Archive for February, 2007
I find a few things slightly tragic and ironic at the same time this morning. It is frustrating to me that I have been too busy with my leadership responsibilities over the past few days to write about Matt. 5:8 and the promise of Jesus to the pure in heart. I find it ironic that I was in tears in Allen Hood’s office yesterday over the tension of being given more leadership while simultaneously yearning for more time to pray, fast, and go deep in the word. I find it tragic that my leadership responsibilities make it very difficult for me to do an extended fast that is not a corporate one. I find myself in a great tension clinging to hope that desire and longing “counts” before God as I struggle to navigate laying hold of a true life of prayer and not simply the reputation of having one. I want to have what Jesus invited me to have - a pure heart. Pure desires. A longing for the only thing that matters - intimacy with God.
Jesus made, to the “great multitudes” that had gathered to Him on that incredible day on the front end of His earthly ministry, an audacious promise. Really, the promise Jesus made to those who labored to cultivate a pure heart cannot truly be appreciated by a modern audience. The Jewish audience that had come from the southern boundaries of modern Turkey to the borders of Egypt were understandably stunned at His teaching. I, personally, find it shocking that the multitudes were “astonished”, as Matthew says (Matt. 7:28-29), at His teaching and His authority. Why am I shocked? Because Matthew tells us that they gathered to Him in the first place because of His fame that had spread throughout the region related to Hid unprecedented displays of power to heal and deliver the sick and tormented.
He healed “all kinds” of sickness and “all kinds” of disease among the people. (Matt. 4:23) Yet they saved their “astonishment” for His teaching. Imagine laying hands on someone and dramatically healing them, only to have them be astonished more by your sermon afterwards. That, in my opinion, is authority in teaching. It is also the point of revival and signs and wonders - not that we would pursue them as an end unto themselves, but that they would serve as a gateway to bring people into stunning truth and propel them into a rich and vibrant relationship with the living God. In many ways, the whole of Jesus sermon and ministry was about this incredible promise found in the beatitudes.
What was so stunning about the promise?
Simply this: Jesus said that the pure in heart would see God. He did not put a qualifier on it. He did not add, “…after the resurrection.” For the Jew (and for the theologically-minded), this promise then was unthinkable. God Himself had said to Moses in Exodus 33:20 that “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” How to reconcile this divine paradox? Was Jesus contradicting the Father? Now we can understand a bit better the astonishment of the Jews and the authority (and audacity) of Jesus to promise such a thing. For we know, as One who only did what He saw the Father doing, that the Father Himself is the initiator of the invitation and promise. If I CAN see God, than I want to pursue the possibility in THIS life. How far will He let me go in pursuing Him?
This is the essence of “pure in heart”. To be pure in heart is more than being clean in heart. To be pure in heart is to be of singular desire, to be engaged in wholehearted pursuit. To be pure in heart is to want nothing more or less than God Himself. God will give you the desire of your heart - He longs to give you your exceedingly great reward. That He desires to give me the absolute best reward possible is the reason that He Himself is the reward. It is not enough, however, to set this promise aside as an esoteric future reality relegated to “someday”. The measure to which you desire God in your life now is the measure to which you can have God in your life now.
“Hungering and thirsting for righteousness” is about, in part, God transforming our desires and what we hunger for to line up with His desires. The transformation of our desires has, in the plans of God, a destination, a place He longs to take us in the journey of love and what we cultivate in our hearts. The end of the journey is a complete and total, all-consuming desire for God Himself and nothing else. No competing desires, no love for the things of this life, and no friendship with this world. What a destination! This is where I want to go and what I want my life to be about, with all of my heart. I want to be truly abandoned and fully given. I want this and pursue this in the hopes that this audacious promise could somehow be true - that I might, in my life, see God.
I want to see Him as John did in Revelation 4. I want to see Him as Paul did in Acts 9. I want to see Him as Daniel did in Daniel 7. I want to see Him as Ezekiel did in Ezekiel 1. I want to see Him as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. I want to see Him as Moses did in Exodus 33. All of these men saw God before they died, before they were resurrected, and before they were glorified. I could add many more to this list. Why not me? Why can’t I take the promise of Jesus seriously and make my life’s pursuit, my “life’s work” as it were, the labor of longing, cultivating, and pursuing - whose payoff is the possibility of seeing God with my eyes and being marked in my heart forever?
