Tuesday, September 30, 2008
J. Hudson Taylor
Friday, September 26, 2008
So many thoughts and books and opinions and labels and factions. I am overwhelmed today by this and am feeling that we are all being deceived by a great and amazing deceiver. Religion, Churchianity, Theology, and the Lot have become gods......
Maybe it is because of where I work, what I see, and what I hear?
I continue on my journey of faith undaunted but disheartened. What a bunch of hooey out there and we fight....for that hooey to continue. Wasted time. We are here for a moment.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide (2 Corinthians 6-11 RSV).
Paul loved these people in Corinth, and he has manifested that love in various ways toward them. He has demonstrated it, as he says here, by two special things. "Our mouth is open to you," he says. That means he communicated with them; he told them what was going on in his own life; he shared with them his feelings, struggles, failures, pressures, and problems, and he let them know how he coped with them. That is always a mark of love. To open up to others is to love them. Conversely, to close up and not communicate is to violate love.
This is a frequent problem in churches today. Christians actually think it is right for them to be closed in on themselves, to be private persons, unwilling to communicate who they are and how they feel and where they are in their lives. That, of course, is the way of the world. The world teaches us to let no one see who we are. But we need to understand that when we become Christians, we must learn to open up to one another.
"Our heart is wide," he says. He means there is no favoritism; he includes the whole congregation. He did not merely love the "nice people" among them. He loved them all: the difficult ones, the ones who were struggling, and the hard-to-get-along-with ones as well. There were no preconditions that he demanded before he would love somebody in the congregation either. He accepted them as people. Though he knew their struggles, their weaknesses, their heartaches, their failures, and their resistance, he loved them.
The problem was that they did not love him in return. This is the problem in churches, in individual lives, in homes, in families, and in marriages today. It is a failure to understand the reciprocal nature of love. Love is a two-way street. It always is; it is inherently so. Love requires a response. Paul was loving them, but they were not loving him back. They were closed; they were unresponsive; they were coldly self-contained toward him. And the result? Paul puts it in one word: They were "restricted" (2 Corinthians 6:12 RSV). What does that mean? It means they were limited; they were imprisoned within the narrow boundaries of their own selfish lives.
That is why Paul pleads here with these Corinthians: "Oh! Corinthians, widen your hearts unto us. You are not restricted by us. You are restricted by yourselves, in your own affections. If you really want to experience the richness of love, then love back when you are loved." This is one of the most important lessons we can ever learn in life. Love must respond. When you are loved, what do you do? Do you love back, or do you say, "What a wonderful feeling! I hope they will keep that up?" Do you expect it all to come to you without a reciprocal response from you? No, that is impossible. Love must respond.
Monday, September 15, 2008
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:8b-10 RSV).
As the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire, we learn from Scripture that he was frequently accused of being crazy. People heard his testimony of his remarkable experience on the Damascus road. They saw his dedication and his commitment to life, which took him away from comforts and pleasures, and they said he was crazy. In fact, Festus, a Roman governor in the book of Acts, said to Paul's face one day, "You are out of your mind, Paul! . . . Your great learning is driving you insane" (Acts 26:24). But the apostle did not seem to mind this.
We seem generously supplied today with a variety of steely-eyed fanatics who are quick to point their fingers and are full of passionate speeches. Since many of them claim to be Christians, it raises the question of whether the early Christians really were like that. Do you have to be a fanatic to be a Christian? Listen to the apostle Paul's description of his own life and how he describes his own sense of dedication:
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on (2 Corinthians 6:4-8a).
Is that fanaticism? If it is, I feel like the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon, who, when he was told that Paul's conversion on the Damascus road was really caused by a fit of epilepsy, said, "Oh, blessed epilepsy! Would that every man in London could experience epilepsy like that!" So if this is fanaticism, then I say, "Would that every one of us were fanatics like this!" What a magnificent description of a God-honoring life! What a marvelous pattern is held before us. Here is what the "ministry of reconciliation" will really look like when it is lived out to the full. You and I may fall far short of a description like this. I feel I do. But though we may not equal in degree the way the apostle lived, we are all called to be like this in kind.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the witness of this record of the great apostle as he lived through the pressures and the calamities of his own time. Grant to me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same sensible fanaticism as Paul.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Some are fearful.....some are critical.....we just want to talk about it and share what touched us, ticked us off, or whatever, in a non-judgmental, non-threatening environment. It is a book, just that. Fear not.
You want a change, it's written on your face
You feel alone, a little out of place
You hide away the scars and the mistakes
You've been tired, uninspired, something's going to give
He knows who you are
The light and the dark
He picks up your broken heart
He's telling the truth
That you will make it through
His love can rescue you
We've all been there, we're walking down the same road
So don't be scared, you're not out there on your own
Just take a breath and shut out the madness
Letting go is beautiful
There's so much more
Just waiting there for you
This is your life
The giving and the taking
A journey in the making
This is your life
The fighting and the kneeling
The hurting and the healing
Don't throw it all away...
There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for every passing day;
a glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
and Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
to make His will my home.
There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Savior there!
Through present sufferings, future's fear,
He whispers, "Courage!" in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.
There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
and every longing satisfied,
then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.