Sunday, November 30, 2003


When asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus gave this reply, "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments".
Does that not mean that the single most important thing for us to learn from scripture is how to love Him, and from learning that, how to love our neighbor? These two commands are presented as the answer to the question as to the single most important command. Not only does one not truly exist without the other, each is required to grow in other. "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness".
So how do we learn to love our neighbor? Jesus did by loving us as His Father loved Him. He has commanded us to love one another as He has loved us. "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” And how much does Jesus love us? Jesus told us, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” Paul tells us in Romans, “ Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This Christmas season, may we allow ourselves to feel so deeply the love that Jesus demonstrates toward us that we can do nothing but worship Him and respond with love. May His overwhelming love for us cause us to love those he loves. May we find ourselves in the Light.


Saturday, November 29, 2003

It Is Beyond All Knowledge

Peace. For the times in which we live, we most often use the term to express our desire for a world that is free from conflict and war. Pray for peace in the Middle East. Miss America campaigns for world peace. We often use the word to express our desire for quiet, for rest and relaxation, a lifestyle without stress or conflict. Some call confession and repentance the act of making our peace with God.
In Luke 2:14, the Angels are announcing the birth of Jesus which will bring glory to God and peace to men. Did Jesus’ birth bring peace to men? Christmas was costly. Following Jesus cost eleven of twelve disciples their lives. It cost John the Baptist his head. While the Jews weren’t at war, it can hardly be said that they weren’t in conflict with the Roman government. Jesus, Himself said in John 16:33, “I have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world, you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world”. The peace He brought, then, had nothing to do with freedom from troubles and worries.
So, the Angels must have been referring to God’s offer of peace with Himself. It is only through this peace with God that men can even approach peace in any other form. We can certainly not have inner peace without peace with God. We were created for friendship with God, so being apart from Him is abnormal. Peace and contentment then are only attainable through peace with God. We can truly trust Him that all things work together for good for those who love Him. We are assured that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength; that is to say, we can be content regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves. We can have rest in the peace of Christ when all around is turmoil. Paul says, “Have no cares; but in everything with prayer and praise put your requests before God. And the peace of God, which is deeper than all knowledge, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
In this advent season, may we accept God’s offer of peace with Himself. May we rest in the knowledge that He is in control and have “the peace that passes understanding”.


Friday, November 28, 2003

...and a prayer

The world into which Jesus came was one filled with obstacles, oppression and lost hope. The government was Godless; cosmopolitan society had come with a foreign government. With it came cosmopolitan religion, which demanded tolerance of behavior and practices, and beliefs that were contrary and offensive. Some religious leaders had become corrupt and power-hungry; others simply misunderstood the God they worshiped. Though they had the promise of One who would come and deliver them, their hope in that promise didn’t look beyond their immediate physical needs. Believers were looking for One Who would come and overthrow the government, who would restore them to their former glory. They were looking for One who would come and change their environment.
The world into which Jesus will come is much the same. Our government seems to constantly re-interpret and change laws that limit our religious freedom. Our society is growing more tolerant of immorality and less tolerant of Christianity. Religious leaders fall like flies to temptation, corruption, and pride. National disasters dash our hopes and fuel the skeptic’s resolve. We grasp for hope while inside we question. Many feel abandoned. We are looking for a God that will protect us physically from the outside world.
God’s protection of us is so much bigger than the temporal. His control goes far beyond our immediate environment. Jesus came to earth to change people, to restore people, to save people. His kingdom is not of this world. He came to prepare us for it, not to prepare it, here, for us. We are able to endure our situation now because Jesus came the first time. We have hope because Jesus will come again.
This advent season, may we find our hope in the second coming of Christ. May we resolve to give others that hope. For the non-believer this event is one of doom. May we see the immoral, offensive, oppressive, blasphemous world as what it really is, the harvest field. May we walk into it with the love and hope in Christ, the evidence of things unseen.


Thursday, November 27, 2003

Gimme Gimme

I’m thankful. How long will I be? Even today I experienced myriad things to be thankful for. Tomorrow officially begins the Christmas season all across Commerstadt.
Every year, December brings with it dread for me. I am the ultimate scrooge. These past couple years, I’ve resolved to make it different. You know the routine, in the quiet beginning of the month, you desire deeply to celebrate Jesus’ birth. You’re pensive, reflective, contemplative. Then Christmas takes over.
Will gets it. When asked what he wants for Christmas, he couldn’t think of anything. In fact, all he came up with was time. He wanted time to hang as a family, play games, make cookies. How wonderful not to want when you don’t want. How wonderful to have an accurate understanding of what you do need.
We do have needs. If we didn’t, there would be no Christmas in the first place. Somehow, we’ve begun to ignore our needs and want for other stuff. We want what we don’t need. We don’t want to need what we do need. We don’t want to be dependent on anyone. Stuff is fine. We practically brag about our dependence on stuff, but we sure won’t admit to being dependent on another being. Perhaps even when we’re content with those we’ve been given, it’s only in the perspective that they are an extra, icing on the cake.
We depend on stuff and appreciate people. At Christmas, we depend on stuff and appreciate Jesus. This Christmas, I want to desire desperately the advent of the deliverer the way Israel did during centuries of silence. I want to recognize Him when He quietly sits down beside me and breathes peace. I want to expect and hope, to contemplate the mystery. I want to be prepared to recognize Him. Not to be fooled by counterfeits. Not to be satisfied with less than what I’ve been given. I want to celebrate in a spirit of quiet thanksgiving, to hope with the essence of things unseen, feel peace that passes understanding, know love that is deeper, wider, longer, and higher than we could fathom, experience joy unspeakable and full of glory. Quiet my life, whisper my name. Amen, come Lord Jesus.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Purloined Communiqué

Message status - undeliverable.
this message experienced the following fatal error: USER NOT FOUND

I’ve visited this before on these cyber pages, but here I am again, pecking the same open fields. Those who are given something to say or share, if only temporal and momentary, are robbed of the opportunity by the listener’s inability to listen. God has given us a legitimate vehicle for communication and contemplation – it has been stolen by consumer and entertainment mentality. The motivation is assumed for someone who is in front of other people playing or singing. “I listen to be entertained, this person speaks or plays to be listened to, therefore, this is entertainment.”
Talking about using music as a vehicle to anything, even art, is tricky for many performers because the ego often gets in the way of message. Sadly, I observe a culture that has been duped by the messenger. These are people who are drawn to speak, sing or play and so go about looking for something to speak, sing, or play about. The messenger sells himself, the audience buys him and quickly tires of the message, if they hear it at all. That is why our culture buys authors’ names instead of book content. We attend concerts to “see” performers and entertainers. The music industry markets singers rather than music. What they have to say, if anything, is often irrelevant.

