Tag Archives: Jesus

Flawed Christian, Pt. 2

This is part 2 of “Flawed Christian” and I would like to expound on what I meant in part 1. I said I was flawed and that is just what I meant. I am not perfect (I already said that) and I do not meet the standard Jesus set to be perfect as the Father in Heaven is. How am I not? Consider how you and I are created, we are tripartite beings, body, mind and spirit. Maybe you want to say body, soul and spirit, to me that is minor. We are three part beings.
First we are body, flesh, organic, we bleed and we sweat, we physically feel pain and pleasure. That is body. It is physical and it is what some people think is all we are. Further we all decay and eventually die. No getting around that except for one possible exception. A concept in Christianity is stated born once die twice. Born twice, die once meaning that once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we only die physically but we will live forever with God. I am not going to debate that concept here as it is not part of this story.
The only possible exception is Lazarus. Jesus raised him from the dead. It is written there that Lazarus was good and dead and ripe for several days when Jesus raised him. So, if Lazarus died then he died the death we all face and Jesus brought him back from the dead to live again. So did Lazarus die a second time? Now that is an interesting question to me. Could it be that in Israel right now is a little old 2,000 year old man who has a very bad attitude because Jesus brought him back from the dead and now he has to wait on Jesus coming back again. I know I would not be a happy camper. That is just some food for thought for the theological types.
I am 63 years old and not getting any younger. My body is physically decaying and beginning to break down. Is that a sin? No, that is the normal process of life. If the super Christian crowd prays for me to be healed what would it look like? Would it be the body of a young, healthy male or would it be the current state I am in being more comfortable and better able to perform normal routine activities? My point for this post is that I am flawed. I can no longer do many of the things I once could. Flawed is normal and I don’t have to try and be something I am not. Last summer I tried something I can no longer do. I was at the big city pool doing my water exercises and was watching kids jumping off the diving board with another lady who was doing the same thing as I was. She says that looks like fun, I think I will try it and she did. Nice dive lady. So I thought I would also and got up there on the board. Tested the board out for spring and distance of the steps with no problem. Planned on doing a simple jackknife and started to go up on one leg when the leg I went up on said “no you don’t.” I collapsed under me and I went off the board at a 45 degree angle on my shoulder in a complete belly flop that I sure was amazing to watch. No more going off the board for me.
We are mind, we have a brain (yes that is part of the body) that contains our learning ability. By this age mine should be chock full of knowledge and to an extent it is. 63 years of history and study and all kinds of stuff in there. Do you know the name of Dudley Do-right’s horse? I have that piece of wonderful knowledge stored away. But here comes a major factor in being a flawed Christian. The mind is where choices come in and quite often I choose that which is not pleasing to God and which He calls sin. I am flawed by my being weak in will and the choices I make. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul says that he does the things he does not want to do and does not do the things he should do. The great apostle Paul is saying he too is flawed. Puts us in good company I suppose.
How does Paul answer this dilemma? The answer is actually easy; the accepting of it is the hard part. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul goes on and says: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then in Romans, chapter 8, Paul ices the cake saying: “God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”
This is Christmas folks, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God made man. God came down from heaven and became flesh and blood, just like you and me, an baby infant, helpless and totally dependent on his mother to bring him into the world. Further, God came down in the lowliest of places to the most humble of people, poor and in a distant land from home, alone.
Yet they were not alone by a long shot. Who did God send to bear witness of this miracle? Shepherds that is who. Guys working the graveyard shift minding their own business, nice quiet evening out looking at the stars and making small talk about the local camel races. And lo, an angel appeared to them and the glory of God shone all around them! Hey, I am awake, okay. Fear not, for I bring tidings of great joy. Go down and look for the son of King David (really dropping names here) born this day. Oh, and by the way you will find him in the stable, in a manger, a feed trough if you will. What, the son of the great king David in a stable, in a manger, for shame, for shame. But that is how God comes to you and to me, humbly, poor, not lifting Himself up. He comes as a babe, helpless, willing to just “be” himself, no being anything special. That is our King, willing to serve.
Therein lies the key, are we willing to just be a servant, nothing special? That is all Jesus asks of us. Will you and I give Him our flawed selves this Christmas and allow Him to use us as He sees fit. I know I am not worthy, that I am flawed and am a sinner of the highest order (there is actually only one order of sinner and that is chief) yet God still chooses to occasionally work through me.
I hope and pray our new priest (Rev, Dr.) is a shepherd who is will to be approached by angels who come proclaiming good news and I hope he knows where the best grass is for his sheep because I am needy. This Christmas, his first with us, I hope and pray he leads us to lift our voices and hands to worship the coming of the King, son of God and son of Man. All I can say is Baaahhhh! Merry Christmas.

