Thursday, December 20, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
the women who bear and publish the news are a great host.
The kings of the enemies' armies, they flee, they flee!
She who tarries at home divides the spoil left behind.
Ps. 68:11 & 12
A SIGNIFICANT HOMEBODY?
Yes, that's what it says -- a woman who "tarries at home" (vs. 12) can have a life of power that causes the enemy to flee. She can plunder from him and divide the spoils with those around her.
GOD GIVES THE WORDThe key is that God gives the word. The principle works for men and women, in any location. It's His word entrusted to us that provides the power. Publish here means to proclaim, to announce, to make known. As we bear (or carry) his word and release it, His power is released. In this way we partner with God in a unique and personal way. Through this partnership, victories are won -- victories that not only benefit the one carrying the word but others as well.
How do we get this empowering word? By fellowshipping with God, by submitting to Him in prayer, by making time with Him a priority. Some people call this "tarrying" with God. Whatever we call it, the life-changing word comes out of personal relationship with Him. And it is available to all who make time to draw near to him, not just homebodies. Sometime after I first got this principle, I learned desktop publishing and started a publishing services company. Now I'm in a new season and home-based again. Along the way I've learned that whatever the season -- it is still the time spent alone with Him that brings victory and power to my life.
GOD'S WORD RELEASED WORKS
I prayed about what would be appropriate to share here as a relevant example. This is the memory that came to me: My sister and I were traveling together in Arizona vacationing together on a "sister trip." We began to fellowship around Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our healer, and proclaim scriptures out loud such as "By His stripes I am healed" (Isaiah 53:5) and "He forgives all my sins; He heals all my diseases" (Psalm 103:3). We spent the third night of our journey in a tiny log cabin perched on the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Sometime in the night I awoke when my sister cried out. She had gotten up to go to the bathroom and, in that moment, God had restored sight to her blind right eye.
Now back to Psalm 68:11 and 12 for a summary: God had given the word of power. We had carried His word with us and published it (proclaimed it, released it, shared it with each other.) The result was victory over darkness and disease. My sister literally "saw" the results! Later God healed her of MS, a healing verified by an MRI that showed the lesions noted by previous MRIs gone. She testified to that, prayed for others and saw more healing take place, in perfect demonstration of our scripture verse.
A year and a half since I first wrote this post, my sister has had another MRI that again verified she no longer has MS.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
GOD AS BRIDEGROOM
I was really blessed by his enthusiastic delight in his bride and it reminded me of Isa 62:5B:[as] the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, [so] shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Later as I reflected on the experience and the scripture, I remembered one of my favorite books, The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards, subtitled "The most beautiful love story ever told." In the Prologue Edwards says this about God and why he created humankind: "He was Love. Passionate, emotional, expressive ... love." He also said, "Of all love stories I find this one unequaled."
After history's first wedding, performed by God, Adam, also was a happy bridegroom. First God let him experience bachelorhood, then he said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him." I've heard it said that Adam's response to Eve in Genesis 2:23 was the equivalent of "Wow!"
I continued thinking of biblical examples of bridegrooms and of weddings. In the Song of Songs, the bridegroom (the One Who Loves) is considered by many to represent Christ and the bride (the Beloved) is thought to represent the Church, the bride of Christ. I think that must be true. After all, Jesus' first miracle was performed at a wedding. His miraculous gift of wine allowed the celebration to continue, proving he had a special love not only for the bride and groom but for wedding celebrations.
The definition of bridegroom is simply, "husband of the bride." Which brings me to this question: Are there husbands among us today who reflect Christ's love for his bride, the church? Several come to mind, one in particular. Many times I heard the bride say she wanted a husband like her Dad, who has loved his wife and children with unconditional and sacrificial love. (I can testify to the truth of that statement, not as observer but as wife.)
We, the bride's father and I, also think the bridegroom in this story is off to a good start. When the minister asked, "Who gives this woman in marriage?" the confident response was, "Her mother and I."
A PERSONAL NOTE
We are pleased to say to our son-in-law, "Welcome to the family." And to our daughter, "Good choice!"
