Sunday, October 3, 2010

After the Music Stops, That's When I Live My Song

My new, and deeply growing Bethany friends.

Several years ago, as I was stepping out of the classroom and into more of an administrative roll, Dr. Keith Drury suggested that if I was concerned with losing my level of influence with students, I should begin writing to them a weekly "open-letter." Thus, I started writing about my musings of life and my exegetical insights in the Word. It was affectionately titled, Go with God, since those are the last three words I pronounce over you as you would walk out of my classroom.  

So, once again, I find myself without a classroom. Thus, I have no convenient place to share my insights. So I was wondering if I could think of you as my sounding board? (Wikipedia defines sounding board this way: A structure placed above or behind a pulpit or other speaking platform that helps to project the sound of the speaker.) Perfect. Will you help me refine and project my engagement with the Lord?

So, here I … Go with God.

Years ago (yes, 1992); Christian music artist Darly Coley wrote a song entitled, "When the Music Stops." The opening line goes like this,

       When the music stops, that's when I live my song…

That thought kept coming to mind all this last week since we are in our first week, post-Spiritual Advancement. The music has stopped, the services are over and the Lord is asking us to daily walk in the freedom we received and to live out the commitments we made. This seems to so easy to do while basking in the glory of the moment but Oh so hard in the mundane routine of Monday through Friday.  Might I add, this was no easier for the disciples as they walked with Jesus than it is for you and me.

Let's start with reading Mark 9:2-13 It's OK, I'll wait for you.

 In this story we find the discipleship inner-circle of Peter, James, and John on Mt. Transfiguration, and Jesus is displayed to them in all of His radiance. Peter, in his typical "speak-first-think-second" style says, "Rabbi, It is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

My first observation is that Jesus, in His wonderfully graceful way, does not respond to Jesus' impulsive statement but rather the Gospel writer Mark interjects his inspired insights with a subtle parenthetical comment

     (Peter did not know what to say, they were so frightened).

Simply, Peter did not know how to react or even worse, how to integrate this mountaintop experience into his normal everyday life. And his immediate response was, let's just do away with the day-to-day monotony and instead, stay here and worship 24/7. Let's just make everyday a Sabbath day.

Notice how second comes a divine revelation clothed in a theophony (define this as a God-moment). A cloud descended and a voice appeared. If you were a good first-century Jew, this would remind you of the Giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai, (see Exodus 20). The voice of the Father comes and speaks directly to the three disciples, "This is my Son whom I love, Listen to Him!"

So what does this have to do with determining the Lord's will for everyday life! (This is the application part). First and foremost, just listen to Jesus. Please do not think that the "art of listening" is isolated to your ears. In every language "the act of listening" implies obedience, making this just as much a matter of the heart. So please, never say, "I heard from God, yet I decided to act differently." That, my friends, is called open rebellion.  

Second, (and I love this part) listening does not demand that you fully comprehend all the implications of what Jesus means. For example, as the disciples are coming down the mountain, Jesus told the disciples "not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead?" (9:9). And they discussed "what this rising from the dead" meant. What a relief that is! I do not need to fully comprehend every single theological and practical nuance of Jesus' teaching to find and follow His will. I merely need to listen. Life has just become so simple 

So you might ask, what do we as a Bethany Community do following Spiritual Advancement week? How do we find and follow God's will after we come down from the mountain?  Well, we start with our ears (and heart). But of course there is more and I'd like to take the next several weeks and discuss in detail, finding God's will…and of course, implementing this into the fabric of our community.

Next week, after we hear, to know God's will, we simply say YES.


Again and again in Your Word, you call "those with ears to hear"

So please tune our ears to hearken to Your voice.

Help fashion our ability to listen as You speak

Shout, speak, or whisper; we are here.

Your Word originally was a creative act,

So, in our lives, please make this a re-creative work of grace.


Now, Go with God (and keep listening) 

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