That culture is changing. Younger people are suspicious of these people and decide quickly whether they are authentic and whether they’ve got something to say. These people do respond to people who have something to say and so speak, sing, or play. They may sense that it is “painful” for the person to get up and do it. But that doesn’t undermine the importance of the message. My students respond to someone for whom the message is more important than they are. And here is a nasty thing to say – I know people who actually teach and lecture abroad on effective speaking and communication, but whose methods obscure their message even at home. The students do not respond. They feel that the speaking or preaching “performance” was more important than the content, therefore they do not listen to it. “How to communicate effectively” should be changed to “How to speak effectively when you're not communicating”, or “how to make people enjoy hearing you even when they have no idea what you said.”

Warning: If YOU are your message, hush. You’re intercepting the real stuff.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Ex Obscuritate in Lucem

Gwillie the woodpecker becomes a sparrow, Cisco the marmot, the ecclesia encourager. I am the Wild Turkey, that forager of open fields; the rooster upon low branches. I’ve the vision of an eagle with the intellect of a housefly. From a distance, with my tail all fanned, I can be quite impressive, some say. But when you look me in the eye, it ain’t a pretty sight. My range is cyclic, I always return to peck at the same fields over and over, carefully working my way to the next, easily spooked.
I’d become the owl sitting confidently with my shoulders hunched up. Same keen vision, with the ability to see in front and behind with equal ease. Brow furrowed with wisdom to match my years, I’d speak only questions and learn trust from the lack of answers.
I’d become the Labrador, harnessed for any who would grasp the handle. Walking forward in confidence of instinct for having been trained at the feet of the master guide dog trainer. Trained and trusted to lead through the dark and dangerous into the light.
Spirit, morph me too. Make me a shape shifter. Mold me. Show me how to be a part of the Austin Phenomenon. I beg.


Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Most Important Reindeer

Will had a dream last night that he told me about this morning before he even got out of bed. When I woke him up to get ready for church he opened his eyes and said, “Dad, I just dreamed that you were a reindeer.” I said that’s really weird Will, now hop up and get dressed. “And dad, you were the biggest, toughest reindeer. They were bringing other reindeer for you to teach them to fly. They brought Rudolf and I was proud that they asked you to teach the most important reindeer how to fly.” I must have been tough, now hop up, ok”?
Now, had I not been so inflated by being the “biggest, toughest reindeer”, I probably would have been immediately challenged by the reminder of my huge responsibility that Will had just given me. All day I thought more and more deeply about this awesome task of teaching the most important reindeer to fly, especially since I, in fact, am not the biggest, toughest reindeer.
Then, this afternoon I referred to the dream and Will said, “Oh yeah, dad, instead of Rudolf having his light on the end of his nose, it was right in the middle of his forehead.” Instantly, I knew that this was more than me just making cute application from my son’s dream description. Even more than an intentional reminder from God through Will. This dream was for him too. This was a God-produced thing. This had bearing on both our futures and our now together.
Tonight when I tucked him into bed I told him that I thought I’d interpreted his dream. I asked him if he knew what that meant. Yes, he said, and he asked me what my interpretation was. I told him that I thought he dreamed that I was the biggest, toughest reindeer because he was glad that I was his dad. He agreed. Then I asked him if he knew who the most important reindeer was.
“No,” he said.
“YOU, Willby, I have the awesome task of teaching YOU to fly.”
“Dad, is the flying a metaphor? Dad, do you think that this dream came from God?”
“There is no doubt in my mind that this dream came from God.”
“Do you think it means that I will lead a large group of people?”
“It could mean that you will lead a small group of people, like eight. Or even one.”
“Do you think it might mean that I will be a teacher?”
“Or a missionary, or…”
“But Dad, what about the nose way up in the middle of his forehead?”
“In your dream, you thought he was the most important reindeer even though his nose was in the wrong place. Maybe his light was even easier to see because it was placed there. Anyway, you’re always worrying about your faults and imperfections, beating yourself up all the time. Can you see what this says about you?”

I wish everyone could have seen Will’s face as he contemplated having been the recipient of direct encouragement from God. Consider the possibility that the things that bother you the most about yourself could be intentional tools designed by God for His purposes. Will went there tonight. How much easier it is to face challenges and disappointments when they are not about you. There is a purpose. There is purpose. We serve an intentional God. Blessed are those whose ears are open to hear Him whisper His intentions. Or give us clues. Or spark the imagination of a child to wonder what it is that God will have him do. Be. Become. I’m blown away.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to teach the most important reindeer to fly. Can you imagine? How is this possible? Such heavy bones. So many tethers. Head winds. Fatigue. Comforts on the ground. Tangling antlers. And that goofy light in the middle of the forehead. How are these overcome to lead on, shine the light, and deliver the gift to all who need it? How do I stay one step ahead of his lessons?
Pray for me. I’ve got a precious protégé. A fragile disciple. The most important reindeer.

