Monthly Archives: June 2013

Faith Is

I would like to start out asking for the forgiveness of all who take time to read my blog.  Most of my posts, well, all of them, are my thinking aloud to myself and working through the thought process of a topic that comes to me.  I do thank you for taking the time to read what I put down and hope and pray that it helps you challenge yourself in walking with the Lord.

I have started reading a book by Derek Prince on the Will of God.  In the opening chapter (I have just started reading it after all) Derek quotes from Hebrews, chapter 12, where Paul talks about Jesus being the author and perfecter of our faith.  That is the key that struck me and has me thinking.  You should see the wheels turning and the smoke coming out of my ears.

Now, yes, Jesus is the author of my/our faith.  But I had not thought about Jesus as the perfecter of faith.  What does that look like and where will that lead me?  I like to start with root word meanings.  Faith, that which we believe by; believe what, how, why?  The spiritual realm is unseen in the physical real in which we live, so it is something we cannot see and touch, there is no feely to it.  So is faith blind or senseless?  I think not, I think we can and should “know” what we believe.

Consider Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  This is the King Jimmy version which I love.  Faith is substance and evidence.  Those are both very tangible words.  Substance,  I picture reaching down and grabbing a handful of earth, to hold and feel.  Evidence, name your favorite court drama, the court is only interested in evidence, facts, what the witness knows to be true.  No opinions allowed.

By faith we hope for that which is unseen, we hope to hold that which is precious to us and that precious thing is God Himself who makes himself available to be held and seen.  And in Hebrews 12, quoted above, Jesus is perfecting this faith in us.  Oh, what glory we behold, what love can be so great.  Jesus wants us and is working to make perfect our sight of spiritual things, the spiritual realm about us, our spiritual lives, to be fully fulfilled in Him.  That is His goal for each of us and His work by the Holy spirit to bring about.  I say embrace this and welcome it with all of your being.

Reading in the area of Romans, chapters 3 and 4 (you get to do some of the work here) Paul then talks about faith compared to the law.  The law is harsh and hard, it is final, a yes or no proposition.  Faith seems to challenge the law but it does not, faith confirms the highest law, the law of the love of God, the law that says God is supreme and in that supremeness He choose all who would have Him and Him alone.  By faith are we justified and made righteous.  An image I offer is of you being brought into the great court, the high court.  You stand before the judge who hears the evidence against you and by the law is bound to find you guilty as charged.  Guilty, the word rings out though the court as the gavel bangs down loudly and the sentence is pronounced, guilty, guilty, guilty.  But then, yes, then, the judge rises from his seat, takes off his robe and walks around to the front of the bench to where you stand.  He joins you there and there he proclaims, “I will pay this debt, I will pay the price required of the conviction.” 

You have been freed, you have been set totally and completely free, just as if your crime had never been committed.  You are made righteous, whole again.  Can you imagine?  The depth and breadth of this freedom, granted by the same as who condemned you, done by his own free will.  He came down from the judgment set to pay the price for you.

It takes faith to see that, to grasp it, to hold it, to shed tears over the receipt of such love undeserved.  Faith in the unseen, the unknowable.  But we do know, we do believe, we do respond to this love, by faith and faith alone.  Yes, there is so much that I want, that I think I need, but that is all so shallow because the reality is that the spiritual realm is of so much greater importance that our physical real.

And Jesus is the perfecter of our faith.  So much can be said there that this post cannot begin.  But let it be sufficient that He is at work in our lives to bring us to Himself and His Father, perfect and whole.  That is happening right now, right now, day or night as you read this simple word.  Embrace that He is and you are and that it is alive and that it is well with your soul, for it is.

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If just one Wang

This is both a call to the church and is a personal thank you to someone very special to me. Right now they are half way around the world answering God’s call on their life. They did not say Lord, send someone else, nor did they choose where they went. This person heard God call and obeyed.

A few weeks ago an email went out saying that they had learned of a person in very serious need of Jesus and a touch by the Holy Spirit. He had shared shared some things that indicated darkness in his life. So the call went out for prayer that at a meeting set up that Jesus would reach this young man. The young man’s name is Wang. Please keep him in your prayers as the light is reaching him and he is being led to the Lord.