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Flawed Christian

I am a flawed Christian.  There I said and it is off my chest.  In Matthew 5:48 Jesus Himself says “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  I am definitely not what Jesus says I am to be, and I know it all too well.  Surprise, neither are you so don’t try and pretend you aren’t.

This morning I had a revelation and it went like this. Last night I stayed up way too late, my digestive system was rumbling, did not sleep well and the alarm keeps annoying me to get up and go to church.  So I kept hitting snooze until I was just too uncomfortable to stay in bed.  During the time of snoozing my mind was not fully cognizant so deeper thoughts were able to come forth, hence the revelation.  I was thinking about our new priest (I am an Episcopalian) who is a Rev. Dr. and we all know that a PhD means “piled higher and deeper.”  But he is called to be the shepherd of our church, the flock, and we are called to be his sheep.  Then I began reciting Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makest (I love King Jimmy) me lie down in green pastures…”  I have been taught that in olden days if a shepherd has a sheep that continues to stray he will actually break the sheep’s legs to get it to lie down and learn not to stray.

It is the shepherd’s job to lead the sheep to green grass and protect them from wolves.  Lord knows the world today is full of wolves.  Over the years, however, I have learned that the priests and preachers, the myriad of teachers, evangelists, and all of the theological types are also just like me, flawed, imperfect.  The problem comes in when they try to act perfect and they preach and teach like they are perfect and that we should be like them and act the part.  It does not work.  We are all flawed and imperfect and we are all dying, some faster than others.

So much of the Christian world today puts on a front and wants to have all the answers to being perfect and doing things right.  If you brush your teeth with Pepsodent your will have white teeth, if you use Dove soap you will have clean and smooth skin.  If you drive some car in some specific color you will be an in person, and so forth and so on.  It does not work.

In the modern Christian church if you pray a certain way you can have an inside line to God and your prayers will be answered the way you want.  If you follow certain teachings then you will be living the “good” Christian life and will be counted as righteous.  And oh yes, if you give so much of your money God will rain down even more money.  It is a guaranteed rate of return.  Furthermore, you should not hurt or feel pain, that is very unChristlike.

When we are born we begin the journey to death and we begin to decay and fall apart.  Yes, at a young age we are still on the uphill but at some point the journey starts going downhill.  Maybe very slowly and maybe the journey is very quick.  Maybe the monster named cancer will strike or any of a number of other unnatural diseases and ailments.  Perhaps an accident, tragedy or your life will be taken in a senseless crime of murder.  That has been happening a lot lately.  Just watch the evening news but don’t try and keep score as it is scary and depressing.

So back to our new Episcopal priest and how he plays into this revelation I had.  What I realized is that Episcopal priests, more than any other minsters or theologians I am aware of know that they are also flawed and imperfect.  And that is of great benefit to them.  They know there are no simple answers, nothing pat to offer.  Instead they can just “be” with their sheep.  They can tend them, love them, and wash their wounds.  That, I think, is what Jesus would do and what He does do.  That is honest ministry and that is what people need to draw them closer to the Lord.

God Himself does not offer us answers except to offer us Himself.  He offered Himself so deeply that He came down from heaven as a man, a man just like you and me (I use the term man in the third person meaning man and woman).  This week we celebrate His coming, God Himself coming, as a newborn babe, totally innocent and helpless, meek and mild, borne of a woman into a harsh world.  Jesus came to be born in a stable; sorry the hotel/motel is full go away, to show us God Himself in all of His glory.  The glory Jesus revealed first came to shepherd’s, men like our new priest, people just doing a job who took the time away to go and behold Him, the Promised One.

