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Kera Package | Archive | December, 2009
Archive - December, 2009

“The truly spiritual man is… an oddity”

A.W. Tozer was truly a prophet of his time. While I do not agree with everything he said or wrote, I truly believe that he was a man seeking God with all his heart. I can only hope and pray that I live a life that devoted to the cause of Christ. While I find his life inspiring, I also find it challenging. Tozer was also a rather lonely man and his writings express how Christianity can be a lonely road to travel. He reminds me of the reality that faith- while designed to be expressed within community- is still a journey in which one must ultimately walk with God and God alone.  Here is an excerpt that I have been pondering for a while:

The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord’s house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, “He has seen a vision.”

The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life’s summum bonum.

Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer as it were caught up to the third heavens and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. “God will not suffer you to lose anything by it,” he told them. “You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you.” This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.

The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful “adjustment” to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.”

I don’t think that Tozer is saying that every Christian is destined to be utterly lonely, as he also championed life within community.  What I do think he is saying is that it is almost impossible to feel accepted by the world and live a Christian life. Christianity that is fully understood, socially tolerated and without opposition isn’t truly Christianity. John 17, and elsewhere, expresses that we should live in the world, but not be of the world. Living within something without being a part of it is difficult and is sure to be trying. In fact Jesus says that the world will hate us as it hated Him if we are truly following His teachings and His will.  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19) And, when much of the church has embraced the world, it becomes a lonelier route for those committed to Christ.

In the midst of a lonely world, Christ promises us that He did not abandon us to be orphans (John 14:18); He left the gift of His Spirit to comfort and to guide.  As the psalmist writes, The Spirit never leaves us alone. 

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,  your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139: 7-10

Though life may seem lonely at times, I am never alone as a Christian because His Spirit is always with me.

Typecasting…

When I was in middle school, I loved the movie Reign of Fire and thought that dragons were awesome because of their mythological merit. Every year from then until I came to college, anytime anyone in my famly saw a dragon, they purchased the item and stored it away until a gift-giving occasion.

My family loves to do a little gift-giving typecasting. For my mom, it’s angels. My one cousin, elephants; another, pigs; yet another, monkeys. My uncle, firetrucks or Elvis. My aunt, snowmen. I could go on, but you get the picture.  According to handy-dandy Wiki, typecasting is “the process by which an actor is strongly identified with a specific character, role, or trait“.  Most actors fear being typecast because it pidgeon-holes them into a box from which they can never escape. For the most part, my family embraces their recieving roles; as they are typecast because they generally respond favorably to their gifts.

I, on the other hand, was never a huge fan of the process. When I was little, I was typecast according to my favorite color. By the time I was in fifth grade, I vowed to never wear purple again because I was so sick of seeing it. Over the years, I have lost my affinity for skulls, dragons, Harry Potter, skateboarding and basketball.  You see the trend?  Like most actors, I have never been fond of being labeled and pidgeon-holed.

Interestingly enough, my family’s gifts for me have developed a new theme in this whole typecasting process. This time the stereotype is one that I can’t help but smile about and embrace. I have now been typecast as the token Christian, and about a third of my gifts are some sort of trinket with a cross or a verse on it.
[An aside: a close runner up in themes this year: my car! Mighty Mouse is still off the road; she needs a new transmission... but when she's powered up again, she will have some style and accessories. =] .. yay! Not to mention, people have generously been giving time, resources, and money towards getting her back on the road. Hopefully, she’ll come back to DC with me before the semester starts.]

 Typecast as the Christian. Hmm, can’t think of anything better to be labeled. After all, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal: 2:20)

Though, I must also say that I do not feel worthy of such a label. My desire is that people see the reflection of Jesus in me, but I am not quite there yet. Since I have already been typecast the role and chosen as more than an actor but a co-heir with my King… I need to continue to grow and develop into that character, the character of Christ. Only the real clincher is: this isn’t at all an act or a fad that will fade away- It’s who I am, who I was meant to be. 

This time I don’t mind being pidgeon-holed. Let them “label me a Jesus freak. There ain’t no disguising the truth”  The truth is that “You are the only thing that’s beautiful in me”. And, I am so grateful that others see that You, Jesus, are the most important thing in my life and the only thing that is sure to bring a smile to my face.  =]

Merry Christmas!

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this commerical, and since most people who stumble across my blog do not speak fluent Pittsburghese or understand why we put coleslaw on sandwiches… I would be guilty of a grave injustice if I did not share some PA holiday cheer with my online friends. This Eat n Park holiday commerical is life changing. It is totally what the holiday is all about…. and, well, Jesus of course- but nowadays what does Jesus have to do with Christmas anyhow? Opps, my bad, but that’s a rant for another day.

For now, watch this and enjoy… and if I don’t write or talk with you before then… Merry Christmas!!

 Introducing the best holiday comerical ever!

Risking redudancy.. and sharing some thoughts for the new year

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you may have already seen this… but in case you have not efficiently stalked me lately, I want to share this with you. Moreover, I want to stamp and date this so that I can remember it in the future.

From my current facebook status:

Kera Package believesthat Hebrews 6 is the chapter of the new year: “Therefore let us leavethe elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity… And Godpermitting, we will do so” . Grabbing onto that vision: a deeper faithin year to come. =]

I have been praying through this chapter for about a week, and I truly believe that it is the world for the new year for me, for Chi Alpha, for those in my community of faith, and for the greater Church as a whole. This chapter of Hebrews is beautiful, encouraging and challenging.