So it is that I weep at times in regards to the responsibilities the Lord gives me. I trust His leadership. I love His ways. I will be faithful and diligent (in my weakness) and labor daily to maximize the talents He has given me to establish a kingdom value system in whatever it is I put my hands to. Yet I cannot shut off the yearning within me. I cannot ignore the pain of my heart, and the secret fear that grips me - what if God, in His perfect leadership, is raising me up as an example to many, an example of how easy it is to get thrown off course? What if part of my purpose is to teach the generation that follows how hard it is and how narrow the way is? There is more of a price to be paid. There is more of a cost for me to lay hold of. There is a deeper and more intense place of holiness I must yet find by grace.
I am trembling, but hungry. I am weak, but resolved within myself. I am carnal, immature, and foolish. Yet I have this advantage - by grace I see the way ahead, and the destination that is alive as the dream of my heart. I know what I long for, more than money, comfort, honor, fame, and even the power and blessing of God. I know what I want my life to be about, and I will fight the good fight with the best of my strength to lay hold of something more than flowery prayer language and the ability to teach a few scripture passages. I want God.
One thing I desire, that will I seek…
February 28th, 2007
I am actually FOR global warming 100%. It’s on my prayer list, to be honest.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet. 3:10-13)
February 27th, 2007
Well, there are many reasons. I’m going to present to you the most compelling one here.
I watched this 83 times already. You have to watch it all the way through. By the time he’s finished, I’m ready to run through a wall.
February 27th, 2007
In honor of Brent’s tireless campaign to expose the truth about global warming, I’m posting this little tidbit from theneweditor.com via Instapundit. So it comes to you third-hand. Does that make this less interesting? Here we go:
“The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, in a press release, notes the following: (emphasis added) (via Instapundit)
[Al] Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.”
Enjoy your Oscar, Al. Enjoy the profits from the documentary. Personally, I think you’re making a big difference in the fight to urge Americans to live a more simple, stripped down (dare I say “fasted”?) lifestyle. Your example is a beacon of hope to all of us who endeavor to make millions a year, fly around in a private jet spewing much jet-fuel into the air, and burn through the energy of 24 American families.
I, personally, am challenged. I am not doing my part - I’m SUV shopping on Thursday, cranking my thermostat to 99 and leaving the fridge wide open all the time. And I owe it all to Al.
February 27th, 2007
Here is some news that should bring you great relief: James Cameron (director of Titanic) has found the remains of Jesus and His family! The family members include Jesus Himself, of course, along with Mary, Mary Magdalene, Joseph, and Jesus’ son, Judah. There will be a press conference on Monday in which Jim completely shatters all of Paul the Apostle’s careful arguments laid out in 1 Cor. 15 regarding the necessity of the resurrection and its centrality to the Christian faith (and eternal hope). So, thanks to Jim’s tireless labor to prove his assertions through flawless DNA testing, we, above all men, are now most pitiable.
I’m being tongue-in-cheek, of course. Here’s the link to the Time magazine wordcast on this. I think I would resurrect the word “blog” to characterize the reporting being done in this case, but that’s neither here nor there. This is like finding the ancient remains of someone with a tombstone that reads “Bill” and assuming it’s your distant relative, Bill Smith. Since, you know, “Bill” matches and all. No one else in that time could have possibly had such obscure names like “Joseph”, “Mary”, and “Joshua”. It’s like, one in a million! I’m left wondering what other stunning puzzles related to life Jim Cameron will solve for me next. I’m hoping “meaning of life” is the next one he trashes, leaving me no option but to convert to nihilism.
I’m going to let out an exhausted sigh, go to a meeting, and then hopefully talk about “pure in heart” tonight sometime.
February 24th, 2007
It’s suddenly a good day again. Not that it wasn’t earlier, but I hate working hard for nuthin’. So I was, as I said, a little grumpitty. But no more! Two of my favorite people are wordcasting. They’re just getting rolling, so give them time, but I’m excited to read thoughts on stuff related to things involving objects and other sundry items of middling interest to those who follow such things.
Who they be? Why, Molly Mosack and Sarah Sun Kim, of course! Check them out!
Make sure you ask Molly about her title.
Side note: Daniel said more cute stuff, and 24 needs to do a bit more than be boring for 59 minutes while being shocking for one. There you go.
