Category Archives: Doctrine

Fasting, Praying and Drawing Close to God

Fasting in the Bible:

Recently as a church we were called to a short period of fasting and prayer. Our stated goal comes from our study in James 4 that is God’s promise that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. That if we humble ourselves He will exalt us and give us greater opportunity to exalt Jesus’ Name! (James 4:8-10)  – To better educate myself I thought it would be good to write down and study the Biblical mandate for this practice. The coverage that the Bible does on fasting is bigger than most realize.

Though not as essential as regular Bible study and prayer on their own, it seems that fasting is a missing element in our evangelical culture that will bring much benefit, especially for us in this day where we are all hurried and harried and where we don’t stop and enjoy the “good portion” that Mary was commended for over and against being “anxious about many things.”

My prayer is that we will use every tool and method and examine every Biblical model in order to be approved workman, humble servants, more joyful overcomers, and more sanctified and loyal subjects to our great King Jesus. He loved us and gave Himself for us so it seems like this little sacrificial offering should be the minimum among the many ways we choose to love Him back! So…happy fasting as you draw near to Him and experience the incredible joy of Him drawing near to you!

Jesus Fasted: And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. – Matthew 4:2
This is where we start as New Testament disciples of Jesus, with Jesus! He is our model – we walk in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus was the Son of God – something we all know very well – but He was the Son of God – something we all rejoice in because He is because of this fact the High Priest who can be touched with our infirmity. He has been in every way tested like we are. But as the Son for Man the Spirit of God led him to a place of total dependence through fasting and prayer to lean even more on the Spirit of God who was His strength on earth. None of this could have been possible had He only been the Son of God but was the case as a man. As the Son of Man Jesus is our example. We should do all that He did and if He said by His life that fasting was right and good then we should affirm that truth just as much as any other truth in the Bible. We should be obedient and fight the flesh and be women and men of prayer and fasting.

The two go together. The same way that living in the wilderness (i.e. This world) go with being tempted by the devil.
Godly Women and Men in the O.T. Era Fasted:
2 Chronicles 20:1-4 – Jehoshaphat’s prayer and fasting before battle. (Prayer to bolster staffing faith, battle fear and to seek humbly God’s answer to fight or retreat – to seek His blessing in the battle and His victory and help over our foes. Joshoshaphat prayed in a worship motif – telling back to God His great glory and power reminding God of His reputation being at stake.)

2 Samuel 12:16, 23 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. Vs.23 – David fasted upon the death of his son. (Sorrow over the effects of sin and for the guilt of sin to reverse those effects and assuage the guilt)

2 Ch 20:3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

Ezra 8:21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.

Ne 9:1 Israel did. “Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.”

Esther 4:3 And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.
Es 9:31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting.
Ps 35:13 David did. “But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.” (Prayer for David’s enemies including fasting for them) Ps 69:10 When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. (Fasting does not always have a meritorious effect on others)
Ps 109:24 My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
Correct Fasting Humbles Us – With Intended Benefit
Is 58:3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
Is 58:5-6 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Fasting Linked to the Word of God
Jeremiah 36:6 so you are to go, and on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the Lord’s house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah who come out of their cities. Jer. 36:9 In the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord.
Fasting by the Prophets Modeled/Commanded
Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
Joel 1:14 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.
Joel 2:12“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning
Jonah 3:5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
Zechariah 7:4-6 Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me:
5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?
6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?
Luke 2:36-38 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Modeled by the Apostle’s Early Church
Acts 13:2-3 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Jesus Instruction on Fasting:
Matt. 6:16-18 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Fasting is a very personal thing – requiring being alone in order to be secret and to be secret so you will be not robbed of its blessing/reward)

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Indicates that in proper fasting there is a mourning status about the act – in this case that Jesus is not physically with them – but when He is there no fasting possible because no mourning is possible – so it seems fasting is only for times on this earth before Jesus returns.Mark 2:20 seems to indicate that fasting will start on the very day Jesus ascends See also Luke 5:35)

The Church Fathers
In the Didache – a writing of the early church fathers after the Apostle’s – they taught that one should fast one or two days before getting baptized. They also taught we should fast normally on Wednesday and Friday of each week. Two days a week!?? Whoa…that is a lot of not eating!  Obviously, fasting was part of their life on a regular basis.

So, it seems there is a long Biblical history and that the early church fasted too through and beyond the New Testament period. These facts makes me question myself and say “in my hurried existence, in my busyness, in my struggle against sin, in my desire to draw close to God, wouldn’t I benefit greatly from fasting and praying on a regular basis?” I am tempted to think that I am slothful when it comes to fasting and that I have been missing out on something important. What should I do?

I believe the answer, in my life and yours as disciples is to follow the Lord’s own example and that of our brothers and sisters down through the ages and so fast and pray regularly…until the Bridegroom comes! It is His good pleasure to give us all good things. Could it be that this pleasure of drawing closer and Him drawing closer and me being more humble and God doing great things through us should be a reality?

Yes…and Amen!

Let us…Just Do It!

Supplement to Subtract

As Christian we all get concerned sometimes about removing worry, doubt or fear or some nagging sin from our daily life. We know, most of the time what the truth is about ourselves and whether or not we are sleeping well with a good conscience or whether we are being kept up with something or someone that is weighing us down. Sometimes we think, “this is has been an issue for so long…how can I get rid of it?” Here are things to think about from a different angle. These are two portions of God’s Word that have stuck in my mind recently and have been a real help to the extent that I obey them and learn to trust Him more in the process. I hope they help you too! I find that they carry truth that is vitally linked together as I want less of me and more of Him!

