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Archive for the ‘GOD’ Category

New-Command

This morning I get to speak at our church, and so my post today is the ‘guts’ of that message.

Though out of season from the traditional church calendar, today I am going to take us back to Passover, specifically the Passover surrounding the final days of Jesus.

The message today comes out of the account of the Final Supper, is told from the perspective of John, and is recorded only in the gospel (the good news) of John.

Here is the setting:

Jesus is having a meal with his 12. And he decides that his dirty dozen need their feet to be washed.

Then there is Judas, who had all that Jesus offered to all of the disciples, but then the bread is dipped into the wine, and Jesus holds it out to Judas …

Can you imagine being Judas? Imagine looking into the eyes of Jesus, and choosing to take the bread, fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament, records of the Psalms and Zechariah. He CHOSE to take the bread. And, as soon as did, as soon as he made the choice, verse 27 tells us that “Satan entered into him.” So, Judas leaves to do Satan’s work.

Jesus is aware that the clock is ticking in regards to his human life. He is now with his 11 disciples, whom he is counting on to spread the news of who Jesus is, and who will give accounts of his arrest, his trial, his death, his rising from the dead and ascension into heaven. He knows that whatever he says may be the last of his words that these men hear.

He is about to share with them, his magnum opus … his greatest work yet. It is a testament or sermon, common in Jewish culture. 

This reminds me of an annual practise in our household when our children were in elementary school. Each September we would get a notice from school … the earthquake preparedness notice. We would be instructed to put together, in a Ziploc bag a list of items (large garbage bag, nutritious snack bars, a deck of cards, a small toy, a water bottle, and a note).

That note … it made my heart stop every year. I would fill the plastic bag, ticking off every item on the list, leaving the note to last. And finally, after going to bed, after the house was dark and still, my quickened heart beat will force me out of bed, and I would boil the water, and stick a tea bag into it, then I would sit at the dining table, with paper and pen, and write what might be my final message to each of my children. And the tears would flow like the water in a spring brook … without choice, just flowing from a place higher up, that removed personal choice, from the action.

It was in the writing of those letters that what is really important, became really important to say.

Dear Cris,

I wish I was with you right now, but I am so glad that you can be with your school friends and your teachers who will look after you so well.

We are so proud of you. You have a heart for other people, and you do not care who they are, what they wear, how old they are … you just love people. Keep doing that, for that is what you were created for.

Be brave, like we know you are, my sweet girl, your daddy’s Red Rocket.

We are going to do all that we can to get to you, just as soon as possible.

Keep answering this question … you know the answer.

Mommy and Daddy love you, but who loves you the most?

It’s Jesus … don’t forget that. It is always Jesus who loves the most.

Do you hear our song? …

A, you’re adorable, B, you’re so beautiful, C, you’re a cutie full of charms …

Love you, to the moon and back,

Momma and Daddy

In John 13:33-35 (The Message), Jesus gave a new command to his followers (aka. those who would be the early Christian/Christ-following, yet imperfect) church:

“My children (he starts with “my children” … he is coming from a parental perspective, a perspective of limitless love, care and concern,  just like my earthquake notes to my children), I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. Let me give you a new command (here it is, what is most important becomes the only message when it might be the last): Love one another.  Now repeat after me Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another ponder those words … now look around this room of believers … he, the Christ, who died for you, and me, is calling his disciples, is calling us (his church), to love each other as he loved … his love was self-sacrifice, it was his death.

Then he finishes his last testament with these words:

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

You know what I am hearing right now?

“We are one in the spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity
May one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love”

“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples
—when they see the love you have for :

 

  • The poor?
  • The unborn?
  • The drug addict?

 

No, when they see the love you have for … one another, each other.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary speaks to that verse:

“if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give reason to suspect their sincerity.

When the world outside of our church doors sees and hears of divisions within the relationships of Christ-followers, it makes the world doubtful of our authenticity, doubtful of the difference that Christ can make in the world. Jesus knew that this would be the case, and this is why he reminded his followers, all of his followers, in the form of a new commandment … love one another.

If we cannot get this one commandment right, the world will never fully see that we are followers of Christ, no matter how much we do for the poor, the unborn, the addict or any other person of need.

It is important that all members, like the disciples, who were the first followers of Christ,   love one another. This speaks to the world more loudly than whether or not we are members, if we have ever taken part in communion or how we were baptized.

