"We shall be changed." (1 Cor 15.51)
I know it refers to a moment when mortality is overcome by immortality.
And yet, and yet, there is a beginning,
a working in the immensity of the realm of God's grace
where this process begins its work, here on earth.
The drawing of the Spirit of God works a release from earthly bonds,
a release from things which surround our lives,
and a release from the bondages of our minds -
the fears, and the limited ideas, that hold us fast.
"We shall be changed" to "behold the land that is very far off." (Is 33.17)
"That stretcheth afar" says Rotherham ... a land of far horizons.
We cannot see very far if we are looking downward -
and the nature of this earth is to look downward.
It takes a conscious effort to lift the eyes off the things which lie close to us
and to focus on the far horizons.
The child of God was never meant to be earth bound,
never meant to be tied down,
he is meant to rise, to be an inhabitant of the heavenly realm,
meant to be able to live where freedom extends without limit,
and transformation is the portion of his day.
"We shall" ... we shall - no doubt about it.
The Spirit will prevail and the earthly fall before it.
"Awake" says the apostle,
"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5.14)
"We shall be changed."
Friday, April 26, 2019
stripped of his wealth,
and deprived of his health,
and reduced to his essential self,
cries in the midst of his search for an answer:
"Where is the way where Light dwelleth? (Job 38.19)
Some words carry an inexplicable weight,
an immeasurable significance,
an import of something implied but not evident.
If we could see where Light dwells we would need nothing else for our earthly journey.
Our path would be clear,
our steps would not falter,
and certainty would mark all our doings.
So, where does light dwell?
God only works through the realm of the spirit,
and every other resource is without value.
In a generation where everything is studied, quantified and assigned its place
the world of God admits no such analysis.
God is beyond it all.
God does not ask first for our minds but for our hearts.
His life alone is the Light we need.
John in the introduction to his gospel account says,
"In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men." (Jn. 1.4)
This is the only secret,
this is the ground of all our need -
We need Him, or all is darkness.
How hard it is to let go of the reasoning of the mind,
which insists on having control over all things,
of being the only interpreter of the meaning of our experiences.
A line of a hymn says, "God is His own interpreter."
As we lift our eyes to Him we are free from shadows of earthly things -
free to walk in heaven's unfaltering Light.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
A missionary child, accustomed to meetings where the Lord moved,
was attending some meetings with her parents, who were on furlough.
After one meeting she said to her mother, " Mom, nothing happens here."
The mother knew exactly what the child meant, but nevertheless asked,
"Don't they do the same things we do?
We stand up to sing; they do the same.
We clap; they do too.
We raise our hands and so do they..."
"Yes," answered the girl, and not knowing how else to explain it, said, "but nothing is going on here."
And she was right:
the service had all the forms, but they were empty of reality.
A child, with a virgin spirit, knew it!
Things which don't make sense are ... nonsense
Nonsense produces something - it produces Sorrow.
If all earth's sorrows are first felt in heaven, so with this also.
I watched a video of a church meeting.
The video started with a clip of the "praise and worship show."
There was a young lady, questionably dressed,
apparently unconscious of how she appeared
and very conscious of who she was,
leading, bouncing and singing,
a "lite" music, with a "heavy" accompaniment.
The video then cut to the important visiting preacher.
He started out with a hearty, jovial, greeting
before entering into his "serious" message.
The whole thing was somewhat "fingernails on the chalkboard."
Did he not see the lightness on display in God's house?
(When does lightness become nonsense?)
Did he not feel any need to address it?
Was he afraid to challenge it?
Did he think that he could build a message from God
on the foundation laid out before him?
Or ... was it that he himself had never known the real thing,
to be able to discern that which was not real?
Things take on a life of their own,
spiritual declension starts almost imperceptibly,
and then grows and takes over.
We start forgiving the slipping, and the sloppiness.
We consider it a detail without much importance,
What is church all about?
Does the God Who found Israel's offerings repulsive,
not find our little games repulsive.
God is the "I am."
He Who "IS" ...
not any kind of make believe,
not any kind of theater.
Church is where God seeks to meet with His people.
