Monday, February 11, 2008

Further Up and Further In!!

*Update* - I decided to change the name of this post thanks to a comment left by Pete Day left below. He mentioned and remembered the wonderful account at the end of C S Lewis's; "The Last Battle" where the children are urged to go "Further Up and Further In" to Aslan's country. I forgot this! But that absolutely sums up what I am trying to say here.

This is going to be quite a short post (for a change for me!) simply because I have been living with something I heard on TV last night at the hospice I work at. We had the popular ITV show "Dancing on Ice" on as many of the children enjoy it ... and I do too!! I was just watching it and enjoying the wonderful skating ... it must be the closest thing to flying. I would love to try it out someday. For those of you who aren't in the UK, here's a clip of my favourite couple competing.

video

But what grabbed me was something that Christopher Dean said to one of the contestants (Torville and Dean are helping train the celebrities). He said;

"This guy simply refuses to plateau ... each week he just keeps aiming higher and higher".

I sat there staggered. And I thought - what greater acclaim could there be made over my life and be said of me? To be sure I could refuse to plateau theologically until my library matches that of Al Mohler or R J Rushdoony. But when I finally buy and store 40, 000 books on theology about God, what then? Where then? How higher can one go? No. What I long to be said over my life is that I refuse to plateau and each week keep aiming higher and higher in relationship and encounter to God HIMSELF.

And there is PLENTY of precident in the Bible with which to aim for!
Can many of us even testify to equalling that? May it be said over me; "This guy simply refuses to plateau ... each week he just keeps aiming higher and higher" - in encounter with God! In intimate relationship with God! In knowing God and being known by Him! In, like Enoch, "walking with Him".

13 comments:

SGM Pastors wife (diane) said...

Hiya I absolutely LOVE this post. One of the things I used to love about C J Mahaney before he went over to the Reformed side, was his ability to see and find a quote in anything that was going on in the outside world. He would clearly read the papers and "TIME" magazine a lot, and would use a quote from them as the bulk of his sermon.

And because it was "contemporary" you would be gripped and listen to what he went on to preach. He doesn't do that as much anymore these days I think.

But awesome quote anyway and awesome post!! Loved it! Yes, too many church leaders these days spend all their time willing themselves to be "respectable" and get "right orthodoxy" above all things. But surely an encounter with God surpasses all.

SGM Pastors wife (diane) said...

Hiya I absolutely LOVE this post. One of the things I used to love about C J Mahaney before he went over to the Reformed side, was his ability to see and find a quote in anything that was going on in the outside world. He would clearly read the papers and "TIME" magazine a lot, and would use a quote from them as the bulk of his sermon.

And because it was "contemporary" you would be gripped and listen to what he went on to preach. He doesn't do that as much anymore these days I think.

But awesome quote anyway and awesome post!! Loved it! Yes, too many church leaders these days spend all their time willing themselves to be "respectable" and get "right orthodoxy" above all things. But surely an encounter with God surpasses all.

Peter Day said...

Absolutely wonderful. This is what God has called us to. More and more, refusing to plateau.

At the end of last book of the Chronicles of Narnia, the call to call the characters is "further up and further in." This is intended as an allegory of heaven, but the heavens are open NOW for us who are believers, the curtain is torn in two. Of course we will see in full in heaven, but NOW we are called to go further and higher and deeper in our relationship with the Lord. Glory!!

Dan Bowen said...

It's so interesting isn't it - I wonder what would happen if we changed the emphasis on all of our previous thoughts about heaven to the here and now. So rather than finishing the "Last Battle" and sighing and thinking mystically of heaven and "further up and further in" - we actually think of it in terms of the Christian life! And the call is to go "further up and further in" HERE and NOW!!

How different would our Christian life and ministry be and how different would the world see us!?

As Dave Bluefish said; "Pondering ...". ;)

James B said...

Right I've been listening to Rob Rufus speaking recently in Dubai (HT: Dan on Rob Rufus blog) and he said the MOST amazing thing that is dead pertinent here:

"And the Pharisees and the Sadducees were absolutely correct in their doctrine. The Pharisees were absolutely fanatical about the Word of God. But here comes the Living Word of God and they can't see Him because they are so doctrinally correct that they can't encounter the Living God.

You know Glenda used to write me love letters while we were dating and perfume them with her perfume when we lived 500 miles apart and that was lovely you know, reading her love letters and smelling the perfume. But I didn't say "I am going to live for the rest of my life with these letters". Those letters drove me insanely crazy to get to the one who was writing them! Some people love the Bible more than they love the Author of the Bible. They don't even know the Author!" - (Session 3).

Some people may turn their noses up at this post because Dan is saying he doesn't want to chase after theology for theology's sake. Theology surely should drive us to worship the LIVING Theology - the REAL LIVING Person Jesus Christ.

PS: I wonder if an over-emphasis on the Cross in a Reformed/Catholic sort of obsession could actually make people in danger of emphasing doctrine over relationship.

jul said...

