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Hard to Love?

In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan observed that the church of today seems to be missing something; that it is missing out on all it is supposed to be, for those inside - and outside - the church. Much of the book is Chan’s invitation to believers to be shaken out of a complacent faith and to experience the crazy, relentless, all-powerful love of The God of the Universe.

In Chapter Six he proposes that love of God is the effective antidote to a lukewarm faith.

But how do we acquire that love for God? Chan says that it’s not by trying harder.

“The fact is I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other fault-filled humans. Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.

It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love…

Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies…it would be near impossible—you would have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies.

In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have the opportunity to wonder Am I doing it right? Or Did I serve enough this week? When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love and give thanks without guilt worry or fear. As long as you are running you are safe.

But running is exhausting—if, that is, we are running from sin or guilt or fear. (Or if we haven’t run in a while.) However, if we train ourselves to run toward our Refuge, toward Love, we are free—just as we are called to be.

As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural. As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him.”

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Spend Yourself Well

…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

 Reading a Kindle sample excerpt from an e-book, the phrase “spend yourself well” struck a chord. Writing on transformative community mission, the author was making a point that our daily lives bring many demands and many distractions and that it’s important to be wise in how we invest our earthly life. How do we spend ourselves well? The reality is that if we don’t have a clear sense of what we are to say ‘yes’ to, we don’t know what to say ‘no’ to. The end result? Either we say no to everything and do nothing. Or we say yes to everything and end up exhausted. And, either way, there will be little in the way of the Eternal to show for it.

In the life of Christ, we can see that He had a clear, concrete sense of His calling.

·         Though he acceded to his mother’s request and performed his first miracle at the Canaan wedding, He told her “My hour has not yet come”. There was a readying for ministry and a right time to begin.

·         At times through His ministry, Jesus chose to limit His working - Matthew 13:58: And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. He exercised wisdom on where it was most effective for Him to work.

·         In the lead up to the Passover in Jerusalem the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. Knowing this and seeking to ensure all prophecy concerning Him was fulfilled, Jesus chose to keep a low profile - John 11:54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews. He protected His calling, letting the bigger purpose guide His steps.

·         In His time with his disciples, Jesus was careful in what he shared and when. In John 16:4 Jesus says, “These things I did not say to you at the beginning. Later in verse 12 he adds, “ I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”  Timeliness was important.

With so much need in the world, the pressure is always on ‘to do’ something. And certainly, as followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility ‘to do’. But Jesus’ example is not one of frenetically doing everything. Jesus was clear on His calling and it shaped the outworking of it.

Sometimes, maybe often, we are less clear. How do we gain clarity? Asking God to make it plain is the starting point. So, pray about it, ask Him to speak through His word as you read. Give yourself some headspace - and heartspace - to think on what moves you in this world. Talk to wise, trusted others about what they see in you. If it remains unclear, ask God to burden your heart.

The risk we run in not seeking a clarity in calling, is that, though busy in our endeavours, we won’t know how much of our labour is wheat, how much is chaff.

Joy awaits in the confidence that in this life we are spending ourselves well. 

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