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Joyful, Joyful…

28 Nov

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

What joy I’m experiencing in ministry in Costa Rica–more than ever before.  I don’t know if it’s the place I’m in spiritually, or the fact that we have more people working together as a team–although I suspect it’s the place I’m in spiritually as I’m absolutely, positively sure that I could manage to be stressed no matter how many people were shouldering the load.

There is such rest and joy in what we are doing here.  We’ve had three official Sunday morning services in the chapel we’re renting.  The worship leader leads us to the heart of Jesus.  The messages have been amazing.  The fellowship too.  Joyful.  Joyful.

 

Enter a Sinner, Leave Without Condemnation

10 Jul

I just want to share with you this amazing painting by the Russian artist, Vasily Polenov.  It’s called “Christ and the Sinner” from the story about the Pharisees bringing the woman caught in adultery before Christ in John 8:3-11.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Christ’s Mind We Have Pt. 2

23 May

The other day, we looked at a translation of 1 Corinthians 2:16b which says, Christ’s mind we have!  Let’s look at the how and how not of having wisdom from Christ.

How Not?

  • Through our senses:  (eye hath not seen, nor ear heard)   We do not live by sight.
  • Through our natural mind:  (neither have entered into the heart of man)

How?

  • Know that God has prepared them.  God has his counsels prepared beforehand to hold in reserve.  Nothing is a surprise to God.
  • We receive these counsels. . .
    • through the revelation of the Holy Spirit (v. 10,11).
    • through receiving the teaching of the Holy Spirit (v. 12, 13).
    • through spiritual discernment/illumination given by having Christ’s mind  (v.14-16).

Christ’s mind we have!

Christ’s Mind We Have

19 May

I know the title sounds a little Yoda-ish, but it is one translation of 1 Corinthians 2:16b.  It is a declaration.  Make it right now, “Christ’s mind I have!”  In the context, Paul is speaking of wisdom that we receive from God.  This wisdom, or sophia, is the right use or exercise of knowledge in act, effect, or practice, skill, tact, or expertise.  The antonym is stupidity, folly, or foolishness.

God is so practical.  The wisdom of God can be roughly divided into four areas:

  1. Skill in the affairs of life, wise management as shown in forming the best plans and means.
  2. Enlightened understanding of divine things and the ability to practically apply the understanding.
  3. Infinite skill, insight, and knowledge of things pertaining to the gospel and what Jesus did for us.
  4. Knowledge of how to regulate one’s relationship with God.

Christ’s mind we have!

Fear of the Dark

14 Apr

Passing the Light

The small light of the flame pushed the darkness back, a palpable darkness, deeper even than those dark nights where the black is thick as a wild beast’s pelt, and presses in on you like a stifling blanket. ~ The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

Don’t run away, I’m not getting my theology from Merlin, but this sentence reminded me of a powerful ceremony my son, Doug, took part in after his training with Teen Missions and before he went to Malawi to help build a church.

All the “bootcamp” graduates were gathered under a large tent along with their family members.  The lights were turned off and we sat in the inkiest black, then one candle was lit.  It, indeed, pushed the darkness back.  Then the flame was passed from candle to candle until all of the young missionaries were bathed in the golden candlelight.  It was incredibly moving at the time, and still when I think about it my heart is full.

In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4,5

Advent-urous

23 Dec

I was looking up the word adventurous in my favorite dictionary (Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language) and it’s related to the word advent which means “to come to.”  Jesus came to earth for us.  I love this poem I found this morning about the Advent of Christ:

Light looked down and beheld Darkness.

“Thither will I go,” said Light.

Peace looked down and beheld War.

“Thither will I go,” said Peace.

Love looked down and beheld Hatred.

“Thither will I go,” said Love.

So came Light and shone.

So came Peace and gave rest.