© 2003 rod lewis


Saturday, November 22, 2003

Equivalent Intrinsic Value 2.0

What about Jonah? Jonah spends his life in the Lord’s service and then is asked to go take a message to folks he despises. He will no doubt become scum just from being near those people. Jonah is offended at even being asked. So you know the story, we’ve heard countless sermons, disobedience, change of heart, God’s work completed. But Jonah’s heart is not changed. The story ends with him wasting away, unhappy at God’s gift to others. It’s almost as if he finally agreed to go to Nineveh because it was a last chance to prove to God that he was right in the first place. “I’ll just go on over there, tell what God told me to, and smirk as they go on with their bad selves”. God will see that it was useless, and in my heart, I’ll say, “I told you so”. That’s not what happened. Jonah delivers the message, Nineveh repents and is saved. Jonah is devastated. One of my favorite lines from any movie in recent years comes from the Veggie Tales Jonah. After repenting, the giant zucchini (originally Mr. Nezzer) says to Jonah, (I paraphrase) “Gee Jonah, thanks for telling us, we didn’t realize we were doing anything wrong”. Rather than rejoicing at returning the lost to fold, Jonah sits by himself grieving that God actually kept His promise. How could God forgive such wretched ones? Perhaps Jonah is upset because he has always been so faithful and these are given the same love and compassion as he is. Perhaps Jonah is upset because he feels his value is diminished because theirs is raised. Or worse, he finds that God valued them enough to seek them out in order to bring them back. Even before they repented!
The Pharisees despised the lesser ones. The brother burned with jealousy at the return of his wayward brother. The workers who were recruited late in the day received the same pay as those who had worked all day. The shepherd leaves the flock to rescue one that is lost. Jonah himself having received unfathomable grace, mourned at the grace given as the fruit of his begrudging obedience.
Seems to me that with all these messages and accounts, God is concerned with the heart of the faithful as much as the wanderings of the wayward. The faithful get angry with the outsiders. God feels compassion, pain, and pity. “You have been with me and everything I have is yours, but here is your brother who was lost and now is found.”
I’m not saying that sin increases our value in God’s eyes. As one commentary puts it, God’s emotions are tweaked and the intrinsic value is modified because loss and recovery come into play. He loves the faithful so much that He wants them to celebrate with Him at the recovery of the others. We’re invited to the party.
A ministering heart will begin to feel the pity that God feels – will see the lost and not the behavior. We’ll do what it takes to reach them and party when they’re found. A ministering heart will go headlong into the black hole of church planting with the fire of God and the Truth in hand, welcoming all who are thirsty.


Friday, November 21, 2003

Fog blur Blog

Well, I don’t know if this is going to turn into the continuation of Tuesday’s post or not. That continuation has been taking place in my head and being jotted in various places in my clié all week. I did vow, though, after jotting things down that way, to start afresh when I actually organize it. The whole week as been a blur fog blog. I’m really tempted to just list everything I had to do this week to really make the point. I’m always saying that there are those whose perceptions of stress and busyness are so different from mine that they really have no idea. I’ve heard a co-worker say she was coming in late in the morning because she wasn’t going to get home that night until 9:30p. So how do you successfully solicit sympathy from someone like that? You may as well say that in order to get food and drink when you were in prison, you had to run the 100m in less than 6 seconds. It’s not in the frame of reference. Oh well, to get your sympathy, I’ll just shorten my list, and trust you to understand that ain’t the half of it, ok?
My boss is out with pneumonia for two weeks. I’ve been covering his music appreciation class. Though I had to rearrange my private teaching schedule, I agreed because I thought it was just for one class. It turns into two weeks. Now I’m two weeks behind with several private students, and cannot find any time at all to plug them back into my schedule. I am really enjoying teaching his class, I just wish I hadn’t lost lessons that have to be made up. Meanwhile, I had several extra worship times to plan, prepare, pray and practice for. Two days this week I was at work for over 14 hours. Tuesday, I lectured for, literally, 5 hours plus my private students. I have not been to bed before 2:00a since last Sunday. I teach at 8:00a, by the way. Yesterday morning as I was leaving the house A told me W had a project due today and she wouldn’t be home from school til 9:00p. It involved video and editing. I said no problem, I get home by 5:30 on Thursdays and I have all evening with the kids. Then in the midst of the extraordinarily busy day, I find out I’ve got a meeting on campus from 4 –7. So I call my Thursday afternoon child care professional (thanks, Bing!) and she brings them to school for supper. We do his project after my meeting and I make it to bed at 3:15a.
I slept in this morning and missed the first two prayer day sessions.
I’m tired and old. I need a break. I’m going to take one. I’ve nearly convinced myself to take a college road trip Tuesday evening. You may have heard that the we’re experiencing a series of the largest solar flares ever recorded. I’m rapidly approaching 40 and have never seen the Aurora Borealis. I think in lieu of going into insurmountable debt buying a red sports car, I’ll drive as far north as possible next week and takes my chances with the magnetic field, the weather, and my old Ford truck. I’m figuring 20 hours can put me far enough north of Toronto to see something. So I’m going to sign off now, research weather, magnetic, and solar wind forcasts, and go to bed feeling relieved for whining to you about my week. It was actually a very good week in terms of lessons learned, encouragement received, and resolve gained. But if I had just told you that, you’d have no idea what it takes for me to learn a lesson. Gee whiz, (practicing for turning 40) I’m slow.
So, Matthew 18 is still running ‘round my brain. I’ll share it with you some more tomorrow. Good night Aurora Borealis.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Equivalent Intrinsic Value

