Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Am a Bonzai and God Holds The Shears

The last month or so has been a complete spiritual Renaissance for me. More than once, I have referred to it as a revival. In either case - Renaissance or Revival - I have come out of a spiritual cold spell which has lasted around three years. Now, this is a dreadful length of time to simply go through the motions, plod on, stay engaged in the issues of the day, and live life the way I know I'm supposed to out of a mixed sense of duty and delight (but more often duty).

If I were to characterize my life for the past three years, I would describe it as "withholding." I have withheld the things in my life from God which needed to change in order for me to move forward with Him. Most specifically, I have sinned against God for the entire three years by downloading music and movies. I then attempted to justify said actions and even argue publicly that these things were not, in fact, wrong in God's sight.

Whether or not the proper arguments can be made for or against file sharing, of specific importance is that about a month ago, God struck me with the realization that my joy in Him would never grow if I did not yield this area of my life to Him and repent.

Now, this I did. In baby steps. Initially, I deleted all of the movies off of my computer, and it was like fresh air blew through my spiritual house. Almost immediately, I sensed the Divine presence as I once did. I was immediately rewarded by God with greater joy in Him than I have as yet enjoyed in my entire 12 years of walking with Him.

Now again, this originally started as a conviction from God regarding downloading movies. It soon became apparent to me that God was pruning, and He would not stop simply at movies.

About a week later, in Psalm 138, I read this:
"For you have exalted above all things
your name and your word."

I considereded that though I pray this and sense its truthfulness, my life still did not reflect that God was exalted above all things in my life. Every time that we refuse to follow our conscience and refuse to live as God convicts us to, we are exalting something above God. We are testifying that God is good, but not as good as this-or-that. We are sinning when we live this way.

Now, let me emphasize that this is not a post about downloading music. At least it's not supposed to be. But that night, as I read Psalm 138, He moved further into my delights and desires and planted his flag in more areas of my life, because as I read these words from Psalm 138:2, I sensed a conviction about something else that I delighted in very highly: music.

Now, I could sit here and use my philosophy degree and probably figure out a way to explain Intellectual Property laws and talk about how it's absolutely fine to download music. I've done it before (some would argue, not too effectively!). I agree with most of the arguments, intellectually, that downloading music is actually good for the industry and is not all that bad. I've openly defended my practice for years. And yet on that night, God was not primarily concerned about proving whether it was objectively right or wrong. Instead, his concern was that HE was not "exalted above all things" in my life. He was dealing with the sin of idolatry in my own heart.

So I started to feel sort of afraid, because this was a sin that I have highly treasured and held tightly to for a long time (all the move reason He should separate me from it). Like cutting away a wart or lancing a wound, this is not the kind of thing which a man can do for himself. Knowing I lacked the strength to change myself or give up this thing, in despair I kept reading from the Psalm and found my rescue in verse 3:
"On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased."

By the power of the Spirit, working through His Word, God convicted me, and then He empowered me to do it, and I pushed "Shift+Delete" on over 150 gigs of music that had sat on my computer like my heavyweight enemy for so many years.

As before when I deleted the movies, I was again rewarded with an increased delight in God's majesty, in His holiness, and in the assurance of my salvation. This is a pleasure far greater than any other in my life that I could ever hope for. And it is this pleasure in God above all things that God is seeking in worship to Himself.

I know that this is just a blog and most of our readers are men of doctrine and truth, but if we stop only at truth and do not let that truth move our affections and penetrate every area of our lives, including the painful ones that have hung around our necks for years, then we are not Christians at all. We are idolaters, and that is all we deserve to be called.

I wanted to share this season of spiritual renewal and challenge you all to seek God and look within yourselves to see if there are sins which you need God's Spirit to fight against. If all of God's people follow His spirit and fight their sin and testify to their friends and to the world that God is greater than the world's trappings, that is how REAL revival will come God's church. But as long as we languish in the halfhearted, lukewarm going-through-the-motions, God will not move among us, and eventually he will fulfill his promise to spit the lukewarm ones out of His mouth.

Since this is a sin I have so delighted it, I will need God's help every day not to fall back into this sin of exalting music above my LORD. But today, I can testify that God is, in fact, "exalted above all things." God is great! He is greater than downloading music! He is greater than downloading movies! He is greater than sin! But is He greater than everything in our lives? That one's almost always difficult to answer honestly.

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