Thursday, August 25, 2005

 

On my CD player . . .

1. Watermark, "The Purest Place"

2. Elvis, "30 #1 Hits"

3. Veggie Rocks!

Currently the Veggie Rocks album is playing. It is comprised of songs from the popular Veggie Tales videos, only with a twist. The songs are being covered by folks like Skillet, Rebecca St. James, Relient K, and the Supertones. Talk about surreal! It kind of fits with grading papers, though!

Thanks for reading!

 

And now, a hymn

Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, by John G. Whittier

“Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our feverish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper rev’rence praise.

“In simple trust, like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious call of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee . . . .”

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

 

The Jesus Prayer and a Blind Beggar

“Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.” The Jesus Prayer, a short, enigmatic statement of faith and repentance. Contained in this short phrase are some of the most powerful doctrines needed to heal the human condition. One version of it is found in Luke 18:35-43, the story about the healing of a blind beggar.

The blind beggar sat by the road. There was nothing new here. He had done this many times in his all too long suffering. He sat there. He begged. Another day in paradise.

Imagine his situation. Close your eyes for a moment and think of how he experienced life. Devoid of sight, he lived in a constant sense of blackness. Of course, his other senses were sharp, he could hear and smell and taste. But he could not see. Because he could not see, he could not hold his child’s face and admire the nose or the eyes that obviously are a family trait. He could not admire his wife’s beauty or the glory of her in splendid dress. He could not get around like the rest of us. He had to rely on the kindness of others to avoid stumbling.

Perhaps he chose this stretch of the road because the people in that area were especially generous. He could get a lot of money or other goods begging there. Whatever the reason, he hauled himself as best he could to the spot he had occupied so often. He sat. He begged. Another day in paradise.

Yet somehow today promised to be different. He couldn’t quite explain it. There was something in the air, something that didn’t smell or taste or sound the same as all the other days. The humidity was the same, so it wasn’t a change in weather. He was the same blind person he had always been, so it wasn’t a physical change in his situation. Something was different, however, but just what it was remained a mystery.

Then, he heard a sound of a crowd. Was there a parade today about which he had no knowledge? This crowd didn’t sound like a typical parade. Folks were talking about a great teacher, a person who had told the most amazing stories, of an encounter with a rich man, of an encounter with the Pharisees. This person the crowd discussed was evidently no ordinary man. He was different. He was the difference in the blind beggar’s day.

The blind man inquired, “What’s going on? Who is coming?” One of the people told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is headed this way.”

He thought about it. “Jesus of Nazareth,” he mumbled. “I wonder if that is the same fellow who reportedly healed ten lepers the other day. If so, surely he can lift my blindness! Surely he can set me free.”

His excitement grew. Nervously he formulated a plan. He stood up and cried out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

Some of the folks in the crowd shushed him and angrily asked him to be quiet. He got louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The noise got Jesus’ attention. Stopping, Jesus asked the man what he wanted. The request was simple, “Please give me my sight.” Jesus granted the request and told the man, “Your faith has saved you and made you well.”

The crowd (the same ones who rebuked the blind man earlier) now rejoiced at the notable (or should that be “visible”?) miracle that happened here. They gave glory to God for the man’s healing.

Isn’t that just like us? When someone cries the loudest for God’s mercy, don’t we sometimes wish that they would just be quiet? It is embarrassing to hear all that crying and begging. Can’t you just do that in private?

Or maybe like the blind man you’ve become so desperate that you simply don’t care anymore. “Jesus, have mercy on me!” is your rallying cry, and you’re going to shout it until you get a response.

There is good news here. Jesus stopped. He listened. He healed and saved. The crowd rejoiced.

Just another day in paradise.

Thanks for reading!

 

Currently playing . . .

On my CD player in the office:

1. Darrell Evans, "You are I am"
2. Passion, "Our Love is Loud"
3. Jeremy Camp, "Carried Me--The Worship Project"

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 22, 2005

 

Consumed by fire . . .

