Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week Five

The Discipline of Submission

This week's blog is a little overdue.... good thing I'm not gettin paid for it, right? Oh... and good thing only 3 people read it :) Hahaha. I digress... At the moment I'm having a hard time focusing on last week's lesson because I'm in the middle of learning the meaning of simplicity in my complex world while getting ready for next week's solitude. For the week of solitude I have the awesome opportunity to spend a week in a cabin.... alone... in the middle of nowhere. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. Well, I could... but I'm leaving in the morning, so how bout I just tell you what all God did when I get back!And I also can't tell you where it is... because knowing some of my friends I'm sure I'd get a few scares :(

As I began reading about submission I don't think I realized how hard it would be to actually "do." One thing it did do was make me even more aware of my stubbornness and independent nature (which some may call a tad selfish). Being 32 and single definitely has it's perks (like freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want...etc) but the downside to that "freedom" would be the struggle to lay down my own rights to care for others needs above my own. I'd have to say one of the most valuable things I'm learning through this is how to maintain the teachable spirit no matter what age, color, status, or sex. Doesn't matter whether you are married, single, have 15 kids or none... God desires for us to always be teachable, submitting to His authority above all else.

Now... it's very rare you'll ever catch me taking medication of any sort but last monday (first day of this discipline) I found myself at a painful crossroads. Do I stick to my guns, try to do it my way and potentially continue on with the most ungodly pain in my mouth?? Or do i just submit to those who probably know best in this situation and try and kill the infection their way. Welp, that was my first lesson... and as I submitted to the wisdom of the docs as I simultaneously prayed through it and used a few of my hippie remedies as well :) Point being, I had to lay down my own stubborn rights and completely trust in God as I put my life in other's hands. Thank goodness I did too... because by monday afternoon I had an emergency root canal and now feel 100% better!!!

Unfortunately, the discipline of submission has been more abused than any other disciplines. We must be very careful of some religious teachings on this so as not to be manipulated or controlled by deficient teaching that certainly do not edify the body of Christ as the word reveals. The goal of this discipline is freedom... and the second we take our eyes off the main focus we turn it into a law and become enslaved to it.

Just like I mentioned before in my story... it's an awful burden to always need to have your own way in life. Many negative emotions will arise as those who have a false need for this control demand that everything must go their way. As we submit "biblically" we are released from the bondage of this and now enabled to distinguish between authentic issues and stubborn self-will.
Richard Foster puts it best, "The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people." He also mentions that in submission we are finally free to really value other people and their lives, rejoicing in their successes and feeling genuine sorrow in their failures.

I have a friend who started a ministry and has several orphanages overseas. Recently he has had workers leave his place and begin to do some pretty awful things in the name of Jesus. These things are now beginning to concern their ministry as well as the orphans they take care of. It is a VERY ugly situation and the easiest thing to want to do would be to desire these people to be exposed and destroyed. I mean... we have grown up in a society that favors people to be punished for their actions. If someone says or does something bad, we want them to suffer for the pain they've caused. Rarely does our society believe in second chances... even more uncommon do we give people yet another chance or two.

It's hard to admit that I too have been in that place at one time. I remember looking at these little tiny girls in Cambodia who were already in and out of the sex slave ring and wanting to hurt the men who do this to them. But all that will do is give you anger problems and send you down a rabbit trail that leads to absolutely nowhere except to the powers of darkness. You see, even the victimizers or the perpetrators of whatever crime... are and have been victims themselves. As you become aware that you are a son or daughter of the king... their orphan spirit becomes more and more evident. Ultimately people do really bad things because they are truly unaware of God's amazing unconditional love for them therefore disconnected from the Creator of all that is good.

But just like my friend's orphanage and the bad decisions of the people that are intentionally (or unintentionally) hurting God's kids... the question becomes.... What does God want for them?? And I hope you honestly ask yourself that question tonight and have the courage to search for the answer, draw conclusions that align with the word, and perhaps even prepare to shift your thinking . Because if even the "thought" of hatred is murder in the Lord's eyes... then do we not deserve the same punishment?

All I know is that the more we submit to His authority... the more we see ourselves as He does and are able to receive that love. When we do, the capacity for grace deepens for others and we are able to see them how God sees them and desire restoration for their lost souls. Our God is a God of redemption. No matter the crime we all deserve death... and no matter how hard it can be to forgive.... He forgave us so who are we to hold on to the right to be angry?

