Never confuse self-help with repentance. The roots of these two things are very different. Self help is concerned with personal development, becoming a better person. Repentance is concerned with turning towards God.- JE Lillie
With my senior Pastor away the next two Wednesdays I have the privilege of teaching two Bible studies. With such a short window I have opted for a verse by verse study through the book of Jude. Here are my notes on verse 1.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called: Jude 1:1
Here is what we know or think we know about the writer, Jude. His name is Jude. He says so. He is the brother of James and most people agree the brother of the Lord Jesus. Most Bible scholars believe Jude wrote his short but pointed book around the year 65 A.D. shortly before the deaths of Peter and Paul the apostles and just a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
We know by his own admission he is a servant or perhaps more properly a slave of Jesus Christ. The word he uses to describe himself is “doulos”. Paul uses the same word to introduce himself in the books of Romans, Philippians and Titus. James refers to himself as a “doulos” in the introduction of his book and so does Peter in both of his epistles.
A “doulos” is one who has given up his or her rights to follow and obey someone else. In Jewish culture a man could sell himself into seven years of slavery if he could not pay his bills. If at the end of the seven years he wanted to keep serving the man to whom he had sold himself he would pierce his ear at the master’s door post and become a slave for life. This is the picture Jude is presenting to us. He is a man who has given up his final rights and is bound to serve Christ for life.
One of the greatest indictments God ever brought to me in prayer was ” J you are serving me as if this were a democracy. You allow me to make the laws but you hold veto power.” How I need the heart and understanding of a doulos. When I became a Christian I gave up my rights. I gave them all to Jesus. Now I have the responsibility to obey so that God is able to protect me and save me!
Do you see yourself as a doulos? Do you like me ever struggle with the thought? What do you do with the struggle?
“Stop trying to fit a prayer into your life. Start fitting your life into a prayer.”- Je Lillie
“Resting Instead of rushing. Working instead of worrying. This is a key to the slow, constant, intentional life.”- JE Lillie
Over the weekend I attended a men’s prayer retreat and evangelistic services at our church. While I had some time to catch up on reading I did not find a good time to write; So this post is just a tad behind schedule.
Here are some of the thoughts God shared with me during the retreat in random order:
1. God is in the midst of challenging the church’s paradigm of giving. He is calling us to a new level of simplicity and sacrifice.
2. The best way to lose sight of temptation is to look at Jesus.
3. The prayer work God is calling His church to now is preparation for what lies in the future.
4. God is bringing His people to desperation so that they will seek Him.
5. Seek God and desperation will lose its edge.
6. Remember giving yourself to the social life of the church is not equivalent to being saved.
7. Many in the church long to grow close to the pastor rather than Jesus. This must not be encouraged. In the hours of desperation it will be just them and Jesus. They must know how to access the presence of God for themselves.
8. When people go to church to seek answers they often end up with shallow empty religion. When people go to church to seek Jesus they always end up with a vibrant living faith.
9. Faith works best when there is no natural hope.
10. Sometimes more is not always better, sometimes it is just more.
11. When Jesus comes in His kingdom the highest ranking officials, the most prestigious among us will not be governors or kings but those who worship in the temple. There is a deep privilege in prayer.
What has God been sharing with you in prayer lately?
Last Sunday I pulled a muscle while leading worship. Remember how I said my life was ironic? I couldn’t pull a bicep while playing baseball or by saving a baby from the jaws of a vicious dog….Ohhh nooo! I had to pull a neck muscle while hitting a high f! I’m pretty sure no one is going to give me a medal of valor for that one…Hah!
Anyway, this series of posts has been dogging me for about two weeks and I haven’t known how to start it. I guess this is as good a beginning to my story as any.
My head hasn’t let me forget my sissy wound since that service. On Tuesday after two Tylenol and an 800 milligram Motrin failed to calm my complaining grey matter I decided it was time to try taking a nap.
God asked, “What do you see?”
“Rain.” I said.
“You choose the view.” He continued.
As I look at this picture, I am amazed that I did not see the trees that sloped so gracefully skyward or the elegant curve of the red-tiled roof outside my daughter’s window. I saw only the rain, the one thing my camera didn’t really pick up as I look at it now.
Life-change is sort of like rain. It draws our attention. It would have us focus all our energy on itself to the extent that we lose our view of everything else that is going on in the background. If we focus on it too much life-change can bring us down.
Change itself is always unsettling because it steals our rhythm. It makes us feel uncertain and afraid of what lies ahead. Yet God is always working behind the change. If we can just look through the heavy mists we will see a world of blessing that is being washed and nourished by the very thing that is making us so nervous.