I’ve been reading a book called “the smell of sin”, by Don Everts which opens with a story about a man in church who hears a sawing sound and turns around to find his fellow parishioner sawing off his foot. Jesus said if your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you. It’s better to go though life with one hand than be cast with two into the fire. While I hear folks argue about whether that is literal or whether it merely expresses the seriousness of the sin that is being caused by the offending limb, I’ve rarely heard it discussed according to the context in which we find it. Yes, there are stumbling block in this world, but woe to the man through whom the stumbling blocks come.
See that you do not despise these little ones. Jesus came to save those who were lost. The healthy don’t need a physician. But for some reason, those who have lived upstanding lives develop an unrighteous attitude toward those defiled by sin. Especially sin that we have set apart as particularly heinous. Yes, we do that. We overlook gossip, idolatry, selfishness, neglect, and focus in on, march for, petition the president, write letters to the newspaper, other sins that appear to us as blacker, more evil, further outside our context of understanding.
Sure, we hate the same things God hates but that doesn’t make our motivation righteous. Our hatred so often extends to the sinner. We say “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but somehow that has become so cliché, that we don’t really know what it means anymore. Somehow, we convince ourselves that we can love the sinner by expressing disgust, hatred, and intolerance. Then when that expression has brought them ‘round, we can express love.
We've even made a cliché out of the idea of letting God love that person through us. Sure, we have to love them with the same love that Christ loves us, that is where we gain the knowledge and ability. But Jesus has asked US to love THEM. Are we just to be conduit, channeling Jesus’ love to others? I don’t think so. Conduit remains unchanged. Others don’t recognize Jesus love THOUGH us, they recognize Jesus’ love IN us. You’ll hear them say, “that person loves me with the love of Jesus”. I don’t think we’ll hear, “Jesus loves me through that person”.
Jesus’ love in us, causes us to hurt for the lost condition of another. It causes us to want, like Him, to leave the ninety-nine and go hunting for the one. Upon finding the one, we will throw him across our shoulders and bring him rejoicing into the fold.
There is no doubt in my mind that the parable of the prodigal son has as its focus, the son who stayed home and burned with jealousy over the joy of the father upon receiving his lost son back. There are too many other passages, two mentioned here, that focus on the same thing. If we are truly about our Father’s business, then we will hurt for the lost, and receive the same joy He does when the are returned. The value of all is the same, but there is an emotional extra that is put into play that deals with loss and recovery.
(to be continued)

©2003 rod lewis


Monday, November 17, 2003

Insatiable Longing 3.0 - the holy paradox cont...

So I spend quite a bit of time thinking about an unceasing, insatiable longing for God and then design a worship service expressing how He provides every need. “You satisfy me with your love and all I have in You is more than enough.” Yes, even as I plan, study and pray through this, I come across countless passages of scripture that express this paradox – this holy paradox that any worshiping soul will immediately recognize.
Upon taking a drink of the living water that will take away my thirst forever, I am afflicted with an unquenchable desire to drink more deeply.
So I have to spend time first with my understanding of what it is that God promises to supply. “My God shall supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Of course this was written to assure that God wouldn’t let us go needy for having given to the ministry. Paul says here that God’s generosity will exceed ours. Jesus himself tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat (aren’t the ravens fed? And we are more valuable than birds), wear (aren’t the flowers grandly clothed – not even Solomon in all his glory dressed this nice).
So what do I think I need? What constitutes God’s promise kept? If I have to live on rice and raisins? What if I must wear second hand clothes? Let’s take our theology to the streets. There are no doubt plenty of believers living in cardboard boxes in Washington DC, sleeping under borrowed blankets. There are certainly many believers in prison cells eating moldy bread and drinking dirty water, cold and sick. Are God’s promises being kept? Jesus goes on to say, “seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you”. Could He mean that he will supply our need according to what the furthering of the kingdom requires?
I guess where I’m heading here is that it intrigues me that concerning physical needs, God promises to supply them all, but we want more even after he has kept His promise. Jesus said, “Life is more than food and the body more than clothing.”
Concerning spiritual needs, God promises more than we could ever ask or imagine, but we are satisfied with the inception of our salvation. As if we are spiritually adopted out of the orphanage and then left to fend for our infant selves in the corner of the dining room with a spent bottle and a droopy diaper.
Rather, we could ask that He would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith; and that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.


Friday, November 14, 2003

Alone, I Are a Idiot

Others hear my voice
You hear my song

Others hear my words
You hear my cry

Others see my face
You see my heart

Others see my faults
You see Your Son

©2003 by rod lewis


Together We Are a Genius

And then, after all that, I was slapped with this this morning. Here is a verse that I’ve heard, quoted, thought about, explained; but when it was tossed out in Eugene Peterson’s verbiage, of course it stuck where it needed. That in itself is ironic, considering the passage and our time continuum context.
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So this put me back at Greg’s comment that “the proper biblical response to ANY culture has always been to PRODUCE a COUNTER-CULTURE, namely a community of believers that love and care for one another to such an extent that it inevitably TRANSFORMS the culture at large!”

In my heart of hearts, that what I want; to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. That’s what I’ve been trying to do!! Isn’t that ironic?! I am trying to transform my mind.
Guess someone else is going to have to do it.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Hundredth Monkey

Did anyone ever say, “all roads lead to where you are?” Well, I just did. There is no way I could explain how I got to where I’m going with this blog, but it started with Chris’s blog. I wanted to ask him if he just couldn’t wait to get home and write a poem. And if when he did, it was the most awesome, easiest, poem he’d ever written. I’ve experienced this phenomenon on many occasions. I’ll go hear a great player and for a few hours afterward, possess an ability both technical and artistic that is not normally mine. Then the ability fades and I return to my normal abilities. I’ve noticed this since I was kid, but it never occurred to me that this was common. In grad school, I learned that most of my peers also experienced this phenomenon. It only occurred at a live event, never upon listening to a recording. We decided that there must be some unexplainable something that we learned from hearing and watching the great player that we were able to take back with us and use for a short period. We fantasized that this could have something to do with morphic resonance. Having been in close proximity with someone who could do something better than we could, or who could do something that we couldn’t, somehow made it easier for us to learn or to improve.
This and ideas similar to Jung’s Collective Unconscious have been used to try to explain why discoveries are made almost simultaneously in different parts of the world, why once a large enough group learns to do something, or adheres to a belief, it becomes infinitely easier for the rest of the population to follow suit. While personal unconscious relies on our own experiences, collective unconscious does not rely on personal experiences and as Jung states, is not a personal acquisition.
Well of course there is collective unconscious. Having once been intimately connected to our creator, as members of a fallen creation, we share a collective desire, though unable to verbalized by most, to return to that state of intimacy and be fulfilled.
The hundredth monkey phenomenon became a popular story that was said to demonstrate morphic resonance because as each monkey learned to wash his potato, subsequent monkeys learned more easily. The big kicker was that once a certain number of monkeys had adopted the practice, monkeys on other islands also suddenly took up the habit.
As it turns out, the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon, was born of research that has been shown to contain many lies and fabricated claims. So without contact, it is doubtful that you will acquire knowledge and ability via some distant person’s acquisition of that knowledge and ability. Nor is there much chance that once enough other people have it, I will have it too. However the facts of the research did show an interesting pattern.
As Elaine Myers noticed, it is a good example of the propagation of a paradigm shift. So the monkeys didn’t suddenly learn to wash their potatoes because so many others had acquired that ability, but the younger ones learned first and transferred that to the desire to wash other food and themselves. The older monkeys never learned the habit. And it wasn’t until the third generation that all the monkeys in the group had taken up the habit as it was demonstrated by their parents. Myers observes that,
the truly innovative points of view tend to come from those on the edge between youth and adulthood. The older generation continues to cling to the world view they grew up with. The new idea does not become universal until the older generation withdraws from power, and a younger generation matures within the new point of view. Until that time, newer alternatives don’t replace older alternatives; they just provide more choices.