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. O!
Two are better than one,
and a chord of three strands
is not easily broken. Eccl 4:9&12
Thursday, October 04, 2007
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Psalms 19:1 NKJ
Isn't God good?
For more photos from Scenic Valley, click here.
Monday, October 01, 2007
JOT OF HIS OIL
Specifically I have been trying to remember something I once knew that has gotten fuzzy. I was taught the acronym JOT OF HIS OIL as a way to remember God's unique qualities. The emphasis is on qualities that only he possesses.
The "O's" - the "J" - and the "L"
I'm pretty sure I have all three of the "O's" down: Omnipotent (all-powerful); Omniscient (all-knowing); Omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time).
And the "L" has to be Love, specifically agape.
What About the "J"?
Surely the "J" is for Just because all his decisions are right and true. If you have a better idea, please let me know.
Okay, this is what's left: T from JOT, F from OF. Then there's H I and S from HIS. After that I need to fill in the I from OIL.
Who can help me out with these? Guesses are acceptable. And if someone out there knows who originated the original JOT OF HIS OIL acronym and what it said, I would really appreciate the input.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Not all have murdered or committed adultery or stolen. But Isaiah 53:6 says "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way." God calls this tendency to choose our own way rather than his "iniquity." Today we would probably call it rebellion. Derek Prince in his book Atonement sums it up this way: "The root problem of humanity is rebellion against God."
THE CROSS IS THE SOLUTION
We see in this verse not only the problem but the solution. God laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all on the cross. But what does this mean to you and me us as we live out our lives in today's culture?
The Hebrew word for iniquity is avon. This word means not only rebellion but all the evil consequences of rebellion. It is a comprehensive word including the punishment that falls on those who disobey God's law. This same word is used in Genesis 4:13, 1 Samuel 28:10, Lamentations 4:6 & 22. In each of these instances the Hebrew word avon is interpreted as punishment.
AVON = REBELLION & ITS CONSEQUENCES
Derek Prince in Atonement lets scripture interpret scripture and comes to this conclusion: the Hebrew word avon means rebellion, the punishment for rebellion, and the evil consequences of rebellion. In Genesis 4:13 we see that Cain's iniquity and its punishment were both included in the one word: avon. 1 Samuel 28:10 shows Saul using avon to assure the witch that she would not be held guilty, nor would she be punished. Lamentations 4:6 uses avon to mean punishment or punishment of the iniquity. Lamentations 4:22 also uses the word avon to mean the punishment of the iniquity.
DIVINE EXCHANGE ON THE CROSS
He further concludes that a divine exchange took place on the cross that unlocks all the treasures of God's provision: "All the evil due by justice to come to us came on Jesus, so that all the good due to Jesus, earned by His sinless obedience, might be made available to us." A future post will name the nine specific exchanges that took place on the cross and give scripture references for each.
Photo by DetroitDerek
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
His ways reveal His intentions.
That's my "thought for the day" from Eddie Smith's Insight newsletter.
I'm posting from the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles rather than my beloved Hill Country of Texas. There are some things that are similar. For instance, it gets hot during the day here and cools off at night just like at home. I walk every morning while it is cool and enjoy the lush vegetation. I see lovely things growing large in the yards here that I usually see only as pot plants elsewhere. There's not as much animal life here, of course, since this is a very urban area, but there was a squirrel chiding me from a tree this morning for invading his territory and I met a nice dog named Molly who shared the sidewalk with me.
May God bless your day!
Friday, August 10, 2007
Now I'm asking you to name a verse that tells why Jesus came to earth. Please include the scripture reference; however, photos aren't required :)
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Atonement: Your Appointment With God, by Derek Prince has as its theme the work of Calvary as God's extravagant provision for all our needs. In Chapter one we learn that the word atonement refers to God and the sinner being reconciled to each other through the cross. That is, God and the sinner are brought into a relationship in which they are at one, or at-one-ment.
At this point Derek writes about the Bible diagnosis of sin as the problem of mankind. And states that the Bible remedy for sin is atonement.