Changing your view doesn’t make change less difficult. It just helps you to see that the difficulty has a purpose…a reason. It’s not all for nothing! God has a plan.
In the next few days we will be talking about how change effects attitude, commitment, goals, relationship, and health. It’s not set in stone. Remember you choose the view!
How’s this for a quote?
When I visited Cliff and Andrea’s church in Maine this is the word their Pastor preached over me!
Many years ago God gave me a life mission. It was to “create a culture of worship”. My life is about inspiring others to turn to God and to lay their gifts and talents down before Him in worship.
It’s not about singing songs people! It’s about surrendering all we are to the One who made us in the first place.
So many things get in the way of that, though….Am I right?
This world makes it so easy to put God on the back burner…so easy to take our talents and use them for anything other than the Creator who created us.
In one of our conversations a few months ago God told me His artisans were having trouble finding time to give their gifts to Him amidst the hubbub of life. Time…busyness…distraction: These are all things I struggle with on a constant basis. If I allow it, they keep me from spending myself on the Savior.
I am convinced that there are artists of all different persuasions out there who just need an opportunity to come away from the world for a time to practice their artistry. Intentionality is hard; Sometimes we need God to come along and to help us set aside our lives for His purposes.
Tomorrow our church is opening up its doors to provide artists with time and a space to work in their mediums. We are calling it Cornerstone’s Artist Community Day Apart.
Painters, sketch artists, actors, vocalists, instrumentalists, writers, and wood carvers have all set the day aside to create for Jesus!
I’ll let you know how it goes!
What is the biggest hindrance to your creativity?
I am convinced that certain pass times were invented by God for the sole purpose of helping to inspire men to speak truthfully to one another about life’s deeper matters. Fishing, for instance, is a good way to get me to talk about more than the weather.
Not that I fish mind you. I tend to be a little dangerous with a rod and reel. But I like to watch; So when my brother-in-law and I walked up to the little pond behind the farm in Maine I knew we were in for a good conversation.
As he fished we talked about a lot of things: dogs, kids, fish, jobs, family, all the stuff you have to get out of the way so that you can actually talk about what’s on the inside. Then we went deeper.
As more of my men tumbled into the dungeons of Cliff’s queen our conversation turned to things spiritual.
Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend only to have the Holy Spirit hi-jack the thread in order to reveal His truth to everyone in the room? That’s what happened to Cliff and me. There we were between the death of pawns and rooks, discussing our personal walks with God, when suddenly Holy Spirit began to teach us both about how sanctification works.
We were talking about things we were going through and how hard we were both trying in different areas of our Christianity when suddenly this word just tumbled out between us.
“Christianity is meant to be accepted not accomplished.”
We both stopped, realizing that the words weren’t ours. I went for my notepad while we both kind of reeled in the shock of how God had just butted in with this thought.
It’s true though isn’t it? We started our Christian lives simply by accepting Jesus’ atoning death. We have to finish it up the same way. We can no more sanctify ourselves than we could redeem ourselves. Sure we need to be obedient to what the Spirit tells us, but in the end it’s all His work…all His power that makes us perfect.
“After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? “Gal. 3:3
I am always surprised by how God grants me exactly what I need, when I need it. Recently I needed inspiration. Here’s my story:
On the 3rd of July I left Massachusetts to go Down East. For those of you not from New England, that means I went to Maine. How that ends up being down and East to anybody other than Canadians I have no idea… but there you have it.
I began feeling a push in my spirit to visit my northern brothers a few months ago. So when my brother-in-law invited me up, I decided it was time to go. I wasn’t really sure about the why. But I did plenty of praying about it on my journey up, and as usual the Spirit answered full measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing!
As you travel north along the coast, the sandy beaches of York and Ogunquit give way to the rocky ocean outcrops Maine is so famous for. Here in the bays of Camden, Waldosboro, and Wiscasset the great ship building industry of Maine was born early in our nation’s history. This is where I travelled too…though when I started I didn’t really know why.
Holy Spirit began to show me almost as soon as I left that this was going to be a weekend of refreshing for my heart and a time of inspiration for my mind.
As I started out, God told me to take my time. Then He proceeded to make sure I would obey His command by sticking me in a traffic jam for three hours! 😎 When my arrival time came and went and I hadn’t even reached the Maine border I called Cliff and told him I would be along as soon as I could leave the NH parking lot.
Through it all I felt so much peace. I prayed and God was my driving companion. He shared His thoughts and I descended deeper into His presence even as He and I had a heart to heart that evidently was long overdue.
I’m so thankful that God always knows what we need and when we need it. As a Maniac for a weekend I learned so much and I have much to share with you all!
See you tomorrow!