 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
2 Peter 1:5-7

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Faith is Key and…
Faith is the key.  We must start with trusting and believing Him. Then and only then does Peter say add to “it” – faith – and good will follow, but it does include the ‘ands’ that link these qualities together.  Later in the chapter (2 Peter 1:9) it says that if we don’t we will lose our eyesight and become nearsighted. It reminds me of when Jesus said that to him who ‘had’ more would be given and to him who had nothing even what he did have would be taken away in light of investing in the kingdom of God.(Matthew 25:29) It sounds as if God expects us to continue to grow, not shrink or coast or plateau but to increase. God is into to adding and not subtracting. But what if we need to truly ‘take away’ some things from our life….habits, sins, etc.? I think it has more to do with adding, and that in the adding the subtracting begins to happen as a result. The more we are attracted to Him, the less the draw will be towards sin and the wisdom of this world.

Faith Does Not Camp Alone But is Drawn to the Light
Like Jesus, faith does not abide alone – see John 12:24 – the seed goes into the ground to die for sure, and then to bring increase. Hebrews says we must believe  that He ‘is’ – i.e. have faith in Him for His existence – and also it adds that I must trust that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. The object in Hebrews 11:6 is twofold, if we are to be pleasing to God and if we are to be drawing near to Him we must believe things about Him. Being the King of the Universe – the Most Holy God of purist light and glory – we are beholden to please Him but also to be (seemingly invited) to desire to draw near to Him!  It is too good to be true, so yes, “I’ll take two measures of drawing near to Him please!!” How could I not want to get close to a God who is this amazing – that He wants me to? But what is the Bible trying to really say in Hebrews and how does that relate to 1 Peter 1:5-7?

God’s Good Desire – Our Closeness to Him
What I am learning from Hebrews 11 is that God actually desires a sinner like me to trust Him. But what specifically am I called to trust in? That He is a rewarder. That is inviting. That is a welcoming God – He wants to reward me. Is it for good works? No. It is a reward for simply believing in Him and wanting to be close – drawing near. This tells me something. He is good. He is really good. He is loving. 1 John 3:16 (the other John 3:16 in the Bible) says that love is defined – love is graded and at the top of the curve is Jesus dying for us so that we could be brought back into relationship with God. You want to know what love looks like – look at Jesus giving up His life to make it possible for me to get close to Him. My sin separated me – it killed our relationship and only His death made it possible – but I had to believe it – accept it – and believe that when I did I would receive an instant reward – Him.

Even after I am in Him for awhile I can receive more – by growing in my faith and knowledge of Him. My obedience and being further set apart for His glory means I am going to be rewarded time and time again with more of Him. I am continually drawing near to Him, in deeper humility, in more thanksgiving and in more obedience and He is no man’s debtor. He rewards me with new understandings of eternal truth that does not change. I am the one being changed.

God’s Goodness – Virtue
What does this have to do – for heaven’s sake – with 1 Peter’s ditty? It is the first thing in the list, virtue. We are told before anything else to “supplement” or add virtue to our faith. It means moral excellence or purity. In a word – goodness on a God-scale. Not just good feelings or karma or my idea of goodness – purity of motive and thought and a deep goodness that is linked, inseparably to God. He alone is virtue, and He is virtue incarnated. Jesus was good. Jesus is the perfect reflection of the nature of God (see Hebrews 1) and when I want to understand the goodness of God the best place to start is with Jesus. When Peter says to add virtue to my faith – it is really the natural thing to do. In faith I am already focused on Him and when you look at Him you want Him. You want more of “I am my beloved’s and He is mine” to be the natural exchange of two persons – one divine one human. That is relationship. My growing in faith means adding more of His traits so that more of His image is restored in me – contrary to and in total resistance to the fall – God is restoring what was lost in Eden!

This changes virtue from the legalistic mentality to the true beauty that it is. It is glorious because it is a reflection of  the very heart of our God – He is good – and He loves to share/reward those who turn to Him with His goodness/virtue simply because purity is a good thing. There is no fly in His ointment, no spot or wrinkle or anything that corrupts – it is pure, purer than the whitest snow…

Purity means Peril & Progress
That ‘virtue” of purity is so rare in our world – and everything the world is doing fights it -villain-like against this. The devil is corrupt and wants to share his corruptness and thereby ruin people so He hates what is not corrupt, namely purity or virtue. He is “good” at it. We must identify his schemes with the lens of Scripture and the guidance of the Spirit – not just so we can campaign for goodness but so that we can be good. When we do, the light will be so glorious that others will be drawn to it, first in curiosity, but then some will be prompted to believe. They, like us will be drawn into the dance of faith, learning and adding to and growing up in Christ. The side benefit being in the battle for mature faith will be the great subtraction. When you get a taste of this God of ours – you lose the propensity for worry about the affairs of this life. The more settled you become, the more determined, the less distracted. You become more like Jesus. You subtract immorality, because you want to get virtue – but not by ‘subtracting’ first but by supplementing faith with it and the other qualities mentioned in 1 Peter 1. You are really in pursuit of Christ in this ‘faith’ walk – and He then in turn gives you – He rewards you, with more of Himself and you want more and it is more, of Him – and He draws you closer, and then you want to be like Him. It is a good cycle because it is upwards and not the normal downward spiral that so many seem to fall into even within the church.

So the natural thing to do is to copy Him because you are falling in love with Him more each day. Probably the first thing you learned about God is that God is holy – pure – all good no evil, not one little bit. He is virtue. The definition of all that good is the three times Holy God. But do we realize how much more we are saying when we say that God is good that goes beyond just holiness? He is good in that He loves. The son wants to be like his dad because he has realized that his Dad is a hero – that he is a “good guy.”  When we are drawn into Him, into Jesus, we are drawn by chords of love. The love is love because it is good love. It wants what is supremely good for its object. Then we want to be and to act like Him, the originator and the continual giver of perfect, loving goodness.

