What do I stand for?

I’m struck by a message I just finished listening to by Paul Manwaring. He asked this question – “What do you stand for? What are you willing to pay a price for?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet.

As I look back, I have paid a price for certain convictions, but at the same time I’m not aware of clearly defined life messages in me or people knowing what I stand for. It seems that this is still developing in me – at the tender young age of 53!

At one point in the message I heard, Paul asks people who DO know what they stand for, to stand up and make declarations. Declare what they want to see; what they’re pulling for.

Well, I’m going to start to declare (write):

  • what matters to me
  • what I want to see

By writing it down, it gets it out of me and puts words onto sometimes shifting feelings/experiences. By posting it, I’m just starting to stand – to be public – preparing to pay the price for my convictions.

Here goes (in no particular order):

  • Europe matters to me – both the land and its people.  I wasn’t born here, but I most certainly trace my ancestry here.  It certainly began before I could say it was “God” but I know now that it was God who put it in my heart and brought our family here to live.
  • Reconciliation – ever since being awakened to reconciliation as a “thing” by Nadine Roure and Elvire Dieny, seeing reconciliation happen – at ALL levels – has been deeply satisfying and I increasingly see where it’s vital.  After all Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we’ve all been given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Family matters to me – I’m certainly NOT the poster child for how to do family (in ANY of my family roles thus far in life), but the theology of family continues to grow for me on a regular basis.  God’s design for family; God’s government is family; The enemy’s incessant targeting of family; etc.
  • Identity/Son (and daughter) ship – WHO we are is so incredibly important.  When we understand the glory that God put in each one of us and His design for us and how being His son or daughter literally unlocks eternity TODAY for us – Wow!  It’s just the key to everything.  If I can (and increasingly as an older man, I CAN) help someone to find their identity – call out who and what God has made them to be – that is TRULY  satisfying and has eternal value.
  • Marriage matters to me – Why?  Because Jesus is coming for a Bride.  There’s going to be a wedding!  The power of this eternal union is echoed by what we experience right now between a man and a woman who commit before God to each other for their whole lives.  The power of that covenant is amazing and it’s only a shadow of the covenant that Jesus has with His Bride.  The depths of this are amazing.
  • Worship and God’s Presence matter to me – Not simply because I’m a musician, and one who is named David to boot, but I was made to be in His Presence and to focus on Him.  We all were, in fact, but because God has given me this gift and desire, I believe that He’s also given me a mandate to facilitate the experience of His Presence to others.  I also believe that we are changed by His Presence and we are fundamentally designed, as creatures, to become what we behold – to become like what we worship.  Hence if I worship God, I become like God.  If I help others worship God, I help them become like God.  This is my principle tool of discipleship that I have to offer.
  • The Kingdom of God matters to me.  It is so important to me that my citizenship is primarily with Heaven and that my understanding of “progress” in society is linked to the advancing of the Kingdom where Jesus is King and not necessarily a particular earthly government. My love of a country must be motivated by Jesus’ love for that country (and He loves them ALL) and what Jesus wants for that country.  This may or may not be my country of birth or my passport country(s).
  • Erasing Dualism and Living in Tension matter to me – So I’ve just finished stating “where I stand” but actually because of the things I stand for, I refuse (in principle) to let these stances hinder love or put God in a box.  Jesus was “box buster” in so many ways.  Our detachement from the cultural context of His earthly sojourn makes it easy for us to miss just how many boxes He exploded in His time.  We probably will never discover fully how He made people feel and react in in 1st century Palestine, but the willingness to understand that Jesus does do that – not just to 1st century Palestinian residents but to us as well – is the first important step to letting our own boxes disintegrate and letting Jesus out of the box that we so-easily stuff Him into. When we let typical “either/or” thinking dominate our reality, we immediately begin to de-humanize those who think differently.  In so doing we declare where Jesus is not welcome to challenge us to love that which we don’t understand or with which we don’t agree.  If, for example, reconciliation matters to me, then I can’t afford those walls to stand in my reality.  Not easy at all this wall-dismantling-process, but essential as members of God’s family.

So those are the things that I can say that I stand for and that I want to see – in me, through me, and around me.

Shacking Up…With Papa

Ever noticed how God seems to weave our lives in a complex tapestry? Something happens that dovetails with another event that finally makes the penny drop with something else that happened a month ago, etc., etc… Makes me want to fly way up high and see how the tapestry’s coming along! 😉

A particularly bright thread in the last two weeks has been reading The Shack. Just to get it out of the way as to where I stand on this book (unfortunately, anything that is wildly popular/successful in the Christian world brings out the heresy hunters en masse), go read this book! (After you read the book, take a look at the author’s personal profile here.)

Ok, there, I said it.

If you’ve not heard of the book, it’s a wonderfully written and engrossing novel that reveals, in fresh and incredibly creative ways, who God is, the relationship of the Trinity and His love for us and His Creation.

All I can say to those who don’t like the theology, I wish you the best and deepest relationship you can have with your Heavenly Papa.

What, for me, is so wonderful, is not the book by itself but how the Lord has weaved it into what He’s already been saying to me the last 3 months and how He prepared my heart before I read it.

The book actually was lent to us from a South African friend of ours (it’s huge in South Africa apparently…can’t wait for the French translation!) and Angela read it a while back. The premise of the story scared me away at first simply because, as a parent, I thought it would be too hard to read. It will open up your heart with difficult situations, but it’s not brutal. It’s hard at times to read (many tears possible…be warned), but in my opinion, it’s safe. No nightmares.

Anyway, in the mean time, God was working on my heart:

  • This summer, as you can read here, I went on a 1-week personal retreat to break through my fatigue and re-center my heart.
  • Then at the beginning of the school year, I purposed to change my weekly schedule to make the use of my time more effective, to carve out more time with the Lord most every day, and to work at keeping a real weekly sabbath (no, Sunday doesn’t work for me…too much work to be done then!).
  • Then I heard an aside in an audio teaching by NT Wright that plunged me back into one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Romans 8. As I dug in there, I began to have some gradual revelation about the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15), among other things.
  • Finally, I went with a few others from our church to a conference in Germany recently where the Lord broke through to me about my real freedom in Him via a time of meditation on Romans 8:2 and some of the teaching in the conference.

This is the context in which I finally picked up The Shack. My heart was already prepared and actively enjoying my “sonship” with my Abba Father. This makes for very fertile “heart ground” into which God can plant all sorts of wonderful seeds!

So, while I do recommend this book, I realize that a prepared heart will go a long way to making this book a real window into the heart of God and not simply an occasion to painfully sprain your theology…I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin the story!