Monday, December 30, 2013

I Have a New Internship

It's a New Year dawning.  That could be the name of a movie, or a great first line of a song.  It isn't.  It's just a fact.  In two days time, we turn the pages on another year.  I always get reflective this time of year - looking back, asking questions, formulating responses, and desiring to make the new year a better year.  2013 brought a lot of changes for me.  With a slight tweak in ministry positions, I sought the Lord as to what this new season of life meant.  As I began to dig into the first book of the New Testament, I sensed the Lord taking me back to the basics, a sort of personal one-to-one discipleship.  He challenged me to "practice righteousness" in a "Follow-Jesus" sort of way.  I've been reminded that following is easy in the sense that you just do what the one in front does; you just step in his foot-prints and let him lead.  I've also been given some specific instructions for growing deeper as I've followed.  These things became part of the "practice," the "training in righteousness."  That's when things started to get complicated.  I've found the instructions seem simple enough, but the actual doing, the actual following isn't as easy as it may appear.  Those things have stretched me, caused me to explore the motives of my heart, and I have not really liked what I've seen.  If you haven't been keeping up, here are some of the practices I've been working on exploring:
Generous giving
Fervent praying
Frequent forgiving
Regular fasting, &
Overcoming anxiety

Now, as I sit on the brink of 2014, I've once again picked up my Bible to where I left off, and began in Matthew10.  Jesus summons his disciples, blesses them with authority, and gives them some last-minute instructions. This is the beginning of their do-it-on-your-own-while-I'm-still-around phase of an internship in following.  This seems to be where he wants me in 2014.  I'm to go beyond the practice (but, believe me, I'm still practicing, because I don't have it down to perfection - thank goodness, he who began a work in me will do the perfecting!).  Now, I'm participating in an internship in discipleship.  This just happens to be personal training for his final instructions as Jesus leaves planet earth:  Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

Before he pats me on the back and shoves me out the door (I've said it before, I much prefer FOLLOWING; I don't WANT to lead), he gives a few final instructions.  I'm listening carefully, because I don't want to do this wrong.  Here they are (you'll need to read Matthew 10 to fill in the blanks).
1)  Go to the church first...  You are to prepare them to be ready for the kingdom to come... Some of the things you'll need to address:  Healing (physical, emotional, spiritual), raising the dead (believe me, some churches need a little new life), cleansing (Jesus says the leper, but I'm reading into that sinner), and casting out evil spirits.

2) Continue giving generously, praying fervently, forgiving frequently, and fasting regularly…

3) Travel is required, so you'll need to live simply and pack lightly (I'm learning this one)…

4) No need to worry about what you'll say:  I'll speak through you (thank you, Jesus!)…

Now, I know what you may be thinking:  Aren't you already doing this…sort of?  I am.  Sort of.  I think the challenge for me is to step it up, to be more intentional, to be more specific.  Here's the verse that leapt off the page:

What I (Jesus) tell you (Peg) in the darkness (the experiences of life), speak into the light (share your story); and what you hear me whisper in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.  
Matthew 10:27

In other words, wherever I am, talk MY Jesus-story.  Allow others to see the hero of my life…when they do, maybe they'll be attracted to the hero.  Maybe they will want to be a Jesus-follower, too.  That's the point of my life. That's the reason of my existence.  That's how I best reflect his glory off the canvas of my life.  It's how you do, too.  In spite of the difficulties.  Maybe, because of the difficulties, the dark-moments, the hard times, and yes, even the times of joy when the Lord seems most present, we take advantage of sharing our Jesus-stories.  We show off our hero, the one who rode into our lives first in the belly of a humble girl, and found new life in a manger.  The one who took the very nature of a servant, setting aside his right to be God, so that we might have a way to victory.  That's the Jesus who changes our lives every day.  That's the one I love to talk about!  You?


Oh…PS.  Our internship comes with a warning (we need to be prepared).  EXPECT PERSECUTION.  With follower-ship status, we are awarded our own cross.  I think that's why Jesus closes out his instructions on what it looks like to be a true follower with these words:

Come - all who are heavy laden (weary and worn out) and you will find rest for your souls…

We will wear out in the following if we don't come often, and come consistently.  Only then, ONLY THEN, will the

Yoke be easy and the burden light.
Matthew 11:28-30

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