Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving



"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great
delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with
singing." -Zeph. 3:17



I never ceased to be amazed at all the blessings that come my way in my life. Unearned and unexpected, these continuing dewfalls of physical, emotional, social and spiritual renewal seem to come from the heavens when I least expect them. It does seem as if God, at just the right moments, knows when to quiet me with love and at others to rejoice over me with songs of gladness. I give thanks for the love of God in my life and I give thanks for His allowing me to share that love with others.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sabbath

My mom was telling me today about the Puritans. Yes, we were discussing Puritans (it's almost Thanksgiving after all). Specifically, we talked about how they observed Sunday as the "Christian" Sabbath. While I realize Jesus never officially proclaimed a moving of the Sabbath Day or even commanded that it still be observed, I think we would do well to give ourselves at least a day off each week to rest from whatever it is that consumes us most.

Maybe I need a Sabbath from my job, or maybe a Sabbath from e-mail, cell phones, kids, sex, soft drinks or whatever. These things may not be wrong in and of themselves and may even be good and positive things in the right context, but too much of anything that takes control and focuses my life away from God being at the center immediately turns into a negative.

So ask yourself, what do you need to take a break from and then dare yourself to declare "a day of rest." The results might shock, challenge and scare you. And maybe that is just what God wants to do with you right now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yearning after God

One of my favorite songs is entitled "Yearn" by the artists Shane & Shane (Shane Barnard got really brave and married the great solo artist Bethany Dillon). These two guys are incredible artists and the song "Yearn" does just what the lyrics say: it makes me "want to burn with passion" for the God who made Heaven and earth. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: The Sacred Meal

In the next installment in the Ancient Practices Series, author Nora Gallagher writes a touching, personal book about her experience with Communion. With a Foreword by APS General Editor Phyllis Tickle, the book is big on relating to the Lord's Supper on a personal level rather than giving the reader lots of facts about various religious groups and their respective takes on this oldest of Christian practices. Coming to the book from a primitive church background, I was interested to learn about the practices that Gallagher and her fellow High Church brethren take to the sacrament. The book was eye opening to me and changed the way I look at Communion. Emerging themes run throughout the book and an open mind is needed to appreciate the book's underlying message of Christian tolerance in dealing with this ancient and often controversial practice. Overall, a strong book for the critical, self-examining reader.

Prayer of the Healing

I woke up this morning lame and now I dance,
I started today blind but now I view the stars,
I was possessed of self and death and now I breathe nothing but life,
I, alone and cold, warm and surrounded in fellowship now am,
God, You did it!
God, You did it!
And I never want to go back,
And I never want to go back,
What you have created in me create again and again anew and afresh everyday,
Dancing, praising, offering, communing, Paradise delivered unto me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Supper of the Lord

At Lebanon on Sunday evenings our class has been "feasting" recently in the Gospel of Luke. We have studied the occasions at which Jesus is pictured by the writer as eating and sharing meals and fellowship with His disciples, Pharisees, sinners, tax collectors and the crowds. Jesus was a private Man often withdrawing into the quiet of the night to pray, but when He was about His ministry He never lost an opportunity to teach including meal times.

This week we arrive at the most famous meal in the life of Jesus. The most famous and the last. The final night in the first phase of the earthly ministry of Jesus was marked with love, tenderness, but also hatred and betrayal. The food and drink flowed freely much as the flesh and blood would in the hours to come.

In Luke 22, we read that Jesus says, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..." On the last night of His first phase of physical life, Jesus longs to share His time with His followers. He longs to spend this meal time with them to talk of Kingdom things, and yet the hand of the betrayer is at the table with Him and the others argue about greatness. They still don't get it. This is the moment before the climax of history and yet they do not understand.

The prefiguring Passover is about to become a supper that looks back not to Moses and Goshen but to Jesus and Golgotha. The New Kingdom Seder meal will now no longer bear the blood of innocent lambs but the ever-flowing blood of the Spotless Lamb of God who came for the purpose of taking away the sins of the world.

Truly, this night is not like other nights...

More to come...

