called going the "second half" with Jesus.

There comes a time when we need to grow very still and just take a new look at Jesus. Are we afraid to look too closely? Are we too busy to look?

There comes a time when we need to listen to His words again. Are they believable? Are they still inspiring?

There comes a time when we need to love Jesus more deeply. Are we afraid of what that might cost? Are we open to having Him love us more?

There comes a time when we need to live Jesus more consistently. Are we afraid of where such living may take us? Are we willing to be more alive than we already are?

This time comes every morning when we wake up. This seeing, hearing, loving and living Jesus is our work. Don't miss your work. If you do, someone else in this world will have to carry the love you were meant to carry.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

E-devo Enough

"Jesus is not only the heart of the Gospel message, He is the entire Gospel message." Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffins Path to God

Jesus is the good news - all of it. Whatever good comes from the Gospel to mankind comes in, from and through Jesus.

Let this thought settle deeply into your mind, soul and spirit. As it does you will finally rest in the "enough" of God in Christ. Only this essential truth of Jesus' complete sufficiency is enough to make us relax and begin to experience true life. Why? Because we never rest with less than perfection and Jesus is that perfection for us and in us. "Christ is all and is in all." Col. 3:11b

More than something to be studied and understood, Jesus is someone we meet, receive and enjoy. He is the life that is enough. He is the treasure hidden in the field. He is the pearl of great price. He is the last thing we search for because finding Him is enough.

Just as we eat our bread and drink our water, so too we eat and drink Jesus. Bread and water are not subjects we study. They are satisfaction we receive in order to be ourselves and live from day to day. Bread and water are enough for today.

So too, we can find Jesus to be enough each day as we eat and drink of His life as the original, abundant source. As we abide moment by moment in the "enough" of God, we finally come to believe He is, in fact, enough.

Enough. What a wonderful word! What a wonderful experience!