Posted by: Ed | August 12, 2008

SIGNIFICANCE VIA SECRECY – the weekend that was

I can honestly say that I have never preached specifically on the spiritual discipline of “SECRECY”. This series called “Significant” is designed to deconstruct our empty broken strategies for significance & to help us toward the path of finding real significance in Jesus. This week we talked about something that Jesus had much on his mind (not as much as what we looked at last week, but it was up there). It is however difficult to succinctly define – it’s the desire for attention, reputation, self justification (not in the theological sense), the desire to be thought of in a certain way. Thus the discipline of “secrecy.” If you want to go a little deeper check out Matthew 6. There is also tons of writing in the genre of Spiritual Theology. It seems like the older devotional writers understood better than us how critical this is to our spiritual progress – here are a couple of people to check out:
François Fénelon – Let Go
Thomas s Kempis – Imitation of Christ
Francis of Assisi – The Little Flowers
Dallas Willard – Spirit of the Disciplines (great 3 page section)

• LEADERSHIP SUMMIT BUZZ – This weekend was unique in that it played out for me & a lot of our Journey types in the shadow of & in the buzz of the Leadership Summit. God was unusually at work in the Summit. Brian Berry has a great summary of the his main insights from each speaker. Check it out here.
• WILLIE’S MEMORIAL SERVICE – Rod did a great job of leading the very moving memorial service for 47-year-old Willie. He came to Christ & to Journey 3 years ago & the impact on his life was wonderful. O the beautiful power of Jesus to change a life.
• HOUSE HASSLES – I had a broken water main that I found out about right before the final talk of the Summit… not to mention that I was preaching about 3 hours from that moment & my wife was in the Summit. Thanks to God for a friend who said, “Get back in there” & went right then to take care of it! I came home to a leak free house WITH indoor pluming!
• THE TIMES THEY ARE A WORKING – Our Sunday morning time changes have really worked. Throughout the summer we have evened out the 2 services almost evenly. The 2 great results have been room in both services & the 1st service is a lot more awake a lot sooner!

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Responses

  1. Talk about significance!! Let me go back a little…I know someone whose known Robert Smith of The Cure, for 17 years. When they came to town, cos I know her, Robert Smith gave our family (all six of us) really amazing seats…section CCC, row two, on the floor, at Cox Arena–we took up almost the whole row. We were right in the middle and they saw us, we saw them…we sang along nearly every song and it looked like we were a blessing to them, and we all wrote thank you notes afterwards, oh, I’d been a fan since my late teens of The Cure, and talk about feeling like the coolest chick in San Diego that night!! And I was wondering what they thought of us, and even hoped Mr. Smith would write us back. But we didn’t get such good seats cos of me being a fan for decades, it was cos of my friend, we could really have been anyone…and your message Sunday really really hit home, and (mimicing you a sec) (waving fingers rapidly in the air) ~feelings~ of “Wow, that felt good!” were just *that*, they didn’t confirm any truth, any particular specialness on our part. And those feelings do have a tendency to want to get fed again…wow. Just like you said sunday. I was going through the ‘gotta feed that feeling more’ and it made me a lot worse of a person–and now am beginning to be on the other side looking back at it and know that our true significance lies in being a sinner loved by Jesus–that is the real thing, being a sinner saved by Jesus is what turned my life around and still is. I am not made significant by being a fan of certain music, I can enjoy it, but that’s not where my significance lies.So thanks Ed!!! Your timing was perfect.

  2. This message really got to me; so much so that weeks later it is still on my mind. I have often had messages that caused me to grieve, or feel joy, or experience some amazing “a ha” moments, or (my favorite) feel God’s presence and personal involvement in my life. This one was more of an “uh oh…” followed by numbness and confusion.
    As Ed put it “… reputation” and “the desire to be thought of in a certain way”, have seeped (soaked) into every aspect of my life, or at least my desires for my life.
    As a kid, I knew the secrecy part was important and I complied, though my compliance was done without joy and later came with some resentment because I often felt overlooked or even invisible. “Unappreciated” for my actions or perceived goodness, if I am honest. I obeyed the rules, and eventually came to feel and believe in my 20’s “nice guys finish last”. (And now as I write this 2 decades later I realize I wasn’t as nice as I thought then). Anyway, as you can probably tell from my rambling, I am still processing this message and how it applies to me.
    I definitely hunger for reputation, and being thought of in a particular way. I eventually had that as an adult, was successful, and have had it as a father. But roles change, kids grow and need you less, careers change and you start over. Now I find myself with a broken strategy for significance and faced with the awareness that my new strivings are still the same strategy with a different detail. A promotion will do the trick, a community volunteer position, an advanced degree, starting or leading a ministry, writing a book. All good things in and of themselves. But they are not the point. I know the point, have accepted God both intellectually and in my heart, have experienced His love, grace, redemption, and abundant life many times over. Yet I struggle to obtain my significance from God. It is probably more fair to say that right now I feel some significance from God but still have one foot pulling me in the broken strategy direction. Perhaps I _am_ experiencing significance through God, but my pride and vanity (which I don’t think God plans to satisfy, for my own good) are competing with the gift of God’s significance.
    Right now I feel stuck. It appears that I have been asking God to bless my program for some time, at least in some aspects of my life, rather than turning my entire life to God. Many deeply felt yearnings were apparently validated by God (i.e. he said “Okay), and I started down those paths only to have gotten stalled relatively quickly. Perhaps God is/was letting my see the futility of my plan. I had enough of these yearnings that I proceeded to follow, with God’s blessing, that later were stalled, that I started getting confused. If God wanted me to do those things, why weren’t they working out? I think now he just said “go ahead” to my plans, but they weren’t His plans. He was just waiting for me to figure it out.
    I think I am figuring it out. I hope. And I still struggle to get daily quiet time, bible reading, and meditation. I’m aware my strategy is futile, but I don’t think I’ll be able to follow God’s plan until I learn and discipline myself to listen better. I don’t know why I struggle with that. Please pray for me.


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