I’m struck with the frustration of how slow needed change comes and how quickly dangerous shifts can occur and how deeply the collective unconscious can be repressed in so short a time. Both, within the same time frame.

©2003 rod lewis


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Insatiable Longing Part 2.0 or... The Esther Project cont...

I know that I’ve been accused of being esoteric on more than one occasion, and probably too often, my response has been, “he who has ears…” Well here is one of those times.
Today I responded to Greg’s Johnny Cash Tribute and had a flood of memories while writing. As is my custom, they related immediately to the things I am thinking at the moment. It occurred to me that the magic moment that stands out in my memory so vividly, the inception of the earthly path on which I still travel 30 years later is centered upon a scar and a perfect authentic cadence.
PAC. That most closed of tonal closure, that most satisfying of tension relieving progressions, the most final of final cadences birthed in me the path that my earthly life would take. I don’t know what phrase was closed by that cadence. In fact, it is an introduction; there is nothing before it unless you really want to get musically philosophical… Ok, I do. The intro to the song is in fact the end, it’s the beginning and the end. It provides organic unity. An anacrusis gets taken from the end of a piece. Something came before, but its not a part of our experience, we’re inserted here, at this point to ride it out. The point is, as Gandalf says, what you choose to do with the time that you’ve been given.
My choice came at that symbolic final cadence that started my life on a path. The overwhelming draw of the song intensified by the scar that evidenced the authenticity of the experience of the singer. Millions would respond to this man who spoke their language, who understood their struggle, who overcame his own struggle. He WAS incarnation. The final cadence as inception for a pursuit.

©2003 rod lewis


Monday, November 10, 2003

Keep Cool My Babies, or… At, To, Bruté

Ok, once again I started this response in the comment box and then decided it needed to appear on the blog page. I’m afraid the discussion could be too hard to follow and could be misunderstood.
So here goes…
There is one thing that terrifies me about my previous post, so I’ll bring it to the top. I never thought, and therefore never meant to imply that Greg was stepping away from Student Ministry. There is a huge difference in stepping away from something and stepping toward something else. I am so sorry if I seemed to make an implication with my statements. I am not sure if that is a strong enough denial of intended implications, but I hope everyone can believe me. Its just that a discussion of relevance was warranted here, and Greg and I had that conversation back in the day, in the context of student ministry. So having said that I could probably just let you read and I’d already feel better. But I might feel better still if I clear up a few other things from my late night ramblings. All our posts in this exchange, should be read with the tone of voice of the deck dialogue (at times, trialogue and quatralogue). Its just iron sharpening iron, very good friends trying to figure it out, ya know? I apologize to anyone who hasn’t been on the deck and therefore can’t hear the seeker banter.
Ok, secondly, I didn’t mean to imply that I thought there were “real” Christians and some other kind of Christians involved here. Just two world views. I worry that the one runs the risk of making or having made the kingdom a thing. The Kingdom is a way of being, not a way of doing. It is not something that we have but something that we are. It just seems to me that pomo within Christianity is reacting to the Kingdom becoming a doing and having thing. That is where I see friction.
As for the relevance part, at this point in my journey, I see it as the ability to make evident that the answer for your perceived needs is the same as the answer for my perceived needs, however different we may be. The root of our problem is the same and therefore has the same solution.
It occurs to me that when Jesus came, everyone needed to be saved from a law that they couldn’t possibly keep. But Jesus said that He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The religious leaders needed to be saved because they had come to believe that their doings were making them righteous. The common man needed to be saved because it was obvious that he couldn’t obey the law. Both groups needed Jesus. The one held down by the pharisaical self-righteousness needed rescued by the real fulfillment of God’s requirement. The early 16th century saw much of the same atmosphere. Within Christendom, perhaps we could name the periods, Christianity, Modern Christianity, and Post-modern Christianity. It seems that the advent of each occurred at a time when there were at least similar situations. It is really difficult to say these things for fear of offending, hurting, alienating our friends. But some are given a dream of how much greater, deeper, purer, higher it can be. As Caleb Pellor might say, I would give you more Jesus than we’ve been given, more Jesus than we’ve been given, I would give to you. Of course Jesus gave us all of himself. But it seems that at points along history, we somehow begin to fail pass all of Him along to the next generation. We are entrusted with this task. Fortunately, at some point , a generation notices that some of Him is missing and desperately seeks find the rest. Rich Mullins said, “as the old world started dying and the new world started coming on, I’ll sing His song in the land of my sojourn.”
That’s what we all want isn’t it, the leaf ripening to become the aroma of Christ, the contented nomad, the gypsy traveler, the dappled margrave; to sing His song in the land of our sojourn. Its what I want.


