Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Ever feel like you are walking along, just enjoying the stroll... beautiful day, sunlight and brisk air... then wham! out of nowhere, you flop into cold water? lol. If so, take courage -- you are not alone! Click on the pic to enjoy the show, and share a surprising laugh, lol. :-)
Love does not inquire into the character of the recipient but it asks what the beloved needs. It does not love the other because that one is such-and-such a person but because s/he exists. In all this it is quite the opposite of natural love: it “does not seek its own.” It does not perform the characteristic natural impulse of love and life. Therefore it is basically independent of the conduct of the other person; it is not conditional but absolute. It wants nothing for itself but only for others. Therefore it is also not vulnerable. It never “reacts” but is always “spontaneous,” emerging by its own strength – rather, from the power of God. Love is the real God-likeness of man for which he has been created. In so far as love is in man he really resembles God and shows himself to be the child of God.
A quote from Emil Brunner
Monday, October 29, 2007
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?”
I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
“Will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily.”
Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in His way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
Lam. 3:26; Ps. 77:9; Ps. 32:22; Luke 18:7, 8; Prov. 20:22; Ps. 37:7; 2 Chron. 20:17; Gal. 6:9; Jas. 5:7
[The] so-called five points of Calvinism were defined in controversy, and the titles are not an accurate indication of their meaning. Total depravity did not mean that human beings are totally evil; it meant that human beings are corrupt in every dimension of their existence and at the critical point of existence – namely, turning to God – they were totally unable to do so. Irresistible grace did not mean that grace could not be resisted, for grace is frequently, if not always, resisted. It did mean that God’s grace cannot be thwarted. Limited atonement did not mean for the majority of Calvinists that Christ died only for a select few people; the atonement is adequate for all people. It did mean that it was efficacious only for the elect or for believers. Unconditional election did not mean that salvation is by an arbitrary decree; it meant that God redeems us not because we deserve to be redeemed or because of anything we do but only out of His free love. The perseverance of the saints meant not so much that the saints persevere, as that God’s grace perseveres and brings the work of salvation to its completion.
The theological controversies of the medieval church as well as subsequent theological efforts have demonstrated that the problems of God’s grace and human freedom cannot be resolved by dividing up the work. Salvation is not partly the work of God and partly the work of human beings. It is not that God begins what humans may complete, or completes what human beings have already begun. The best solution seems to be to affirm that salvation from one perspective is completely the work of God. From another perspective – that is, the historical and psychological – it is completely the work of human beings.
John H. Leith, “The Prevenience of Grace,” Basic Christian Doctrine, 233.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Here's an example of October scenery this year -- the colors aren't as brilliant as in some years, but the beauty is still evident... just another area on the divine palette, still opening to sun and sky in natural painting! Enjoy!
Monday, October 22, 2007
WOULD IT MATTER?
Her thoughts said, “My work is not important. Would it matter very much if a floor were left unswept or room left untidied? Or if I forgot to put flowers out for a guest, or omitted some tiny unimportant courtesy?
Her Father said,
“Would it have mattered very much if a few people had been left without wine at a feast? But thy Lord turned water into wine for them.”
And the daughter remembered the words, Jesus took a towel.
SOME CROPS MUST BE HANDPICKED
Her thoughts said, “When I hear of wonderful things done elsewhere I am glad, and yet with the gladness is an unsettledness of mind. There is a strange allure in all I hear. There are days when I fly from the place where I am to the place where souls are flocking to Thee. There is a wavering in me which I do not understand.”
Her Father said,
“Thy wavering is a temptation. Many have known it. Thy times are in My hand. Thy time today is in My hand. Would I waste My servant’s time? Remember Thy Lord’s hour by the well. He who sent thee is with thee. Not all fields are reaped with the sickle. Some crops must be handpicked.”
Her thoughts said, “My longing is to heal the broken and the weak, to defend the maimed, and to lead the blind into sight of the glory of the Lord. My choice is to be a corn of wheat and fall into the ground and die. Then why these waverings?