1 Peter’s message begins by stating that “by faith” is the only way to go – but we not to stop at faith alone because it is not alone by definition but meant to go on and on in faith, supplementing our faith first with virtue and then with every single facet of who God is. In this we subtract sin and bring every thought into captivity to Christ. Though Satan will, no doubt try to come after and steal it, and though we may stumble and fall sometimes in our faith pursuit of it – we must add virtue to our faith. We must persevere by His grace and continue to fight the good fight…of faith!

Love
The end of the list is so packed with poignancy. 1 Peter 1:7 says the end is love. The book end on the left is moral excellence and on the right end – love…with equal measures of knowledge, self-control, stead-fastness, godliness and affection filling out the middle of this ‘cake.’ I believe that the best definition of God’s nature, fully revealed in Jesus Christ is love. Love is the most delicious part of the cake, it is the essential icing and not just empty calories. 1 John 4:8 says this implicitly – God is love. 1 John 4:19 says we love because He first loved us.

So what we have is…you start with faith, you grow in faith by adding to, or supplementing your faith with qualities starting with virtue. When He is done growing you up in Himself you become like Him – and you end with love, the genuine love that is only from Him is now in you. So really, you are richer and not poorer for all the giving that you must do. The only thing that is subtracted is that which is not pure, or non-Godly. When He is done with us we will resemble His Son – the true epitome of and expression of pure, divine love.

Hallelujah for the Cross and all that flows from it down to us, the place where love was poured out and came down to us!

It is what drew out our trust and hope – and this kind of hope does not dissapoint.
Indeed, we love because He first loved us!

Amen

Judgment Day

In light of the Supreme Court ruling this morning basically legalizing homosexual marriage,  you may be wondering if the title of this blog is appropriate. Many are celebrating the decision and many are not. I choose to celebrate people none the less. They are made in God’s image and they are a treasure, though marred by the fall of man recorded in the Bible. All of us are flawed, myself at the top of the” broken and earthen jar” list. People sometimes drive me crazy and disappoint me, but I sometimes let myself and others down too, so I choose to love individuals unconditionally and will fight to preach the truth that all men are created equal because God says that they are. In the eyes of the law they are equal – but of course we are not all the same and not all “things” are the same or equal either.

But why choose a provocative title? Am I trying to satisfy the wrath of those who believe in the Bible, like I do? No, though I understand it. I chose it because my job every day is to look into the Scriptures and draw out treasures both old and new and then share those treasures. The Bible has witnessed many a day like today. Many so called saviors have arisen who claimed that they loved their country, and that their dictatorial stance was only temporary and would lead to more freedom eventually.

Whenever they drastically changed a law they would claim that they were actually purifying the nation. When all of the less desirables were dealt with, the country they were dismantling would be whole again. History has a way of making deja vu seem boring – after all some memories would be better off being kept in the past where they belong. Today we are told that we are evolving for the common good. We are told it is a good thing to sue someone who won’t bake you a cake when you demand it just because you are willing to pay for it. We are told that some need to sacrifice their freedoms for the “greater” good.

The Same Old Sin-Thing is Boring
Today is a repeat. It is not boring unless you consider the fact that we have seen a series of laws be thrown out even though they were passed legally by a majority vote. And, we have seen more strident judges making up new laws, although their job is to rule on the constitutionality of laws and not to make incursions into the legislative branches business. But that being said, the legislatures would probably go the same way anyway, eventually, “for the good of the country,  you know!”

But all this is blather. Meaningless chit chat. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans really, now that it is. We have crossed a big line today. What I also mean is that talk is cheap when it comes from those who will soon turn to dust, but who will face judgment before they do enter their final state.  The will meet Him – the Judge – God.

Warnings Are Mercy in Disguise
We have been as a nation meeting Him all along.  He is no absentee landlord. He has sent messengers from headquarters to warn us and counsel us. “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord.” That guy ,Isaiah, came a long time ago and told us what God wanted. I am pretty sure his own people’s nasty king Manasseh took him out. He probably told people it was for the good of the nation, that Isaiah was just too exclusive and harsh and narrow minded. Jesus told about the prophets of Israel as though they really were coming from headquarters and that they were beaten and such as reps of the real and merciful Landlord. Then the Chief runs out of messengers and sends His own Son to warn people, and the people think that if they kill the Son they can keep the remote branch office for themselves. So they actually kill him. Mercy in disguise was not recognized properly. It was not appreciated properly.  But it was also ironic that supposedly “religious” people were the ones who loaded the gun, and cocked it, and handed it to the Romans to pull the trigger that killed Jesus. They were religious in name only. Real religious people are by nature merciful and compassionate. See the book of James for that score.

Jesus was talking about Himself in the story about the killing of the son and his messengers. (Mark 12) It was a prophecy. Jesus, mercifully told the people of His day to turn around and be reconciled to God – He warned that if they didn’t change their mind they would perish – judgment would happen. Turn or burn. They thought if we kill Him, that judgement will be done away with and we will be free from this ‘too tight for us to wear’ morality straight jacket kingdom. It didn’t work. He rose from the dead. They all died in their sins and sealed their fate. They enjoyed their so called freedom of sin for a season but now they are wishing for drops of water to cool their tongues from the flames of judgment.

Jesus ascended gloriously to the right hand of His Father and left a small group to keep up the work, and they were given a portion of His own Spirit for power and understanding – so they could continue to fight the fight for real freedom, for real peace, for real equality, but also for eternity. To keep on warning is the job of every Christian. Our very witness is proof that the true owner of this planet is coming again to reclaim it for Himself and to deal with those who would defile it.

