So many good things to teach and so little time. Like every parent with young adults, I feel like my days are beginning to rush. I see loved ones and friends longing for peace and rest and joy and I want to be a help. The lessons I’m learning in these days are beginning to affect what I am teaching and I want it to affect the way I teach. I’m learning that teaching must be more than just filling a mind bucket with right information. There is a kind of gut-level magnetism in people’s soul that must be affected. I long for others to be driven by and toward loving God himself. Augustine said, “You [God] have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until our heart rest in you” (Augustine, Confessions). I want to be a help pointing to the rest in God himself.
While I don’t completely know how this shapes my teaching yet, I am becoming keenly aware that everyone is moving in a direction. One author put it this way, “We are not just static containers for ideas; we are dynamic creatures directed toward some end.” (James Smith, You Are What You Love). The thing we love most at a gut level is pulling us, leading us, directing us toward an end. Like a dog to a piece of meat, we can’t not move towards the thing we love most. We are moving in that direction because at a gut level, we love the end we are headed for. How can we help move people in a direction of loving God most?
The end that Paul desired for his loved ones in Phil 1:9-11 and in so many other places was the abounding love of Christ. “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” What a great end to long for, to direct us, to pull me along.
Where are you headed? What do you love? What are you teaching your loved ones?
“If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also.” (Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
There are days that I feel too much like the Jekyll and Hyde of Stevenson’s imagination. There are days I wake up as well intentioned as Dr. Jekyll. Yet in one lax exchange I can become Mr. Hyde. In a moment of fear and pride the inclinations of my flesh take over. Everyone around me sees the fruit; an argumentative spirit, a defensive posture, a lazy hour, a boastful smile, brooding isolation. Go read Paul’s explanation of this craziness in Roman 7.
In Stevenson’s story, Dr. Jekyll has no help to escape his growing sensation of guilt and “out of control.” Mr. Hyde’s appetite was increasingly evil and he was ever blind to his motivations. And this right up to the tragic end. I’m so glad to know this is where fantasy and reality part ways! Even in the worst of our stories, our reality is far more hopeful! Paul’s Roman’s 7 ends with “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” And we all know the triumphant proclamation of Roman’s 8:1!
This is ever saints story. I was reminded of the sweetness of this life we live in Christ as I sat with a friend, broken and repentant over sin. The Holy Spirit had interrupted their life and brought clarity to the needy state of their heart. With truth and counsel there is now a growing thoughtfulness of the affects of their sin on others; family members, the church, the community. And even mid sentence tears of brokenness are not devoid of a sweetness of worship and gratitude expressed to our God. I was encouraged and reminded that though there is very real suffering from the affects of sin, there is also hope in our gracious God who did not spare even His own son for the redemption of people like us.
Be encouraged church! God is changing us!
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven…” Colossians 1:21-23
15 people from LCC recently traveled to the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation national conference to be better equipped for ministry, life, and friendship. I asked Jill Butler, Shepherding & Counseling Coordinator at LCC, to write a summary for all to learn from what we learned. Here is what she wrote:
I am needy… no that’ s not easy for me to say, though I’m learning that God requires me not just to admit it, but delight in all that it means. Last week I had the privilege of going with a few others from LCC to the Side By Side conference hosted by the Christian Counseling Education Foundation. For 3 days we discussed how we journey together as believers through many different circumstances. The first main session was titled “Our Neediness is God’s Gift”. I read the brief summary of the session and thought, “I should like this a whole lot more than I do.” I struggle with seeing my neediness as a good thing. It didn’t take long for the speaker of the session, Ed Welch to connect our neediness to our faith in God. He said, “Faith is your dependence on another. Faith means I need Jesus, I am weak.”
I love my God, I love that He has called me and saved me by the work of his Son, so why do I wrestle with being weak and needy? There is a direct line between what I believe about my neediness and what I believe about my God. I struggle with neediness because I struggle with my identity. I want God and others to think well of me. My fear is that if people see my neediness than they will see how unaccomplished I really am. That fear takes root in my heart and I start to believe the lie that I shouldn’t be weak and needy. When I believe that lie, I have to start hiding where I am not doing well. I have to cover up instead of inviting the Spirit and others in, when the truth is so much sweeter than that. I am not just free to be needy and weak, but I am called to be! This is where I need to run to the Gospel of grace, I get to rest in the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 “… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” It’s my joy to be found weak and needy so that He may be found strong. My identity is defined by the work of Christ. In my weakness I get to be free to be accepted by Christ not because there is anything good in me, but because Christ is good. It is there where the striving of performance stops and the understanding of my neediness gives me rest!
See Jill if you are interesting in listening to the audio from the conference, I’m sure she’d be happy to have you learn about your neediness too