Her Father said,
“Too much of thy surface is exposed to the breath of every wind that bloweth. Thou must learn to dwell deep.”
And the daughter who wavered answered humbly, “Renew within me a settled spirit. Establish me with Thy directing Spirit. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed on Thee. I will sing and give praise.”
I AM THE GOD OF THY EXPECTATION AND HOPE
Her thoughts said, “It is too much to hope that one such as I should truly please my Lord.”
Her Father said,
“But it is written, ‘It is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.’ In My servant Paul I wrought an earnest expectation and a hope, that in nothing he should be ashamed, but that always Christ should be magnified in his body. I am the God of thy expectation and hope.”
Dear God of my expectation and hope, teach me to serve you today with gladness. In the small things and in the great things, may I be to you as your choicest servants who heard your word and obeyed in joy. May I be to you today as Mary, who said in utter faith, "I am the Lord's handmaiden. May it be to me as You have said!"
Today, Father, I claim the promise that my soul will be satisfied in your presence, as with the richest of foods. Today I will sing to you, in faith, as if the promise has already arrived!
Thank you that you are working in me -- this day -- both to will and do your good pleasure. I wait for you and give you my praise! In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Note: More thoughts from the private conversation of Amy Carmichael, as she talked to her Father about the issues of life and personal challenges around her. God used her to rescue many young girls from ritual Hindu temple prostitution, and wrought miracles through her prayer life. Here is glimpse into that prayer life. May it bless you today!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Words: Marnie Barrell
Raised on the cross, He draws us to His side
the son of Mary claims His destiny.
Alone, in pain, as one of us He died,
His darkest hour His greatest victory.
Raised from the tomb, He draws us to His side
the son of God calls us to trust His way.
In Him we live, transformed and glorified,
God's new creation born on Easter day.
Raised up to God, He draws us to His side
the Lord of earth and heaven takes His place,
the path of life eternal opened wide;
with Him forever we shall see God's face!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today was one of those rare October days where the light and air and sun and shadow all mix together on a divine palette, creating stunning displays of color and sky... nature's glory! I was blessed with a 17 mile bike ride in this autumn glory... and here is a neat scene from my day [one of a hundred, a beauty-filled path through hardwoods and glades, hills and streams!]. Enjoy!
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BAPTIZED
Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons and daughters of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a child of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal humans. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of His Son, and in Him rebirths us to be His sons and daughters, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit; and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.
WE ARE BAPTIZED WITH WATER
And therefore we are baptized, that is, washed or sprinkled with visible water. For the water washes dirt away, and cools and refreshes hot and tired bodies. And the grace of God performs these things for souls, and does so invisibly or spiritually.
THE OBLIGATION OF BAPTISM
Moreover, God also separates us from all strange religions and peoples by the symbol of baptism, and consecrates us to himself as His property. We, therefore, confess our faith when we are baptized, and obligate ourselves to God for obedience, mortification of the flesh, and newness of life. Hence, we are enlisted in the holy military service of Christ that all our life long we should fight against the world, Satan, and our own flesh. Moreover, we are baptized into one body of the Church, that with all members of the Church we might beautifully concur in the one religion and in mutual services.Selah.
The Second Helvetic Confession, 5.187-189
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
2 Corinthians 12:9
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
by Annie J. Flint
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arms everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
by Emil Brunner
Therefore, even now, man is to be understood in terms of the image of God, but as the being that is in contradiction with itself, just as it lives in contradiction to God. Contradiction is something entirely different from the absence of relationship. Even now man is entirely to be understood as God’s image – but as a perverted image; the wine of God’s love bestowed upon him has turned sour and become the vinegar of enmity with God.
Sin is faith turned upside down, and can be understood in no other way. Even so, man remains a singular being; even sin, his perversion, is something that distinguishes him from every other creature. Man is the only being that sins: this is the greatness in his misery, which in the midst of his alienation from God betrays his divine origin.
