REFLECTION: Back to basics

 

Last weekend and several days after, I had the privilege to attend several retreats given by a team from Sri Lanka.  Although I had attended their main retreat a year before, the live refresher course was such a blessing for me.  Perhaps that was the reason why I was surprised when I read a survey comment that the speaker’s content was “too basic”.

“Too basic.”  I wonder why the writer felt that way?  Two days have past since my eyes came across that comment and yet it continues to bother me.  To me, the content of the retreat was just right because we often forget where we’ve come from.  Often times, we learn so much and we cram so much into our minds that we become top heavy.  Unfortunately, our focus on seeking for more head knowledge prevents us from finding the time to exercise our core (our heart); failing to implement what we have learned and failing to choose to live them in our daily lives.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Never flag zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.” This is only a small portion of the scripture from Romans 12:9-13 which identifies the “marks of a TRUE Christian”, and yet I find myself already stumbling with some.  Without the reminder of such attributes, I believe I would be the first to drift off course.  Romans 9:14-21 continues with “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.  Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

As I sit and reflect, I mention to the Father that the attributes above are a TALL order.  It would be difficult for me to live them all out, let alone remember them!  He then gently reminds me, “Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” (Zech 4:6)  He also reminds me that as He and I meet daily, these attributes will come naturally and without effort.  I smile my BIG SMILE and sigh.  “Thank you Lord.”, knowing that He always provides a way.

Our walk as Christians isn’t a piece of cake.  In fact, it is counter cultural since we often are called to do things differently from the world.  It becomes mind boggling and impossible if we try to accomplish it by ourselves, but our Father reminds “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and ALL these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt 6:33)

But how do we seek Him if we don’t know Him?  Lalith Perera teaches 4 basic steps.  The first is to “COME AS YOU ARE, I LOVE YOU.” Many are afraid to come to God because they think they have to clean up their act before He is willing to meet them.  No matter what state we are in, be it in pain or rejection, in fear and in abandonment, God calls us to come.  He calls out “Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)  He doesn’t need anything from us except for our desire to spend a few moments with Him and our desire to converse with Him.  You see, it was God who gave us our free will.  He is continuously seeking us, but He doesn’t force.  He waits, patiently; waiting for us to realize that He IS always here beside us..

The second step is “GIVE THE TRUTH OF YOUR HEART TO JESUS.”.  Why do we need to do this?  I believe that unless we face our reality and acknowledge our shortcomings, God will not change us.  He knows exactly what we need and He, alone, has the power to change us.  However, it is only in recognizing and acknowledging our shortfalls that we express our desire to change and we finally ask for His help.

The third step is “SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO THE LORD.”. Many are afraid to surrender their lives to God because they equate it to losing complete control of their lives.  And yet, for those who have said “Jesus, I offer you my life.  I ask you to take control of everything I do and think.”, they begin to realize that their gains outweigh their losses.  As we surrender our ways and our desires to God, He supernaturally transforms us in HIS time.  Our desires to engage in negative behaviours / addictions which have shackled us for all these years are finally broken; the anger and the unforgiveness that we’ve held on to so “righteously” finally dissipate; the pain and the victim syndrome which we’ve often drowned ourselves in are finally lifted.  Why?  Because we finally realize that we don’t have to carry all these burdens and we can surrender them to God.  Once again, God calls to us and says… 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

The fourth step is “BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.”.  No matter how hard we try, we can never accomplish supernatural feats without receiving the strength of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says “Not by (your own) power, nor by (your own might), but by MY spirit (the Holy Spirit) says the Lord.”. (Zech 4:6) Lalith stresses that all other faith walks teach us to do good, but none other gives us the strength to do good.  As we surrender ourselves to God and as we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, we are supernaturally transformed and we are given the grace, strength and the desire to do good.  How do we know that we are filled with the Holy Spirit?  “Love, joy and peace” and all the other fruit of the Holy Spirit become evident in our lives. (Galatians 5:12)  Lalith mentions that the moment “love, joy and peace” disappears, something is wrong.

Becoming a Christian is not a once in a life time decision.  Because we are human and because we live in a world where “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), waiting to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), we need to recommit ourselves to God on a daily basis.  Lalith Perera teaches, when you wake, turn to Jesus.  Tell Him, “Lord, I come as I am.”  Reconcile with Jesus.  Surrender yourself to Him and give Him permission to fill your life.  Ask Him to fill you with his love, joy and peace.  Read about God’s love in his living Bible.  Lalith refers to these readings as “life tablets”.  He mentions that the “tablet” cannot be swallowed, but it has to be sucked slowly as you meditate on them.

Are you ready to return back to the basics?  May our Father bless you with that desire.

God bless,

Melissa (October 5, 2011)

p.s. – Please click onto the following http://crlmain.org/to
learn more about Lalith Perera and the Community of the Risen Lord.

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