Archive | November 2012

God Provides

… and sometime He provides through me!

You may have heard about the tornado that ripped through North Minneapolis in May of 2011. My house was one of the houses hit early on in its ravenous path. My wife was home with the dog and cat when it hit. The sirens never went off until it was too late. Michelle’s ears popped with the changing air pressure, which was enough to motivate her to get to the basement as fast as she could. By the time she got there the tornado had already passed.

On returning to the ground level, she started to laugh as she saw the extensive damage all around us, while it seemed that there was absolutely nothing significant done to our house. Praise God. In the end we got a new roof and new fence. We lost the truck, but the car was fine. Actually, the trees that fell on the truck were straddling the car on all sides leaving only a small dent on the hood. Praise God.

We weren’t the only ones who were hit. We have many friends who live in North Minneapolis and a good handful of them also suffered loss.

It was during this time that we felt that tug on our hearts to give to someone else who was in need. We asked Father and got a specific number. So, we gave. Giving isn’t very easy when you feel like you should be the one receiving help! (Can anyone say “entitlement complex”?!) But, we gave anyway.

Within a week we received an anonymous gift from someone from our church (Substance Church), who had heard about our own struggles. If you know anything about my God, you could probably guess it: the exact same amount that we had already given away. In the end, our generosity didn’t cost us anything. God provided and He continues to provide for His children. Bank on it.

A non-traditional look at the word “Sanctify”

This is a very small, immature apple tree that needs help standing up and probably won’t produce any fruit this year.
It is still an apple tree.

I was considering applying for a ministerial license through a really amazing organization. When I was filling out my Theological Profile I stumbled across question number 11. Wow, question number 11 threw me for a loop! So here’s a bit of what I found as I started to dig. (Click here to read the full paper w/ scripture references).

I don’t think I’m necessarily right (as many a more-brilliant man before me has taken a much different stance), but I do think it is an interesting perspective.

A FAIRLY COMMON CONCEPT OF SANCTIFICATION:

A forever process of becoming more God-like through trial and testing. Not possible to ever attain, but must be striven after for your entire life.

(Picture a rabbit with a carrot hanging off of a stick that is harnessed to the animal. It can never reach the carrot, but it sure can try hard to do so!)

#11. What is your understanding of sanctification? [I used NASB for the following references]

Sanctification is an act of being set apart for God alone, or to be set apart as holy
(uniquely and exclusively appointed for one thing alone).

You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you,who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the LORD.”

God himself was sanctified among men in Lev. 22:32 in connection to the use of his name. God’s name is set apart as being special, unique, uncommon and holy. There is a distinction between what is common (unsanctified) and holy (sanctified). Distinguished is another word that would be associated with being sanctified.

…do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

Jesus Himself was sanctified in John 10:36 and John 17:19. The Father sanctified Him and sent Him to earth. He was set apart for His specific role/mission. It is also possible that He was sanctified apart from the Father and Spirit in that He became human for all eternity. Before His human conception He was strictly divine, but in becoming human there was a setting apart from who He was into the man-God He became. What Jesus did not do is struggle to become more God-like for His entire life, this was not the purpose of His sanctification.

There were plenty of other things that were sanctified: The sabbath, priests, the first-born children of Israel, and the Levites (to replace the first-born as belonging to God) to name a few. None of these were sanctified so that they could struggle to become something that they weren’t, but rather so that they could be recognized for their unique and specific role that they had already been appointed into at the moment of sanctification. The sabbath didn’t have to try hard to be set apart as a day of rest, it only needed to be recognized and honored as such. The natural result of this recognition would be acting properly toward a day that was already set apart as holy.

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.

Followers of Christ ARE sanctified/set apart for the work and worship of God in 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:11, Acts 26:18, John 17:16-19, Hebrews 10:14, 10:10. This is not describing a continuous struggle of becoming more God-like, but a living out of an established reality.

Eph. 5:25-27 talks about us as the bride of Christ being washed with the water of the word and being sanctified as his bride. An interesting parallel is that washing was something that was done when the priests were set apart for their role as priests (Lev. 8:6) The bride of Christ is also a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and as such we can enter the Holy of Holies since we have been sanctified, cleansed, clothed and anointed (Lev. 8:7,12, Rev. 3:18). This is not something that is earned as we become more God-like, but is a current reality because we have been appointed into this position by Christ.

This is a very large, mature apple tree that can withstand huge gusts of wind and produces a crazy amount of fruit every year. It is still an apple tree.

The danger in redefining what “sanctification” really means is that many will assume that we don’t have to mature as believers. I would argue that true maturity is only realized through true recognition of who you are, and growing in that. If we continue to live our lives trying to be something we are not, we aren’t growing; we’re attempting evolution. And, that is done through human effort apart from the finished work of Christ. If, however, we recognize that in Christ we are new creations, the old being gone and the new having come (2 Cor 5:17), then we can grow in that.