Derek then explains the difference between the Hebrew word kippur translated atonement in the Old Testament and the Greek word translated atonement in the New Testament. Kippur actually means covering. The sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement covered the sins of the people for one year, and only for one year. Instead of providing a permanent solution for sins, they were merely temporarily covered until the Day of Atonement arrived again each year.
The New Testament gives a completely different picture. Hebrews 10:3-4 tells us that the blood of bulls and goats as sacrifices in the Old Testament could not take away sins. Hebrews 9:26 contrasts the death of Jesus and the Old Testament sacrifices by saying, "But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." In John 1:29 John the Baptist introduced Jesus as, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
So we see the huge difference between what atonement meant in the Old Testament and what it meant in the new. Old Testament sacrifices rather than taking away sin actually reminded the people of the problem of sin. Sins were merely covered from one year to the next. Jesus took away sin so that for New Testament believers who have accepted his sacrifice, there remains no further sacrifice for sins.
A key scripture in this book is Hebrews 10:14: "By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." Hebrews 9:13-14 tells us that Christ was without blemish as he offered himself through the eternal Spirit. Unlike the animal sacrifices, he was totally pure. And the involvement of the eternal Spirit indicates that his substitutionary death on the cross transcends the limits of time. The inference here is that He took on Himself the sins of all people past, present and future.
There is much good advice given in Christian circles and in the Bible itself, but the cross is the only source of absolute forgiveness, grace and power to make all the other good advice work. As Derek writes, "No one will ever live out the Sermon on the Mount without the power of the cross in his or her life."
Next time we will look at what Derek calls the "Divine Exchanges."
Friday, July 27, 2007
Can you find the surprise the caption refers to?
On another blog where I often write about the nature and wildlife experiences I have here in my beloved Texas Hill Country, I posted this photo as "Hill Country Sunrise." However, since this blog is primarily for "church folks," I changed the wording a little. Did you find the "surprise?
Special thanks to my good friend and prayer partner Jean Eastes for sharing this photo.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
DEREK PRINCE: AUTHOR, TEACHER
If you aren't familiar with Derek Prince (1915-2003), he was an internationally-known Bible teacher whose daily radio program once broadcast to half the population of the world in various languages. His presentation of Bible texts was clear and concise. People of all denominations found his teaching to be relevant and insightful. He authored over 40 books and more than 500 audio and 150 video teaching cassettes. He had a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and a Fellowship in Philosophy at King's College, Cambridge. In addition, while at Cambridge, he was an avowed atheist. But his former life brought no satisfaction to him, only depression. After an encounter with Jesus, his life was transformed.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BOOK
There are four divisions to this book of 223 pages: Part 1: The Cross at the Center; Part 2: The Nine Exchanges; Part 3: Five Aspects of Deliverance; Part 4: How to Appropriate What God Has Provided. Because I think this book is so important, I am going to write this review in several parts, presenting pertinent information along the way.
CONSIDER THE WORK OF CALVARY
The introduction opens with Derek in a military hospital in Egypt with an incurable skin disease. He is also depressed. Sovereignly God moves to give him direction to "consider the work of Calvary: a perfect work, perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect." With these words, he is directed to the answer to his problems. He understood he was to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. As he did this, he received a complete and permanent healing. For the remainder of his life he continued in the same manner and received many additional blessings.
In the rest of the book, Derek shares God's extravagant provision through the cross of Jesus for every need in human life. In his own words, "The essence of my discovery was this: On the cross a divinely ordained exchange was enacted in which all the evil due to our sinfulness came on Jesus, that in return all the good due to His spotless righteousness might be made available to us."
MORE NEXT TIME
So, the stage is set. Next post on this topic will go in more depth about God's amazing provision through the cross.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Right now I'm plenty busy and don't have much to say but I really liked what a friend of mine sent and thought I would share. It's this:
Instead, tell the storm how big your God is!
Monday, July 02, 2007
This beautiful video of John Michael Talbot performing Only in God has gotten 1,500 hits on YouTube so far, and is rated at the top level: 5 stars. It is from a concert he gave in Florida.