So came Love and brought life.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. ~ L. Houseman

One of the definitions of adventure is “an enterprise of hazard; a bold undertaking, in which hazards are to be encountered, and the issue is staked upon unforeseen events.”  The best adventure we can have is to whole-heartedly follow Jesus.  It’s advent-urous because we don’t know what’s ahead,  but thankfully HE DOES.

The Word became flesh
and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth. John 1:14 HCSB

Adventing Along . . .

21 Dec

This morning I was thinking about living out of the country and how it has helped me to put Christ in Christmas.  Not that I’m saying it’s impossible in the United States, nor am I railing against commercialism.  No, it’s the simple fact that I have to order my gifts over the Internet that gives me time to meditate on Christ’s birth and death and its eternal effect on our lives.

And I can’t get over the impact that John 1:14 has had on me this holiday season.  Wuest’s expanded translation is my favorite, but I love many of the translations–all expand my heart.

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.  Amplified version

Ok, full of grace and truth.  Jesus was full of grace and truth and we are to be full of grace and truth as His Spirit lives in us.  I was thinking about that this morning and then came across the poem, Psalm of Life, by H.W. Longfellow.  Here is a stanza:

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Today we are to ask God to make his grace and truth real to us.  Today we are to allow His grace and truth flow through us to those who are around us today.  Call it Christmas spirit if you wish, this is the real spirit of Christmas that lives in us throughout the year.

Advent Musing

17 Dec

Tropical Christmas

This verse just jumped up and socked me in the solar plexus.  I had to stop what I’m doing and share this right away.  I’m bowled over with wonder.

And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent [His physical body] among us.  And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14 The New Testament, an Exanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest

So this morning I was looking up grace and truth in some Bible dictionaries and commentaries.  Grace is undeserved and shows the helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God.  Another definition for grace when applied to Jesus, is beauty, charm, and winsomeness.  Isn’t that breathtaking?  Winsomeness.

Jesus is the truth.  The Spirit guides us into truth, the truth liberates us from estrangement and frustration, it can be resented, and it can be disbelieved as too good to be true or someone can choose to believe a half truth.  My prayer today is, “Father, help me see Jesus clearly, receive your grace, and believe your truth.  Amen.”

While Christmas Shopping

4 Dec

Think about this all-important gift:

“We don’t move [toward intimacy] by saying we hate self.  Self-centeredness, selfishness, and turning self inward are bad, but self by itself is not.  We can’t ignore what Christ said to the Pharisees.  He said we should love the Lord our God with all of our self (Matthew 22:37).  Self is intended to be a gift to God.  But instead, we keep taking self back and putting it into the center where Christ belongs.  It’s no wonder we have difficulty seeing Him clearly.  We need to ask Him to take it–to take all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength–all of self for Him.  This is the joy of connectedness.  This is a step toward intimacy.”  ~ Joseph Stowell in Radical Reliance

And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).  Matthew 22:37

Intimacy – Self-Sufficiency = Fearlessness

1 Dec

“What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God” ~ Monica Baldwin

I’m convinced that it is intimacy with God and dependence on God that creates the fearless life.

“When our spirituality is characterized by self-sufficiency rather than God-sufficiency, we rarely feel the need to depend on God, and our souls are not consumed with a passionate desire for Him.  Instead we are prone to long for God only in times of impending need or when earthly things have proven to be unrewarding.  We long for Him in the tough times instead of cultivating a daily, ongoing, deepening relationship to Him as the only genuine source of true satisfaction.  He is there in case we might need Him, not because we do need Him.  He functions as the divine “911” of our lives.  When life cruises on a level plain, though we might never admit it, we have the sense that we don’t need God.  Not really.” ~ Radical Reliance by Joseph M. Stowell

I got a letter from a friend the other day.  In it, she wrote that no longer was detailing her illness to her friends, as she was sure they were tired of it.  She now is detailing her illness to God as he can take it.  Just talking to Him.  She’s not self-sufficiently dealing with her illness, she’s developing intimacy with God.  Lovely.

We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Cor. 5:20 Message