Church is where "I am" shows the "What is."
It is a place of deadly seriousness,
and total transparency.
A place where we can meet with God Himself.
A place where no flesh glories in His Presence.
Maybe we can't change the "church,"
and the flow of history.
But we can let God change our lives.
We can then come "in fear and trembling" (Phil. 2.12)
and having drunk from the unfailing Fountain of our salvation,
praise, proclaim, and honor His Name,
"in spirit and in truth." (Jn. 4.24)
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Among my father's books was a biography of the daughter of William Booth - Catherine Booth, called the "Maréchale."
Her life was one of unquestioned spiritual authority,
And her ministry first in England, later in France,
and later traveling, was as a flame of fire.
She had signed the flyleaf of the biography.
And written also:
"Love won on Calvary."
As we come to another Easter in the midst the ever advancing years of our lives we think again of the work of our salvation.
Jesus' death was instigated, pursued, and brought about by the ones who represented the church of that day.
The theologians and spiritual leaders of Israel
were the ones who should have first been aware of Who He was,
and yet they were the ones who could not accept Him.
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mat. 15.9) said Jesus.
What a condemnation is this for those who think they can decipher with the mind the inscrutable workings of God.
How easy it is to sit in the chair of the learned, and opine about things we have never experienced.
How dangerous to reject what does not pass muster with our theological interpretations.
The prophets were rejected in the Old Testament,
the apostles were rejected in the New Testament,
so was Luther rejected by the authorities in his day,
so also with Wesley, Whitefield.
We look back with awe to the revival in the Hebrides islands.
But while it was happening, a world famous expositor was walking the dock on the island saying, "God is not in any of this."
It was "religion" which killed Jesus.
It was the Spirit of God which raised Jesus from the dead.
And the religious Jews were determined to deny it to the world,
even when they heard that He had risen.
Jeremiah shows the way to God:
(Jer. 29.13) "And ye shall seek me, and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
When Mary went to the tomb on Easter morning,
I wonder was there something moving within her which was more than just a desire to see the tomb and anoint Jesus with spices?
Was there something deep within that unconsciously drew her to the place where death seemed to have overcome His Matchless Life?
However it was;
when she heard Him speak,
her reply was "Master" ...
"She turned" ... quickened by a wondrous awareness.
She spoke, ... illuminated by a wondrous recognition.
"Rabboni" ... Master," - the One Who Was beyond all her doubts and fears.
She met, with shocked awareness,
the Eternal Master,
the Eternal Answer to all of life.
The past had fled, and the future extended boundless.
And so it is for all who truly see Him.
Monday, April 15, 2019
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened," says Paul (Eph. 1.18)
Maybe it is fashionable to call spiritual things we don't understand "mystical."
If we can't grasp a truth of that realm with our minds we relegate it to a place of mysticism;
misunderstood and maybe unimportant.
Thus with prayer - we want to reduce it to its minimum expression.
It becomes merely something we say when we direct our attention to God.
"Let my prayer come before Thee" says the psalmist. (Ps. 88.2)
come before Thee."
This belongs to a realm beyond human ken,
a place that "baffles mortal sight."
"Let my prayer"...
A hang-glider steps off the solid ground of earth's limitations,
and finds himself for the first time floating in a new realm - with its own dimensions.
So it is with the child of God when he lets go of his dependence on his earthly way of understanding and steps into the realm of God.
Then the prayer takes wings, and goes up and up, and up and up, and up and up, and up and up,
beyond the limits of human flesh,
and all the thoughts,
and fears and shadows,
of earthly things.
It rises up to the realm of the Spirit,
up beyond the angels,
up beyond the glories of heaven,
up to the very throne of God.
And when I get to that Place, the words of "my prayer" are silenced,
and my first words are only a recognition of He Who sits upon the throne,
All trembles, and there sweeps over me the recognition
that I don't belong there for anything that I am.
I come through His mercy.
I come through His work in me.
Then, way way after this, comes my tiny prayer in the midst of the Majesty.
Then, I bring the things which I seek from Him for this cold, dark and fallen world where I live.
