and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Synchronized Skating

       I’ve seen synchronized swimming before, and admired how the swimmers maintain uniformity despite being in moving water.  Personally, I think the skating, which I didn’t know existed but watched for the first time ever, is harder- especially in one aspect.  In skating, the audience sees the whole body, so every move of every part of the body must be sync’d with the rest or it throws the movements off.

       Though I missed the Canadian team Nexxice, I guess they have one man on it.  He said he has to be even more perfect because he already throws off the ‘synchronic’ look just because of his gender (and outfit).  The skaters divide into different size splits each performing the same moves as their group.  Then they’ll change groups and do different movements.  Basically, it moves and flows, but it always looks unified.  No one person stands out as greater than or less necessary as the rest and the result is a stunning display of creativity.

       It’s too bad Christianity doesn’t move and flow the same way.  Firstly, we have denominational differences that cause arguments over whose way is the right way, and who is interpreting Scripture more accurately.  Then there are problems within the same denomination and local church, between genders, ministers, ministries and general personal belief differences.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  1Cor. 1:10 (all ESV)
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  1Cor. 12:24-26

       Oh, if only everyone would believe what I believe and do as I do, Christianity would be perfect, right? (haha)  That would be so arrogant of me to believe that way, yet it’s there in all of us if we aren’t careful.  Or how about mentally weighing sins and such, ‘Well, at least I’m not like so and so who still smokes and drinks; or always a downer like ______.  Ah, such Christ-like love

I’m sure Jesus is so proud that we’re following His example

       We should learn something from synchronized skating.  If we aren’t moving in unity, errors happen causing falls, crashes, and missteps that in the end cost points (possibly souls, in our case) and potentially the gold medal.  It doesn’t look good to the judges (God) or the spectators (the world).  Instead, we need to work together to achieve God’s plan in this world.  He wants us to be one in unity (Jh. 17:11,21,22)- in submission to Him as head (Col. 1:18).  Not one person is more important than another.  Not one person is unnecessary.

       Personally I think if we just focus on two things, everything else will fall into place: genuinely love God first with all we are and have (Dt. 6:5; Lk. 10:27), and love each other as Jesus loves (Jh. 13:34; 15:22).  The believers, “…continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…” (Ac. 1:14 KJV) waiting for the promise of Jesus and on Pentecost “…they were all with one accord in one place.(Ac. 2:1 KJV) when the Holy Spirit filled them, later “…continuing daily with one accord…” (Ac. 2:46 KJV).  This means of one mind- focused on Jesus/ God’s will.  They were no longer concerned with who would be greatest or their own personal opinions, but seeking the will of the only One who saves.

(Paul urges us) …to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  Eph. 4:1-3,13

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dinner With the Almighty

       I’ve had a lot of dinners; friends, family, some I am nervous to cook for and others I am somewhat comfortable with.  At one dinner, the one when I met my in-laws to be for the first time (they didn’t even know we were dating until we were engaged!), I was terribly nervous.  Little did I know they were just as nervous...  Usually at our family dinners, we say grace and I imagine God is there with us as we eat.  But that is nothing like actually sitting down and eating in visual sight of the Almighty
                                                                     God, Creator of the Universe.

And Moses went up, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. And they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as the essence of the heavens for clearness. And upon the nobles of the sons of Israel He did not lay his hands. Also they saw God, and ate and drank.  Ex. 24:9-11

       God wanted to meet with these 74 people (v.1) so it seems they went part way up the mountain to meet with Him.  There they saw God and they ate and drank- how remarkable.  (I’m sure I would have acted goofy and spilled food all over myself like a two year old!)  God had had His reason for doing what He did: perhaps to prove Himself to them, perhaps to prove Moses was really His man, or just because He wanted to chill with them, but whatever the reason, they must have been awestruck.

Dinner with the Almighty.  What would you do?
       We shouldn’t really think it strange, after all, it’s the same concept as when Jesus says in Rev. 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me.  Dining together, especially at the evening meal as in this Scripture, is an intimate, relaxed time of open, face to face communication.  Does the Almighty God really want to be that intimate with us?

       The Lord walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8), many others saw Him (some-Gen. 12:7; 32:30; 33:11; Jd. 6:12; 1Kn. 11:9; Is. 6:1; ), He wants you to draw near to Him so He can draw near to you (Jm. 4:8) and He wants to be in us (Jh. 17:22,23). Jesus sends the Spirit and will come to us (Jh. 14:17,18), the Father sent Jesus that we may know Him (the Father) (Jh. 17:3), and we are told to perceive and experience- taste and see- that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).  We are called friends (Jh. 15:15), and friends hang out together, listen to each other, confide in one another, and have fun together.  They eat together, play together, work on projects together and have the other’s back.

