NOTE: This article is taken from the archives as I'm busy finishing up my first book, "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" this week.
DO YOU FEEL YOURSELF SHRINKING?
BY KEITH GILES
"And John replied, 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'" John 3:30 (NIV)
Do you feel yourself shrinking? Do you feel Christ becoming more and more "at large" in your life? I don't. If anything, I feel the opposite. Most of my day is filled with the pursuit of my wants and concerns about my needs, thinking about my plans, and praying about my dreams.
Jesus? Oh, He's there. But He's not taking over. More and more I'm starting to realize that I really want Him to take over. I need Him to take over.
What I need is for Christ to permeate my life. I need to sense his presence all the time. I need to hear his voice. I need to know his heart for people. I need to take His words to heart and start living them out in my actual life.
When you reach this point in your life, you begin to realize the simple power and wisdom of the Spiritual Disciplines. Suddenly the idea of fasting and observing silence and simplicity become things that your very soul craves.
To many of us, the idea of Spiritual Discipline sounds like a means to take away our freedom in Christ. A way to drag us down and force us to observe the Law. That's not what the Disciplines are all about.
Sure, some churches and more than a few leaders, have misused the Disciplines in the past. Sometimes we can allow others to place their expectations of perfection upon us and bind us up in the pursuit of an outward appearance of Holiness.
But, when a follower of Christ reaches the place where they realize that their flesh is much too weak, even when their spirit is most willing, the Disciplines become an escape route from the bondage of sinfulness.
The Spiritual Disciplines are like turning the spoon away from your own mouth and using it to dig a tunnel under the fence of sin and into the sunlight of freedom.
Jesus' parable of the Pearl Of Great Price (Matthew 13:44), where those who find a great treasure joyfully run out and sell everything in order to get it, is a great picture of what our attitude should be. We're not to worry about how much the pearl costs, we should be worried that we might not be able to sell things fast enough to get the money to buy that pearl.
When we truly understand just how utterly fantastic God's Kingdom really is, as compared to our own kingdom, then the idea of giving up time and food and money and worldly success is nowhere near as precious.
Jesus has some pretty strong words for those who call themselves by His name in Luke chapter 14, verse 27. He says "..Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
Taking up my cross means my own death. It means the end of my personal kingdom and the beginning of His.
My prayer is that God would give me the strength to daily deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him. I want to go where He's going. I want to walk with Him.
What will it cost me? My car? My house? My dreams? My job? Great. What else? I want to kick my kingdom to the ground and dance while it burns.
I'm ready to follow Him now. "He must increase, I must decrease."
Do you feel yourself shrinking?
By Keith Giles
APOLOGY: The guys at FEEDBLITZ have been having a rough time lately sending out these e-newsletters to everyone. The last one was posted on Tuesday evening but most of you didn't see it until Friday or Saturday. I apologize for the delays but so far there's not much I can do about it. If this problems persists I will look into switching over to a new service.
SHANE CLAIBORNE'S COMMUNITY DESTROYED BY FIRE
Philly Fire Destroys Simple Way Community Center
"Fabric of our community life changed forever."
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[Subversive Underground] Presents:
THE NON-CON '08
March 2008 in Orange County, California
With Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis and 100 others
Find out more:
SOLITON SESSIONS- August 9-12, 2007
*I'll be there, hope to see some of you there also...