Now comes the part that applies to you and me. Are we answering God’s call? Are we walking in the place that He has for His purposes? Are we touching lives for the Kingdom of God? Are we comfortable in our homes, in our society, in our lives? Are you?

I am not saying you or I is called to go halfway around the world but I am saying each of us is called of God to be the glove that His Holy Spirit fills and uses in this world. Yes, God wants to touch lives through each one of us and He really does not want us to be comfortable.

Kairos is a prison ministry and twice a year in the units where Kairos is located weekends are held where 42 inmates, convicted felons are allowed to come out of the general population to participate. I have sat with convicted murderers and other violent criminals and shared the love of Jesus Christ with them. Is it scary? Yes, at times it can be but when you go you go in the name of Jesus Christ.

I know people who cannot go into prison and I do not think I could go overseas on an extended call. Maybe health reasons, maybe things in the past that do not allow such efforts. But, and this is the important but, each of us is called. You, my friend, are called by God for His good purposes, for His Kingdom. Go, seek it, find it, and embrace it. Go, and go quickly. Eternity means so much more than anything now.

If just one Wang is reached by my friend over the course of 2 years then those 2 years are more than worth it and I would send them again. If one inmate comes to Christ because of Kairos then Kairos is worth it all. So I leave you with “If Just One Wang.”

When I Gaze

This post originated while at the gym tonight.  I have a pulled groin muscle which at this time really hurts, as in pain.  When I hurt my thinking goes way off track which can be good or sometimes not so good.  The thought processes are altered because my mind is distracted (in this case by pain).  There is actually a psychotherapy technique called EMDR that uses a distracted mind to help patients approach problems.  That is a totally different subject that is way off track.  So, on to this post.

I don’t know what you believe or what led you to your beliefs.  Me, I believe in the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.  To further clarify that I believe that Jesus is all He said He was, that He died for our sins and that we can invite Him into our hearts to live as Savior and Lord.

Music to me is meant for the heart.  Yes, I know that there is all kinds of technical and even mathematical aspects to it, but I like music that moves me.  Quite often it also speaks to me, volumes, about life and love and good and bad and about people.  I would like to share about three songs (of the many) that have had great impact in my life and which help me gaze in awe at the most wondrous, and Awesome God, the Great I AM.

The first song I heard live in 1971 and it is “Shauna’s Song” by Barry McGuire.  I was a new Christian and he performed during a seminar I attended.  Several aspects of it still stand as a testament to God’s love.  Barry was also a fairly new person in Christ and the testimony of his life and that is exhibited in this song is one of a life changed and transformed completely by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  It was so clear and obvious that Barry had been touched by the Holy spirit and made new.  The Christian term is Barry had been “born again.”  Here are the lyrics.

Shauna’s Song

I don’t know            why he loves me

I don’t know            why he cares for me

You know I ran from him, oh yes, I ran from him

I turned my back and slammed the door in his face

But still he said to me, said, “I love you”

Said, “I love you”

I don’t know            why he wants me

I don’t know            why he’s so concerned for me

You know I’ve hurt him so, oh yes, I’ve hurt him so

But still he comes to me with his arms outstretched

Whispering these words, “I forgive you”

Says, “I forgive you”

I just don’t understand a man who’ll stand and say, “I forgive you”

Say, “I love you”

But don’t you know

Now it’s true

I love him, too

Like Barry I don’t understand how God could love me how God could send His only Son to die for me, how Jesus could and would choose to die for me and love me.  But He does and He did.  Jesus hung on the cross to pay for my sins.

When I talked in the last post about gazing at the Great I AM I used the picture of astronomy because it was a very good image of gazing at something so vast and awesome and unknowable.  I don’t care what science says, they really don’t have a clue about the greatness of the universe.

Over Christmas of 2009 my wife of 37 years, Deborah, died from cancer and it shattered my life.  Well, God often speaks to me through music and this was no exception.  The first music He gave me was a song by Julie Miller titled “All My Tears.”  Like Barry when you see Julie in the context of her music you see someone who is very spiritual and very much in touch with God.  To me there is an innocence in her love for Jesus.  God gave me this song as being Deborah’s song.  Here are it lyrics.