Merry Christmas to all.  Blessings in Jesus name.

Rev 21:1-3, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  The Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos saw something he had never seen, something he really did not know what he was seeing, but he saw it.  We each see as we understand and we relate what we have seen in terms we know.  It is true for John and it is true for you and for me.

Tonight when I went to bed I thought about what I had been watching on TV and it included the movie Star Trek and Thor.  Now Star Trek is a 50 year old franchise of science fiction and in it man goes where he has not gone before, strange new worlds, and he goes boldly.  But the key word here is fiction.  It is man’s concept of that which does not exist.  From a logical perspective it all could be; the science of warp speed, transporters, strange new worlds and other civilizations make sense.  From a pure astronomical point of view we know there are billions of galaxies and billions of stars within each of those galaxies and that there must be billions of planets in each one so therefore there should be billions of other worlds complete with beings and some of them must be older than us and some must also be younger, some more advanced and some not as advanced as we are.  Makes sense to me and a lot of people think so.  But the bottom line is we don’t know.  What we do know is what we know and for each of us that is contained in our history.

Now one thing we do know and that is recorded in history is that there was a man named Jesus Christ.  He was born, he lived and he died.  We have records of his life and records of how he died, actually how he was murdered.  And these records say He claimed to be God’s own son, to be God Himself come down from someplace called heaven.  The records also record things that do not fit our understanding, Star Trek like things.  But how do these records get recorded?  Let’s consider the apostle John in the Book of Revelation, a book that is actually titled “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

John had been sent to a Roman penal colony on the Isle of Patmos because he would not worship the pagan Roman leaders.  This is because he, John, had met and knew that this man Jesus really was all He claimed to be, God come down to be a man like us.  When you know the truth you have to stand on it.  When you know God, when He has come into your life He changes you and transforms you as nothing else can.

So I am in bed trying to get my mind to be quiet and to drift off to sleep and to start to dream.  And Star Trek and other things want to play around in my mind and I am trying to tell my mind to think about real things, the things of God that I know are true and real, not this sci-fi make believe world.  And this gets me to thinking about this time of year, Christmas time.  Thinking about how this Christmas has been and why and what does it mean.  this Christmas season has been a hard one on me for a lot of reasons.

Christmas is always a difficult time for me.  It is both a very good time and a very bad time, very hard emotionally.  And it takes me for an emotional roller coaster ride which includes dreams and sleeping.  So I am trying to go to sleep tonight and I am trying to get a handle on reality and not some sci-fi nonsense and John on Patmos comes to mind.  Let’s take a look.  John saw a new heaven and a new earth and he wrote about it.  But he can only write in terms and words he knows and understands the same as you and I.  In a spiritual sense I have been to heaven a few times, caught up in the spirit as the Apostle Paul says.  So what did it look like?  I was in the great throne room of God Himself and the only words I can use to describe it come from the wizard of OZ because that is an image I can get a handle on.  But it wasn’t like that throne room; it was different, more glorious, more beyond description.  In H. G Wells “The War of the Worlds” the author describes these marching machines that are attacking the earth and they sound a whole lot like water towers that are walking and moving.  Again, I propose that H. G. Wells is relating what he cannot accurately describe in terms he can describe.

I submit to you that the reality is so much greater than we can not only imagine but conceive of or dream.  On Christmas Day, 2009, we took my wife to the hospital due to complications with cancer.  Lab tests confirmed her kidneys had shut down and she was in renal failure.  That is a nice clinical term for she was dying.  We transferred her to the hospice facility where on December 29th she did indeed die.  In these situations people who are going through it go into emotional overload.  During it your thought processes are numb but on the other side disbelief takes over.  This Christmas season a good friend lost his sister and another dear friend lost his father.  Christmas day I met a lady who lost her son a few months ago to a hit and run driver.  I was visiting a neighbor who had a friend over who lost her husband a couple of months ago.  Each of these individuals is grappling with what is real and what is not and is grappling with how to deal with it.