February 23rd, 2007
I was halfway through my favorite post of my series on the beatitudes, on the “pure in heart” and the audacious promise of Jesus to those who pursue Him wholeheartedly, when I walked away from my computer to pray for awhile. Then, when I came back, my post was gone. I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’ve been annoyed all day.
So I’ll vent my frustrations on Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and one of the aggressive atheists I spoke of a while back. If you were interested in some of my comments last month, you might be mildly interested in this exchange between Michael Ruse (a hardened Darwinist who, realizing that proving atheism itself is untenable, calls himself a “skeptic”) and Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
I don’t want to provide the link, because of a spot of inappropriate language (and the young readers that frequent this wordcast), but here’s a bit of the conversation:
“Fifth, I think that you and Richard are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.”
Now that is just plain fascinating to me.
February 23rd, 2007
The beatitudes constitute a whole garden of heart attitudes that are awakened within the believer at the new birth. Even before we “feel” or consciously and naturally express those heart attitudes, the work must begin immediately to care for and nurture those tender, immature plants. Before we receive a revelation of eternity, we must begin to mourn. Before we fully understand the aspects of independence and pride that drive us to react to the people and situations that irritate and wound us, we must work to learn meekness. Before we yearn and long for holiness, we must still live holy before the Lord in full obedience. Obviously, we will fail miserably early and often in this pursuit.
Not only are the beatitudes a simultaneous reality that we must grow and cultivate, but they also constitute the natural progression of our hearts before God as we journey from immaturity to maturity. Cultivating each successfully through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit makes it much easier in many ways to lay hold of the next one in the progression. A true revelation of our spiritual poverty and great need naturally can lead us to mourn deeply for the absence of God in our lives and homes. We are humbled in the process; thus we stand before God broken, weak, and truly dependent as a result. If the “plants” of spiritual poverty and mourning are healthy realities in our hearts, it doesn’t take as much work to be meek before God and man.
Then, along the way, we grow in our desires for the things of heaven. Supernatural longings lay hold of our hearts and we grow in thirst for the establishment of righteousness. Not only are we continually mourning the lack, but we now have a corresponding thirst for the fullness of God. Desire for righteousness and the things of God do not necessarily translate immediately into success in living obediently and diligently on a daily basis, however. Even now, the sting of failures past chasten us and check our prideful, self-congratulatory tendencies, as if the Beatitudes could be reduced to a kind of spiritual “checklist” to be accomplished on the way to glory.
The limp that we walk in as we begin to emerge with authentic, Christlike maturity then serves as a continual reminder of our spiritual poverty. Rather than exult in our current success as a mature believer, the failures and glories of our journey to this phase in our development help make our hearts tender towards the Lord. We become thankful and filled with gratitude for His faithfulness and continual work in our lives. Chastened but bold, we are growing in our courage to go before Him in prayer and supplication to ask for more grace. As our hearts become more tender, our inner man becomes more alive, and we in turn become more responsive to His voice and His leadership in our lives. We are becoming authentically prophetic in the process of becoming a true man and woman of prayer.
This is a glorious reality to embrace as a believer who endeavors to know the Living God. In the journey we find ourselves continually impacted in a new way by the scriptures we read, the messages we hear, and the prayers we pray. The thoughts we think are different. The emotions we feel are being transformed. Through the first four beatitudes our heart has been pierced, it has ached, it has yearned, and it has grown stronger in our internal resolve to lay hold of the heart of Jesus. Jesus spoke of this reality as the “flowing heart” - as He said in John 7:38: “…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” What you sow in your heart, you will reap magnificently in regards to the abundant activity of the Holy Spirit in the area of your emotions.
This is critical for the next heart attitude that Jesus is jealous to see “flow” out of a living reality that abides within us. Jesus is jealous for us to be a truly merciful people. He was speaking about something wholly different than pity, but He was speaking about something a bit deeper than compassion as well. There are elements of compassion, or a deep identification with the suffering and trial of others, that will be dynamically connected to the one who becomes merciful. More than identification, however, is delight. God longs for His people to participate in His deep delight and enjoyment of people. This does not happen quickly, naturally, or easily.