UNO...Part 3

I have learned that some friends are expecting a child and, of course, I am happy for them and excited for this change in their future. Having a child, raising a child, training a child in the ways of God is truly one of the highest callings people can respond to in the marriage relationship. Yet close, personal human relationships are some of the things that can distract us most from doing the will of God in our lives.

Remember the parables of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great value (Matthew 13:44-46)? Jesus said that finding the kingdom of heaven and possessing it fully was worth sacrificing everything else completely. I think many times we read over verses like these and we think, "I am so lucky to be in that kingdom," or "Wow, I'll know that when I see it." Jesus is saying that possessing HIM in HIS completeness is worth giving up everything else if that what it takes. And perhaps, more often than we would like to think, it does. What stands in your way of possessing Jesus in His fullness in your life? From making Him your one thing? A relationship? A pet sin? A bad habit?

"Jesus, is NOW and ever shall be, sweeter than all the world to me..."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

UNO...Part Dos

So, as I have continued to study this week, I have come across some more thoughts that I wanted to share with you regarding the centrality of God. Here we go:

  • God does NOT exist to serve me, but rather I exist to serve Him. So many times we get caught up the idea of calling on God as a sort of Cosmic Butler (we pray just when we need Him, we only study the Bible to argue religion, we only attend worship for the uplift it gives us, etc.) We have to realize that we are just a tiny part in the story that God is telling. God is the featured actor in the store of the universe and we are an nonspeaking extra by comparison.
  • Though our part is small, it is still important that we play it well. Paul writing to the Corinthians said, ..."whether by eating or drinking or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31). My basic role in this whole process is to make God look good. As a recent CC song says, "Would anyone mistake me for Jesus?" Most of the time I doubt it, but just occasionally, I catch fire for Christ and let His life shine in my life. We have to learn to be on fire in our part all the time.
  • I recently had a friend who was named to be an understudy for a major role in a play. She will learn all the lines, practice the script, learn the stage directions, but yet everyone hopes she will not be needed to fill the role. We are to be understudies to Jesus (disciple literally means one who trains under). As we learn to imitate Jesus, we must be always prepared to imitate Jesus' every move while all the time realizing He is the perfect performer and we are lowly pupils.

Some of these ideas were stirred by reading portions of the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. For more info on that work, see www.crazylovebook.com.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UNO...Part Uno

What is the one thing that is at the center of your life?

While most people of faith will automatically answer "God," is that truly the case? How much time does the average person, even one who claims to be spiritual, spend in worship, meditation, prayer and spiritual discipline each day? Each week? Each year?

If God truly is to be the center of our existence as Christians, why is that the case? I would suggest we are not just reborn into the family of God so that we can go to Heaven at the end of this life, live more respectable social lives, or even be more pure and set apart to holiness. I will suggest that while all of those are reasons to believe, perhaps the greatest reason I believe in the teachings of Jesus and the God revealed in Scripture is because He gives me a way in which to view all other things in my life from a proper perspective. If God is central, then everything is is naturally and rightfully peripheral. And that is how it is supposed to be.

More to come...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When you are wrong...

In my life, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have opened my mouth when I should have kept it shut and I have kept it shut when I should have opened it. When I contemplate the last few weeks, I see that I have been strong in some areas of my life, but weak in others.

I want to confess that I have been wrong. Wrong to use my bully pulpit to force my views on others when they wanted to be left alone, wrong to be obstinate when I should been loving, wrong to be stand-offish when I should have been embracing. Just wrong.

And I want to be right. So tonight I am loving the God who is a Restorer of Rightness. Praise Him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feasting in Luke

In our recent Sunday night study at Lebanon, we have been doing an in-depth look at the various situations in which Christ eats and tells stories about eating in the Gospel account. From Luke's perspective it almost seems as if Christ was constantly feasting...in fact, 1/5 of the scenes in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts center around food and table fellowship. Luke was a doctor by trade, but apparently he enjoyed a good dinner on the grounds as well.
This coming Sunday evening, Lord willing, we will dedicate to the study of the first celebration of the Lord's Supper as recorded in Luke 22. I hope we will gain some insight into this sacred time of communion and sharing of the Body and Blood of the Lord. I plan on doing some intensive reading this week in preparation and I hope many of you will join us for this communion study at 5:00 PM on Sunday, November 8, 2009 at Lebanon.