Fresh Fire

Caught by parable, caught by prayer–caught hesitating at the edge of the abyss–we are led gently but surely into the depths where we can develop a spirituality adequate to our calling. –Eugene H. Peterson, Under The Unpredictable Plant, An Exploration in Vocational Holiness


What are we to do with the frauds and fakes that surround us?

We are confronted with them with frightening regularity.

(And what about the stuff within–my own flaws and failures?)

We all have our own version of, “Fake-it ‘Til You Make-it” right?

Yeah, right.

This latest scandal with Ravi seems to be hitting me with a secondary shock wave that is larger than the first one was.

(And I confess, that one hit me pretty hard.)

So I went looking…

Kindle is always my first stop. I wanted another writer who knew what I was going through and could maybe help me deal with my own inner chaos.

I hate it when my heroes crash and fall. I’ve been through it so many times, you’d think I’d learn, right? The key seems to be balance; finding that encouraging inspiration, while keeping your feet on The Rock of a personal and deeply intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

But daily Bible reading aside, sometimes, you need someone with the same flesh-n-blood frailty that you are facing.

I know, God is our ultimate help in every issue of life, but sometimes? I need to talk to someone down in the trenches (like me) who is limping, and doesn’t want to embrace any of the shabby crutches the world offers. But instead, wants genuine authenticity that will help lead to wholeness and deep heart transformation.

Heroes and Villians

I can hardly wait for Francis Chan’s new book to come out, Until Unity.

(I smiled to myself when I saw it on Amazon, “Unity?” I thought. “You must be kidding!”)

I’ll confess to you, I hate labels, especially denominational labels. I hate how divided we are as His church! It was never meant to happen this way, and personally, I believe that Christ is coming back for a Church without spot or blemish (read Jude).

Yeah, we His Church are a mess most of the time, but this recent series called The Chosen has been helping me to see–it was that way from the very beginning.

Jesus chose misfits, outcasts, and well let’s face it, downright degenerates for His followers.

He took a good look at the religious leaders of the day and said, “No thanks. I’m looking for desperate.”

DESPERADOS: please apply

Google defines a desperado as:

a desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal.

Similar: bandit, criminal, outlaw, renegade, marauder, raider, robber, lawbreaker

We forget don’t we? God just doesn’t look at people like we do. He looks at their heart. Which puts all of us at great disadvantage right off, ’cause we can’t SEE into anyone’s heart, even though we often act like we can.

Therefore, elevating heroes to dizzying heights, as well as pummeling those fallen heroes of ours, as dastardly villains? Well, it just doesn’t fit does it? It wasn’t Jesus’ MO. We who know “our calling to love,” should know better. Besides, though I was appalled by Ravi’s ungodly behavior (as recently revealed,) his message I always found to be spot on, and still do.

So why is his crash still haunting me all these months later?

Is any of this resonating with anyone else?

These are the questions I was asking myself, and pondering, without much success. That is, until I found the beginnings of some answers in a fellow struggler named, Eugene H. Peterson:

There is an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what God calls us to do. Our ideas of what we can do or want to do are trivial; God’s ideas for us are grand.

It is not our feelings that determine our level of participation in life, nor our experience that qualifies us for what we will do and be. It is what God decides about us. God does not send us into the dangerous and exacting life of faith because we are qualified; he chooses us in order to qualify us for what he wants us to be and to do.

Peterson, Run with the horses

Okay, that helps… a little.

Heroes In Vessels of Clay

That’s the real truth fellow strugglers. We are all trying to be heroes for someone.

But let’s face the grim truth:

We have this treasure in vessels of clay. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

All of us are-but dust.

This latest pastoral tragedy painfully reminds me again.

And again, it is Peterson (speaking of his own pastoral struggles with holiness) who brings my “lofty ideals” back down to terra firma where they belong:

I take it as a given that all of us would prefer to be our own gods than to worship God. The Eden story is reenacted daily, not only generally in the homes and workplaces of our parishioners but quite particularly in the sanctuaries and offices, studies and meeting rooms in which we do our work. The only difference in the dynamics of the serpent’s seduction in the explicitly religious workplace is that when pastors are seduced, our facility with the language provides us with a thesaurus of self-deceiving euphemisms. Our skill in handling religious concepts gives us above-average competence in phrasings things in such a way that our vocational shift from tending the Garden to running the Garden, our radical fall from vocational holiness to career idolatry, goes undetected by all but the serpent.

Fresh fire and first love

We all stand on level ground before the cross don’t we?

This is extremely important to remember–pastors and parishioners alike.

Our HOPE is Christ IN US.

(Selah.)

We (and Jesus) are the only ones who truly know when our inner fire has become nothing more than a smoldering wick.

It is up to us, and us alone, to plead for His help.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Revelation 2:4-5 KJV

Indeed, when our heart’s first love has fallen prey to those idols we fool ourselves into believing, are mere temporary indulgences, we find our hearts are growing colder and more desperate.

Pruning and Crushing

I have reminded myself again, that in order to tend a healthy vine, there must be regular pruning.

In order to make new wine there must be crushing.

It is all part of the process.

Whether that is transformation in ourselves, or His Church, wholeness and holiness is the primary goal.

And for that? He will always have the last word.

Take heart you disconsolate, His help, is on the way.

I believe.


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