"Further up and further in!!!" I've been hearing this playing over in my head for weeks now, funny to see it coming up here! Not surprising though.

thebluefish said...

"over-emphasis on the Cross in a Reformed.. could actually make people in danger of emphasing doctrine over relationship."

Yeh it could. Though when you think about what the cross is designed to achieve - i.e. the end of wrath, opening the floodgates of God's favour, reconciliation, seeing-savouring-tasting-enjoying-the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus... that'd be quite a skewing.

But then, all that stuff is the stuff of doctrine. Those who rightly love doctrine.. cos really Christian theology is the most exciting thing possible because it's simply about knowing God better, loving Jesus more, and joining the revolution to bring God's Word to God's world.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks for another great link Dave, you are really quite a feast of information and resources which is great. Yes I would agree with you that doctrine in that context and that light is indeed exciting. But what happens when the information ABOUT God becomes more exciting and more satisfying that God Himself?

Surely everything in the Word of God points to a Person, an Author, God Himself who stands behinds it and is inviting us "further up and further in" to begin to get to know Him. After all one glorious day in heaven we will stand before Him face to face and we long for that day. But I can't find anything in the Bible that says we can't get to know God "in part" now and increasingly so.

I love the way that Rob Rufus puts it in a recent sermon he preached at a conference in Dubai. He said that when he was dating Glenda his wife, they lived apart and she sent him letters which she perfumed. And Rob loved them. But the point of the letters made him ache and crave for Glenda herself.

Whenever I read the Bible and particularly these sorts of verses about people who knew God far more and far more intimately than I ever did, it makes me ache that God would reveal Himself to me as He did to them. After all the veil in the Temple has been torn in two! Hebrews says that the way is open - access is free - into the Holy of Holies, into the Presence of the Most High, "Seated in heavenly places"!!

Let's start to live like it.

thebluefish said...

"But what happens when the information ABOUT God becomes more exciting and more satisfying that God Himself?"

Fair question, but everything is open to abuse. The challenge is not to abuse the good thing but enjoy it rightly.

Dan Bowen said...

Yes absolutely fair point. That was always my argument when my home church was relentlessly walking away from the charismatic life of the Holy Spirit and becoming "functionally cessationist". Just because it has been abused doesn't mean it's bad!

But ...

Will the life and dynamic of the Presence of God flow simply by sitting down with the Bible and reading it along with an IVP commentary? (As useful a practice as that is!). There must be surely some engaging with the Holy Spirit! HE brings the Word of God to life! HE brings theology to life! HE makes the Bible come alive!

I have had quiet time after quiet time where I have felt like I was wading through treacle franctically trying to read my set passage on Leviticus, Joshua, Matthew and Romans. But suddenly one verse can stand out to me and suddenly the wonderful Presence of God comes down and brings that doctrine - that truth alive.

God is seeking worshippers, not academics.

Dan Bowen said...

I've just written down this quote from Rob Rufus's Session 3 in Dubai and it's so relevant;

"Every believer is meant to have encounters with God but the Church indoctrinates us and brainwashes us with the propaganda that is only for the fanatical extreme weirdos who are so extreme that they need to "feel" God. They need to "encounter" God. Well blow that man! I am not going to have someone come and tell me I am so insecure that I need to "feel" my wife! If that is insecurity then bring it on! I want to feel her hair, I want to see her eyes, I just want to kiss her - I want to have encounters with my wife! I do not want to have some remote technical approach to my wife. I don't want to have a remote controlled relationship with my wife! I want to smell her perfume!

All I want to say is your fear of the supernatural, your fear of abandoning yourself to trust God in an encounter with Him is not based on biblical revelation, is not based on the truth of God's Word but demonic propaganda and the traditions of men".

thebluefish said...

"Will the life and dynamic of the Presence of God flow simply by sitting down with the Bible and reading it along with an IVP commentary?"

Potentially. Basically that's just the written version of a teacher opening the Bible to us - so definitely could lead to a life changing encounter with God. He is speaking through the Bible by the Spirit and we know that God speaking created the universe, chose a people, raised a nation, destroyed the nation, walked on the earth, and worked a creation-scale miracle in my dead heart to make me a new creation...

But, the bible isn't magic.
But, i'm often not listening/expectant.

My wife speaks of how we should come to the bible to get our hearts exploded by God. I think she's right.

I'm reminded of Hebrews 3/4. The word is sharper than a double-edged sword. The swords in mind being the blades of the Canaanites and Amalekites in Numbers 14. Those blades killed people. The Bible can kill me. And revive me.

thebluefish said...

Should say, with the exception of one year of my 10 as a Christian I never really got the evangelical quiet time thing. I just pick one book after another to work through, occasionally going elsewhere, no set times... not always daily. Yet, the word is life that revives my soul. And I know that the more I feast on it the better. Eating lots isn't going to be bad for me. Excellent article in the latest nf magazine about that.