Then my prayer comes before Him.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Was it the physical suffering, terrible as it was, which brought about Jesus' death?
Pilate, "marveled if He were already dead" (Mar. 15.44)- was it only physical?
"Came there out blood and water" (Jn. 19.34) - was it only physical?
Or was it the separation from God which hastened death?
He had triumphed over the physical all throughout His ministry,
but on the cross He made "His soul an offering for sin". (Is. 53.10)
He died for sin, and the sins of each of us had a part in His death.
What a weight of all that sin involved was there.
What a death was there!
But beyond it all, there came a third day of rising from the tomb.
What a Life was there!
Who can comprehend the greatness of the Resurrection,
the greatness of the Triumph,
the greatness of the Salvation,
which He brought in His Resurrection.
Through His death He triumphed over death,
and through His Life we Live!
Monday, April 8, 2019
"Above the brightness of the sun." (Acts 26.13)
How can one put in words, in a blog, the sense of a Light beyond all light - a Light which is overwhelming?
All that can be done is to try to transmit a sense of the Impact,
a sense of the Glory,
a sense of the Eternal.
Paul saw God's Light and the world around him became dark.
All his learning,
all his religion,
all his endeavors,
all his religious works ...disappeared!
And Paul never, ever again, had to walk in the illumination of earthly light.
From the "Here" of our existence we cannot see the "There" of God.
God must give to us a Revelation.
He Himself must come to us as Light.
But sometimes we look for that Light in church, in books, in counseling, as if there we could find the answer to our life's questions.
The problem is that there are so many who seek to answer those questions,
and who speak of things which they do not know.
We treasure Christian biography, but Christian biography is the effort of a writer to trace the steps of another.
It is an effort to trace the pathway of a life across the sands of time,
- even when the footprints are half washed out by the waves.
Compounding the difficulty is the fact that the writer seeks
to interpret that Light from beyond,
which illuminated all existence of the subject,
and which only he ever saw.
What shall we say of preacher's efforts to interpret Bible prophesy,
and to reduce the Word of God to "doctrine?"
If, instead of swallowing it whole,
we could look with childlike eyes,
we would have to say, "The words don't help,
all is dark, and I need Light."
Titus 2.13 speaks of the "Blessed Hope and the Glorious appearing."
Look at from a different perspective,
the "Blessed Hope and the Glory appearing to us."
The Glory has existed from all eternity in the heavens but there came a time when it became real to the prophets, and to Paul.
Let us look for the Light where the light dwells.
Let us lift our eyes from the darkness which surrounds.
God has a portion of Light, and Life and purpose, to make real to us.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Once purpose is defined everything else falls into place and makes sense.
God's purpose is the Manifestation of His Glory.
"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Hab. 2.14)
This is the end toward which all things advance since the beginning of creation.
Eternity will be a forever-existence where we are surrounded with ineffable Glory.
The theme of the centrality of God's glory runs all through the Bible,
and is far too extensive to follow through in a blog.
Maybe David's declaration sums it up: "I will glorify Thy Name for evermore." (Ps. 86.12)
When in the fullness of God's time Jesus was born,
and announced to the shepherds,
"the Glory of the Lord shone round about them." (Lk. 2.9)
The Lord's prayer ends with the phrase, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever." (Mt.6.13)
This shines light on all the prayer,
and all the purpose of God.
God is not interested in working out some kind of Christian socialism,
with man's needs as its motivation,
and man's satisfaction as its end.
God's end is Glory … His Glory.
And God seeks for enlightened ones who will put Him at the center of all existence.
Romans 2.21 says that the wrath of God is against those who "glorified Him not as God."
If we are to glorify Him we must glorify Him as God.
There is no other way.
There is no room for self centered seeking -
no way of thinking first of ourselves,
and then thinking of God as our answer.
Let me repeat what I said at the beginning:
Eternity will be a forever-existence where we are surrounded with ineffable Glory.
What awaits us There when all is finished, and all is perfected,
will so far transcend all we have thought or known that,
all previous life will appear as only faintly lit darkness.
To quote from my father, "Let us live with eternity's values in view."