Cyberdeck Dialogue… or We Are Entirely Dense to (Cowboy) Boot

In response to Greg's response of my response…

The difference between the emerging of modernity and emerging of post-modernity seems significant to me only in your choice of the relationship of the players. You’re calling the protestants “The Church” when at the time, they were considered heretics. It sounds like here, that you’re using the designation “Christianity” to refer to the protestants or moderns. So who’s who in the current situation? It seems to me, that you as the poster child for post-modernism are in fact, advocating a purer form of religious authority. So you are a protestant. So where I get confused, is the “In other words.” Now “Christianity” seems to be referring to the pre-moderns. That form of Christianity, of course wasn’t trying to “keep up” with the larger culture, it WAS the larger culture. The correlation there is that this culture of “christianity” tried desperately to remain the larger, cultural authority, excommunicating those who questioned or threatened the wholesale submission to the infallibility and authority of the church leaders.
The modern church so often does this as well. I’m reminded of a statement by Mark Oestreicher in the margins of Kimball’s book, “Evangelicals swallowed modernism so completely many find it hard to separate modernism from Christianity”. Then a quote from Rod Lewis, “I am afraid that in our attempt to preserve “church”, we will drive “The Church” to the brink of extinction.“ That is why Simon’s idea of the hub with the spokes reaching out into the culture is so easily rejected. It doesn’t LOOK like church. The modern church is trying to “keep up” with the larger culture within the parameters of the post Darby traditions; the post-modern church is trying to find a way to make evident the relevance of the gospel of Christ to the larger culture.
That is why I see the current situation as not opposite, but very similar to the advent of modernism. Extraneous baggage, intentional cultural (outdated) trendiness, and people, hide the relevance of the message of hope and salvation from those who are desperately seeking it. They don’t see it because they are turned off or offended by those entrusted with bringing it to them. And we are so arrogant and in need of validation that we mistake their offense of us with offense to the gospel. We must be doing things right then, because Jesus told us that the gospel would offend. We haven’t offended them with the gospel, we’ve offended them with ourselves.
The bulk of what I had to say in my post yesterday was in reaction to a comment by Rick Warren in the foreword of Kimball’s book – ‘At Saddleback Church, we’ve changed styles of worship, programming, and outreach many times during our first twenty years…” This and a reference to a question from a youth pastor asking how can you possibly keep up with rapidly changing culture, spawns my comments. The way to “keep up” is to spend time with the people you’re trying to reach and minister to. Then I’m reminded of a statement by Greg Willis several years ago when, for some reason, we were discussing the ability to know when it was time to step out of student ministry. You said, “I guess its time to step out when you no longer care whether you are relevant.”
So… I agree with your second paragraph in its entirety, but once again we’ve got to ask the question, “how does this counter-culture transform the culture at large”? So I still hold that it is important to “keep up” with the changes in culture lest we speak a language that is foreign and thus inhibits the message.
How do we ensure that our love and care for one another doesn’t become love and care for the institution of our counter culture? This seems to me the biggest danger because we’ve seen it so often. Its cyclic. And post-modernism, with its openness, is more susceptible, I’m afraid. Modernism wants cookie cutter clones. Each generation expects the next generation to grow up and become the previous generation. Modernism expects post-modern to grow up and become modern. This, at least, has caused it to reach out to influence and try to mold everything into its image. Post-modern generations increasingly become more tolerant and less concerned with that which is different from them. In our growing love and care for those in our community, how can we ensure that we will still carry a burden for those who don’t know Jesus?


Saturday, November 08, 2003

Larry, Pomo and Curly or... We Are Not a Cowboy

This was actually a comment to Greg's blog, but I feared of where it was heading and how fat it might get, so I moved over and decided to blog myself. So, ya gotta read them both. (stream of consciousness...)
Of course, the clash of Mo and PoMo is much greater in the Christian community where Mo has so often confused methods with doctrine and where the sacred and secular are differentiated by style. This is probably why I'm intrigued, but convinced, that some of the things you mentioned as your favorite modern accomplishments are specific things that many (most?) modern Christians would regret having accomplished. That, of course, is a case of throwing the baby out with the bath, which is exactly what mo wants to do with pomo.
Its always easier just to completely chunk something that has gone awry than it is to actually try to make it what it once was or was meant to be. I'm so glad that the original moderns didn't just frown at what the church had become and convert to some other religion. It was hard work, but they set out to make it what it was meant to be rather than leave it. Well then, here we go again. Look what it's become.
Of course premo reacted to mo with excommunication and worse, but eventually had a big long 14 year meeting in which they intentionally set about working on some of the stuff that had caused mo to react. (I know that this is very simplistic, but they did emerge less apprehensive to change.) This meeting was fairly thorough because they didn't do it again for another 400 years. Now this too, is simplistic, but I have to say that to stream my consciousness in the right direction. The direction is this, Most churches make drastic occasional changes that reflect years of culture development & incorporate already outdated styles & methods when they could easily be rolling with cultural evolution. When a church makes a decision to change, it consciously inserts itself into a period of cultural time and then sits there like a redneck with a mullet while the rest of the culture continues change. Usually, it has taken this amount of time for the church to see the evolution and therefore, they see it as a cultural "shift". They, then, feel that this change has brought us to where we will be rather than another point along the road to where we're going. Eventually, the need will be noticed again and a “change” will implemented that is intended to update the way we “do” and look. It won’t look and feel real though, because since our last intentional “change”, we missed all the subtle shifts, and shades of evolution that brought culture to where it is at the moment we notice our irrelevance. So we put on our cowboy suit and climb up on the bull, never having ridden before. We’re the only ones who don’t notice that we are not a cowboy.
We don't recognize evolution as it happens, but only when we've reached a point in which we no longer recognize where we are or where we should be. We then sit down and try to figure out where we should be, go there, and wait until culture has moved far enough away for us to notice again.

©2003 rod lewis


Friday, November 07, 2003

Let This Mind Be in You

When Paul says, "let this mind be also in you which was in Christ Jesus", he was speaking of our relationships. He follows that statement by explaining humility as modeled by Jesus. He, "who being very nature God, did not find equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, became a servant and was made in the likeness of man. He was obedient even to death on a cross". His humility and servanthood through obedience was changed into exaltation and Lordship. How dare WE think that our own humility, servanthood and obedience should result in our own exaltation and glory, this radical reversal; but Jesus Himself said this of us in two passages that I easily found this morning. Wow. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted. This is fellowship, to humble ourselves in order to lift others up. This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus did it for us. We are to do it for others. The result of our discipleship, Christ-following, goes beyond verse 8 where we are learning what it means to share in His suffering. We will share in His glory. Paul meant for us to follow this model to its logical conclusion. More than one day in His house as gatekeepers, disciples of Christ (who daily take up their cross and share in His suffering) are promised to share in his Glory as joint heirs. Meanwhile, we are members of a community that is growing in wisdom, strength, confidence, and faith, because we encourage one another, build each other up.