So let’s take a look at what Christmas means and let’s start with the opening announcement that something special has happened.  So it begins with Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus in a stable.  Consider the story in Luke, chapter 2, where there are shepherds watching their flocks at night, just minding their business when very Star Trek like an angel appears (complete in glory) and scares the you know what out of them.  This stuff just does not happen and this record of it is written down by a doctor no less.  And the angel says, first of all, don’t be afraid (even though you have every right to be) because I come and bring good news not just for you but for everyone on earth.  Cool, this has got to be good, really something out of this world.  So here it is, the Savior of the world is born.  Okay, sounds good so far.  Go and you will find Him in a manger (feeding trough) in a stable (where animals are kept) and oh, did I mention He is a baby?  Now the angel is surrounded all of a sudden by a large number of heavenly hosts who are all singing praises for this infant child in a stable and then all of them just sort of Star Trek like transport back to heaven.  And you, being one of the shepherds left standing wondering what just happened because it is totally outside of any frame of reference you have go down to the town and guess what?  There is a stable and in it is a manger where a baby lays, a newborn.  The story that should not make sense is actually true.  Quit having jalapeno’s for a late night snack, okay guys.  What really happened with the angel and the heavenly hosts?  We don’t know but we know that the shepherds expressed it in terms they understood and they expressed what really did happen and Israel doesn’t have jalapeno’s so that isn’t what caused it .

I know the pain of people dying and it hurts.  But there are different depths of that pain.  I have had friends and family die and some of it has affected me more deeply than others.  On Christmas Eve, 1970, I was involved in a friendly fire incident in Vietnam where 12 GI’s died.  12 men who were counting on us to support them and we failed.  God, that left scars that still sear with pain even over 40 years later.  There has been much healing but the pain can never go away.  When my wife died I never knew there could be so much pain.  My heart and mind and very soul were ripped apart.  There has also been much healing of that. But what is the greater perspective of it all?

The greater perspective is that there is something more, something beyond all that we know and understand and we have had a taste of it and we can taste of it and know that it is so.  There is a heaven, a real place where people can go when they die.  There is a God, someone beyond our comprehension, who is and was and will be to come.  One of my spiritual “visits” to heaven is tied into my wife Deborah.  After she died, and I was totally consumed with grief and anguish and pain I finally started to get out of my shell.  I worked a Kairos weekend in prison.  This is a ministry where the team of volunteers goes into a prison to bring the love of Jesus to the inmates, and it is good.  So I was on the back table during a time of singing when they sang a song I don’t recall ever hearing.  The song is called “I can only Imagine” written by the group Mercy Me (Bart Millard).  And as we were standing there singing I was taken up in the spirit to heaven and I found myself in the great throne room of God.  It was full of people and it reminded me of the throne room from the Wizard of OZ (remember that we have to fit things in our understanding).  Well, my wife Deborah greeted me and she had the biggest, most beautiful smile on her.  And she takes me by the hand and leads me to a different part of the throne room.  She takes me up to Jesus and introduces me to Him.  That is the part that told me what was happening was real.  It was not about seeing Deborah, that was so wonderful in itself and oh yes, I missed her so much, it was about Jesus.  This vision, this other worldliness was so much more than I could have ever imagined or come up with for an image to heal my grief and pain.  And it was not about me, it was about something greater, Jesus, God Himself.

I can now think of those shepherds guarding their flocks and having the night invaded by heavenly beings, angelic hosts, proclaiming there is so much more.  I can picture John on Patmos at a ripe old age, at the end of a human existence, one who has seen and witnessed so much that is beyond comprehension.  He witnessed life before Christ, before Jesus came as a babe born in a manger, having witnessed the life of Christ and the death of the Savior.  John, who had witnessed and had seen all the pieces fit together who was now exiled and alone on this rock in the middle of the ocean, a man waiting to die and to go home.

So John is there and God gives him more.  “And I saw….” is such power, power you and I cannot question or call to account.  John saw that there is more than can be seen by us, by rational people and that it is for us to see for ourselves. John goes on and tells us more of his vision and yet just a chapter later in the Book of Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he finishes and simply says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  Such completeness can only come in such simplicity, Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.

Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Thor, and all the other phony worlds we make believe are not just fiction, they are such a weak and far cry from reality that it is unreal.  When Jesus comes back we shall know the greater.  We shall see and know that we are so much less while at the same time being of so much more worth that anything we can dream of and conceive of.  We are God’s chosen, His holy people, called by God Himself to know Him, to walk with Him, in perfect love.

My prayer is that I might love with as much of His love as is possible for this frail, fragile human form.  My prayer and heart’s desire is that I might share some of the knowledge that He is, He was, and He will be to come.  He is here now, He lives in me and I pray you seek Him to know Him yourself, personally.  He is there, and He beckons you, even you to so much more.  Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Silent Night, Holy Night

Christmas Picture Two

I read a daily devotional this evening about a family that immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands.  They had three children, all born her, who later married three spouses each from different countries.  Well during at least one Christmas they were all gathered and they sang “Silent Night, Holy Night” each in their own language.  So I am guessing 5 different languages is probably the correct count. The devotional also quotes Luke, chapter 2, where the inspiration comes from.  Luke 2:8-14, “ And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.””  So I wonder what a multitude of angels praising God sounds like? 

As I write this I am listening to different versions of “Silent Night, Holy Night” on YouTube.  So far I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, some German choir singing in German, Sarah McLaughlin, and Pavarotti singing in Italian, along with Mahelia Jackson.  I am fixing to hear it performed by Johnny Cash with Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Doubt I will listen to Justin Beiber or the Barenaked Ladies though.  Why have they all stopped their careers to do this song?  Don’t they realize they are joining voices with the heavenly host to praise God and to proclaim peace to those in whom He is pleased?  What do those verses in Luke tell us about angels and the proclaiming of the coming of the Lord, of God Himself and what does it proclaim to us?  Just found a rendition done in Persian with worship by Farsi.  It is the most stunning of all the ones I have heard, very holy and lifting me into worship of my Lord and Savior.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njS03C1tnrE 

We are each shepherds and we each tend our own flock by night.  Yes, nights are dark and they can be lonely and scary but we are dutiful to continue to keep watch night after night.  This verse in Luke says that angels will come to us in our night and will bring us good news.  The author, Luke, makes sure to tell us that when this angel comes to speak to us we will be frightened but that the angel will minister peace along with wonder at what is happening. 

Notice too that the good news is not what we would expect for the coming of someone to save us.  No white horse, no drawn sword, just coming as a babe, an infant, so totally helpless it would seem.  Not the way I would do it but then I am not in charge.  This verse simply calls me to be a witness to the coming of the Lord, to the love God has for all mankind. 

Am I willing to have my night interrupted by proclamations and worship and multitudes of angels?  Am I willing to go down to the village, to the stable no less, to bear witness of something so incredibly awesome as to defy everything we conceive of for this type of event? 

What is a heavenly host and what do they look like and sound like?  Angels are bad enough but now we have something else and lots of them, all making noise.  If you have served in the military and pulled guard at night in a hostile environment noise is not your friend, you want quiet, you want a silent night.  Yet here comes a multitude making lots of noise proclaiming that a baby has been born.  Maybe if they were proclaiming that the marines have landed and the cavalry is charging that might fly.  But no, nothing like that, just one more little infant that is helpless, more watching for the shepherds. 

Yet this Christmas Eve I for one am in a dark place, a night of sorts, and I am keeping watch over that which I have.  Yet this infant, now the risen Lord, still beckons me to witness His birth this Christmas.  His eyes are still pure, clear, and innocent as only that of an infant can be.  They pierce my soul, my heart, my mind, with such a blaze of light, of hope and mostly of His love.  Love that is for me and desires to be through me, to bring the light and the love to all the world.  He beckons me to lift my voice with the multitude of heavenly host and proclaim the coming of the One promised for forever.  If I add my voice it will then have the noise of a croaking frog joining in saying that indeed peace has come.  Peace has come as an infant, the Lord Himself has come in the form He chooses and it is not just good but it is very good.  Now I can be at peace as I stand watch at night.  Our world is dark, it can be said to be at night, dark and scary.  May an angel pop up by you this Christmas night and proclaim the good news of the birth of Jesus, the Lord, and the Christ and may he bid you to be a witness to the Lord of life.  May you join your voice with the multitude proclaiming glory to God in the Highest. 

