Saturday, October 22, 2016

You Are What You Love pt. 3

(this title is borrowed from Dr. James K. A. Smith's most recent book 'You Are What You Love')

If you haven't read pt. 1 or pt. 2, scroll down on the blog and you'll find them.


Some time ago our lead pastor, Brad Mathias, shared three things with our faith community at Four Winds Anglican Church that Our Father is inviting us to practice individually and together.  He said that the LORD was impressing upon him to become more faithful in Prayer, Tithing and Rest (Sabbath) and that we, as a church, are being called to practice these same three disciplines.

Don’t hear this wrong.. we tend to get things backward and upside down.  Revelation is always an Invitation to respond in some way.  It's often an invitation to greater intimacy with Our Father.

God keeps things simple.  He has shown His heart for us in Jesus.  Whenever you’re in doubt of who Our Father is or what He thinks of, feels about, or desires for you - look to Jesus.  Listen to Jesus. Follow Jesus.  As we look to Jesus, we will begin to love Jesus all the more.  As we begin to love Jesus more and more, we'll begin to resemble Him and naturally represent Him, in this world.

Luke 10:25-37, ESV
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”  29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a ySamaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii3 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

God is shaping us to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength.  He does this as we make time to meet with Him in quiet, as we gather together to be reminded of the story He’s writing with our lives and as we obey Him - putting into practice those things He’s revealed to us.  

I think we need to hear from Professor James K. A. Smith again on Worship, Work and Vocation.  Hear what he has to say..

If you desire to have a heart shaped and filled by the love of the Father, I invite you to speak to Him now, with me..

O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore You,
a heart to delight in You,
to follow and to enjoy You,
for Christ's sake.

(Ambrose of Milan, c 339-97 A.D.)

AMEN (may it be so!)


End Pt. 3 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

You Are What You Love pt. 2

My sincere apologies for the extended hiatus.. I've been battling with whether I should prioritize writing here and I've decided I will.

If you haven't yet read pt. 1 of this series, you'll find it by scrolling down or by going here.


(this title is borrowed from Dr. James K. A. Smith's most recent book 'You Are What You Love')

After laying out the guidelines for relationship for a few chapters, in Deuteronomy 30:6 this promise falls upon our ears,

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Our Father initiates renewed relationship with us by inviting us Home and promising to do for us what we could never do ourselves.. to change our hearts - what we love most.  The chapter continues with provisions, outlining how this relations will work.

“8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
- Deut. 30:8-10, ESV

Here then is our first and biggest challenge: we are not able to love with ALL our heart and with ALL our soul ALL the time.  Some of us might wonder if we can at all.  YHWH requires undivided loyalty.  He calls us to return to Him with our whole selves - holding nothing back.  These verses echo the clarion call from Deuteronomy 6:5:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

The Hebrew words used here to interpret ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ together emphasize we’re created to love Our Father with our whole being- everything that is in us.  The Hebrew word used here for ‘might’ connotes we’re created to love Our Father passionately.  We might hear these words and take them as a command to generate a love we know that is due Our Father because He is, in fact, God - but that we continually find as an elusive target.  The commentator in the Bible I was reading shared this helpful insight: “[this] is not a demand to manufacture false emotion, but to cultivate a disposition [of the heart].” (Faithlife Bible Commentary, Deut. 6:5).

If you don’t know of him already, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He’s Canadian and very cool.  His insights on the human soul, and how we become the people Our Father has created and called us to become are invaluable.  Please listen to him share about ‘The Heart of Worship’ below:

Prof. James K. A. Smith: The Heart of Worship (#4)

What Dr. Smith is clearly stating here is that when we gather together every week, immersed in the story of God’s limitless love for us, we are being transformed by ‘re-inhabiting that Story - that reality.’

Falling in Love
I met my wife when we were both 16.  The night we met I was with another girl.  Even so, that night I decided to get her number and attempt to get to know her.  I'm ashamed to say that after my future wife and I met, I didn't remember what she looked like.  The following weeks we talked over the phone and I became more enamored and intrigued, with this sweet spirited, joyful, tender-hearted girl on the other end of my 10 foot corded telephone.  We eventually met face-to-face again on a group date.  We all watched 'It' by Stephen King.  'It' wasn't really a good movie to watch on a first date.. or really ever.  But we began to become acquainted and enjoyed simply sharing the same space.

In fact, that night while a bunch of us laid on the floor, watching the movie, I got up to grab some food from the kitchen.  My spot was the only accessible void next to my future wife.  A friend of hers was on her other side.  I returned from grazing on some snacks from the kitchen island to find that another guy had snuck in my place, leaving only a 4 inch gap between him and my 'date'.  I wasn't backing down.  I eyed up the situation from behind and ever so boldly slid into the gap between she and him, like a train splitting a herd of cattle to either side on the tracks, I was headed somewhere -with her- and it didn't include that guy.  Success.

As the weeks turned into months, our interest in one another grew.  We didn't have to coax it.  It was natural.  Organic.  From the fertile soil of time together, mutual attentiveness, shared experiences and honest conversation, something developed that was full-hearted, sincere and full of youthful exuberance.  Some call it infatuation.  It most certainly was.  But it had the potential to become so much more.. and I'm grateful to say that it has.  It's taken 24 years, and a lot of commitment, conviction and courage to grow the love we have for one another today.  At times, our love for one another has flourished vigorously, and at other times it's been thread bare.  We still love one another, and today we have so much more than what we had in those early days.  Our love has grown so far beyond infatuation.  We're learning to empty ourselves for the sake of one another.

That process of moving from infatuation (pure excitement and strong interest) to genuine love (self-sacrifice and acceptance) reminds me of a wonderful quote..

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them." 
- Henry David Thoreau


End Pt. 2.  Pt. 3 will be posted next week.