A Terribly Tragic Day
This day is tragic because it is a huge step towards attempting to legalize the continued degradation of the human condition. It is a day of death, not of life. It is temporal, but it is still tragic. Most of all it is that way because it means judgment has fallen even more poignantly than ever before this day. We have come to a point that is outlined definitely in the very scary, but very good chapter of the letter to the Romans that one of God’s messengers wrote 2000 years ago. He wrote it to a church in the capital.  Rome was massively moving towards a free for all society. They were falling headfirst into a moral morass. Paul wanted to warn the whole world that true righteousness was not found in wrecking the law that resides on the pages of Holy Writ by passing laws written on cheap paper.  He appealed to whatever was left in the human conscience and wrote a treaty on law, culture, the human condition, and most importantly on the answer, the true answer, for real freedom and hope. In order to get there he had to warn first about the problem. So…

HE TOLD THEM IT WAS JUDGMENT DAY
I will quote him here: “for this reason God gave them up” it says in Romans 1:26. First, let me say this – it actually reads “the God gave them up.” There is only one lawgiver and His name is Jehovah. That was the name God was known by only  to men who were in relationship to Him. He has other names, one is Judge. He is Judge because He always does the right thing. He is Judge because He is the Creator. He made us and owns us and has always done right by us. He also will eventually give us what we want. If we want to be “free” of Him, He somehow allows that. By definition that is not what we would think a “righteous” judge would do. WE would think He would stop it immediately. But a judge is not a cop. A judge is to rule on law. Eventually all will be brought to justice when the Son’s angels will police everyone up – and deliver all to be judged- by what we have done in the body for good or for evil.

Judgment Equals “Gave Them Up”
When it says in Romans that the Judge, God, “gave them up,” what Paul is saying is that the guilty guy is not being sent to a reformatory, but is being consigned and locked into the exact state that they were attempting to force everyone else to become – rebels against a holy Judge. God’s judgment was “so be it then!” First to unbridled passions in Romans 1:26. People kept and keep going on in sin.  Sin is never satisfied; when it is out of the barn it is mowing down everything in sight. Being “given up to” passions without controls means God consigned someone He loves, that He has an interest in, to get what they want.  The Judge, God then gives them over to a “debased mind” in verse 28. This is so critical. When the mind is given over to be in a debased state, it cannot guard the heart and the rest of the person is absolutely compromised. In verse 22 we find out that a futile thinker leads certainly to having a darkened heart. Without a heart there is no mercy, no compassion – brutality will follow. There is no doubt where the culture is headed – certain ruinous barbarism.  Rome was the same way – moral debasement then great cruelty.

The 1900’s Were No Accident
I skipped over one – one state that we passed many moons ago in our nation. It is the state of impurity in Romans 1:24. We lost our purity it seems in the last century. It came like a flood in the music of the 1950’s and went crazy in the 1960’s. It started much earlier in the church – somewhere in the 1940’s when the church went for impure doctrine – abandoning the pure gospel for another that was no gospel. By the time the 50’s hit there was no guard for the heart of the country. The American church was already sick in the head – impure doctrine leads to a state of impurity and degradation. Satan’s scheme worked maybe because he knows God’s words better than we do – he used it against us. He went after the church and then the culture was easy pickings.

Legalized abortion followed in the 70’s and now we are in 2015 and we have legalized homosexual marriage by court mandated/sanctioned lawmaking. It had to happen. I want to throw up. I am ashamed to be an American now. It is my shame too – I am a sinner, a lawbreaker, a moral failure, a sinner of the first degree. I have known Jesus since I was eight years old and still I have been guilty of breaking His laws. I, in some ways, am worse than those who know not the law and break it in some level of ignorance. But I am also redeemed from the curse of my law breaking. I have found freedom – and I don’t mean perfection yet. But I will one day be perfected in My King who already is  perfect.

Chapter two of Romans consigns the so-called moral man to being branded a sinner/lawbreaker, as well as the sexually immoral and more outward sinner of chapter one. The warning of Romans two is that there will be tribulations and distress for every man being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek, for God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:9-11)

The Really Big Question
So where do we go from here? It is time to preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow because there may not be too many of them left. Romans 3 preaches that “all are under sin – none is righteous, no, not one.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one….the way of peace they have not known, there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The really big question is what to do now, sinner! If the whole world, including me, is accountable, what do we do? How do we get back? The answer is tragic today – as a nation we do not. We have crossed a line. Our hope is for one person at a time, here and there to repent. Peter preached that sermon on Pentecost – some fifty days after Jesus was killed – repent! Change your mind is the meaning of that word in the Greek where it was penned first. Only when the gospel is preached is their enough light available to enlighten a mind that is dark and a heart that is black with the night of death. We need to be made right – righteous as the Bible says it.

Answer
Paul said it under inspiration of God Himself this way in Romans 3:21-26

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Be Emboldened Dear Christian
This is not a day to give up on people, but to give up on politics. I don’t mean that we should stop talking about changing the laws, or throwing out the bums from congress, or arresting the criminals (even if they work of the government) – for a fitting and reasoned cultural response as American citizens read Randy Thomasson’s article here.

What I am saying is that a “cultural” response is not the real focus of evangelical Christians and can not be – the Ameri-Titanicus is going down – we must rescue “possible” survivors. We must preach the gospel to people who can be saved but maybe eternally lost. The culture is lost but we may, and we will, be able to pick up willing people out of the ocean and put them on the Ark with us by proclaiming the gospel that is powerful to save!

We must also renounce sin – anything that is distracting us and snaring us must go. We must have a humble and broken spirit about the great loss that today’s decision portends. We must weep and pray and fast and weep some more. Then we must get up and let God’s Word be a fire in us – we must steel our souls by the Word and be washed by the water of the Word, and get ready to fight for souls. WE must pray for courage! We are going to need it.

We must come together in our local churches and band together with those who are like minded. We are going to need to be one as Jesus commanded us to be – in love. We are going to need to abide in His love by keeping His commandment to love one another in reality by His grace.