Merry Christmas to one and all.  We have a Savior.  We have a Lord who is worthy of singing praises to, of being at peace resting in His arms.

 

The Gospel of Prayer

I have not blogged in a long time and for that I apologize.  No excuse will be offered for it would just be an excuse.  What I want to write about today has been on my heart for some weeks now since I learned of this prayer need.  Please join in payer and please spread the prayer need along to others.  Now the interesting thing is I cannot share the specifics of the prayer need because there is great danger concerning it.  The danger is the heavenly realm as well as in the physical world we live in where this need is.  So here goes saying what I can say without saying. 

First, I believe there is a spiritual world that is just as real as the physical world we live in.  There are many names for this and I won’t bother to try and begin getting into it.  And just as there is a God and Jesus Christ His son, our savior and Lord, there is a devil, Satan.  If you drop the letter d in devil you have the meaning of who he is, evil.  I Peter 5: talks about our adversary, the devil, who prowls around seeking whom he may devour.  And if he has half a chance he will. 

Now, so as to not give him any more due we serve the Almighty God Himself who through Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, the devil, and who lives and reigns.  The devil has no right on the life of a believer.  But until Jesus comes back, and I hope it is soon, we live in a fallen world where evil loves to party and make misery. 

With that brief theology lesson out of the way here goes with the story.  There are countries in this world where Satan has a much greater influence over the affairs of mankind.  You may be wondering if it could get worse that what the United States is going through right now (yes, this is a cheap political shot) but it can.  There is a woman who is pregnant with her second child.  The country she lives in does not like children, does not like multiple children and also likes to decide which sex of child can live or not live.  They will be ruthless to snuff out this life and cause grave circumstances in the lives of the parents.  Now this woman is a believer in Jesus Christ as God’s son and savior.  That is something else that this country looks very unfavorably towards.  So just starting out she and her husband have two strikes against them.  Well folks, they are not out because it takes three strikes in baseball to be called out.  With God nothing is impossible. 

Now, why has this gotten to me so deeply?  I don’t really know but I would like to offer some images that I think might help explain it.  I see a mother who believes in God and believing in God means believing in love.  Evil is the opposite of love and it hates love, seeking to destroy it.  But a mother’s love is beyond comprehension.  I am a man and I can’t get close to grasping it, I just see it and know it is real.  And this love is for the child she is carrying within her, moving, growing, sharing oneness with the mother. 

And evil is there seeking to destroy this helpless child, to rob the mother of being able to love and nurture and bring forth life into a world that is so desperate for love. 

All this pulls my heart and I would love nothing more than to go and camp out where this woman and her husband live and stop evil from attacking and killing.  But I can’t.  What I can do is pray and then I can pray some more.  Finally I can keep praying.  I can call on all the powers of heaven to intercede for this family in a far off country, people who I do not even know their names seeking God Himself to have mercy and to allow this child to be born into the loving arms of a mother who is spending nine months in fear and dread that evil will come knocking on the door to claim this precious life.  God, have mercy on this situation. 

That is what I can do and that is what I am asking for help from everyone who reads this blog post.  Would you please join in prayer for this un-named mother and her husband that God would intercede and bless them with a healthy child that they can love with the love of Jesus?  Then, would you please comment and simply say “I will pray for this child.”  Let your voice be heard in a small way. 

The interesting thing about this type of prayer is that we don’t know.  I know there is this situation, I do not know the name of the mother or the father (perhaps her name is Mary and his name is Joseph?) but I do not know the world into which the child will be born or its future.  I certainly do not want to play God.  But I do not want to see evil triumph, to rob and steal and kill. 

I believe in love and hope and I long for the day that a report might reach me that a child was born and that a mother and father are celebrating the new life.  That I will also blog and pass on.  But I ask you to seek God for this couple and I ask it in Jesus Holy name.  This is the gospel of prayer.  Amen.

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.

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