We can only love and enjoy people to the measure that we feel loved and enjoyed by God Himself. As His love and passion for us settles the storm that rages within us related to our true identity and confidence, we become increasingly free-hearted. The wounds and failures have tempered us. The love and tenderness of God have softened us. We begin, over time, to truly believe that God finds us “lovely” in the darkness and immaturity of our present unrenewed and carnal condition. We actual feel and experience His delight in our desire to reach for Him and live holy lives even before we are able to find a measure of “success” in the place of obedience. That we would desire to be obedient and loyal to Him is as enjoyable to God as it would be for us to hear our own children express such desires.
That our children would truly and sincerely want to be obedient would fill our hearts with joy and satisfaction. Even if, in their inexperience, youthful zeal and idealism, and sinful condition assure them of failing at what they have set their hearts to do, we still are delighted that they are trying. Because they are sincere, we will fight for them and exhaust our resources to help them succeed and learn to obey and live faithfully to what is right and good. Comparatively, God calls our attempts to give good things to our children “evil” compared to the perfect love and leadership that flows from His heart towards us as a passionate Father. We cannot fathom the transcendent depths and heights of the vast ocean of God’s love and delight for us as we strive to obey His commands in the name of love.
This revelation changes everything. Our identity shifts dramatically from what we can produce for God through our labors, titles, and positions in the body of Christ, to who we can be and become in Him by grace. Our identity and confidence begin to flow from His abundant love and tenderness towards us as we grow in Him. Self-importance, competitiveness, and ambition begin to fade. True confidence, boldness, and deep resolve to be great in His sight begin to ignite within us.
Then, the most astonishing thing begins to happen - and quite naturally (and quite supernaturally as well). As we become tender towards God in faith we become tender towards others. As we enjoy God (and feel enjoyed by Him) we begin to enjoy people. Rather than seeing people through the lens of what they can give or take away from us, we begin to evaluate them on an entirely different set of values. We do not judge them by their success or failure. We are not annoyed by their weakness and shortcomings, but neither are we awed by their accomplishments and abilities. We enjoy them for who they are. We become thankful for them. We begin to see them in the same manner that God does. We begin to evaluate them in the same manner that King David did. This is what he said:
“As for the saints who are on the earth, ‘They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.’” (Ps. 16:3) King David had a bonfire ignited in his heart for people - for believers who loved God as he did. He saw them as excellent comrades, not as resources to help him accomplish his goals. He needed them to build a successful kingdom, but those kinds of considerations ran a distant second to their true identity and value as fellow pilgrims on a journey. Their journey and the reach of their heart for God was as endearing to him as it it was for God. David began to delight in the sincere reach of the heart by an immature believer. He began to grow in his delight, respect, esteem, and desire to fight for them to give his resource to help them succeed at their pursuit. He became a true father for authentic “sons” who responded passionately to the invitation of the Lord.
This is our journey as well. The limp of past failures and the cultivation of a tender heart both work together to make us truly and authentically merciful. we don’t just “show” mercy, we become merciful. The heart reality and posture of our lives exudes and expresses mercy. To love God is to love people. To enjoy God is to enjoy people. As we make the first commandment (to love God) our top priority the second (to love people) will be natural and easy. True love will flow out of the depths of our heart and we will be compelled by what is burning within us to serve. The one who becomes merciful will do even more than serve, however.
They will lay down their life for a friend.
February 21st, 2007
I am not what would be known as a “dispensationalist”. Among other things, one who believes in dispensational theology believes in what is known as the “pre-trib” rapture theory. Any who have heard me teach and preach know my stand on that viewpoint. There are many other ideas associated with the pre-trib rapture theory that I disagree with beyond what I feel is the most grievous error, that being the idea that saints will be removed from trouble before the worst of it comes to the earth. The main idea, that there are different “dispensations” or eras in which God deals with humans differently, is one that is filled with error. Most do not connect with the details of dispensationalism; they only know and cling to the popularized idea that has filled the church in the west.
Thus, the dispensational idea that this is the “Laodicean hour” of the church has much truth to it; the great irony is that the theory itself has greatly contributed to the present lukewarm condition of the church. There is, however, a deeper reality fueling the current “pop theology” or the embrace of preaching and teaching that “tickles the ears” and comforts the carnal mind. The greater problem facing the church is a severe lack of hunger and thirst for righteousness.