It is time to move on with the work that we have been fitted to do by the generous gift of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into our hearts that happened when we were saved. It is time to get back to Bible reading, and Biblical meditation, and Biblical living and Biblical preaching. It is time to be the church of Acts.

It is time to act.

God be with us.

Suddenly

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 
Acts 2:2

The Word αφνω in the original language of the New Testament, or aphno in our alphabet is the word “suddenly” in the ESV, the KJV, NASB, NIV, and even in the paraphrase NLT. I suppose we should stick to suddenly.

The Greek Lexicon of Louw & Nida gives this definition of ‘aphno’ – “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’.

There had been a promise made a long time ago. That can be found in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and Joel.

Jeremiah Foretold It
The weeping prophet who cried out in Jeremiah 9:1 “oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” found solace in a future day when the Lord would do something “new.”

Listen to his voice repeating the revelation of the Spirit of God regarding the very days that we are privileged to live in:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

You might say “wait a minute with that interpretation dear brother! Where does it say the Holy Spirit in this text?” You would be right to ask it. But notice what it does say. “I will write it on their hearts.” It says, “and no longer shall each one teach his neighbor…for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.” How does this happen according to the revelation of the greatest prophet who ever lived? Jesus said in John’s gospel chapter fifteen,  “but when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

He called the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth.” We have all heard that but have you ever made the connection that God’s Word – titled “my law” in Jeremiah had to be written on the hearts of every believer and the one person in God who could write this on each and every one of us had to be the promised Holy Spirit? That is a sweet truth. God did send the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. God does send the Spirit to every believer who by faith comes to salvation and is made a new creation in Christ.

Joel’s Prophecy is Different
Joel says simply this”

28  “And it shall come to pass afterward,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

29  Even on the male and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Joel says it will result (the Holy Spirit being poured out) in prophecy, dreams and visions. He says all flesh as in all kinds of people without distinction between the nations. This matches Jesus’ command to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.

But wait a minute again. These happened hundreds of years before the “suddenly” in Acts 2.  Isn’t hundreds of years a long time? Not with God it isn’t. With God time is not necessarily linear – “one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” So in God’s timetable it was only half a day later when the promise came true.

You could also look at this way. From the time Jesus commanded in Acts 1 for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem it was even more “suddenly.” Jesus stayed around for 40 days giving many convincing proofs of His resurrection bodily. Then He ascended to heaven to His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Pentecost was 50 days from Passover. So fifty minus forty equals ten. Ten days from the promise in Acts 1:8 to the fulfillment in Acts 2:2. That is suddenly. This suddenly changed the lives of the believers. Not just the apostles but the believers in the “whole house” heard the sound and the church was founded in one sudden moment of explosive power and wonder and signs and dreams and visions and prophecy. The New Testament was written because of the coming of the Holy Spirit and people, thousands of people go saved and added to the “number” there in Jerusalem. Then they started to be persecuted and Stephen was martyred and then others and then the gospel began to spread as it has even to this very day. So intense is this work of God’s Spirit in this age of grace that fits into an age that is also called the eon of the dominion of the Enemy…that he must be turning into a schizophrenic personality. On the one hand he has many bamboozled into believing his lies and at the same time many are turning to Christ and being filled by the Holy Spirit of God.

For them, indeed for us when we get born from above as Jesus described it in John 3 that same suddenly happens all over again. It does not stop with conversion. Suddenly we find ourselves in places and all of a sudden the Spirit of God works. We can’t stop praying or reading or witnessing or doing our jobs with excellence or dreaming of what it would be like if we could leverage more of our gifts for His precious and mighty kingdom.

Suddenly He re-fills us. Suddenly peace comes. Assurance returns. Joy bubbles up. Life is put back into perspective. It is almost like the wind. We don’t see it coming. It is almost like a fire – it consumes our fears and our shame and lifts up the soul on wings as eagles.

suddenly…

ready????
What about the sinner. This suddenly ultimately applies to you more than anyone. Here is the definition at the top of this post. “pertaining to an extremely short period of time between a previous state or event and a subsequent state or event—‘suddenly, at once, immediately’ from Louw & Nida. I have been talking about the event of the promise and not the rest of the definition….the “state.” For the unbeliever the status of no Holy Spirit to the condition of having the Spirit of God is instantaneous. One moment dead in trespasses and sins. The next you have God – you have Jesus – all because you have been baptized into the Holy Spirit. “Extremely short” is a massive understatement  as these states are infinitely closed together. Suddenly you know your sins forgiven. Suddenly you have the power to be transformed, to understand, to see, to be alive. Oh sinner…you can by simple faith in Christ, turn from your sins to the Savior and suddenly you will be made new. Suddenly He makes all things new. Suddenly al the promises of God are for you Yes and Amen! Suddenly the plant bursts forth a flower and then just as suddenly the flower becomes fruit. Won’t you come sinner to the cross and be made new this very moment? Please ask if you need more explanation or want to talk or pray with us who have undergone this great event…We WOULD LOVE IT!!!!

OH GOD…again ALLOW YOUR Holy Spirit to fill us with your presence and use us in the work we have all been commissioned to do…to witness to the truth – the powerful gospel. We will change and others will for the first time be introduced to “suddenly there came from heaven…” and all will be blessed and His name will be glorified, the mighty, beautiful and awesome name of the Mercy on High – our blessed Savior and soon coming King Jesus!

Selah

The No-Option Option

This will be a little shorter in length than blogs that will follow. It comes from my heart and is a painful write, but a needful one and should be helpful in the end. Let me explain.

One of the difficulties in our day is that those who control much of the popular media have decided to take quite a different approach than the radicals that were running around in long hair and fermented body oder and LSD laced sugar cubes in the 1960’s. They wanted to show their parents something, and the “establishment” too. They were not going to be hemmed in. They demanded a new society of free everything. It wasn’t really fun to watch but it was easy to identify.