By loving each other we mirror the way Jesus lived, we show his unique, sacrificial, undeniable Christ-like love to the world. If we do not show love to one another … are we truly His followers, His church?

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“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

… we say amen, but we pray that his power will not have to be made perfect in our weakness.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)

… we smile outwardly, while inwardly praying that it will just be a quiz.

” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

… we squirm, wanting to shout “but I cannot handle the trouble I already have!”

Sometimes the promises in the Bible sound more like curses, than blessings. Maybe they are both. Maybe they go together … one a reality of living in a sin-filled world, and the other a salve to soothe that reality.

Or maybe the tough realities of living this life bring us to confront what only God can give,

peace.

Peace is not just freedom from conflict. As a matter of fact, the peace that Christ offers is a peace during conflict, and struggle and pain.

It is “God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (Philipians 4:7). His peace is other-worldly, not attainable from any other source.

As he was preparing his disciples for his death and departure from them, he comforted them with his peace, which is still available to us today:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

In the Matthew Henry Commentary, it reminds us:

The legacy that is here bequeathed Peace, my peace.

  • Peace for all that is really and truly good
  • Peace for reconciliation and love
  • Peace with God,
  • Peace with one another
  • Peace within ourselves
  • A tranquillity of mind arising from a sense of our justification before God
  • It is the counterpart of our pardons
  • It is the composure of our minds
  • This Christ calls his peace, for he is himself our peace
  • It is the peace he purchased for us and preached to us, and on which the angels congratulated men at his birth.

May we reach out for that source of peace … the peace that is available to we mere mortals, beyond anything we could ever imagine.

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Though unseen to the naked eye, though not coverable with bandages, though no cast can hold all the pieces in place, and it is more difficult to rationalize taking a sick day, we all have had experiences or exposure to the invisible wounds in life.

hidden woundsFor some they are the hidden illnesses, with debilitating pain, causing physical exhaustion.

For some they are the internal, chemical imbalances of the brain, bringing with them a heavy sadness that just will not lighten up.

Then, for others, the wounds are not only invisible, but also unrecognizable, undiagnosable, leaving a person to conclude that no one believes them, that it’s all in their head.

 

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis has said, “Mental (or all invisible) pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “my tooth is aching” than to say “my heart is broken.”

To add to the wisdom of Lewis’ quote, “the frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden” making the load heavier, to the point of exhaustion, physical illness, and even incapacitation from daily activities.

David, in Psalm 56 (v. 8), was in danger. Though this was an outward physical danger, with regards to be being pursued by one who wanted to kill him, his expression of how he felt and responded to this threat was one that those with invisible wounds would be able to relate to:

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
    each ache written in your
book.” 

We see in this verse that David knows and understands that the one who loves him most keeps his tears of pain (both physical and mental), and that every ache is recorded in a ledger … meaning that God sees, he knows that the pain is real.

In this God is verifying that it is not all in his head.

In this God is verifying that it is not all in your head. He sees, he keeps track, he records each tear, each invisible ache. Those wounds are not invisible to God … YOU are not invisible to God.

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 6.53.18 PMThis past week was one where I came to understand and appreciate afresh the church as the love story that God intended.

Loving and sincere well wishes to hubby, after his resignation, from people near and far.

Visits from caring people, when one of a family member spent a few hours in hospital.

Messages from my co-ordinator at work, letting me know that there was someone on ‘back-up’ should I need to stay home the next day with my sick loved one.

True care for each other amongst our kids, all dropping everything for each other.

Offers of prayer from all around the world.

In the Greek and Hebrew language the word church is translated as meaning called out or assembly. In neither case does it refer to a building or institution, yet that is often what we think of when we hear or say the word, church.

The early church came together (assemblies) to worship the God who had come, clothed in human skin, to redeem his creation.

In John 13:34-35 (The Message), Jesus gave a new command to his followers (aka. those who would be the early Christian/Christ-following) church:

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary speaks to that verse:

“Before Christ left the disciples, he would give them a new commandment. They were to love each other for Christ’s sake, and according to his example, seeking what might benefit others, and promoting the cause of the gospel, as one body, animated by one soul. But this commandment still appears new to many professors. Men in general notice any of Christ’s words rather than these. By this it appears, that if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give cause to suspect their sincerity.