       So, after all that, does dinner with the Almighty seem implausible or possible?  Well, whether or not we believe He wants to be with us here as closely as possible, we do know that one day we will see Him face to face and be with Him forever.  That is the promise of our hope eternal with the Almighty God of all the universe.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  1Jh. 3:2
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.  1Cor. 13:12
And they will see His face, and His name will be in their foreheads.  Rev. 22:4
Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God.  Mt. 5:8
Behold, He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see Him  Rev. 1:7
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
1Th. 4:17

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Empty Glass- Something Worth Mentioning

Paul on the way to Damascus.
       Sometimes, I just don’t know where my posting will take me.  For instance, many times I don’t plan on writing more than one day on a topic, but some days the post becomes too long and it is better to split it up rather than have too much.  If you haven’t read ‘The Empty Glass’ Part 1 and Part 2, then you might want to do that first, but for those of you who read faithfully (thank you!!!) this post will just fit in.

       There is something I chose not to write about, which is that a sovereign God (1Chr. 29:11) can decide to fill a glass that may be partially filled or even full.  This happens by His power, and from experience, a person is unlikely to remain standing.  There are some verses in the Bible where God’s power is displayed and men did not remain upright- though some may have gone down on their own volition (2Chr. 5:14; Ez. 1:28, 3:23; Dan. 8:17; Mt. 17:6; Jh. 18:6; Ac. 9:3,4; Rev. 1:17).

       Anyway, yesterday I left the house early for service because I was full to the brim with frustration, annoyance, and other negative thoughts and emotions.  Nothing worked to refocus myself on the Lord, and I couldn’t shake it off.  Listening to music in the car didn’t even help until that last song before I went in, then finally I was able to release some of the garbage.  As usual, we sang some worship songs and it was then the Lord’s power pushed out what was left of the garbage and filled me up- and I went down right into the seat.

       What followed was a heaviness of eyes and limbs that left me sitting there feeling God working in me and a whisper of the word ‘healing’.  Suddenly, my lungs felt hot- as in high fever.  It got stronger, then lessened, then repeated a few times.  Very weird feeling!  (What I haven’t mentioned is that a few weeks ago I had a respiratory infection* where I had even lost my voice for days.  I didn’t take antibiotics, but did get better- except for a lingering feeling of residual wetness in my upper lungs; also, my voice would still crack sometimes when I spoke or worse, sang.)

       I didn’t really think about it after service until this morning when I realized my lungs felt completely clear and my voice is strong at all ‘normal for me’ octaves.  (Thank You, thank You, thank You Lord!!!)  There are many ways God chooses to heal us, and sometimes He chooses not to heal us at this time, but whichever way He decides, I (post 2006) always believe deep inside that He is GOOD.

For Jehovah is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.  Ps. 100:5
You are good, and do good  Ps. 119:68

       The Lord doesn’t have to love us, but He does anyway.  He doesn’t have to stick with us even when we treat Him horribly or ignore Him, but He remains faithful.  He doesn’t have to have infinite patience, compassion, mercy and grace, but still, He does.  He doesn’t have to forgive us but He does ‘cause He loves us so much.  God is good to us.  God is good to me, and I am forever grateful that He came to live with/ in me. (In all His followers!)

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  1Cor. 3:16
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us  2Tm. 1:14

And I’m hoping to keep my glass empty so His Spirit and His power can fill me to overflowing; not just for myself but so that others might get to know Him through me.

*my own diagnosis based on past experiences and colour of mucus. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Empty Glass- Part 2

       So now that we know we are vessels (Ac. 9:15; 2Tm. 2:20) in this life, fashioned by the Master’s hands (Gen. 2:7), we have to decide if we are going to live this life for ourselves- which means we remain in the world, or live for God- which means emptying that part of ourselves which seeks our own desires, passions and pleasures above God’s will for us.  We don’t get rid of the part that makes us who we are, but that part which puts self first instead of God.

       Self desires and such are not totally wrong.  It’s not wicked to want to get married and have kids, but is that God’s will for us, or our own?  Wanting to be a doctor, pastor or worship leader are good desires, but still, not necessarily what God wants for us.  Certainly, we can find a degree of happiness doing our own thing and allowing God to move in just a part of our life.  Perhaps we are satisfied with that, and if you are, I guess you should continue as usual.