I'm reminded that Jesus said, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Could it be that the fruit of our discipleship can judged by observing our fellowship? Our empathy? (comfort others with the comfort you, yourself have received from Christ Jesus). Paul does basically say here in Philippians, if you have learned anything at all from Christ, love one another, be of one mind.
© 2003 rod lewis


Thursday, November 06, 2003

Dog Years

How far can one go in eight years? What can be accomplished? One can get from fourth grade to graduation. After graduation, one can get a Doctorate degree. One can go from breast feeding and messing diapers to reading and doing math. Wow, these seem like such massive accomplishments. This is obviously a big chunk of time. If you turn it on its side, it means "infinity". It certainly must feel like that to you; its 100% of your life. But to me, it is precisely 20% of my life. I have lived 5 of your lifetimes to date. I remember 4 of them in their in entirety. It's your lifetime that I have trouble recalling. Where did it go? Where was I? Its hard to look back such a short distance. Think into the past - you're not there. Then you're there. Where is the time in between? Oh yeah, I remember, I'm Waaaahhhh, then Da, then Daggy, then Daddy, then Dad. If you ever call me father, I'll spank you. Oh, remember that day you learned to ride your bike? You just wanted to move faster. It all becomes a blur.
I'll bet, a few years from now, it will be easier to look back into this period of life. Right now its still part of the current hurry. Why did you have to hurry to eight so quickly? You didn't even realize it. From now on, I'm living through your time perspective, applying your percentages. But in reality, you'll just start adopting mine and tomorrow you'll wake up with 3 children, 10 things to do and half your life past. You came on the scene this way too. I went across the street for some coffee and a biscuit - you won't be here for hours. I nearly missed your debut. Slow down. Don't be in such a hurry. You've been counting down the days. DON'T DO THAT!!!!!!!
I'd rather be a tortoise on Galapagos, or a span of Geological time than be living in these dog years. Ok, starting right now, things are changing. This will be the longest day of my life. I'm concentrating on each moment. I'm going to hold your skinny little 8 year-old self for a LONG TIME tonight. Please don't hurry off my lap.
Happy Birthday Molly


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

El Decameron Negro

There is no way to stay ahead of the game. At any given moment in time, there is something that had already to have been done, something that must be done now, and something that needs to be done before you can get it done. So tonight I’m looking at papers that need to be corrected before tomorrow, I am in charge of tomorrow’s music convocation (I’m going to play; I’d better practice) and then I’ve got to practice for this concert I’m playing on Saturday night. So for the moment, I’m going to make my blog a part of my practice and preparation.

I’m going to play, El Decameron Negro. This is a suite of three movements that represent stories from “The Black Decameron”, a collection of African folk tales. The movements or stories are called, “The Harp of the Warrior”, “The Flight of the Lovers through the Valley of Echoes”, and “The Ballad of the Maiden in Love.” I have no idea what the details of these stories are, but the titles sure spark the imagination. The music is very descriptive too, quite programmatic, in that they seem to be story telling. There are musical pictures throughout, such as the flight of the lovers with a very fast arpeggiated section with a bass melody that is echoed between statements. The warrior’s soft, meditative strums are interrupted by fierce agitation and disjunct, driving sections. Even the beautiful maiden’s ballad, is interrupted twice by chaotic riffs and unsettled passages. She must be in love with the warrior who at once is fierce and romantic, aggressive and vulnerable.

I’m going to tell these stories with my guitar tomorrow and Saturday, as if I know them. I’m the only source of the knowledge of these great tales. Maybe I’m just making them up. Maybe I’ve forgotten what happened next and am embellishing this part a little. Poetic license. I’m going to keep you on the edge of your seat as you listen intently to find out what happens next.

So I’ll implant David as the warrior with the harp. I know the stories about David, can’t make anything up here, there is enough accurate music to cover the recorded events of his life. So I’ll explore the emotional and spiritual in the stories; his and those around him and mine on hearing and thinking on these events.

I’ll be the maiden in love; a member of the body that is Christ’s bride, made pure again by His provision. The lyrical counterpoint that is peace in His care and His desire to work through me to accomplish his plans. The chaotic interludes when I try to go off on my own, or misunderstand what He is doing, or simply disobey. The return of the lyrical counterpoint as I resolve to trust, as I am reminded of His sovereignty. The musical ellipsis that implies that the story goes on...

Ahh, the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil. All around the echoes of my sin grow loud as the one from whom I am running tries to conjure up guilt that the One who is leading me through has taken away from me. Those echoing whispers of who I was before I was taken by the hand and lead out at full force by Him who has conquered this valley and took me to be a part of His bride.

So if you come hear me play, you’ll know what is going on in my head as my fingers try to find the words to say. I hope you’ll care enough to translate it to a language you can understand. One that speaks to you.

© 2003 rod lewis


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Insatiable Longing

This summer I did a worship service in which I included this quote from St. Bernard of Clairvaux almost 900 years ago,

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

I included this because it voices a sentiment for which I have often been criticized, to ask for a deeper drink of the living water. I felt that expressed so eloquently and being so ancient, perhaps the thought could be accepted without so much reluctance. Here is a passage that A. W. Tozer calls a “holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will be instantly understood by every worshiping soul.” But express this same desire in the context of a modern worship song and you will be criticized for experiential shallowness, for longing for something that you have already been given.

Lord we want more of You
Living water, rain down on me
Lord we need more of You
Living Breath of Life, come fill me up.
We are hungry for more of You
We are thirsty for more of You.

I’ve heard, “what the heck does that mean? How dare we want more from Jesus when He has given us His all.”
Tozer states that the place at which I am so often told we should have received all that satisfies, is not the end at all, but the inception. That is where we begin, “but where we stop, no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.”
Interesting that “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” was a statement that seemed to be the final straw to prove to a skeptical Christian community that Bono couldn’t possibly know Jesus. All while we encouragingly quote, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on…”

It seems to me that in our attempt to realize the greatness of God, we have made Him unapproachable even by the blood of Jesus. We have academically explained Him to the point that we’ve boxed Him up and made Him small, able to be discussed, described, predicted. In Tozer’s words, since we have found Him we need no more to seek Him. “…it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshiping, seeking, singing church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture…”
Tozer (not Rod) goes on to say,

The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

Do you understand the holy paradox? Are you a worshiping soul?