Heb 10:19-27 (NASU)

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

“Cells, as the monks call their rooms, has nothing to do with prison cells. ‘Cell’ comes from the Latin word cella, related to the word coelum, heaven, the place where one enjoys God.” From A Place Apart by M. Basil Pennington

Sometimes I think I see clearly when I really see through a mist, a fog of sorts. Just when I think I can adequately or even in some cases completely discuss certain aspects of God’s nature or desire for humanity, then I begin to see how far behind the curve I am on understanding God and his concern for this mud ball of a planet. His “surpassing riches” of grace, is how Paul mentions God’s focus on humans in Ephesians 1 and 2. God’s grace surpasses anything we can imagine. Think of that fact, we can think of large quantities of stuff, but we will never overwhelm the expanse of God’s kindness. We can fill warehouses, ships, houses, factories, but we can never quantify enough stuff to equal God’ great grace. John said in the first chapter of his Gospel that God has grace stacked up on grace (John 1:16). Picture an endless supply of your favorite thing, as far as the eye can see you are surrounded by that favorite item. It is stacked high and wide, stretching out over the whole horizon. That is how God’s grace is stacked for us!

What does all this talk of grace have to do with the Hebrews passage above? Simply this—Jesus says in a story that those who have forgiven much should also love much. We have all been forgiven much, if we are honest, and we should love Jesus in such a way as to forsake the old way of life for love of Christ. Think of it. We should willingly lay aside the pursuits of old “pleasures” so-called that conflict with the great grace and kindness of God that has led us to repentance. We should willingly lay aside the weight that burdens us or entangles our feet. Why? That is easy—it is the nature of the lover to be obsessed with the one loved. The lover seeks to be bound to and surrounded by the beloved. The lover is obsessed, nothing else can satisfy. The lover seeks to be imprisoned by the love for the beloved.

As Paul says, “When we are dead, we stop sinning.” If I am imprisoned in my love for Christ, then I should not invite into my cell the things that compete with my beloved. Oh, I do, yes indeed I do that very thing more often than I like to admit. The truth, however, is that if I was truly obsessed and impassioned by my love for Christ, these other things would be willingly destroyed, removed, and discarded from that sacred place of love I share with my beloved. Oh, that my heart would be aflame with his love yet again! Overwhelm me, beloved Christ, so that I might love as you love me.

“Like a Fire” by Dennis Jernigan

Like a fire that cannot be quenched by the rain
Though the winds rise against it they’ll not quench this flame
For this fire of love burns where eyes cannot see
In the heart of Lord Jesus the King of you and me

Chorus:
And oh, how he loves me
His love for me burns like a fire
And oh, how he loves me
For he loves me with holy desire
For he loves me with holy desire

Such a holy and true flame was sent to the cross
By the King who would love me no matter the cost
For his life was consumed for my sin in the flame
But the grave was defeated, his love could not be contained

Chorus:
And oh, how you love me
Your love for me burns like a flame
And oh, how you love me
For you love me with holy desire
For you love me with holy desire

You are Lord over heaven and Lord over earth
You are Lord of creation and Lord of new birth
You are mighty in battle, King Jesus my Lord
You are gentle and loving and worthy to be adored

Chorus:
And, oh, how I love you
My love for you burns like a fire
And, oh, how I love you
Lord Jesus, you’re my heart’s desire
Lord Jesus, you’re my heart’s desire

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

 

Wrath or Love?

Eph 4:29-32
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. NASU

What is it with Christians? I have heard many among us say lately that “we talk too much of God’s love and not enough of his wrath.” I ask those of us who say such things to consider Paul’s writings, or to even consider Jesus in the Gospels. What consumed Paul? Was it God’s coming wrath? God’s righteous indignation? God’s holy anger? Yes, Paul mentions God’s wrath and lists it in his writings, but the question remains as to whether or not Paul spent as much time dwelling on the issue as some of us think we should.

Here in Ephesians, Paul admonishes us to look to the positive, to do those things that encourage and build up folks. Can wrath do that? Yes, a warning and recognition of God’s wrath is a good motivator when I am feeling lazy or lax in my Christian duties, but at the same time are we more motivated to act in a good way by love? What does the lover seek? The lover seeks to be bound to the object of his or her love, to be enraptured and enveloped by the object of love, to be quite literally obsessed with the object of love. That is the kind of disciple we should seek to be—one so in awe of and in love with Christ that we act in a fashion pleasing to him without even a second thought.

