3

Fence

If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

I’ve been thinking a bunch about walls and doors of late. Or more precisely as fences and gates. I’m replacing the fence in my backyard with some fence given to me by a brother. He’s in the fencing business, and was replacing a fence that was only a couple years old. When he learned that much of my fence as falling down, and deteriorating he offered to drop off this old fence to my home. What a huge blessing. Neighbors were starting to complain about my dilapidated (and altogether missing in some spots) 40-year-old fence. They are thrilled to see a new fence going up.

In the process, I have had to plan where the gates would go, and how I was going to lay it all out to make the best use of what I’ve been given. How do I  connect the gate, and ensure that it will open and close, let people in or out, and still enclose the yard properly.

Now back to the Song. The bride chats with the Shepherd King about the discipleship of her little sister. Their discussion comes around to how best to prepare her for ministry. She talks with her partner in ministry about those she is bringing along in the faith.

Before we get to doors and walls, think about this conversation. We’ve said the bride is a mature saint and her partner is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are partners in the making of disciples.

Before Jesus left for heaven, he gave some instructions to those who would follow Him.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

He did not command them to make converts.
He did not require them to create laws to demanding righteous living from those who did now know Him.
He did not ask them to build buildings, and create programs.

He commissioned them to make disciples, to take what He had taught them, and teach it to others.

As this plays out, they find that the Lord plants in different people, different gifting. They learn that some have a call on their lives to bring people into the kingdom - a gifting in evangelism. Others are bent more toward pastoring, nurture, and protection.

At times we can all do both, and in a sense as we make disciples, we are doing both. We are bringing those we win though the gates, and then helping to build walls for their protection.

Paul speaks to some of the “walls” of Emphasis, when he is leaving them for the last time.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. - Acts 20:28-30 NASB

One more observation.

The Great Commission, to make disciples of every nation, was not given to one person, but to the group of followers at His ascension. It was not meant to be carried out by one person, or by one local church, or by one denomination.

No - this commission was given to the whole Church, and the promise was that as we carry it out, He would be with us.

So here He is with the bride as she is making disciples.

It’s a beautiful picture of Christ and us together, raising up young christians in ministry. We look together at how they were formed, their giftings and callings, their bent. We help them to move into what God has formed them to be.

Are you a wall or a gate, or more of a combination?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by today.

Have a great weekend.

Ben

3

Many Waters - SoS header

We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister
On the day when she is spoken for?

Song of Songs 8:8 NASB

When the Groom spoke of His bride's breasts earlier in the song, He spoke in terms of their beauty and symmetry. This is not what the bride is concerned with here.

No breasts, in this context has to do with the inability to nurture. The bride has those in her sphere of influence who look to her as mentor, or teacher. They look up to her as a role model. These disciples of hers are not mature enough as yet to make their own disciples.

Her own progress from young maid to mature bride was quite a journey. She’s come through fear and failure, discouragement and persecution. Now her heart’s desire is to bring others to full maturity, marked by their own ability to bring life to others.

Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, wrote a booklet called “Born to Reproduce.” The subtitle of this document is “A Passionate Call to Maturity, Spiritual Reproduction and Spiritual Parenting to Help Fulfill The Great Commission.” You can read it here.

It may sound down right darwinian, and there is so much more to the new birth than just reproduction. But at some level, reproduction is our big purpose.

The subtitle make clear that it's not just babies we want. We don’t really just want to make baby christians who make baby christians. We want to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

I have the deep joy of being a dad. I didn’t think there could ever be a greater joy than having kids and seeing them laugh and play (aka bicker and whine?)

Now my baby is twenty-one, and my oldest has a baby of his own. I’ve learned of the greater joy. Seeing your baby’s become mature adults, living their own life, starting their own families.

I was made for this.

And that’s the heart of the Bride of Christ. I want to see my spiritual children come to a place where they can raise their own brood.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by.

Walk in the blessing God has poured out on you.

Ben

4

I always want to know when I’m wrong. Really. I’m aware I’m never the smartest guy in the room. I want to remain teachable. Being wrong is not the end of the world. I want to be open to a thought I’ve never had, even if it threatens what I’ve always known. Even if we disagree in the end, I want to have considered every possibility before landing on solid ground.

If there’s a better way or some angle I’m not seeing, I’d like to know. If even one percent of what we’re saying can help someone see a little further, it’s worth saying and worth learning. There’s no pride or joy in holding onto an idea just because “we’ve always done it that way.” Some convictions are lifelong and eternal, but there’s so much that is fluid and flexible.

Read the rest of the post here: To Remain Teachable. « J.S. Park.

4

Beneath the apple tree I awakened you;
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.