As an intercessor, I readily and easily connect to this passage in Matt. 5:6. As I have undertaken the journey of prayer over the years I have seen a dynamic thing happen within me that has given me hope. My desires have changed. The things I want and long for have changed. I feel within me the beginnings of a little flame that represent an ache within me to see the righteousness of God established in my life and in my city. It is a real and holy aggression that has seized my heart, a stirring deep within my inner man that has provoked me to press and cry out in the place of prayer. I spend my days praying Colossians 1:9-11 -
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…”
This is my daily prayer. More than anything else, I want to be fully pleasing to the Lord. I want to know what is on His heart for me, for my life, and for my city - and walk in those things. I yearn for the establishment of the righteousness of God in my life. I long for the divine order of God, true justice, to be expressed through me, my family, and pervade my region.
My wife and I were driving the other day with the kids. We passed an old woman in the passenger seat of a car moving in the other direction. She was severely mentally handicapped. Right now across the nation, the advancements in pre-natal screening allow parents to know in advance whether or not they should keep kids with potential birth defects and mental retardation. Before I could finish the previous sentence, the arrow of God’s zeal over this issue struck my heart with great intensity. I wept for 30 minutes and have been stirred all day over this great and grave injustice. I said to my wife on that day, speaking of the old woman we passed, “imagine a time not far from now when Jesus is King over Jerusalem. You will never see that kind of infirmity again on the earth. She would be fully healed and free from the effects of the curse.”
I imagine an earth free of the injustice of sickness and infirmity under the leadership of Jesus and His glorious power to heal. Mankind, today, is imagining a world free of sickness and infirmity by aborting the weak and the broken. Beloved, this expression of darkness, this terrible injustice, this grave and murderous agreement with the spirit of death must be driven from the earth, never to return. That the righteousness of Jesus would be established in my city, that my children and their children would know a world without abortion and murder, is the great longing of my heart. I am stirred with an indescribable hunger to see the righteousness of Jesus, the light of His truth, and the plans of His heart fully established and expressed here.
As an intercessor, I will fight for this all the days of my life. In the place of prayer, I will go to war, together with my King, against the works of darkness and the expressions of wickedness that permeate the structures and cultures of my earthly home. I despise them. These mocking spirits, these wicked demons, these dark and insidious beings that long to be enthroned fully over my city - I will give them no rest in the place of prayer and worship, night and day, until the peoples of Kansas City, Missouri burst forth into singing, praising the name of my God. I will not rest until every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus as Lord in Kansas City. Oh! What a day that will be!
I stand on the promise. He who is already working in me to transform my desires - to love what He loves, and to hate what He hates, will be faithful to complete that work of righteousness in me. What I hunger and thirst for is changing. My appetites for the inferior delights, pleasures, and comforts of this world are diminishing rapidly. I yearn to become a true friend of the Living God. I long to hunger and thirst at a whole new level of desire for the deeper, higher, and greater things of His heart and kingdom. I long to experience a new depth of yearning for the understanding of His word and the knowledge of Him who loves me and prepares me for encounter with Him.
That hunger then transforms into an even greater thirst and ravenous desire for the transformation of my family, church, and city. I will not rest until I see the fullness of the promise He makes to me daily from the Beatitudes: that as I grow in my hunger and thirst for the things of another age, I WILL be filled.
I will not be truly satisfied in the deep places of my soul until I am filled with the fullness of God - all that I can have in this age and the age to come.
February 20th, 2007
One of the most overlooked phrases in the Bible is the promise that the “meek shall inherit the earth.” It’s too incredible of an idea to ponder in regards to the actual implications of inheriting the actual earth. The paradigm of my spiritual family allows for us to “skip the pleasantries”, as it were, and go right for the meat of the definition of meekness. That’s what I so enjoy and value about the place I live and work on a daily basis - for the thousands that interact with IHOP-KC on a regular basis, “inheriting the earth” is a normal idea. Many have long passed from being awed by that thought and have put their head down to grind away and take seriously the mandate to be meek before God and man.
It is still important, however, that we understand what constitutes one of the most critical phrases in the entire Bible. This phrase, that God delights in meekness to the extent that He would give the planet to the man or woman who walks in it, then becomes our window into an otherworldly value system. It punctuates what our Father in heaven believes is the most critical thing to have on a “global leadership” resume. What qualifies a man to rule before the Sovereign King of the Universe? What establishes us as worthy to receive such an incredible gift from Him? Is it automatic that every believer will receive this gift?