Showing love to one another is the most distinctive action we can determine to do, in order to set ourselves apart, in order to be called out (to be the church).

By loving each other we mirror the way Jesus lived, we show his love to the world. If we do not show love to one another … are we truly called out? are we truly His church?

I am so thankful to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, who walk the walk, talk the talk, and be the church.

 

 

 

 

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This week marks the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, presumably on the door of the Wittenberg Church. To be honest, that was really the limit to what I knew of him until recently.

Though my knowledge is still lacking, I have grown in appreciation for his message in the 95.

In my quest to know and understand more about the history tied up in Luther’s most popular writing, I watched an interview with Eric Metaxis (author of “Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World”). 

In the interview he stated, 

“He (Luther) didn’t care what Luther thought. He cared what is true, what does God say, what does the Bible say? And if we find a place where the church has veered slightly from what the Bible says, we have to go with the Bible.”

bible

Luther knew that he, that humans, are not the authorities on truth. It is the Word of God, the Bible, which is our only source of truth.

An English translation of no. 62 of the 95 intrigued me greatly:

“The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.”

Luther wanted the the Church to realize and the world to know that the Word of God, the holy scriptures, were the the greatest treasure that we have, for it is in and through them that we are introduced to our redeemer who saved us by his grace.

Luther was not just pulling words or thoughts out of nowhere, for his sixty-second theses came from his intense study of and familiarity with the very Word of God. Such references as 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

There is not greater treasure in this world, and, unlike Luther’s world of five hundred years ago, we have that treasure in our homes, churches and in thrift stores. Now we just need to open it.

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Maybe it’s at a buffet of food, all placed on tables and trays and in food warmers.

Or maybe it is at a shopping mall, in your favourite store, when the doors have opened on a new fashion season.

Or maybe it is a drive in the country, and the colors of autumn (an East Coast autumn) are everywhere.

Or maybe at an athletic stadium, where your favourite team is playing the season ending game.

In a variety of places and circumstances we can struggle with knowing where to look, or perhaps, where to place our attention, where to give our time.

In the daily living of tyranny of the urgent we are torn between what is urgent and what is important. Far too often what is urgent interrupts, clouds and pushes aside what is truly important, and of lasting value.

According to Forbes Media it is not our job demands, getting to swim practise on time, or missing that ever-invading tweet or FB post that people regret. It is people, and what we have missed out on with real life humans who have, at one time, captivated something so deep within us that on our deathbeds it is they who we long for most.

These memorable people are not just the ones we should long for in our final earthly hours, but we ought to keep the value of them in our daily life every day of our life.

As hubby’s vocation is that of a pastor, I hear often about death bed regrets, and of what it is that people want to talk about in their final hours.

They desire family, forgiveness and a real faith in a Saviour.

They want those who they love to be nearest to them. They want to right what has been wrong in their relationships. They want to have their eyes open for those gone before them, and for Jesus … to see him, face to face.

What if we lived every day, as our last day?

What if we loved and valued our greatest earthly human loves as though this were our last day with them, free of technology, dusting and the demands of daily life? What if we lived today with reconciliation in our hearts, and flowing freely from our lips, as we asked and offered forgiveness?

What if you (and I) were to actually Turn your Eyes to the Jesus, to see him in every aspect of our day?

Lets stop wasting our time indulging in everything at the buffet of life, and just choose to taste and see what satisfies most.

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Lift-Up-Your-Eyes-Blog-sm

It was Monday … morning.

My wonder dog had had me up in the middle of the night in gastric distress (sigh … I wonder what he ate now).

I was bone tired and just didn’t feel I was bringing my best to work.

As I drove East I reached the first point in my drive to work when I could see Mt. Baker and the mountains of the North Cascades.

My jaw dropped, and my eyes popped.

I wish I could have pulled over to take a picture of the sunrise, the light peeking through the clouds and the shadows on the mountains had a spectacular visual effect.

Wide-eyed, for the fist time that Monday morning, I smiled broadly … and felt a lightness  begin to grow within me.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains
Where does my help come from?

I smiled all the way to work.

Devotions in first block were done by a student, a student who exceeds in joy, in love, in tenderness and care to all who cross her path.

She nourished us, treated us with foods to nibble and a message of hope.

The message that I received, visually, while driving to work, after a night of poor sleep.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.”

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