I asked permission from the JMT Public Relations people to use it on this blog. I also learned that John Michael has recorded his 50th album, which will be released next month. It's called Living Water and will be in the solo meditative style shown here.
I told the JMT people I would ask how many of my readers are John Michael Talbot fans. So if you are, please drop me a line. If I get a good response maybe they will let me run more of his videos!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Ps 56:8 NLT
Emotions are very personal and sometimes irrational. I don't always cry when it's appropriate and sometimes I cry when it's not. If that happens in public - if I'm the only one crying, I get embarrassed and feel a little weird and childlike. Then I think about this scripture and tell myself that God considers all my tears - and all my sorrows - important. And if he is the only one, that's okay.
EMOTIONS ARE REACTORS
Recently I read something else that made me feel better in Beyond the Lie by Alice Smith. She said that our emotions only react; they can’t think, organize or plan. Emotions are involuntary responders to circumstances. She also noted that our emotional responses correspond to our personalities. They demonstrate how strongly we feel about an issue and trigger our will to act.
OUR AUSTERITY IS NOT STORED
Kenny Innes in his recent blog Tears are Cool says this: "When someone around us cries, it shatters the facade of "emotional maturity" and shouts out, 'I feel...'" He continues: "It's interesting that God does not store our austerity or ability to conceal our feelings in front of people ... Perhaps it's because God loves it when we feel - when we engage emotions that are deeply held, honestly pouring them out before Him."
BEING CHILDLIKE HAS VALUE
Our Father obviously sees being childlike as a good thing, even a "great" thing. In Matthew 18:4 it is linked with humility. Proverbs 29:23 says that pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor. Now that's a new idea to me - that my tears could actually bring me honor. But if God honors each one enough to put it in a bottle and record it, if each tear is that important to him, it follows that my attitude needs to line up with his.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I'm always on a quest to know God better so I often think about who he is and what his nature is. In the midst of one of those times, it dawned on me that the scripture in Galatians about the fruit of the Spirit was a perfect description of God. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."
WHO IS HE?
Now, maybe that's not new to you. Maybe you're going, "Duh?" But it was a wonderful revelation to me and I'm sharing it for others who, like myself, need to be told in plain language that the only way our Father God reveals himself to those of us who are blessed to be his children is ...
by loving us,
finding joy in his relationship with us,
speaking peace to us and seeking to create peace in us,
suffering long with us when we are unloving to others,
being kind to us in all things,
bringing good into our lives,
faithfully doing what he said he would do,
never being rude to us but gentle instead,
exercising self-control when we are rude to him and others
If you can't imagine God in this way, then now is a good time to ask him to reveal himself to you according to Galatians 5:22 and 23. He will be faithful to do so: that's his job description!
Photo by Clay Irving
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Teach me to see
what I still don't see.
The Message Remix
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
For God's kids, the door is always open. So it should be simple for us to walk right in and fellowship with him, right? I want it to be that way and sometimes it is. But not always. Recently I have been struggling over a situation involving one of my children. I know God wants to take the burden off me and I know his door is open, so what's the problem?
I Kept Wrestling With It
I had gone before God and prayed and come to a kind of semi-peace. Semi in that I wasn't carrying the entire problem but little thoughts kept nagging me and I would have to keep wrestling with them, reminding myself that I had left that with God.
Little Foxes Spoil the Vine
Proverbs says it's the little foxes that spoil the vine and these "little thoughts" were robbing me of peace. When I got good and tired of it I threw myself on the floor - for me that is a reminder of the need to humble myself and admit I am desperate - and I cried out to God for wisdom in the matter. Shortly thereafter I prayed again and this time I broke through. I realized I had been trying to deal with the thoughts but had pushed down my feelings about the situation and not brought them to the Lord.
Tell Him All Your Troubles
Ps. 142 says to pour out our complaints to the Lord, to tell him our troubles. I thought I had done that, but until I really got gut-level honest with myself and God about my feelings in this situation, I didn't get peace. I knew that once (click here) but I forgot it!