Today, they look respectable and many finish their education with a degree. They want to make money and be radicals and so it’s more confusing. Along with that mix they want to have the moral high ground. Their issues come to the forefront in legislation and not in sit-ins or protests for the most part. They write the TV shows and the movies and have taken classes in media so they are experts at presenting their case.

They are no different morally. The difference is they have made it legal. Their idea of an abomination is wedding cake discrimination or the non-hatred of sovereign national borders. They really do believe in these new ideals. They are actually willing to part with their mad money to support causes they have anchored their souls in. They still sleep around and watch porn and rock out to profanity. In fact those vices are more prevalent and growing to engulf more and more of our culture.

The last place they look for any semblance of truth is the church, especially a church that believes the Bible is true and inspired. They pay a token nod to the Bible but that sentiment is even fading and devolving into hatred. It is a part of the problem they perceive in our nation. They see no bounds on the horizon if we just elevate mankind and get out of his way and let him evolve. In this scheme the church is in the way, and will have to be dealt with. That idea has actually been around since the new age was translated to a woman in the 1800’s named Blavatsky.  It has been repeated in a more modern, quasi-spiritual book in the 1900’s but is kept somewhat quiet and will remain that way in my opinion. Better to keep that kind of talk quiet until arsenals are a reality and are ready to be acted upon.

If this sounds conspiratorial it is not. It’s old news. The scheme has been alive since before queen Esther intervened so bravely. The Egyptians were there at the birthing stool to remove a people who had grown unwieldy even though they were slaves. Pilate was ready to erase the race in Jesus’ humble entrance account, but God had other plans. This plan was not to be deterred because it answered the real moral issue that still faces us.

That issue is really rebellion against a personal God who made us, and so owns us, but who actually loves us. Because of that love the rebellion is truly a horror. It is a transgression against divine law not only because it breaks the code of Exodus 20 but before the law was given it broke the fellowship that God had instituted in the garden. It ruined everything. It infected everything and brought death and the worry of death for all people.

It is this threat of death that hangs like a hidden veil over every single human. No grandstanding of moral issues that aren’t really moral at all but abominations (sometimes) can alleviate this hidden dread that sneaks out in our daydreams and nightmares. It, the sure judgment of sin has no answer. No drug or drink can deal with it in the long run. No amount of money can. Sin can push it down and out of the consciousness of the culture but not the conscience of the individual unless a complete abandonment of good is attained and the mind breaks and pathos takes over the host. Of course the pathos will seem to die when the host dies but that is only that which we see with the physical eye. The disease will rot in the soul for eternity. I believe that our hardwiring knows this. I believe this knowledge is alive though artificially suppressed with more and more sin and activity. This activity is what we think is good and includes the new morality I discussed earlier. This righteousness in God’s eyes is, of course filthy rags. It is actually a hindrance to one coming awake to God’s truth and seeking Him.

God has given plenty of evidence to lead us out of our stupor of degrading sin on one hand and “do-goodism” on the other hand. The creation itself and the human conscience and the external witness of the proclaimed Gospel. The very structure of nations is a witness that God is behind it. This is what the Apostle was getting out when he said as much in Acts 17. Then he gave the reason  27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

God’s purpose and plan was to appeal to the ability of man to reason from what he observed. To make sense of the facts and make the logical deduction that what we see in the reality of creation and cultural organization and the beneficence of the creation-provision is plenty to send man on a search for the God of that creation. There is not another logical option.

The problem is that with our investment in our own moral goodness this option became a non-starter. You have to abandon worldly standing to attain a godly one. It still takes faith but as the old evangelist said, “we put faith in every chair we sit in.” So what is so hard about putting faith in a God as revealed in Scripture that meticulously matches the God of observable reality.

In writing some elementary code to run an app for a website I learned that there is only one way to get the desired result in any application. It is the right way. You must follow the specified code not only to the letter but down to every semi-colon. Fail at those two dots and the code stops and gives a fatal error. Junk in and junk out is absolute truth in that field. When the user runs into a glitch caused by faulty writing then he curses and is disgusted at the “sin.” Can you see where I am going with this? Of course you can. God is no different. Perfection is hardwired into our minds because it is the standard of a kind God who likes “nice things” that work perfectly and are nice because they accomplish the desired result, namely His glory.

Jesus’ atonement for our sin was just so perfect. He was God made flesh. He became one of us and yet was still God the Infinite. That infinite life alone was perfect and so could make a sufficient sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only but for those of the whole world. What other option is there really? To reject a perfect rescue is to deserve infinite separation from the rescuer.

That is the real non-starter in all of the universe, known and unknown to our limited site. But what I see is glory ahead for every son that comes simply by faith in the perfect work of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of Glory. If you know Him already you are already jumping up and down on the inside. If you don’t – what are you waiting for? Get on board and be made new, for He is not far away from you at all. He wants you and paved the way for you to come running home.

…More when I have time.  Love and grace and peace to you all!   Rod

Opinions

Everyone has one, right? Only if my opinion matches truth is it helpful. It may not exactly be perfect in matching truth, as I am always going to “color” things to some degree. But, we must give great effort to always be giving a reason for the hope that is within us. I am a part of the “us” whether I like it or not so I am accountable to others and that means accountable to listen to others and also to communicate to others.

So, here it goes. I will tell you what I am thinking.  I am starting a blog. I am not thinking of just my opinions or yours or others. I am thinking of writing down what I believe the Bible says on things and subjects and issues. These would be issues as they are presented in the Bible, but in light of current issues to some degree. Although, it would not be culture driven per se. It would come from a pastoral perspective because that is the only one I have right now, but it would be flavored with my experiences and opinions so it would not be authoritative. (As well, it would not be because of my own flaws – say the word “sin” resolutely here.)  It is disappointing to have to say that but it is needful because if I say it is authoritative then I would be writing “Bible” and that book is finished. It would therefore seek to be Biblical in every sense of the word because that is the source for truth as I see it and as I believe it to actually be and through great pains we can approach that high and elevated plane with grit and sweat and pain and with the Almighty Spirit of God that lives in us and the help of the Body of Christ at large.