Man must be understood in terms of the contradiction between origin and fall. Precisely this, the contradiction between truth and falsehood in him, is the defining mark of current man.
It is thus that the Bible understands man… [The Bible] teaches us exactly the same things about man that we, too, must teach: that man is God’s image, but that this image is destroyed and must be renewed. Man is completely a sinner, but this sin is not a condition but a determination of his being, and as such is an act, but an act that determines man as a whole. Therefore he is the slave of his own sin, and bound in a unity with the whole of mankind in it.
A lust for autonomy that flees the healing Word of God
There is no conflict between this doctrine of origin and sin, and the scientific knowledge of our day, unless science oversteps its limits and propounds some speculation of natural philosophy – for example, materialism or determinism – as scientific teaching. In that case, however, we have no longer to do with modern science but with modern man, who conceals his lust for autonomy behind the mask of science, and seeks to exculpate himself.
All understandings of man, with the exception of the Christian one, are attempts to exculpate man, but by exculpating man, they cheapen him at the same time, by robbing him of his personal character.
Only the biblical understanding of man – the interpretation of him in terms of the Word of God that became flesh in Jesus Christ – does not exculpate him but condemns him. But in condemning, it maintains his personal character. And the Bible condemns him at the same moment it acquits him of guilt. For the same Jesus Christ, the same Word of God in whom we know ourselves as sinners, is also the One who takes this sin from us.
Emil Brunner, The Word of God and Modern Man, 45-46.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Continue to work out your salvation…
For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.
Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13
Look up to Him
by Amy Carmichael
There are countless promises given to us by the Lord for times when things are hard. There is one promise which was first given to Moses, then to Joshua: “I will never leave you or forsake you” [Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5].
Lest we should fear that it was spoken only to Joshua, the writer of the Book of Hebrews quotes it just as if it were spoken to him, and all who read the promise: “I will never leave you or forsake you… so may we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper’” [Hebrews 13:5-6, cf. Psalm 118:6-7].
I like that part, “with confidence,” don’t you?
We are not meant to shake with fear when faced with temptations. We may look up to Him who conquered the powers of evil when “He reigned from the Tree” [Psalm 96:10, Jerome].
Those powers can never say that He did not conquer them, for He both exposed them and made a show of conquering them openly.
Therefore, we follow in procession behind a triumphant Christ! And if all of our reliance is placed upon Him, we need never be defeated in spirit. Today, from hour to hour, He can and will lead us on to triumph – as we look to Him.
And if some duty or service has to be done which seems impossible, the same promise of help and triumph holds true. Over and over again I have seen the Lord do “impossible” things. I think He delights in the impossible!
And He delights to meet the faith of one who looks up to Him and says, “Lord, you know that I cannot do this – but I believe that you can!”
My Father, so often I rely on myself to be strong enough, good enough – still thinking that I have to make myself presentable and worthy of your love.
Help me, today, to cease from my inner striving… to rest in you… knowing that you will see me through, carrying me through every temptation to be like the old me and not like you…
Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, 147-148.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Here the early evening sun burnishes the trees with its last rays, highlighting the golden leaves against the darkening field and sky: sky in deepening blue and field in muted grey-brown, only leading the eye to the intensity of the shining, golden leaves! It's as if the divine Artist lit the trees in hidden lamplight, painting beauty in blue, light and shadow...! Enjoy! :-)
Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
A. That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Q. How many things must you know that you may live and die in the blessedness of this comfort?
A. Three. First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed from all my sins and their wretched consequences. Third, what gratitude I owe to God for such redemption.
Q. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth with all that is in them, who also upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ His Son my God and my Father. I trust in Him so completely that I have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul. Moreover, whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life He will turn to my good, for He is able to do it, being almighty God, and is determined to do it, being a faithful Father.
Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby He still upholds, as it were by His own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by His fatherly hand.
Q. What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?
A. We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot even move.
Q. Why is He called CHRIST, that is, the ANOINTED ONE?
A. Because He is ordained by God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, fully revealing to us the secret purpose and will of God concerning our redemption; to be our only High Priest, having redeemed us by the one sacrifice of His body and ever interceding for us with the Father; and to be our eternal King, governing us by His Word and Spirit, and defending and sustaining us in the redemption He has won for us.
Q. But why are you called a Christian?
A. Because through faith I share in Christ and thus in His anointing, so that I may confess His name, offer myself a living sacrifice of gratitude to Him, and fight against sin and the devil with a free and good conscience throughout this life and hereafter rule with Him in eternity over all creatures.
Q. Why do you call Him OUR LORD?
A. Because, not with gold or silver but at the cost of His blood, He has redeemed us body and soul from sin and all the dominion of the devil, and has bought us for His very own!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Words: James Montgomery, 1819
Lord, teach us how to pray aright,
with reverence and with fear;
though dust and ashes in thy sight,
we may, we must draw near.
We perish if we cease from prayer,
O grant us power to pray!
And when to meet thee we prepare,
Lord, meet us by the way.
God of all grace, we bring to thee
a broken, contrite heart;
give, what thine eye delights to see,
truth in the inward part.
Faith in the only sacrifice
that can for sin atone;
to build our hopes, to fix our eyes,
on Christ, on Christ alone;
Patience to watch and wait and weep,
though mercy long delay;
courage our fainting souls to keep,
and trust thee though thou slay.
Give these, and then thy will be done;
thus strengthened with all might,
we through thy Spirit and thy Son,
shall pray, and pray aright.
That same eternal God and Father, who by grace alone chose us in his Son Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world was laid, appointed him to be our head, our brother, our pastor, and the great bishop of our souls. But since the opposition between the justice of God and our sins was such that no flesh by itself could or might have attained unto God, it behooved the Son of God to descend unto us and take himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and so become the Mediator between God and man, giving power to as many as believe in him to be the sons of God; as he himself says, “I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.”
By this most holy brotherhood whatever we have lost in Adam is restored to us again. Therefore we are not afraid to call God our Father, not so much because he has created us [which we have in common with the reprobate] as because he has given unto us his only Son to be our brother, and given us grace to acknowledge and embrace him as our only Mediator.
Further, it behooved the Messiah and Redeemer to be true God and true man, because he was able to undergo the punishment of our transgressions and to present himself in the presence of his Father’s judgment, as in our stead, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience, and by death to overcome him that was the author of death. But because the Godhead alone could not suffer death, and neither could manhood overcome death, he joined both together in one person, that the weakness of one should suffer and be subject to death—which we had deserved—and the infinite and invincible power of the other, that is, of the Godhead, should triumph, and purchase for us life, liberty, and perpetual victory. So we confess, and most undoubtedly believe.
The Scots Confession of 1560, 3.08
Monday, October 01, 2007
I knelt below the grassy line of the Okeechobee dike to take this dramatic pic: clean lines of landscape and freshly washed sky, sky like the grey-blue of the sea -- 100 percent nature's painting, yet almost surreal! Enjoy!
Words: Marnie Barrell
Relentless lover, God in Christ
who died to set us free,
unswerving as your love for us
may our commitment be:
to come and learn what courage means,
and take the challenge up
to walk with Christ through death to life,
to drink His bitter cup.
And when we come, may that fierce love
be tasted, touched and known,
as we who gather round the Cross
meet in Christ's death our own.
God grant we shall not fear to drink
His cup, the blood He shed,
nor let our hands, unwounded, shrink
from taking up His bread.
So let the Spirit draw us near
to find, in hope and trust,
His broken body risen here,
His life renewed in us.
Life given, life renewed again
in thousandfold increase;
He lives, and sends us out to be
His living gift of peace!