I share this as a reminder to myself and possibly a hint to someone else who might have prayed but not broken through. God is available to help us. His door is open. If we aren't walking in his peace, the problem is with us.
Photo by Darryl Wattenberg
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Bruce Marchiano recently appeared in person at Impact Christian Fellowship in Kerrville, TX to share with the congregation his testimony and experiences playing Jesus in the Matthew film and his future plans for filming John. Impact presented the Matthew film in three parts, with the last part being presented on Good Friday with Bruce present.
John as a Ministry Tool
In a taped interview presented to the congregation in segments after his appearance, Bruce shared his vision for John. It will be strictly Word-based, using the text of John as it appears in the New International Version.
His purpose in the project is to provide free copies of the film as an outreach and ministry tool. He wants to put it in the hands of all ministries, evangelists and members of the Body of Christ to share with others. He expects it to be distributed by all means possible, including Internet downloads.
A String of Pearls
About the film itself, he says that it will not be like the Matthew film in that it will not have an ongoing story format but will be a series of Jesus encounters and events strung together like a string of pearls, as it is in the Biblical account.
Bruce's enthusiasm for this project is contagious. He is raising finances one dollar at a time. In this manner he will be free to make decisions on filming and distribution from a Word and ministry viewpoint rather than having to answer to commercial investors. He estimates that he will need $25 million.
Click here to check out the John website and to read recommendations by Jack Hayford and the President of the International Bible Society. Donations can be made at this site also.
Monday, April 30, 2007
And you are my servant. You have been chosen to know me,
believe in me, and understand that I alone am God.
Isa 43:10 NLT
Come to Him
In Jhn 6:37 Jesus says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." So, we come to Him, believing He is who He says He is. "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? “I am,” said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mrk 14:61-2 NIV)
I love the clarity found in the New Living Translation. But the NIV phrases our opening scripture differently. Instead of saying that we are to know Him and believe IN Him, it says we are to know Him and believe Him.
Accept What He Says
The more I think about that, the more I see the difference in believing in Him and believing Him. To believe in Him has to do with who He is. To believe Him is to accept everything He says as truth. While I purpose to practice both statements, I find it more of a challenge to believe everything He says than I do to believe in Him. How about you?
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Here's a quote from the website: "We have coined the term "SOAKING" as being that which we do when we lay down before the Lord, with no other agenda than to meet with Him." There is also a statement that this is "one way among many which translates our longings into an act of worship and abandonment, something we can practice to bring us to a place of utter abandonment to God."
Much of the music is instrumental. The limited lyrics are Biblical and inspiring. The entire experience is a gentle, peaceful one that brings me to a place of stillness and quietness before the Lord.
You might want to check out their vision statement and other relevant information at http://www.soaking.net From there click Enter in the bottom right corner of the opening logo to get to the music.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I've been mulling over this quote for a long time. It intrigues me but I'm not sure if I totally agree with it. I think there are definitely times to speak the truth and times to stand up for the truth. But can a hurting person hear the truth? Probably not, especially if spoken in a combative way. This I know, we need to respond not just react out of our emotions.
What do you think?
Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us
or against God or against the truth
are merely for the wind--
spoken not from the soul, but from the sore.
If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove.
Restoring the soul, not reproving the sore, is the aim of our love.
and he will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
PROVERBS 3:6 TAB
PROVERBS 3:6 NKJ
Sometimes I come to him in the midst of stife and uncertainty but acknowledging him in this way builds my faith so that I can confidently release myself into his care and experience his peace, knowing he will take charge of my situation and direct me in straight and plain paths.
Monday, March 05, 2007
who rides on the heavens to help us...
The eternal God is our refuge
And underneath are the everlasting arms.
He drives out our enemy... so we live in safety.
Blessed are we, a people saved by the Lord.
He is our shield and helper and glorious sword.
Our enemies cower before us and
We trample down their high places.