       But if there is a part of you that hungers for more, that remains unsatisfied in fleshly or spiritual life, then choose change.  Choose to empty yourself of that part which keeps God’s fullness out.  I’ve never felt more alive than in the past few years as I strove to be closer to the Lord; but this- this is incredible.  I only wish I’d done this sooner.  His presence, His Spirit is an amazing gift that Jesus left to send to us, to dwell with us.  Do we want just a little part of Him, or His life in us overflowing?  I choose the latter.

Proof that flesh, self and pride need to be gotten rid of:

The flesh- carrying out of the desires, passions of the body and mind (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 5:24)
---Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Mt. 26:41
---For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh...  Rom. 7:18 (all ESV)
---For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  Rom. 8:5
---For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.  Rom. 8:7
---For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  Rom. 8:13
---But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. -----For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  Gal. 5:16,17

Self- signifies own personal interest, or love of private interest; selfishness. (Webster’s)
---And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Lk. 9:23
---We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  Rom. 6:6
---to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  Eph. 4:22
---but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.  1Tm. 5:6
---training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions  Tt. 2:12
---selfish ambition in your hearts is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  Jm. 3:14,15

Pride- that which appeals to man’s ego, pride of what one has or is
---and you will be like God  Gen. 3:5
---For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant  2Tm. 3:2
---God opposes the proud  1Pt. 5:5
---For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  1Jh. 2:16
---Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Jm. 4:4

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles
to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
1Pt. 2:11

To life, to love, to liberty in You,
Thank You Lord for opening my eyes
to the truth!

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Empty Glass- Part 1

       Is the glass half empty or half full?  Generally, if we are thirsty, we prefer it full, but maybe there are times it is better empty.  Just lately in my time with the Lord, a profound insight struck me.  If a glass is full, it has no room for anything better, so if we want to put something different in, first we must pour out the contents already in the glass.  That might seem simplistic, but consider the implications to our Christianity.  Firstly, we are vessels:

(about Paul) But the Lord said to him, Go! For this one is a chosen vessel to Me… Ac. 9:15
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth...  2Tm. 2:20  

       Some vessels are made with gold or silver, others with wood or earth.  Of course the ones that are more valuable are the metal ones that withstand the test of time with harsher usage and while the wood is slightly better than the clay, both are considered frailer than metal.  If I had to choose a vessel and these were my four choices, I would probably choose silver because it is strong due to purification, would last a long time, and I like the colour better than gold!

       Anyway after asking the Lord why we don’t see His power working visibly as in the days of Acts, I began picturing that I was like an empty bronze glass, and I thought, why is it empty?  Then the Lord whispered, ‘if your glass is full, how can I fill it with My anointed Spirit?  If My Spirit is not filling you up, then how can my power be displayed in you?’ (or something like that)  Okay, I thought, so what is my glass full of that leaves no room for You?  The flesh.  Self.  Pride.  Ah, another ouch moment!

       Before I go on I would just like to say I am NOT talking about emptying your personality, your mind (like eastern religions do), thoughts, or any other weird practices.  I am speaking strictly in the Biblical sense of casting down, putting off, denying, crucifying, submitting, putting to death, mortifying desires, and such that is sort of like emptying ourselves of the old sinful man to allow God to fill us with His Spirit.

       There is just so much here to go through that I’m going to finish this tomorrow, but I want you to know that it is possible to empty ourselves, or completely entrust our old man- our own desires, wants, passions, will, emotions (that was a biggie for me), own wisdom/ smarts, reputation, dreams, time, all that we are into the hands of our loving, good and righteous Father.  If our own glass is already full or mostly full of self, how much room is left for the Spirit to fill?

       Honestly I have to admit that as many times as I said/ sang that I completely gave myself, surrendered, and other such things, it never really seemed to change me in the same way this has.  Seeing myself as (continually) empty of the old person and allowing God to fill me to overflowing has caused me to BE different. 

       Now I have a new boldness.  I offer to pray even for complete strangers, I stop to help people I don’t know, I try to cheer up people in line ups, encourage and spread kindness in ways I didn’t before.  Not that I was awful before, but it was never like this.  I’ve changed once again, and I know there is still far to go, but with the Spirit filling me I’m eager for the Lord to move through me- to help others know Him and want to be with Him.  And I’m hoping that one day all Christians will allow the Spirit (of whom Jesus needed to go so He could send Jh. 16:7) to fill us to overflowing and God’s power will be visibly displayed in the world, in a mighty way once again just like the days of Acts.