Song of Songs 8:5 NASB

In the Song, the mother figure points to the role of the Church in the life of a believer. Here we have the Shepherd King saying to the maiden, this is where your mother gave birth to you.

In these three short lines there is a wealth of wisdom for church leaders.

1) The church is first likened to an apple tree. The apple tree has many uses, but the two main assets I’m seeing are it’s protection and provision. The branches and leaves provide shelter from the sun and other elements.

Why protection from the sun?

Remember the parable of the soils? In stony ground, the seeds route system is weekend or nonexistent. The little ones coming up in the church need some help taking hold, digging their roots down deep in the soil. The apple tree—church—should be protecting it’s seedlings and saplings from the strong persecution—standing with them as they face the trials that come along with a new life in Christ.

2) Next we see that mother—the church—was in labor with her. Not everyone in church is in the same place. There are those who are on the road to salvation; There are those who have no idea or connection to Christ at all; There are those who are set in the church to mentor—to disciple—the young up and comers; There are shepherds and warriors in place to protect and defend the little ones of the flock, to ensure they are not devoured by wolves, or choked by weeds, or simply wander off.

3) The path to life in Christ is a path—a way. We must realize that everyone who walks through our doors is in a different place, and there may be labor involved in bringing them to life. Seeds have been sown; Promises have been made; Signs of life are evident. But there still may be labor pains, and we must see it through. We must push and breath and push and breath. It may get messy, and noisy, but we must not relent.

It is far to easy for church leadership to be content with the status quo and resist the work—labor—involved in bringing babies to the Lord. We must do it anyway. It’s why we are here. It’s why God has assembled you.

Maybe church doesn’t look like church to you, and maybe I should use the word community rather than church, but I think you can see what I’m talking about.

God wants you to be in community, and for the community of Christ to labor and bring forth life where before there was only death.

Lord, help me find my place in the process of bring many sons to glory—many men and women to worship at your feet.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

Blessings

Ben

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And now for a small celebration - did you bring a party hat?

This is my 1,000th post on Another Red Letter Day.

Wooo Hooo

OK - Party's over - please cleanup after yourselves.

2

Many Waters - SoS header

Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning on her beloved?

Beneath the apple tree I awakened you;
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.

Song of Songs 8:5 NASB

Have you ever seen the movie Working Girl?  Tess (played by Melanie Griffith) is basically working in a secretarial pool for an executive (played by Sigourney Weaver.) I won’t retell the story here, but it’s a classic love story, in Cinderella style, where Tess ends up with Jack Trainer (played by Harrison Ford.)

There is a scene at the end of the movie, where Tess and Jack return to the secretarial pool and all the girls in the room stand up and applaud Tess, who broke through the glass ceiling of her cubicle and “made it.”

Here in the Song, we see the Shulamite and her Groom return to the place He found her. The place she caught her first glimpse of the Shepherd King. The very place where her heart first cried out:

Draw me after you and let us run together! - Song 1:4

The place where she realized her own unworthiness:

I am black but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the curtains of Solomon.

Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,
For the sun has burned me.

Song 1:5-6

In classic Cinderella style our maiden has returned to her home town and now those who knew her when… see her in her full beauty and maturity.

We understand there is a step of faith that moves us from darkness to light, from the kingdom of satan to the kingdom of His Dear Son. But after that step there is a life to live.

The life of a disciple of Jesus, the life of the bride of Christ, is a life of growing more and more beautiful in His sight. He sees you—end from the beginning—as a beauty the day He first welcomes you, but it has to work itself out in days and weeks, months and years.

Growing in Christ never ends. We don’t arrive until we arrive—if you get my drift—when He welcomes us to our eternal home. And frankly, I don’t expect heaven is even arrival. I’m pretty sure it’s not an eternal vacation. Our life and discipleship here on earth is a training ground for what is to come. But I digress.

Here’s the point - her friends see this magnificent couple walking toward them, and it take their breath away. What happened to our friend, the one we grew up with, the one we knew. Could this be her?

The transformation that comes from abiding in the vine, from dwelling in the secret place, touches everything about you. It’s undeniable. Everyone who knew you when, will know you’ve changed.

The change comes from the inside out.

Sin removed and replaced with righteousness.

Guilt removed and replaced with honor.

Shame removed and replace with glory.

Pride removed and replaced with humility.

These transformations can’t be hidden.

They see the new you coming up from the wilderness, victorious, leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus.

And all the glory belongs to Him. These are changes you can’t make yourself, and no fairy godmother could take your souls and make it beautiful. Only the precious blood of Jesus can bring forth such a miracle as your transformation.

Thank you Jesus!

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

Don’t hide what Jesus made.

Ben

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