La Rambla, Pocitos

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Song of the Spirit

First a little news flash: We have just over six weeks left until the arrival of baby Lillian.  We have a tentative delivery date of September 4.  That is the first day of classes for our last trimester of schooling here, so Jimbo will be missing the first few days of class.  Timbrel will miss the entire month of September, but will catch up quickly after that, as she will be working one-on-one with a tutor for October, November, and December.  Language learning is going really well for us, and we are excited to be where we are in our learning.  Thank you for your prayers and for financially supporting us through this year.

We're very thankful for the convenience of podcasts, as that is our food and drink during this year of language learning. The year of language learning can be a dry year, spiritually, but we've been watered well through these internet ministries.  We've enjoyed messages from several churches this year and have enjoyed the "community" it provides, even though we are so far away.

Recently, we have been blessed by listening to Pastor Mike Plunket's podcasts.  Mike is the pastor of Risen King Alliance Church in New City, New York.  Our lives have been enriched by the Holy Spirit through listening to Mike preach through the book of Nehemiah.

Before the births of each one of our children, God has ministered to us in a special way, teaching us, preparing us, nurturing us. Last week's sermon, A Better Song to Sing (click on title to listen) has given us a theme for the next few weeks before our lives are both enriched beyond measure and turned upside down at the same time.

What stuck out to us was the point Mike made about the song of our heart.  What is communicated from the music of our hearts is more powerful than the words of our mouth.  This is something the church has struggled with for a long time.  Mike quoted the philosopher Nietzsche: "Christians will have to sing better songs before I shall believe in their redeemer."

We have been given a new song to sing: the Song of the Spirit.  The song of peace, faith, praise, and thanksgiving -- music that is eternal!  In order to truly be the Song of the Spirit, the song has to be real and genuine, in spite of how badly and clumsily the words may come out (a real encouragement for us when we communicate in Spanish!)  That new song takes people who are nothing and makes them valiant!

The problem: the Song we know we should have is often not the song we hear coming out of our hearts (and therefore eventually out of our mouths).  And the harder we try to come up with that Song, the more our "music" degenerates. Worse still, we often don't even recognize that the Song we are communicating is nowhere close to the Song we think we're portraying.

Paul explained it pretty well: "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate...So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me...For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." 
Romans 7:15-23

We know that our identity is in the righteousness of Christ. We know that His Spirit lives in us, filling us with the Song of the fruit of the Spirit as we identify with Him, His death, and His resurrection. Because of this, when we find ourselves flat on our faces, with the song of death resonating around us, we can say, with Paul, "It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." My identity is in Christ; to identify myself with sin is to claim that I am an "instrument for unrighteousness" (Romans 6). I can repent, be cleansed, be free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)! Even the very process of this is part of the Song. Life in the Spirit is not about perfection; what do I do when I fail in front of others? Often our failures are used for good in spite of ourselves.

We make countless choices everyday about whose instrument we will be in each moment - will I allow Satan to use me as an "instrument for unrighteousness" by listening to the lies that He is constantly feeding me, just as he did with Eve in the garden? Or will I allow the Song of the Spirit to flow through me as I choose to stop and realize the truth in each moment of decision?

Our assignment is to sing this song of the Spirit to people who have never heard.  Will you partner with us, and sing with us the Song of the Spirit wherever your assignment is?  You, along with us, are living in a world that needs to hear the song of Jesus' love, not just religious words, but a song from a life totally dedicated to God.