How does the person under the threat of punishment act? Do they labor joyously? Do they act positively? In many cases such a condemned one will merely do the minimum requirement to avoid punishment. That is, they will do enough to get by so that they will not incur wrath. Oh, but the lover, the lover will go far and beyond what is expected. Why? Out of sheer love they will act! Think of it—what mighty acts have ever been accomplished out of a sense of impending doom or judgment? Then ask yourself what mighty deeds were accomplished for the sake of love. Do we not see the difference? Are we so blind as to think that we see when we do not see?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 12, 2005

 

What day is it, Monday?

Ever have one of those days where you feel like you'd like to have one big "do over"?

I'm having one of those days.

My sister-in-law (who is my age) was checked into the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. They don't know what's wrong at this point.

Work has been hectic (gearing up for a new semester, moving into a new office, etc.).

Some of my antique books (including an ancient copy of the Latin New Testament) got damaged in my move.

We're still digging out of all of our boxes from our recent move into our new home.

My wife's MS is acting up.

My temper is short.

Yuck!

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God is still faithful.

Thank God, he is faithful!

Now, I wonder if he helps people unpack their boxes? (grin)

I feel much better.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

On my CD player at the moment . . .

1. Boston
2. Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians--"Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars"
3. David Crowder Band--"The Lime CD"
4. Switchfoot--"The Beautiful Letdown"

Yes, Boston!

It's definitely "More than a Feeling!"

Later!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

 

A blast from the past . . .

Here is a little something I wrote around Christmas 2003. Enjoy!

A little over 2000 years ago, a tiny child was born in the bleakest of conditions. Oh, he wasn’t the only one born in a bad state. In fact, in some ways, he was one of the lucky ones. He and his mother actually survived childbirth and thrived. Still, this story is unique and amazing on several levels. First, this child would literally change the way time is reckoned in the world. His life and abilities would so impress generations of others that a brand new movement would be created, one that would radically change the very face of the earth (sometimes for good, sometimes for bad). His name would become recognized among the names of the greatest of humans, yet he never forgot his humble beginnings or lost a sense of who he was. The second thing about this child is tied to the first in that this baby, this helpless lad full of spittle and mush, was born as the very Son of God. When Mary held his little head to her breast, he drank human milk. Yet, he was (and is) the God of the universe. Can you picture this simply ridiculous, yet somehow poetic scene? God, who calls the stars by name, pressed to the human breast for sustenance. Humble, yet almighty, is how most folks would no doubt recall this child.

A little over 2000 years ago, God proposed that the only remedy for the human condition of sin would be if he humbled himself, stepped out of eternity and into human flesh, and suckled at Mary’s breast in preparation for the greatest, most impressive conversion of all. Think about it--the God of creation, in Mary’s arms, toddling around Joseph’s shop, learning to talk, learning to walk, tasting and touching things with human hands. As the Psalm 139 says, “such knowledge is too wonderful for us, we cannot contain it.”

God knew that the only way to redeem us was if he did it himself. Haven’t you ever had that thought? You know, the one where you say, “If I want something done right, I’ll just have to do it myself?” Imagine God having that thought about bringing us to proper relationship with him. Imagine again that the only way he knew he could do that is if he came to earth as a baby. Think of it—-how vulnerable the almighty God was at that moment, how paradoxical that the God of all creation had to learn to walk! And why did he put himself in this situation? Out of his inexpressible love for each of us he acted in this manner. He became insane that we may be sane. He became flesh so that we might walk in the Spirit. He became sin that we might be righteous. He became poor so that we might be rich. He became a toddling, dribbling, helpless babe so that we could become mature people. What wondrous love! What humility and service! How then can anything he asks of us be too difficult?

Thanks for reading!

 

Currently playing . . .

What's on my CD player here in my newly constucted but not yet approved office?

1. Elvis, 30 #1 Hits
2. Rich Mullins, Never Picture Perfect
3. Switchfoot, Beautiful Letdown.

Thanks for reading!

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