All My Tears

When I go don’t cry for me
In my father’s arms I’ll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I’ll be whole

Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus’ face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name

It don’t matter where you bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven’s store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again

In and through these word I knew Deborah was home, healed and whole.  There was great peace which came (and still comes) from listening to this music.

The final song has a slightly stranger story behind it for me.  I don’t like a lot of modern Christian music because it seems to lack a depth of knowing and loving Jesus.  A lot of modern music seems written to sell and to stimulate, not to express the Holiness of the relationship we can have with the Father.  This is just some of my thinking so please don’t hammer me for it.  I am not making an absolute statement here.

I have worked in prison ministry with a ministry called Kairos where we go in for a weekend and “Listen, Listen, Love, Love” 42 inmates at a time.  There are broken down to 7 different tables where they sit with volunteers.  During the first Kairos weekend I worked after losing Deborah I was sitting at the table with inmates and ours was in the back of the room.  Over the course of the weekend we sing songs.

Before I go on I should say that I believe in the Holy Spirit and I believe there is a supernatural world that is all around us.  I love the Holy Spirit, believe in the Baptism in it and have seen God do miraculous things in this world.  Really.  Oh, and that is not part of the Kairos plan and is not encouraged.  The book contains the plan and we strive to stick with it.

So we were having a singing time and were all standing up having a good time.  Our music leader lead us in a song I suppose I had heard before but I had never “heard” it before like I heard it that day.  The song is “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.  I swear I hadn’t heard it before today, okay.  Well, the Holy Spirit took me, in the spirit, up to heaven and there I was in the great throne room of God.  And Deborah was there to greet me with this great big smile that simply radiated with her eyes bright as can be.  Now you are probably thinking yea, the guy goes to heaven and sees his wife and she is hunky-dory.  I would be thinking that too so I don’t mind if you do.  But, this is my vision of heaven so follow along.  Then Deborah takes me by my hand and she leads me over and introduces me to Jesus.  The message God had for me came through loud and clear, it is all about Jesus  Here are the lyrics to “I Can Only Imagine.”

I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk

By Your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

[Chorus:]
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the sun

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still

Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
I can only imagine
yeah
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
yeah
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever,
forever worship you

I can only imagine

When I went to the gym this evening I played these three songs in a loop over the course of about an hour and at times I buried my face in my workout towel and cried, weeping over the emotions these songs stir up in me, songs that stir up Christ in me.  Just like my vision which occurred in prison, it is about Jesus and the depth of the meaning of knowing Him.  Do you have a belief that is strong enough to carry you through life, through good and bad, to take the weight of all the wrongs in your life (called sin), a belief that can stand in the storm?  I do, I believe in God, the God, the Great I AM.  And along with Barry I don’t know why He loves me.  And with Julie I know that one day all my tears will be washed away when we see Him face to face.

To gaze at the I AM can be outward, heavenly, or it can be inwardly, inside each of us.  Gaze, be in awe.  Dare to look and seek to know Him who is.  Yes, we truly cannot comprehend Him but we can gaze and we can seek to but touch the hem of His garment and be made whole.

Below are YouTube’s of the three songs.  For Barry it is his performing it live, laid out like the question it is.  All My Tears has been done in many variations by many artists.  I give you Julie singing it in a simplistic version that I think lays open the music and bares it for the soul.  I Can Only Imagine is Mercy Me’s original version of the song.  Blessing on you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxv6Os66U3I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YzreoXax1A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lrrq_opng

The Really Big Picture

It has been a while since I posted to the blog so for that I apologize.  Just been busy and haven’t had any thinking worth following and developing ideas from.  So it is time to change gears and write.  Here goes and it promises starting out to be a many varied tangle of a path to reach the conclusion. 