Quotes from A. W. Tozer, The pursuit of God, (1948)


Monday, November 03, 2003

Think About It

The kids and I have an accidental pastime while riding in the truck. We discuss the lyrics to songs.
“I see Jesus riding on a white horse, hero calling from the sky…”
“Strength in numbers, all you need are two – everyone’s a winner, while still so many lose…”
“why do you let us walk upon a cliff so steep, when deep below the sea there lies a bed of gold?”
The kids say, “dad, what is ‘white ribbon day’.” “Hey dad, I looked up that ‘wheel within a wheel thing’.”
These are just the most recent. My kids enjoy songs that you have to figure out. I believe that their teaching stays with you longer. Anything that requires you to think will no doubt have a greater impact on your life.

As obvious as this seems to me, it seems almost offensive to most people. Christian music is categorized by lyric content, and that by words rather than meaning. It is more important for a song to mention a concept than to actually teach you something about that concept. It is more important for a song to contain the words, “christian life” than to actually be an expression of Christian life. That is why Church is so devoid of art these days. Art requires thought and contemplation. We are so used to cutesy clip art, fuzzy rhyming poems, and cyber hugs that we don’t recognize the value in art. We’d rather be reminded of what we already know than learn to go deeper.

An oft heard complaint is that songs don't make clear enough who or what they're talking about. Could be about anyone. The meaning is not obvious enough for the message to get through. HUH? It seems to me that allegory is a thinking art that comprised almost the whole of Jesus' teaching style. Jesus knew that people would be more apt to listen and think themselves to His meaning if He presented them with a masked message. Jesus said that He wasn't preaching anything new. It was all there in the law and the prophets. Why did it sound so new and fresh and radical and interesting and ridiculous?

Sometimes it seemed he even spoke in riddles. Riddle me this, Peter, “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot have eternal life in you". Riddle me this, Nicodemus, “no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again". Riddle me this Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water."

I think probably the reason that the simple message seems to get through more easily, is because we all already know what it is going to be. We’ve tuned out, and still get the message. We hear it. We can recite it. We can predict it. But it has long since ceased to make an iota of a difference in our lives. It has become an idiom whose words have nothing whatever to do with its meaning. I am not asking permission to bring a new message, even Jesus didn’t do that. I’m just asking that I not be discouraged from presenting the old story as a testimony; as something that has affected me and I want to share.

© 2003 rod lewis


Sunday, November 02, 2003

An Unrepresentative Representation

Once I performed in a master class for an extremely well-known guitarist who is not known for his knowledge or repertoire of contemporary music. He happened to be in the process of broadening his horizons and he was searching for contemporary works to add to a new recording. One of the other performers in the class played for him, “The flight of the lovers through the valley of echoes” from Leo Brouwer’s, “El Decameron Negro”. This piece, in three movements is quite possibly my favorite piece ever written for guitar. The student played it fairly well and the teacher, having never heard it before, was impressed with the piece. He expressed his interest and asked the student to play the first movement as well. The student, ill-prepared, butchered it beyond recognition. The teacher, in his unfamiliarity, was unable to differentiate between a poor performance of a good piece, and an indicative performance of a poor piece. He exclaimed, “oh, I don’t like that very much”, and so was turned off to the piece forevermore.
I have thought about this incident often since that day, realizing my responsibility to do justice to that which I choose to represent. I realize too, that the listener also had a responsibility to learn to discern between the quality of the performance and the quality of the piece. This insight has shaped the way I view my work in training people to give a representative performance, to learn to recognize quality stuff even when done poorly, and to learn to recognize poor stuff performed well.

©2003 rod lewis


Saturday, November 01, 2003

Happy Sentences

Christians often use the scriptures as a magic eight ball. We are using them to support what we already believe to be true, rather than reading them to find out what is True, what to believe. One simply takes his preconceived opinion and finds an out-of-context passage to support his views. This is also why so many skeptics find contradictions in the Bible. They are using the Bible as a reference text rather than a method book.
I hear things like, "I didn't know if I was good enough to win the tennis tournament, but I remembered my favorite scripture, 'I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength'". News flash: That passage has nothing to do with tennis tournaments; nor does it have anything to do with God giving you the ability to accomplish your goals. What it does mean is that through Christ's strength, one can learn to be content in whatever circumstances he finds himself. "Through Christ's strength, I will rejoice in a loss in this tennis tournament." In Christ's strength, I can be content in times of plenty; in Christ's strength, I can be content in times of need.
"Happy sentence" dependence on scripture is, I believe, a symptom of the need to justify our desires and circumstances, and find superficial encouragement for ourselves and others.
We desire to learn only what we want to learn; to learn only what we can see will help us immediately. God desires a relationship with us that is long-term. He doesn't want us to always seek specific answers to specific problems, or to seek encouragement for specific challenges, or to gain "soundbite" knowledge of scriptural happy sentences that we apply to our lives haphazardly. God wants us to listen to what He is saying through His word, to let Him apply His wisdom to the areas of our lives that He sees need work. He wants us to live and learn and grow in Him so that when we face challenges, we can draw on the vast amounts of wisdom that He has implanted in us through a life long relationship with Him.
Seldom as a child, did I ever ask my Dad specific how-to questions. I never asked him how to mow the lawn, or change the oil or wire a light switch. But from being around my Dad and having a relationship with him, these things were passed on to me, ready know-how for when I needed them.
Topical applications may kill the germs on the surface, or provide temporary relief of pain associated with a problem, but they cannot rid one of the underlying infection. This requires surgery. Sometimes God's surgery can take years to complete, but rest assured that when He is finished, you will be spiritually well, wise, and confident. All you have to do is trust Him that through your faith, He is growing you, preparing you and cleaning you.

©2002 by rod lewis