Deut 33:26-29, Personalized
Thursday, February 15, 2007
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord & he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
Shame and fear are linked together in verses 4 and 5 of Psalm 34. If we have one, we probably have the other. Being shamed, being publicly humiliated, causes a person to fear it happening again. Or if a person is abused, generally they will feel ashamed in addition to fear, even though they did nothing wrong. The first verses speak of being afflicted. Shame and fear are debilitating afflictions.
A WAY OUT
So what is the way out? The psalmist approaches God with humility and confidence. He draws near to him with extravagant praise and worship: he extols, boasts in, glorifies and exalts. He puts effort and positive energy into seeking the Lord. The word "always" indicates he does this as a lifestyle. He urges others to join him in his praise. He sees God as not only praiseworthy, but as the answer to his problems. And God responds to him, transforming his countenance from one of affliction to one of radiance.
Photo by capdar, http://www.flickr.com/photos/captain_don/
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Now, most of us havel heard that we are supposed to think positively and biblically, so the first sentence of the following excerpt probably sounds familiar. It's the last part, which contains the consequences of negative thinking that impressed me as being noteworthy ... and extremely practical.
The biggest secret I've found is keeping my attention on what God is doing and has done and not on what he hasn't done. If you feed constantly on what he hasn't done, you build a case to support your unbelief. This legitimizes difficulties and problems and makes you feel like a martyr instead of being positioned to see the breakthrough that you hunger for.
Friday, January 19, 2007
according to the riches of his glory,
that you may be strengthened with power
through his Spirit in the inward man;
that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith;
to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be strengthened to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know Messiah's love which surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19 HNV
Look at the first verse of this scripture passage as an introduction, as if Paul is saying, "this is how you become strengthened with the Spirit's power:" Everything that follows describes the process that leads us to walking in God's fullness. It is a progression that begins with trusting Jesus, then experiencing his love and then being immersed in it. For this to happen, we must have a mindset of submitting ourselves to God, letting Him live through us rather than our living (and doing) for God apart from submission.
BECOME IMMERSED IN HIS LOVE
Being filled with God's fullness is the result of being progressive strengthened with the Spirit’s power. As we become stronger and stronger in the Spirit and his revelation of Jesus' love, we experience that love to such a degree that we are immersed in it. We become aware that his love is above us, below us, in front of us, behind us, and on each side of us.
INVITE JESUS IN
These verses are a bit complicated but the foundational truth is that this process of strengthening and being filled with God's fullness occurs as we invite Jesus into our lives day-by-day, moment by moment. This is done by faith, not feelings. Faith rises in our hearts as we choose to trust Him one problem and one issue at a time.
Photo by fahed_awan
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Ephesians 3:16-19 HNV
…that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,
that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man;
that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith;
to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be strengthened to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know Messiah's love which surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
HOW TO BE FILLED WITH GOD'S FULLNESS
The object of Paul's prayer is that the church (comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles) is found in verse 19: that we be filled with the fullness of God. I see verse 16 as an introductory statement, as if he is saying, "this is how you become strengthened with the Spirit's power:" Everything that follows describes the process that leads us to walking in God's fullness. It is a progression that begins with trusting Jesus, then experiencing his love and then being immersed in it.
Being filled with God's fullness (verse 19) is the result of what verse 16 promises. As we become stronger and stronger in the Spirit and his revelation of the the knowledge of Jesus' love, we experience that love to such a degree that we are immersed in it. We come to know by our own experience, that his love surrounds us. It is above us, below us, to our left and to our right. process continues until we are filled with His fullness.
The verses are a bit complicated but the foundational truth here is that this process of growth occurs as we invite Jesus into our lives and issues, choosing to trust Him day by day, moment by moment.
BACKGROUND OF THESE VERSES
Previously in this chapter, Paul explains the "Mystery of God through the Ages." He says that it was always God's plan to unite Jews and Gentiles in Christ Jesus and that his plan is now being demonstrated to the angels that rule in heavenly places. This was extraordinary news, for the Jews were known as God's Chosen People and considered themselves defiled by close contact with Gentiles. In fact the word "Gentile" was usually followed by the word "sinner," as in, "Gentile sinners." And everyone who wasn't a Jew was a Gentile.
