1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
How I long to be the blessed man; I am a blessed man in so many ways, but this guy had a single-minded passion for the ways of God.
In my mind’s eye I see a large tree with a lush canopy of green leaves, maybe a big Georgia pecan tree. The majestic trunk is firmly rooted in the ground. It reminds me of a couple of lines from Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem, Trees:
…a tree whose hungry mouth is pressed against the earth’s sweet, flowing breast..
Kilmer’s metaphor of the tree being like a nursing babe is a picture of intimacy, trust, dependence, connection. And that makes me think of Peter’s exhortation:
1 Peter 2:2 New International Version (NIV)
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…
Hunger, dependence, connection, craving, delight. These words speak of a deep longing, a kind of desperate desire for connection with Christ, that His life would be manifested in us.
I’ve been experiencing a sort of holy frustration (at least I think- I hope- it’s holy) for several weeks. My life seems so bound by the mundane, the ordinary, by striving to address, more than anything else, my own needs, wants, cravings, desires. Is there any real fruit that others can pick? And even if there is, could there be more? Even way more? What has to happen in me to really get the life of Jesus flowing through me? What has to change in my understanding? My habits? My lifestyle?
How do I go about deepening my hunger, my desperate dependence? How do I shake off Laodicean apathy?
At the end of the month we’re planning to attend a conference at the Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace where John and Carol Arnotte of the Toronto Airport Fellowship will speak about a “Culture of Revival”. Maybe I’ll find some answers there. I hope so. What do I need to lay hold of to really come alive in new ways?
Richard Lovelace, in his classic, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, studied various revival movements throughout church history and sought to distill out what he called the Primary Elements of Renewal. He found four, which flow out of what he called a “depth presentation of the gospel”. They are as follows.
Justification by Faith: the freedom of knowing complete acceptance by God based on the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Or as we put it in our CCTC classes (www.cctcinc.org) Grace + Nothing = Right Standing with God.
Sanctification by faith: freedom from the bondage of sin based on our union with Christ; deep repentance flowing from deep gratitude and love.
The indwelling Spirit: an increasing apprehension of the presence, power, counsel, comfort and encouragement of the 3rd Person of the Trinity, and
Authority in spiritual conflict: an increasing awareness of and skill in using our ability to apply Christ’s resurrection triumph to the defeat of Satan’s lies, accusations, temptations and general attempts to disrupt, control and complicate our lives and relationships.
So, if Lovelace is accurate- and I think he is- I wonder what most needs shoring up and renewing in my own life?
Deeper repentance of ungodly and unholy attitudes, actions, thoughts, or patterns of relating to others?
A fresh infilling and empowering of the Spirit?
A new sense of empowerment against my soul’s enemy’s attempts to lie to me, seduce me, discourage and derail me?
I suspect the answer to my question is yes- all of the above. All of Lovelace’s Primary Elements interact with and reinforce each other. For example, can I really boldly and confidently confront Satan’s activity without a deep awareness that I stand secure in the unmerited righteousness of Christ? Can I truly find deeper repentance without the help and empowering of the Holy Ghost? I’m looking forward to the Arnottes at the end of the month. But in the meantime, I’m asking the Lord to refresh, focus and deepen my understanding of what it means to be revived, to be more like that blessed Psalm 1 guy- desperately clinging to Christ and bearing good fruit as I submit to His loving embrace.