I have been reading “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A. W. Tozer.  Tozer is an author that for me I have to read a small part of it and then go back a couple of pages to reread how it fits.  Very deep and profound thinking.  I have reached chapter five which is titled “The Self-Existence of God.”  Tozer says, and I quote, “Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can think.”  The first part of this statement is saying simply that we have failed to simply gaze in wonder.  Gaze in wonder is a concept we can grasp and understand.  Have you stood on a beach and gazed in wonder at the ocean?  Or have you gazed in wonder at the stars in the heavens, or the sunset as the sky changes color from blue to orange to fiery red?  For parents who have gazed at their newborn child I know they have gazed in wonder.  Tozer is saying we have failed to gaze in wonder at the greatest thing that we can gaze at, God Himself; God the great I AM.  More about that in a minute. 

I read an article from TIME magazine (online edition) about a galaxy that has been discovered, named Segue 2.  Now, galaxies are considered to contain anywhere from as few as 10 million stars to trillions of stars, all orbiting around a central point.  Further there are said to be probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.  I won’t even try and impress anyone with crunching the numbers of possible stars all these figures adds up to, but I want to mention Segue 2 because it is unique amongst galaxies.  It is considered the smallest known galaxy with about 600 stars in it, a mere fraction of what is considered normal for a galaxy.  Yet it has its own name and it rates an article in TIME magazine.  It is unique and special.  Keep that point in the forefront of your mind as you read on in this post.

 

“Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM,…”  the I AM who is God the Creator of Segue 2 as well as the Creator of you and me.  God said I am going to make a special galaxy that one day man will name Segue 2.  It will be special for a different reason, a reason I bestowed on it from the beginning.  Let me make a galaxy unlike all the other known ones to man.  Instead of millions, or billions, or even trillions of stars I will give it less than 1000.  And God said it was good, and because God said it was good, it was good.  

When I gaze in the night sky, and am in a dark sky locale, I can see the Andromeda galaxy with my naked eye.  Granted it looks like a cotton ball but I know what I am looking at and I can gaze at it in awe.  There are many other night sky treats to be seen and to gaze at in awe and I love doing so.  But have I taken the time and effort to gaze at I AM?  That is Tozer’s point that he puts before us.  I have to wonder and if I am honest I would say I have failed to do so.  Looking at the night sky has enriched my life, so how much more would I be enriched by gazing at the I AM?  What about you?  Has looking at the ocean, the mountains, the forests, the sky, enriched you?  I would say probably so where have we failed? 

I think that if we have let Jesus Christ into our lives we have pondered God and all that He is.  But I think Tozer is trying to lead us to a whole new level of knowing God, of knowing the Great I AM.  One of our problems is we think and we think like men and we think in terms we can understand.  This is natural for us because we are men (and women) and this is how we think.  We picture and imagine in terms we can understand. 

The New Testament speaks of the throne of God.  We picture and imagine God sitting on this big throne, a really nice chair, administering judgments and so forth.  But when I think of the heavens, all the way from Segue 2 to the Andromeda galaxy, to Orion and out beyond what we can even glimpse with our most powerful telescopes, I see God.  God, not just the creator, but the sustainer and the enjoyer of all that He created.  I see God taking time to look at this teeny tiny galaxy named Segue 2 and saying WOW! This is a really neat thing I made. 

Before it looks like I am totally into astronomy God looks at me like He looks at Segue 2.  In terms of being a galaxy Segue 2 is a nothing, can’t even think about competing with the heavy hitters.  Neither can I in terms of being a great human being.  I am not and know it.  But the fascinating thing is God looks at me, and you, and says WOW!  This is a really neat person I made.  Just as every star and every galaxy is special, unique and wonderful, so is every person.  So are you, and you and also you over there reading my post from some place I never heard of. 

Back to the original topic, gazing at I AM.  I need to, and you need to as well, sit still and think about the God who is before anything and everything, who we can’t go back past to find more.  We need to elevate Him to His level and not what we think His level is.  We need to let Him shatter any and all preconceived notions of God, not just examine Him “outside the box.”  So I am asking you to make an effort to try.  I would add more but since I don’t have a clue as to how to go about it I will end with that.  He is, He is God, He is more than the sum total.  Go and gaze.