What was being played out here was a revelation of God's mercy and grace, something new to the world and to the angels. No wonder Paul says in verse 14 that he falls to his knees when he thinks about God's wise plan. No human or angel would ever have thought of - or had the means - to unite these two separate factions. But it was done through Christ Jesus, Lord of all.
Monday, January 15, 2007
We walked through this lush entrance and under the Bell Tower to the Commons Center. There we got in line for a meal that promised to be special since it was prepared with homegrown organic vegetables and chicken. We filled our plates and fellowshipped with those around us. I was a stranger but my sister knew many gathered here for the annual gathering of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, which occurs each year in the Arkansas Ozarks on the Feast Day of St. Francis.
After eating, we walked through the lovely garden and took each other's pictures in the swing we found there. (That's my sister in the photo to the right.) As we left the garden and walked toward a brook on the spacious grounds, I saw John Michael Talbot, Christian recording artist and founder of this community, a short distance away. I had never met him but recognized him from photos of album covers I had. He was turning to go another direction, but my sister, who had known him for a long time but had not seen him in years, called out to him, "John." Recognizing her voice, he turned and warmly welcomed us.
They had a common history and a lot of catching up to do. He was very gratified to see her because she was "fruit" from his early ministry. But he was very gracious to me, too. We talked about the beauty and challenge of living in community. He used the phrase "the crucible of community" and I understood. I had spent almost 18 years in a covenant community, so I felt we had a common experience. He invited me to attend the various events coming up as a part of this gathering. I thanked him and accepted the invitation.
I SENSED THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
I can number on the fingers of one hand how many times I have been in Catholic services, (mostly weddings and funerals), so these meetings were new experiences to me. But I found that the worship was familiar and uplifting and I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I attended four different events while I was there and I enjoyed them all. The last I attended was an outdoor worship celebration, dedication, and tour of the newly completed Portiuncula Chapel. At every event, John Michael was gracious to me. I was struck with the thought that he was not only personable, but he was personal. He noticed people and cared about each one, including me.
At the end of the gathering, I thanked John Michael for the opportunity to participate in this slice of community life. I spoke from my heart as I told him that I hoped he would count me a friend.
What I just described happened in the Autumn of 2002. Since that time, he and I have personally communicated only once or twice but my sister tells me he asks about me from time to time. When I heard he was recording his 50th album for release later this year (a rare achievement for any recording artist!), I knew I wanted to feature him on my blog.I'M catholic WITH A small "c"
I am not Roman Catholic but I am catholic (with a small "c" in the sense that I feel a kinship to all who confess Jesus as Lord and are born of God's Spirit. Since I often write about people in various streams in the Body of Christ, I thought the occasion of his 50th album would be a good time to remember my visit with John Michael and the gracious people who live at the Little Portion Hermitage.
In the photo to the right, I am eating lunch on the deck overlooking the unbelievably beautiful and serene prayer garden.
LOOK FOR THE UPCOMING RELEASE OF 50TH ALBUM
Release date for this album has not been announced, but if you enjoy his music, or if this article has stirred your interest, please go to your local Christian bookstore toward the end of the summer and ask if they have it - or can get it for you. I read on his website that it marks a return to his usual reflective, meditative style of worship. And, of course, features his crystal-clear tenor vocals with his magnificent classical guitar. For more news about this album, click here. For more on the Brothers and Sisters of Charity and Little Portion Hermitage, click here.
Monday, January 08, 2007
His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may go on all night but joy comes with the morning.
Ps 30:4-5 NLT
This psalm was written by David to celebrate God's goodness and as part of the dedication of "a house of David." He is looking back at a recent time when God, because of his holiness, corrected him for sin. After "chastening" him, God in his goodness granted David repentance. Joy came to David as he moved from mourning about his sin to rejoicing in God's forgiveness and unconditional love.
WHO SHOULD SING AND WHY?
Those who belong to God are urged to sing to the Lord as they remember both his holiness and experiences of his favor. Because He loves us, God corrects us so that we can know what is right and become like him. (Heb 12:5-10; Rev 3:19)