Well friends, I must confess … I’ve never been much of a “reader”. I admire folks who have challenged themselves, their thoughts, ideals, and their education by becoming “well read”. I typically have a hard enough time being disciplined enough to read and study God’s Word, the Bible …. in my opinion, the most important book on the planet.
At any case, of the books I have read, there is one small, easy-to-read book that never fails to challenge me. It’s called “Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God” by Francis Frangipaine. I try to read this little book once a year, and it always inspires me in my devotion to Christ.
Lately, I’ve been really “in the dumps” about things that I see happening in “religion and faith”. It’s so easy to get discouraged, and even worse … critical. Usually, I find that when I arrive at that point of reference, it’s time to do some serious soul searching and examine myself.
Thus, I picked up this old book, dusted it off .. and began reading. As usual, I was already “nailed”, and want to quote one passage from Chapter 1:
Jesus Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Anyone can pass judgment, but can they save? Can they lay down their lives in love, intercession and faith for the one judged? Can they target an area of need, and rather than criticizing, fast and pray, asking God to supply the very virtue they feel is lacking? And then, can they persevere in love-motivated prayer until that fallen area blooms in godliness? Such is the life Christ commands we follow!
Phew – man … this rocked my world. I sit back and realize just how quick I am to point the finger. So, three pages into this book, and I’m challenged all over again.
I’m reminded of Ephesians 4:29, where (paraphrased), the Word says that we shouldn’t say anything unless it’s profitable and edifying for others. Strike three, I’m out.
So, my prayer today is that I would walk in the Spirit of God in this area, and the burden that He’s given me recently (more on that in another post, I’m sure) will bring me to prayer and intercession, not criticism and complaints.
Back to work … be blessed.
For the Kingdom,
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3 comments on “Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God”
Just read your entry on “Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God” and find that I too am challenged in my thinking. It is so easy to see the speck in someone else’s eye and not see the plank in your own. I have been trying to challenge myself and others to pray for those with whom we find fault as well as for ourselves. My desire is see all things through the eyes of Christ and that isn’t easy. He must give us the ablility as we submit to Him. May we are become as little children in this area! I hope to find a copy of this book for it sounds like one worth reading. Thanks!
I too am challenged with what you wrote about. I know I need more work on the mercy side of me. I lean toward brass. Yet, too, there is place for correction in the Body of Christ and I think that with a motivation of fear, we too often move to the end of the pendulum that does not allow for challenge and change. Finding that balance is key to walking as Jesus walked.
Recently God asked me to address an issue in our church that has long been a problem. I have criticized, complained and become disappointed in my heart in regard to this problem. I prayed about this and asked for forgiveness regarding my “behind the scenes grumbling”. But the problem only got worse and I finally shared my frustration with someone in leadership. The response was uncomfortable. I was told that there was an element of criticism and judgment in my words. Yet the message I was received as truth. This person asked me to please follow what I felt the Lord was telling me to do about it, yet without condemnation in my message. This original rebuttal threw me off into an old fear that I was way out of line for even bringing up the subject. For two weeks I sat on the issue, kept silent and prayed. God kept sending me messages that I was to fear Him and what He had asked me to do and not to fear man. But I ignored the warnings and soon there grew a chasm between myself and my Master. I lost sleep and started to experience depression.
One morning I opened my Bible to Ezekiel 3 and I cried knowing that God was testing my love for Him. I was running from God’s heart by pushing His standards down to a level that would make me look like a sweet, passive person that never offends. Well, Jesus offended a lot of people. The cross itself is offensive! I have since moved toward a way of communicating the importance of this issue to the church, always checking my spirit for judgment, criticism. God is encouraging me that profit and edification often comes through correction. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6 I think too of a quote by Dr. Dan Allender,
“We cannot wholeheartedly give if we live in fear of another. Most boundaries are allowed to be violated because we are afraid to offend or lose the paltry relationship that currently exists. To love is to be more committed to the other than we are to the relationship, to be more concerned about his walk with God than the comfort of benefits of his walk with us.
In order to love, we must both honor the dignity and expose the depravity of the person with whom we are in relationship. We cannot love if we distance ourselves or overlook the damage of another’s sin; neither can we love if we fail to move into another’s world to offer a taste of life. In both cases, the lover often is a martyr for the sake of the gospel, sacrificing personal comfort for the sake of helping the other experience his own longings and need for grace.”
Again, I am not condoning complaining, criticism or blame finding. But if we realize that the “beam” is not afterall in our eye or once we have asked God to remove the beam and the heart cry of God is still there, then we are to take action, all the while respecting authority, but most importantly God’s authority. As long as the motivation for my correction is to offer LIFE and bring one closer to God, the words will come out right. It may not be accepted, as God warns Ezekiel, yet that is not for Ezekiel (or us) to be concerned about.
Was very moved by this blog and grabbed the book right away. Keep blogging. AP in Detroit