If this would be helpful and if you would like to be able to comment on the opinions set forth in the aforementioned blog then let me know at my email address. (pastured@lewistoncommunitychurch.org) (yah that is a new address but is actually there because pastorrod@lewistoncommunitychurch.org got spell checked – and then once I looked at it I like it. So, I am going over to the server we use and add the new email address and I might get used to the idea…since Jesus is my Shepherd and He pastures me regularly – thank you Lord – and He is the Chief Shepherd…) I promise I won’t use so many parentheses in the new blog…

Anyway email me your ideas for subjects. I might also entertain short and pithy articles by those whom I trust to be faithful to the Word. If that is you and you are led to then write me at the email address above. (either one) I will pray about that.

One more thing. If you don’t have time to read blogs about the Bible then stop what you are doing and read the Bible. (that was “kind of a joke” but not really) There I go with parentheses again. So much for consistency. The Bible must be the center of our thinking and if you read it you may find that your priorities may change and you may have time to read our discussion of our favorite book!

This is important – if you disagree with me and are a Christian then you must still love me and we must be kind and gentle and respectable with each other. Your comments will not be allowed if you cannot hold to those guidelines. That being said, I don’t mind someone being passionate about their disagreements with my “opinion” so let’s be the iron that sharpens and not be shy or walk on egg shells either.

If you have thoughts on issues that you would like my opinion on please send that along too. It may take some time as I would like to thoughtfully and carefully consider each article. We live in exciting times as I believe the coming of the Lord is near. For that reason I want to include issues that have to do with the signs of the times and there is so much going on that I will rely on other Christians to let me know about things that they become aware of.

Anyway – I love you all, whoever reads this line at the end. I mean that! I love you all because Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me and is coming again for me. He died to atone for sin and to save sinners and that is the basis for our life as believers. Because He poured out such love for me I can say truly that I love you. I have been forgiven much so I love much and both those things are true. To love Jesus is to love God. God is love according to 1 John. To love God means that I love by definition and not by compulsion but I am “constrained” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians to love because He first loved me. I am praying that my love will grow up and mature and bear fruit that resembles in kind that of the true vine whose love was and is and always shall be pure and true and good and palpably sweet!

love,

Rod

Anyone Can Have a Good Marriage…

I was recently reading an amazing book that made this bold statement. The one who wrote it had been saved out of a very sinful lifestyle. This person was an interesting test case for marriage because she had, at one point despised it and scoffed at it. But through God’s grace she had totally been transformed and through reading God’s Word – by learning what marriage is and who ordained it and how it can be done – she made this startling claim….”Anyone can have a good marriage.”

Any broken vessel will do – who has been softened in the potters firm and loving hands. No matter the marring, the hurt, the rebellion, the crud, the hopelessness! Anyone can in Christ!

Then, the author quoted from the “charge” given by the pastor who performed their wedding. The key of course is God’s transforming love seeded in the heart and mind and then fleshed out in obedience into everyday life.

I would like to share part of the “charge” as it applies to the groom -yah, us men. Being one, I know the challenges and the particular struggles – the risks but also the rewards of being in a lifetime covenant with a woman. For me it has been my station in life for over 34 years and I have a really good woman as a wife. But I am a man, a sinner man, and so, I know the ups and the downs that accompany even a “blessed” marriage.  I also know that it takes a daily commitment…and that it is sometimes incredibly stretching, and that I need every bit of encouragement and help along the way.

If this “charge” below excites your electrons to a higher orbit, then you are a follower of Christ who desires a really good marriage. It is after all, God’s Word with a pastor’s Biblical exhortation to us guys! That is exciting! If not – examine your heart and give in to the Master – for all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved! Then, you too can have a good marriage!

Through God’s Word, we can change and be continually changed to better reflect the Lord Jesus in our life and relationships. If you are not married – you, of course can apply all of 1 Corinthians to your life relationships – especially chapter thirteen which is the center of this “charge” and you will be truly blessed as well.  Many marriages, even ones in the “church” are not good – in fact they are a source of misery. That breaks my heart. But that can change today…as we meekly accept the “implanted Word” we can all experience the blessing of the transformation that is ours for the asking!

Well…here it is…enjoy this and be blessed as I was today!

* Test your love toward your wife by the scripture’s own definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love suffers long and is kind;
When you are tempted to be impatient and harsh with your wife, remember the infinite patience that Christ has shown toward you, and continues to show on a daily basis.

Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
When you are tempted to be jealous for preeminence over your wife, remember Christ who did not think it beneath Himself to wash the feet of His disciples. Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own; When you are tempted to insist upon your own way, and belittle your wife, remember the condescension of Christ, who left the glorious habitation of heaven, clothed Himself with flesh, and endured the shame and suffering of the cross all for the sake of your own helpless, hopeless soul.

Love is not provoked,
When you are tempted to raise your voice in frustration against your wife, remember Christ, who “when he was reviled, did not revile in return.”

Love thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
When you are tempted to judge her motives, or to exalt in being proven right when she is in the wrong, remember Christ who had every right to think evil of you and to rejoice in your destruction, but instead took your shame upon Himself and covered you with His righteousness. When you are tempted to belittle your wife, or to sit quietly while others tear her down, remember Christ, who comes to the defense of His sheep and stands between them and the accuser.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
When you are tempted to throw in the towel, and surrender hope that your marriage can continue— when conflicts mount and it seems that it would be easier to walk away than to persevere, remember Christ who bears your sin daily in order to cause your hope to persevere until the end, and who promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The love of Christ for His people is not based upon any worthiness within them, nor should your love toward your wife be conditioned upon her actions and your judgment as to whether or not she has earned your love.