For many in the church today, God has become so sovereign that everything related to godliness and humility has become an automatic reality. Only God can do a thing or perform an act, and it is our lot to simply hang on and enjoy the scenery. When it comes to the things of blessing and rewards from the King, salvation alone is the qualifier of man whose full sanctification is assured by the only One who can escort us into the fullness of His heart. This assumption is partially true. As believers, we have a tendency to allow the pendulum of our understanding regarding the leadership of God to swing wildly between the two extremes of overwhelming sovereignty and the autonomy of man.
We cannot play God’s role in our journey to please Him. We cannot will ourselves to some kind of glorious internal transformation of the heart, nor can we renew our own minds. It is imperative that we as believers understand that we can never “graduate” from the reality of our own spiritual poverty. We did not have the resource to climb out of our own destructive pit at that time; we do not have the resource to be transformed by the renewing of our mind today. We mourn because we long for the in breaking of God’s power to do what only He can do in our lives and in our world.
The critical point that is missed by many, however, is that God is more than an initiator in the events and lives of the peoples of the earth. Many have been content to leave their life in God at that, always waiting for God to do His part - yet never sure why He seemingly does not and growing bitter and disillusioned over the years in the waiting. There is much delay in the leadership of God, but much of their waiting for God stems from the reality that God is waiting for them. God is both initiator and, in His stunning humility and tenderness towards us, He dignifies our lives by also acting as a responder. He does not respond to a passive waiting for something to happen, He responds to the aggressive, spiritually violent (Matt. 11:12) posture of waiting that is personified by the believer that is fully given to the day in, day out fight to obey the will of God “until”.
In the waiting, I am ever seeking to cultivate. My heart is like a garden. Only God can make it grow, but I can in the meantime care for it by feeding it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. So I “feed” on the word of God (Job 23:12); but Jesus said that proper diet for the heart included obedience as well (Jn. 4:34) - “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me…” The lifestyle embodied by the Sermon on the Mount is the necessary diet of the believer that cultivates the heart attitudes that the Father longs for us to lay hold of. To those who honor God by walking out His will, He is a responder who will hear the cry of our hearts and give us what we seek (Matt. 7:7). We have not because we ask not (Jas. 4:2).
Thus it is imperative that we do not perceive “meekness” as a personality trait but a necessary attitude of the heart that must be pursued and cultivated with much work and struggle. The quiet introverted one does not have an advantage over the boisterous extroverted one in this fight. We are warring with our own prideful, independent, stubborn nature to walk in authentic meekness. God will help us in this if we ask. He will give us grace to do the thing, which is inherently unpleasant for us. He will empower us through the Holy Spirit to win the fight and grow in meekness. The victory will come only if we continue to fight to be meek in the years that it is greatly frustrating and unpleasant to do so. The victory comes when, over time, He changes our hearts to grow in enjoyment of meekness and the manner in which it attracts His favor.
Meekness is different than humility in that one is a response to what others initiate while the other involves how we view and perceive ourselves and those around us. True humility makes it much easier to walk in true meekness. Yet while we are lacking in humility we must still fight to respond rightly to that which God and men do to us and around us. The common definition of meekness is “strength under control”, but I find that to be an incomplete definition. There is an inherent gentleness and submission to true meekness that goes beyond our own ability to govern our passions and desires and translates into true submission to the dealings of God that break our self-will and self-sufficiency. We shift radically from independent to dependant as we come into a true heart attitude of meekness.
True meekness is embodied by the Shulamite bride, emerging from the wilderness of testing and trial “leaning on her beloved” (Song 8:5). She loves her Bridegroom wholeheartedly, thus she wisely leans against Him, for she has acquired a “limp” in her journeys to find and cleave to Him. The “limp” is the necessary shattering of our own power and strength (Dan. 12:7) in a manner that leaves us fully dependant on God as our only source of life and strength. Israel, who is the subject of the Daniel 12 passage, enters into this reality involuntarily in the dealings of a jealous God, who is zealous to bring her into the fullness of what He has purposed for her. The believer enters into this journey voluntarily. The measure to which we submit and surrender to the dealings of God is the measure to which we cultivate true meekness within our heart.
It is to that measure that God determines our inheritance: leadership of the earth itself.
February 19th, 2007