At the end of chapter 5, the author says that we are slow to learn and still infants feeding on the bare necessities  and that “solid food is for the mature” (v14) . I don’t know about you, but I want to be SOLID. In the first three lines of chapter 6, the author tells us to accept the six basic tenets of Christianity and to mature towards a deeper faith. v3 says “God willing we will do so”. God wants us to mature in faith, and it is only by His will that we can do so. No one matures in faith without God, but God desires to take everyone deeper.

After a warning about backsliding and apostasy,  the author tells us about the good soil that soaks up the rain and receives the blessings of God (v7).  Those who drink deeply of the Spirit and of the nourishment God gives through His word, presence, and community of believers, will receive great blessing and will be fruitful. v9 continues on to say that “we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation”. Christianity is more than being saved, it’s about stepping into God’s promise. The promise we have as His sons and daughters to co-labor in His Kingdom. The promise that death and the Enemy have been defeated, and that we can ask anything in His name and it will be done. The promise that we will do even greater things than He did to bring glory to His name. Stepping into that promise requires a proactive outlook and continued diligence. This passage warns us not to be lazy or timid, but to grab a hold of God’s promise, to act upon it, and to share it with others.

The passage concludes with this:

17Because God wanted tomake the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs ofwhat was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18Goddid this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossiblefor God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to usmay be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Whatever He promised us will come to be. God is true to His word. The Biblical promises for all people and the personal promises that He made to you and I, they will happen. The promise that He is coming back soon  will be fulfilled. There is so much hope in the word of God.  v19 advises us to use this hope – that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He does- as an anchor for our soul. Through the storms of life, our souls are stable in His promise. He has already entered the inner sanctuary to the holy of holy place and spoke on our behalf.

Jesus has already went before us in this world. He suffered death so that we may live eternally, and He walked on this earth physically to show us what humanity was made to accomplish. He has given us authority and has been interceeding as a priest of the highest order and will continue interceding forever.

This year, we will mature in faith because God wants us to and because Jesus is leading us along to a place that is a little closer to the throne room…. He is leading us toward an active faith where we act on His promises, where we enforce the things He has already done here on earth, where we show the world that we truly believe this stuff by acting like we believe it.

I’m soo excited for a new year, and a new level of faith… and as I am getting pumped up, the Deluge song Open up the Sky is stuck in my head.

“Here we go. Let’s go to the throne.
The place where we belong. Right into His arms
We won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary.
We won’t be satisfied at all”

How can we be satisfied with the basics of faith when there is always more to know of God, always greater understanding? I can’t be satisfied, but I can move closer… and I think it’s time to go a little deeper. =]

Learning to sing a new song… within my heart:

“Hello, angel of God here. Don’t be freaked out or anything… but God has supernaturally impregnated you.  He kinda likes you, and wants you to be the momma of his son- well actually, his word incarnate who will atone for the sins of the entire word. No worries though.  You won’t have to sleep with a man; the kid will just pop out because God put him in there. And, your cousin is having an unexpected kid too. See, it’s all good, God can do whatever He wants.” – A kpaxian paraphrase of Luke 1:26-37

When I read the account of Gabriel talking to Mary, I cannot imagine what it would be like being on the receiving end of that message.  I can honestly say that I would have freaked out.  “You want me to do what?!? Nope, there is no way I am risking my engagement to endure nine months of pregnancy  and the judgmental looks of everyone and their brother.. and without ever having sex.” Actually, I am pretty sure that my words would have been a little stronger given my track record of fighting with God.

Yet, Mary responds completely differently than most of us would. She doesn’t fight, she doesn’t resist, she doesn’t even question. She simply says: “I am the Lord’s servant,”"May it be to me as you have said.” (v.38)

Wow, now that is an attitude to emulate. “Okay God, whatever you want, I’m game. Just make it happen”. Not only does she embrace her calling, she rejoices in her role in God’s plan. A few lines later, Mary sings one of the most well known songs in the Bible- The Magnificat:

And Mary said:
   ”My soul glorifies the Lord
    47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
,
 48for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    49for the Mighty One has done great things for me
      holy is his name…”

 Needless to say, I am always amazed at Mary’s response. However, the verse that I believe reveals the most about her character comes later in Luke 2:19

The Shepherds are marveling over her child, people are talking about how great he will be, and everyone in the stable is in awe of this infant. After months of being gawked for an illegitimate pregnancy and migrating for a census while pregnant, Mary finally gives birth and now everyone is crowding around her child.

Without any mentioning of her angelic visitation or her cousin confirming her supernatural experience, Mary simply “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”(v.19).

she said nothing of them to others, lest she should be thought an enthusiast, or a vain boaster; and therefore left things, till time should make a discovery of them in a proper way, and in the best season.” – Gill’s Exposition.

She left things in God’s hands- His plan for her life and the glory of the plan coming into existence. As an external processor who loves to share stories, I am incredibly challenged by this verse. 

Mary leaves me baffled and challenged with three things to consider. 

  1. Being God’s servant requires instant obedience and a willing heart. And, sometimes that means no questions asked, no reluctance, and no second thoughts.
  2. Being used by God is a privilege that we should rejoice in and embrace. Furthermore, Mary’s rejoicing was not self centered in that she did not rejoice because God used her, but because he was using her to build His Kingdom. Mary rejoiced for all of Israel and the world that would be saved because of her son. She rejoiced because of work that was going to be done by God through her not because of her privileged role.
  3. Being in a relationship with God means that we should honor Him in all that we do, and that honor sometimes means holding on to His promises until He finishes the work He has begun. Everything has a time and purpose, and God knows what is best and has perfect timing. An intimate relationship with Him may sometimes mean a rather lonely existence because some things are meant to be treasured and pondered alone within our hearts.
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