Foster goes on to explain the difference between self-contempt and self-denial to clear up any confusion on the subject of submission through Jesus' eyes: "Self-contempt claims we have no worth, and even if we do have worth, we should reject it. Self-denial declares that we are of infinite worth and shows us how to realize it. Self-contempt denies the goodness of the creation; self-denial affirms that it is indeed good. Jesus made the ability to love ourselves the prerequisite for our reaching out to others (Matt 22:39). Self-love and self-denial are not in conflict. More than once Jesus made it quite clear that self-denial is the only sure way to love ourselves. (Matt 10:39)".

Lastly Foster goes through the seven acts of submission which I will briefly describe for you:
1- The first act of submission is to the Triune God- We yield our body, mind, and spirit for his purposes.
2- The second act is to the Scripture- We yield ourselves to first hear the Word, receive the Word, then obey the Word.
3- The third act is to our family- It's a commitment to listen, willingness to share and make allowances for one another.
4- The fourth act is to our neighbors and others we meet throughout our daily lives- If they are in need.... we help them.
5- The fifth act is to the believing community (the body of Christ)- Small or large every bit of service helps.
6- The sixth act is to the broken and despised- we must discover ways to identify genuinely with the downtrodden and the rejected.
7- The seventh act is to the world- We must be determined to live as a responsible member of an increasingly irresponsible world.

When we follow the acts of submission in honor of our Father... we gain spiritual authority which runs completely counter to the thinking of the systems of the whole world. Ultimately, we live in an "upside-down" kingdom and have the opportunity to live this out on earth. There's so much more we could discuss in this topic... feel free to write your own thoughts or questions and we'll walk through this together :)

The life of John

John was the little brother of James, cousin of Jesus and second cousin of John the Baptist.... now that's what I call a family legacy!

An excerpt from "Eat this book" by Eugene Peterson says of John: "He is a commanding figure. He was a pastor of marginal, politically and economically powerless Christians in a society in which their commitment to following Christ branded them as criminals of the state. His task was to keep their identity focused and their lives spirit-filled, their discipleship ardent, their hope fresh against formidable odds- the living, speaking, acting Jesus front and center in their lives. He didn't settle for mere survival; he wanted them to LIVE, really live- outlive EVERYONE around them. This is what prophets and pastors and writers do, and it is never easy. No easier now that it was for John".

One of the reasons I love this so much is because of this line "...He didn't settle for mere survival; he wanted them to LIVE, really live- outlive EVERYONE around them." I would invest everything I have into this anthem because I truly believe that God wants to use us to release as much glory on this earth as possible. How can we do this if we are sick or dead?

I know crap happens... this world has so much toxic evil in it that gets into our very bloodstream... but I truly believe His WILL and desire is for us to be healthy and whole in pursuit of being detoxed by Him in our mind, body, soul and spirit and then being nourished by all things good. But God graciously gives us the authority to make those decisions and those decisions lead us down certain paths. I sure can't explain why bad things happen... but I do know that every single thing on earth has potential to release God's glory if we praise Him in light of our circumstances- good or bad. I don't believe he brings upon the bad... rather has to allow it in some cases (for we know He cares more about the condition of our heart). We must seek for more than just merely surviving... He wants us to THRIVE. Even though the world is getting worse, we have the opportunity for MORE JOY, MORE FULFILLMENT, AND MORE LIFE- ABUNDANTLY... simply because we walk around in the kingdom of heaven on earth in submission to Him.

John died at the age 94 in his sleep... preaching until his very death. No one is too old or too young to be used by the Lord! Jesus did not call us to be "christians"... that was actually a term to mock the Christ followers... instead He calls us to be true disciples which requires much discipline and faithfulness. But oh what a beautiful joy it is to lay down one's life for the one who loves us so.

training for the half-marathon

Last week was hard to get running in because of me being in Nashville with lots of people to see and not a whole lot of room to do much else other than my yoga school. I was able to squeeze an amazing hike in one of those days with an incredible friend, as well as run a time or two. Let's hope my endurance comes back quickly and I'm able to catch up before too long :)

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