Friday, July 22, 2011

Spiritual Retreat Part IV - the end

Here it is, the end!

Now, what are the qualities of a Life of Piety. What does it look like, feel like to be plugged into an intimate relationship with our Father?
Our investment in the relationship is met with Blessings we never imagined pouring out into our lives. Christ says “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) That’s what’s “in it for me.”
That abundant life through Life of Piety increases my

Awareness – I become more aware of myself, of Who and Whose I am.
Ephesians 2:10 “We are his workmanship, created for good works in Christ.” My understanding of that word translated “workmanship” means as if a work of art. We are his works of art, His songs, His sculptures created specifically for good works.

I also become more aware of others, who and whose they are.
I begin to see the guy who cuts me off, the rude co-worker not as an idiot, or a fool, but rather, perhaps as a broken person, a wounded person in need of the Good News.

God may have a role for me to play in the sharing of that news with them.
Desire – King David wrote a song: As a deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you Oh God.” Psalm 42:1

The more I experience total relationship with God, the more I want it AND, I want other’s to have it as well.

“A life of piety is powered by the fire of God’s love in our hearts.” (say twice)
Not my will, not my good deeds, not even my own love.

Philipians 2:13 is one of my new favorite versus so full of intrigue:
“It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purposes.”

“It is God who works in you to will” My desire to get to know God, my very interest in Him in the first place is a gift from Him.
God created us, God loves us, chooses us, woos us, makes us hungry, teaches us, puts us to work, rewards us, We go home to live with Him forever when we’re done. That’s a good deal!

Action – “It is God who works in you to will and to ACT, according to his good purposes. Through relationship with our Father, we are blessed with a desire to ACT. The bible often refers to this as “bearing fruit.” Again from John 15:5 “I am the vine and you are the branches. He that abides in me and I in Him, He will bear much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.”

So what Actions are these that God has planned. When I’m in relationship with Him, He uses our closeness to reveal them to me. When it’s not about me anymore, I can smile, encourage, serve, pray, speak, and more as I am empowered and prompted to action for God.

Though many of my actions may seem small, there is a spiritual economy and, directed by God, the seeds I plant through my actions are spiritually nurtured and grow to change/save lives.

Just as a seek to empower my daughter through the power of my relationship with her to make the right choices in friends. I also seek to teach her how to restrain herself when appropriate.

Inaction – restraint, can often be as important as Action.

Direction – In an age of GPS, we can go our whole lives without ever having to refold a map. In relationship with God, I never have to rely on my own understanding or sense of spiritual direction. As Psalm 119:105 says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” When I’m in communion on a daily basis with the God of the Universe, true north is clear, remember the WWJD bracelet craze? When we know our Father, the answer is almost always clear. The direction for my life is from him, I might turn left or right off the path every now and again, but I always know the way back to the path.

Naturalness – Some of us learn it on the playground…some of us learned it in the home. Either way, as men, we learned there are right ways and wrong ways to look and act. “Just be yourself” is often said, but often ignored.
Praise God that one of the first things He does as we enter into ever deepening relationship with Him is teach us that we are each works of art. Each a priceless treasure that is created to bring glory to Him. Who I am, my nature doesn’t have to be hidden.

I’m sure the inevitable argument with my daughter about makeup will arrive one day. As I think about it, I know that, in part, I will be saddened that she feels the need to put on a mask, in her natural state, she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.

God is calling us to be the men He created, not the men society thinks we should be. What does He see when He looks at us: His works of art, His warriors, His sons.

Courage – If it were up to me, I could be afraid of a lot of things. I’m kind of afraid of what might happen if I lose my job. I’m afraid of getting sick. I’m afraid that my wife or children might get hurt, or not turn out right. I’m afraid of public speaking.

Truth be told, fear is one of my biggest vices. But I have a power looking out for me, not just above me, but in me.

1st John 4:4 reminds me: “Greater is He that is IN you than is in the world.”

And I know that, when in relationship with this power, fear does not belong.

2 Tim 1:7 says “He has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, and love, and discipline.”

My true courage comes from living as the man I was created to be, and trusting God to take care of me in the here and now, and in the here-after.
Joy – We live in a society which is desperately seeking “happiness.” We have pills that offer it, and we have an epidemic disease called “depression” which is the total absence of happiness. Almost like we are under attack.

The bible promises many things, the happiness the world is seeking is not one of them. The bible promises something better than fleeting moments of being happy, it promises JOY.

In John 15:11 Jesus tells us “I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have, and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.”

“I have told you these things so that you can have the SAME JOY I HAVE.” Not just any joy, Christ’s joy that comes in being a child of the King.
Talk about a lopsided relationship, I give God my heart, and He gives me His Kingdom and everything that goes with it.

I know I’ve given you a lot to meditate on. I want to share with you one more example of Life of Piety alive and operating in the world.
As I was growing up, my mother took me to church, but my father was a hostile atheist. He actively worked to tear down my mother’s faith, and my own. When I left home we were estranged. 7 years ago we learned he had Lou Gerigs disease, a neuro-muscular disease which causes the muscles to waste away, paralyzing and ultimately killing it’s victims.

By that time, God had brought me to the place where my role was perfectly clear, restore my relationship with my earthly father, and be Christ for him. We had many talks, and I wish I could say that before his death I saw him accept Christ as his savior. I can say, that the last thing he ever asked me to do, 2 weeks before he died, was to put a link to an internet bible on his computer desktop.

God doesn’t just have a plan for our lives, God has a fulfilling lifelong, personal relationship with Him for us if we will accept it and invest in it.

Life of Piety, a whole life lived, a whole heart given to relationship with God in Christ. It’s already there, waiting for you to accept it.

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