Love never fails.
Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate. In all of these things, and in many more ways, the self-sacrificial, loving headship of the Christian husband mirrors the love of Christ for His Church. This is your calling as you enter into this sacred union. But there is more.

 There is more!  If you would like someone to pray with you about your marriage – please call and ask!  If you need to talk to someone about the claims of Christ – and about the love and grace that is only available in Him – please call. Our number is listed on the Contact page. God bless you richly,
Pastor Rod

(* quoted from Pastor Doug Comin) by Butterfield, Rosaria (2012-09-06). The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Kindle Locations 1888-1916). Crown & Covenant Publications. Kindle Edition.

What About… Song of Solomon 6:5 “Turn Away Your Eyes from Me?”

In the context of the relationship in Song of Solomon, what is plain?
He loves her and thinks she is amazingly incredible – and so writes a song of love that crescendos all the way to the end of the chorus!

  1. beautiful and lovely 6:4
  2. he loves everything about her 6:5b-8
  3. she is perfect and blessed 6:9
  4. the groom is totally enraptured with his bride 7:1-9

In the context of the male interaction with the female…what is evident?
From Scripture: It is a MYSTERY – Proverbs 30:18  kThree things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: …and the way of a man with a virgin. NLT says “how a man loves a woman” –

Strange things happen to even the most strong and “together” man when he is smitten with a woman and the whole concept of it is a real wonder to the writer of the Proverbs.

From Experience: Most men, if they are honest will admit to their weak kneed vulnerability when they are even around someone they are enraptured with. Strange man-like qualities seem to melt into a cacophony of romantic silliness, resulting in an impaired emotional state. The sheer power of a woman over the man is a mystery because the man is known to be stronger, and so stable, and solid, and large – and at once he is reduced to a puddle of pitiful weakness. He may forget how to walk exactly. He may easily blush. He may not know how to talk coherently and be reduced to strange noises and grunts.

FROM A MAN’S PERSPECTIVE….
(The only one I have besides the Scriptures…)
I want to answer the question, is Song of Solomon 6:5 a good thing or a bad thing? From my own experience – and I speak in the second person because it is less embarrassing – the poor man is so smitten in married love that when she flashes those “doves” at him he is afraid he will totally lose it…he has to take her in small doses. If she stairs at him too long – it will knock him out!!!!! The word “overwhelm” in the “Song” also means to “storm.” This is helpful in unlocking the truth the verse is conveying.

In a real loving Christian marriage, her beauty and godly character combine like an intense storm and he, a normally “together” guy senses that he is about to be drowned in it. Any good man who is truly in love (or has been) knows the uneasy feeling of being out of control because of the awesome wonder of having a truly beautiful bride. He is overwhelmed in, not only his senses, but down to the depth of his soul. It feels as though his foundation is rocking and teetering. Like the Psalmist who declared, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” he asks for a breather.

The glorious and intense blessing of having a help-mate was made into a song on the very first “date.” In Genesis, Adam composed this song: “this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” At last he found this wondrous person who was part and parcel of his own self. Such a gift caused an exclamation of praise and the declaration of the order of the man-woman relationship for all time on this earth, “therefore a man…(shall) hold fast to his wife… and become one flesh.”

My own wife overwhelms me in many ways but none more piercingly than with her own beautiful, blue, pools of sight. They can communicate a variety of emotions and sometimes even complete thoughts dance through those eyes and land in my heart. When they are focused on me, I shudder. I am suddenly young again and I am overwhelmed. I don’t want her to turn away, but at the same time I can only take so much and declare with all of the love in the world and humbly beg her to…”turn away your eyes from me!”

Even good things must be measured. Love too is interspersed with work and thought and normalcy and a million other nuances of reality. When it is time for love’s gaze, every drop is pure and concentrated that only a very small amount is truly needed to exhilarate and shake the very core of my heart!

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS:
Notice it does not say…close your eyes. It does say “turn away your eyes from me.” A man who has a jewel for a bride and truly loves her knows in the end he must share her love with others. He cannot hold her captive. She and all the sisters, as members of the believing community are called to be ambassadors, representatives, lovers of lost souls, lovers of the brethren, lovers of God. He doesn’t look on this sharing as a fault, but fosters the love-sharing as a flowering of his bride, the growing up, the love overflowing out of their “garden” and into the lives of others. Out of the safety and strength and wonder of their shared love, others can be won to the cause of the Chief – lover of our souls. Only an in-focused and myopic relationship will be jealous of allowing the love of the “lovers” to be shared with a love-starved world of other people. What must have it been like for the Father to “let go” for a time of His own precious “Son of His love.” For thirty three years it was different in heaven…so imagine the party that ensued when the Victorious King ascended back to the right hand of The Father!

In all of our relationships, sometimes distance reminds us of how special our loved one truly is. When God allows times of difficulties and trials and wraps Himself in a mist, we cry out for “just one look of our Savior.” Thankfully, those desert times don’t last forever, for we have a God who draws near to those who seek Him and how sweet are those times of renewed intimacy with Him when for a short we have had to look away.

Lastly, one thing to think about is this, the Song is art. Metaphors abound there. But good art imitates life and life is like a dance of sorts. Some dances involve staring directly into the eyes of our beloved. Others position ourselves farther away and some face us back to back….But nothing can hold back the wonder for long. The pause is ended. The gaze convenes. Blessings ensue.

Praise be to our God who gives us so many ways to experience Himself through His creation of a wondrous world and even more wonderful people. Though marred by sin, they still hold the image of God. That this God would notice me is a wonder, that He would dance over me and call me His beloved and in rapture ask me to turn away as overwhelmed, “is high, I cannot attain to it.”

How great is our salvation…