Practically, this means living differently. You have been set apart so live out of that reality. Everything you do has been set apart as being uniquely and exclusively appointed for one thing alone. A bowl in the tabernacle could not be used for any other use but as an object of worship before God. Do not do things like you used to, in fact, think completely differently (Romans 12:1-2). The life you had before Christ showed up is gone. I’m sorry, but that person died (Romans 6, Gal 2:20). Live entirely differently in every area at every moment. Not in an attempt to become something, but because that is who you are. You, as a Christ-follower, are uncommon. You are holy. You are special. You are unique. You are set apart. You are sanctified. (Bonus: You are accepted!)

Realize it.

Act it.

The Cost of Integrity

Let me start off by saying that I’m guilty… or I was anyway. All this construction work you have been hearing about for the last months has all been done without pulling any permits. Yeah, I know. Not a great idea. But, as my building inspector just told me, “The important thing is that you did it right!” He was convinced that I had gotten some help or advice. I told him I’m just awesome… not really, but that would have been great. Dang it! You always think of the good responses way too late.

So,a few weeks ago I went in and pulled permits for everything I have been working on. That was terrifying. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Was I going to be required to undo everything I had already done? Was I going to have to take out my windows, cut out tile to look at the plumbing, tear off sheet rock to look at electrical, and completely re-haul my plumbing after I find out it’s not up to code (even thought it works perfectly fine). Does it mean I have to move out again while I fix everything? How much will it all cost in permit fees and additional work? How much longer will it take when I have a baby on the way who isn’t going to wait for me to finish the work. When baby wants to come out, baby comes out!

I spent a lot of time praying about everything. I went to bed confident that the next day I would go in and pull permits, but then the morning came and I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea anymore. I started thinking about everything that could go wrong and all the money and extra work that could be demanded of me. So, back to prayer I went.

I read about Noah who, “did everything exactly as God had instructed him.” So, I asked Daddy (the Heavenly one), “what do you want me to do?” Immediately and semi-clearly I got, “Go downtown and make this right.” I kept praying, wanting to be sure that this was the right thing to do. “Restore your integrity,” came to me. I started praying about how much this could cost me. “You’re not living for this world anyway… right?” came to me. Then I thought of some verses in 1 Peter.

Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong. But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you. If you suffer for doing right and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.

(Random collage of verses from chapters 2, 3 & 4)

I want you to know that God’s favor rests on his children. Often he shows us unmerited favor that we completely don’t deserve it. I deserve to have been caught in my law-breaking, to pay double the fee for the permits, and to redo everything that I had already done on the house. I want you to know that as I have walked in obedience to His direction and done “everything exactly as God has instructed me,” I have been blessed. I was blessed first with peace. I was blessed second with favor with the building review official who saw the scriptures I was reading while waiting to see him and said, “I gave that same translation to my sons.” I was blessed thirdly with favor with the HVAC and building inspector who showed up at the same time and were extremely kind and did not require anything unreasonable. I didn’t have to tear anything apart for them, they only gave me tips, suggestions, and two requirements that were easy to accomplish. I was blessed by the electrical inspector who told me I had to move my bath fan (anything requiring going into the attic is not fun) but, other than that, he said it all looked good.

Finally it came down to the big plumbing inspection. This one was where the big hurt came. The plumber whom God had divinely connected me with told me that he was going to have to redo everything for the inspection since it was done according to “function” not according to “super-strict Minneapolis code.” He said it would have passed anywhere else, but since the inspector was on his way, we should redo it ahead of time. I don’t blame him for this at all. This was my decision to pull the permits and I was willing to do whatever or pay whatever it took to make it right.

So, Michelle and I slept overnight at a friends house since we had to disconnect all the plumbing to the existing bathroom in order to isolate the newly installed lines and put 5lbs of pressure on them for the inspector. The inspector was gracious, although not entirely happy that I had done work that he couldn’t completely see (like the shower basin/rubber membrane). In the end he said everything looked great and I was good to go! Praise God.

So, how much does it cost to restore 9 months worth of integrity in  a matter of weeks? Well, for me it cost almost 2 grand and a month of work to get back to the “same place” I was at before-hand. Was it worth it? Definitely. The process alone of walking in obedience and uncertainty while trusting my Daddy to work it all out in the end was worth my effort in gold. That and the increased and sustaining peace as I responded to Holy Spirit! I would encourage anyone to take similar steps of faith to do everything with the utmost integrity, even if it looks as if you might “lose out”, all the while trusting that Father will provide everything else for you. He is a good Dad who knows how to take care of His kids. You can trust Him. He can easily provide everything I need monetarily, my only concern is to remain faithful to the Way of Jesus.

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19

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